I Can Engage In A Flawed Debate About Climate Change

APPARENTLY, science writer and academic Ben Goldacre would rather slam his “cock in a door” than engage in a phony debate with climate change deniers.

At least, that’s what he told former Liberal Senator and climate sceptic Nick Minchin and climate change campaigner Anna Rose during the filming for this Thursday evening’s ABC show “I Can Change Your Mind About… Climate”.

The concept of the show is simple. Get a climate sceptic and a climate advocate together and let them take each other around the world to meet people in an attempt to change each other’s mind.

Nick Minchin laid out his own position during an interview with the ABC’s Four Corners program, back in 2009. Basically, it boiled to “lefties” exploiting people’s innate fears about climate change “to achieve their political ends”.

Be warned, Mr Minchin, as secret lefties like British Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and that famous anti-capitalist Richard Branson are also in on the socialist plot.

I should admit I’ve known about the program for many months, as I was approached to act as an advisor in the planning stages. Nothing materialised. I also spoke many months ago to Anna Rose about the show.

In both instances, I said that in my view the show’s format was flawed in that it would put non-peer-reviewed, pseudo science conducted by largely unqualified non-experts alongside decades of genuine peer reviewed scientific research. It might make for engaging telly, but it creates a false sense of balance.

If I were a climate sceptic activist or a fossil fuel lobbyist designing a format for a TV show, this show is what I’d probably come up with.

In an excerpt broadcast on radio national’s The Science Show, Goldacre explains why he thinks the show’s format is questionable and how, as part of the broader treatment of the climate change issue in mainstream media, it is a “gift” for the likes of Minchin. Goldacre says

You will win every time. You can cherry pick data and there’ll be no time to point out the flaws, you can pull out dodgy science and there will be no time to point that out. You can pull out arguments that have already been resolved. You can find one of those [arguments] that the person you’re arguing with hasn’t heard of and then it will be next Tuesday by the time you have gone off to research it….

This technique of using a machine-gun style delivery of numerous misrepresentations strung together is perfectly demonstrated in the show by Marc Morano, of the free market, climate sceptic think-tank the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

Morano is a former communications director for Republican Senator James Inhofe, who himself believes global warming is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”. Coal and oil interests obviously love him – according to Oil Change International analysis Inhofe has accepted more than US$1.3 million from the fossil fuel industry since the late 1990s.

In the show Morano delivers a devastating and convincing 35-second blitzkrieg of climate science misrepresentations, in the way that Goldacre describes. In the segment, Morano’s claims go unchallenged, but we can easily check them here.

First, Morano says Arctic sea-ice is “9000 Manhattans” above the low point of 2007. Morano is cherry picking one point in time to argue that sea-ice isn’t disappearing from the Arctic. As he must surely know, climate change is observed by looking at long-term trends rather than single events. So what’s the trend that Morano ignores? It looks like this, from the US Government’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Morano of course also ignores the serious reduction in the thicker, multi-year ice, which is also trending downwards.

Morano then moves on to sea level rise, caused by oceans expanding as they get warmer and by melting glaciers and ice sheets. He claims sea level has just seen a “historic drop” and is “falling”. He cites the European Space Agency and NASA as proof. Let’s take a look at what Morano has just dismissed.

First, NASA.

Now, the European Space Agency.

Remember, we’re still tackling Morano’s 35-seconds of trickery here. Next, he claims global temperatures hit a high point in 1998, desperately clinging on to a climate denial meme that has long-since died.

Morano’s previously favoured source NASA has pointed out that nine of the 10 warmest years on the modern meteorological record have occurred since 2000. In fact, the two major US Government agencies dealing with temperature records – NOAA and NASA – both put 2010 as the warmest year on record, as does the World Meteorological Organization.

But Morano now ignores those. The only main temperature record which did have the warmest year as 1998 was that of the UK’s Met Office, but after updating its method to include more observations from the Arctic (which was previously under-represented) the Met Office now says 2010 is the warmest year on it’s record going back to 1850. The year 1998 is now ranked third.

