Science Magazine

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial—scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”

Read the whole letter… it’s only one page. Now get ready… start arguing.

Found by Misanthropic Scott on Cage Match.

  1. #31 – MikeN,

    Bobbo, Lomborg isn’t comparing solutions to global warming, but rather the costs and benefits of solutions to global warming versus other environmental problems, and concludes the money is better spent on other things. Developing countries said roughly the same thing in the last decade, asking for money for drinking water systems.

    Of course, to make such comparison, one must first ignore the fact that global warming is the cause of a severe reduction in drinking water. Lakes are drying up. The cryosphere is melting. One can’t adequately address a symptom and ignore the cause.

    #32 – MikeN,

    Total emissions for US + Japan + Russia + EU + Canada + S Korea is 47.7% of world emissions in 2006. This number is shrinking each year, as the developing world develops. So a carbon tax that is not adopted by those developing countries has little effect.

    And yet, the developing world has been avoiding the carbon tax by stating that the world’s largest polluter, the U.S. is doing nothing. (Yes, I realize that technically China is producing more CO2 than the U.S. these days, but A) not per capita and B) about a third of their carbon footprint is to produce the goods that we consume, so is really just an offshoring of our own CO2 and should be credited to us.

  2. #27 – The0ne,

    Bobbo already torpedoed you quite effectively and succinctly on this post. However, I won’t let that stop me from adding my $0.02.

    “But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.””

    Yes. This includes facts such as evolution, relativity, and quantum mechanics, among our strongest and most tried and proven theories.

    When you start to realize the other person is treating assumptions, theories and recent “findings” to be 100% factual, it’s time to just stfu and leave them be.

    That 100% is your addition. It is not in the text of the letter. Do you consider it a fact that smoking causes cancer? Do you consider it a fact that drunk driving kills people? These are no better established than global warming at this point. In fact, many smokers do not die of cancer. Many drunk drivers make it home at night to do it again.

    As I always say, leave the stupid alone as Einstein would!

    What exactly are you talking about here? You knew Einstein personally? What publicly known fact about Einstein are you citing? When Einstein disagreed with people, he stood up and said so, as when he made his mistake regarding quantum mechanics.

  3. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    Scott–you are doing all the work here. I am happy to watch though.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen MikeN use a link. He can’t think up his Luddite nonsense all on his own. I guess he is just stingy with his precious knowledge base.

    Don’t get me wrong, Mikey also has contributed a few good ideas from time to time and he keeps his posts short.

    Still Mike: wouldn’t you benefit YOURSELF by just a little bit more effort??? Do any of the links you actually use actually contain arguments against your posted positions and therefore you don’t provide the links? Or what other reasons do you have to so uniformly report from the far right?

    I think Lomborg has “many” ideas, and I wouldn’t pigeon hole him to the 2-3 you have come across. I like him not because I think he is right, though he may well be, but because he was the first “alternative thinker” that addressed the “real” issue==how to best respond to GW issues.

    Too many, including most here, confuse the issue of causation with the issue of solutions. Related–but not the same thing.

  4. #29 – bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo?

    TheOne–do you consider gravity being the force of attraction between/among objects as a “fact” we can all rely on or do you have any other theories to present such as angels pushing?

    There is one, and only one, correct answer to this question that will remain but a quibble.

    Excellent torpedo, as previously noted. I would just point out a minor correction though. We understand global warming far better than gravity. Unlike gravity, we have quite a good understanding of the cause of global warming. We know that high energy photons from the sun cruise right through our CO2 blanket. We know that low energy infrared photons are sometimes blocked by the CO2 blanket and thus stay on the planet rather than radiating back into space.

    Our predictions from that knowledge are less precise than with gravity, however. Will the earth warm 2 degrees if we stop emitting CO2 today, or might it be either 1.9 or 2.1? Will we have 5 degrees or 6 of global warming if we continue with business as usual? What will the local effects be for New York City or any other locale on the planet? Which parts of the globe will warm by exactly how much?

    These are tough questions. We know that the globe has already warmed by about a degree. We know we are committed to 10 more years of warming just because there is a 10 year lag in the effect of rising CO2. We know that the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than any predictions we made. We know that the gulf stream is already 30% slower. We know that the ocean is already less oxygenated than it was. We know that the clathrates on the north slopes of Alaska and Siberia are already releasing methane, which could well be a tipping point.

    But, exact predictions are harder to make for the complex systems involved in global warming than they are for the simple system of a few massive objects attracting each other in space.

