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How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations? 560

bunratty writes "According to recent articles by Roy Spencer and John Christy, our climate models have done a poor job of predicting warming due to humans burning fossil fuels. They claim that we've observed only a fraction of the warming they predict. But when I look at the source they claim to use, the State of the Climate in 2012, I see that it shows a warming of 0.7 degrees Celsius worldwide since 1980, close to the 0.8 degrees Celsius warming predicted by the climate models. Take a look at the data for yourself. How well do our predictions match our observations?"
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How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

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  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:35PM (#46295413)

    It's pretty easy to "predict" temperature trends in years that have already gone by.

  • Re:China? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:37PM (#46295427)

    It's almost as if there aren't big walls in the sky that keep emissions from leaving the countries that produce them.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:38PM (#46295435) Homepage
    Spencer has contributed specific work in peer reviewed journals that is part of the scientific discussion, but his overall opinion on climate change is motivated more by his own religion than anything else. He's both sympathetic to intelligent design and signed a statement which said among other things ""Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Spencer_(scientist)#Climate_change [wikipedia.org] Essentially he believes that climate change isn't happening because his religion won't let him. Note how that statement wasn't even just about climate, but about ecosystems as a whole. Christy doesn't seem to have that same sort of underlying motivation and might make more sense to pay attention to, but in this context, the vast majority of experts disagree with both of them, and when dealing with complicated scientific issues, using expert consensus is a useful heuristic, that's before we get to the serious issue that not only is the expert consensus clear, it is a consensus about some very bad results, not just a consensus about an issue which doesn't have substantial impact.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:38PM (#46295439) Journal

    A more interesting question is why Spencer never publishes any of his alleged massive critiques of AGW in peer reviewed journals. He seems to be quick to a check from the Koch Brothers and various other pro-oil interests, but oddly never seems to actually publish these resounding rebuttals in any kind of scientific venue.

  • Re:BS (Score:2, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:39PM (#46295447) Journal

    Can you provide the citation in peer reviewed or primary literature where it says every spot on the planet will be warmer due to AGW...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:41PM (#46295473)

    Since it only needs 2C to drop and you get an ice age starting, I fail to see how you can claim 0.7C a minor fluctuation and wonder how it would matter.

  • Garbage in... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:41PM (#46295483) Homepage Journal
    That is a perfect example on how to misalign graphs to make them match your agenda [hotwhopper.com]. He should be jailed for that.
  • Re:BS (Score:2, Informative)

    by beatle42 ( 643102 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:43PM (#46295505)

    Apparently the concept of making all weather more extreme has been lost here. That would mean winter storms will be more extreme as well. Perhaps it's hard to imagine why global warming would make more snow in some areas, but failures of some people's imagination doesn't make something less true.

    Also, if we're talking about the gravy train, don't the people emitting greenhouse gasses have a much larger financial stake than the scientists researching it? I doubt all the climate research funding world wide was equal to even Exxon's profits last year.

  • by InsertCleverUsername ( 950130 ) <slashdot&rrusson,fastmail,fm> on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:44PM (#46295513) Homepage Journal

    As the old song goes, little things mean a lot. You couldn't see the difference between a little botulin toxin and a lethal dose without a microscope. And I'm sure you wouldn't notice a 0.7 C difference between one room in your house and another, but multiply that amount of energy to a global scale and it starts to add up. Consider what climatologist James Hansen said about the current rate of increase in global warming: “(it's) equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day, 365 days per year. That’s how much extra energy Earth is gaining each day.”

  • by x6060 ( 672364 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:49PM (#46295585)

    Or the fact that we are still coming off of an Ice Age that lasted for more than 100,000 years, and ended less than 10,000 years ago (Or the little Ice Age that ended in 1850). Several models predict that the average temperature at the END of the last Ice Age was 15-20C lower than today.

    Is global warming happening? Yes. Is the human race a contributing factor? Probably to some degree. Is the human race the only cause? No.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:54PM (#46295635)

    Well, no, it doesn't just need a 2C drop to get an ice age. It needs a continuous temperature shift of 2C or more in higher-latitude temperate regions without any significant actions to remove the snow. After a couple years of that remaining true, the increased snow cover will become self-sustaining until acted on by a sufficient contrary change of some kind. Then you get an ice age.

    Dramatic climate changes don't work off the global average temperature, they work off regional interactions across large enough scales to become resistant to the minor fluctuations.

