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Earth Science

Last Bastion For Climate Dissenters Crumbling 963

Posted by Soulskill
from the somehow-i-think-they-would-disagree dept.
Layzej writes "The New York Times reports: 'For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong.' Initially they claimed that weather stations exaggerated the warming trend. This was disproven by satellite data which shows a similar warming trend. Next, solar activity was blamed for much of the warming. This looked like a promising theory until the '80s, when solar output started to diverge from global temperatures. Now, climate contrarians are convinced that changes in cloud cover will largely mitigate the warming caused by increased CO2. The New York Times examines how even this last bastion for dissenters is crumbling. Over the past few years, Several papers have shown that rather than being a mitigating factor, changes in cloud cover due to warming may actually enhance further warming."
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Last Bastion For Climate Dissenters Crumbling

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  • Re:A sad day. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:33AM (#39866609)

    So where's your peer-reviewed research that backs up your claim?

    Right wing shouty heads on Fox News don't count, I'm afraid.

  • by grumling (94709) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:44AM (#39866701) Homepage

    The "Other Planets are Heating up too" hypothesis has been debunked:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/04/29/is-global-warming-solar-induced/ [discovermagazine.com]

    But, until the engineers get involved on a real fix I wouldn't bother changing your lifestyle, other than maybe switching to LED lights and turning down the thermostat. Politicians never fix anything.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tgd (2822) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:50AM (#39866749)

    Very few people disagree with the premise that the climate is warming.

    Untrue -- that's a VERY recent (in the last year or two) change because the made up science people were using against warming was becoming unsupportable *even to the political base they were trying to influence*. To the tactics were changed from "its not warming" to "its not us doing it".

    Where the disagreement is, is if that warming is a natural part of earths long term weather patterns and how much effect CO2 is having on speeding up the process.

    No, among working climatologists, there's no disagreement. In fact, among anyone who has even a cursory understanding of thermodynamics, there's no disagreement. The tiny percentage of "climatologists" you see who publish papers suggesting otherwise are doing it because controversy will get you published, and its a publish-or-perish industry. And there's a LOT of money being paid to people who aren't otherwise being successful in the field to continue publishing bad science.

    Also, they question the results of the warming... predicted increased hurricane strength and frequency have not come about as we'd expected.

    Don't use the word "we" if you're not someone who holds a degree in climatology.

    The only optimism I have is in that the one thing scientists have a proven track record of if being absolutely lousy at predicting the weather.

    So, no degree in climatology. Climatologists don't have anything to do with predicting the weather -- those are meteorologists. People in either field know that. (And people in either field also know the current global climate models predict an increase in energy in the weather systems which produces strong, not greater numbers, of storms -- on average. Someone trained in climatology knows what "on average" means relative to the work a meteorologist does, too.)

  • Re:NYT Bias (Score:4, Informative)

    by SEWilco (27983) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:52AM (#39866771) Journal

    Do remember the NYT is a very left-wing paper and that climate change supporters are majority left-wing. Bias is everywhere.

    Yes, but if you read the article you find that much of the Slashdot story was created by the /. submitter. A correction should be made to identify just what the NYT said.

  • by Wulfrunner (1213776) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:00AM (#39866863)

    Climate proxies [wikipedia.org] are used to extend the record, and often give useful correlations between carbon dioxide and temperature.

  • by Wulfrunner (1213776) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:32AM (#39867131)

    Am I the only one who fails to see the massive logic fail in that statement? If methane only lasts for 9-15 years, how is more effective at trapping heat over a 100 year period?

    Yes, you are the only one who sees a massive logic fail because you are taking the statement at face value instead of trying to educate yourself about what they are talking about. I hope you were being facetious, but just in case: Atmospheric methane [wikipedia.org] is oxidized in the atmosphere to produce carbon dioxide and water. FTA: "The 100-year global warming potential of methane is 25, i.e. over a 100-year period, it traps 25 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide."

  • Really, (Score:3, Informative)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:35AM (#39867181) Homepage

    "claimed that weather stations exaggerated the warming trend. This was disproven by satellite data"

    Cause I recall satellite data being reported as showing more of a cooling trend.

    "solar activity was blamed for much of the warming. This looked like a promising theory until the '80s"

    Wait, I remember the 80's, I was in elementary school and being taught that we were headed toward a potential ice age.

