As a non-climate scientist…

As a non-climate scientist… October 14, 2014

I’ve remained more or less agnostic on the question of anthopogenic climate change since, hey, what do I know? The reports and argumentation in the public square have always tended to confuse me, such as this

California’s drought linked to greenhouse gases, climate change (Sept. 29, 2014)

“California’s extraordinary drought is linked to the abundance of greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.”

versus this:

California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say

“Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.”

(Note that the stories both originate with Mercury News and not with rival organs of propaganda.)

Similarly, I recall being up the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska a few year back and being told by the guide that the Glacier (which has obviously shrunk considerably) was evidence of ACC. But when I asked when the Glacier has begun melting, I was told “about two centuries ago”. I replied, “That would place the beginning of climate change before the Industrial Revolution, wouldn’t it?” To which a woman pursed her lips and hissed, “The Chinese were burning a *lot* of bamboo back then.” Clearly, I was profaning with my question, so I piped down and observed the pieties quietly.

Which reminds me: because of this bafflement and ignorance about the science I begin where most people begin, not with the stuff I don’t know about, but with the stuff I do know about. In my case, that is the language of faith, not science. And what has always struck and interested me about ACC is how in the popular arena, the entire discussion of ACC has been conducted, on both sides, using the language of faith, not science.

I remain the ignoramus I have always been about the science, assuming the scientists know what they are talking about.

But, for me, having *only* my grasp of how different faith communities frame their arguments, one powerful piece of evidence in favor of ACC is the fact that American Movement Conservatism, with its infallible knack for being massively, obviously wrong about so much for so long in so many ways, is dead against it. That gives me real pause. See for instance, this rather sane piece at Catholic World Report, followed by denunciations, tribal shibboleths, and shouting at the author for his crime of Ungoodthink. The “arguments” in the combox all boil down to hard analysis like “Whose side are you on anyway?” Hard science is no match for that kind of cogent thinking.

Meanwhile, among the leaders of the Thing That Used to be Conservatism, this also does not fill one with confidence that the skeptical faith community is all that reliable a guide

So I continue to do what I have always done: assume the scientists know what they are talking about (even if I don’t), continue to be baffled by the arguments in the public square, and continue to be impressed by how much of our discussion of climate change, like our discussions of evolution, proceed in the language of faith, not science.

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  • Stephen Sparrow

    And now comes a piece from BBC News that scientific study has
    significantly underestimated the amount of carbon stored by both land and
    marine plants.

    Embarrassing ? Well um yes, for the Boffins who wish to
    scare us – they know what they want folk to believe. Okay, okay. The man made
    global warming folk seem to have forgotten three things: 1. The world is still
    emerging from the Little Ice Age. 2. Water vapour is by far the most common
    green house gas. 3. In the 9th & 10th Centuries the Scandinavian Peninsular
    was free of summer ice (the Norse Sagas – via Sigrid Undset a most meticulous researcher and Nobel Laureate) Try squaring no 3 with then levels of
    atmospheric CO2. But of course back then there may well have been some
    volcanoes belching out the stuff. Many scientists must be wearing face makeup
    these days.

    • Linebyline

      Minor quibble about #2: Sleeping under a flannel sheet, ceteris paribus, is warmer than not sleeping under one. (Perhaps it would be more apt to say that a thick flannel sheet is warmer than a thinner one.) This is still true even if, in both cases, I’m already sleeping under a heavy quilt. So even if water vapor is a more abundant and/or effective greenhouse gas than CO2, an increase in the latter (assuming it’s a greenhouse gas at all, and all else being equal) will still warm the environment.

      I don’t know enough about #s 1 and 3 to comment. I will be reading that BBC link when I get a chance, though.

  • Joseph

    The motive for the TTUTBC opposition to ACC is that they don’t want more regulation that inhibits big business from creating waste that is damaging to the environment on a grand scale because it will create additional cost *and* they don’t want to change their own wasteful lifestyles. In other words: MONEY.
    The motive for the Liberal wing-nuts who fund the pseudo science that fudges numbers to exaggerate ACC and pushes out any contrary scientific opinions/studies

    is that they have a lot riding on the massive potential for revenue generation for states and private business that will be the result of increased regulation. In other words: MONEY.
    Basically, two sides are competing for money/earning potential using something that really cannot be understood or totally agreed upon by the entire scientific community. Both sides are wrong and both sides have managed to brainwash the ignorant masses to fight for them. Because the science isn’t *settled* and the results of the study contain multiple ambiguities (with regard to both predispositions), the brainwashed minions have no choice but to resort to the *language of faith*.
    Both sides are *religious* zealots backing great manipulators whose only purpose is to use their stupidity to *make a buck*.

    • JJG

      Actually, some of us just don’t want to see an unnecessary economic disruption, worse than the one we’ve just been through, in the course of “solving” a non-existent problem.

      • Joseph

        All I want is both sides to put down their megaphones and stop shouting cries of the imminent apocalypse. All sane people can agree that we shouldn’t pollute the environment. That should be the starting point of all discussion. But the hysterics of the ACC religious movement has, predictably, generated an equal and opposite reaction… neither sides even make sense anymore. It’s no surprise things are the way they are. Neither sides have the common good in mind and both sides have sought to fudge scientific data to bolster their claims. It’s total nonsense. I choose to ignore them both and live by the principle that this is God’s creation and by purposefully destroying it for any selfish reason I’m attacking and destroying what He said was *good* and what He was pleased with… putting me at odds with God.
        Mark says “Sin Makes You Stupid”. I also think that the “Secular Makes You Stupid” as well.

    • Because the science isn’t *settled*

      There are a ton of scientists who say it is, in fact, settled. How do I know if you’re telling the truth or they are?

      • Joseph

        There are scientific opinions to the contrary of the *settled* religionists that are equally compelling and didn’t require data fudging that was actually discovered in emails that were leaked (how quickly we forget) to the public just a few years ago.

        I think a consensus actually means *consensus* and not just a group of my peers who prospectively will gain financially if we ignore the scientific method and opt for molding our data analyses to our presuppositions… fudging the data where needed. There has been enough of this in the work of *the ton of scientists* to which you refer to allow for some doubt.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        By investigation?

