Does Acceptance of Evolution Matter?

Does Acceptance of Evolution Matter? June 15, 2012

There’s an unusual debate going on between Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum on whether it really matters that nearly half of Americans believe that humans were created by God in the last 10,000 years, as polls have shown for the last 30 years. Sullivan, a Catholic, argues that it matters a lot:

We can over-analyze single poll results, but absorbing this chart is a useful tonic to anyone feeling optimistic about bringing the country together. A clear plurality of Americans believe in something empirically untrue: that human beings in our current form were created 10,000 years ago…

I’m not sure how many of the 46 percent actually believe the story of 10,000 years ago. Surely some of them know it’s less empirically supported than Bigfoot. My fear is that some of that 46 percent are giving that answer not as an empirical response, but as a cultural signifier. That means that some are more prepared to cling to untruth than concede a thing to libruls or atheists or blue America, or whatever the “other” is at any given point in time. I simply do not know how you construct a civil discourse indispensable to a functioning democracy with this vast a gulf between citizens in their basic understanding of the world.

Kevin Drum, a mostly secular liberal, argues the contrary:

Come on. This 46% number has barely budged over the past three decades, and I’m willing to bet it was at least as high back in the 50s and early 60s, that supposed golden age of comity and bipartisanship. It simply has nothing to do with whether we can all get along and nothing to do with whether we can construct a civil discourse.

The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives. Sure, it’s a handy way of saying that they’re God-fearing Christians — a “cultural signifier,” as Andrew puts it — but our lives are jam-packed with cultural signifiers. This is just one of thousands, one whose importance probably barely cracks America’s top 100 list…

I’m not optimistic about anyone or anything “bringing the country together,” but not because lots of people choose to deny evolution. Frankly, that’s one of the least of our problems.

I think the focus of the argument is wrong. We aren’t going to “bring the country together” — whatever that means — no matter what people think about evolution and creationism. But there are far better reasons to be bothered by the lack of acceptance of evolution than that it divides us. Because rejection of evolution does not typically travel alone; it is a symptom of a much larger problem of overwhelming ignorance of science.

Widespread rejection of evolution has two primary causes. The first is an almost complete ignorance of how science operates and even what basic words mean in science. That’s why we hear “it’s just a theory” so often, because those who believe that have no idea what that word means in a scientific context. And this makes them doubt not only evolution but any finding of science that might conflict with their preconceived notions of how the world works.

The second is a preference for religious and political explanations over scientific ones. And this is not limited to evolution, it pervades our political discourse. If science says that evolution is true but your church says it’s not, evolution must be wrong; if science says global warming is real and threatens our future but your political party says it’s not, global warming must be wrong. And not merely wrong but a massive conspiracy by evil and satanic liberals who want to destroy God, grandma and apple pie.

Sullivan is right that rejection of evolution is largely a cultural signifier, a tribal marker. But the tribe that it signifies membership in is one that consistently prefers religion and politics over science and irrationality over rationality. And yes, that matters a lot.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I know it would be conceding ground to ignorance, but I’m wondering if it’s not perhaps time for scientists to change their own language and replace “theory” with something else.

  • slc1

    The problem is that many, if not most deniers deny multiple scientific theories. For instance, the Dishonesty Institute includes, in addition to evolution denialists, global warming denialists, CFCs/Ozone Depletion denialists, HIV/AIDS denialists, cigarette smoking/lung cancer denialists, and, in the person if its director, John West, a sometime Holocaust revisionist.

  • sc_d38a5ca3c2de851660c7bb2d91ca8189

    The problem is that people who reject science also tend to reject rational thought in general. And this has real effects on how our nation conducts its business. The people can be manipulated by scare tactics and it’s impossible to have fact-based discussions about anything.

  • raven

    To state the obvious once again, evolutionary theory is critically necessary in medicine and agriculture.

    1. We always see anti-pathogen drug resistance and this is sometimes treatment limiting. We occasionally end up battling newly evolved diseases such as swine flu or HIV.

    2. It’s the basis of our agricultural systems that feed a once unimaginable 7 billion people.

    Evolution only matters to people who eat and want to live a long, healthy life.

  • raven

    On an individual basis, one can live their entire life ignorant of what TE evolution is. Millions do.

    So what? You can live your entire life believing vaccines kill babies, the earth is flat, there are demons under your bed and gays in your closet, your computer works by magic, and the sun orbits the earth.

    But that just means someone has done your thinking for you.

    We can’t all be ignorant fundie xians. The last time that happened was known as The Dark Age.

  • Tabby Lavalamp “I know it would be conceding ground to ignorance, but I’m wondering if it’s not perhaps time for scientists to change their own language and replace ‘theory’ with something else.”

    Why, so another word can be misused?

  • plutosdad

    He seems to think evolution never comes up in day to day life. I pointed out one important time it does: it is the reason you need to finish your course of antibiotics. People who don’t understand it do not finish, and largely thanks to them we have resistant strains of TB.

    A 10th grade evolution education is all you need in order to understand that. Same goes for farmers and why and how to pick narrow spectrum insecticides/organic methods.

  • raven

    I’ll add here that this tribal hatred of science has some funny results.

    Parts of both the east coast and west coast are getting eroded and inundated by the sea.

    This is partly or mostly due to global warming, without question. That the oceans are rising is just a measurable fact.

    So people on the coasts have to decide what to do. Even people who live in places that are getting washed away will object to the terms “global warming” and “climate change” like these are names of demons. It happened in Virginia and North Carolina and it is also happening on the Pacific coast.

    But they still want something done about rising sea levels and property at risk of ending up underwater or washed away.

  • TX_secular

    As scientific thinking in general requires critical thinking skills, I am more concerned about the lack of critical thinking at the heart of evolution denial. This denial reflects a fundamental weakness in our education system in the US.

  • harold

    Two points –

    1) The mildly good news; these kinds of polls are biased and overestimate support for creationism by using questions about human evolution and setting up the pro-evolution answer as a “contradiction of religion”. Polls have asked about evolution of plants, bacteria, and other things, and gotten stronger pro-science responses. American popular culture is filled with references to dinosaurs, paleolithic people, hominids, evolution, etc.

    2) The bad news; even if the numbers are exaggerated, the trend is unbelievably dangerous. There is an enormous tendency for post-modern Americans to deny any except the most concrete reality, if they find it in some way inconvenient. It’s not just evolution denial, it’s not just AGW denial, it’s not just HIV/AIDS denial, it’s not just cigarettes/health denial, it’s not just quack cancer treatments, it’s not just denial of economic reality, it’s a pattern of denial of anything less concrete than the effects of gravity. A vast number of people engage in at least one of these common reality denials, and almost everyone who engages in one of them, engages in all or most of them. And they are united in their support of one particular reality-denying authoritarian ideology.

  • harold

    And they are united in their support of one particular reality-denying authoritarian ideology.

    Correction, that should be “and a disproportionate number of them are united in their support of one particular reality-denying authoritarian ideology.”

  • d cwilson

    If evolution denialists were like flat earthers – loudmouth kooks with no political influence, we wouldn’t have to worry about them. But the fact is, evolution denialists, along with GW denialists and anti-vaxers, have a political agenda and the juice to influence public policy and education.

  • harold

    We can’t all be ignorant fundie xians. The last time that happened was known as The Dark Age

    Raven is too hard on the people of the early medieval period (sometimes known as the Dark Ages).

    Sure they were ignorant fundamentalist Christians, but because they had no choice. They improved their learning and technology over time.

    That’s quite different from, and a lot less reprehensible than, achieving a high level of scientific knowledge, and then trying to destroy it because it doesn’t conform to narcissistic fantasies.

  • StevoR

    @2. slc1 :

    The problem is that many, if not most deniers deny multiple scientific theories. For instance, the Dishonesty Institute includes, in addition to evolution denialists, global warming denialists, CFCs/Ozone Depletion

    That last one is new to me. Really? Yeesh.

  • lofgren

    I just think the world is more pretty when I have some idea of where it came from and how it works.

  • @1

    Yes. Let’s call it the Evolution Postulate, or some equivalent, to counter-pose against the Creation Hunch or Guess. Or the Creation Superstition.

  • StevoR

    @ d cwilson :

    the fact is, evolution denialists, along with GW denialists and anti-vaxers, have a political agenda and the juice to influence public policy and education

    This. Seconded.

    Believe in what you want to if it makes you happy – your choice.

    I and others may think you’re very silly for thinking X but if you want to think the Earth is hollow or flat or a disk carried by endless elephants or the whole universe exist as a current in current bun. Well, okay. Up to you.

    But start telling everyone else that they must believe in exactly what you do reality be durned – that they have to join you in ignoring all the evidence and prefering nonsense to sense and hurting everyone by doing so. Nope. That’s the line.

    Parents want to believe in creationism, well, they’re adults, he info is out there, who am I or anybody else to tell them what to think? Happy to talk with’em and show em the facts if they ask me and want to discuss it, to persuade ’em if they can be but if they leave us alone, fine.

    Now if they’re home-schooling their kids and teaching them nonsense it gets iffier because, hey, kids are vulnerable and all and it *is* hurting them and tehir opportnities in life but again – their kids and their choice.

    But, start telling everyone in the community, start asking the government to pretend their delusion is real and act accordingly and – BBZZZZZZZT. No. Wrong. Side. Of. That. Line.

  • valhar2000

    A much better cynical question is if promoting Evolution makes any difference. It seems to me that it doesn’t: people who prefer irrationality will never accept, whereas the people who don’t will find the information on their own. How many people here received a biology education is school that was worth the paper it was written on?

  • Alverant

    Someone asked me why it matters if evolution isn’t part of their job. It took me too long to articulate an answer, but here it is.

    Do you want someone who believes something because of the evidence or because it fits in with their world view? For example W invaded Iraq not because of the evidence but because he wanted there to be a reason.

  • lancifer

    Tribalism indeed.

    But, as Dr. X recently and eloquently pointed out, it is hardly restricted to right wingers.

    There are many anti-vaxxers and woo followers on the left.

    While it is true that the religious right is predisposed to discount scientific evidence, there are shibboleths held by those on the left that are just as resistant to scientific evidence.

  • slc1

    Re StevoR @ #13

    Oh yes. For instance, multiple denialist Fred Singer, formally professor of physics at UVA, although unaffiliated with the Dishonesty Institute, is a noted CFCs/ozone depletion denialist, to go along with his denial of global warming and cigarette smoking/lung cancer.

  • slc1

    Re lancelot @ #19

    As David Gorski has pointed out, anti-vax views are not confined to the left. For instance, retiring right weing Congressman Dan Burton is the loudest anti-vaxer in the US Congress.

  • naturalcynic

    @ raven 5:

    But that just means someone has done your thinking for you.

