A puzzle – can you find a solution?

Pro-AGW comments on the FM site often strike me as bizarre.  Investigation often — not always — shows them actually  to be bizarre (esp notable examples are here and here).  The extraordinary aspect of this lies in the people making these bizarre comments, as they often have long records of knowledgeable and insightful comments on this site.

Does adopting “anthropogenic global warming” as a religion — or a doctrine of an “environmentalist religion” — distort people’s thinking?   This post concerns the public aspect of the climate change debate, which has great influence on public policy.  Fortunately the actual science continues on despite all this.  At the end of the post are links to articles discussing environmentalism as religion; I recommend looking at these.

Which brings us to Oldskeptic’s comment in response to Important new climate science articles, 11 January 2009.  Another test case (others are listed at the end of the post).  Here it is, in full:

“FM:  I subscribe to the New Scientist, so I know the article which you have misquoted. So you have moved into ‘ad hominan’ arguments; this is beneath you. Stop it now.”

So again I must ask the readers of the FM site for help.  Can anyone explain this?  It makes no sense to me.  Oldskeptic is one of the most consistently sharp commenters on this site.  I have learned much from his comments, including that I was wrong about the degree of social mobility in the US (see this post).  Perhaps I have misunderstood this comment.

The objectionable text is, I believe, the section appearing below.  It seems quite simple.

  • My quote from the New Scientist is the first 4 paragraphs in full;  the GRL abstract follows.  So  no misquoting.
  • There is no mention of anyone, so no possibility of an ad hominem argument (Latin: “argument against the man”).

(1)  Danger ahead as the Sun goes quiet“, New Scientist, 7 January 2009 — This is a description for a general audience of the following article.

THE sun’s ability to shield the solar system from harmful cosmic rays could falter in the early 2020s, just in time to threaten the health of NASA astronauts as they return to the moon.

As well as the 11-year cycle of sunspots and solar flares, the sun’s activity experiences longer-term shifts lasting several decades. The sun is currently in a long-term high, having been relatively active for nearly a century, but it is not known when this will end.To find out, a team led by Jose Abreu of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Duebendorf analysed 66 long-term highs from the past 10,000 years, as recorded in fluctuating levels of rare isotopes such as beryllium-10 in ice cores from Greenland. These are produced when cosmic rays break down the nuclei of oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere. Production of these isotopes peaks when the sun is inactive, as the weaker solar wind lets more cosmic rays enter the solar system, which hit the Earth.

Based on the duration of past highs, and the fact that the current one has already lasted 80 years, the team has calculated that its most likely total lifetime is between 95 and 116 years, and they suspect the high will probably end at the shorter end of this range.

(2) For how long will the current grand maximum of solar activity persist?“, J. A. Abreu, J. Beer, F. Steinhilber, S. M. Tobias, N. O. Weiss, Geophysical Research Letters, 30 October 2008 — Abstract:

Understanding the Sun’s magnetic activity is important because of its impact on the Earth’s environment. The sunspot record since 1610 shows irregular 11-year cycles of activity; they are modulated on longer timescales and were interrupted by the Maunder minimum in the 17th century. Future behavior cannot easily be predicted – even in the short-term.

Recent activity has been abnormally high for at least 8 cycles: is this grand maximum likely to terminate soon or even to be followed by another (Maunder-like) grand minimum? To answer these questions we use, as a measure of the Sun’s open magnetic field, a composite record of the solar modulation function Φ, reconstructed principally from the proxy record of cosmogenic 10Be abundances in the GRIP icecore from Greenland. This Φ record extends back for almost 10,000 years, showing many grand maxima and grand minima (defined as intervals when Φ is within the top or bottom 20% of a Gaussian distribution).

We carry out a statistical analysis of this record and calculate the life expectancy of the current grand maximum. We find that it is only expected to last for a further 15-36 years, with the more reliable methods yielding shorter expectancies, and we therefore predict a decline in solar activity within the next two or three cycles. We are not able, however, to predict the level of the ensuing minimum.

