I’m not a climate scientist


spring in Berlin

Note: I’ve now written an update where I do claim to be a bit of an amateur climate scientist, so there you go.

I’m not a climate scientist. The chances are that you are not a climate scientist.
In fact, let’s start on the basis of nobody here actually being a climate scientist, okay?

(If you happen to be a climate scientist, you may want to find something else to do for a bit, look at some data, go for a walk, whatever, this isn’t about you)

So, let’s start at the beginning. What with us not being climate scientists, let’s not get into a discussion about the data. I’m not qualified, you’re not qualified, there’s very little point.

So, here goes:
How do I go about unpicking the contradictory views on this subject?
1. One solution would be to listen to the different views then settle on a middle ground somewhere. That would be quick, easy, and would perhaps avoid any unpleasant arguments, and if not, I’d always appear to be the reasonable and balanced one. Great!
This is, of course, a fallacy.
Working on the assumption that there is a reality of some kind, one view must be closer to describing that reality than the others, and there’s no logical reason to assume that the most accurate view should lie exactly in the center of some perfectly balanced spectrum.

2. Perhaps I could consider what I intuitively feel is right, what seems to make more sense, and then look for the evidence that most strongly supports that position.
The trouble here is then I’m only really considering the position that I’ve already decided upon, filtering out all opposing points as a priori wrong. Cherry picking data through confirmation bias. Easily done. Not good.

3. Perhaps I could find someone with letters after their name and who tells me of their decades of experience in the field. Would they have the right answer?
Well, maybe, but just because of their position, reputation or former achievements, they may be wrong on this one, they may be mistaken. I cannot accept an argument purely from authority.

4. So what am I left with? I could stare at the raw data myself, not allowing myself to be influenced by anyone else’s interpretation of it, somehow transform myself into a self-taught expert. If I did this for long enough I may be able to convince myself that I am in fact an expert. I’d also probably send myself a little nutty. How could I avoid the confirmation bias I already wrote about? I know my brain is far from perfect, so why should I trust it here? No, that won’t do.

So, that leaves me pretty stuck. Of course there’s a scientific consensus on this topic, but we all know that a consensus could be wrong. Could there be a bias built into the way we educate scientists that supports the status quo? Sure, why not? Could scientists be influenced by career opportunities, funding issues, or fear of damage to their professional reputation? No doubt. So a consensus gets built up, and it becomes increasingly difficult to publicly challenge it.
So what I need is a trained scientist, or ideally a number of scientists, who have established themselves as voices who challenge authority, who are skilled not just at the data analysis needed, but also the communication needed to reach a broad audience. These scientists should also be committed to independence, to overturning assumptions, to systematically applying logic, critical thinking and rationalism to everything that crosses their path.
So here are a few candidates for this post.
In no particular order, Steven Novella, Phil Plait, and Ben Goldacre. Each man is a qualified scientist, each from a separate branch of science, each completely independent from climate science, and, for me, crucially, each with a well documented track record of challenging the orthodoxy not only within their own fields, sometimes at some personal risk, but also across science.
These guys could play a crucial role in overturning current herd mentality/group think, if that is the case, among climate scientists.
Each of them have, of course, already written at length about this topic.

So which side do my newly appointed panel of independent experts land on?

Each of them have used the term “deniers” or something similar to describe those who claim that AGW is a myth.
Worse, the implication is that the very people who are arguing so passionately for a reappraisal of the science are victims of exactly those fallacies that I’ve described above. A misreading of the arguments and evidence through confirmation bias, and a misrepresentation of the data through cherry picking.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of many who call themselves climate change skeptics. I also think they play an important role in counteracting some of the sillier proclamations coming from the environmental lobby.
I do have to conclude, however, AGW is real, and although I’m not sure that it’s a productive label, the term denialist is harsh but fair.
Many readers will skip down to the end, find a conclusion that they don’t like, and reject everything else. That’s okay, but if you do take the time to read it all, you’ll see that the skip-to-the-enders are making my exact point for me.
Many thanks to the good people of Tallbloke’s Talkshop for allowing me to grill them for a bit on this subject without getting all snarky. They got snarky in the end, but I was quite persistant with my questioning, so that’s fair enough I suppose.



  1. A C Osborn

    It only goes to prove that you actually learnt nothing at Tallbloke’s, however thanks for spreading the word about his site.
    Maybe just one person will take the time to actually go to the site and read some of the past posts on their and then make up their minds.

    I am a real skeptic of CAGW and AGW, but not of course Global Warming or Climate Change, as climate has always changed and if there was no global warming we would still be in the last Ice Age.

    • adaminberlinio

      thanks for your comment A C,
      “Maybe just one person will take the time to actually go to the site and read some of the past posts on their and then make up their minds.”
      – that’s exactly what I’m hoping for, ideally more than just one. The more perspectives people get the better.
      Like I say, I like Tallbloke’s blog, the majority of the posters appear sincere in their beliefs and happy to hold a friendly discussion. I like that a lot. The tentative conclusions I’ve drawn may not be typical of the Tallbloke readership. I’ve tried to explain how I reached them in the above post.
      I have a feeling that when you say that I’ve learnt nothing, you are perhaps disappointed that I don’t now support your position.
      You appear to be certain that all the corrupt, frightened and deluded fools are on one side, and all those clear-minded individuals who truly understand are on the other. I find that difficult to believe.
      I’m certainly aware of anti-intellectual, deluded fools on the side of the environmental lobby, but I’m not convinced that delusion is exclusive to that side, and frankly, I hold up the simplistic, black and white perspective, couched in unquestioning, absolute certainty that you’ve showed on the other thread as exhibit A.
      Some degree of doubt is necessary to the scientific process.

