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# Open sceptic's letter to US Congress

There is an open letter written by sceptics to the US Congress here:

Climate Change Open Letter

They link to a rather long article the prudent path, refuting the "alarmist's claims that climate change poses an immediate danger to humanity".

Looking for a comment on this article, I found this (which is unrelated to the letter per se, but addresses some of the common claims made by sceptics):

Two questions:

1. Is this material too controversial to be mentioned on the Azimuth project?

2. I lack both the necessary background knowledge and the time for a thorough critical assessment, so I'd have to include both sources mostly uncommented on the Azimuth project. Assuming that the answer to question 1 is "no", would that be a problem?

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1.
edited February 2011

The letter and the article are tired old BS, fabricated by the hardcore science disinformation crew. From the first lines of the "prudent path":

As presently constituted, earth's atmosphere contains just slightly less than 400 ppm of the colorless and odorless gas we call carbon dioxide or CO2. That's only four-hundredths of one percent. Consequently, even if the air's CO2 concentration was tripled, carbon dioxide would still comprise only a little over one tenth of one percent of the air we breathe, [...] Nevertheless, a small increase in this minuscule amount of CO2 is frequently predicted to produce a suite of dire environmental consequences

Here's an experiment I suggest to such "sceptics":

Put 200µg LSD in a glass with 200g of water. That’s 1ppm LSD. You sure will swallow that. Report back what you have seen.

The letter is signed by the usual suspects, including old S. Fred Singer, a tobacco health risk denialist now working as propagandist for the fossil industry.

They've meanwhile switched gears from science denialism to reality denialism. From the letter:

In light of the profusion of actual observations of the workings of the real world showing little or no negative effects of the modest warming of the second half of the twentieth century, and indeed growing evidence of positive effects, we find it incomprehensible that the eighteen climate alarmists could suggest something so far removed from the truth as their claim that no research results have produced any evidence that challenges their view of what is happening to Earth's climate and weather.

So, this stuff is for the psychopathology or criminology department. It isn't even politics (for European standards of political discourse). I would strongly object wasting any space on Azimuth for this.

Comment Source:The letter and the article are tired old BS, fabricated by the hardcore science disinformation crew. From the first lines of the "prudent path": > As presently constituted, earth's atmosphere contains just slightly less than 400 ppm of the colorless and odorless gas we call carbon dioxide or CO2. That's only four-hundredths of one percent. Consequently, even if the air's CO2 concentration was tripled, carbon dioxide would still comprise only a little over one tenth of one percent of the air we breathe, [...] Nevertheless, a small increase in this minuscule amount of CO2 is frequently predicted to produce a suite of dire environmental consequences Here's an experiment I suggest to such "sceptics": > Put 200µg LSD in a glass with 200g of water. That’s 1ppm LSD. You sure will swallow that. Report back what you have seen. --- The letter is signed by the usual suspects, including old [S. Fred Singer](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Singer#Global_warming), a tobacco health risk denialist now working as propagandist for the fossil industry. They've meanwhile switched gears from science denialism to reality denialism. From the letter: > In light of the profusion of actual observations of the workings of the real world showing little or no negative effects of the modest warming of the second half of the twentieth century, and indeed growing evidence of positive effects, we find it incomprehensible that the eighteen climate alarmists could suggest something so far removed from the truth as their claim that no research results have produced any evidence that challenges their view of what is happening to Earth's climate and weather. ---- So, this stuff is for the psychopathology or criminology department. It isn't even politics (for European standards of political discourse). I would strongly object wasting any space on Azimuth for this.
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2.

It isn't even politics (for European standards of political discourse). I would strongly object wasting any space on Azimuth for this.

You're not aware that, partly under US republican and allied media influence, the EPP (largest European political party) is increasingly a climate change denialist party?

Expect them to shift to "reality denial" after the usual lag for US influence to come to Europe.

Politics is not about being right, and this is definitely about politics. One of the unfortunate things about climate science (like Economics) is that, as it has policy implications, it becomes difficult for the layman to become informed from publicly available information since there's so much neatly wrapped drivel and propaganda.

Comment Source:> It isn't even politics (for European standards of political discourse). I would strongly object wasting any space on Azimuth for this. You're not aware that, partly under US republican and allied media influence, the EPP (largest European political party) is increasingly a climate change denialist party? Expect them to shift to "reality denial" after the usual lag for US influence to come to Europe. Politics is not about being right, and this is definitely about politics. One of the unfortunate things about climate science (like Economics) is that, as it has policy implications, it becomes difficult for the layman to become informed from publicly available information since there's so much neatly wrapped drivel and propaganda.
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3.
edited February 2011

Miguel said:

Expect them to shift to "reality denial" after the usual lag for US influence to come to Europe.

Political trends usually don't make it across the Atlantic. There isn't even a party that comes any close to the US-Republicans in Europe.