Note an earlier debate with Oldskeptic about climate science here:  High school science facts prove global warming! Skeptical scientists humiliated by this revelation!, 31 December2008.  As always with such posts on the FM site, Oldskeptic is invited to reply.  Perhaps this is a misunderstanding.

Articles discussing environmentalism as a religion

  1. Environmentalism as Religion“, Michael Crichton, speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco,15 September 2003
  2. Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest“, Mark R. Stoll (Professor of History at Texas Tech University), H-Net Reviews. September 2004.
  3. Environmentalism as a religion“, Fernando Diaz Villanueva (author of Che Guevara), 22 March 2006
  4. Environmentalism as Religion“, John M. Ostrowski, posted at Lew Rockwell, 21 March 2007

As an emminent scientist, Dyson’s brief comment on the subject deserves special attention.

5.   “The Question of Global Warming“, Freeman Dyson (Wikipedia bio), The New York Review of Books, 12 June 2008 — Excerpt:

All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good.

The worldwide community of environmentalists – most of whom are not scientists – holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate.

Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice.

Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.

For more information

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Posts on the FM site debating climate science with other laypeople:

  1. Is anthropogenic global warming a scientific debate, or a matter of religious belief?, 22 November 2008
  2. Another pro-global warming comment, effective PR at work!, 1 December 2008
  3. Mystery solved, providing an important insight about the global warming debate., 2 December 2008
  4. The definitive rebuttal to skepticism about global warming!, 10 December 2008
  5. High school science facts prove global warming! Skeptical scientists humiliated by this revelation!, 31 December 2008

11 thoughts on “A puzzle – can you find a solution?”

  1. Perhaps he accuses you of misquoting because you omit the later paragraphs in the NS article which answer the question “so could a long term reduction in activity help offset global warming” Their position,in brief, is “0.1 degreesC”,”nothing compared to the global warming now being produced through pumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”

    Perhaps he feels your zeal against AGW is becoming almost as singlemindedly dogmatic [religious?] and selective as that of those that advocate for it.

    {Comment posted afterwards} I just realised you had in fact linked to the full NS article in your 11 Jan blog, so I should have avoided trying to explain Oldskeptics outburst. Hopefully he will be annoyed enough by your latest to vent a fuller explaination?
    Fabius Maximus replies: (1) I also posted the GRL abstract in full; let’s assume the authors were capable of adequately summarizing their own work.

    (2) Perhaps we will learn if Oldskeptic is more annoyed by my asking for an explanation than I am by being accused of “misquoting” and “ad hominan’ arguments.”

    (3) As yes, my zeal in quoting all those scientists! It’s an interesting contrast to the pro-AGW comments that consist almost entirely of unsupported assertions.

    (4) If you actually read my posts, you’ll see that I consider this a debate — and that the answer is as yet unknown. I’ve said this dozens of times, in many different ways. Perhaps you might present evidence of “zeal against AGW” on this site?

  2. Perhaps you could just have mailed him to ask if it is a misunderstanding, rather than devoting a whole post to the issue.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Good point, which I should have mentioned. I did so immediately, as well as posting the question as a reply to his comment.

  3. As someone who doesn’t have a dog in this hunt, it sounds as though each side is accusing the others of what they themselves are getting accused of. This suggests we’re dealing with one of those “hot button” issues that will eventually sort itself out as the passion drains out of the controversy over time.

    Past examples: desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s, antiwar frenzy in the 1970s, the pro-life fervor in the 1980s, and the gay marriage brouhaha in the 1990s. For whatever reason, all these formerly “hot button” issues seem to attract little of the passion they once did, at least for most of the U.S. population.

    Presumably that will happen with the global warming controversy. In the meantime, frankly, issues like China faces hard landing with prospect of social unrest and “Will China lead the world into depression?” and the startling dropoff in world trade flows and Report: Mexico on verge of collapse seem more pressing.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Could you explain a bit more? The case here seems quite focused, a simple question — and I do not understand the basis for your reply.

    “each side is accusing the others of what they themselves are getting accused of. ‘

    Are you saying that I am mis-quoting Oldskeptic? That seems unlikely as I quote him exactly in full. Just as I did in the post in question (which creates an odd identity between your comment and Oldskeptic’s).