  2. J Martin

    Is climate science so complicated that the ordinary man cannot understand it ?

    At one level, yes, the intricate details of models require specialists of degree level standard and beyond in mathematics, physics, geology, biology, botany and many other disciplines.

    But at another level we can all understand it, we don’t need to know how to write climate computer models, we can all understand the resultant graphs these models produce and we can see the wiggly line that is the model and the wiggly line that are the measurements.

    When the two are far apart is it not unreasonable to feel somewhat sceptical about some of the more extreme prognostications of the climate scientists consensus ?

    If we ignore some of the fraud they have indulged in as some of it is subtle statistical stuff that I can’t understand, some of it may be fraud, some of it climate scientists not calling in a specialist statistician and so getting it accidentally wrong. But other fraud I can understand, like the Tiljander graph that was inverted for instance or the Yamal tree series.

    Moving on to the science you don’t need to be a climate expert to understand some of the other contradictions that remain unanswered, for instance;

    In the Pacific, climate models predict an excess of co2 in the atmosphere and that this would produce a hot spot, well this has been measured and mapped by two satellites and thousands of radiosondes ( balloons ). The result is that there is an unmistakable spot pretty much where they said it would be and pretty much the size they said it would be. Problem is the models said it would be hotter, but we now know it is in fact colder.

    Global temperatures have been at a standstill now for between 16 and 23 years according to whichever dataset you choose, is that a statistically valid amount of time ? I don’t know, but when the director of the UK Hadley Centre Professor Phil Jones says in print that the models did not predict the current temperature standstill and they don’t know why, then that again says to me that I have every reason to beware the more extreme predictions of the climate doom sayers.

    James Hanson of NASA GISS has also said that temperatures have levelled off and is examining potential reasons why. These two people apart from Professor Mann are the the two foremost climate scientists in the World. Again this just strengthens my scepticism of extreme co2 alarm predictions.

    Another thing that makes me unhappy about the whole subject is the number of times people tell me “that the vast majority of scientists consider that global warming is real”. Sure it has warmed since the Thames froze back in the 1600s 1700s, but is that warming dangerous ?

    If it warmed some more so that we could once more grow vineyards up near Hadrian’s Wall as the Romans did, would that be a terrible crisis ?

    And what about that “majority of scientists” ? It turns out not to have been some mammoth poll of all the relevant scientists in the field run by say the IPCC. It turns out it was a poll carried out by a student at a university and the number of people polled were about 10,000 Only about 1200 replied and this was cut down to just 77 responses from which 75 said that global warming was happening. This translates into 97% which was trumpeted the World over by the media.

    The IPCC AR4 report that said they could “detect the fingerprint of mankind on the climate” was signed off by some 1300 scientists. But another well documented fraud had taken place, the actual report they signed off on had in fact said that they “could not detect the fingerprint of man on the climate”. The final published paper had the “not” removed by just one man who was in charge at the time.

    All these sorts of things and many more I haven’t listed are, I would venture to suggest, perfectly valid reasons to be a sceptic.

    So yes there is plenty of the science that we can understand.

    • adaminberlinio

      Thank you for your thoughts J,
      plenty to deal with there. I’d better start at the beginning:
      “we can all understand the resultant graphs these models produce and we can see the wiggly line that is the model and the wiggly line that are the measurements.”
      I see what you mean, but interpretations of those same wiggly lines can be quite diverse, for example, here’s Phil Plait writing about just such a wiggly line, but with a very different take on it than the Daily Mail – http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/03/18/global_warming_denial_debunking_misleading_climate_change_claims_by_david.html

      Whatever you think of his view, I see no reason not to consider his argument, as he’s one of those rational, independent, scientific types (actually an astronomer) who I enjoy reading and regard pretty highly, so already the problem of interpretation is open to question, and I don’t feel qualified.

      “is that warming dangerous? …would that be a terrible crisis?” – that’s a whole different issue. I’m happy to question hysterical predictions and doom and gloom prophesies as I encounter them. Technically though, that’s not strictly relevant here. The answer is that nobody knows, therefore, if we can avoid it, that’d probably be for the best.

      You point out that I may not even be able to trust polls about what a majority of climate scientist think! Even more reason, in my view, to find those key, independent scientists that I can trust, within reason, to evaluate the data on my behalf.

      “The IPCC AR4 report that said they could “detect the fingerprint of mankind on the climate” was signed off by some 1300 scientists. But another well documented fraud had taken place, the actual report they signed off on had in fact said that they “could not detect the fingerprint of man on the climate”. The final published paper had the “not” removed by just one man who was in charge at the time.”
      – please point me to the evidence for this astonishing and barefaced act of fraud. What’s the name of this man that inverted the opinions of so many scientists with just one click of the mouse? Surely he’s in prison now?

      Thanks for that. All interesting stuff.

      • adaminberlinio

        So, I’ve read through that link. I must admit that I find it a very rambling style, not keen on clarity and getting to the point. I therefore struggled to pinpoint the exact accusation and the evidence for it, but I’m glad you guys are trying to keep the IPCC on their toes. Obviously, like any organization, they can make mistakes, bad decisions, and attempt to gloss over any acts of incompetence, so I’m happy that there’s a merry band of onlookers waiting to pounce.
        Suppose you presented me with some clear evidence that a report was somehow misrepresenting the opinions of scientists. This wouldn’t actually alter my points about methodology, however interesting and worthwhile it would be.