        This comment demonstrates Mark’s point, in spades.

        • For someone as systemically ignorant about this whole issue and the science behind it as I am, “investigation” is going to involve going to particular authorities and learning from them. I can’t do original research myself, nor am I trained in science enough to go to a university library and read the papers myself and evaluate them.

          What I have to do is somehow choose my authorities. And, frankly, the anti-AGW people seem to me to be kookier and less informed. The AGW people, on the other hand, sigh heavily and get frustrated when someone who absolutely ought to know better makes a stupid claim that’s been answered a million times before. (Those US freaking Congressmen in that video were par for the course, it seems to me.) It reminds me of nothing so much as the frustration I hear in the tone of Classical Theists who have to reply once again to the umpteenth “brilliant” objections of the Jerry Coynes and Richard Dawkinses of the world.

          When one side is trying to make subtle distinctions in order to communicate a complex truth and the other side is going “but you used to think the world was flat. Ha ha!” then it’s pretty obvious with which side my sympathies, even if not my understanding, will lie. In theism and philosophy, it’s with the theists. In the climate debate – at least for now – it’s with the AGW people.

  • Science is not something one is. It’s something you do. If you rigorously follow the scientific method, you’re doing science and your results will be scientific, whether they’re right or wrong. It’s a game of statistics where people are constantly running experiments and eventually the stuff that is wrong is found out as inconsistent with observed reality.

    Unfortunately, there are some rather calm statements of fact laid out in the CWR article that simply are not true. Over the past 18 years or so, there has been a growing divergence between model predictions and observed reality. We’re really at the point where the advocates of global warming are starting to have to seriously fudge their science to maintain their narrative. This sort of fudging is a serious danger for science and a serious danger for the Church if the Church does not exercise prudence and marches off a cliff along with the warmists.

    The statement that temperatures have kept going up, at least with regard to the most recent 16-18 year period is simply incorrect. NOAA, which the author uses as a source, laid out a standard of 15 years of model/reality divergence before it was, scientifically speaking, no longer weather but climate. We’ve exceeded that standard.

    The related statements dismissing as blips, divergences brought up by skeptics begs the question, when does a blip become a new trend. Avoidance of this topic is an important ‘tell’ that you’ve exited the realm of science and entered a faith based conversation.

    Just a parting thought. In the past, this blog has had a lot of condemnations that this or that source is ‘ritually impure’. This article is a full throated endorsement of ritual impurity. The change in position is puzzling, to say the least.

    • This article is a full throated endorsement of ritual impurity. The change in position is puzzling, to say the least.

      I, for one, have been waiting for this. 😉 Mark’s position is inconsistent to the extent that you can only accept the testimony of the ritually impure if you can determine that their relevant ends in this matter are similar enough to yours. The ends of Glenn Greenwald in the area of government privacy or the websites that publish his stuff I think Mark judges as similar enough to his that he can trust his testimony, even though he would disagree with Greenwald on all sorts of other cultural and social issues.

      But what are the ends and purposes of the American Movement Conservatism, other than political power? I don’t think they themselves know. They can’t even agree on something like pollution. Some of them hate it and would like to see market pressure brought to bear to stamp it out, some see it as a necessary evil and will tolerate it for the sake of industrial production, and some don’t think it’s that big of a deal at all. These are incompatible aims. How one could trust the statements of a group of people that claims to be pursuing such divergent ends is a fair question.

      • Your point doesn’t carry because it does not fit the facts.

        Mark says AMC is dead set against ACC.
        Mark says he himself is agnostic against ACC
        Mark says he is moved to be for ACC because AMC is against ACC.

        This is almost a textbook case of ritual impurity, the taking of a position based on someone else’s position independent of the truth of their arguments especially when you don’t even evaluate their arguments.

        That a broad movement does not march in lockstep on every issue is not surprising. Not even the Church does that. Why would a political movement be held to a higher standard? So I’m not even going to touch the topic of whether you’re actually right or wrong about AMC’s voice on pollution. It’s irrelevant to the issue of ‘ritual impurity’.

        Pollution seems to respond well to wealth. The richer society is, the more people seem to be willing to pay for things to be done cleanly and the more they seem to respond politically to green politicians.

        How this impulse is to be expressed, through what combination of the market and the law is the best way to bring the impulse into the real world, I suspect that all ideological stripes (including the greens) have differences within their respective caucuses. A fair individual would notice the differences among the left as well as the right. Someone who is holding a double standard will only notice dissent in the target population.

      • I wrote multiple responses to this, all swallowed up by Disqus apparently. Trying again.

        Mark is explicitly pushed away from a position because conservatives tend to take the contrary. This is practically textbook ritual impurity, the unwillingness to be on the same side as someone else regardless of whether in this case, they are right. I recognize that ritual impurity is something of a neologism and thus malleable. If Mark were to come up with a different definition, it would not change the intelligence value of this strategy he adopted here.

        American movement conservatism generally wants lower taxes, less regulation, and occasionally will throw social conservatives a bone if it doesn’t cost too much. These are its essentials as anyone who listens to them can tell pretty quickly. They have a long list of inessentials, which includes pollution. Whether pollution markets, source liability, or simply accepting the current level of domestic pollution is the way forward at present is a matter of internal debate. That is not an indictment. When you’ve gotten down to the point where a quarter to a third of San Francisco pollution is actually emitted in Shanghai, pollution has ceased to be a first rank issue of domestic politics.

        • falstaff77

          “When you’ve gotten down to the point where a quarter to a third of San Francisco pollution is actually emitted in Shanghai, pollution has ceased to be a first rank issue of domestic politics.”

          Yes, thanks for drawing attention to this fact. Amazing.

          From December 2007 through May 2008, the researchers collected particulate pollution samples from two sites in the San Francisco Bay Area: … when Asian dust storms are most intense, so the researchers concluded … marker … from eastern Asia. When they analyzed data from the entire six-month survey, Ewing and her team found that the median proportion of Asian lead in the PM2.5 was 29%.


    • Over the past 18 years or so, there has been a growing divergence between model predictions and observed reality.