    As for the insignificance of this debate, I strongly disagree. Both his speeches and appointments (e.g., Steven Chu for Sec of Energy, John Holden as chief science advisor) suggest the possibility of bold and strong policies to fight global warming. The public policy recommendations of Obama could have major implications for the rate of US economic growth for the next generation.

    To see what we might expect:

    * “Impact of Population Growth“, Paul R. Ehrlich and John P. Holdren, Science, 26 March 1971 — Does not read well 37 years later.
    * “Flawed Science Advice for Obama?“, John Tierney, blogging at the New York Times, 19 December 2008 — About Holden.
    * “Top scientist’s fears for climate“, BBC, 31 August 2006 — About Holden; some of his statments in this are way out there.
    * “Convincing the climate-change skeptics“, John Holden, op-ed in the Boston Globe, 4 August 2008

  4. While I can’t comment about the specific motivations of oldskeptic, I think that for a great many people, the cause is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of powerlessness. AGW serves as an antidote to this fear as it applies to climate. The dramatic changes possible with changing climate are scary indeed (in human history, a number of civilizations have been brought down by changing climate, usually related to rainfall patterns). But if humans can be the cause of the recent warming, then we can also be the cause of future cooling. So, paradoxically, blaming ourselves for the warming trend is a hopeful action, one not satisfied by the apparent cooling we are currently going through without human intervention.

    AGW gives us the illusion of control over climate. I’ve always thought that “An Inconvenient Truth” while wonderfully named from a marketing standpoint is fundamentally dishonest. A more appropriate name would have been “A Convenient Fantasy” because its true purpose was to make people feel better about our ability to stave off climate disaster.
    Fabius Maximus replies: That’s a powerful insight. Extreme diets, religion, magic — all can act as tools to gain a feeling of control over the world.

  5. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    Tim, I am quite certain that Al Gore’s purpose in marketing AIT was not “to make people feel better about our ability to stave off climate disaster.” Gore is attempting to influence government policy by creating a wave of public fear of a trumped-up disaster. The election of Mr. Obama, an outspoken global warmer, is one indication that Gore is succeeding thus far.

    Your basic idea about fear mitigation is correct, of course, and it explains much of the success of all the world’s religions and most political movements.

    In the case of global climate catastrophe propaganda, the end being pursued by the propagandists is mass action leading to political action leading to increased wealth and political control for the propagandists.

  6. This is a pointless debate. Neither the readers nor Fabius Maximus will ever be able to discuss meaningfully on the question of climate change.

    You wonder why AGW seems like a religion? Because most people, including me, have no idea what they are talking about. Hence their inability to discuss it in much detail or a lot of coherence with you.AGW is the conventional wisdom, and I don’t have enough knowledge to question it and a quick look at realclimate.org seems to confirm this idea.

    The problem is further obscured by the sensationalist treatments it receives from the press and the fact that various interest group use AGW to push their agenda.

    For plenty of people it might be a religion or at least something beyond discussion. I am not a climatologist, I accept AGW not because I have a deep knowledge of the issue but because the idea seems to make sense( more CO2= more heat, why not? I learned about greenhouse effect in high school) and because the specialists say so.

    But if AGW happens to be a giant mistake, I can say one thing: it will be the failure of an entire generation of scientists, their credibility and the credibility of science in general in the public area will be destroyed for decades.

    The idea that AGW theory might be false has such profound implications for the place of science and scientists in our society and even expertise in general that I would rather believe that they are right.
    Fabius Maximus replies: The primary point of my articles about climate scientists is show that this is not correct: ” it will be the failure of an entire generation of scientists.”

    As the large number of articles I have cited show, many scientists in a wide range of disciplines question the theory of AGW. It is a debate, but a skillful propaganda campaign has hidden the uncertainty from the public.

    If we devote vast amounts of scarce resources to fight AGW — and it turns out the theory is wrong — it will be our fault (as is any substantial public policy error in a Republic). Don’t blame “an entire generation of scientists” for our gullibility.

    If this nation is to prosper I strongly believe we must break our faith in “it’s not my fault” as our national mantra.