  3. J Martin

    Virtually all climate sceptics agree that anthropogenic co2 is a greenhouse gas and does cause warming and that the World has warmed.

    They just don’t think the amount of warming is dangerous, nor do they think that warming is a runaway process, especially given that there is no evidence of such a thing happening at any time in the past.

    Indeed in the distant past round about at the border of the Ordovician and Silurian (sounds like something out of Star Trek) period, co2 was at 7000 parts per million nearly 20 times today’s level, but despite that amount of co2 greenhouse gas the World plunged into an ice age with a kilometre of ice sitting on top of Birmingham UK.

    Myself I doubt that co2 is a greenhouse gas and I doubt that it has any affect on temperatures whatsoever. There is, amazing though it may seem well founded arguments and science to support that extreme sceptic position.

    But my main interest in climate science is that overdue ice age, well, perhaps not overdue, more like about due any time now. We have had a longer warm period than many of the previous warm periods (interglacials or interstitials), some 11,000 years now. Meanwhile the magnetic field of the sun has been declining in a straight line ever since we have had satellites capable of measuring it, and the solar scientists say that if that continues then sunspots will no longer appear on the surface of the sun.

    We know from historical records that such an event has happened before, principally in the period know as the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715. Millions died of the cold and starvation back then, the Thames froze, the French had a revolution and so on.

    So on the one hand we have extreme climate scientists saying that co2 will cause the World to overheat and on the other hand we have solar scientists telling us the very opposite is about to happen.

    Me ? I go with guys pointing satellites at the sun.

    • adaminberlinio

      Again, thanks for all that, but, as I may have mentioned, I don’t feel qualified to discuss the data because of my lack of being a climate scientist, so I’m only discussing the methodology of how someone may come to some kind of conclusion without being a climate scientist.

  4. J Martin

    Yeh, I keep missing that methodology bit. One method is to try different methods. Try looking for other scientists views as you mention in the main article, another is to try looking to see if you can follow some of the science, if the scientists want funding, they have to convince non scientists to pay for that funding, so some of their output is understandable by us members of the hoi polloi.

    A third method is to arrange a truly representative poll of the perhaps 100,000 scientists that know something about the subject.

    A 4th method, perhaps add up points plus and minus for different aspects of the science, that would need a group of people who could list the pros and cons of each side.

    In the end we all have to try to look at some of the science because it affects our lives, so any decisions have to be our decisions. I would rather risk making a poor decision myself than risk placing my vote with some other ‘expert’ of any sort. Either the ‘experts’ produce science we can all understand or they should lose funding.

    You are looking for an answer to an impossible question, no one knows what is going to happen. The world will get warmer or colder, but it has never in the past stayed at an even temperature. In the long run global warming is irrelevant as an ice age will occur again, maybe it has already started, maybe not for 500 years yet, maybe not for thousands of years. Warmer is possible, indeed I very much hope for warmer, but colder is the only real certainty, it’s just a matter of when and how fast.

    Methods, walk round a field of clover and find one with 4 leaves on it. Toss a coin. Assume that nothing will happen. Curiously climate bets have been placed in the past on that basis, one matured recently and another is due in about 7 years or so. The bloke who won had no idea what temps would be so predicted a flat line, ie. no change. His was the nearest answer. The other bet although 7 years away is also looking good for the bloke that also predicted no change, assuming temps stay flat for the next 7 years.

    Seriously, I think there is no viable methodology available to answer an impossible question. Maybe Jerome Ravetz has a workable methodology.

  5. adaminberlinio

    You may find it a strange position to take, so perhaps I should try and explain. Areas I’ve studied at university include evolution and animal behavior. Now, I’m aware that most people have an idea what evolution is. Most people can have a good go at describing how natural selection works. Most people, I’m afraid to say, are wrong. I know that because I’ve studied the data and developed a full understanding of the evidence. People who deny evolution believe that they understand it. They have “evidence”, there are conspiracies to oppress their view, weaknesses in the supposed evidence for the theory that are hidden by a frightened establishment. People are brainwashed into believing the lies from the evolutionists. They just need to wake up and see for themselves that evolution doesn’t add up!
    The problem here is that I know evolution adds up. I know the science. So I ask myself, why do they deny it? Then I have to follow they’re thought processes, and I realize that they are starting with their conclusion and working back. That’s not science. It can’t work like that.
    I don’t care whether evolution exists or not, but I’ve studied it to such a degree that I have little doubt that it does, because I understand it, and I’ve found no evidence that does not fit.
    Have you actually read Novella, Plait or Goldacre on this topic? They all directly contradict what you guys are saying. I’d like to see someone from your side actually address the points made by any of these scientists.
    here they are:

    Plait – http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2012/12/11/climate_change_denial_why_don_t_they_publish_scientific_papers.html

    Goldacre – http://www.badscience.net/2009/01/the-telegraph-misrepresent-a-scientists-work-on-climate-and-then-refuse-to-correct-it-when-he-writes-to-them/#more-852

    Novella – http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/scientific-consensus-climate-change-and-vaccines/

    • J Martin

      I have read Novella and Goldacre, and I soon realised they had not spent much time on it, and their articles treated a complex subject in too shallow a manner. Plait I haven’t looked at yet. Frankly I think that anyone who uses offensive language such as climate change “denial” cannot be taken seriously.