  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:58PM (#46295677)

    Spencer's scientific views are being affected by his religious beliefs. He is a signatory to a document called An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which holds that Earth was created by "God's intelligent design" and that ecosystems are therefore "robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting". Whatever you might think of this, it is definitely not a scientific statement. Basically, he refuses to accept, for religious reasons, that humans can have an effect on the Earth's climate – in his theology, only God can do that.

    Spencer is also a major proponent of the "intelligent design" scam. And both he and John Christy are based out of Alabama, one of the most backward and scientifically illiterate states in the U.S.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:59PM (#46295691)

    No scientist says humans are the only cause. There are other forcings, positive and negative. The very likely (95%-100%) in the IPCC is to the contention that "most" of the rise in temperature is caused by human forcings. Not "all".

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:00PM (#46295699)

    For several years Gavin Schmidt, one of the principals of the NASA/GISS Model/E climate model, has been doing a comparison of model output to observations. There isn't an update for 2013 yet but the comparison through 2012 is available here. [realclimate.org]

  • by nmrtian ( 984245 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:00PM (#46295701)
    These guys are well known climate change deniers with links to the petroleum industry. Their goal is not to enlighten but to sow doubt.
  • by Onymous Hero ( 910664 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:02PM (#46295721)
    Where does the 0.7C warming since 1980 figure come from exactly? I make it roughly 0.7F (note: FAHRENHEIT) from 1980 until the last point in 2012. That's an anomaly of around 0.4C, which seems to tie in with the graph on the R Spencer page.
  • Re:Glad you asked... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:05PM (#46295743) Homepage Journal

    And yet, tree ring data from California shows that region has been in drought for something like 1600 out of the last 2000 years.

    Much of it significantly *before* modern technology and CO2 pollution.

    Could it be the real problem is that we don't actually know what the average temperature was before 1700?

  • 97% - bogus poll... (Score:1, Informative)

    by cirby ( 2599 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:09PM (#46295777)

    Just so you know: That "97 percent of all scientists in the world" silliness came from a rigged "poll."

    Basically, an AGW-supporting scientist polled a number of his AGW-supporting scientist friends and co-workers - 30 or so - and asked them if they thought AGW was real.

    That's where your number came from. Which should tell you something about the actual support for AGW among the scientific population at large...

    They recently came up with another poll, where they cherry-picked a bunch of papers, and said "97% of scientific papers agree!" While not mentioning that only about a third of them actually addressed AGW, and they got their "new" 97% by only looking at 65 papers. Out of 12,000. Oops.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:29PM (#46295921) Journal

    There was no decision to change it, they are two different terms. Global Warming is a subset of Climate Change. The confusion of terms exists only in the reporting of the general, non-scientific press and the minds of Internet dogs who think checking a household thermometer means they themselves are qualified to hold a valid opinion.

    The IPCC was created back in 1988 at the request of WMO (World Meteorological Organization) and the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program).

    The UNEP was formed in 1972 to study man's interaction with and impact on the environment.

    The WMO was researching "potential global warming caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere" back in the mid-1970s.

    Back in 1956 scientist Gilbert Plass published a study titled "The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change".

    In a 1975 Science article by geochemist Wallace Broecker of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory: "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?"

  • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:30PM (#46295933) Homepage

    Or the fact that we are still coming off of an Ice Age that lasted for more than 100,000 years, and ended less than 10,000 years ago (Or the little Ice Age that ended in 1850). Several models predict that the average temperature at the END of the last Ice Age was 15-20C lower than today.

    So over 10k years temperature raised 20C, that is (20 / 10000) * 10 = 0.02C per decade, very far from 0.7 / 3 = 0.23 per decade that we see now.
    I don't have sources from your numbers, and it's probably safe to assume that the rate of temperature change isn't constant either... So maybe we shouldn't try to model this at all, my calculations above are certainly as ignorant and non-sense as your postulation of numbers...

    Is global warming happening? Yes. Is the human race a contributing factor? Probably to some degree. Is the human race the only cause? No.

    True, there are many factors that affect the environment, but non other does it with the same speed as humans.
    Global warning is primarily man-made, it's a real problem, that's the scientific consensus. And I'm fairly sure that most people on slashdot as just as qualified to discuss the scientific consensus around global warming, as soccer moms are qualified to discuss the merits and "dangers" of vaccinations.

  • by Gunboat_Diplomat ( 3390511 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:35PM (#46296013)

    Just so you know: That "97 percent of all scientists in the world" silliness came from a rigged "poll."