    “This is a pointless debate. Neither the readers nor Fabius Maximus will ever be able to discuss meaningfully on the question of climate change.”

    The point of debate about public policy is for citizens — who collectively bear the responsibility, cost, and consequences of public policy — to assimilate the arguements of both sides. What alternative do you propose? Governance by priest kings or a Council of Technicians?

  7. What I mean is that both side on the global warming controversy seem to be accusing each other of the same sins.
    * Both sides claim the other side is irrational, while they are using the scientific method;
    * both sides claim the other side has let their emotions run wild,
    * while they remain calm and sensible.
    * Both sides claim the other side uses ad hominem personal attacks, while they stand aloof from such tactics.
    * Both sides darkly insinuate apocalyptic consequences if their side in the debate loses (in the case of pro-AGW people, the human race will allegedly be endangered by global warming and may become extinct if their warnings aren’t heeded, while in the case of anti-AGW people, crucial funds and resources necessary to restore the world economy will allegedly be squandered by pointless efforts to combat AGW that doesn’t exist, leading at the least to a global economic depression, and possibly worse — maybe even global war, as we saw in the aftermath of the 1930s Great Depression and its crop of dictators and demagogues).

    Could both pro- and anti-AGW proponents be irrational and unscientific? I guess so. The thing is, they both sound pretty rational to me, and they both seem to quote lots of science. So when you’ve two groups of sensible-sounding people accusing each other of being irrational and incoherent and enslaved by mindless superstition…well, this just reminds me a whole lot of the abortion debates and the gay marriage controversy, that’s all.
    Fabius Maximus replies: What do you mean by “both”, Keno Sabe?

    I strongly wish folks would use quotations when making these broad statements. I doubt you can find anything I have said to support most (perhaps all) of those.

    In particular, I doubt that I have accused anyone of using ad hominem attacks.

    I have speculated about factors “distorting the thinking” of pro-AGW folks (i.e., religious beliefs), but have clearly stated that does not make them wrong (which would be an ad hominem attack) — but rather as guesses about the causes of their belief. In any case, that hardly makes them “irrational” (most of humanity has some form of religious belief, including me).

    There is certainly nothing on this site by me to justify your comments about “calm and sensible”, “letting emotions run wild”, and “apocalyptic consequences.”

  8. Actually I see it as:

    (1) A sad reflection on our collective inability to carefully husband fossil fuels for future generations. Instead we waste them horrendously, I mean burning natural gas for electricity, energy insanity.

    (2) A complete disregard about the negative impacts of pollution, of which coal is the worst offender. Putting CO2 to one side, the rubbish that coal burning puts into the atmosphere, metals (mercury being one that moves into the food chain), radiation (yes, coal stations put out far more radiation into the environment than nuclear ones .. and it is completely unregulated), SO2, etc, etc, etc.

    (3) Waste, fly ash is huge and wasteful (note the recent disaster in the US).

    Similar, though technically different objections apply to oil and natural gas.

    So, again putting CO2 to one side, trying to defend unnecessary burning of fossil flues, when we have so many excellent alternatives, strikes me as irresponsible and indefensible.

    Incidentally this is proof that the human race never develops a time machine, because our grandchildren and great grandchildren, etc, would be coming back and killing a lot of us.

    (4) The insurance principle. If there is a probability of a disaster in the future, and it costs a small amount spent now to avoid it, then again, you are irresponsible to ‘hope for the best’. Especially when the solution brings so many other benefits .. I mean duh.

    Think about it, how many of you have car and house insurance? You listen to experts about the probability of having a crash, or your house burning down, so you take out insurance. In the case of global warming the ‘insurance’ is greater energy efficiency, nuclear reactors, solar, geothermal, wind power, electric trains, electric cars … and so.

    (5) Religion. Some define it as a belief in something unknowable. Me, I’m an atheist, so I define it as an irrational belief (sorry to the religious out here).
    I’ve never had an irrational belief in my life (except when I was younger and thought I had a chance with some attractive girls .. I didn’t).

    I examine the evidence (in my personal case in quite extremely detailed ways), the physics, the data, etc. And make my own mind up. Plus I work for the insurance industry and we are taking this very seriously. Forecast: some areas will in the future get a GW impact addition to their premiums.