    It’s more like: you can only think within your frame of reference. To think of evolution, you generally have to think in terms of 104++ years if mammals are being considered. It sure doesn’t look like cats haven’t changed much since you were a kid. From your frame of reference, the sun sure looks like it rises and crosses the sky. From your frame of reference, the world sure looks flat. The seas look pretty much like they did 25 years ago.

    I would think that we have evolved to use our frame of reference as benchmarks for reality. Anything that seems extraordinary would then be some fear-inducing manifestation of an unknown force, hence the supernatural. One normally doesn’t have to consider a world-wide scale, so a large decrease in arctic ice is beyond our normal considerations. Thinking about something on the microbial scale is not normally considered. And a 13.7 billion year old universe – meaningless numbers, so somebody thinking that must not be grounded in “my reality’.

    Scientific thinking has a lot to do with seeing beyond our normal perceptions. There is an almost natural resistance to thinking about deep time, deep space and the other end of the scale, the quantum world. Out of our box, to be trite.

  • Michael Heath

    Mr. Drum’s argument is moronic, either because he was too lazy to sufficiently consider all the ramifications when people deny reality or because he’s not talented enough to make even a rudimentary analyses.

    There are millions of evangelical and fundamentalist parents who are nearly all creationists and because they’re creationists, abuse their children to the point most of these young people are effectively prevented from exploiting their talents to the degree kids who grow up in a pro-education environment enjoy. Both when it comes to education and their career path.

    That systemic abuse, far worse than the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, harms all of humanity. Consider how many people contribute far below their aptitude and then because of this abuse, seek to perpetuate it later in life with their political activism. I made mention the other day of young people with so much aptitude they were recruited for full-rides at Ivy League colleges who instead went to their religious denomination’s so-called university. A place which continued THE Christian pattern of indoctrinating rather than educating; and of course they do no legitimate research there either, just like all evangelical and fundamentalist colleges.

    I recall some wonderful and very intelligent recent grads of Patrick Henry College who visited Ed’s blog once a few years back. We learned through our dialogue and doing some research at PHC’s website they’d been taught virtually nothing about scientific methodology, critical thinking, or evolution. Observations these recent grads conceded as true when it came to the science aspect I report here. The curriculum for all three was effectively non-existent. That was both illustrative of my assertion and heart-breaking when it came to how their parents and their religious leaders abused those young people through-out their young life through their college years and I’m confident, continues to this day when it comes to the societal pressures to remain dishonestly devout within the faith.

  • Kevin Drum:

    “The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives.”

    It has a huge impact! Maybe not in wages earned or car model (‘real life’?), but to deny out of inconvenience is to make denying across the board easier, and that is never good.

  • StevoR

    @20. slc1 : Cheers.

    That’s, well, pretty pathetic really. Iknew he was a smoking kills denier as well as a climate change one but denyng CFCs and 03 .. yowser , is going for the full set or what? Think he believes in the Moon landing hoax rubbish, thinks we’ve ben visited by Flying Crockertyout tomutilate cows and vandalise crops into circles and denies the Holocaust too?

  • Michael Heath

    StevoR writes:

    I and others may think you’re very silly for thinking X but if you want to think the Earth is hollow or flat or a disk carried by endless elephants or the whole universe exist as a current in current bun. Well, okay. Up to you.

    I certainly don’t advocate forcing people to make certain conclusions, but this is a strawman argument. The fact is these people have children who are abused with these notions which in turn harms all of us as I note in a previous comment post up the thread. So it’s not “OK”. We need policy prescriptions in light of this defective thinking and the abuse heaped on their children; like federal curriculum standards that test in light of such lies being fiercely held by some. For example, requiring high school students to be literate on the nature of ERVS in mammals prior to graduating.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer writes:

    There are many anti-vaxxers and woo followers on the left.

    While it is true that the religious right is predisposed to discount scientific evidence, there are shibboleths held by those on the left that are just as resistant to scientific evidence.

    Nuclear-weapons grade fallacy of balance.

    Of course there is some of this on the left, but not only is the rate far smaller on the left, those people have little to no political power whereas this thinking is now required to be a Republican elected official as illustrated when it comes to budgetary policy, tax policy, education, and energy policy in light of the fact of global warming and the fact whose causing it and the understood threat it poses (confidently held by the scientific community).

    In addition the woo on the left comes predominately by their grass roots populists, not the people who influence how the left and the Democrats develop policy – the complete opposite of what we now suffer from on the right.

  • harold

    A much better cynical question is if promoting Evolution makes any difference.

    I don’t understand your use of the word “promoting”. The theory of evolution is an important, central theory in biomedical science. It needs to be taught as part of a decent science education.

    It seems to me that it doesn’t: people who prefer irrationality will never accept, whereas the people who don’t will find the information on their own.

    Your argument is at least as absurd as that advanced by Drum. We shouldn’t teach one of the basic principles of science, because no-one will ever learn about it in school? Everyone who doesn’t deny it would have “learned about it on their own”. Why not extend this logic to everything else that is taught? It’s an argument against any formal education system.

    How many people here received a biology education is school that was worth the paper it was written on?

    I didn’t, even though I later majored in biology in university. Because I changed schools and had a disruptive home life. However, I also wasn’t forced to regurgitate someone else’s religious dogma and call it “science”, for which I’m grateful.

    But millions of students do get an excellent exposure to biology in public schools, which I wish I had, almost certainly, in the majority of cases, a better exposure than merely “learning about it on their own” in an unguided way would provide (because for one thing, they can still learn about it on their own, too, that isn’t mutually exclusive with teaching it in school). I don’t know why you doubt this. I don’t know why you conclude, from the existence of some creationists, that no public school biology classes are ever any good.

    Lancifer –

    There are many anti-vaxxers and woo followers on the left.

    As it happens, it is factually untrue that vaccine denial is associated with progressive political opinion. In fact, universal vaccination is a progressive, socially cooperative policy.

    However, if it were true that “leftists” had some coherent pattern of science denial, that would be irrelevant. The point of this discussion is that evolution denial is associated with other types of reality denial, and that the denial cluster it is part of is associated with an aggressive political ideology. No-one has made the claim that all other groups of people are universally science literate.

    I’m sorry if that is inconvenient for you, but that is the case.

    While it is true that the religious right is predisposed to discount scientific evidence, there are shibboleths held by those on the left that are just as resistant to scientific evidence.

    Please clarify by explaining exactly what you mean by “those on the left” giving some specific examples of these “shibboleths”.

  • slc1

    Re StevoR @ #25

    I doubt that Prof. Singer is a Holocaust denier as he and his family, being Jewish, left Austria rather abruptly just after the Anschluss with Germany in 1938.

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #27

    As I pointed out in my comment #21, with reference to soon to be ex-Congressman Dan Burton, there is plenty of anti-vax activity on the political right.

    Actually, most of the anti-science activity, which seems to be almost exclusively confined to the left, is relative to genetically modified foods, particularly activist Jeremy Rifkin.

  • Why would anyone believe for a fucking second that Andrew Sullivan of all people gives a flying off the top rope atomic fuck about what may or may not “bring this country together”.

    Driftglass tells it better than I can, because he is a better writer than I.

    http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2012/06/stupid-shit-andrew-sullivan-says-ctd_11.html

  • Michael Heath

    slc1 wrote:

    As I pointed out in my comment #21, with reference to soon to be ex-Congressman Dan Burton, there is plenty of anti-vax activity on the political right.

    Actually, most of the anti-science activity, which seems to be almost exclusively confined to the left, is relative to genetically modified foods, particularly activist Jeremy Rifkin.

    I get that. I didn’t consider your point both for reasons of brevity and even if it weren’t true on vaccines, the premises I present would still hold.

    The fact is woo comes out of the left for the precise reason it comes out of the right, because of populism which by definition denies what experts understand, largely though not solely due to religion and their lack of education (see religion again for the cause of that). Of course that still leaves some non-religionists who deny reality based on their political ideology – we see this most often in the country from secular conservatives and Libertarians, including small “l” as well.

    FWIW the only anti-vaxxer I know is a conservative Christian who homeschools his huge flock of kids. IIRC, it’s been a few years since I had a debate with him about this, the motivation was fear of the U.N. and “One World Order”. He justifies it with quacks on-line who falsely pose as doctors and sell shit to the Christian sheeple.

  • Michael Heath

    Lou Doench writes:

    Why would anyone believe for a fucking second that Andrew Sullivan of all people gives a flying off the top rope atomic fuck about what may or may not “bring this country together”.

    As a daily reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog I know of no other who exceeds his daily demonstration of care about the national interest. Not just in the quality of his arguments, but in his dedication to presenting compelling arguments contra his own coupled to his readiness to change his position to an improved one when he’s proven wrong.

    So I find your assertion absurd and wonder what your motivation is for rejecting his voice. Your link goes to some guy who proves himself to be serial liar, completely ignoring/avoiding Mr. Sullivan’s long history of rejecting the very items this guy also despises.

  • gvlgeologist

    This has sort of been referred to by harold and Michael Heath, but bears emphasizing:

    Although it is true that there are cases of science denial by individuals and fringe organizations on the left, denial is not enshrined as a necessary element of “leftiness”, nor is it part of Democratic or other liberal/progressive platforms. The same cannot be said of right wing and Republican platforms.

    I cannot imagine, for instance, anyone asking a slate of Democratic presidential candidates if they accept the bible as being literally true. Nor can I imagine an antivax statement on any Democratic campaign platform.

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #32

    I think that the perception that the anti-vax movement is a left wing movement is based on the presence of certain Tinseltown celebrities, such as Jenny McCarthy and the “pediatrician to the stars”, Jay Gordon. As we all “know”, Tinseltown is populated by left wing pinko commies. I guess folks like Clint Eastwood and James Woods don’t count.

    I don’t think, however, that anti-science on the left is due to religious beliefs, unless one wants to call Scientology a religion. It would seem to be more attributable to “new age” beliefs.

  • harold

    The fact is woo comes out of the left for the precise reason it comes out of the right, because of populism which by definition denies what experts understand, largely though not solely due to religion and their lack of education (see religion again for the cause of that)

    I knew I wouldn’t get a straight answer from the vile “lancifer”, but perhaps I can get an answer from you.

    What is your definition of “the left” and specifically what woo is coming out of the left?

    In advance, let’s agree that…

    1) Many unscientific, but not directly science-denying beliefs, such as astrology, crystal/pyramid power, UFO’s, etc, are widespread across the political spectrum. These ideas aren’t “coming out of” or associated with the left (or the right) in any meaningful way. Neither are they associated with any aggressive political efforts to have them taught in public schools or openly used as the basis for public policy decisions.