    Basically, an AGW-supporting scientist polled a number of his AGW-supporting scientist friends and co-workers - 30 or so - and asked them if they thought AGW was real.

    That's where your number came from. Which should tell you something about the actual support for AGW among the scientific population at large...

    They recently came up with another poll, where they cherry-picked a bunch of papers, and said "97% of scientific papers agree!" While not mentioning that only about a third of them actually addressed AGW, and they got their "new" 97% by only looking at 65 papers. Out of 12,000. Oops.

    ok, so.. read through all of this page, and repeat that this is just a guy polling his friends:

    http://climate.nasa.gov/scient... [nasa.gov]

  • by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:44PM (#46296145) Homepage
    I, too, used to think climategate showed all those things. I read article after article about them and how it's all over for AGW, etc. However, when taken in context, those emails actually refer to something totally other than what they were made out to refer to. I highly recommend you check out this video [youtube.com] and this one [youtube.com] wherein potholer54 takes an in-depth and impartial look into climategate and reveals what it actually shows... as a spoiler, it doesn't reveal that there's a giant AGW conspiracy amongst all the climate scientists in the world.
  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:46PM (#46296167)

    This all came out in the Climategate emails. But you never heard about those, did you?

    We are well aware of release of emails from the University of East Anglia. The attempt at connecting it with watergate fails, as unlike watergate there is no smoking gun. Nothing in the emails shows any conspiracy. There is no blocking of "anti-AGW" papers. There are no "anti-AGW" papers to block. And nothing in the emails says otherwise

    "Hide the decline" ring a bell?

    It sure does.

    "Many commentators quoted one email in which Phil Jones said he had used "Mike's Nature trick" in a 1999 graph for the World Meteorological Organization "to hide the decline" in proxy temperatures derived from tree ring analyses when measured temperatures were actually rising. This 'decline' referred to the well-discussed tree ring divergence problem, but these two phrases were taken out of context by climate change sceptics, including US Senator Jim Inhofe and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, as though they referred to some decline in measured global temperatures, even though they were written when temperatures were at a record high.[32] John Tierney, writing in the New York Times in November 2009, said that the claims by sceptics of "hoax" or "fraud" were incorrect, but that the graph on the cover of a report for policy makers and journalists did not show these non-experts where proxy measurements changed to measured temperatures.[33] The final analyses from various subsequent inquiries concluded that in this context 'trick' was normal scientific or mathematical jargon for a neat way of handling data, in this case a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion.[34][35] The EPA notes that in fact, the evidence shows that the research community was fully aware of these issues and that no one was hiding or concealing them.[36]"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

    You have nothing.

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @01:48PM (#46296195)

    A more interesting question is why Spencer never publishes any of his alleged massive critiques of AGW in peer reviewed journals.

    There is a known problem there.

    THICK ATMOSPHERE [news.com.au] and Climategate and Scientific Journal Chicanery [reason.com]

    Climate researcher and IPCC co-author Eduardo Zorita calls for Warmergate plumbers Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf to be barred from the IPCC process and muses on the “very troubling professional behavior” evident in those leaked emails:

    I may confirm what has been written in other places: research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files

    I am also aware that in this thick atmosphere – and I am not speaking of greenhouse gases now – editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations, even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed. In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the ‘politically correct picture’.

    Climategate's Michael Mann Channels His Inner Palpatine [forbes.com]

    The Climategate emails reveal that when the scientist-activists saw skeptical scientists successfully calling public attention to such evidence, they went on a vicious attack, pulling strings to pressure universities and science journals to fire or blackball the skeptical scientists for presenting their competing theories and evidence. The Climategate emails also show Mann as one of the most aggressive warriors in the battle to publicly disparage and ruin the careers of scientists who disagree with his views on global warming.

    For example, upset that Harvard University researchers were successfully arguing that solar variance rather than carbon dioxide emissions are the most likely primary cause of recent global temperature fluctuations, Mann sent out an email seeking to coordinate action to pressure Harvard to rebuke or discipline the researchers. “If someone has close ties w/ any individuals there [at Harvard] who might be in a position to actually get some action taken on this, I’d highly encourage pursuing this,” writes Mann to fellow scientist-activists.

    The Climategate emails also reveal Mann recruiting investigative journalists to dig up dirt on scientist Steve McIntyre, who had called into questions Mann’s scientific theories.

    There is plenty more if you dig into that instead of conspiracy theories about the "Koch brothers."