      Novella didn’t come to a conclusion, though he mentioned the 98% (97%) figure unaware that it is completely fallacious as are most people. He talked about going against the consensus, well, it has been done before, plate tectonics when one man (Wegener) came to the conclusion that they moved he was ridiculed for years, but today that is the accepted consensus. In today’s climate scene he would be called a denialist.

      Goldacre doesn’t seem to have anything to say about the subject himself, instead pointing readers to newspaper articles. He comes across a believer, rather than a studier, he doesn’t say anything factual that can be cross referenced or checked as far as I can see.

      Plait is stunningly naive. There are endless complaints by sceptic scientists on the blogosphere about scientific journals rejecting perfectly good sceptic papers written by very significant and well know university scientists. The science journals are well known to be heavily biased towards the global warming meme. Sceptic papers are virtually totally blocked by these journals and so people have to resort to publishing on the internet instead. Interestingly there is the glimmer of change, some journals are beginning to accept more sceptic papers now that it’s clear that temperatures are no longer climbing despite an 8% increase in co2. If temperatures fall there is a very lengthy backlog of sceptic papers waiting for publication.

      Anyway your search for a methodology is moot, if temperatures fall as they must, then you will be looking for a methodology to answer a different question.

  6. J Martin

    Science is or should be all about scepticism. A scientist should guard against self conformation and above all be sceptical about his own work and results.

    The problem is that in climate science there is huge huge money available and also public fame, renown, television appearances, and opportunities to mix with the rich and powerful and famous.

    This sort of money, influence, fame, reputation etc etc has never before been available to any branch of science. It is corrupting.

    • adaminberlinio

      So I think we’ve honed my argument quite nicely here. Novella, as you point out, chooses to take a fairly noncommittal point of view, tentatively drawing the preliminary conclusion that AGW is a fact, baring in mind that this is by no means the end of the debate (I’m generalizing from what I understand of his position drawn not just from his blogs but also his podcast). I find this a totally reasonable position. If I was certain that this position was wrong, my goal would be to address Dr Novella with evidence that would perswade him. Convincing someone like him that AGW is not true would make far more sense than arguing with people like me.
      Nobody has managed to do that so far, and my feeling is that, until scientists that I respect for their thoroughness and honesty come out fighting for your side, I’m probably going to stay in the Novella camp.

      Regarding the corrupting influence of the newly founded green industry with its government grants etc. (much of which, I too am highly critical), doesn’t the opposition receive any money from any of the established industries that may have an interest in slowing down legislation regarding AGW? I don’t think it’s a central point here, but I find that hard to believe.

      I’m not defending the status quo here. I’m furious at the German government (where I live) for bowing to the anti-science, emotional wing of the green lobby, and shutting down nuclear power stations post-Fukushima, despite the scientific evidence pointing to the relative safety etc, but that’s for another thread.

      • J Martin

        I doubt that Novella has allowed anyone the time to convert his view to sceptic.

        The signs are clear now that the mass media will be full on ice age scare mode the next time we get a long or hard winter. And that will kill all talk of global warming and co2 stone cold dead within a couple of years.

        I was a co2 alarmist two years ago and now I’m a sceptic. I spend every evening, all of it reading up about the climate and half of each weekend. I am persuaded that we don’t need to worry about global warming or co2. I am also persuaded that we do need to worry about the sun losing it’s sunspots and the consequent cold period that has already started and will deepen for at least the next 20 years possibly much longer.

        OK. I’m going to exit this conversation now, but every now and again there are discussions about coal versus nuclear, uranium, and especially the safe nuclear thorium on WUWT, Tallbloke and Chiefio. So you should keep an eye on those blogs.

        When you do a nuclear thread drop by Tallbloke’s blog and let us know. I share your opinion that Germany’s decision to drop nuclear is a bad one, though I suspect for different reasons than yours.

  7. A C Osborn

    adaminberlinio March 30th, 2013 at 4:03 pm
    “here’s Phil Plait writing about just such a wiggly line”.

    Sorry he has just lost all credibility as far as I am concerned, he quotes RealClimate, you do know about how they treat bloggers I assume and just who they are?

    adaminberlinio March 30th, 2013 at 4:03 pm ““The IPCC AR4 report that said they could “detect the fingerprint of mankind on the climate” was signed off by some 1300 scientists.”

    You are extremely naive, I mentioned books dissecting the IPCC AR4, but you did not respond, a large number of the so called Scientists turned out to be activists for the WWF and Greenpeace etc
    You really do need an eduction ij what it is all about before quoting from it.

  8. adaminberlinio

    A C, if you have a problem with RealClimate, you should get your evidence up on their Wiki page asap, otherwise people are likely to think it’s just rumors. At the moment they’re looking squeaky clean. I don’t think Wiki is controlled by the green lobby, is it?

    “You really do need an eduction ij what it is all about before quoting from it.” –
    I wasn’t quoting from it, I was quoting from J Martin, who was quoting from it. Sorry if the double quotation marks didn’t make that clear enough, I know it can be confusing sometimes.