Morano dismisses this by claiming that temperature records that show 2005 and 2010 as being the hottest years are based on “hundredths of a degree”.

If only Nick Minchin or Anna Rose had pointed out to him that he based his own claim made in his previous breath – that 1998 was the warmest year – on two-hundredths of a degree. Apparently, this is OK when it suits Morano’s own argument. And don’t look at the trend.

Finally, Morano uses a recent Gallup survey of people in 111 countries to claim “that the majority of the human race are not even scared of global warming”.

Morano is likely referring to this Gallup survey, which found that in 2007/08, 41 per cent of the people surveyed (1,000 people each in 111 countries) said they thought global warming was either a “very” serious threat to them and their family, or “somewhat” of a serious threat. The latest result, for 2010, puts this figure at 42 per cent.

But is Morano seriously suggesting we should formulate policy based on people’s fears or beliefs, as expressed in a Gallup telephone poll?

If so, he might want to start formulating a policy response to the Gallup survey finding that 73 per cent of Americans hold a belief in the paranormal. Perhaps he’d advocate tax relief for witches or cutting red tape for owners of haunted houses?

Morano’s organisation, the Washington DC-based CFACT,  is one of the most overt and shameless climate sceptic think-tanks on the planet and has received funding from oil companies and the foundations of oil and banking billionaire heir Richard Scaife.

Morano also runs a blog for CFACT called Climate Depot, which publishes links to sceptic news items. But his blog has also been implicated in the campaign to intimidate climate scientists and writers around the world. Morano likes to publish their email addresses prominently on his blog.

ABC presenter and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Richard Glover has been one lucky recipient of the nasties sent out via Morano’s dog whistle.

Others who have had their emails published by Morano (who incidentally defends his action in the show saying they’re all publicly available) include Australian author Haydn Washington, atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel and the late Professor Stephen Schneider.

Morano has a very low opinion of climate scientists, once stating that they deserved to be “publicly flogged”. Another leading climate change scientist at the receiving end of Morano’s online bullying tactics has been Professor Michael Mann. The Penn State University scientist spoke to the ABC’s Lateline program in March about the intimidation of climate scientists – something he covers at length in his book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, in reference to his famous reconstruction of global temperatures going back one thousand years which showed a sharp spike after the world started burning copious amounts of fossil fuels.

Earlier this week I asked Professor Mann about the role which Marc Morano was playing in the climate debate. He told me:

Morano is just a cog in a larger attack and disinformation machine. As I point out in my book, he is funded and abetted by the very same corporate interests who help bankroll the climate change denial effort in the U.S. His modus operandi of publishing scientists emails, portraying them as enemies of the people, is just one of the lines of attack used. Morano is the pit bull who carries those attacks out for them. He’s a hired hand and his main role is to intimidate and discredit climate scientists in the hope that they will withdraw from participating in the public discourse.

And this is the guy who Nick Minchin thinks deserves to be part of the climate change debate. For me this goes to major flaw in the format of this show, in that it gives fringe-dwellers, ideologues and vested interests access to a prime time television audience to spread doubt about the science.

No matter how well “balanced” the views of the sceptics might be, the outcome is the same – an audience increasingly confused and apathetic.

What’s next? I can change your mind about… astrology… evolution… the earth being round… tobacco… gravity… fairies…..

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Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

121 thoughts on “I Can Engage In A Flawed Debate About Climate Change”

  1. I listen to Christopher Monkton debate Richard Denniss at the Press Club on Climate Change. I recognise all the tactics you have mentioned above used by Monkton the rapid speaking, cherry picking the facts and mis-quoting the IPCC report. It seemed obvious to me that Monkton was not presenting facts and I find it difficult to understand how other people cannot see through the shallow performance of Monkton

    I agree there is a real danger is giving Climate Deniers a platform.

  2. Re Mikep #19:

    What makes you think the earth will behave to similar conditions differently today than it has it the past? If anything, the paleoclimate studies are a stronger indication of what is to come than climate models. They center around about 3 K of sensitivity from a forcing that, by itself, would only explain about 1 K of change.