    2) Jeremy Rifkin is a not terribly left wing economist who is also somewhat phobically obsessed with biotechnology. I think he’s wrong, but he isn’t a science denier, he’s a person who predicts that current technology will lead to a dystopia. That’s been a common meme at least since the writing of Frankenstein, expressed in fiction, or in the case of people like Rifkin, ostensibly non-fiction works that dwell on imaginary terrible scenarios that technology might wreak (typically missing the looming real terrible scenarios, along with everyone else). But this type of person, Rifkin included, is more or less the opposite of a science denialist; they exaggerate the power of science.

    So having said that, and not intending to sound like a jerk, but merely to be specific and rigorous, who is this guy “the left”, and what specific “woo” is he peddling?

  • robertfaber

    Leave out evolution for a moment, think about a 10,000 year old earth and look up at the sky. You can see with a pair of binoculars an object that is 11.4 million light years away (Sculptor Galaxy). Not even Answers in Genesis can explain away the fact that the light we see from it originated 11.4 million years ago.

  • lancifer

    harold,

    “I knew I wouldn’t get a straight answer from the vile ‘lancifer’, but perhaps I can get an answer from you.”

    Vile huh? And you asked the question all of two hours ago. Sorry I wasn’t sitting by my computer in breathless anticipation of a question from you.

    I will be back on line in about six hours, my vileness not withstanding.

  • slc1

    Re harold @ #36

    I believe that the gentleman calling himself lancifer may be the commenter who used to comment as lance. If so, I would point out that Mr. lance was a two fisted global warming denier.

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  • lancifer

    slc1,

    I believe that the gentleman calling himself lancifer may be the commenter who used to comment as lance. If so, I would point out that Mr. lance was a two fisted global warming denier.

    I regret that I have only two fists to give for my “denialism” of global warming. Nice seeing you again too slc1.

    Actually I don’t “deny” anything. The fact that most temperature data sets show a 0.8 degrees C increase in average worlds temps over the last 100 years is a rather mundane issue that most of the people you call global warming “deniers” do not dispute.

    The question is how much of that rise is due to anthropogenic CO2 and whether there is any reason to be alarmed even if humans have contributed to the increase in average temperature.

    For the record I am a college math and physics instructor, eat GM crops, have my family vaccinated, view evolution as rather obviously the best current theory of life on the planet, am an atheist and voted for Obama. What “tribe” that makes me I’m not sure.

    But I’m sure that won’t stop some of you from identifying me as the “other” and claiming that my skepticism of the more dire predictions of AGW is based on being a member of that “vile” other tribe.

  • kermit.

    Hi, lancifer. I’m glad to hear that your a reality-based skeptic. Perhaps you could provide some of the reasons why you reject the scientific consensus in an entire field?

    To help you along, there are these points:

    1. We have known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas for over 150 years.

    2. The amount of heating that we see since 1900 or so matches what we would expect from the expulsion of CO2 into the atmosphere over this time frame (along with H2O, methane, and a few others).

    3. If you accept the warming but reject our human role in it, then you are left with two claims to explain – what is causing the heating, and why doesn’t the CO2 warm the air? You take an observation that has an explanation at hand, and make two mysteries out of it.

    As to most denialists accepting the warming, do we really have to dig through the archives to point out that this is a recent development – most of them were denying that just two years ago. The next stage, I believe, is accepting our responsibility but insisting that anything we do about it is too costly. There are other anticipated stages after that.

    As for the Apollo moon hoax, anti-vaccers, Sasquatch, and the rest, there are many who have a particular anti-science burr in their saddle, but reject the rest as “Crazy talk”.

    “The moon landing was faked, but the Twin Tower Conspiracists are crazy”

    “Vaccines cause autism, but of course evolution happened!”

    Etc.

  • harold

    The question is how much of that rise is due to anthropogenic CO2 and whether there is any reason to be alarmed even if humans have contributed to the increase in average temperature.

    The question isn’t what type of emotional state you should adopt, whether “alarmed”, “complacent”, or something else.

    The rational question would be which is higher, the expected value of the cost of modifying human behavior with things like less wasteful use of fossil fuels, or the expected value of the cost of doing nothing.

    how much of that rise is due to anthropogenic CO2

    Actually, given that a warming trend would be the predicted outcome of rapidly oxydizing a large amount of previously sequestered carbon, the onus is on you to explain why we oxydized a lot of sequestered carbon in a fairly short period of time, saw a rise in global temperature as atmospheric CO2 (and some other greenhouse components) went up, but the two are not related.

    To put it another way, since you concede, I presume, that rapidly oxydizing large amounts of formerly sequestered carbon does lead to an increase in atmospheric CO2, what is “neutralizing” the expected greenhouse effect of the CO2, and what is simultaneously creating a warming trend?

    my skepticism of the more dire predictions of AGW

    That’s an intensely illogical thing to say.

    The question is not whether or not the “most dire” predictions are 100% certain to be correct (which, of course, no-one claims that they are).

    The use of the term “skepticism” as a synonym for “unreasonable, emotional denial” is most tiresome. Using illogical arguments to justify an irrational, emotional bias is anything but skeptical.

    The question is whether it makes more sense to modify some human behaviors, or to ignore the warming trend.

  • slc1

    Re lancelot @ #41

    Although it is a hopeless task to convince Mr. lancelot because he is a putz, I would suggest that he and anyone else who might be reading this to download the 7th episode of the series, Frozen Planet, hosted by David Attenborough, who has a degree in geology. He talks about the effects of global warming on the ice sheets at the poles and on Greenland and shows videos of what is actually happening. It is my information that if all the ice currently in the glaciers in Greenland in the ice sheets in Antarctica were to melt, there would be a rise in sea levels of some 23 feet. That would not bode well for Florida and the major cities on the Eastern Seaboard of the US. Sounds like a potential disaster to me. And by the way, I am totally unimpressed with Mr. Lancelot’s degrees in physics and mathematics. I have a PhD in elementary particle physics but would not presume to pontificate on the subject of global warming.

  • lancifer

    Hi guys,

    I’m sitting on the porch of my Victorian home (circa 1880) enjoying a beautiful June evening. I’m pleased that the three responses to my most recent post have been reasonably rational.

    Kermit,

    Hi, lancifer. I’m glad to hear that your a reality-based skeptic. Perhaps you could provide some of the reasons why you reject the scientific consensus in an entire field?

    Hi Kermit, you have overstated your case a wee bit. The “entire field” of climate science hardly agrees that we face a catastrophe from anthropogenic CO2. But let me address your bullet points individually.

    1. We have known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas for over 150 years.

    Completely agree with this point. But so what. The IPCC accepted figure for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from “pre-industrial” levels is an increase of between 1.0 and 1.2 degrees Celcius. The question is whether “feedbacks” increase or decrease the climate’s sensitivity to CO2, and by how much. The jury is still very much out on this topic.

    2. The amount of heating that we see since 1900 or so matches what we would expect from the expulsion of CO2 into the atmosphere over this time frame (along with H2O, methane, and a few others).

    Oops, I’m afraid I’ll need some verification of this point since teasing out the anthropgenic signal from the natural variation of the observed 0.8 degree Celsius increase in the last 100+ years is hardly an agreed upon figure.

    3. If you accept the warming but reject our human role in it, then you are left with two claims to explain – what is causing the heating, and why doesn’t the CO2 warm the air? You take an observation that has an explanation at hand, and make two mysteries out of it.

    Uh, no. I just told you that I agree that the increase in CO2 is surely adding some heat to the atmosphere but that I don’t agree that all of the increase can be attributed to anthropogenic CO2 so the second part of your statement does not follow.

    As to most denialists accepting the warming, do we really have to dig through the archives to point out that this is a recent development – most of them were denying that just two years ago. The next stage, I believe, is accepting our responsibility but insisting that anything we do about it is too costly. There are other anticipated stages after that.

    Whoa, slow down my little green amphibian friend, you have jumped the tracks. This false progression is of your own making. Let’s take it one step at a time.

    I appreciate your questions and assume they are earnest.

    That’s how a sincere dialogue progresses.

    I’ll be glad to respond to further questions from you and I’ll answer the questions from the other two posters tomorrow.

    Good Night.

  • StevoR

    @45. lancifer :

    The “entire field” of climate science hardly agrees that we face a catastrophe from anthropogenic CO2.

    My understanding is that something like 97-98% of all climatologists think the Human Induced rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) as I prefer to call it is very real and of major concern since it will have predictable highly negative outcomes.

    Have you seen this youtube clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq8_l6s89uY

    and the others in that excellent series by Potholer 54 and have you ever looked at the Skeptical Science and /or Realclimate websites which throughly debunk the standard climate contrarian claims and explain a lot of the science and knowledge very well?

  • StevoR

    Again @45. Lancifer :

    Oops, I’m afraid I’ll need some verification of this point since teasing out the anthropgenic signal from the natural variation of the observed 0.8 degree Celsius increase in the last 100+ years is hardly an agreed upon figure.

    How about this short but rather conclusive video by Sir David Attenborough – The Truth About Climate Change :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ob9WdbXx0&feature=related

    which a very telling graph?

    I don’t agree that all of the increase can be attributed to anthropogenic CO2

    So then what do you think is responsible?

    The Sun? We know that has been through a significant unusually prolonged minimum lately which it has only recently emerged from – and the temperatures were still rising with 2010 being the hottest year on record and 2011 the hottest La Nina cycle year on record. The Sun has been ruled out.

    Milankovitch cycles? They’re trending in the wrong direction too – we should be getting cooler not hotter if they were the cause so eliminate that too.

    Cosmic rays have also been ruled out since we have no evidence of any notable increase in those. If not us, then what?

  • StevoR

    PS. Evidence actually suggests quite strongly – especially from the Arctic icemelt which is occurring much faster than predicted that the IPCC and climatologists generally have if anything been underestimating the scale and speed of the HIRGO problem.

    Thing is, the sooner we act to mitigate (not stop or reverse because that’s probably already impossible due to thermal inertia and the gases already added to the atmosphereand heat to the ocean and feedbacks already occurring) Glonal Overheating the betetr off we’ll be and the later we act, the more drastic the measures that will be required to have any effect.

    Its analogous to being in a car going off the road and heading for a wall at high velocity. The sooner we apply the brakes the slower the impact speed will be. We’ll still hit the wall but there’s a difference between hitting at twenty miles per hour and hitting the wall at a hundred mph.

    So far climate contrarians have convinced too many people not to brake at all and in fact, we’ve hit the accelerator instead. This wreck likely won’t end well. And we’re all in this one car including our children.

  • Pingback: The Scienceblogging Weekly (June 15th, 2012) | Social Media Blog Sites()

  • lancifer

    StevoR,

    Your three lengthy posts are mostly references to analogies and alarmist websites like the ironically misnamed Skeptical Science.