    On the other hand, we think there is probably a graviton that causes the attraction of massive bodies but have never observed one and don’t know its properties. We can make incredibly accurate predictions based on gravity. But, we don’t really know the cause.

    So, gravity makes for an interesting comparison with global warming.

  5. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    Scott–I would make the exact opposite point you do. Seems to me that facts and understanding have all to do with pragmatism/usefulness/predictability/replication and such. From that viewpoint, gravity is totally known and GW an unknown.

    So, does “knowing” something, its factualness, go to its reliable functionality or its whyness? Seems to me you are substituting a non-scientific question with the scientific one. Purely definitional though and I pose it knowing it will take Mike a few days to cough up a link.

    And thats epistemology. A too little utilized past time.

  6. bobbo,

    I hate to say it, but you too are confusing scientific research with engineering.

    String Hypothesis (I’m not yet willing to call it a theory in the scientific sense, personally) and Loop Quantum Gravity are attempts to explain gravity. We don’t have a theory of gravity. We have an observable and highly reproducible fact. We don’t really have an explanation yet. All other known forces have particles associated with them.

    Global warming is not at all unknown.

    We know exactly why it’s happening. And we can quantify the results. What we have is merely a lack of precision in our predictions. We don’t know whether the safe level of CO2 is 350PPM or 330PPM or 280PPM. What we do know is that it is NOT 450PPM or even the current level of 387PPM.

    With gravity, we have tons of precision, so to speak, but no explanation at all. The best we have at the moment is that massive objects warp space. However, with all other forces having specific particles for transmission, and with quantum mechanics asserting that there is a particle, I don’t really know if we can claim to have a theory of gravity.

    Perhaps we should default to the theory of intelligent falling. But, I wouldn’t.

  7. gmknobl says:

    The Virginia Governor doesn’t believe in science, nor anything else that will deprive him of his non-Christian agenda. And by non-Christian I mean anything that he does since he is seeking to hurt people by stripping them of their inalienable rights, persecuting them, defund government and not ever raise taxes to those that can easily afford the tiny splash in their sea of money (read rich people and corporations) but rather reduce the money they would owe any sane government.

  8. Shubee says:

    I agree with #1.

  9. Somebody says:

    RE: Integrity Change and the Climate of Science

    Yes, we all found out that scientists are human too.

    They are perfectly capable of lying to enhance their influence and prestige. Granted, the MSM created a gigantic moral hazard by forming a lucrative market for bogus science but that does not excuse the behavior of the disgraced climatologists.

    The writers of the article act as though getting caught corruptly skirting FOIA requests carries no implication pertaining to the character of the perpetrator.

    They also seem unfazed by the stated reason for the evasion: that the original data in the hands of infidels could be used to support the opposite conclusion.

    While I can accept the concept of “values-free” science, I find “values-free” scientists disgusting.

    “We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues…”

    What a wonderful innovation that would be! You did mean to extend that to the skeptics as well, right?

    BTW, granting that the term “McCarthy” is sure to galvanize leftists the world over, it is still an ill-advised choice. After all, McCarthy was right about there being traitorous communist agents in the State Department.

    And really, you don’t object to prosecuting fraud conducted at public expense, do you?

  10. Uncle Patso says:

    Them collidge boyz think ther so smart! Ther awl a-lyin to yez… Why, fer awl yew know, we maht not even be speakin English! They maht have secretly bin teachin us Chinese our entire lives! ‘At’d be jist lahk ‘em!


  11. Buzz says:

    There are several cubic feet of unseasonably cool environment inside a box in my kitchen–proof that global warming is a myth.

  12. Buzz says:

    There is an area of harshly elevated temperatures above an appliance in my kitchen that empirically demonstrate how global warming is simply a temporary local phenomenon.

  13. #42 – Somebody,

    Actually, there was one misunderstood quote from a single email that was stolen by (and potentially doctored, though, if so, not very well) an admitted thief.

    The “trick” in question was a valid scientific kluge for dealing with the fact that in a certain region in the northern forests, trees have already evolved for the new climate there.

    Get that?

    The trees already evolved for a new climate.

    So, exactly what did that one phrase from one person’s email prove exactly about the integrity of the thousands of climate scientists in the world?

    Or, more importantly, what does the tree evolution say about global warming?

    Here’s the real scoop on the CRU hack.

  14. MikeN says:

    Bobbo, that was the impression I had of Bjorn’s writings. If you’ve read up on him ad seen differently, then I stand corrected.