    What model do you propose that explains past climate shifts without invoking GHG changes?

  3. Is it [sea level rise] far less that projections? Yup

    This statement is unequivocally false and can easily be shown to be such, and statements such as this are a major reason IMO why so-called skeptics are, at best, pseudoskeptics, concealing an unskeptical attitude, where even the most obvious flim-flam is accepted or propagated if it contradicts climate science, badly concealed beneath a thin veneer of reasonable-sounding doubt.

    The 2009 Copenhagen Diagnosis report shows projected vs actual sea level rise (see Figure 16 – projections are from IPCC TAR) where quite clearly observed sea level rise is at the top end of projections.

    The rest of “Reasonable” “Skeptic’s” post (quotation marks are here denoting irony) appears to be a rather conventional attempt to smear climate scientists’ integrity and make assertions which RS is unable or unwilling to substantiate with links to evidence. IMO it is more an argument from personal incredulity and from ignorance – an argument from intellectual laziness.

  4. “At this point in time, the data are not showing temperatures are increasing according to the theory,”

    No, they’re moving a bit faster. Here’s 2 graphics to consider. Look at the second graphic for both links. One compares El Nino, neutral and La Nina years http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2012/04/about-the-lack-of-warming/ (and omits the outlier volcano “years” from the trendlines)

    Note that the 3 separate trend lines are near enough to parallel.

    This one exactly focused on your issue about projections. Funnily enough, real temperatures over the last 30 years have increased faster than the projections – all scenarios. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a-1981-temperature-projection/

  5. Composer99

    First, I would like to address the overall tone of your comment. Alarmists rarely fail to smear their target. So congratulations on living up to expectations. Why this is so common is beyond me and I find it quite dissappointing.

    I am glad that you were able to find a source that said that the sea level rise is as projected. That is very comforting that sea level rise is clearly not a concern and will not represent a horrible threat to the future of humanity. Can we move past this point then?

    I am still a bit curious as to why you have such high confidence in scientists that work on a tremendously difficult task when others so clearly failed on tasks that are quite simple. I am glad that you have great faith, but please do not disparage those that do not think the same.

    Your sincerly,

    The ‘intellectually lazy skeptic’

  6. RS:

    You continue to make unequivocally false statements, such as:

    “I am glad that you were able to find a source that said that the sea level rise is as projected. That is very comforting that sea level rise is clearly not a concern and will not represent a horrible threat to the future of humanity”

    Best estimates of sea level rise by the end of the 20th century are in the range of 0.75 to 1.9 metres (e.g. per Vermeer & Rahmstorf 2009) starting from 1990 levels.

    These estimates are indeed concerning (at the very least) when storm surges, tidal surges, aquifer salinization, and of course direct submersion of existing coastline areas (including substantial beach, harbour and city areas) are considered. Which you apparently have failed to do.

    You might also consider that your rose-tinted view is not shared by, say, the US Navy (hardly a collection of scientists colluding to fabricate climate change based on “motivation”, right?), which commissioned a report by the NAS on the matter and has published its Climate Change Roadmap outlining how it plans on responding to projected climate changes. A brief summary of the NAS report can be found here – I would draw your attention to the 100 billion dollar price tag noted as required to adapt existing Navy facilities to a 1+ metre rise in sea level. “Clearly not a concern”, indeed.

    As long as you are clinging to claims and positions which are so easily shown to be false, I do not perceive a good reason to let you off the hook by “moving past this point”.

    In the meantime, let us examine some of your other zinging rejoinders:

    I am still a bit curious as to why you have such high confidence in scientists that work on a tremendously difficult task when others so clearly failed on tasks that are quite simple.

    It is a matter of fact that you have failed to substantiate the point you made which is the basis of the above remark, namely:

    Let us look at polar bears and penquins. Up until recently, these two species were deemed to be threatened by Climate Change. As it turns out, both are in fact have populations substainially above what were we previously lead to believe.