    Also you have misstated the oft repeated 97-98% figure.

    The study was by Doran and Zimmerman 2009. (Doran, P. T., and M. Kendall Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3))

    It was unscientific in its questions and was unscientific in the way the results were obtained.

    The Questions.

    1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    As I have said, even the majority of climate change “skeptics” would agree with this statement.

    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

    Human activity covers a wide range of influences, such as urban heat island etc. Then there is the word “significant”. What is meant by significant? 5%, 10%, 90%?

    I have already stated that I think some of the 0.8 degree Celsius increase is due to human influence. If you defined “significant” for me I might even agree that this contribution was significant.

    So you see that 97% figure doesn’t mean much.

    As for the changes in the Arctic, so what? The Arctic has undergone similar changes in the not too distant past and there were no SUVs responsible then.

    Also I noticed you didn’t mention the Antarctic, which actually has seen a small increase in sea ice over the last thirty years. If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    You then say that you can rule out other natural influences to explain the 0.8 C increase. This is a bit presumptive on your part. There have been warmer periods in the earth’s recent past that demonstrate that the current rise is nothing out of the ordinary and is well within what can be expected from natural variability.

    Then you end with a shameless appeal to emotion,

    This wreck likely won’t end well. And we’re all in this one car including our children.

    Oh no! Not the precious children!

    C’mon. Let’s try to keep this a rational discussion OK?

  • dingojack

    1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    As I have said, even the majority of climate change “skeptics” would agree with this statement“.

    ME: Do you think I’m taller, shorter or the same height as you?

    lANCE: I agree!

    😀 Dingo

  • lancifer

    Oh, keen eye Dingo.

    I should have said “…even the majority of climate change ‘skeptics’ would answer risen.”

    But of course anyone reading the post would have known that. You are just demonstrating your inability to engage in a rational, good faith argument.

    Of course that’s not your talent is it?

  • slc1

    Re Lancelot @ #50

    Also I noticed you didn’t mention the Antarctic, which actually has seen a small increase in sea ice over the last thirty years.

    Source? According to the video by Mr. Attenborough which I cited above, sea ice in the Antarctic has been disappearing of late. And he has the videos of before and after to prove it.

  • dingojack

    Oooh, and I would have got away with it too but for your pesky special super power,’Humourless Man’! [Shakes fist]

    🙂 Dingo

  • tomh

    All this contention over who are the real anti-vaxxers, left or right, seems to me to miss the point. The reality is that vaccinations are required to attend public schools in all 50 states. Who is exempt from this law? In 48 states religious believers are. Religion is the enforcement arm of the anti-vax movement. Remove that and it would wither away.

    The only two states without a religious exemption are Mississippi and West Virginia, probably because any DA who brought charges in such a case would most likely be ridden out of town on a rail.

  • Nibi

    Lancifer

    The IPCC accepted figure for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from “pre-industrial” levels is an increase of between 1.0 and 1.2 degrees Celcius. The question is whether “feedbacks” increase or decrease the climate’s sensitivity to CO2, and by how much. The jury is still very much out on this topic.

    Actual climate scientist:

    The 1.1 deg C from CO2 is for the theorectical case of no feedbacks in the climate system. Since no-one thinks that there are no feedbacks, this is obviously not what is ‘expected’. The real expectation is that the climate sensitivity is closer to 3 deg C (with some uncertainty). By talking about ‘1.1 deg C + some uncertainty’ first, the poster is trying to imply that the uncertainties are symmteric about 1.1, rather than the real situation in which they are symmetric about 3 deg C. That is misleading.[Cite]

    Lancifer

    Oops, I’m afraid I’ll need some verification of this point since teasing out the anthropgenic signal from the natural variation of the observed 0.8 degree Celsius increase in the last 100+ years is hardly an agreed upon figure.

    There is acknowledged uncertainly, but the estimate is that somewhere in the range of 80% to 120% of the warming is due to anthropogenic activities.

    As for the changes in the Arctic, so what? The Arctic has undergone similar changes in the not too distant past and there were no SUVs responsible then.

    {Citation needed} Also, quantify ‘similar’ and ‘not to distant’.

    Also I noticed you didn’t mention the Antarctic, which actually has seen a small increase in sea ice over the last thirty years. If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    The Arctic:

    * Ice, on top of water, mostly surrounded by land.

    * Arctic ice: at sea level

    * ~25 thousand cu. km of sea ice, thickness measured in m.

    The Antarctic:

    * Ice, on top of land, wholly surrounded by ocean.

    * East Antarctica: average altitude 2km, higher than the Colorado Plateau.

    * ~25 million cu. km of ice, thickness measured in km.

    The question, really, is why would you even expect the Antarctic response to increasing global temperature to mirror that of the Arctic? The lack of symmetry here is stark. Also, the Antarctic sea ice is not antipodal, but peripheral, and there is certainly no lack of research investigating Antarctic sea ice dynamics.

  • lancifer

    slc1 and Nibi,

    Below is a graph of the last 34 years. Its shows that Antarctic sea ice is above the thirty year average. I don’t know what Sir Richard was talking about but if you Google “antarctic sea ice” you will find ample evidence that it has slightly increased over the last thirty years.

    Below are two graphs available at Cryosphere Today from data from the University of Illinois Department of Atmospheric Sciences

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

    The first shows antarctic sea ice above the long term average and the second shows global sea ice extent.

    Take a look at both of those graphs and then tell me why I should be concerned.

  • lancifer

    Nibi,

    You ask me for a citation and your one citation is a blog comment from Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate?

    Seriously?

    Global temperatures have been flat for over a decade while CO2 has increased at a pace greater that predicted. Clearly the case for high or even positive feedback is weak, at best.

    If you want to have a sincere discussion of the scientific evidence and my reasons for discounting the more dire predictions of AGW let’s do so. But if you’re just interested in making snide remarks accompanied by links to alarmist websites I’ll pass.

  • lancifer

    The point of this thread was that people that identify with the religious right are predisposed to reject certain scientific theories in favor of faith based alternatives.

    I have no such predisposition.

    That doesn’t stop people from attacking my motivations because they hold AGW as one of their core beliefs.

    As Dr X pointed out in a previous post, people of all political and philosophical preferences can persuade themselves that they are being completely rational while yielding to emotionally held preconceptions.

  • slc1

    Re Lancelot @ #57

    Mr. Lancelot, download the video I cited in comment #42 and watch it. The video makes it perfectly clear that the sea ice around the Antarctic continent is less extensive and thinner when the video was made then when Mr. Attenborough visited and photographed it several years previously. He also videoed the ice sheets on the continent itself and they too are less extensive then they were previously. This is in addition to the receding glaciers in Greenland which he also has before and after video. Until Mr. lancelot has done so, there is no point to further discussion as he clearly has a bone up his ass on this topic.

    Re lancelot @ #58

    Global temperatures have been flat for over a decade while CO2 has increased at a pace greater that predicted. Clearly the case for high or even positive feedback is weak, at best.

    Yet another lie from Mr. lancelot. In fact, if 1998, which was an anomaly due to a particularly strong El Nino, is omitted from the graphs of temperature, the quite obvious effect is startling. The only thing that is clear here is that Mr. lancelot is full of shit.

  • Nibi

    Lancifer

    Take a look at both of those graphs and then tell me why I should be concerned.

    First off, let me make one thing clear: I’m not demanding that you be concerned. I only care about what is true, i.e., that which is supported by evidence and consistent with our current understanding of the natural world. Whether you want to be concerned is a personal decision. Whether society ought to be concerned and act on the evidence provided by the current state of the science is a political and moral question.

    That said, both of these graphs illustrate trends in sea ice area. Neither provide context with respect to actual global ice loss trends (volume). The second (sum of the north and south) I see often presented in a vain effort to mask the clear trend in Arctic sea ice loss – that is, a consistent downward trend in area and volume. I’m still curious, in light of my initial comment, why you believe the behavior of the cryosphere in the southern hemisphere should mimic that of the northern.

    I believe you consider the slight recent increase in sea ice area in the Antarctic indicated in the first link to be problematic for current climate science. I’m not aware of any contradictions here with the science. If so, please enlighten me. Does this forebode an imminent southern hemisphere ice age?

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    I linked to the actual data about the Antarctic to which you replied that I should watch a video expressing a narrator’s personal opinion.

    Here is a link to the satellite temperature record.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_May_2012.png

    Have a look. Or maybe you should ask Mr. Attenborough what he thinks before you comment.

    “The only thing that is clear here is that Mr. lancelot is full of shit.”

    Sadly, I see you’re still the rational and reasonable guy I remember.

    Does this forebode an imminent southern hemisphere ice age?

  • Nibi

    lancifer

    Nibi,

    You ask me for a citation and your one citation is a blog comment from Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate?

    Seriously?

    Yes, seriously and unapologetically. I avoid fallacious appeals to authority in favor of reference to actual authority.

    Global temperatures have been flat for over a decade while CO2 has increased at a pace greater that predicted. Clearly the case for high or even positive feedback is weak, at best.

    Simply false. Decadal trends are outside the bounds of statistical significance.

    If you want to have a sincere discussion of the scientific evidence and my reasons for discounting the more dire predictions of AGW let’s do so.

    By all means, let’s do so. But first, explicitly identify those dire predictions which you reject. We may actually agree on some points. Or it may be they are strawmen that have nothing to do with the actual scientific claims. Be careful not to conflate what some particular individuals claim, scientists or lay, with what the actual science supports. There is no scientific theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    But if you’re just interested in making snide remarks …

    In particular?

    … accompanied by links to alarmist websites I’ll pass.

    Impugn the credibilty of RealClimate with evidence, not rhetoric.

  • lancifer

    Nibi,

    The ice age remark I accidentally put at the end of the above post to slc1,”Does this forebode an imminent southern hemisphere ice age?” was a quote from your last post.

    I’m not the one making the extraordinary claims here, you are.

    And all of the sea ice could melt tomorrow and it wouldn’t raise sea level. There is ample evidence that the Arctic ocean was ice free as recently as a few thousand years ago. Which would preclude anything but natural causes but exclude any that are not happening today, such as Milankovitch cycles etc.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2006/07/12/open-arctic-ocean-commentary-by-harvey-nichols-professor-of-biology/

    Ursus maritimus clearly survived the experience. Unless you think the Lord created them in the ensuing time frame.

  • lancifer

    Nibi,

    I don’t want to get into a debate about RealClimate, but a blog comment by Gavin Schmidt does not a scientific citation make.

  • slc1

    Re lancelot @ #63

    Mr. lancelot provides a link to the site of young earth creationist Roy Spencer. What next, citations to the Dishonesty Institute. I repeat, Mr. lancelot has a bone up his ass on this subject. Either watch the video or STFU.