    I do link occasionally, but you’re right, not that often.

  15. MikeN says:

    I see two authors of the Copenhagen Diagnosis are Michael Mann and Rahmstorf, so I wouldn’t give any weight to that.

  16. MikeN,

    The fact that you refuse to link should give you pause. Here’s what it means to the rest of us:

    * MikeN spews a bunch of garbage everywhere he goes without ever backing up a claim.

    * MikeN expects to win a debate by having his debate opponents do his own work for him.

    If you can back up what you say, people may start to take you seriously. Until you can though, We’ll go with one or both of the bullet points above.

    As for ruling out reading a very well thought out and well documented summary of around 300-400 recent peer reviewed papers on a wide variety of subjects under the heading of climatology because the summary was written by 26 people including two you don’t trust is really rather childish, in my opinion.

    Did you get past the authors page at all to even look at the wide array of topics covered by the paper, including:

    Surging greenhouse gas emissions: Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in 2008 were 40% higher than those in 1990. Even if global emission rates are stabilized at present –day levels, just 20 more years of emissions would give a 25% probability that warming exceeds 2oC. Even with zero emissions after 2030. Every year of delayed action increase the chances of exceeding 2oC warming.

    Recent global temperatures demonstrate human-based warming: Over the past 25 years temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.190C per decade, in every good agreement with predictions based on greenhouse gas increases. Even over the past ten years, despite a decrease in solar forcing, the trend continues to be one of warming. Natural, short- term fluctuations are occurring as usual but there have been no significant changes in the underlying warming trend.

    Acceleration of melting of ice-sheets, glaciers and ice-caps: A wide array of satellite and ice measurements now demonstrate beyond doubt that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass at an increasing rate. Melting of glaciers and ice-caps in other parts of the world has also accelerated since 1990.

    Rapid Arctic sea-ice decline: Summer-time melting of Arctic sea-ice has accelerated far beyond the expectations of climate models. The area of summertime sea-ice during 2007-2009 was about 40% less than the average prediction from IPCC AR4 climate models.

    Current sea-level rise underestimates: Satellites show great global average sea-level rise (3.4 mm/yr over the past 15 years) to be 80% above past IPCC predictions. This acceleration in sea-level rise is consistent with a doubling in contribution from melting of glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland and West-Antarctic ice-sheets.

    Sea-level prediction revised: By 2100, global sea-level is likely to rise at least twice as much as projected by Working Group 1 of the IPCC AR4, for unmitigated emissions it may well exceed 1 meter. The upper limit has been estimated as – 2 meters sea-level rise by 2100. Sea-level will continue to rise for centuries after global temperature have been stabilized and several meters of sea level rise must be expected over the next few centuries.

    Delay in action risks irreversible damage: Several vulnerable elements in the climate system (e.g. continental ice-sheets. Amazon rainforest, West African monsoon and others) could be pushed towards abrupt or irreversible change if warming continues in a business-as-usual way throughout this century. The risk of transgressing critical thresholds (“tipping points”) increase strongly with ongoing climate change. Thus waiting for higher levels of scientific certainty could mean that some tipping points will be crossed before they are recognized.

    The turning point must come soon: If global warming is to be limited to a maximum of 2oC above pre-industrial values, global emissions need to peak between 2015 and 2020 and then decline rapidly. To stabilize climate, a decarbonized global society – with near-zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived greenhouse gases – need to be reached well within this century. More specifically, the average annual per-capita emissions will have to shrink to well under 1 metric ton CO2 by 2050. This is 80-90% below the per-capita emissions in developed nations in 2000.

    Did you note that there are 7 pages of references to peer reviewed articles in the full document?

    As for Michael Mann in particular, as I have shown you on previous threads, the hockey stick paper has been repeatedly vindicated. So, you have no reason to distrust his work.

    Note the last paragraph on the wikipedia page below.

    In a paper on 9 September 2008, Mann and colleagues published an updated reconstruction of Earth surface temperature for the past two millennia. This reconstruction used a more diverse dataset that was significantly larger than the original tree-ring study. In this work, they again claimed that recent increases in northern hemisphere surface temperature are anomalous relative to at least the past 1300 years, and that this result is robust to the inclusion or exclusion of the tree-ring dataset. In a PNAS response, McIntyre and McKitrick point out a number of perceived problems, including that Mann et al. used some data with the axes upside down. Mann et al. in reply assert that McIntyre and McKitrick “raise no valid issues regarding our paper” and the “claim that “upside down” data were used is bizarre”.