      This guy, one Gavin Schmidt, a “climate scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Deputy Chief at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies” seems to be saying that the models are actually getting much better at prediction.

      How am I misunderstanding him or how is he wrong?

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        Did you really just truck out a man in scientism vestments to dispute a claim?

        The religious nature of this whole dispute gives me hives.

        • Did you really just truck out a man in scientism vestments to dispute a claim?

          I am presuming, just like one does with religious vestments, that the authority lies not in the vestments themselves, but in the attainments of the man who earned them and the community that awarded them.

          That having been said, yes, I did so trot him out, and I won’t apologize. I want to know why he’s wrong. He seemed to be making a claim largely at odds to one made by TMLutas (who has no authority whatsoever besides the “sense” I have from arguing with him that he’s an informed and intelligent man). I wanted to give TM a chance to answer.

          Furthermore, this is not a “religious” debate. What it involves is vast ignorance and therefore a need to trust or not trust a community that seems to be making claims that I do not have the ability to evaluate for myself. This is not religion. This is just human life. I trust my brother when he explains football to me (a subject about which I am even more ignorant than I am about climate science), not because football is a religion for either of us, but because I have good reason to think he knows what he’s talking about and – being a member of a community of which he is also a part – I trust that he’s not leading me astray.

        • Joseph

          Hahaha. Nice catch.

      • Gavin Schmidt is not simply a random climate scientist but one of the leaders of the warmists and is engaging in a bit of skillful dodging. This occurs in several places in the video but I will only detail one at present.

        If you notice, the video was published this year in 2014. We have full year data up through 2013 and monthly data through September of this year. His comparison between models and observed data stops at 2010 (timestamp starts about 9:30). Why not include the last three years? If you stop the comparison at 2010, it’s permissible to say that the variance between the models and observed reality is just a statistical blip. You don’t get brought up on academic charges for that. The time of the divergence is barely short enough then that you can still get away with that dodge with only a silently raised eyebrow by the scientific community. The scientists know that this is a century long game and such evasions aren’t worth debunking because they will become untenable in five years time if the divergence continues.

        That is no longer scientifically permissible without a lot of caveats when you run your data to present day. The models have exceeded the gray zone and are no longer skillful by the relevant, objective, scientific standards.

        So any non-scientist can spot old data, but you have to look for it and you have to look for it specifically in the visualizations relevant to the current controversy.

      • Third time’s the charm (I appear to have lost my prior two answers). In short, the two statements do not necessarily contradict each other. Here is an IPCC chart on atmospheric methane levels with reality and the state of the art in prediction for all four IPCC assessment reports.

        Gavin Schmidt’s statement is correct as can be seen by the top line on each assessment having progressively less distance than the proceeding one. But when compared to reality, the FAR actually had the methane numbers of that year within the probability cone, something that is no longer true by TAR which diverged by one year and is a worse problem in AR4 which has not had a single year where actual methane numbers are within their predicted level range. All years where the methane levels are inside the prediction envelope for AR4 are “backcasts”. The divergence with reality has gotten bigger over time.

        I won’t get into why this divergence happened, but it happened and it’s happening in more than just methane levels.

  • Dave G.

    But isn’t modern liberalism prone to be just as wrong about things? Which would seem to put us back at square one between ‘nothing to worry about’ and ‘there are too damn many people in the world and we need to start thinning the numbers to save the planet’ (according to a CNN report we watched a few weeks ago). If we’re using the old gauge of ‘that group is so wrong what they don’t like must be true’ approach to assessing a situation, I think we end up being no better off trying to sort things out. At least following that approach.

  • Torquemada Tequila

    Actually, Mark, pastafarians are half-right. Climate change is caused by the general decline in global pirate populations. Now here is where things get a little weird. As I can prove through statistical evidence, the decline in global pirate populations correlates indirectly to rise of belief in Copernican cosmology within the Northern Hemisphere. So, despite his other faults, our friend Dr Bob Sungenis is doing yeoman’s work combatting global warming.

    • Dan F.

      That was as impressive a piece of “inside-baseball” to hit a punch line as I’ve seen in a long time. ::slow clap:: 😉

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “I’ve remained more or less agnostic on the question of anthopogenic climate change…”
    Me, too. That said, I’d still consider myself a conservationist because of reading the Bible, Chesterton, and Tolkien. I want my kids to have clean air, clean water, and would love to be able to take them fishing and be able to eat our catch without worrying about mercury poisoning.
    I am not a rabid environmentalist. But neither do I want to live in Mordor and call it paradise.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    Does anyone doubt that if California were suffering monsoons and mudslides, they would be blamed on ACC?
    Sure, and it’s a wonderful theory that can account for even contradictory outcomes.

    • jroberts548

      Increased variability (e.g., more droughts and more monsoons) isn’t contradictory to the possibility of climate change, anthropogenic or otherwise. So, for instance, last winter, when the Eastern half of the US has one of its coldest winters ever, while the Western half has one of its hottest and driest winters ever, that’s evidence of increased variability, which is not inconsistent with climate change.

      • Mariana Baca

        Your latter example isn’t increased variability. That is just a big divergence in local weather. Increased variability would be if the Eastern half had both some of the coldest and warmest days this year, which it didn’t. Summer was pretty standard. What YOS mentioned also wasn’t increased variability: he wasn’t arguing that if we had both droughts and monsoons that would be contradictory. He argued that if there were *only* monsoons and mudslides, people would also argue global warming — which means it has zero predictive power if global warming causes all possible weather.

        The question is: what does the model predict and what does it not? Scientific consensus is that we are in a general warming period and that some part of the warming is due to anthropogenic causes. That is it. It doesn’t tell us whether there will be more droughts or monsoons in California.

        Conclusions like: thus this hurricane was caused by climate change, or this other local weather phenomenon was caused by global warming or an increase in blizzards is caused by global warming are not factual or based on science. It is like people using quantum mechanics to explain metaphysical concepts: it is not based on what the science actually predicts, which is a limited conclusion. Global warming is a statement about the climate (averages over long periods of time), not about the weather (local variations in temperature and precipitation).