  • Nibi

    lancifer

    I’m not the one making the extraordinary claims here, you are.

    Identify claim(s) I’ve made which you find extraordinary.

    And all of the sea ice could melt tomorrow and it wouldn’t raise sea level.

    Not significantly, to be specific (the specific gravity of freshwater is not the same as saltwater, to be more specific). Also, I must have missed the point where I claimed or implied that the melting of all the sea ice would cause a rise in sea level. Relevance?

    There is ample evidence that the Arctic ocean was ice free as recently as a few thousand years ago.

    Not using the most commonly accepted meanings of the words ‘ample’ and ‘evidence’.

  • slc1

    Re lancelot @ #58

    I don’t know what Sir Richard was talking about

    Mr. lancelot demonstrates what an asshole he is. The gentleman I have referred to is David Attenborough. The actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough, is his brother. David Attenborough makes videos on nature subjects for the BBC, among other outlets.

  • Nibi

    lancifer

    Nibi,

    I don’t want to get into a debate about RealClimate, but a blog comment by Gavin Schmidt does not a scientific citation make.

    Agreed. A blog comment is not a scientific citation. However, Schmidt’s statement is consistent with published science on the matter.

  • slc1

    Re Nibi @ #68

    It is quite true that if the entire Arctic became ice free, there would be no change in sea level from that source. However, if all the glaciers on Greenland melted away, that would raise the sea level about 1 meter (3 feet). If all the ice on the Antarctic continent melted, that would raise the sea level about 7 meters (23 feet). That doesn’t take into account how much the sea level would rise due to the oceans becoming warmer.

  • slc1

    Re lancelot @ #58

    For the information of Mr. lancelot:

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0041003/

  • Nibi

    slc1

    It is quite true that if the entire Arctic became ice free, there would be no change in sea level from that source.

    Almost, but not exactly true. The effect on sea level is trivial, but non-zero.

    Ice and sea level

    The real concern of course is the loss of terrestial bound ice, as you noted, along with the feedbacks associated with an essentially ice free Arctic in the summer.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer:

    I noticed you didn’t mention the Antarctic, which actually has seen a small increase in sea ice over the last thirty years. If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    Because these regions are not equivalent, as I explained in our first debate on this issue where you relied on a graph by denialist Joe Bastardi which I falsified with actual validated scientific observations rather than assertions by a numbskull. Jochem Marotzke elaborating on his findings [1] regarding the Arctic discusses the differences:

    This increase is clearly incompatible with greenhouse gas concentration being the main driver for the sea-ice evolution down South. The major reason for this discrepancy lies in the different land-mass distributions, the scientists find. In the Arctic Ocean, the ice is virtually locked by the surrounding land masses, and its extent is primarily governed by its melting and freezing. Therefore, greenhouse gases play such an important role up in the high North. In the Antarctic, by contrast, the sea ice is free to drift around in the open Southern Ocean. Hence, the ice extent there is primarily governed by the prevailing wind patterns. “Our results show that greenhouse gas concentration is currently not a major driver for sea-ice extent in the Southern Ocean, where winds and currents clearly are more important,” explains Marotzke. “In the land-locked Arctic Ocean, however, greenhouse gas concentration appears to play the dominating role for the observed sea-ice evolution.”

    And as I reported to you a couple of years ago when you posted as Lance, ice volume melt in Antarctica is contributing to sea-level rise. Here’s the latest paper I’ve encountered [2, same as prior link] I’ve encountered:

    . . . the acceleration in ice sheet loss over the last 18 years was 21.9 ± 1 Gt/yr 2 for Greenland and 14.5 ± 2 Gt/yr 2 for Antarctica, for a combined total of 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr 2. This acceleration is 3 times larger than for mountain glaciers and ice caps (12 ± 6 Gt/yr 2). If this trend continues, ice sheets will be the dominant contributor to sea level rise in the 21st century.

    1] Dirk Notz, Jochem Marotzke. Observations reveal external driver for Arctic sea-ice retreat. Geophysical Research Letters, 2012; 39 (8) DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051094

    2] Rignot, E., I. Velicogna, M. R. van den Broeke, A. Monaghan, and J. Lenaerts (2011), Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L05503, doi:10.1029/2011GL046583.

  • Michael Heath

    Due to a link limit to avoid moderation, I continue my prior post here.

    Here’s why we’re encountering increased ice melt in Antarctica [1]:

    We deduce that this increased melt is the primary control of Antarctic ice-sheet loss, through a reduction in buttressing of the adjacent ice sheet leading to accelerated glacier flow2. The highest thinning rates occur where warm water at depth can access thick ice shelves via submarine troughs crossing the continental shelf. Wind forcing could explain the dominant patterns of both basal melting and the surface melting and collapse of Antarctic ice shelves, through ocean upwelling in the Amundsen6 and Bellingshausen7 seas, and atmospheric warming on the Antarctic Peninsula8. This implies that climate forcing through changing winds influences Antarctic ice-sheet mass balance, and hence global sea level, on annual to decadal timescales.

    Hamish Pritchard explains his above-referenced findings in this ScienceDaily.com article:

    Of the 54 ice shelves mapped, 20 are being melted by warm ocean currents, most of which are in West Antarctica.

    In every case, the inland glaciers that flow down to the coast and feed into these thinning ice shelves have accelerated, draining more ice into the sea and contributing to sea level rise.

    Lead author Dr Hamish Pritchard from British Antarctic Survey, which is funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said: “In most places in Antarctica, we can’t explain the ice-shelf thinning through melting of snow at the surface, so it has to be driven by warm ocean currents melting them from below.

    “We’ve looked all around the Antarctic coast and we see a clear pattern: in all the cases where ice shelves are being melted by the ocean, the inland glaciers are speeding up. It’s this glacier acceleration that’s responsible for most of the increase in ice loss from the continent and this is contributing to sea-level rise.

    “What’s really interesting is just how sensitive these glaciers seem to be. Some ice shelves are thinning by a few metres a year and, in response, the glaciers drain billions of tons of ice into the sea. This supports the idea that ice shelves are important in slowing down the glaciers that feed them, controlling the loss of ice from the Antarctic ice sheet. It means that we can lose an awful lot of ice to the sea without ever having summers warm enough to make the snow on top of the glaciers melt — the oceans can do all the work from below.

    “But this does raise the question of why this is happening now. We think that it’s linked to changes in wind patterns. Studies have shown that Antarctic winds have changed because of changes in climate, and that this has affected the strength and direction of ocean currents. As a result warm water is funneled beneath the floating ice. These studies and our new results therefore suggest that Antarctica’s glaciers are responding rapidly to a changing climate.”

    A different picture is seen on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula (the long stretch of land pointing towards South America). Here, the ice-shelf thinning found by this study can be explained by warm summer winds directly melting the snow on the ice-shelf surfaces. Both patterns, of widespread ocean-driven melting and this summer melting on the Antarctic Peninsula, can therefore be attributed to Antarctica’s changing wind patterns.

    1] : H.D. Pritchard et al. Nature 484, 502–505 (26 April 2012) doi:10.1038/nature10968

    Received 06 October 2011 Accepted 17 February 2012 Published online 25 April 2012

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #75

    I am making the assumption that Mr. Lancelot is serious about his claims and is not just pulling our chains to get a reaction. However, I must say that citing something from young earth creationist Roy Spencer and not knowing that Richart Attenborough and David Attenborough are not the same person doesn’t speak well for him.

    It is interesting to note that many of the issues discussed in the Pritchard paper were brought up in the Frozen Planet Episode 7 video, albeit for an educated layman audience as befits the BBC. I found it quite informative and I think that many folks who may still be reading this would find it likewise. By the way, I suggest downloading the video that was presented by the BBC which is narrated by Mr. Attenborough, not the one that I understand was presented on the Discovery Channel which was narrated by Alec Baldwin (although it appears that the Episode 7 shown by the Discovery Channel included, at least in part, the narration of Mr. Attenborough).

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer:

    If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    My response on the science is above; this post is focused on this logical fallacy.

    Arguments from ignorance are never compelling. You continue to demonstrate a desire to have your arguments taken seriously while remaining determinedly ignorant of that which you wish to argue, as demonstrated above, coupled to a continued inability to think critically – even at the rudimentary level where I point to one of several logical fallacies you deploy in this thread (well actually two given I noted your fallacy of balance @ 20 where I didn’t realize that you were the old Lance).

    It’s disturbing for me to encounter a teacher who continues to make arguments from ignorance like I quote here long after me and others pointed to findings which would have you informed; i.e., your defectively conflating certain attributes of the Arctic with the Antarctica to deny what’s happening to the global energy budget and climate. That’s in spite of my previously providing citations when we first debated* noting climate scientists don’t make those conflations, only denlialists like Joe Bastardi,his old employer (Accuweather), and other denialists and cranks do that.

    It’s even more disturbing because you also repeatedly engage in the fallacy of authority. That being your claim you’re a physicist while rarely demonstrating no literalness regarding the difference between defective arguments and the scientific process while also demonstrating you know almost nothing regarding the actual physics and empirical findings as understood and confidently acknowledged by climate scientists.

    Where those facts are demonstrably inconvenient to your political ideology; we know this given that when we first debated you overtly asserted this as a primary motivation to deny reality and avoid dealing with the actual science as understood by nearly all climate scientists where the handful remaining are almost all cranks or cynically exploit their infamy. That’s because even if climate scientists’ confidence level wasn’t in the 90%s but instead say, in the 40%s, your policy argument would still have you flunking an introductory quantitative research methods class given the manageable cost of mitigation and other benefits relative to the harm which has already begun and is confidently predicted to get far worse.

    * Here’s the link: http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2010/03/scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2010/03/tmlc-prepares-to-lose-another

    This link goes to a page which is no longer archived. Earlier today I was attempting to find some peer-reviewed findings to answer Harold’s questions to me where I noted that liberals suffer from woo as well. I was using Google to search Ed’s old site and couldn’t find those links. The link above is one I bookmarked so it appears that the treasure trove of information contained at Ed’s old blog is no longer being maintained by scienceblogs.com. I’ll email Ed about this.

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    “…not knowing that Richart Attenborough and David Attenborough are not the same person doesn’t speak well for him.”

    I had never seen the video with which you are so impressed. You said it was done by “Mr. Attenborough”. I remembered Richard’s name first.

    You have subsequently said that this simple and understandable mistake means I am an “asshole” and “doesn’t speak well for him”.

    Really?

    Also I linked to Roy Spencer’s website because he is the Principal Research Scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as well as the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

    You of course would prefer the opinion of a British voice over specialist.

  • lancifer

    Michael Heath,

    You have long since demonstrated your inability to conduct a rational and civil discussion on any topic that relates to climate change, libertarianism or (especially idiosyncratically) the Koch brothers.

