Addressing tired arguments

This is a response to someone talking about sea ice “recovery”, and then throwing out a number of baseless assertions in the ensuing discussion. I’ll let you, dear reader, guess what I’m answering to. It’s nothing new or original:

Ice extent is not the same as volume. If a pond gets 100% covered with 1mm ice, that does not constitute the same “ice cover” as being covered with ice that’s a foot thick.

As to arrogance, how about a science fiction author pretending he knows more than people doing actual research? The connection of CO2 to earth’s temperature has had a strong case since the 1800’s, and it’s only gotten stronger over time, as we’ve studied it more, and as the Pentagon has had to work around CO2 in developing heat-seeking missiles.

There are numerous natural cycles that effect the earth’s climate, Rich, but I have to admit, I’m astonished at the arrogance of thinking that you’ve spotted something that the same scientists who DISCOVERED and described those cycles missed.

When Mann developed his “hockey stick” graph, he was in the process of STUDYING natural cycles, and trying to find one to explain current warming. His graph has since been improved upon after criticism (which is how the peer-review system works), and reinforced by a whole host of datasets from around the world showing the same pattern. Here are a couple of them, if you’re interested:

As to vague assertions of corruption on the part of climate scientists, that is, and has always been unfounded.

To begin with, it means you would have to dismiss around 150 years of research that was in no way connected to “profit”. The “Greenhouse Effect” hypothesis was first developed in the 1820’s, along with the “Cosmic Ray” hypothesis, when Fourier calculated that the amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun could not explain the temperature of the earth unless some of it was being trapped here, or unless there was extra energy coming in from space. The cosmic ray hypothesis has gotten no supporting evidence. The greenhouse hypothesis got confirmation in the 1860’s when Tyndall measured the thermal properties of a number of greenhouse gasses including CO2.

In the 1890’s, Arrhenius first published the hypothesis that an increase in CO2 levels due to human use of coal would cause the earth’s temperature to rise. His calculations, based on the rate of coal use at the time, indicated a temperature increase over a period of 3,000 years that would result in Sweden being capable of supporting palm trees. He was rather excited about that.

Then, in the 1950’s, scientists began to measure CO2 levels, and realized that the rate of accumulation was far greater than they had thought. They recalculated, and showed a much faster warming that Arrhenius had predicted, due to the increased buildup. Their math, and Arrhenius’ math, has held true when tested against reality in the intervening years.

The warming we are now experiencing was predicted DECADES before any of it showed up, because while we don’t know everything about how the climate works, we do know a few things pretty solidly, and one of them is that when CO2 levels increase, so does the climate. Even the eruption of Mt Pinatubo only knocked temperature back to what it had been a couple years before, and then the warming continued as soon as it aerosols disappeared.

When you look at scientists’ motivation, and claim corruption, you’re missing a crucial factor. The prevailing motivation, in science, is to discover something revolutionary. THAT is where the money is. THAT is where the prestige is. THAT is how you get your name in this history books. Copernicus, Gallileo, Darwin, Einstein, Krauss – these are people who we remember (or will) because their work was revolutionary – it challenged common understanding and won (or appears to be winning in the case of Krauss). Any scientist that could provide a well-supported alternative hypothesis that turned out to better explain the workings of our climate than the theory of man-made global warming would get a nobel, and all the research money they could ever want. Nobody has been able to do that

If you look at the research of “skeptics” in the last couple decades, it has mostly involved complicated statistical analyses that disagree with small pieces of the evidence around the theory of man-made global warming, without actually touching the evidence surrounding the theory. One paper often cited by deniers/skeptics is by Soon and Baliunas in 2003. That paper did NOT provide any original research, it looked at other people’s climate proxy data, left out large chunks of it, and made the assertion that current temperatures are not unusual for the past few hundred years.

That paper has been roundly debunked since then, and interestingly enough, the funding issues YOU brought up, Rich, came back into the picture. Soon and Baliunas claimed that their research was funded by NASA, NOAA, the Navy, and the American Petroleum institute. After they made that claim, it turned out that NASA, NOAA, and the American Navy had given the money for DIFFERENT RESEARCH. The 2003 paper was funded entirely by oil interests. Since 2000, Soon has received over one million dollars from fossil fuel interests.

It always astonishes me to see people making assertions of corruption on the part of climate scientists, and complaining about them not doing proper research, while they ignore the millions spent by fossil fuel interests on a tiny number of contrarians, whose research consists of poking at other people’s work, rather than developing any alternative hypotheses and finding evidence to support or disprove them.

What we get, instead, is vague assertions, unsupported by any data, that it’s due to “natural cycles”, even though every single natural cycle we know of has been checked, and not a single one can explain the current rise in temperature OR mitigate the rise in temperature that is dictated, but the laws of physics, in response to the increase in greenhouse gasses.


One response to “Addressing tired arguments

  1. Pingback: It's all over but for the sweating? - Page 96 - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum -

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