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        Explaining such things by appeals to “climate change” is like explaining planetary motions with appeals to “location change.” “Change” is the explanandum, not the explanation. For instance, last winter, the Eastern half of the US has one of
        its coldest winters ever, while the Western half has one of its hottest
        and driest winters ever because the jet stream developed a pronounced mid-continental “dip” whose path matched very eerily the extent of the glaciers in the previous ice age. This pulled polar air into the center of the continent while allowing hot dry air to move up the West coast.

        What was truly remarkable about it was that it was nothing new. The science writer, John Gribben, who once did a nice book on the problem of global cooling, co-authored an SF novel called The Sixth Winter, in which the following passage appears,
        supposedly an excerpt from a govt. report:

        FIVE: In warm decades, such as those prior to 1950, this jet [stream] follows an almost perfect circle around the globe. At the same time, it pushes with it a succession of weather systems: rain, followed by a dry spell, more rain, and so on. But when the atmosphere cools, the jet stream becomes more erratic, swinging in zigzags, first north then south, and becoming very weak and susceptible to disturbances caused by sea temperature and by snow and ice on land and sea.

        SIX: Recent severe weather conditions in North America and elsewhere are a result of this weaker, more erratic pattern of windflow. High pressure building over the southwestern United States seaboard, aided by ocean temperature conditions, zigzags the jet stream so that it is too weak to push the “blocking high” system away. A dominant flow from northwest to southeast is established across the whole of the United States east of the Rockies, encouraging the southward flow of the jet stream and cooling a great area of ocean south of Newfoundland. The severe United States winters of 1977 and 1978 marked the return of this pattern as a common feature after more than 100 years of relatively equable weather.

        IOW, the more variable weather was at that time ascribed to global cooling, which was thought by alarmists to herald an impending ice age.

        increased variability, which is not inconsistent with climate change

        Indeed, variability is not inconsistent with change.

        • Joseph

          ‘Deniers’ aren’t allowed to use facts.

        • Is there a website, TOS, where I can go and watch you argue with AGW people? I want to see you arguing with people who know a lot, not people like us who only know a little.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Is TOS a contraction of TOF and YOS?

            I too would like to see such an argument in play… except climate change arguments go on longer than God Exists arguments.
            One of the best sites on CC and ACC I have found is:

            • Linebyline

              Probably a typo (T is next to Y on QWERTY keyboards) but since YOS is TOF (unless I’m crazy, and perhaps even then), a good start would be

              • Garbanzo Bean

                I am already a frequenter of tofspot and am familiar with its delights. Perhaps we should just start referring to him as TOS.

                • Linebyline

                  Sadly, I’ve been trained to read it as “Terms of Service,” Those painfully dry contracts that nobody reads except for me and a few bored lawyers.

            • Is TOS a contraction of TOF and YOS?

              Roughly, yes. 😉 I can never remember which is which, even though I’m pretty sure they refer to the same entity, and, obviously, I was too lazy/in a hurry to go back and check.

  • T

    I would have serious doubts about the climate change denial business. It’s all funded by the fossil fuel industry and scary billionaires like the Koch brothers.

    • Joseph

      And the opposite is funded by those who would capitalise on carbon credits and an ambiguous tax strategy for something that cannot be measured. Both sides of the religious debate are evil.

      • Dave G.

        I would say both sides have evil or bad or something. Not that both sides *are* evil. I’m sure there are good on both sides as well.

    • I have equal doubts about the AGW and ACC industries, which also have billionaires on their side and a market based approach that seems to be more wealth transfer from the poor and middle class to the rich than actually doing anything about carbon in the atmosphere (carbon credits, not trees, seem to rule the day).

    • jaybird1951

      That is not true. You are spouting progressive slogans instead of facts. Most of those who are skeptical about AGW or reject it are scientists themselves. Do not forget that billions of dollars flow to those scientists who play along with the AGW and Climate Change hypothesis.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Regardless of the veracity of ACC, we still have a clear duty regarding localized issues of pollution. I should think that if we saw to that duty without worrying about world-wide ACC (which I think is an approach complementary to subsidiarity and to the organic American political tradition), then in the aggregate any possible global issue would be resolved.

    It may be trickier in the developing world, but is apparently both possible and profitable.

    Regardless, as Catholics, we enjoy no few authoritative teachings (e.g., Caritas in Veritate) regarding our treatment of ecologies and responsible exploitation of natural resources. I anticipate Francis’ encyclical on the matter.

    • Joseph

      Agreed. We can achieve the same goals without all the BS.

  • Kathleen S.

    I am not a scientist, by any means, but I am a member of the Community Alliance for Responsible Eco-Farming and attend farm conferences in Lancaster, Pa. Most of the membership consist of the Old Order Amish. It’s been wonderful to attend a farming conferences were they pray , read a scripture , and ask God to bless their crops. Too much to get into in a short email, but long story short, there is no top soil, which is the mantle that covers the earth due to bad farming practices and heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. Lack of soil health affects everyone, and anyone who lives near or in rural areas can testify that all they see is mono culture farming. It’s all corn, as well as soy. There is no bio-diversity seen in most areas. Big corporations put farmers in huge debt as the farmers have to take out loans to buy the info-structure for the factory farms. Factory farms contain large amounts of animals ( including lots of dead ones lying along the perimeters) in small areas ( Food, Inc. documentary is a must see for anyone who eats) they abuse migrant workers and produce unhealthy food containing salmonella and other bacteria.I recommend reading Joel Salatin’s books, Acres, USA ( farming practices that regenerative) and the Grass Farmer Stockman newspaper, Wendal Berry books and Jerry Brunetti, to be informed on the situation. We are stewards of creation and as such much make good decisions on how we are raising crops, animals and treating farm workers.

  • I may not know science, but I know data. And I know for a fact that the data shows something very, very different than what they want us to believe- a sample size much too small, much too recent, to fit their sweeping claims. Which is why the models are always wrong when compared with current reality.