    So if you think this point is accurate, please provide citations to the peer-reviewed literature. Past research I have seen (summarized in the OP & comments here – note the links in the blog post to the research papers) show that the proportion of notable groupings of polar bear populations in decline has increased from 2005-2009. Do you have more recent research showing increased rates of polar bear population growth you can provide reference to?

    Tracking the population levels, in absolute terms, and change in populations of species in remote areas of the Earth is IMO more difficult than establishing that burning fossil fuels cause climate & chemical changes which at current rates of change are deleterious to agriculture, aquaculture, and coastal infrastructure & socioeconomic activity.

    To do the latter all you need to know are the radiative physical properties of CO2 (calculated theoretically from quantum physics and atmospheric physics, demonstrated experimentally as far back as Tyndall and easily replicated today, and confirmed empirically through such devices as heat-seeking missiles), that emissions of CO2 change atmospheric chemistry (check IPCC reports given by others in these comments) and ocean chemistry (also in IPCC but also starting here), that this change in atmospheric chemistry causes a measurable change in the top-of-atmosphere energy balance (done!) – causing steady accumulation of energy (that is, warming) globally, and that these changes are occuring at a rate that is almost without precedent in the geological record (see, for exmaple here to see how research is showing the present changes are occuring faster than the last episode of rapid warming, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum).

    Given all the above it appears your earlier comments about “basic logic” are faulty. Structuring what appears to be your argument as a logical implication (the classical form of an argument), we get:

    Premise: Scientists failed the simple task of accurately estimating population levels of polar bears & penguins in the past
    Conclusion: Scientists cannot be counted on to accurately project the changes resulting from climate change.

    (If this is not the argument you attempted to make, feel free to clarify.)

    As far as I can see the argument is a non sequitur: the conclusion does not follow from the premise given.

    We have seen for the case of polar bears that you have not substantiated your claim, and in addition even if polar bear population etimates were too low previously, the evidence (as referrred to above) shows that polar bear populations are increasingly in decline. For the case of penguins, we find that new estimates of absolute numbers of Antarctic penguins have indeed increased (so here’s me doing your work for you), but also that penguin populations are generally also in decline.

    With the links I have given upthread on how easily one can determine global warming is a problem, and given evidence given by myself and others that observations track projections fairly well and that where divergence occurs it is because the models are too conversative – that is, the real world changes are faster and more dangerous than the projections, I think both the non sequitur nature of your argument and the incorrectness of the conclusion are clear.

    Fundamentally, I have a high degree of confidence in the findings of the IPCC (supported by the US Navy, the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK’s Royal Society and other such scientific bodies) and the ongoing work of thousands of climate scientists and scientists in related discipline because (1) they have collected many disparate threads of converging evidence into a coherent account of Earth climate behaviour from distant paleohistory through to the present and (2) the theoretical support and empirical observations showing the effects humans have on climate via fossil fuel combustion follow of necessity from this account of Earth climate behaviour.

    My disrespect for you stems not from your opinions, but rather that you have formed them from what I perceive as intellectual laziness, and further, that you use your opinions to justify complacency and inaction in the face of evidence showing that unabated greenhouse gas emissions, when combined with other anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems across the globe have had, are having and will continue to have (in an escalating fashion) deleterious impacts on agriculture, aquaculture, infrastructure, and economic activity. I find it hard not to disparage those who, through obliviousness and indifference, argue against preventative action.

  7. I hope Anna Rose has learned her lesson now. As is obvious from what Minchin writes, his mind will never be changed about climate science because it’s too confronting for his political ideology, being a hard-core conservative. To protect his ideological views he just repeats the same old lies and strawmen about temperatures not rising since 1998, neither polar ice cap disappearing, our cities haven’t been submerged and polar bears haven’t disappeared yet. The term “lying for Jesus” can easily be adapted to Minchin, just substitute his conservative political ideology for religion. The man is a pathological liar, perhaps learned from his many year in politics.

  8. I hope Minchin has learned _his_ lesson about not making juvenile cracks about ‘CO2 is plant food’ in the face of a farmer worrying about the future of their crops and the incursion of new pests.