    The Key Issue
    Now the key issue about GW has always been … how long and by how much will the inhabitable areas of Earth warm up and will this be a good or bad thing. That it will eventually warm up is not arguable, the physics is so well proven that it is like arguing against gravity (though some ‘skeptics’ are welcome to try, I recommend very high buildings or bridges to experiment with , try jumping and flapping your arms a lot .. let me know how it goes).

    But the Earth’s climate system is complex and timing and regional effects are uncertain.

    Example: Earth warms by +2C, but everywhere but (say) Tasmania stays the same, it unfortunately goes up by (say) +20C. Rough for them but for the rest of us .. who cares. Similarly with time, if it takes (say) 1,000 years to rise +2C at 450ppm, then again who cares.

    But, if as some research shows it is more widespread and/or only takes 50 years … that is a different issue. And a wise person takes precautions.

    (6) Doomsters wishing for disaster. Maybe some nutcases think like this but that is not confined to the GW group. We can add extreme the Christian Right, ‘disaster capitalists’, etc, etc, etc (it is quite a long list unfortunately).

    On the other hand is the large number of people who accept on the balance of evidence that GW will be pretty quick and quite nasty in some areas (other areas will not notice and even improve with a +2C), but argue that the negative affects will be very costly and that reducing the problem is the most cost efficient way to go and that we should start seriously thinking about ways of minimising high probability ‘locked in’ affects.

    This is a bit of a no brainier, we use forecasts by experts all the time to make decisions like that.

    Take earthquakes, our climate predictive abilities are primitive but they are still vastly superior to our earthquake predicting abilities. Yet we still base decisions on building design, emergency service capabilities, insurance rates (I did that one time),etc, on this.

    I mean where are the earthquake ‘skeptics’? Right not many.

    (7) Back to basics again. If we act as though GW is going to be quick and nasty and take steps to avoid, or reduce, the issue then what have we lost if the ‘skeptics’ are right and nothing happens? Nothing.

    Instead we gain, nice new power stations, solar power everywhere, nuclear power stations, wind power, geo-thermal power, energy efficient homes and buildings, smart grid, great metropolitan public transport, electric cars, fast city to city trains, efficient goods movements. Heck I want that just to reduce pollution and save fossil fuels for future generations.

    But if the ‘skeptics’ are wrong .. then we are in real deep trouble. And by the time the impacts really start to hit it is far, far too late to do anything..

    (8) The Personal Touch

    Me I don’t like taking bets like that. You can bet with your life all you want (take a revolver, load one bullet and …), not mine and my descendents mate. I’ll trust basic physics vs an opinion anytime.

    (9) I want to the see the ‘skeptics’ set up websites and blogs arguing that burning gas, oil and coal is a really, really good thing and that we should do more of it. I can see the topic headline right now “The US’s oil deficit is too small, burn more oil so we have to import more, Saudi’s are not rich enough”. Or “we dont have enough pollution, how we can burn more coal”. Or “Why the fuel consumption of your car is not high enough, tips on how to make your engine burn more petrol”.

    I wait with baited breath (plus topics by the earthquake ‘skeptics’).
    Fabius Maximus replies: A typical response to the pro-AGW laypeople commenting on this site. When caught saying indefensible things, they ignore it and move on to say other things. Usually things irrelevant to this discussion.

    Oldskeptic accuses me of “misquoting”, I call him on it, he talks about pollution. Like Mclaren does here, Juan Delmastro here, and Oldskeptic himself previously here.

    Showing that they cannot defend their assertions is why I have these discussions. Their certainty is a sham, like that of cultists passing out brochures at the airport. They just “know”, but cannot explain why.

    I agree with his comments about pollution, although the greens oppose most efforts to develop other sources (nukes, wind, clean coal, etc). But that is a different issue.

    Most of the rest of this is nonsense, discussed elsewhere. Note that this discussion was in response to one of the long series of scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals debating the theory of AGW. As true believers usually do, Oldskeptic appears to not even recognize that they exist. Hence his response (shown above) — since the text questions his faith, I must have misquoted it. When shown that is not true, his mind appears to flip to some other train of thought.