  • scott

    While the jury may still be out on the science and the models, my major problem with the folks who deny ACC is the oft-cited premise that human beings simply do not have the capacity to cause something so massive as global climate change. Religion is often cited as well, to try and show that God and the earth that He created are far bigger than we are. True enough. Unfortunately, the whole nature of the Christian understanding of the world is that Adam and Eve’s choice to commit sin actually had the capacity to rupture the entire cosmos–and did. That is why we live in a broken world (spiritually and physically)–because human beings have the capacity to brake it–and on a cosmic level! This should be monumentally disturbing. God gives us freedom to make decisions. Those decisions (whether made out of selfishness, or greed, or comfort, etc) have the capacity to disrupt the entire cosmos. The original sin story proves this. That said, whether their is a climate change caused by our own (personal and communal) sin, or not, we should tread very carefully into that discussion realizing that if we have not caused global climate change, we very well could!

  • Morris

    People just need to wake up and accept the fact that — just like with our now-complete knowledge of the human body and how it interacts with any and all external factors in the vaccine question, particularly in the era of GMO and the saturation of our bodies with WiFi/cell phone/bluetooth/cordless phones/microwaves — we, in 2014, have complete knowledge of how the sun works, and how the earth and its atmosphere and stratosphere and magnetic poles and EVERYTHING ELSE works in conjunction with said sun (not to mention a comprehensive scientific history of such for the past 25,000 years at least). So we can have more than the usual confidence in the pronouncements of scientists who tell us that humans are causing these changes in climate (I hear that there is supposed to be a rather radical change in climate in much of the USA within the next 6 – 12 weeks, in fact).

    See here for proof that it’s humans, and nothing else:×0.jpg

    • Morris

      Also, the Pentagon says it’s an immediate threat that requires lots of money be given to them, so that’s just another solid proof.

      • Joseph

        Like I said… MONEY…

        • Elmwood

          Listen to Morris, ignore the scientific experts on this scientific phenomenon.

          That makes about as much sense as me ignoring physicians and instead asking you to treat my medical conditions assuming you are not a doctor.

          • Morris

            Yeah – because “the scientific experts” and “physicians” are all agreed – 100%! Well, 90%….or maybe 80%….possibly 40%….well, it depends on whose data you look at….BUT WE STILL HAVE FULL KNOWLEDGE NOW AND THAT’S WHAT MATTERS. I don’t care what the sun does, it can’t affect me nearly as much as a smokestack.

          • Hezekiah Garrett

            Considering that the leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer is physician, you might be right, just not in the way your sanctimony presumes.

            • Linebyline

              Source? Also, perhaps some clarification on what “physician” means in this context?

          • Joseph

            So you’re saying that money and financing have nothing to do with it? Mmm-kay… good. Al Gore and his pals in the ACC industry are the cause of most carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Not only does his mansion requires more energy to power than an entire Atlanta subdivision, but all of the steaks that he eats resulting in putrid anal releases from his bulbous arse and the private jet trips he takes around the world to speak about the debunked hockey stick to bolster his push for a carbon credit bank doesn’t help either. And think of all of the cows that are required for his meals… how much carbon do those animals emit?

    • Linebyline

      Who is claiming that we have complete knowledge of any of the things you mention? I’ve never heard anyone claim that our knowledge of the climate is perfect, only that based on what we do know, air pollution seems to be causing changes to the earth’s climate.

      Your image is also a non sequitur: The relative sizes of the sun and earth have little or nothing to do with the greenhouse effect.

      You do know that global warming is alleged to exist because certain gases trap more heat, most of which does come from the sun, right? I don’t mean to be condescending, and I’m sorry if I come across that way, but I honestly get the impression from your comments that you think scientists are claiming that the gases themselves are heating the earth.

      • Joseph

        You probably need to have your Irony Meter checked.

        • Linebyline

          Irony and putting words in other people’s mouths are two distinct things. Morris just happens to be doing both.

  • Elmwood

    AGW is real, there is no serious debate about that anymore, even among the few published skeptics (Judith Curry, Roy Spencer). The debate among the skeptics is now focused on the climate sensitivity to increased CO2 concentrations and whether or not we have enough of an understanding of the potential risks to do anything about it. The skeptics only amount to about 3% of the scientific community.

    Even then, it appears that the skeptics are mostly agreeing with other published studies that predict anywhere from 2 degrees C to 4 degrees C rise in global temperature with a doubling of atmospheric CO2. This is a pretty robust estimate because it doesn’t entirely rely on physical modeling but also on data reconstructed from the geologic record. 2 degrees is probably survivable, but 4 may be cataclysmic.

    There is much we don’t know such as how much heat will the oceans absorb (90% of global warming goes into the oceans) and how clouds affect global warming.

    Nearly all climate scientists and the church are calling for action by the international community. it’s mostly right-wing ideologues who oppose coordinated efforts to combat this complex and serious problem.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      No, the declared skeptics number about 3/c, with c60/c undeclared.If you’re using the usual source for the 97/3 split everyone else does.

      I yield to no one in my desire to see the industrial revolution reversed outright. Far more radical than you. Yet I’m very skeptical of this claim. Right wing ideologues, my bright red hiney

      • No, the declared skeptics number about 3/c, with c60/c undeclared.

        I’m sorry if I seem dense, but I don’t understand that sentence at all. What’s the terminology mean? Also, do you have a source? Not being snarky; I just want to know.

        • I think that’s 3% declared skeptics with circa 60% undeclared. The 97% number is highly suspect with several known skeptics having had some of their papers categorized as pro-consensus. They tried to get their categorizations reversed to no avail.

    • falstaff77

      The first sentence in that post is accurate, limited, and supportable. For some reason you’ve imagined that entitles you to take it out for a joy ride, as the rest is not remotely so.

      IPCC AR5 has the low side sensitivity at 1.5C, not 2C. The terms “survivable” and “cataclyismic” are your hyperbole. While the measurement *some* signature of AGW in the observed temperature record is robust, the sensitivity is not remotely so as that metric is indeed based overwhelming on models, all of which have predictions now dropped below 2% likelihood. No, not “nearly all” climate scientists are calling for international action. They largely agree that there’s been some AGW, not what should be done about it.