Martin said:

Here's an experiment I suggest to such "sceptics":...

The passage you quote is a reaction to e.g. Al Gore's characterization of $CO_2$ as "waste dumped into the atmosphere as if it were a waste dump". And it is a reaction to Al Gore's graphical presentation of the "huge and unprecedented increase" in $CO_2$. So I think it would be correct to say that pro-AGW people started the "propaganda war". Your comparison of $CO_2$ with LSD is not of much use, the critical question discussed by both pro- and contra-AGW people is the sensitivity of the climate to $CO_2$, which is both an interesting and an unsettled question, and answering propaganda with contra-propaganda does not take us anywhere.

The letter is signed by the usual suspects, including old S. Fred Singer, a tobacco health risk denialist now working as propagandist for the fossil industry

As I said before, the really interesting question would be what constitutes authority in science. We could agree on "people who have a Ph.D. in climate science or some neighbouring topic and who publish in peer reviewed journals." There are two problems, however:

1. The first condition would imply that we, for example, should not listen to each other, (or to anyone active on the Azimuth project including JB),

2. the second condition does not work because I would like to include people active in some earth science like oceanography or meteorology. Roy Spencer is a meteorologist. He claims that none of his contra-AGW papers are published because the responsible people reject it right away because it is not pro-AGW.

The second point puts into perspective the claim that 98% of the people who publish about "climate change" are pro-AGW.

Besides, when you write...

They've meanwhile switched gears from science denialism to reality denialism.

...I'd like to know which of their main points you could refute without much ado (one reason why the Azimuth project wiki exists is that you can answer such a question with a link, if there is already a page explaining the relevant stuff). These main points do not include:

1. $CO_2$ is not a greenhouse gas,

2. $CO_2$ concentration in the atmosphere has not increased.

1. Unprecedented Warming of the Planet

2. More Frequent and Severe Floods and Droughts

3. More Frequent and Severe Hurricanes

4. Rising Sea Levels Inundating Coastal Lowlands

5. More Frequent and Severe Storms

6. Increased Human Mortality

7. Widespread Plant and Animal Extinctions

8. Declining Vegetative Productivity

9. Frequent Coral Bleaching

10. Marine Life Dissolving Away in Acidified Oceans

Comment Source:Miguel said: <blockquote> <p> Expect them to shift to "reality denial" after the usual lag for US influence to come to Europe. </p> </blockquote> Political trends usually don't make it across the Atlantic. There isn't even a party that comes any close to the US-Republicans in Europe. Martin said: <blockquote> <p> Here's an experiment I suggest to such "sceptics":... </p> </blockquote> The passage you quote is a reaction to e.g. Al Gore's characterization of $CO_2$ as "waste dumped into the atmosphere as if it were a waste dump". And it is a reaction to Al Gore's graphical presentation of the "huge and unprecedented increase" in $CO_2$. So I think it would be correct to say that pro-AGW people started the "propaganda war". Your comparison of $CO_2$ with LSD is not of much use, the critical question discussed by both pro- and contra-AGW people is the sensitivity of the climate to $CO_2$, which is both an interesting and an unsettled question, and answering propaganda with contra-propaganda does not take us anywhere. <blockquote> <p> The letter is signed by the usual suspects, including old S. Fred Singer, a tobacco health risk denialist now working as propagandist for the fossil industry </p> </blockquote> As I said before, the really interesting question would be what constitutes authority in science. We could agree on "people who have a Ph.D. in climate science or some neighbouring topic and who publish in peer reviewed journals." There are two problems, however: 1. The first condition would imply that we, for example, should not listen to each other, (or to anyone active on the Azimuth project including JB), 2. the second condition does not work because I would like to include people active in some earth science like oceanography or meteorology. Roy Spencer is a meteorologist. He claims that none of his contra-AGW papers are published because the responsible people reject it right away because it is not pro-AGW. The second point puts into perspective the claim that 98% of the people who publish about "climate change" are pro-AGW. Besides, when you write... <blockquote> <p> They've meanwhile switched gears from science denialism to reality denialism. </p> </blockquote> ...I'd like to know which of their main points you could refute without much ado (one reason why the Azimuth project wiki exists is that you can answer such a question with a link, if there is already a page explaining the relevant stuff). These main points <b>do not include</b>: 1. $CO_2$ is not a greenhouse gas, 2. $CO_2$ concentration in the atmosphere has not increased. Instead, the main points are: 1. Unprecedented Warming of the Planet 2. More Frequent and Severe Floods and Droughts 3. More Frequent and Severe Hurricanes 4. Rising Sea Levels Inundating Coastal Lowlands 5. More Frequent and Severe Storms 6. Increased Human Mortality 7. Widespread Plant and Animal Extinctions 8. Declining Vegetative Productivity 9. Frequent Coral Bleaching 10. Marine Life Dissolving Away in Acidified Oceans
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4.