    Quite sad.

  9. I should add: “Though shall not post when you are tired and cranky”.

    My comment, on a previous thread was silly, put it down to far too long a day and the joys(in the ‘interesting’ sense) of flying Qantas.

    The accusation of ‘misleading’ was wrong, and my point should have been that the New Scientists quote was incomplete. Normally, as you all well know I tend to the verbose, my terseness was in itself misleading.

    Apologies to all, including, of course, you FM.

    “Though shall not post when you are tired and cranky”.
    “Though shall not post when you are tired and cranky”.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Bizarre, as usual when Oldskeptic talks about science.

    The quote from the New Scientist was ‘incomplete” because it was copyrighted material. Nobody should post the full article. Oldskeptic knows this, which makes this 2nd accusation as bogus as the first. I showed the first 3 paragraphs, which gives what the reporter considers the most important material, plus a link to read the rest of the article.

    More importantly, I quoted the actual abstract in full. The authors are capable of adequately summarizing their own work.

  10. Fabius Maximus note: Most of this comment is irrelevant to the point of the discussion, which is that scientists continue to debate these issues. This is easily proven by the stream of papers and conference notes posted here, written by a wide range of scientists — all of which he ignores, perhaps as doubleuntruth (or badthought).

    Oldskeptic’s comments treat science much like some Christian fundamentalists do: grasping tightly to research that supports their view (e.g., about age of the earth, no evolution, accuracy of Biblical history), and considering the rest to be ignorant heresy. That requires considerable intellectual “flexability”, but someone as smart as Oldskeptic is up to the challenge. As seen here.

    We see this in his summary of the new Nature paper, in which he ignores the quotes by scientists questioning the results (even the mainstream media has slowly discovered that AGW is a debate). Instead of science, he treats results that he likes as revelation. {A post about this article goes up this weekend.}

    Much of this comment is just sad to read. Silly stuff, like “OK there is no global warming.” The only really insightful thing here IMO is this: “So again I get confused. What is the climate skeptics argument?” I agree. You appear confused, and display no grasp of the skeptics’ view (simple as it is). Your comments mostly reply to some phantom in your head, not anything written here — which gives them that cult-like tone.

    The last paragraph misunderstands the operation of this site. Neither readers nor I pay for it. Improvements come at the pleasure of WordPress.
    But back to business, I shake my head at times. The scientific journals I read are getting increasingly worrying.

    For example: I met one of the authors of a Nature report about sea levels rising faster than predicted by most climate models. I talked to her about it and the methodology was excellent (unfortunately Nature is fee paying or I’d post the link).

    CO2 is rising faster than expected, though hopefully the GFC will slow that down (sad it takes a disaster of that magnitude to make any sort of difference). 2007 and preliminary 2008 figures show that they are still some of the hottest years on record, despite a large La Nina. Much of the Northern Hemisphere temps are still rising, though the global ones have came back a bit because of La Nina dropping Southern hemisphere ones, as it is mostly water. Unfortunately some land areas in the South (e.g. Western Australia) are boiling and setting some new temp records.

    And looks like the ‘white hope’, Antarctica is not going to help us, from ABC:

    “The research, conducted by a group of scientists in the United States led by Professor Eric Steig at the University of Washington, has been published in the journal Nature. “Most studies of Antarctic climate change in the recent past have relied on weather records, which are located at the Antarctic research stations,” Professor Steig told the ABC’s AM program.

    “And most of those stations, there are 42 of them, are on the coastline or near the Antarctic coastline, with only two in the interior of the continent. Some of those stations have shown cooling in recent decades, including one of those in the centre of the continent at the South Pole, and that’s resulted in the popular notion that all of Antarctica is cooling.

    “… What we did is we took advantage of the fact that, in fact, there is data. There’s over 25 years now of data from satellites, which provides an alternative way to measure the temperature,” Professor Steig said.”

    … “Now some parts of it have been cooling, but only since the late 1970s, and only in certain seasons, primarily in autumn. On average the entire continent is warming and especially it is warming in winter and spring. Finally, west Antarctica, just like the Antarctic peninsula, is warming in all seasons.”