      • Elmwood

        i really don’t want to get into a scientific argument over this. there are forums for that where you can discuss this stuff over with experts. from what i’ve seen, skeptics get their asses handed to them for the most part. but sensitivity is not only based on models. i prefer the estimates based on the geologic record which suggest 2.2–4.8 K per doubling of atmospheric CO2, which agrees with IPCC estimates.

        this is from wikipedia on climate sensitivity:

        Few of the simulations result in less than 2 °C of warming—near the low end of estimates by theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).[1] Some simulations result in significantly more than the 4 °C, which is at the high end of the IPCC estimates.[1] This pattern (statisticians call it a “right-skewed distribution”) suggests that if carbon dioxide concentrations double, the probability of very large increases in temperature is greater than the probability of very small increases.[1]

        • falstaff77

          “i really don’t want to get into a scientific argument over this … this is from wikipedia …”

          That’s fine. My objection is not to wikipedia based references, but to the pretense that such also provides an educated opinion on what “nearly all climate scientists” consider appropriate action, on what defines skeptics and so on.

  • Robster

    The issue is heavily politicized, so none of the public arguments in the media sway me, a non political person. I am not opposed to the theory, just want a more neutral argument. Not, “You’re just a right-wing denier!”.

  • Elmwood

    Mark, nearly all the glaciers in Alaska are receding, the land-locked glaciers are receding the fastest. Tide-water glaciers are more stabilized (still shrinking slowly) up here because they have melted back from their terminal moraines years ago and are now more or less stable. There are a few that are advancing as well.

    Glaciers were retreating before the industrial revolution and AGW effects. This is a good question and is related to the ending of the “Little Ice Age” (1350-1850). What caused the Little Ice Age is another good question, explanations include changes in solar radiation, ocean circulation and volcanic activity.

  • Paul


    I am not a climate scientist or a meteorologist, but I do have

    a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Masters degree in Technology. While I may not be a qualified expert on climate science per se, I am more than qualified to discuss the attempt to extrapolate a very limited amount of data into a meme of causality.
    One does not have to be a climate scientist to recognize that weather is a very complex system. There are many variables involved, probably thousands of them. Through a repeated process of hypothesis formation, data collection and data analysis, one can eventually peel back the layers of a system and discover which independent variables actually correlate to dependent variable. They key word here is correlate. Correlation and causality are not the same.
    The assertion that manmade CO2 causes climate change is an assertion of causality. As an engineer and technologist, I can respect the theory that there might be a correlation between manmade CO2 and ACC. I have absolutely no problem with it as a theory.
    I do have a problem with causality being asserted and being told “shut up you dummy, we have already discussed the issue and it is settled”. Really? You have accounted for all of the variables involved? Not based on what I have seen. You have completely left out what literally appears to be the biggest source of temperature variation – the sun. And of the thousands of potential variables, you have isolated one of them and not only assert that there is a correlation, but causation as well. Please!
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing the theory. I don’t think the theory is dumb. As a member of the engineering and scientific community, however, I expect to see good data and sound reasoning to support the conclusions that have been made – especially when asserting causality.
    Instead we seem to get exactly what you have observed, faith based appeals.
    The way I see it, the folks who pushing the MMCO2=ACC causality link, if they are really concerned about the fate of the planet, they need to stop and answer the legitimate scientific questions that are being asked. They are all assuming they are correct and that if we don’t drop everything and do something to curb CO2 we are all doomed.
    What if rising global temperatures are not caused by CO2 and CO2 is merely a correlative variable that tracks the increase in global temperature? I think that question is just as important. I would really like to know because the lives of billions of people are at risk and we may be concentrating on the wrong issue. We may need to accept the fact that sea levels are going to rise and we had nothing to do with it and we need to get busy moving people, building sea walls or figuring out how to transport billions of people to Mars.

  • PalaceGuard

    I started out as an anthro major with an interest in paleo and later SW archaeology. One thing I learned at the time, well before all the current hooraw, was that this half of the continent has been historically subject to periodic, extreme, culture-killing droughts. The last really major one, about 800 or so years ago was a real doozie that may have resulted in the demise of the Cahokian civilization of the Mississippi River basin. well to the east. So, nothing new except the expressions of surprise on the faces of the uninformed.

  • PalaceGuard

    Maybe if our guvm’nt stopped burning all of our money on Stupid Stuff, the world would chill out.

  • kenofken

    It’s worth noting that Big Oil, along with essentially every major multinational corporation, accepts ACC, and not just on lip service. They’re plowing huge money into hedging against the effects of climate change on their own assets and positioning themselves to profit from those changes. I’m quite certain they’re not acting out of liberal eco religious beliefs of any kind.

    • That’s very interesting. Rebuttals, anyone?

    • The downfall of the permit Raj in India and Maoism in China unleashed a chain of events that we’re still adjusting to and will be for decades. The plain fact is even with fracking hydrocarbons can’t handle energy demand going forward for all those new entrants in the global middle class and we’re facing the end of the age of oil and entering into a new multi-fuel future.

      It makes perfect economic sense for Big Oil to morph itself into Big Energy and to invest heavily into alternatives that are not going to get hung up in permitting hell like nuclear power is. So they research, they develop, they look to figure out how to increase supply any way possible.

      At the same time, they’ve got a big political target on their back and they want that target off. So they’ve shifted strategies and created a new identity that puts them in the cross hairs of fewer people. They buy the right sort of friends and make the right sort of noises.

      What gain do they have if they resist the environmental pieties of the day?

  • a non Amos

    With regard to the weather in California, I know this may sound a little foil hattish, but I seriously suspect weather modification efforts may be in play. There has not been a serious hurricane or tropical storm hit the gulf of Mexico area in 5 or 6 years now. Governments have been talking about weather modification for decades. I doubt they would come out and ask us “Is it OK if we try to stop the gulf from experiencing hurricanes through weather modification techniques that we have developed?”

  • Elmwood

    Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish. St. JPII in a letter to the director of the vatican observatory.

    it’s very superstitious to think climate scientists and their peer-reviewed scientific papers are all wrong because they don’t fit in nicely into a “invisible hands of the market will save us” narrative as promulgated by the GOP.

    science and faith both have their proper spheres of knowledge which need to be respected and kept from contaminating each other. science can’t tell us if someone ought to live or die and faith can’t tell us how the universe physically developed nor can faith tell us whether the planet is physically warming due to fossil fuel burning.

    evolution and anthropogenic global warming are near scientific facts and God created us in his image. these truths shouldn’t be in conflict.