    I did think Ms Rose was perceptive in picking up that when Minchin’s private conversations diverged from outright denial he seemed to go straight to despair. ‘If it’s true then it’s all over’ style of thing. And I think that for many people like him, that’s the real driver of the fervour of their responses. They literally can’t bear to think about the consequences if they’re wrong. It’s not like apologising for accidentally stepping on someone’s foot.

    Which is why they miss the messages that we _can_ cope and we don’t need Lomborg’s techutopia nonsense. They seem to be like teenagers who’ve failed to do the necessary work for a homework assignment. Instead of putting the head down and doing the best job that’s now possible, they’re too distracted by dreaming up excuses for poor marks or for getting it in late or blaming everyone except themselves for getting into this pickle.

    Just like any feckless teenager, we only need to do the best with what we’ve got and get on with it pronto.

  9. That Minchin should believes Morano has anything significant to say about climate change, just goes to show in my view that the former senator is really not intellectually equipped to assess this issue. Not that we should ever have thought he was; recall the very stupid speech he made while still in Parliament about the “Friends of Carbon Dioxide”. One wonders whether he has done any serious reading or understands much about science at all.

  10. As I had feared, the show was a complete flop and the following Q&A did nothing to improve matters. The only light in the gloom of mediocrity was that Minchin could only come up with Jo Nova, Prof. Lindzen and manure moron Morano to argue his case. I was, frankly, disappointed that he did not trot out Lord Monkton at some point: perhaps he did and the clip was so improbable that it was left on the cutting-room floor; perhaps he only buys his shirts from Monkton, not his sceptic arguments.

    In sum, I would be amazed if the two programs achieved the lofty aims of the title and actually changed anybody’s mind about climate change. Sigh. The wondrous tool of television, which could do so much to educate and enlighten, once again fails to live up to its potential.

  11. Composer99

    I had previously prepared a polite and well thought out response to your post, but given your last paragraph I do not feel the need to interact with people as rude as yourself. Your simply another warming bully.

    I will no longer participate in this forum.

  12. How dare Composer99 accuse “Reasonable Skeptic” of making unequivocally false statements.

    But seriously, I can only hope that not too much of the population is as childish and pathetic as “Reasonable Skeptic”, considering that in spite of his self-description, he is beyond reason.

  13. Did the program mention that
    – virtually all climate science is paid for by government
    – government stands to benefit fantastically from an acceptance of global warming alarmism
    – the alarmist argument rests crucially on rampant, unrenpetant dishonesty and secrery as revealed in the Climategates?
    Or was it just the usual political correctness propaganda ?

  14. PS
    The global average temperature trend has been more or less level since 1997 (ie BEFORE the 1998 peak), despite skyrocketing CO2 levels. Another few more years like this of no significant increase, even die-hard alarmists will be reconsidering the CAGW thesis.

  15. “Reasonable Skeptic” could totally prove Composer99 wrong, but he’s washing his hair Saturday.

  16. Sorry, punksta. Don’t know where you went to get such wrong information, but that’s not so.

    The 10 hottest years ever recorded include 1998 and the last 9 years.

    The hottest decade ever recorded was the one just gone.

    It has been 325 months straight since we last had a global average temperature below the average for the 20th century – February 1985.

  17. The simple fact. adelady, is that there has been no significant change in the temperature trend since 1997. Unlike in the 30-odd years before that.

  18. Chris O’Neill
    Given that measured temperatures have not changed much since 1997, what is the significant change you have in mind ?

  19. ‘Confidence in the IPCC’ is mentioned in some earlier comment above.

    The IPCC is a political body, with political finance and political objectives (mainly world governance). It thus has an inbuilt totalitarian bias – to produce findings that favor further politicization of society regardless of the facts.

    And many of its leading lights have no compunction about sabotaging the science process – using secrecy, deception and trickery to force home their pro-political findings – misdemeanors that go unpunished.

    Its ethic is perhaps best summed up by Phil Jones’s rabidly anti-science comment – “Why should I show you my data when I know you’ll only try and find something wrong with it?”.