    Yes, I’m extremely naive, I believe that may be true. You don’t offer an alternative methodology for me to evaluate things with though. If I’m going to dismiss the view of the majority of the scientific world, I need not only a few bits of data here and there and a whole bunch of rumors, I need a convincing theory as to why experienced and opinionated scientists that I know and respect on many other issues are so wrong on this one. YOU can tell me Dr Phil Plait loses all credibility, but can’t you see, he actually has credibility to lose! I don’t know who you are, therefore you start with zero credibility. All you would need to do is point me to a couple of scientists that I genuinely understand, some people I can read about at length, listen to, watch videos of, hear their views about evolution, homeopathy, vaccinations, the big bang, whatever. You’ve not given me anyone. I got told to read a book by a journalist who doesn’t believe in evolution, and who thinks asbestos is no more harmful than talc.
    I feel I know Novella, Plait and Goldacre, and I share their world view to some degree. I may not agree with them all the time, but they all do good science. Many of the Tallbloke blog replies were thoughtful and sincere, which I greatly appreciated. All that was lacking was an argument against my main point. If I can’t get down with your methodology, I can’t get with what you’re about.
    I engaged with you guys in order to broaden my understanding, and to challenge my own assumptions. I managed a bit of both.

  9. A C Osborn

    Yes Wiki is controlled somewhat by the Green Lobby, havent’ you heard about the guy re-writing all the entries?

  10. tallbloke

    Adam says in the top post:
    “Each of them have used the term “deniers” or something similar to describe those who claim that AGW is a myth.
    Worse, the implication is that the very people who are arguing so passionately for a reappraisal of the science are victims of exactly those fallacies that I’ve described above.”

    I won’t attempt a full taxonomy of climate-scepticism here Adam, but just to give you a flavour of the complexity you have wandered into, I’ll give you a few of examples of the many different reasons people are sceptical of the claims of (C)AGW proponents. I appreciate your disclosure and recognition of your non-expertise with the subject area, and assure you that if you take the trouble to check out the facts presented, you’ll find they check out.

    1) Some ‘lukewarm’ sceptics say AGW is real, but inconsequential, due to the lack of a positive water vapour feedback in the real world as opposed to computer models.

    2) Some ‘measrement sceptics’ point out that since the error term on the measuement of top of atmosphere energy balance is around 3-5 times bigger than the claimed signal from increased co2, we’re not in a position to make a judgement on the reality of the ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’.

    3) ‘Theory sceptics’ are correct in saying that while there is no doubt co2 in a bell jar will absorb heat, this does not mean the free atmosphere behaves like a bell jar in a lab, because water vapour acts as both warming agent and refrigerant, and is dominant.

    4) ‘Solar sceptics’ point out the fact that AGW proponents rely on the sun to explain climate change prior to the 1950’s, and there is no good reason to suppose the strong late C20th Sun suddenly gave up it’s ability to affect climate.

    5) ‘Uncertainty sceptics’ are correct in saying that since the IPCC cheerfully admits that there is a “low level of scientific understanding” of many photo-chemical processes in the upper atmosphere affected by Solar spectral variation (which is much greater than variation in overall solar energy), the IPCC is in no position to start bandying around 95% certainties regarding human culpability for most of the late C20th warming.

    6) ‘Emission sceptics’ point out that since we know little about the carbon cycle, attribution of the increase in co2 to human induustrial emission is highly questionable.

    7) ‘Logic sceptics’ are fond of pointing out that changes in co2 levels always follow and never precede changes in temperature. Cause and effect is a very basic ontological level knowledge precept…

    8) ‘Attribution sceptics’ point out that since the surface of the Moon has an average temperature of around 208 Kelvin, and the Earth’s is around 288K, there is a lot more to explain than the 33C the radiative theorists claim for the ‘greenhouse effect’

    9) ‘Convection sceptics’ know that downwelling radiation from greenhouse gases is absorbed not far below and that the absorbing gas molecules soon share the energy with the bulk of the atmosphere. That atmosphere conveys heat upwards, not downwards.

    10) ‘Ocean sceptics’ point out that since any downwelling radiation from greenhouse gases has a wavelength which is absobed in the top 0.008mm of the ocean surface, it is more likely the absorbed energy will promote evaporation (thus cooling the surface) rather than being ‘mixed down’ (against convection) to the bulk of the ocean.

    Over at the talkshop, we have a better explanation for the historical facts. I hope you find some extra time to take an interest in this fascinating and important subject.



  11. adaminberlinio

    To sum up here, I’ve done everything I can to find some kind of answer to my question regarding methodology. It did mean that I was quite repetitive, pointing out that actually, BECAUSE I’M NOT A CLIMATE SCIENTIST, I’m not qualified to discuss the data, asking, re-asking, and asking again, reading though long lists of why I should believe their interpretation of the data, mixed with rumours and accusations. (That’s not what I was asking)
    So, what’s wrong with the scientists I know and trust? How have they got it so wrong?
    I’m surprised at how challenging my central question appeared to them. I thought they’d have a few well formulated responses. I was hoping to gain a viewpoint where I could rationally challenge some of these scientists I respect, but no. Nothing.

    (I’ve edited this post here because it went pretty off topic about how I wasn’t made to feel very welcome there, which on reflection, is their prerogative, and bares no relation to the discussion)

    Thanks again, those of you who have engaged with me. Totally cleared some stuff up in my mind.

  12. Robert F

    Yes, I agree with you that global warming is real and significantly produced by human activities; but even those who admit that it is real will do little about it, because all of us are more concerned with economic development and stability (especially our own) than we are with global warming. We are addicted to the easiest, cheapest economic development available, fueled by highly polluting industries, and just like any addict, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of changing our priorities until we, as they say, “hit bottom,” and we haven’t hit bottom yet, not by a long shot. The developing world will continue to develop and ignore the hypocritical advice of the already developed world to “do as I say, not as I’ve done and continue to do as I maintain my standard of living by destroying the ecosystem.” And the international global community will continue to make impotent gestures toward change, putting band-aids on machine-gun wounds.