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @02:33PM (#46296831)

    "Basically, an AGW-supporting scientist polled a number of his AGW-supporting scientist friends and co-workers - 30 or so - and asked them if they thought AGW was real."

    Not quite true. The original "huge consensus" rumor was started by an article (NOT a peer-reviewed paper) that appeared in Nature by one Naomi Oreskes, years ago. Oreskes claimed to have surveyed a database of science papers and concluded that none of them (not one) disagreed with the greenhouse gas global warming idea.

    It was soon shown that Oreskes' "study" was in fact a textbook example of cherry-picking. She had searched the database for papers that included the phrase "global climate change". Only those were included in her analysis. The problem with that being that at the time, only papers that were ABOUT the effects of greenhouse gas warming mentioned the phrase "global climate change" at all. So, in effect, she selected out of the scientific literate just the papers about greenhouse global warming, and then conclude that they all agreed about greenhouse global warming! How surprising!

    The fact was, of course, that the majority of climate papers were not about greenhouse warming and never mentioned the subject at all. But those weren't counted.

    This "consensus" idea was bolstered by people claiming that almost all of the "thousands" of scientists behind the latest IPCC report had agreed about it. This, too, was a distortion of the truth. The scientists involved in the AR report at the time numbered in the hundreds. There were about 2,500 or so reviewers, and not all of those were scientists. Further, not all of them actually agreed.

    Shortly after that, the Petition Project was undertaken to show that scientists in fact did not agree. Some 30,000 people with actual science or engineering credentials signed the petition DISagreeing with greenhouse global warming, and their names and professions are still publicly available at petitionproject.org. More than 9,000 of those were PhDs... far more than the 2500 who supposedly agreed, again many of whom had no advanced degrees.

    Another "study" was done in this last year, which came up with that "97%" figure. Unfortunately, THAT "study" suffered from exactly the same flaw as the discredited Oreskes study: it searched the literature for papers that contained the phrase "global climate change". Self-selection at its finest.

    And of course then there's the real kicker here: even if these "studies" had not been statistical nonsense, the fact remains that "consensus" is not science. If consensus were a scientifically valid measure of anything, we'd still be in the stone ages.

  • by dylan_- ( 1661 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @02:44PM (#46296997) Homepage

    Or "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on ... shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

    Heh, I love it when deniers mindlessly repeat that quote. You don't even know what it means, do you? Because if you did, you certainly wouldn't be mentioning it.

    You see, we measure how much energy the Sun outputs. And we measure how much the Earth reflects of that energy (its albedo). We also measure how much it radiates, which - if the Earth was at a stable temperature - would be the same as the difference between the first two. Understand so far? That's what the "CERES data" refers to.

    What Trenberth is saying is that the CERES data shows there should be far *more* warming than we're actually measuring! When you take into account air temperature increase, melting ice, sea temperature increase, etc etc it *still* leaves a big chunk of energy to account for. Now, any sane person would therefore assume that the energy can't just vanish: it's got to go somewhere that we aren't measuring.

    Not the deniers, they think it's all being whisked away by the natural cycle fairies. Or perhaps they just don't understand what it is they're saying and are mindlessly repeating what they read on some blog. Hey, maybe you can tell us. Which is it?

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @03:31PM (#46297613) Homepage

    On a global scale, indeed: 0.7C is a small variation. The Earth has had larger variations before, and this is not unusual on a geological scale (although to be fair, its happening at a faster time scale than most of the climate changes in the past.)
    However, 0.7C pretty much validates the models. If the anthropogenic greenhouse effect is not real, you need three things:
    (1) You need to find an explain an explanation for why the radiative forcing does not increase temperature
    (2) You need to find a hitherto-unknown effect that is causing the warming that we measure, and
    (3) You need to find an explanation for why the amplifier that amplifies effect (2) to be large enough to increase the temperature doesn't also amplify the greenhouse effect. (and, contrawise, you need to explain why whatever effect it is that cancels out the greenhouse effect, (1), does not also cancel out effect (2).)

    While 0.7C may be small, you should also note that we are continuing to put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  • by Chalnoth ( 1334923 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @05:53PM (#46299195)

    Sea levels are set to rise by a meter or more by the end of the century, and the frequency of both droughts and strong storms has already increased dramatically. No, these are not good things.

    Also, we only need about 2.2C of warming or so for all of Greenland to melt (though it will take a few centuries to do so). Greenland melting means sea level rise of about seven meters. That's going to drown a lot of cities.