    • This article isn’t about a religious conflict with science. It’s an observation that some of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming story doesn’t pass the laugh test. Receding glaciers that started receding before the industrial revolution blamed on a process that is supposed to have started with the industrial revolution might be something but science it is not.

      Right now, the certainty that the CAGW theorists are correct is currently going down as the divergence between their models and observed reality widens. If you care as much about science as I do, preserve the credibility of the scientific method over any particular theory or model.

      • Elmwood

        it is very true that the GOP has faith in the “invisible hands of the market” and this faith or superstition is being used to dismiss the peer reviewed scientific literature concerning AGW.

        again, whether AGW is true or not is a scientific question which isn’t seriously questioned by the experts on climate change. they all agree that man does affect the climate. what is being debated now is exactly how much humans are changing the climate.

        • You don’t realize how much of an unscientific parody you are, do you? What’s worse is that it’s an obscene parody.

          Let’s get one thing straight off the bat, the political policy response to the warming or cooling of the globe is not a question of science. It’s a question of politics.

          We have about a hundred year experience of people wrongly trying to shoehorn science into politics called scientific socialism. This is the obscene part. The number of people who died from the whole series of ‘experiments’ implementing scientific socialism range about 100 million. This does not count war dead or foreigners but merely governments killing their own people and thus is an undercount of the true human toll.

          The policy response pushed by the global warming crowd has a number of points of congruence with scientific socialism. We are all supposed to modify our economy and reduce our economies today to save lives a century from now. Adaptation as a response is systematically kept from serious discussion.

          We already have examples of wrongheaded policy responses to global warming that have cost lives and created misery disproportionately among the poor in the continuing biofuel mandates. The response is the same ‘no true scotsman’ fallacy that has always made discussions of scientific socialism an effort in frustration.

          • Elmwood

            i understand you pretty much think we shouldn’t do anything about it.

            i don’t want to get in an argument about what should be done at this point. i just wanted to point out the stupidity of “conservatives” when they try to argue against the scientific near fact of man made global warming. it’s one thing to argue the extent of it, it’s altogether asinine to say the scientific community is in a huge conspiracy to fabricate this thing.

            • You understand nothing about me because you have not bothered to ask. You’re debating a caricature and inviting me to put on a suit that does not actually reflect my views.

              My position has long been that if we actually do have a serious problem of global temperature, the fix is to get cheap lift and orbital manufacturing and create a planetary thermostat that will move us to a yet-to-be-established temperature optimum in a way that allows us to undo mistakes and to effect change relatively rapidly (timescale of a few years). The benefits to the approach include that we’re not killing poor people today with high food prices leading to riots (arab spring) for a benefit which will pan out 75 years from now assuming all goes as planned. Another benefit is that even if global warming is not real, creating a planetary thermostat would provide real benefits to humanity by allowing us to keep Earth at a roughly optimum temperature. In short, a global thermostat would be profitable, if we can get past the free rider problem.

              Cheap launch seems to be coming anyway. A few more R&D bucks is a pretty light price for a basic tool that provides so many benefits. A planetary thermostat has had most of the theoretical work done. Virtually engineering it in an X-prize like competitive atmosphere is a pittance compared to our current expenditures solving this problem and would be back loaded, a real advantage when we have an unexplained pause in temperature rise that’s approaching two decades.

              The scientific community has a tremendous credibility problem in that it’s not properly following its own methods. It has a real shortage of replication studies and a majority of what is published in peer-reviewed journals is wrong (according to peer reviewed studies on the subject). It also has something of a worrying trend in the growth of retracted papers. Not to put too fine a point on it, science is acquiring an honesty problem. All that being said, even scence pursued in the flawed ways I’ve outlined is so helpful to human flourishing that there’s a lot of looking the other way going on. That can’t last forever, though, with the problems worsening as the years go by.

              Why anyone would think that global warming studies would be unaffected by these wider trends really puzzles me. The only reason that global warming gets a disproportionate focus is that the conventional wisdom of the mainstream opinion demands such pernicious solutions that letting the bad habits go here creates an outsized negative result. A front loaded solution for a problem that extends long beyond any reasonable prediction horizon is just a bad idea, no matter what the subject. When the subject is global and we’re talking multiple trillions of dollars in expenditures, it becomes a very bad idea.

            • Joseph

              Part of the *huge conspiracy* was discovered with the email leaks a few years ago that prompted considerable backpedaling by the ACC pedlars. So, as convenient as it is to label skeptics wacko conspiracy theorists in order to dismiss any contrary scientific opinions and studies, it actually makes you look worse. ACCism actually fits the definition of *conspiracy*.

        • Joseph

          Umm… you just showed your cards there, pal. Most people commenting on this blog are GOP averse (while also being DEM averse). You’re donning the party hat with a comment like that proving that you see ACC exactly how one particular spot on the political spectrum wants you to view it. Sorry, but you just killed your own argument. It doesn’t work that way and that’s a rather stupid approach: He is an ACC skeptic, therefore, he must be a Republican. Very, very, poor partisan logic and it utterly ruins your argument.

        • Daren

          I would be more likely to believe the “consensus” view of the climate “experts” if the findings did not tend to call for solutions that put more and more power in the hands of those who fund the research. By the way, I have spent 25 years in government work and 12 of that conducting research albeit, in areas unrelated to climate. I know first hand the unspoken and natural pressures to guide the outcome of research in the general direction desired by the purse. It is human nature.

  • Garbanzo Bean

    Anthropogenic Climate Change is a modern spin on the Witch Hunt. We know there are wicked people out there doing evil things, and we have to stop them. Any argument to the contrary is evidence of witchcraft, and those so arguing need to be burned asap.

    • Elmwood

      ACC is a scientific question which is answered using science and not talk radio or Fox News and the koch bros. ACC has absolutely nothing to do with a “witch hunt”.