  20. Punksta, do you have anything to say about Foster & Rahmstorf? Or are you just going to continue spewing bizarre conspiracy theories?

  21. “….a political body, with political finance and political objectives (mainly world governance ….”

    Well, they’d better get their act together and hire a few more staff than just a handful of administrators working out dates for meetings and nagging people about deadlines for submissions.

    You do realise that none, not a single one, of the scientists who contribute to the reports get paid by the IPCC. You do. Don’t you?

  22. @adelady
    “You do realise that none, not a single one, of the scientists who contribute to the reports get paid by the IPCC. You do. Don’t you?”

    You do realise that the opinion of IPCC scientists is worthless, don’t you? How else could Anna dismiss the views of one of them so easily?

  23. Scientists vary. Some are cutting edge, some are stick in the muds. Some are involved with other scientists to improve their own understanding and conclusions, others cannot work with anyone who might have a differing view. Some are outstandingly brilliant, others not so much. Some stay up-to-date with work in the field, others will stick like a limpet to conclusions and approaches they decided on decades ago.

    When it comes to Lindzen, I remember reading someone say of him (and I’m doing this from memory) Lindzen knows that he’s cleverer than anyone else in the room, but he’s not half as clever as _he_ thinks he is. Lindzen’s problem is simply that he wants so much to be different from the ‘pack’ as he sees it, that he’s willing to go out on any limb and unwilling to deal with others to save him from himself. The contrarian label so eagerly sought by Dyson, Lindzen and others, all admittedly intellectually brilliant, is generally backed up by refusing to accommodate the notion that others they refuse to respect or even consider might have some worthwhile things to say.

    Considering the vast number of scientists involved in the process – it would be surprising if there weren’t a couple or a dozen or more who don’t fit neatly into any category. Although Lindzen fits neatly into some of my own personal categories. Clever, contrarian, intellectually I think he shifts between lazy and ‘stuck’. His biggest problem is that when he dreams up a clever new idea he won’t give it up even when the evidence against it piles up and keeps on piling up. (The ‘iris’ notion being the classic example here.)

    Persistence is a virtue in science.
    Stubbornness is not.

  24. Whilst I agree that Marc can hardly be considered a reliable expert on the climate debate, I am a bit perplexed as to what you are trying to show here.

    I agree that he cherry picked the arctic ice extent and that this is a weak argument. And you show adequately why it is weak.

    However when we get to the sea level part you rebutte him again by showing a longer trend. However, this trend shows a fairly constant increase that has slowed towards recent years. Isn’t this completely against your argument which demands an ever accelerating rise?

    In regards to the surface temperature you say that his argument that warming has stagnated is thoroughly debunked. You then go on to say that 2010 (after revision) is now the hottest year on record, although not significantly so. You also then supply a graph telling us to look at the trend. When we do, we see that warming has slowed at the tail (also why does this graph not include 2011? Was it not available), the graph also seems to show that the recent warming is not greatly different from warming earlier in the century. Doesn’t this also go against your theory?

    I find the fact that you could only address one of his three arguments convincingly thoroughly underwhelming, and the fact that they were the best you could do even post hoc more so.

    I wish that proponents of the AGW theory could see that their are many people with no vested interest and a good understanding of the scientific method (like myself) who are concerned about this debate. Instead of smearing us all the time, recognise that you are asking a lot and expecting us to take it on faith in the experts. I am not a “denier” and can have my mind changed if presented with good evidence. My current issue is the lack of good evidence.

  25. Roy Mustard
    It is not a “bizarre conspiracy theory” that scientists whose paymaster is the state, produce work with a pro-state bias, ie CAGW. Exactly like it wasn’t a bizarre conspiracy theory that scientists employed by tobacco companies produced work with a pro-smoking bias, ie it was perfectly healthy. In both cases, the funder had/had a vested interest in the outcome.
    Indeed the only people holding to bizarre conspiracy theories here, are those who maintain that no such bias exists – a kind of conspiracy of honour .