  • by dwpro ( 520418 ) <dgeller777@gmail. c o m> on Thursday February 20, 2014 @06:24PM (#46299511)

    this article [pnas.org] was published in 2009 From the abstract:

    "Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers"

    This study does not seem to have the flaws you mention. There have been several studies I've seen with similar outcomes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @06:40PM (#46299681)

    Uh, no....
    At most sea level rise is 2-3mm/year, for the next 86 years gives about a quarter of a meter.

    The current sea level has been rising for hundreds of years and shows no acceleration.
    See http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    All these scare scenarios are based on the same dubious models.

    Real data, no problem.

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @06:53PM (#46299793) Homepage Journal

    https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~s... [harvard.edu]

    A lecture by Michael Crichton
    Caltech Michelin Lecture
    January 17, 2003

    My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming.

    Charting this progression of belief will be my task today.

    Let me say at once that I have no desire to discourage anyone from believing in either extraterrestrials or global warming. That would be quite impossible to do. Rather, I want to discuss the history of several widely-publicized beliefs and to point to what I consider an emerging crisis in the whole enterprise of science—namely the increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy.

    I have a special interest in this because of my own upbringing. I was born in the midst of World War II, and passed my formative years at the height of the Cold War. In school drills, I dutifully crawled under my desk in preparation for a nuclear attack.

    It was a time of widespread fear and uncertainty, but even as a child I believed that science represented the best and greatest hope for mankind. Even to a child, the contrast was clear between the world of politics—a world of hate and danger, of irrational beliefs and fears, of mass manipulation and disgraceful blots on human history. In contrast, science held different values—international in scope, forging friendships and working relationships across national boundaries and political systems, encouraging a dispassionate habit of thought, and ultimately leading to fresh knowledge and technology that would benefit all mankind. The world might not be a very good place, but science would make it better. And it did. In my lifetime, science has largely fulfilled its promise. Science has been the great intellectual adventure of our age, and a great hope for our troubled and restless world.

    But I did not expect science merely to extend lifespan, feed the hungry, cure disease, and shrink the world with jets and cell phones. I also expected science to banish the evils of human thought—prejudice and superstition, irrational beliefs and false fears. I expected science to be, in Carl Sagan's memorable phrase, "a candle in a demon haunted world." And here, I am not so pleased with the impact of science. Rather than serving as a cleansing force, science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity. Some of the demons that haunt our world in recent years are invented by scientists. The world has not benefited from permitting these demons to escape free.

    But let's look at how it came to pass.

    Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president, commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two week project called Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. A signal is received, to great excitement. It turns out to be false, but the excitement remains. In 1960, Drake organizes the first SETI conference, and came up with the now-famous Drake equation:

    N = N* fp ne fl fi fc fL

    Where N* is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations live.

    This serious-looking equation gave SETI a serious footing as a legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be es

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @06:54PM (#46299807) Homepage Journal

    http://www.michaelcrichton.net... [michaelcrichton.net]

    (Excerpted from State of Fear)

    Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

    This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.

    I don't mean global warming. I'm talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

    Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor. The famous names who supported it included Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; the novelist H. G. Wells; the playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in states from New York to California.

    These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.

    All in all, the research, legislation and molding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected.

    Today, we know that this famous theory that gained so much support was actually pseudoscience. The crisis it claimed was nonexistent. And the actions taken in the name of theory were morally and criminally wrong. Ultimately, they led to the deaths of millions of people.

    The theory was eugenics, and its history is so dreadful --- and, to those who were caught up in it, so embarrassing --- that it is now rarely discussed. But it is a story that should be well know to every citizen, so that its horrors are not repeated.

    The theory of eugenics postulated a crisis of the gene pool leading to the deterioration of the human race. The best human beings were not breeding as rapidly as the inferior ones --- the foreigners, immigrants, Jews, degenerates, the unfit, and the "feeble minded." Francis Galton, a respected British scientist, first speculated about this area, but his ideas were taken far beyond anything he intended. They were adopted by science-minded Americans, as well as those who had no interest in science but who were worried about the immigration of inferior races early in the twentieth century --- "dangerous human pests" who represented "the rising tide of imbeciles" and who were polluting the best of the human race.

    The eugenicists and the immigrationists joined forces to put a stop to this. The plan was to identify individuals who were feeble-minded --- Jews were agreed to be largely feeble-minded, but so were many foreigners, as well as blacks --- and stop them from breeding by isolation in institutions or by sterilization.

    As Margaret Sanger said, "Fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty ... there is not greater curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them an increasing population of imbeciles." She spoke of the burden of caring for "this dead weight of human waste."