      • Garbanzo Bean

        I am not in the US, I have no idea what you are referring to. Or do you mean American Climate Change?
        You misunderstand me, witches are real: their incantations, spells, charms, abominations and enormities must not remain unpunished. Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull to that effect in 1484. Now all that remains is for Francis and the rest to follow suit with ACC.

        • Elmwood

          Are you saying witches aren’t real? witches certainly exist today and their incantations and spells could be very real in the eyes of a catholic. i’m not understanding your point.

          • Garbanzo Bean

            Fear of incantations and spells is as contrary to reason as it is contrary to faith. Fear of ACC is irrational, and has more to do with witch hunt enthusiasm than with science.

            • Elmwood

              fear of incantations and spells are not contrary to reason or my catholic faith. faith in the “invisible hands of the market” is contrary to both reason and my catholic faith.

            • Linebyline

              That depends. If you deny that demons exist, that they seek to harm humans, or that witchcraft has anything to do with demons, then yeah, witchcraft is pretty harmless. Catholic teaching doesn’t deny those things–in fact it affirms them–so from the Catholic perspective, witchcraft can be quite harmful. As with anything that’s harmful, a healthy fear of it is perfectly reasonable.

              Being afraid of witches is like being afraid of people who drive on the wrong side of the road, with the caveat that Sacraments are much more effective against the former than any protection against the latter that I’m aware of.

              Of course, whether witchcraft is dangerous, whether there’s a witch hunt against climate change skeptics/deniers, and whether human actions result in climate change are three orthogonal concepts.

              • Garbanzo Bean

                “I am really much more afraid of those people who have so great a fear of the devil, than I am of the devil himself. Satan can do me no harm whatever, but they can trouble me very much.”
                St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

                • Linebyline

                  Yeah, I actually mentioned that the Sacraments offer considerable protection.

                  Nowhere did I encourage “so great a fear of the devil.” I only said that fear of spells and incantations is not irrational. People who practice witchcraft are a danger to themselves and others.

                  Maybe they’re not a danger to St. Teresa, but only about a billion or so of the more than seven billion people on Earth are Catholic (with other Christians accounting for another billion or so). Of them, many do not avail themselves of the Sacraments, or worse, are in a state of mortal sin. So plenty of people aren’t as well-protected as Teresa.

                  Of course, since demons are capable of mounting campaigns of harassment and temptation against even those in the state of Grace (they even tried it with Jesus), it’s a bit of an overstatement to say “Satan can do me no harm whatsoever.” Even Jesus said to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

                  Again, this is all completely orthogonal to climate change and the real or perceived witch hunt against those that don’t accept the prevailing scientific opinion about it.

                  • Garbanzo Bean

                    When Jesus said “fear him”, he was referring to God and his judgment. You need to listen to Teresa, not rationalize what she said.
                    They are not orthogonal at all, they are parallel. The same incantations that terrify you from witches, you have believed from the ACC crowd. Keep chanting “prevailing scientific opinion”.

                    • Linebyline

                      I may be wrong about “fear him” (your comment isn’t the first place I’ve seen that interpretation) but I thought mine was a reasonable interpretation because I’m pretty sure God isn’t the one who kills souls in hell.

                      I’m not afraid of witches. I only said that fear of witchcraft is not unreasonable because witchcraft is in fact dangerous. You’re the one who keeps claiming that I’m terrified.

                      I don’t chant “prevailing scientific opinion.” I used the phrase only once, and was careful to avoid stating any agreement or disagreement with that opinion.

                      You keep making assertions about me that are at best false and at worst demonstrably at odds with what I’ve already written. Stop it. It’s dishonest.

      • So we are to just ignore the calls to imprison those with inconvenient opinions and effective platforms to transmit those opinions?

        No, this is not purely a scientific question.

        • Linebyline

          I’m not sure there is such a thing as a purely scientific question. Science has consequences, like pretty much everything else in human thought.

  • Elmwood

    Here appears to be a free online course on Global Warming and the Science and Modeling of Climate Change brought to you by the University of Chicago.

    Instead of listening to the pundits and talking heads on the radio or Fox News, here is an opportunity to learn about the science of global warming.

  • obpoet

    Could it be that temperature is the wrong metric? It does not sound very scientific to me.

  • Silly Interloper

    Scientists are just jerks like the rest of us–including doctors. The third highest killer of people in the US is medical error, and the present situation regarding pharmaceutical usage and the lack of scientific rigor in many practices is horrific.

    Even if things weren’t so bad, this trump card called “consensus” is far more slippery than those using it are letting on. Climate change alarmism is based upon multidisciplinary sciences that have far more room for dispute than the simple-minded political haggling allows to be known. The best evidence they have is computer modeling, and I don’t know a single modeling expert or mathematician who believes that they are reliable–but I don’t really need them to know that because the reports on them over the years have made very inconsistent claims.

    Furthermore, we are inundated with claims from the so-called “consensus” that are obviously not credible on their face. When a group of professional scientists went through more than one hundred ice cores that didn’t give them the data they want, but finally came up with *one* that showed the data that indicated the climate change theories they prefer, they extolled the evidence–ignoring all the other cores–as proof of global warming. Even a non-professional science jerk like myself can smell that rat, and that’s one example out of hundreds over the last thirty years.

    Scientist consensus on any number of issues is continuously being shown wrong, but for some reason people still regard them as having far, far more authority than they deserve. The first step in respecting science and scientists is to get them into proper perspective, and the scientist worship that I am witnessing here is just plain blind gullibility that encourages the opposite.

    And, yes, Elmwood. I studied it plenty over the years. Much more than your coursera class could offer. I am not naive enough to fall for some simplistic referral to an obviously very cursory online class. And, by the way, I don’t listen to the talk radio guys or Fox News.

  • Daren

    I mean seriously, doesn’t it arouse the least bit of suspicion in the laymen advocates of the catastrophic ACC theory that the “experts” have achieved some amount of notoriety and have financed very fine professional careers by advancing this theory while being paid mostly by political bureaucrats who just so happen to be the ones who can fix all our problems if they could just get their hands on more power and money?