Political trends usually don't make it across the Atlantic. There isn't even a party that comes any close to the US-Republicans in Europe.

I beg to differ on both counts - there are even avowed fans of the Tea Party in high places in the EPP, but I feel disinclined to discuss the politics of Rupert Murdoch, Islamophobia, American lobbying in Brussels, Atlanticism, Creationism, Climate Change Denial, etc on Azimuth.

Though if people assure me they want to talk about such things I can bring out the arsenal of evidence.

Comment Source:> Political trends usually don't make it across the Atlantic. There isn't even a party that comes any close to the US-Republicans in Europe. I beg to differ on both counts - there are even avowed fans of the Tea Party in high places in the EPP, but I feel disinclined to discuss the politics of Rupert Murdoch, Islamophobia, American lobbying in Brussels, Atlanticism, Creationism, Climate Change Denial, etc on Azimuth. Though if people assure me they want to talk about such things I can bring out the arsenal of evidence.
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5.

Tim,

Your comparison of CO2 with LSD is not of much use [...] answering propaganda with contra-propaganda does not take us anywhere.

I don't really consider it "propaganda" to point out that trace quantities of chemicals can have large, harmful effects. It's a valid analogy in response to a non-quantitative argument from incredulity. It's not meant to literally suggest that CO2 is poison or whatever.

Roy Spencer is a meteorologist. He claims that none of his contra-AGW papers are published because the responsible people reject it right away because it is not pro-AGW.

Skeptics shouldn't be too quick to play the censored martyr card. Sometimes "contra-AGW" papers are rejected just because they're poorly supported, not because of a conspiracy of the "climate orthodoxy". "Pro-AGW" papers get rejected for the same reasons, too, just like in any other field.

Comment Source:Tim, >Your comparison of CO2 with LSD is not of much use [...] answering propaganda with contra-propaganda does not take us anywhere. I don't really consider it "propaganda" to point out that trace quantities of chemicals can have large, harmful effects. It's a valid analogy in response to a non-quantitative argument from incredulity. It's not meant to literally suggest that CO2 is poison or whatever. >Roy Spencer is a meteorologist. He claims that none of his contra-AGW papers are published because the responsible people reject it right away because it is not pro-AGW. Does Spencer really claim that? What about <a href="http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0442%281995%29008%3C0888%3ARNITMD%3E2.0.CO%3B2">this</a> or <a href="http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2008JCLI2253.1">this</a> or <a href="http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009JD013371.shtml">this</a>? Skeptics shouldn't be too quick to play the censored martyr card. Sometimes "contra-AGW" papers are rejected just because they're poorly supported, not because of a conspiracy of the "climate orthodoxy". "Pro-AGW" papers get rejected for the same reasons, too, just like in any other field.
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6.

Nathan wrote:

I don't really consider it "propaganda" to point out that trace quantities of chemicals can have large, harmful effects. It's a valid analogy in response to a non-quantitative argument from incredulity. It's not meant to literally suggest that CO2 is poison or whatever.

The problem with statements like this is that it puts you into a bad tactical position - and what the sceptics wrote is not a "non-quantitative argument from incredulity", it is a reaction to...well, I already said that.

Everybody will of course jump at the opportunity to tell the audience (and somehow many participants of the discussion seem to have a large audience in mind all the time) that $CO_2$ is a nutrient, that it is essential to life on this planet and that earth may even suffer from a lack of $CO_2$ in the atmosphere (therefore I would call such a statement a "Vorlage" in soccer, you play the ball to your opponent and then have to wait patiently on the sideline for him to score a goal). I'm still waiting for someone to ak "why do climate activists hate plants?".

Does Spencer really claim that?

He writes that this is the motivation for his book "The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World's Top Climate Scientists". Despite the title there is less politics in it, most of it is about cloud feedback and how a small variation in this feedback (and the lack of including it into climate models) is a far better exlpanation of any temperature variation in this century. Do climate modellers have anything to say about this? (Not in response to Spencer in particular, but I'd like to see an explanation why climate modellers think that they got the major feedback processes right.)

Comment Source:Nathan wrote: <blockquote> <p> I don't really consider it "propaganda" to point out that trace quantities of chemicals can have large, harmful effects. It's a valid analogy in response to a non-quantitative argument from incredulity. It's not meant to literally suggest that CO2 is poison or whatever. </p> </blockquote> The problem with statements like this is that it puts you into a bad tactical position - and what the sceptics wrote is not a "non-quantitative argument from incredulity", it is a reaction to...well, I already said that. Everybody will <i>of course</i> jump at the opportunity to tell the audience (and somehow many participants of the discussion seem to have a large audience in mind all the time) that $CO_2$ is a nutrient, that it is essential to life on this planet and that earth may even suffer from a lack of $CO_2$ in the atmosphere (therefore I would call such a statement a "Vorlage" in soccer, you play the ball to your opponent and then have to wait patiently on the sideline for him to score a goal). I'm still waiting for someone to ak "why do climate activists hate plants?". <blockquote> <p> Does Spencer really claim that? </p> </blockquote> He writes that this is the motivation for his book "The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World's Top Climate Scientists". Despite the title there is less politics in it, most of it is about cloud feedback and how a small variation in this feedback (and the lack of including it into climate models) is a far better exlpanation of any temperature variation in this century. Do climate modellers have anything to say about this? (Not in response to Spencer in particular, but I'd like to see an explanation why climate modellers think that they got the major feedback processes right.)
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7.