    "climate contrarians are convinced that changes in cloud cover will largely mitigate the warming caused by increased CO2"

    Well, hadn't heard that one. Did hear the one about how CO2 is nothing compared to H2O in regards to greenhouse affect.

    "New York Times examines how even this last bastion"

    Really, last bastion, um...not sure where you're getting that from. Plenty of arguments against the alarmism. The fact that most predictions, facts, etc have proven false and had to be recanted.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wulfrunner (1213776) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:40AM (#39867231)

    It is interesting to note that the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide may have been as much as 20 times higher as it is today at points in Earth's geologic past. Of course, you wouldn't want to live there :)

    Sometimes people compare today's warming with the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum [wunderground.com].

  • by dylan_- (1661) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:44AM (#39867269) Homepage

    Take this [epa.gov] gem, from the EPA itself:

    Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years. Methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period

    Am I the only one who fails to see the massive logic fail in that statement? If methane only lasts for 9-15 years, how is more effective at trapping heat over a 100 year period?

    I've already explained this to you, using a very simple analogy with a hare and a tortoise. Did you not understand?

    It makes no difference if the vast majority of the effect from the methane happens over 9-15 years. We can still say how much effect it had over any length of time we choose. Over 15 years, say, it might have 70 times the effect of CO2. Over 50 years it might have 45 times the effect of CO2. Over 100 years it might have 20 times. Over 500 years it might have 4 times the effect. [These figures are not meant to be exact, they are purely to illustrate the concept]

    Do you understand it now?

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @09:49AM (#39867311) Homepage Journal

    Al Gore got people cheering one side of this issue but being Al Gore managed to alienate and effectively create an opposing side.

    That's a lot of crap. People used what they didn't like about Al Gore as an excuse to talk a lot of shit about AGW and now he's become a kind of curse word that they shout incoherently in the middle of arguments. If I have to hear one more global warming denier blame the fact that we're talking about CO2 on Al Gore I may fucking snap. What I find hilarious is that the nerd crowd here on Slashdot overwhelmingly berates him for being too boring when that is precisely how the rest of the world views us when we launch into an explanation of how something works — something the listener has asked us to explain to them. And you start explaining it and they say "don't tell me all that shit, I just want to know how it works" and you just want to slap the fucker, because clearly he's not capable of understanding this thing without extensive further education. Railing against Al Gore for being boring is a vote for the further dumbing-down of America. I don't want leaders who wave their hand and say "you don't need to see my four-year plan." I don't want them to say "you're too dumb to understand this." Unfortunately, that is precisely what the majority of the American people want. They have said so time and again.

  • Straw Man Arguement (Score:4, Informative)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:09AM (#39867539) Journal

    I am a dissenter. I am however not paid by any coproration, and I would say I am "more educated and scientific than most" when it comes to the global warming debate.

    As far as I am concerned, the NYT article is constructing a straw man to tear it apart. As a dissenter, I *know* that water vapor is a green house gas and is a positive feedback on the system. In fact one of the reasons why I am a dissenter is because water vapor is so much more absorbing of the infre red spectrum than CO2. Yet we don't call on our industry to condense steam back into water rather than directly vent it to the atmosphere.

    Also the article describes this as the last bastion. The title is wholly undeserved because there are plenty of bastions still going on. The solar debate is still on, and stronger than ever since we're in a weak cycle and we have had no warming since 1998. In fact, Antarctica is still adding ice, and the Arctic has recovered to the 1979-2000 average and is currently within 1 standard deviation, which is impressive because just 3 years ago it hit it lowest point since being recorded.

    I could go on, but that's enough to refute the article.

  • by HeLLFiRe1151 (743468) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:12AM (#39867577)
    So it's going back to where the Earth was originally. Great, so we humans are are actually restoring the Earth to how it was suppose to be. You see Earth had a methane atmosphere before these oxygen polluting plants and microbes started growing on Earth. I saw that on "The Universe". I'm so smart now.
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Informative)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @10:17AM (#39867641) Journal

    surely the crap spewed into the atmosphere by continuous seismic events must far outweigh your "graphed" metrics.

    You mean volcanoes?

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/volcanoes-co2-people-emissions-climate-110627.html [discovery.com]

    No, no, not at all.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:07AM (#39868191)

    surely the crap spewed into the atmosphere by continuous seismic events must far outweigh your "graphed" metrics. Each side of the debate is hindered by FUD so choose your arguments carefully.