  17. Oh, and MikeN,

    Here’s the full text of the 2008 article.

    Hey … the graph in Figure 3 … still looks just like … a hockey stick!!

  18. MikeN says:

    The 2008 Mann paper is arguably worse than the original hockey stick paper, mathematically. He took 1200 proxies, then filtered out the ones that look somewhat like hockey sticks, about 400 out of 1200, averaged them together, and said look here, these 1200 average out to a hockey stick!

    Then there are problems on top of that, some of the proxies aren’t real proxies, but rather actual temperature records. On top of that, Mann actually used some proxies upside down so they looked like a hockey stick. The original Tiljander proxies showed ‘cooling’ in modern times because of farming activities, so Mann flipped it to make it look like warming. This had the effect of taking the warmest period on record from 1000-1200 look like the coldest.
    At least Dr. Kaufman corrected this is his Arctic warming paper when it was pointed out to him by Steve McIntyre. Mann is too arrogant to correct these things. The Arctic warming paper also didn’t try to use the modern cooling as warming, only using the proxy until Tiljander said they were valid.

  19. MikeN says:

    >well) an admitted thief.

    Really, when did he do this?

    >The “trick” in question was a valid scientific kluge for dealing with the fact that in a certain region in the northern forests, trees have already evolved for the new climate there.

    No, it was a scientific technique designed to trick you into not seeing the decline, as John Stewart said.
    They chopped off the inconvenient part, and then replaced that part with the temperature record, making it look like the proxies agree with modern temperatures, when in fact they do not. They didn’t want any inconvenient questions being raised by their graphs.
    You see a similar thing in another ClimateGate e-mail, from Mick Kelly to Phil Jones in 2008.

    Yeah, it wasn’t so much 1998 and all that that I was concerned about, used
    to dealing with that, but the possibility that we might be going through a
    longer – 10 year – period of relatively stable temperatures beyond what you
    might expect from La Nina etc.

    Speculation, but if I see this as a possibility then others might also.
    Anyway, I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the filtered curve before I
    give the talk again as that’s trending down as a result of the end effects
    and the recent cold-ish years.

  20. MikeN says:

    You’ve previously said you are not interested in the bad math produced by some of these climate scientists, but since you’ve requested some links, see for yourself. Feel free to ask questions at RealClimate if you like. I did so, and their responses, when they didn’t just delete the inconvenient questions, just made me more skeptical.

    “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

    The trick is to hide the decline from the audience who isn’t likely to read the papers in detail to see the discussion of divergence. You claim evolution is the answer, but perhaps the answer is that the trees are not good proxies to begin with, it used to be warmer, and the same effect that is causing divergence now caused divergence then as well.

  21. #51 – MikeN,

    Steve McIntyre’s blog??!!? That’s the best you could do for refuting the peer reviewed hockey stick graph? McIntyre isn’t even a climate scientist. He’s a career employee of the mineral business. He has a personal financial interest in global warming being false.

    Climate Audit is his personal blog.

  22. #52 – MikeN,

    >well) an admitted thief.

    Really, when did he do this?

    Um … when he said … oooh look at all these pretty emails I stole when I broke into the CCU computer. Where did you think that the admitted thief got the email?

    Here’s an article about the divergence problem that is being accounted for by “the trick”. Note that it is not a global issue, but is instead circumpolar. So this is not a planetary phenomenon. The tree ring data for northern latitudes agrees for a century or so then begins to diverge in the 1960s.

    So, there are a few questions to be asked:

    1) Do you have a problem with using actual temperatures when available?

    2) Do you really think that the trees in this region invalidate the wealth of data from around the world?

    3) Did you note that as the data set increases, any one piece of data, such as localized tree ring data, becomes far less central to the issue?

  23. Here’s the peer reviewed response to McIntyre’s most recent peer reviewed criticism.

  24. It’s funny, the graph on McIntyre’s blog page makes it appear that the hockey stick graph consists of a mere 3 data sets. Why is it that, in the actual published paper by Mann, et. al., there are eight data sets.

    Is this because McIntyre was unable to dispute the majority of the data and thinks that by cherry picking just a few data points he can make a better lie to the general public?

    I guess this is the result of looking at non-peer reviewed data on the blog of someone with a financial interest in producing disinformation about climate change, perhaps someone in the minerals industry.

    Here’s the real graph from Mann, et. al.

  25. (Dang! I was doing so well about remembering the links issue … until that last post.)

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