The problem with statements like this is that it puts you into a bad tactical position - and what the sceptics wrote is not a "non-quantitative argument from incredulity", it is a reaction to...well, I already said that.

But it is completely a non-quantitative argument from incredulity, regardless of what it may or may not be a reaction to. It's nothing more than "gosh, such a tiny amount of gas can't do anything". The scientific response is to talk about the atmospheric absorption properties of CO2, and why "a little amount" does, in fact, have nontrivial radiative properties. But if you're making an analogy, the only analogy to make is one in which a small amount of something has an obvious large effect. And a counter-response of "CO2 is good for plants" is nothing more than dodging the point, which is that small quantities can have large effects, and it's necessary to sit down and work out whether it's large or small instead of just pretending it can't be large.

As for skeptics then turning the argument into one about CO2 fertilization, I don't see the "tactical" problem. Sure, they'll just bring up a new argument, but they'll do that anyway, regardless of what you respond with. (And, in practice, I don't see "CO2 is tiny" naturally leading to the "CO2 is plant food" argument in actual debates.)

most of it is about cloud feedback and how a small variation in this feedback (and the lack of including it into climate models) is a far better exlpanation of any temperature variation in this century. Do climate modellers have anything to say about this?

Spencer's argument, as I understand it, is not about variations in cloud feedbacks. It's about stochastic variation in cloud properties leading to persistent climate changes, which can be mistaken for positive cloud feedbacks that don't actually exist. (Basically, the argument that if you stochastically force a linear system with white noise, you'll get a red noise response out, with power near the response time of the system, i.e. decades from the ocean response.)

I don't know what climate modelers think of this particular argument. (There have been Internet counterarguments by Pierrehumbert and Dessler, but I haven't really kept up on these papers.)

As for what modelers think of climate feedbacks, I don't believe any of them will claim that they have cloud feedbacks "right". They are widely believed to be the major uncertainty and source of intermodel spread in predictions. They may argue they're "in the right ballpark" (i.e., the feedback is not likely to be very weak, or negative), and for that they would appeal to observational data. The issue is that Spencer thinks they've misinterpreted the observational data; again, I don't know what they have to say about that.

Also, I think Spencer's claim requires larger natural cloud fluctuations in an unforced "control" climate than are calculated by any theory or simulated by any climate model, and I suspect climate modelers would want Spencer to provide a physical mechanism by which that can happen. But I can't speak for them, or what they would actually argue. I do know that modelers tend to insist on mechanisms more than observational scientists like Spencer do. This is a classic divide (see Chris Mooney's Storm World for a historical debate between hurricane scientists).

And, personally, I think any attempt to argue for a low climate sensitivity is going to ultimately run into problems with paleoclimate, as I mentioned in my Week 302 interview.

Comment Source:>The problem with statements like this is that it puts you into a bad tactical position - and what the sceptics wrote is not a "non-quantitative argument from incredulity", it is a reaction to...well, I already said that. But it is completely a non-quantitative argument from incredulity, regardless of what it may or may not be a reaction to. It's nothing more than "gosh, such a tiny amount of gas can't do anything". The scientific response is to talk about the atmospheric absorption properties of CO2, and why "a little amount" does, in fact, have nontrivial radiative properties. But if you're making an analogy, the only analogy to make is one in which a small amount of something has an obvious large effect. And a counter-response of "CO2 is good for plants" is nothing more than dodging the point, which is that small quantities can have large effects, and it's necessary to sit down and work out whether it's large or small instead of just pretending it can't be large. As for skeptics then turning the argument into one about CO2 fertilization, I don't see the "tactical" problem. Sure, they'll just bring up a new argument, but they'll do that anyway, regardless of what you respond with. (And, in practice, I don't see "CO2 is tiny" naturally leading to the "CO2 is plant food" argument in actual debates.) >most of it is about cloud feedback and how a small variation in this feedback (and the lack of including it into climate models) is a far better exlpanation of any temperature variation in this century. Do climate modellers have anything to say about this? Spencer's argument, as I understand it, is not about variations in cloud feedbacks. It's about stochastic variation in cloud properties leading to persistent climate changes, which can be mistaken for positive cloud feedbacks that don't actually exist. (Basically, the argument that if you stochastically force a linear system with white noise, you'll get a red noise response out, with power near the response time of the system, i.e. decades from the ocean response.) I don't know what climate modelers think of this particular argument. (There have been Internet counterarguments by Pierrehumbert and Dessler, but I haven't really kept up on these papers.) As for what modelers think of climate feedbacks, I don't believe any of them will claim that they have cloud feedbacks "right". They are widely believed to be the major uncertainty and source of intermodel spread in predictions. They may argue they're "in the right ballpark" (i.e., the feedback is not likely to be very weak, or negative), and for that they would appeal to observational data. The issue is that Spencer thinks they've misinterpreted the observational data; again, I don't know what they have to say about that. Also, I think Spencer's claim requires larger natural cloud fluctuations in an unforced "control" climate than are calculated by any theory or simulated by any climate model, and I suspect climate modelers would want Spencer to provide a physical mechanism by which that can happen. But I can't speak for them, or what they would actually argue. I do know that modelers tend to insist on mechanisms more than observational scientists like Spencer do. This is a classic divide (see Chris Mooney's <i>Storm World</i> for a historical debate between hurricane scientists). And, personally, I think any attempt to argue for a low climate sensitivity is going to ultimately run into problems with paleoclimate, as I mentioned in my Week 302 interview.
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8.
edited February 2011