    Even during the lead up to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, CO2 and equivalents emissions were much lower than they are currently (1.1 to 6.32 billion tonnes per year. Compared to about 30 billion tonnes per year at present). Atmospheric temperatures got far higher than they are at present (6-9C), but over a far longer period of time (~20,000 years)

    Here's my source: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n7/full/ngeo1179.html [nature.com]

    For clarification, their number is 0.3–1.7Petagrams (1Pg=1 billion tonnes) of carbon per year. Multiply by 3.67 to convert to CO2.

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:50AM (#39868773) Homepage

    I know, I know, they don't teach history in school anymore. It's all about indoctrination, propaganda, and conformity instead of critical thinking.

    Here's a bit of history [nih.gov] of indoctrination [brownecompany.com] and propaganda [healio.com] you ought to consider before branding the previous poster as ignorant.

  • by MattskEE (925706) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:58AM (#39868901)

    Go read your source a little more carefully, including the linked interview with the original reporter. When Bill Nye criticized literal interpretation of the Bible, there were a few people who left upset, but it was apparently very low key, no booing, no "bastion" of people storming out or making a scene, and Bill Nye's lecture was uninterrupted and Bill may not have even realized the reaction of these few people.

    Sure I'd like to live in a world where all religious people accept that the Bible should not be taken literally, but you (like many according to the followups in your source) appear to have greatly overstated the negative reaction at Bill Nye's lecture by repeating the inflammatory punch line without reading any deeper.

  • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:03PM (#39868987)

    My bicycle, filing cabinents, furniture I've purchased. I'm 6'4" myself so driver's side room is always a major factor for me. I had to pass up a lot of good deals on vehicles just because I couldn't fit in the stupid things comfortably. You just need to know how to handle a Prius.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Informative)

    by rgbatduke (1231380) <rgb@@@phy...duke...edu> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:25PM (#39869315) Homepage
    Actually, they are honest scientific dissenters. At issue isn't whether or not there is a greenhouse effect -- it is true that only nut-jobs try to claim that there isn't. It is that the warming expected from a doubling of CO_2 per se is not likely to be catastrophic. To make it catastrophic, its effects are multiplied by a presumed positive climate sensitivity that is multifactorial and impossible to measure, and that no two global climate models set the same way to hindcast some carefully selected portion of the historical temperature record. The sensitivity then amplifies the (rather weak) additional warming caused by the CO_2 by a factor of 3 to 5 and you finally get the desired "catastrophe" that justifies spending trillions of dollars to avert it, taking steps that even the proponents admit will not, in fact, avert it. A catastrophe that has to in the end cost trillions of dollars or it isn't worth averting it in the first place.

    The problem is that the global climate models suck at hindcasting outside of their fit region because they omit major variables (such as solar state) that almost certainly contribute as much to the climate variability as modulation of the CO_2 per se does. The GCMs also suck at forecasting. Compare the forecast temperatures from any of the early IPCC reports to the temperatures outside today, and you will observe an increasing divergence. The UAH lower troposphere temperature has been stable to slightly decreasing for well over a decade at this point and is actually bouncing by a tenth of a degree C around its 32 year average month to month at this very moment. Arctic sea ice is back to its 30 year average. Antarctic sea ice is actually above its 30 year average (so sea ice in general is both net surplus and on a positive trend). None of this makes any sense at all in terms of a model based on greenhouse gases with huge climate sensitivity, but it makes a great deal of sense if one considers variables omitted in the GCMs, such as solar state.

    The Earth is in the middle -- well, honestly at the very beginning of -- an ice age. One likely to last roughly 300 million years. We do not have a very good understanding of why this is the case -- there are major competing hypotheses and some of them involve things like helium burning episodes in the core of the Sun where we have a very hard time "seeing" them and where in any event the timescale of variation is enormous, or the passage of the solar system through galactic regions with variable mass content, again on timescales and at density scales almost impossible to measure. Note well that I'm not talking about the "modulation" of the ice age with brief interglacial episodes -- those episodes are correlated to be sure with orbital periods (although not particularly well or consistently correlated) -- I'm talking about why the Pliestocene itself began.