  26. Adelady, you do realise that virtually 100% of the funding climate science is from states, which includes those involved in the IPCC.

  27. Chris O’Neill
    Rather than just telling me to go away and not come back till I agree with your as-yet groundless assertion, why don’t you have a go at marshalling the argument yourself ?

  28. The gist of Foster & Rahmstorf is that natural factors are now well understood, so any departure from their net effect must be down to man. A sensible idea.

    The proof of the whole pudding (ie in conjunction with the hypthesised CO2 effect), though, will be whether or not reliable predictions of temperatures finally start being made.

  29. Adelady, you do realise that virtually 100% of the funding climate science is from states, which includes those involved in the IPCC.
    .
    Of course! Until fairly recently, most “climate” scientists were either physicists working with atmospheric phenomena for various government agencies including weapons, hence the heat-seeking missiles work or the bloke in the backroom reanalysing the meteorologists’ data – which hadn’t been collected for climate purposes in the first place. I don’t really see the problem with weather, agriculture, fisheries and shipping oriented data collected by countries for their own civil and trade purposes being aggregated to get an overall picture.

    I cannot see why you think that governments favour the outcomes and projections in IPCC reports. AFAIK, the main involvement of ‘governments’ in the final stages of producing these reports consists of several rather powerful countries finding scientists and diplomats they can pressure to tone down the wording in various draft sections they find ‘uncomfortable’ and a few not-very-powerful countries trying to keep in some emphasis on problems that affect them.

    The idea that governments *want* to deal with the issue for any reason other than they’re being told they have to seems far-fetched. Expecially when you consider that the other countries they need to deal with on this are long-standing competitors or are regarded as annoyances or even outright enemies. Many neighbours already have substantial disputes simmering over water resources. Pakistan- India, Israel and neighbours, Sudan and neighbours? USA-Mexico? Any cooperative action in these regions on anything has always been problematic. On water it’s usually a dismal failure. Why would they want to take on climate action?

  30. Punksta, nice attempt at goalpost shifting but you have failed.

    Your argument was there had been no recent warming despite rising Co2, completely ignoring short term forcings on the climate. Foster & Rahmstorf shows that the Co2 warming signal has continued unabated and that your argument is wrong.

    Now suddenly it’s about future projections! How fortunate, trying to shift the debate into an area you feel is safe because all those nasty lying communist scientists can’t get the horrid models right, can they?

    Guess what, reliable projections have been made to the complete ignorance of deniers such as yourself.

    It is not a “bizarre conspiracy theory” that scientists whose paymaster is the state, produce work with a pro-state bias, ie CAGW.

    Yes, it is indescribably bizarre to suggest that scientists are fabricating data to bring about world government at the behest of politicians. It shows a profound lack of understanding about how science, scientific funding and the IPCC works and an embarassingly extreme lack of understanding about what the scientific evidence actually says.

    Of course, wrapping yourself up in conspiracy theories means you never have to accept, or even look at, the evidence because you already know it’s wrong. This is the exact opposite of how science works.

    It’s interesting that you bring up scientists paid to doubt the link between tobacco and cancer – would it surprise you that many of them have now moved over to climate denial? Yes, I suspect it would surprise you.

  31. Roy
    Apparently you don’t grasp the concept of vested interest. In fact it is indescribably bizarre to suggest that science paid for by politics, will NOT exhibit a pro-political bias. Especially when seen in the light of the rampant, unrepentant and unpunished science fraud revealed in the Climategates. It it YOU who is the conspiracy theorist, not me.

  32. adelady : I cannot see why you think that governments favour the outcomes and projections in IPCC reports

    Nothing complicated, merely the obvious reason – because it justifies expanding their power over society – more taxes, more bureaucrats, more agencies – ie a move to a more totalitarian world.

  33. Roy
    Your claim of goalpost-moving is but an attempt to duck the implications of your own argument. If natural forces were truly understood and accounted for as implicit in F&A, it should be possible to make predictions. This may well happen one day, thereby vindicating F&A, but hasn’t yet.

