Today I’ll deal with the “consensus” issues, as that seems to be where most of the confusion around anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and observational global warming (GW) come in.
1. Global Warming is a hoax! Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by environmental extremists and liberals who want an excuse for more big government (and/or world government via the U.N.). First and foremost, there has been a warming of the planet. If it’s a hoax, it’s one of extraordinary magnitude, as the temperature readings for 100 years have had to have been manipulated to make it a hoax. The UN hasn’t been around that long.
That doesn’t say there aren’t people economically invested in the fearmongering of AGW. We’ve all heard the rants of the Goracle and how he’s so worried about the environment that he owned a polluting zinc mine and buys carbon offsets from a company he’s a majority stockholder in (Hey! Look at me! I just paid myself money to offset the carbon generated by my mansion! Give me a tax break!)
What’s worse is the idea of “carbon offsets“. In the Middle Ages, these were called “indulgences“, and they’d buy you some time out of Purgatory. This “carbon credit” bought does something “environmentally nice” in order to offset your crazy consumin’.
For example, suppose I have a 5000 sq ft. mansion. To heat/cool the place year-round I have to pay $15,000. Now all that energy that goes into cooling/heating comes at a price– something has to be making that energy, whether it be the natural gas I’m burning (generating CO2), or the electric (which comes from a coal-burning power plant) to run my heat/air conditioning.
Now to compensate for this usage of energy, I buy some “carbon offsets” from EnviroBiz. These offsets come as “credits” which will compensate for the carbon I spew. EnviroBiz will plant trees in Brazil, build solar/wind farms, increase power-line sharing from a local wind farm, invest in wind/solar research– you get the idea.
Now, I’ve strayed a little from Grist, so let me get back to there. Coby lists a host of organizations who think AGW is real. I will rebut it in the next section, because the two go hand in hand.
2. There is no consensus. Climate is complicated and there are lots of competing theories and unsolved mysteries. Until this is all worked out, one can’t claim there is consensus on global warming theory. Until there is, we should not take any action. Coby lists a series of organizations that state AGW is real. The endorsements are all there, from scientific and political bodies.
But what does it take to endorse the idea? Simply put, it’s a majority of the signatories to the idea. Note that’s majority, not totality. The truth of the matter is that in every organization that’s signed on the AGW, there are a minority of dissenters who voted against the idea.
Let me list some scientific principles that there is consensus about:
Newton’s laws of motion.
The speed of light.
The number of chromosomes in the human cell.
The shape of atomic orbitals.
All of these topics have total support, not a majority of support. Newton’s laws are flawed, but the consensus of scientists agree that the laws can be applied to non-relativistic systems without serious error.
When you have predicitive science, you’re relying on computer models. You’re also relying on your own assumptions, and those assumptions can be tainted with a bias towards the outcome you expect.
Just today there’s a paper out on the variability of Earth’s climate and its dependence upon the Great Ocean Conveyor for temperature regulation, and how it seems to go through a “see-saw” of temperatures that include the melting and forming of glaciers and a variability in local climates.
What’s most amazing about the article is what the authors are forced to put into the paper so they’re not viciously attacked by people like those who run Grist.
In agreement with most other climate researchers, the Lund group is not concerned about a complete shut-down of the Gulf Stream as envisioned in the apocalyptic film “The day after tomorrow”. However, future warming induced by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions may influence the system.
We don’t know with certainty what will happen. Some attempts at measuring ocean currents suggest a recent weakening of the Gulf Stream, and the transport of heat to the North Atlantic region may well decrease in the future as a result of increased precipitation. Such a scenario might lead to less warming in Europe than predicted by the IPCC, but we will probably not face an arctic climate, summarizes Svante Björck.
So the Lund group is saying that climate is dependent upon ocean currents to a serious degree, but they have to throw in the idea that “AGW could still be the cause of all warming”. They don’t have any evidence that CO2 changes have propagated climate shifts in the past 10,000 years, but they still have to pay homage at the AGW temple or face excommunication.
It’s like Copernicus. He found that the Earth revolves around the sun. But he was afraid to publish what he knew because the Church might kill him, so he published on his deathbed. Do we really want to go back to those times?
3. Position statements hide debate. All those institutional position statements are fine, but by their very nature they paper over debate and obscure the variety of individual positions. The real debate is in the scientific journals. Coby agrees that the real debate is in the scientific journals. But if there’s debate, there’s no consensus, right?
Well, according to Coby and Naomi Oreskes, there is consensus. Just do a search on “global climate change”, he suggests, and you find 928 papers which support the idea. None of them reject climate change.
Well, Naomi’s simple research leaves much to be desired. Firstly, all climatologists will agree that if there’s one thing you need to know about climate is that it changes. To publish an article with “global climate change” from a climatology standpoint would be silly, simply because it’s an obvious statement. If I published a paper titled “anions reacting with cations”, I would be laughed at because it’s the essential basis of chemistry. Secondly, it discards any similarities. For example, what about the papers that have “global climate variability” in the title? Or “global temperature trends” or “carbon dioxide traps far less heat than water” or even “global warming is a load of horse dung”? No. One search and we’ve got consensus.
Not to mention the press of the issue. How do you get attention on Global Warming? Title your paper “CO2 indicates global climate change!” I’ve read papers about special variations in ocean surface zones and found a ringing endorsement of Global Climate Change, even though the evidence presented had nothing to do with Global Climate Change. However, would I have read the paper had it not had a tie-in to Global Warming? Probably not.
4. Global Warming consensus is collusion. More and more, climate models share all the same assumptions — so of course they all agree! And every year, fewer scientists dare speak out against the findings of the IPCC, thanks to the pressure to conform. Just ask Laurie David. Does this look like intimidation? Or this? This one? Or this?
Or how about you’re just like the Nazis if you don’t think AGW is happening? And what about the state climatologist who can’t use his title because he’s disagreeing with the state leadership about AGW?
Just a message to those who disagree– we’re watching you. Right, Laurie & Coby?
I’m running out of time and won’t address 5. simply because I already did that in 3.
We’ll get into the second section later, which deals with more of the science. I’ll include the section I omitted above down there because it really belongs in the science discussion.