    Such views were widely shared. H.G. Wells spoke against "ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens." Theodore Roosevelt said tha

  • Climate Sensitivity (Score:4, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:03PM (#46300351) Journal
    The IPCC's attribution graph [wikipedia.org] shows the various natural and man made radiative forcing's. Without mankind's influence, most climate models predict a very slight cooling for the 20th century. Feedbacks are far more difficult to quantify however using archaeological evidence their magnitude can be inferred. Climatologists use this information to calculate a metric called climate sensitivity [wikipedia.org], this number has hardly changed since it was first derived in the 1970's. A lot of people think the IPCC is exaggerating, observation has shown that their predictions are on the conservative side (in particular the rate of melt at the north pole), cautious conservatism is what one would expect when a couple of thousand experts agree with each other.
  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:03PM (#46300355) Homepage

    1) easy, CO2 is a pretty shitty greenhouse gas water is much more important.

    Water is indeed a very good greenhouse gas. It also condenses out of the atmosphere, in the form of rain. Carbon dioxide does not. As a result, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has a long-term effect. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, on the other hand, goes in and out of the atmosphere on a short time scale, driven primarily by the temperature-- warmer air holds more water than cold air.

    The infrared absorption of carbon dioxide is measured, by the way. It's not something made up.

    2) we've been coming out of an ice age for 10,000 years,

    Correct-- or, more correct, we are out of the ice age.

    that this remains unexplained

    Fifty years ago it was unexplained. It's pretty well understood now.

    leaves any "blame the humans" nonsense as laughable.

    The fact that there causes of climate variation other than human input does not imply that human input doesn't also have an effect. As was pointed out, the effect is small, about 0.7C so far. But it is real.

    3) no, you dont, see one and 2

    The theory matches the data. If you have another theory, you have to both explain why the theory based on actual measured facts, like the absortion of infrared by carbon dioxide, isn't true, and you also have to explain why we see rising temperature anyway

    like the sea rising... panicing about a few mm when in many places it changes on a meter scale every day.

    Huh? I'm not panicking. I do, however, believe that it is important to not dismiss the science because you don't like the conclusions.

    4) Warming is much better than cooling.

    I agree. That is, however, no reason to dismiss the science.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:23PM (#46300511) Homepage

    If you want to assert the anthropogenic greenhouse effect is both real, and dangerous, the burden of proof is on the affirmative to come up with a necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis statement which rules out natural climate change as the reason for observed temperatures.

    OK. My prediction is that if you aim an infrared spectrometer at the sky, you will see downwelling infrared radiation from the CO2 spectrum.

    This prediction is falsified if you don't see downwelling infrared radiation.

    Hey, we see it! I win. Carbon dioxide actually does re-radiate absorbed thermal infrared. The greenhouse effect is real.

    This was done over a century ago, by the way. The greenhouse effect has been known for a long time. Good thing, too; the Earth would be frozen if it didn't exist.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:18PM (#46301227) Homepage

    You actually wouldn't see anything, as the spectrum of water swamps most of the IR spectrum. Hydrogen bonding is funny.

    Yes, in some wavelength bands all you see is the water. In others the CO2 dominates. (It also somewhat depends on whether you're lookig up from sea level in the tropics, or from temperate zones).

    But, overall, if you take the spectrum (especially across the CO2 band at around 15 microns), yes, you can clearly see the downwelling IR from CO2 emission.

    I could show a dozen plots for you, but here's a nice one with the big CO2 emission labelled:
    http://klimakatastrophe.files.... [wordpress.com]

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @09:33AM (#46303251) Homepage

    ->The infrared absorption of carbon dioxide is measured

    its absorbtion and radiation
    but more CO2 definately doesn't mean a hotter atmosphere.
    Because you don't just trap more heat - you also prevent more sunlight entering in the first place.

    No. Take a look at the solar spectrum some time. Almost all of the energy of incident sunlight is in a spectrum range in the visible and near IR-- peaking around one micron. The energy of the exiting infrared is in much longer infrared-- ten to twenty microns. (The fact that it's longer wavelength is Wien's law). You can have an atmosphere transparent to incident light, but absorbing to exiting infrared. This was discovered in the late 1700s.

    Venus isn't hot because of the greenhouse effect, it's hot because of the enormous pressures caused by an incredibly dense atmosphere.

    I'm sorry, but at this point you are revealing that you don't actually understand what you're talking about, so bye, have a nice life.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."