    We are irrational beings driven by our irrationality, much of which drives our economic activity.

  13. Robert F

    And isn’t it more than just a little ironic that it is precisely human rationality, as embodied in the practice of science and the development of technology, that has made us such hugely efficient polluters, and warmers, of our planetary ecosystem?

  14. J Martin

    From your own methodology.

    There are other non climate scientists, big enough in their field to take an independent look at co2. Bryce Johnson a nuclear physicist took a look at it. He examined what would happen if you a took all he worlds known fossil fuel reserves and instantly turned it all into co2 and dumped it into the atmosphere. The result of his calculations was a 3 degree peak in temperatures which very rapidly dropped to two degrees and declined steadily down from there. His conclusion was that the most additional warming that mankind could achieve would be another half degree centigrade in warming.


    His conclusion was that the most additional warming that mankind could achieve would be another half degree centigrade in warming. It’s important to remember that co2 is a logarithmically declining effect. You get 1.7 degrees at 20 ppm, another 0.3 degrees with the next 20ppm, and after that the additional temperature increases that co2 can provide are negligible.


    The climate scientists based all their alarmism on an assumption that adding extra co2 to the atmosphere would increase the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, water vapour is 7 times more effective than co2 as a greenhouse gas.

    But as we now know, the Pacific hot spot that turned out to be a cold spot shows that their assumption is unfounded, as does that fact that co2 has increased by 8% in the last 16 years yet global temperatures have not.

    There remains no viable evidence to support climate warming alarmism based on co2. As we learn more about the sun it would appear that most of the rise in both temperatures have been driven by processes 93 million kilometres away.

    co2 has done it’s thing but hopefully yet will contribute that additional half degree of warming that will benefit life on this planet along with the welcome increase in food supplies that have benefited from the increased amount of plant food (co2) in the atmosphere.

    But the warming we may have gained from the increase in co2 will not be enough to counteract the long term and quite possibly severe cooling under way as the suns magnetic field declines and will be below the level necessary to support sunspots somewhere between 2015 and 2020. This is not voodoo science, these are satellite measurements.

    Much as I would like to see global temperatures continue to rise another degree or two the evidence appears overwhelming that Global temperatures can only fall from now on in. Because co2 has run out of steam and the oceans and the sun are both moving into negative phases.

    I have realised that the only possible methodology that will truly work and accurately answer your question is time:

    Just wait and see what will happen, 10 years should do it.

    By which time mankind in the Northern hemisphere will have realised that perhaps they are in trouble, courtesy of longer colder winters and cooler shorter summers, leading to lower crop yields in Europe and increased food imports if they can be found.

    Yes mankind is going to have a climate problem but it will most definitely not be due to a so called ‘warming world’ it will be due to a dramatically ‘cooling world’.

    You guys aren’t even asking the right questions. In fact the trouble is you’re not even asking any questions. Is there fraud in the climate science world, 100 billion dollars of money has gone in there. There will be fraud, the question is how much and has it influenced the debate.

    If co2 is such a devil gas, how come a simple formula relating sunspots to planet temperatures and excluding co2 produces a better match for measured temperatures than all the climate models which are based on co2 ?


    I reckon the wait and see methodology will clarify things nicely for everyone within ten years.

  15. adaminberlinio

    Hi J, thanks for your post. I’m glad you’re having a go at answering my only actual question by offering up an expert who’s not a climate scientist but still someone who has a good track record of doing proper science.
    From my googling powers I’ve discovered, well, not that much about Bryce Johnson. It look like he joined in on a thread about climate change on the Scientific American website, but I can’t find his own site. I’d like to read up about him as a scientist so that I can gauge his style a bit.
    If you could supply me with some more details with links, that’d be great.

  16. adaminberlinio

    Btw, I received a post that I think goes off topic, so I’ve decided not to publish it, but it made me reconsider things a little, so I was inspired to edit an above post in order to keep things on track. Hope that’s okay with everyone involved.

  17. J Martin

    The biggest stumbling block in attempting to get a grip on the arguments and counter arguments in climate science and for that matter many, if not most things is human psychology.

    If you are a tramp on the street and you spend your days staring at motorists exhaust fumes and then one hot sunny day you have an insight into how all that co2 must be causing the world to overheat, and it just so happens that there’s a TV crew nearby doing some sort of news article about homelessness, so you seize the moment and you take the stage and lay out your great idea.

    Assume that this gets some traction and your idea gets discussed in the studio. Assume then that a spokes person from the the most prestigious scientific establishment ever seen, NASA, poo poos your theory out of hand, and reassures the audience that the world isn’t overheating and couldn’t overheat. Really that would be it, your idea, even though it may have been right, would be dead.

    Now reverse the roles, a respectable scientist from NASA announces to the world that all that co2 mankind is releasing is causing temperatures to rise and if unchecked will cause the World to overheat. That would gain a great deal more traction.

    People are influenced by prestige, image, background, they are also influenced by others, ie. herd instinct, there are endless studies demonstrating how people will vote against common sense if they perceive that a strong or influential person has another view. It also helps to et your view established first, so that your view becomes the perceived wisdom of the time.

    This of course is what happened, James Hanson the head of GISS a department of the most prestigious scientific establishment in the World, NASA, made that very dramatic announcement to a packed courtroom on a very hot summers day.