Tim wrote:

1. Unprecedented Warming of the Planet

2. More Frequent and Severe Floods and Droughts

3. More Frequent and Severe Hurricanes

4. Rising Sea Levels Inundating Coastal Lowlands

5. More Frequent and Severe Storms

6. Increased Human Mortality

7. Widespread Plant and Animal Extinctions

8. Declining Vegetative Productivity

9. Frequent Coral Bleaching

10. Marine Life Dissolving Away in Acidified Oceans

Do they offer any credible argument against any of this? 2 and 9 already is reality. Likewise 3 and 5 with a grain of salt on the frequency. For 6 cf. heat wave mortality Europe 2003, Russia 2010. 8 needs sattelite observations plus a little statistics, see NASA 2010. 1 is firmly established for the Holocene (several Hockey Sticks reproduced independently). 4 is an obvious consequence of Greenland melt (undisputed) plus future Antarctic melt. 7 is more plausible than not. 10 has been experimentally verified for several calcifying species, but is perhaps still a matter of theoretical research.

Summa summarum: Full denial of science plus current reality. Perhaps that's why they spoke of the late 20th century, forgetting to note it's meanwhile 2010?

Nathan wrote:

I think any attempt to argue for a low climate sensitivity is going to ultimately run into problems with paleoclimate, as I mentioned in my Week 302 interview.

Yeah. That's why "sceptics" keep harping in models.

Me dunno about Roy Spencer. But S Fred Singer is undeniably a sociopath who fabricates any lie money can buy. He's in that business for decades now. Lindzen (who also signed the letter) meanwhile discovered the business as well, selling his MIT professorship. He has until recently advised "sceptics" to tell "it has not warmed since 1995".

On political style: Methinks it unthinkable for old European political bodies to re-invite proven liars to testify. Cf. Pat Michaels, another signatory, who last year got invited again to fraudulently testify to U.S. Congress.

A positive: Seems they found not much more signatories beyond the old gang. Perhaps the 98% number is meanwhile 99.5%?

Comment Source:Tim wrote: >Instead, the main points are: >1. Unprecedented Warming of the Planet >2. More Frequent and Severe Floods and Droughts >3. More Frequent and Severe Hurricanes >4. Rising Sea Levels Inundating Coastal Lowlands >5. More Frequent and Severe Storms >6. Increased Human Mortality >7. Widespread Plant and Animal Extinctions >8. Declining Vegetative Productivity >9. Frequent Coral Bleaching >10. Marine Life Dissolving Away in Acidified Oceans Do they offer any credible argument against any of this? 2 and 9 already is reality. Likewise 3 and 5 with a grain of salt on the frequency. For 6 cf. heat wave mortality Europe 2003, Russia 2010. 8 needs sattelite observations plus a little statistics, see NASA 2010. 1 is firmly established for the Holocene (several Hockey Sticks reproduced independently). 4 is an obvious consequence of Greenland melt (undisputed) plus future Antarctic melt. 7 is more plausible than not. 10 has been experimentally verified for several calcifying species, but is perhaps still a matter of theoretical research. Summa summarum: Full denial of science plus current reality. Perhaps that's why they spoke of the late 20th century, forgetting to note it's meanwhile 2010? Nathan wrote: > I think any attempt to argue for a low climate sensitivity is going to ultimately run into problems with paleoclimate, as I mentioned in my Week 302 interview. Yeah. That's why "sceptics" keep harping in models. ---------- Me dunno about Roy Spencer. But S Fred Singer is undeniably a sociopath who fabricates any lie money can buy. He's in that business for decades now. Lindzen (who also signed the letter) meanwhile discovered the business as well, selling his MIT professorship. He has until recently advised "sceptics" to tell "it has not warmed since 1995". On political style: Methinks it unthinkable for old European political bodies to re-invite proven liars to testify. Cf. Pat Michaels, another signatory, who last year got invited again to fraudulently testify to U.S. Congress. A positive: Seems they found not much more signatories beyond the old gang. Perhaps the 98% number is meanwhile 99.5%?
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9.