    Before I have even responded to a single one of your bombastic posts you misrepresented our previous exchanges and you have maligned my motivations, my intellectual capacity and my basic reasoning ability.

    It used to piss me off.

    Now it just makes me feel sorry for you.

  • lancifer

    Nibi,

    Since you are the only poster responding with anything approaching a good faith argument I will respond to your remarks…

    tomorrow, as it is late and my lovely wife is patient, but only to a reasonable degree.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer,

    I see your resorting to the same tactic you used before, ignore the science, repeatedly, even when it’s staring your in the face like the articles I post here. I get in your face because you claim you’re a professional and then use tactics which are not merely unprofessional, but unethical given you’re a teacher. You have a higher obligation and yet make arguments no better than Lord Monckton or Bill Dembski.

    Your claim you feel sorry for me is not convincing. The more relevant question is whether you’re deploying this avoidance tactic consciously or unconsciously.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer writes to Nibi:

    Since you are the only poster responding with anything approaching a good faith argument . . .

    So posting peer-reviewed articles which directly reveals the falsity of your logical fallacy defectively conflating certain attributes of the Arctic and Antarctica is, “not a good faith argument”? Only in the land of fierce denialism.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer,

    Is your denlialism so strong you didn’t read the abstracts of the articles I linked to and the quotes from the scientists I quoted prior to posting your response to me after I published those articles?

  • Chris from Europe

    Where those facts are demonstrably inconvenient to your political ideology; we know this given that when we first debated you overtly asserted this as a primary motivation to deny reality

    He did exactly the same on the issue of universal healthcare.

  • slc1

    Re lancelot @ #78

    In my comment #45, I said the following: Although it is a hopeless task to convince Mr. lancelot because he is a putz, I would suggest that he and anyone else who might be reading this to download the 7th episode of the series, Frozen Planet, hosted by David Attenborough, who has a degree in geology.

    Emphasis added. Once again, Mr. lancelot lies.

    Re Michael Heath @ #83

    Why should he read the abstracts or papers published in the peer reviewed literature when he can cite something on a web site hosted by a young earth creationist?

  • Michael Heath

    slc1 writes:

    Why should [lancifer] read the abstracts or papers published in the peer reviewed literature when he can cite something on a web site hosted by a young earth creationist?

    It’s far worse than that. lancifer demonstrated an inability to even acknowledge the existence of peer-reviewed presentations of evidence even when they’re directly presented to him, let alone cogently respond to them. This is demonstrated by lancifer’s comment @ 80:

    Since you [Nibi] are the only poster responding with anything approaching a good faith argument

    where I previously quoted two peer-reviewed articles which directly rebutted a key point he raised accompanied with an author’s explanation which also directly rebutted his earlier point.

    This avoidance of scientific findings and authentic experts to defend his current political position is deeply disturbing because he’s a teacher. Precisely because of his demonstrated dishonesty, inability to even write coherently (continual dependency on logical fallacies), inability to confront inconvenient facts let alone consider them, and arrogant defense of positions only denialists, cranks, and the determinedly ignorant hold, e.g., on the latter –

    “If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?”

    as a defense for his denialism. Professionals go find the answers to those questions, they don’t cling to them to defend their political positions or when faced with them as lancifer was, deny their existence in this thread as he did @ 80.

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #86

    There was a comment and a link to a Youtube video on an earlier thread here. Apparently, leading global warming denier Lord Christopher Monckton is also a purveyor of medical quackery.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl2lShU6zD0

  • lancifer

    Michael Heath,

    There is no reason to respond to a zealot whose first resort is to personal attack.

    I do feel sorry for you. You are so threatened by any challenge to your deeply held opinions that you cannot accept that anyone could honestly hold a contrary belief. So you attempt to discredit and humiliate them rather than entertain the possibility that they may actually have valid reasons for disagreeing with you.

    This isn’t the hallmark of someone that is confident in themselves or their ability to influence others.

    Just sad really.

  • lancifer

    Chris from Europe,

    He did exactly the same on the issue of universal healthcare

    .

    Whatever are you talking about? I haven’t discussed healthcare, universal or otherwise, on this blog or any other for months.

    Please give a specific instance where I have been blinded by my “political ideological” in regard to that issue or any other. You of course are guided only by your love of the truth and pure rational logic no doubt.

    Of course you are content to malign me personally rather than address the issue at hand.

  • slc1

    Re Lancelot @ #89

    Mr. Lancelot is really projecting here. Heath pointed to several articles published in peer reviewed journals. Mr. Lancelot responds with a cite to the website of Roy Spencer, a young earth creationist. By the way, I fail to see how in any way, shape, form, or regard Heath maligned Mr. Lancelot. He accused Mr. Lancelot of failing to respond in a cogent manner when presented with peer reviewed papers which contradict his fatuous claims and his accusation is entirely correct and accurate.

    By the way, David Attenborough, unlike Roy Spencer, accepts the theory of evolution and an old earth and he has the credentials in geology to support his acceptance. The fact that he’s British is totally irrelevant.

    I must say, as someone with a PhD in physics, that I am most disappointed by Mr. Lancelot, who claims to have a degree in physics. I am afraid that he has joined the Jason Lisle (PhD in astrophysics from the Un. of Colorado) school of denialism. In case Mr. Lancelot has never heard of Dr. Lisle, he is a young earth creationist, just like Mr. Lancelot’s hero, Roy Spencer.

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    Still harping on about my admitted mistake on Mr Attenborough’s first name I see.

    You claim I am “lying” when I said you referred to him as Mr. Attenborough. See below.

    Post # 54 “According to the video by Mr. Attenborough…”

    Post # 61 “…the video was made then when Mr. Attenborough visited and photographed it several years previously.”

    You had referred to him as David in your first mention of this monumentally important (to you) video, but yes my memory mistakenly retrieved his brother’s first name.

    Is this really the best you can do?

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    And David Attenborough is not a geologist, he is a naturalist.

    Notice I gently corrected your mistake instead of proclaiming you a liar. You may want to consider a similar response the next time someone makes a simple and understandable mistake.

  • Pingback: Why Evolution Matters | riffingreligion()

  • slc1

    Re Lancelot @ #92

    According to Wikipedia:

    Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and then won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge in 1945, where he studied geology and zoology and obtained a degree in natural sciences.[10] In 1947, he was called up for national service in the Royal Navy and spent two years stationed in North Wales and the Firth of Forth.

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

    I guess that Mr. Lancelot is technically correct in that Mr. Attenborough’s degree is in natural sciences. However, I am not familiar enough with the British higher educational to know what that means. My guess would be that, in an American university, he would be described as having a BA (or BS, depending on the university attended) with a dual major of zoology and geology.

    Based on Mr. Lancelot’s explanation, I will withdraw the accusation of lying and replace it with his having a reading comprehension problem. It would have been a less egregious error if Mr. Attenborough did not have a brother named Richard. By the way, if we’re getting technical here, I did not label Mr. Attenborough a geologist. I merely said that he had credentials in geology, which is supported by the Wiki site.

  • Chris from Europe

    I recommend the threat that got lancifer banned at Pharyngula.

    Or just read a few of Jadehawks reactions to his denialism on racism and affirmative action:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/03/05/sikivu-causes-discomfort/comment-page-1/#comment-280220

  • slc1

    Re Chris @ #95

    The fact that Lancelot got the heave ho over at PZs blog is to his credit. I got the heave ho over there for having the temerity to suggest that the feud that he is engaging in with Abbie Smith at the ERV site is all too reminiscent of the feud he had a few years ago with our distinguished host here. The good professor likes to dish it out but has a china chin when it comes to accepting the same from his readers.

  • Chris from Europe

    The thread shows that it’s the same denialism and it was entirely appropriate. I don’t know if it was warranted in your case as I would have to read the relevant threat first.

    But in case of ERV, I have to say that there should be no question that PZ is correct. It is also not comparable to the other feud. Abbie Smith really loses her mind over that one issue. Reading one of those posts lets you question that it’s written by an intelligent human being, let alone a scientist. She isn’t really engaging reality on the issue and attacks strawmen of the positions of PZ, other people on this site and elsewhere. (The feud isn’t just between her and PZ.)

    You may be angry at PZ for being banned, but comparing Ed to Abbie Smith is really out of place.

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    “The fact that Lancelot got the heave ho over at PZs blog is to his credit.”

    I can’t say I miss the grumpy sod or his sycophantic followers. Alas he is a big fish in a very tiny and malodorous pond.

    Chris From Europe,

    I’d be glad to defend any point I made on that thread. “Race” is an unscientific category and the sooner we put racial biases behind us the better.

  • Chris from Europe

    They schooled you on that “argument”. It’s a strawmen of their position. They agree that race is a social construct, but that can’t mean that it can be ignored because it has a substantial power. The effect of race is real. And it can’t be eradicated completely as it tends to reestablish itself because of psychological effects.

    Negative experiences will be linked to easily detectable characteristics with an extremely inflated percentage in relation to the group. Stereotypes will likely form. The world in which we can stop caring about racial biases is an utopia.

    As they told, there are studies that show that people who pretend colorblindness (and yes, that’s what you imply) have a higher likelihood to act racist.

    If you don’t like the countermeasures, propose ones that work better.

  • slc1

    Re Chris @ #97

    Excuse me, I didn’t compare Mr. Brayton to Ms. Smith. I said that the feud PZ is conducting with her is reminiscent of the feud he conducted with Ed Brayton several years ago.

    As I understand it, the argument was over some threads on her blog which had comments that were objectionable to the new overlords at Scienceblogs. Ms. Smith accused PZ, who still blogs over there, of instigating the scrutiny. There was also a brouhaha having to do with Physioprof and DrugMonkey, concerning pit bulls, where they posted threads bad mouthing the breed. Ms. Smith took great exception to their claims, as she owns a pit bull. By the way, Jerry Coyne paid her a visit during a meeting he was attending several months ago in Norman, OK, and his description of the dog in question was that it was quite friendly and pacific, contrary to the description of pit bulls given by Physioprof and DrugMonkey. It should be noted that Prof. Coyne is not a dog fancier, preferring cats instead.

    In contrast, the feud between PZ and Mr. Brayton was over some comments the latter made on his blog then over at Scienceblogs critical of what he considered to be PZ’s overly aggressive attacks on religion. PZ, having very sensitive corns, reacted strongly and the two were not on speaking terms for several years, although most of the animus was coming from the PZ camp. Eventually, they buried the hatchet during a meeting in Washington, D.C. and, I would suggest that the feud between Ms. Smith and PZ will eventually peter out and will also be solved the same way.

  • Chris from Europe

    This gem shouldn’t be forgotten either:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/2012/03/05/what-not-to-say-to-radical-atheistshumanists-of-color/#comment-3069

    Striving for equal treatment is Marxism. Non-racists just ignore signs of racial bias.