    With no real evidence one way or the other this quickly became the perceived wisdom of the day and gradually gained momentum, at first via the unlikely person of Margaret Thatcher who was pretty the first government person to start putting serious money into exploring this question.

    So now today, the weight of the mainstream media parrots anything they can find to do with global warming or extreme weather without even checking the facts they have been fed, perhaps they don’t yet know how to uses Google. And one scientist after another sees the opportunity to make money as long as they toe the accepted line and come to a conclusion that what they have just studied must have been caused by warming from co2.

    People are loathe to overturn their established beliefs;
    that someone form the mighty NASA might have got it wrong,
    that the press are biased and don’t care whether they print facts or not, that the press don’t make any attempt to check the facts,
    that politicians might be getting one sided advise and so cannot see the whole picture,
    that any scientist might be in it just for the money and may be being biased,
    that any scientists or organisation might have committed fraud,
    that any number of university lecturers might simply be parroting what they have been told and haven’t actually checked the facts themselves,
    that the Meteorological Office might be pursuing one sided models and ignoring other possibilities,

    People also like to believe wrong about others;
    that sceptics don’t care about you or your kids,
    that sceptics are financed by evil oil companies,
    that sceptics are just weird, there must be something wrong with them,
    that sceptics don’t do science,
    that no scientists are sceptics,

    Well, I’m afraid you guys need to examine your own precious ideas and fears and biases, and tendency towards the herd instinct, and open your minds to be more sceptical of what apparently respectable scientists have said, you shouldn’t take on trust anything the newspapers say, and you should also look at other viewpoints, it is just possible the sceptics are right after all.

    In fact the sceptics have got a whole list of things that don’t add up about the co2 causing warming lobby. For the most part the co2 lobby have no answer for these problems.

    Not only do I want to convince you that the co2 lobby is actually wrong, but wrong in the opposite direction. That there is a problem they completely overlooked when they became so obsessed with co2. Namely that the world is about to get a lot colder, not warmer.

    Most people will fail to open their eyes and give up their comforting beliefs in authority. And it is amongst those that the most angry reaction will occur when they find out that the co2 thing was all just a terrible mistake. The politicians will say, “Oops sorry we destroyed the economy and your jobs for nothing, but vote for us because…”

    Are you sure you guys have done enough to check you’re not being taken for a ride by the tax wielding green lobby ?

    Two years ago I used to look up how far above sea level a friends house was before I visited so I could tell them whether they would have a sea view or be below sea level if they didn’t mend their evil co2 generating ways.

    But then I started looking at the sceptics science and after 3 weeks found that it was more rigorous and had less holes in it than the conventional co2 lobby. And along with that I learnt that far from getting warmer the world is going to get colder.

    There are graphs of some characteristics of the sun that modern science has never before observed. One of them shows ups and owns of one aspect of the 11 year solar cycle, but worryingly the current up is actually below all of the previous downs. Forget about co2 it’s the forthcoming Landscheidt Minimum you guys need to worry about.

    You guys have got a lot of closed mind to overturn.

  18. mitigatedsceptic

    Apologies for butting in and a bit off topic. Just three points-

    1) In Wikipedia is open to be edited by anyone and I have no doubt that enthusiasts on all sides of various debates are busy trying to keep their contributions intact.

    2) I wonder if in the ‘real world’ the science about AGW is still relevant. So many bandwagons have been set in motion, so much personal and financial capital has been sunk in AGW that I doubt if even a LIA would change the course of human events. People rarely change their minds – perhaps we just have to wait until they all die out. Meanwhile soaring energy prices will ensure that the poor will get poorer and the rich richer – as always.

    3) Evolution – surely the hypothesis boils down to the tautology – ‘survivors survive’. Not much to get very heated about?

    • adaminberlinio

      mitigatedskeptic, thanks for that.
      1. Sure, that was sort of my point. Wiki is as biased as we make it, but it’s also pretty good at getting a little unbiased over time, IMHO. It’s always good to click on the “talk” tab of a wiki page to get a feel for who’s arguing what.
      2. “People rarely change their minds” agreed. When was the last time you changed yours? Mine was about organic food. I did some research and became convinced that there’s little evidence that it’s in any way better for the environment.
      3. “Not much to get very heated about?” – well, I believe that the promotion of a world view that undermines the theory of evolution though natural selection is actually hugely detrimental as it spreads an anti-science perspective that could be corrosive for our educational system. If you deny evolution, I’ll fight you, because I have overwhelming evidence on my side, and I can show it to you in a million different ways, and line up thousands of eminent scientists to back up my position. People do deny evolution, in fact the previously most powerful person in the world, George W, questioned evolution while in office. That’s bullshit, and that’s the kind of thing I get heated about, but I realize it may not be everyone’s passion.

      • mitigatedsceptic

        re 2. I have great difficulty changing my mind – like giving up smoking – old ideas are comforting and I seek to reinforce rather than try to change them.

        re 3. I do not contest evolution – I just think it is so obvious that survivors survive that its not worth making a fuss about – except, as you say, when contrary opinions undermine empirical science. But I wonder if ‘evolution’ is testable, or more significantly, falsifiable – if it really is a scientific hypothesis? If you think it is, I would welcome your evidence – not ad baculum or because lots of scientists think it is, nor by falsifying its apparent contrary ‘creationism’ (which beggars belief) nor even because George Bush disbelieved it (though I admit that does carry weight!).