Nathan said:

Sure, they'll just bring up a new argument, but they'll do that anyway, regardless of what you respond with.

I'm sure you have good reasons for your scepticism (about what could be achieved by a discussion with sceptics), but I'm not ready to give up yet - I think it is possible to see through the propaganda and address the serious objections that sceptics have, and to expose en passent any kind of rhetorical tricks, if need be. The problem with the "prudent path" (I'm surprised that none of you has critizised the obvious self-praise expressed in the title :-) is that it presents a convincing argument with lots and lots of references: I don't have the necessary knowledge or time to check all of those myself, and the members of the US congress don't have them either.

Therefore, when Martin says:

Do they offer any credible argument against any of this?

I'd have to answer "yes", in particular they cite a lot of papers - and in response to

2 and 9 already is reality. Likewise 3 and 5 with a grain of salt on the frequency. For 6 cf. heat wave mortality Europe 2003, Russia 2010. 8 needs sattelite observations plus a little statistics, see NASA 2010. 1 is firmly established for the Holocene (several Hockey Sticks reproduced independently). 4 is an obvious consequence of Greenland melt (undisputed) plus future Antarctic melt. 7 is more plausible than not. 10 has been experimentally verified for several calcifying species, but is perhaps still a matter of theoretical research.

...as I have said before, the nice aspect of the Azimuth wiki is that you can back up any claim you make with a link to a page that explains your point, with reliable references (hint hint! Zaunpfahl).

Comment Source:Nathan said: <blockquote> <p> Sure, they'll just bring up a new argument, but they'll do that anyway, regardless of what you respond with. </p> </blockquote> I'm sure you have good reasons for your scepticism (about what could be achieved by a discussion with sceptics), but I'm not ready to give up yet - I think it is possible to see through the propaganda and address the serious objections that sceptics have, and to expose en passent any kind of rhetorical tricks, if need be. The problem with the "prudent path" (I'm surprised that none of you has critizised the obvious self-praise expressed in the title :-) is that it presents a convincing argument with lots and lots of references: I don't have the necessary knowledge or time to check all of those myself, and the members of the US congress don't have them either. Therefore, when Martin says: <blockquote> <p> Do they offer any credible argument against any of this? </p> </blockquote> I'd have to answer "yes", in particular they cite a lot of papers - and in response to <blockquote> <p> 2 and 9 already is reality. Likewise 3 and 5 with a grain of salt on the frequency. For 6 cf. heat wave mortality Europe 2003, Russia 2010. 8 needs sattelite observations plus a little statistics, see NASA 2010. 1 is firmly established for the Holocene (several Hockey Sticks reproduced independently). 4 is an obvious consequence of Greenland melt (undisputed) plus future Antarctic melt. 7 is more plausible than not. 10 has been experimentally verified for several calcifying species, but is perhaps still a matter of theoretical research. </p> </blockquote> ...as I have said before, the nice aspect of the Azimuth wiki is that you can back up any claim you make with a link to a page that explains your point, with reliable references (hint hint! Zaunpfahl).
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10.
edited February 2011

Tim wrote:

...as I have said before, the nice aspect of the Azimuth wiki is that you can back up any claim you make with a link to a page that explains your point, with reliable references (hint hint! Zaunpfahl).

...well, that could be your job. But I won't do, because that would be exactly what they want: Waste time and amplify their noise, to reduce bandwidth of the climate communications channel.

If you want to go on that quixotic quest, here's a constructive suggestion: Check their arguments with www.skepticalscience.com. If they have some argument not adressed there, that could help improve www.skepticalscience.com. But I doubt that would be any effective. You would also have to check the papers they cite - quite possibly they say something completely different, or represent a cherry picked figment of statistics.

BTW, the technique they employ is called Gish gallop:

The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a rhetorical technique in debates that involves drowning the opponent in half-truths, lies, straw men, and bullshit to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised, usually resulting in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.

Comment Source:Tim wrote: > ...as I have said before, the nice aspect of the Azimuth wiki is that you can back up any claim you make with a link to a page that explains your point, with reliable references (hint hint! Zaunpfahl). ...well, that could be your job. But I won't do, because that would be exactly what they want: Waste time and amplify their noise, to reduce bandwidth of the climate communications channel. If you want to go on that quixotic quest, here's a constructive suggestion: Check their arguments with www.skepticalscience.com. If they have some argument not adressed there, that could help improve www.skepticalscience.com. But I doubt that would be any effective. You would also have to check the papers they cite - quite possibly they say something completely different, or represent a cherry picked figment of statistics. BTW, the technique they employ is called [Gish gallop](http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop): > The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a rhetorical technique in debates that involves drowning the opponent in half-truths, lies, straw men, and bullshit to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised, usually resulting in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.
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11.