    It is also a simple fact that in the last 15 years, the Earth's albedo has increased by roughly 7% while the water content of the stratosphere has gone down by roughly 10%. If you want an even more interesting true fact, the albedo decreased sharply in the late 60s -- in consonance with an arguably extreme solar maximum -- and remained low for precisely the period where the earth was supposedly experiencing runaway greenhouse warming, and went down almost exactly when that warming seems to have gone away. For example and references:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetshine [wikipedia.org]

    This article is a bit specious. The effects of an increased bond albedo -- especially a daytime albedo which is what "planetshine" directly measures -- are perfectly simple to understand. If you visit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan%E2%80%93Boltzmann_law [wikipedia.org]

    You will discover a simple formula for the Earth's expected "greybody temperature". You will also learn that:

    The Earth
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Informative)

    by hkmwbz (531650) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:03PM (#39869927) Journal

    the measurements are distorted because the once-rural weather stations are now in the middle of expanding cities (heat sinks)

    They are not. In fact, measurements outside of cities show the same trends. You are just spewing the Urban Heat Island talking point that's constantly used by denialists to deny scientific fact.

    Furtermore even if the globe was warming, there's no proof it was man.

    Science deals with evidence, not proof. And there's a huge amount of evidence that the warming is caused by humans. Once again you are just spewing denialist talking points.

  • Bottomless Pockets (Score:2, Informative)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:10PM (#39870041)
    They're funded by rat-bastards like the Koch Brothers; these a-holes will be with us as long as their brethren cockroaches.
  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:24PM (#39870225) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I see both sides as religious zealots.

    Your logical fallacy is:

    http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/middle-ground [yourlogicalfallacyis.com]

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:27PM (#39870253)

    you are under a number of false impressions:

    1) insects have a tracheal system of airways which connect the outside spiracles (holes) to a internal network
    2) many insects use muscle pumping equivalent to our breathing to move air through the tracheal system - closely watch a grasshopper at rest sometime
    3) while some insects rely on simple cross integument diffusion for oxygen exchange, most do not; the fact that this is variable is not terribly surprizing in a group with over one MILLION species which has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years.

    4) in any case, super-sized insects were a characteristic of a period during the Carboniferous Era when O2 concentration was believed to be approximately 35%

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:4, Informative)

    by hkmwbz (531650) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:38PM (#39870409) Journal

    The IPCC -- which, I should point out, after some revelations about its "science" and internal politics now has a credibility of near zero -- is not discussing the cost.

    Actually, the IPCC is discussing both the scientific basis and what can be done based on those facts.

    And claiming that the IPCC has a credibility of near zero is just insane. Every single respected scientific organization in the entire world supports the IPCC. So you are basically saying that the entire scientific community is part of a major conspiracy to cover up the truth.

    What would the cost be of dropping emissions to 0 today?

    No one is arguing that emissions should be dropped to 0. Looks like you are rather confused.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:40PM (#39870425) Homepage Journal

    False. Consensus is part of science. That's because Consensus is achieved through science, and consensus can change with the appropriated evidence.
    As Tim Minchin so eloquently and accurately said:
    "Science adjusts it's beliefs based on what's observed
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U [youtube.com]

    You are the one using religion for your opinion.

    Also, Look up Appeal to authority. hint: it doesn't apply
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority [wikipedia.org]

    Forms:
    The strength of this argument depends upon two factors:
    The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.
    A consensus exists among legitimate experts on the matter under discussion.
    These conditions may also simply be incorporated into the structure of the argument itself, in which case the form may look like this:
    X holds that A is true
    X is a legitimate expert on the subject.
    The consensus of experts agrees with X.
    Therefore, there's a presumption that A is true.

    I highly recommend reading 'Introduction to Critical Reasoning' and 'Introduction to Logic' before churning out logical fallacy accusation. You look like a fool.

  • Re:Last bastion (Score:5, Informative)

    by hkmwbz (531650) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:43PM (#39870469) Journal

    Evolution is STILL a theory. Even Darwin acknowledged this.

    Evolution will always remain a theory, because a theory is the highest part of the scientific hierarchy. What a scientist calls a "theory" is what regular people would call "fact". So to us non-scientists, evolution is a fact.

    By the way, the Bible foretold THOUSANDS of years ago that the earth was round: Isaiah 40:22

    That says that the earth is flat. Fail.

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