        Or are you thinking that ‘evolution’ entails accepting that Homo sap descended from some earlier chimp/ape/monkey-like species and that there is empirical evidence to ‘prove’ that. I am sure that there are examples of other species that looked like us in some respects or who have lots of DNA etc. in common with us. Yes, of course, I accept that evidence but doubt at times if such similarities demonstrate a causal link (whatever that may mean).

        I could never defend everything that purports to be ‘science’ but I agree that there is merit in believe that although science is fatally flawed in that it must rely on induction, it is the best tool we have to hand and we had better respect it or perish.

      • adaminberlinio


        This is of course going somewhat off topic, but hey…

        2. I struggled with the giving-up-smoking thing. Generally I like changing my mind though. I’ve become quite keen on being uncertain, questioning myself as hard as I question anyone.
        3. I believe Darwinian evolution is falsifiable. In fact, very easily. All it would take would be one single fossil out of place, one old mammal bone found in a strata where we believe no mammals existed, and BANG! Evolution would be proved wrong. Just like that. But looking though the enormous numbers of fossil records, as well as the extant data we have all around us, nobody has ever presented anything that didn’t fit perfectly into this astonishing, intricate tree of life that Darwin began to carefully draw out back in the 1830s (not published until 1859)

    • adaminberlinio

      J, I’m not able to watch your video link at the moment, but thank you for the notrickszone website. I do find this interesting as a german resident, but again, and I know this may well be getting boring for you, because I’m not a climate scientist, I don’t feel qualified to evaluate what such a website is stating. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that I don’t have the skills to really be sure either way, hence my going on about methodology and trying to find a scientist that I can individually evaluate.

      • J Martin

        For a neutral scientist to examine climate science with sufficient thoroughness, to examine all points of dispute, would take many hundreds of hours of work, he / she would also need mathematics to degree level. It’s a big ask and I would think a fruitless search.

        Perhaps a reduced version of said methodology would be to obtain a short list of disputed points that are easy to understand.

        Neither you nor I call in an electrician if we want to change a fuse or a light bulb, even though technically speaking both are the electricians province.

        Exclude stuff heavy on mathematics like effective radiating layer height. But just simple stuff that everybody can understand, light bulb / fuse changing levels.

        And then look for someone neutral to examine the simple points.

        One example of this would be that model of the Pacific hot spot, the climate scientists got everything right except the temperature which was the opposite. Do they have an answer to explain this result ? if not why not ? is it enough to invalidate all their predictions ?

        Another simple point is that a simple (ish) climate model, just a mathematical formula based on sunspots and no co2 produces a graph which is a better match to measured temperatures than the climate scientists co2 based climate models. What would a neutral scientist think of that ? Again is that enough to invalidate conventional climate science predictions ?

        Interestingly, on this same mathematical formula, if you add co2 back into it you can improve the match, but the best match is obtained where co2 only provides a trivial half percent additional accuracy. In other words co2 really plays no additional part in temperatures. And this is correct, since the effects of co2 are logarithmic, pretty well all the effect is done within the first 100 parts per million, add more co2 thereafter and you only get a near immeasurable increase.

        Other points for a neutral scientist to take a look at would be a graph of sea surface temperature which matches the ups and downs of land temperatures more accurately than existing climate science models. (Sea surface temperatures are really just a proxy for solar activity).

        Another one is that temperatures went up and down on a fairly regular basis long before co2 ever changed in level. So on what grounds do climate scientists think that things are somehow different today Do they have an explanation for their reasoning ? Or are their climate models flawed in some way ?

        I think perhaps a neutral scientist could examine a set of simple points such as this listed above, or another set that perhaps tied in more with their own knowledge and skills, say mathematics for instance.

        But it would still take some time and where would they get funding for such an endeavour ?

        I hope that you can at least see that valid questions about climate science do exist and that therefore there are valid reasons to be a sceptic.

        Our politicians want to destroy our economy and peoples livelihoods to fix a problem that may not actually exist after all.

        Most of the scientists you chose are not neutral, they are emotionally involved, as their language reveals.

        One more point. If some of the concepts in climate science are accessible to the lay man, should we not be examining these and thinking about them and asking questions ?

        To do otherwise, is that not perhaps an abrogation of our responsibilities to ourselves and our loved ones?

      • adaminberlinio

        J, you bring up some very good points, and I’m working on followup post that tries to address some of these very issues (I’m reluctantly having a go at looking at some of the data).
        What you’ve written here may even influence my editing process!

  19. J Martin

    CO2 is essential for life. It is not a demon gas.

    During glaciations or ice ages, the ocean cools and sucks co2 out of the atmosphere and in the last ice age co2 in the atmosphere fell to just 180 ppm. The minimum amount of co2 required for plant growth is about 150ppm.

    So if co2 had fallen much below that figure all life on the face of planet Earth would have been wiped out. No plants of any sort anywhere, hence no insects no mammals, no humans. Nothing.

    As every ice age has come along the remaining co2 has shown a trend of getting lower and lower moving towards that total extinction value.

    If mankind is adding co2 to the atmosphere then that may well be what is needed to get all life on this planet through the next ice age which is widely thought to be about due.

    Guys, we should not rush to demonize co2. We need a goodly quantity of it to stay alive.

  20. adaminberlinio

    I’ve posted up my little exploration into the data, if anyone’s interested
    I know it may not have been the datasets you want me to look at, but I tried to do it as logically as I could.
    Please try to read it with an open mind if you can, not forgetting that if there’s some god-awful crap in there, it’s most likely that I’m a bit of an idiot, rather than an evil plot to discredit everything you believe in.

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