Martin said:

...well, that could be your job.

Maybe I'll do that. From time to time I'm caught with a combination of insomnia and boredom that can be alleviated by a discussion about intelligent design or similar topics. Besides, talking about "intelligent design" can lead to very interesting discussions about epistemology, showing that most scientists have a rather naive idea of what constitutes the "scientific method".

Following your link one can find a page with CLIMATE CHANGE IS NATURAL: 100 REASONS WHY: I think it would actually be a lot of fun to answer them all, the first dozen or so have definitely been answered on Azimuth already. It would seem that the less capable sceptics get repetitive and therefore vulnerable to answers :-)

Comment Source:Martin said: <blockquote> <p> ...well, that could be your job. </p> </blockquote> Maybe I'll do that. From time to time I'm caught with a combination of insomnia and boredom that can be alleviated by a discussion about intelligent design or similar topics. Besides, talking about "intelligent design" can lead to very interesting discussions about epistemology, showing that most scientists have a rather naive idea of what constitutes the "scientific method". Following your link one can find a page with <a href="http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/146138">CLIMATE CHANGE IS NATURAL: 100 REASONS WHY</a>: I think it would actually be a lot of fun to answer them all, the first dozen or so have definitely been answered on Azimuth already. It would seem that the less capable sceptics get repetitive and therefore vulnerable to answers :-)
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12.
edited February 2011

If you do do it, I'll wish you patience given that quite aa few of the points aren't evidence for the proposition "Climate change is natural" but different propositions:

13) Peter Lilley MP said last month that “fewer people in Britain than in any other country believe in the importance of global warming. That is despite the fact that our Government and our political class—predominantly—are more committed to it than their counterparts in any other country in the world”.

This could be evidence for many propositions, but I can't see how it relates to whether climate change is natural or not.

28) Despite activist concerns over CO2 levels, rising CO2 levels are our best hope of raising crop yields to feed an ever-growing population

Sorry, what hypothesis were we looking at again?

45) The increase of the air’s CO2 content has probably helped lengthen human lifespans since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution

Indeed, from about 50 onwards it's becomes almost entirely a list of either "one expert says" or sentences involving phrases like CO2 and emissions which may or may not have merit, but do not have any bearing on the question which heads the article. I'll add another one to make it 101:

101 "Divers need a carefully regulated O2-CO2 balance when they go scuba diving."

It's not germane to the question of whether climate change is natural, but it's clear that's no barrier to being on the list.

Why I think it's not a productive use of time to deal with things like that is that it's so clear to anyone who's reading that list who would actually think about the refutations that so many of the points are at best talking about slightly different questions (can we do anything about climate change? should we take the economic hit? will everyone agree?) that I can't see scientific refutations changing anyone's views (either thinking the article is great or thinking it's rubbish).

Comment Source:If you do do it, I'll wish you patience given that quite aa few of the points aren't evidence for the proposition "Climate change is natural" but different propositions: > 13) Peter Lilley MP said last month that “fewer people in Britain than in any other country believe in the importance of global warming. That is despite the fact that our Government and our political class—predominantly—are more committed to it than their counterparts in any other country in the world”. This could be evidence for many propositions, but I can't see how it relates to whether climate change is natural or not. > 28) Despite activist concerns over CO2 levels, rising CO2 levels are our best hope of raising crop yields to feed an ever-growing population Sorry, what hypothesis were we looking at again? > 45) The increase of the air’s CO2 content has probably helped lengthen human lifespans since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution Indeed, from about 50 onwards it's becomes almost entirely a list of either "one expert says" or sentences involving phrases like CO2 and emissions which may or may not have merit, but do not have any bearing on the question which heads the article. I'll add another one to make it 101: 101 "Divers need a carefully regulated O2-CO2 balance when they go scuba diving." It's not germane to the question of whether climate change is natural, but it's clear that's no barrier to being on the list. -------------- Why I think it's not a productive use of time to deal with things like that is that it's so clear to anyone who's reading that list who would actually think about the refutations that so many of the points are at best talking about slightly different questions (can we do anything about climate change? should we take the economic hit? will everyone agree?) that I can't see scientific refutations changing anyone's views (either thinking the article is great or thinking it's rubbish).
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13.

Tim,

I'm sure you have good reasons for your scepticism (about what could be achieved by a discussion with sceptics), but I'm not ready to give up yet - I think it is possible to see through the propaganda and address the serious objections that sceptics have, and to expose en passent any kind of rhetorical tricks, if need be.