  34. Punksta,

    In fact it is indescribably bizarre to suggest that science paid for by politics, will NOT exhibit a pro-political bias.

    This is real tinfoil stuff. I quote myself: “It shows a profound lack of understanding about how science, scientific funding and the IPCC works and an embarassingly extreme lack of understanding about what the scientific evidence actually says.”

    The government of George W. Bush funded climate science. Did that show any “pro-political bias”? Was Bush hankering after world government? Was there any evidence in the so-called Climategate emails of political interference? No?

    The theory of AGW stretches back over 130 years. It is older than the theories of relativity and the evolution. There is a mountain of observed, emperical evidence, none of which you have successfully challenged and all of which you have ignored because it doesn’t suit your ideological position. Your silence on the science I have presented is telling. It must be humbling to realise you are way out of your league.

    What you really fear are the political outcomes, so you deny the science. Unfortunately denying something doesn’t make it go away.

    Especially when seen in the light of the rampant, unrepentant and unpunished science fraud revealed in the Climategates. It it YOU who is the conspiracy theorist, not me.

    Oh you got me – Climategate was one big conspiracy but it is I who is the conspiracy theorist. Yeah, that makes sense. Go on. What was “hide the decline” all about?

  35. Your claim of goalpost-moving is but an attempt to duck the implications of your own argument. If natural forces were truly understood and accounted for as implicit in F&A, it should be possible to make predictions. This may well happen one day, thereby vindicating F&A, but hasn’t yet.

    Strawman argument. We can read measurements without having to predict them. And what these measurements tell us is that Earth’s net energy should be going down, yet it is increasing. Why do you think that is? Why is heat accumulating instead of decreasing?

    I know there is a popular denier argument that the entire case of AGW is on the models, but this is wrong. Our understanding is based almost entirely on oserved evidence. The projections show that, based on this evidence, we should be warming, which we are.

    Your argument that there has been no warming in twelve years can only be based on a belief that Co2 is the only forcing on climate. This is wrong, but you are arguing that short term forcings outweigh long term forcings, and either you are lying or deluded. I can’t decide which.

  36. Gosh, what a shock. Statistician and Anthony Watts cohort John Neilson-Gammon agrees with me.

    So we see a couple of recent La Niñas have caused the recent global temperature trend to level off. But be honest: doesn’t it seem likely that, barring another major volcanic eruption, the next El Niño will cause global temperatures to break their previous record? Doesn’t it appear that whatever has caused global temperatures to rise over the past four decades is still going strong?

    So about that lack of warming: Yes, it’s real. You can thank La Niña.

    As for whether this means that Tyndall gases are no longer having an impact: Nice try.”

  37. Punksta:

    Rather than just telling me to go away and not come back till I agree with your as-yet groundless assertion,

    The issue is your groundless assertion, not mine.

    why don’t you have a go at marshalling the argument yourself ?

    Why would I want to waste anymore of my time on the likes of you who is too lazy to even point and click? The issue has been dealt with before. Your laziness is no excuse for dredging it up again.

  38. What was “hide the decline” all about? !!?!!

    You’re surely not suggesting it was a “decline” in temperatures they were discussing here. Are you?

    Just in case you are …….

    The “decline” in question was in the matching of a temperature proxy and recorded, measured, observed temperatures in the recent modern decades. Surprisingly enough, the scientists in question decided to go with the measured, observed temperatures rather than stay with a proxy which was becoming less and less accurate.

    If you think that’s bad scientific practice – choosing the known reliable numbers rather than the weirdly unreliable ones – then I don’t know what else anyone could say.

  39. @adelady

    “What was “hide the decline” all about? !!?!!”

    I suspect that you understend the point perfectly well but, curiously, are not highlighting it in your post.

    The point is that when we have thermometer data and tree ring data suggesting what the temperature might be at a particuler time we can see that the two methods of measurement disagree with each other. That is, they indicate different temperatures.

    If the “scientists” had shown this divergence in their graph then it would have cast doubt on the veracity of the earlier data that was tree ring based only.

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