  • slc1

    Re Chris @ #97

    By the way, PZ also got his panties in a twist several years before the feud with Ed Brayton over some criticism he received from Chris Mooney. The two of them conducted a feud, joined in by Mooney’s then blogmate, Shiril Kirchenbaum. Yet another tempest in a teapot, just like the feud with Brayton and the feud with Smith.

    As I said, PZ has sensitive corns and objects when they are trod on, however lightly.

  • Chris from Europe

    I remember the one with Mooney and Kirschenbaum. PZ was right definitively right about that one.

    I don’t think PZ is so sensitive as he seems to have had quite a bit fun with it.

  • lancifer

    Chris from europe,

    You seem to be having a good time constructing straw man misrepresentations of my comments and knocking them down.

    Why don’t you quote something I said, in context, and criticize it.

    What you’re doing at the moment is rather feeble and dishonest.

  • Chris from Europe

    lancifer, that has already been done better than I could. So I linked it.

  • lancifer

    Chris from Europe,

    PuhLeez.

    JadeHawk couldn’t find her ass with both hands let alone make a cogent point. She is typical of the foulmouthed light-weights populating Pharyngula. They are like a clique of self-impressed teenagers doling out juvenile, tag team, one liners while patting each other on the back.

    Of course you are rather typical of the foulmouthed light-weights populating Pharyngula so I shouldn’t be surprised by your insipid remarks.

  • Chris from Europe

    Yes, that’s your strategy. Both Heath here and many of the people there, not just JadeHawk destroyed you. So you are insulting them and declare them light-weights. But you never show why that would we. Your are not credible, you aren’t in the position of arbiter.

    If it’s racism and equality, universal healthcare or climate change, if something doesn’t fit your ideology, you resort to denialist tactics.

    It’s also not a strawman if it’s implied by your arguments as a whole. You may have technically evaded clear statements of your position most of them time, but it’s pretty clear overall. And the comments at Black Skeptics show what a joke you are.

  • lancifer

    Chris from Europe,

    You couldn’t form an independent thought if your life depended upon it. Notice how instead of actually quoting a single thing I have said you throw out general insults and tell me how members of your tribe have “destroyed” me.

    You’re a little ideological pip squeak hiding behind the skirts of your clique.

    Grow a pair or STFU.

  • Chris from Europe

    Cute.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer writes to me:

    You are so threatened by any challenge to your deeply held opinions that you cannot accept that anyone could honestly hold a contrary belief.

    I’m not citing my opinions, I’m citing peer-reviewed articles which you demonstrably deny even exist, both in our last debate and now in this thread. Your contrary belief is demonstrably dishonest, in this case given your denial that we have facts which falsify your arguments; as demonstrated in this very thread like what follows:

    Lancifer @ 74:

    I noticed you didn’t mention the Antarctic, which actually has seen a small increase in sea ice over the last thirty years. If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    Where I responded by citing articles @ 74 & @ 75 which explained the difference, that we’re seeing ice melt and sea level rise due warming in Antarctica, and the mechanics of that melting. Articles and evidence you actually deny exist via your post @ 80:

    Since you [nibi] are the only poster responding with anything approaching a good faith argument I will respond to your remarks…

    It’s of course entirely your choice whether you respond to my posts or not. But bullshit is bullshit where your posts define themselves by their misrepresentation of what other people write, misrepresentation of climate science, and your continual dishonest denial of credible responses to your points.

    If I were to ask a question claiming ignorance as I quote here from you and someone actually presented evidence which informed me I would thank them. You continue to deny your question has even been addressed.

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #110

    Mr. Lancelot obviously believes that young earth creationist Roy Spencer trumps articles in peer reviewed journals. I shudder to think what physics, or, indeed, any science would be like if every scientist thought like that.

  • Michael Heath

    slc1 writes:

    Mr. Lancelot obviously believes that young earth creationist Roy Spencer trumps articles in peer reviewed journals. I shudder to think what physics, or, indeed, any science would be like if every scientist thought like that.

    We don’t know that. Instead lancifer’s denialism could make it impossible for him to even realize relevant articles with empirical evidence which responds to his question both exist and were presented as a direct response in this very thread. As well as previously to the same false assertions and insinuations he presented in our last debate. That’s given lancifer followed in this thread by falsely asserting no one meaningfully responded in spite of the presentation of those findings and explanations. Or as you point out slc1, ideologues friendly to his politics who embarrass their profession are considered more relevant and peer-reviewed findings are not relevant given his false claim no one meaningfully responded to him.

    I also want to respond further to this lie told by lancifer about me:

    You are so threatened by any challenge to your deeply held opinions that you cannot accept that anyone could honestly hold a contrary belief.

    I love having dialogues and debates with someone with whom I disagree. I hate it when people make fatally defective arguments like lancifer always does on certain topics, especially when they are dishonest, as lancifer has always demonstrated on this topic. There’s an enormous difference between respectful debate and someone throwing shit on the wall and whining like a baby when they’re not taken seriously because they’re dishonest and relying on horribly constructed arguments no middle schooler should make.

  • lancifer

    Michal Heath,

    The fact that you sprinkled in some links to scientific articles doesn’t change the fact that before I had a chance to respond to a single thing you had said you said things like,

    You continue to demonstrate a desire to have your arguments taken seriously while remaining determinedly ignorant of that which you wish to argue, as demonstrated above, coupled to a continued inability to think critically – even at the rudimentary level where I point to one of several logical fallacies you deploy in this thread…

    and

    It’s even more disturbing because you also repeatedly engage in the fallacy of authority. That being your claim you’re a physicist while rarely demonstrating no literalness regarding the difference between defective arguments and the scientific process while also demonstrating you know almost nothing regarding the actual physics and empirical findings as understood and confidently acknowledged by climate scientists.

    Note that you make not a single reference to anything I actually said.

    These are attacks on me not my ideas. This is not arguing in faith and you damn well know it.

    These are attempts to belittle and intimidate not to engage and to debate. I replied to these remarks by saying,”You have long since demonstrated your inability to conduct a rational and civil discussion on any topic that relates to climate change, libertarianism or (especially idiosyncratically) the Koch brothers.”

    To which you replied with comments like,

    you claim you’re a professional and then use tactics which are not merely unprofessional, but unethical given you’re a teacher.

    and

    Is your denlialism so strong you didn’t read the abstracts of the articles I linked to…

    You tried this crap on James Hanley’s site and he called you on it.

    I used to end these chats with an open invitation to an insult free discussion, if you were ever up to it.

    It is clear now that you are not.

    Again I feel sorry for you.

    Take care.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer lies:

    Note that you make not a single reference to anything I actually said.

    I directly rebutted what you wrote, quoting you directly and then responding with peer-reviewed articles which directly rebutted your point. I repeat what you wrote and my response below. Your dishonesty and/or fierce denialism knows no bounds.

    Face it lancifer, you’re a lying coward who can’t even confront the facts which challenge your political ideology. You demonstrate no desire for honest debate, otherwise you wouldn’t be so deomonstrably dishonest.

    If you had any integrity, you’d respond to my posts @ 74 and @ 75. I repeat your earlier argument from ignorance where you now falsely claim I didn’t rebut. lancifer stated:

    I noticed [some other poster] didn’t mention the Antarctic, which actually has seen a small increase in sea ice over the last thirty years. If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    Here are my direct rebuttals @ 74 and @ 75.

    @ 74 [original embedded links @ 74 above]:

    Because these regions are not equivalent, as I explained in our first debate on this issue where you relied on a graph by denialist Joe Bastardi which I falsified with actual validated scientific observations rather than assertions by a numbskull. Jochem Marotzke elaborating on his findings [1] regarding the Arctic discusses the differences:

    This increase is clearly incompatible with greenhouse gas concentration being the main driver for the sea-ice evolution down South. The major reason for this discrepancy lies in the different land-mass distributions, the scientists find. In the Arctic Ocean, the ice is virtually locked by the surrounding land masses, and its extent is primarily governed by its melting and freezing. Therefore, greenhouse gases play such an important role up in the high North. In the Antarctic, by contrast, the sea ice is free to drift around in the open Southern Ocean. Hence, the ice extent there is primarily governed by the prevailing wind patterns. “Our results show that greenhouse gas concentration is currently not a major driver for sea-ice extent in the Southern Ocean, where winds and currents clearly are more important,” explains Marotzke. “In the land-locked Arctic Ocean, however, greenhouse gas concentration appears to play the dominating role for the observed sea-ice evolution.”

    And as I reported to you a couple of years ago when you posted as Lance, ice volume melt in Antarctica is contributing to sea-level rise. Here’s the latest paper I’ve encountered [2, same as prior link] I’ve encountered:

    . . . the acceleration in ice sheet loss over the last 18 years was 21.9 ± 1 Gt/yr 2 for Greenland and 14.5 ± 2 Gt/yr 2 for Antarctica, for a combined total of 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr 2. This acceleration is 3 times larger than for mountain glaciers and ice caps (12 ± 6 Gt/yr 2). If this trend continues, ice sheets will be the dominant contributor to sea level rise in the 21st century.

    1] Dirk Notz, Jochem Marotzke. Observations reveal external driver for Arctic sea-ice retreat. Geophysical Research Letters, 2012; 39 (8) DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051094

    2] Rignot, E., I. Velicogna, M. R. van den Broeke, A. Monaghan, and J. Lenaerts (2011), Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L05503, doi:10.1029/2011GL046583.

    And @ 75[original embedded links @ 75 above]:

    Here’s why we’re encountering increased ice melt in Antarctica [1]:

    We deduce that this increased melt is the primary control of Antarctic ice-sheet loss, through a reduction in buttressing of the adjacent ice sheet leading to accelerated glacier flow2. The highest thinning rates occur where warm water at depth can access thick ice shelves via submarine troughs crossing the continental shelf. Wind forcing could explain the dominant patterns of both basal melting and the surface melting and collapse of Antarctic ice shelves, through ocean upwelling in the Amundsen6 and Bellingshausen7 seas, and atmospheric warming on the Antarctic Peninsula8. This implies that climate forcing through changing winds influences Antarctic ice-sheet mass balance, and hence global sea level, on annual to decadal timescales.

    Hamish Pritchard explains his above-referenced findings in this ScienceDaily.com article:

    Of the 54 ice shelves mapped, 20 are being melted by warm ocean currents, most of which are in West Antarctica.

    In every case, the inland glaciers that flow down to the coast and feed into these thinning ice shelves have accelerated, draining more ice into the sea and contributing to sea level rise.

    Lead author Dr Hamish Pritchard from British Antarctic Survey, which is funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said:

    “In most places in Antarctica, we can’t explain the ice-shelf thinning through melting of snow at the surface, so it has to be driven by warm ocean currents melting them from below.