I guess it depends on how serious the skeptic is. Most of the ones I run into, I believe, are starting from a political premise and reasoning backward from that. Thus, if you refute one argument, they will just look for another rationale to support their premise, ad infinitum. In practice the debate turns out to be something like the "Gish gallop" Martin mentions. I am sure there are some skeptics who are genuinely skeptical and are interested in the balance of scientific evidence, but in my experience they are hard to come by. Of course, they could just be less likely to voice their opinions, and so a passive "critical assessment" of various skeptical positions is probably useful to some. I'm just skeptical about the utility of "active" debate.

Comment Source:Tim, >I'm sure you have good reasons for your scepticism (about what could be achieved by a discussion with sceptics), but I'm not ready to give up yet - I think it is possible to see through the propaganda and address the serious objections that sceptics have, and to expose en passent any kind of rhetorical tricks, if need be. I guess it depends on how serious the skeptic is. Most of the ones I run into, I believe, are starting from a political premise and reasoning backward from that. Thus, if you refute one argument, they will just look for another rationale to support their premise, ad infinitum. In practice the debate turns out to be something like the "Gish gallop" Martin mentions. I am sure there are some skeptics who are genuinely skeptical and are interested in the balance of scientific evidence, but in my experience they are hard to come by. Of course, they could just be less likely to voice their opinions, and so a passive "critical assessment" of various skeptical positions is probably useful to some. I'm just skeptical about the utility of "active" debate.
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14.
edited February 2011

David said:

If you do do it, I'll wish you patience given that quite aa few of the points aren't evidence for the proposition "Climate change is natural" but different propositions.

Yeah, I noticed that too, but too late. I think it's hilarious, writing an essay with pro and contra is a topic of 9th grade? Or 8th or tenth? Anyway, the authors of this list would fail :-) (Being blatantly off-topic and/or citing authorities without proper reference would earn you a 5 (German) = F (USA) ).

It's also a particularly bad start for trying a serious pro and contra AGW discussion :-)

Well, I'll have to look somewhere else, then...

Comment Source:David said: <blockquote> <p> If you do do it, I'll wish you patience given that quite aa few of the points aren't evidence for the proposition "Climate change is natural" but different propositions. </p> </blockquote> Yeah, I noticed that too, but too late. I think it's hilarious, writing an essay with pro and contra is a topic of 9th grade? Or 8th or tenth? Anyway, the authors of this list would fail :-) (Being blatantly off-topic and/or citing authorities without proper reference would earn you a 5 (German) = F (USA) ). It's also a particularly bad start for trying a serious pro and contra AGW discussion :-) Well, I'll have to look somewhere else, then...
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15.

Martin said:

"Me dunno about Roy Spencer. But S Fred Singer is undeniably a sociopath who fabricates any lie money can buy. He's in that business for decades now. Lindzen (who also signed the letter) meanwhile discovered the business as well, selling his MIT professorship. He has until recently advised "sceptics" to tell "it has not warmed since 1995".

It appears that Lindzen is now part of the Cato Institute in something called the Center for the Study of Science. That's sounds meta. Study of science as in they have to study science to figure out what's up with it? Should call it Center for Scienceology. Like methodology is the study of methods.

The Cato site says:

"At Cato, Lindzen focuses on the interaction between science and policymakers. He studies whether the move from largely private funding to public support has introduced biases into science and the public policies informed by science."

Over the summer, Lindzen co-authored this piece for Cato claiming that the hiatus may extend and that "warming is taking place at a much slower rate than is being projected."

http://www.cato.org/blog/there-no-hiatus-global-warming-after-all

But now the hiatus is over thanks to El Nino

Lindzen has been wrong about so many things over the years.

Comment Source:Martin said: > "Me dunno about Roy Spencer. But S Fred Singer is undeniably a sociopath who fabricates any lie money can buy. He's in that business for decades now. Lindzen (who also signed the letter) meanwhile discovered the business as well, selling his MIT professorship. He has until recently advised "sceptics" to tell "it has not warmed since 1995". It appears that Lindzen is now part of the [Cato Institute](http://www.cato.org/people/richard-lindzen) in something called the Center for the Study of Science. That's sounds meta. Study of science as in they have to study science to figure out what's up with it? Should call it Center for Scienceology. Like methodology is the study of methods. The Cato site says: > "At Cato, Lindzen focuses on the interaction between science and policymakers. He studies whether the move from largely private funding to public support has introduced biases into science and the public policies informed by science." Over the summer, Lindzen co-authored this piece for Cato claiming that the hiatus may extend and that *"warming is taking place at a much slower rate than is being projected."* http://www.cato.org/blog/there-no-hiatus-global-warming-after-all But now the hiatus is over thanks to El Nino ![agw](http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rRPfFl2DQw0/Vk03ci-V68I/AAAAAAAALJY/8SRy3hPk3v4/s400/global%2Bmean%2Bsurface%2Btemperature%2Bhadcrut4%2Band%2Bmodel.png) Lindzen has been wrong about so many things over the years.