    “We’ve looked all around the Antarctic coast and we see a clear pattern: in all the cases where ice shelves are being melted by the ocean, the inland glaciers are speeding up. It’s this glacier acceleration that’s responsible for most of the increase in ice loss from the continent and this is contributing to sea-level rise.

    “What’s really interesting is just how sensitive these glaciers seem to be. Some ice shelves are thinning by a few metres a year and, in response, the glaciers drain billions of tons of ice into the sea. This supports the idea that ice shelves are important in slowing down the glaciers that feed them, controlling the loss of ice from the Antarctic ice sheet. It means that we can lose an awful lot of ice to the sea without ever having summers warm enough to make the snow on top of the glaciers melt — the oceans can do all the work from below.

    “But this does raise the question of why this is happening now. We think that it’s linked to changes in wind patterns. Studies have shown that Antarctic winds have changed because of changes in climate, and that this has affected the strength and direction of ocean currents. As a result warm water is funneled beneath the floating ice. These studies and our new results therefore suggest that Antarctica’s glaciers are responding rapidly to a changing climate.”

    A different picture is seen on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula (the long stretch of land pointing towards South America). Here, the ice-shelf thinning found by this study can be explained by warm summer winds directly melting the snow on the ice-shelf surfaces. Both patterns, of widespread ocean-driven melting and this summer melting on the Antarctic Peninsula, can therefore be attributed to Antarctica’s changing wind patterns.

    1] : H.D. Pritchard et al. Nature 484, 502–505 (26 April 2012) doi:10.1038/nature10968

    Received 06 October 2011 Accepted 17 February 2012 Published online 25 April 2012

  • lancifer

    Michael Heath,

    Face it lancifer, you’re a lying coward…

    Pathetic. Even when directly called on your despicable tactics you can’t write two paragraphs without a childish slur.

    For whom are you writing these diatribes? Yourself?

  • Michael Heath

    Me earlier:

    Face it lancifer, you’re a lying coward…

    lancifer:

    Pathetic. Even when directly called on your despicable tactics you can’t write two paragraphs without a childish slur.

    For whom are you writing these diatribes? Yourself?

    You want your arguments regarding the climate to hold a veneer of respectability while not bothering to actually confront and consider the science as you continually do including in this thread, and lying about the science and others who present that science; that’s pathetic.

    You get my ire because you deserve ire. You either lie about the science or avoid what science says, and you continually misrepresent what commenters post. I continue to offer you an opportunity to respond in a non-cowardly manner yet you continue to cowardly avoid the very scientific facts and explanations which rebut your prior assertions. You whine about me calling out your demonstrated misbehavior while also avoiding facts which make your points ridiculous, a perfect example of intellectual cowardice.

    So how do you respond to both the facts scientists present related to your question and those experts’ explanations when it comes to your misinformed rhetorical question? Specifically those citations I posted above where I quote you again:

    If human produced CO2 is responsible for the changes in the Arctic why hasn’t the same thing happened at the antipode?

    I bet you either continue to avoid both those facts and their attendant explanations as you’ve done so far in this thread and in our last debate, or you’ll misrepresent them – as you did in the last debate.

  • slc1

    Re Lancelot

    Shorter Lancelot: Ah gee, Heath is being mean to me. Boo fucking hoo.

    I have a flash for Mr. Lancelot, the internet is a tough place where no quarter is asked or given. If Mr. Lancelot can’t take the heat, I suggest that he get out of the kitchen.

    Thus far on this thread, Mr. Lancelot has made a number of assertions, all of which have been discredited. When his assertions are challenged by citations to the peer reviewed literature, or a citation to a video produced by a man with impeccable credentials who has won a number of awards for his naturalist productions like David Attenborough, Mr. Lancelot proves himself incapable of responding with cogent arguments and, instead, whines that he’s not being treated with respect. I have a flash for Mr. Lancelot, respect must be earned and thus far, he ain’t earned any. Cites to the web site of young earth creationist Roy Spencer ain’t going to get the job done.

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    It’s really quite simple. I don’t have discussions with people that call me a liar (and worse) while misrepresenting my previous remarks.

    The internet can indeed be a nasty place. That doesn’t mean I have to wallow in the filthy parts of it.

    It may be emotionally satisfying to attack the character of people that disagree with you but it is rarely effective in advancing a dialogue or changing minds.

    In fact it does just the opposite.

  • slc1

    Re Lancelot @ #117

    Whine, whine, whine. That’s all Mr. Lancelot is good for. Poor baby.

  • w00dview

    From reading this thread, it is clear that when lancifer’s assertions on climate change were shown to be false by direct rebuttal, he has now resorted to complaining how mean and nasty people are for having the temerity to suggest he is ignorant on a topic. You assume rational debate has to be all flowers and sunshine and if one uses naughty words, then they are being most illogical indeed. Rational debate actually relies on evidence and the avoidance of logical fallacies, not the absence of insults. You seem to be more interested in the style of the comments than the substance. Sorry, science is all about the substance. Deal with it.

  • lancifer

    woodview,

    When someone calls you a liar, impugns your motives, misrepresents your past comments and maligns your professional integrity before you even have a chance to respond to a single post they have made there is simply no reason to respond.

    If this is your idea of a valid scientific argument you have little experience in this realm.

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer writes:

    When someone calls you a liar. . .

    I didn’t merely call you a liar, I pointed to exactly where you lied, which at a minimum is your comment post @ 80.

    lancifer

    . . . impugns your motives . . .

    In our very first debate you made your motives quite clear, which was to advocate the federal government act as is there was no threat from global warming. Even if a healthy dose of skepticism of the threat was warranted, which it’s not based on the science, policy which ignores the threats of global warming as you advocated is still an incoherent argument that would flunk one from an introductory course in quantitive decision making. Hell, it’s a story problem that doesn’t even require more than Algebra I.

    lancifer

    . . . misrepresents your past comments. . .

    Projecting again I see, point to one post where I misrepresented any comment you ever made, as opposed to your repeatedly doing so to me on this topic, such as posts #88 and #113 in this very thread.

    lancifer:

    . . . and maligns your professional integrity. […]

    If this is your [woodview’s] idea of a valid scientific argument you have little experience in this realm.

    woodview doesn’t assert anything illogical or untrue; nor is there any evidence he’s illiterate in scientific methodology. In fact he nails it by pointing to King Evidence, which you lancifer continue to avoid. If you disagre with me on woodview’s comment have the integrity to blockquote what he wrote and respond accordingly. You accuse others of misrepresenting you, and then go and do the same to him/her, without even trying to point to what he/she said as evidence.

    And lancifer, you’ve yet to demonstrate in even one thread you understand and adhere to the scientific method. Instead you repeatedly avoid it and rely instead on remedial defective arguments rife with dishonesty, defamation of scientists, and mispresentation of others, all premised on rhetorical fallacies.

    I will concede one thing. I was overly harsh not giving you a chance to respond. It would have better to present your rhetorical question conflating the Arctic and Antarctica with the science which refutes. Bereft of my commentary and in spite of having done this very thing previously. It demonstrates I have a ways to go to develop more emotional intelligence when confronted with my two biggest pet peeves: liars – especially about issues which threaten humanity, and people who defame those working in the public interest. My ire for your posts are justified however because you defame the climate scientist community and when presented with past findings, blithely ignore them and make the very same argument in this thread previously falsified in our first debate. But your repeated demonstrated failures of character is not a valid excuse for me to not demonstrate some wisdom and instead demonstrate an unproductive criticism of you.

    And I sincerely hope my skepticism you have any professional integrity causes you some serious reflection. You are a teacher and you have a higher obligation to not behave as you do every time this topic is raised. You seem to think my harsh lashing of you is unnecessarily nasty; I would argue its piddly compared to anyone who defames the powerful or a big group working in the public interest. Many people who would never misrepresent an associate in meat-world have no compunction defaming people in power in a way that makes their efforts in our interests less productive. Less productive precisely because it introduces false premises which help people take positions which can’t withstand scrutiny. Such as your position and argument advocating the federal government not work to mitigate the threat we face from global warming because you deny the threat exists to the point we should at least do so as a hedge.

  • slc1

    Hey Lancelot old buddy, how does this grab you.

    http://phys.org/news/2012-06-sea-ice-threatens-emperor-penguins.html

  • lancifer

    slc1,

    That study admits that Antarctic sea ice has been increasing over the last thirty years, but claims their models indicate that it will begin to decrease.

    So the ice has been increasing but our models say it will begin to decrease.

    Ho hum.

    Sorry I didn’t call you a bunch of names, lie and distort your former remarks and impugn your motives, since that is how the big boys play here on the internet.

  • w00dview

    Lancifer,

    Where does it say that Antarctic sea ice has increased over the past thirty years? Maybe I’m reading it wrong but I can’t find a reference to increased sea ice cover at all in that article. Was it in the actual paper itself?

  • Michael Heath

    lancifer writes:

    So the ice has been increasing but our models say it will begin to decrease.

    Ho hum.

    This one of the first items we debated where I pointed to what actual practicing scientists found revelant both in that debate and here, in this thread post, that being ice volume, melting, sea level rise vs. ice extent. The following is not a model,but instead an observation:

    . . . the acceleration in ice sheet loss over the last 18 years was 21.9 ± 1 Gt/yr 2 for Greenland and 14.5 ± 2 Gt/yr 2 for Antarctica, for a combined total of 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr 2. This acceleration is 3 times larger than for mountain glaciers and ice caps (12 ± 6 Gt/yr 2). If this trend continues, ice sheets will be the dominant contributor to sea level rise in the 21st century.

    2] Rignot, E., I. Velicogna, M. R. van den Broeke, A. Monaghan, and J. Lenaerts (2011), Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L05503, doi:10.1029/2011GL046583. Link at post # 74 above.

    Why are you immune to digesting what climate scientists find even when it’s presented multiple times as you demonstrate in this thread and in our past debate? And given this demonstrated inability to digest what scientists find, why do you whine when we not take you seriously?

  • lancifer

    woodview,

    Where does it say that Antarctic sea ice has increased over the past thirty years?

    After re-reading the available portion of the article it seems they actually claim antarctic sea ice is declining.

    This is flat out wrong.

    Even alarmist sites like skepticalscience.com admit that antarctic sea ice is increasing and has been for years.

    “Currently this ice is increasing and has been for years…”

    Of course they claim that this is “consistent with” AGW but it appears that whatever happens proponents of AGW will of course claim it is “consist with” AGW.

    More ice, “consistent” less ice, “consistent” the same amount of ice, “consistent”. Any theory that is un-falsifiable is unscientific.

    This obvious ignorance of the facts is even more reason to discount this study.