    Note that Nature is a premier, peer reviewed scientific journal, if they could not prove their work it would not have been published.

    Plus, I don’t understand how bringing other issues into play is not relevant, The issues I raised (plus a lot of others) are extremely relevant to discussion about the issue. Many ‘climate skeptics’ (a dwindling band, even the Australian newspaper now has changed position), raise all sort of objections to doing anything about CO2 production, e.g.

    – it is too expensive.
    – it will destroy our economies (what more than Wall St bankers?).
    – etc, far too many to go into now, many are silly beyond belief as most of them assume unlimited oil, gas and coal.

    So raising other points to argue against those mentioned is extremely relevant to the discussion.

    The most complete work ever done on this issue was the Stern Report by the British Govt, which showed that the costs of CO2 reduction were marginal compared to costs of mitigation of probable impacts (I mean the cost of flood barriers alone for many parts of the world is almost unimaginable).

    My argument goes further, to maintain industrial civilisation for the future we have to stop burning fossil fuels for electricy and much transport now, as we (and out children, grandchildren, etc) will need these resources for chemical, plastics, etc, production in the future. Electricity production we can easily replace (we are actually spoiled for choice). Chemicals, including fertilisers (a use of natural gas) we can’t with today’s technology and without some sort of hydrocarbon base it is hard to even imagine alternatives (6.5B people means we dont have the spare agricultural capacity, though if we reduce that to, say, 2 billion we then have some alternatives, but excluding a nuclear war or GW really hiting agricultural production that is not likely this century or for a lot of the next).

    So again I get confused. What is the climate skeptics argument?

    OK there is no global warming (we are freezing in Australia actually it is all in our minds), so then it ok to burn every gallon, cubic foot and ton of oil, gas and coal as fast as we can and leave nothing for even our children?

    (1) You don’t believe in GW, but you want to husband finite fossil fuels (plus reduce import, pollution, etc). Then we are arguing for the same things but from different points. We both end up winning out of this.
    (2) You don’t believe in GW, but you want to use up every bit of fossil fuels as fast as possible, sod the children. If you follow this argument then I bluntly say to you that are a selfish, self centered, quite possibly sociopathic, fool. Or you are in the pay of the oil/gas/coal companies (some people would argue that is the same thing of course).

    Remember, I download raw data and study it myself, as I urge everyone else to do, if you can balance a chequebook and can use a spreadsheet you can do a surprising amount by yourself. Make up your own mind. If you are more skilled, download your own climate model (warning most are in Fortran, but it is easy to learn, heck I picked it up in a couple of weeks on my very first Operations Research project: forecasting gas demand, based on temp & wind factors) and play with it yourself.

    Do that and don’t entirely trust anyone to tell you what is warmer, or cooler (on average of course)… not me, not FM … not anyone.

    Note to FM: we really need the facility, like the Oil Drum, to put in tables and charts on this forum, not just for the GW argument, but for the GFC and other areas it would be invaluable (like I could demonstrate the real secret to how Hezbollah beat Israel in 2006 .. and it is not what most 4GW people think).

  11. I just blogged a little something myself about the “religion” of wind, which lately I have had a very keen interest in.

    Wind is all about numbers and I am going to explain the numbers to you. But first, let’s get this straight. Wind is not my religion. I keep hearing it said, “I believe in wind power”, “I believe in renewable energy”, “I believe we have to do something about the energy crisis”.

    {snip — post too long, text not relevant to the post} Our society appears to have made up their mind that wind power is something they should accept without question. It appears that the value of wind as a commercial electrical power source is as a religion and not a science, we shall see.
    Fabius Maximus replies: This makes little sense to me. Wind is not “free” — but then what every source is free? Religion of wind? Weird. For more useful analysis of wind power I recommend reading these articles from the FM reference page about Peak oil and energy – studies and reports:

    * “Electric Power from Renewable Energy: Practical Realities for Policy-Makers” (a slide presentation based on his December 2002 article in the Journal of Fusion Energy (the article an be purchased online here)
    * A Design for Cheaper Wind Power‘, Technology Review (published by MIT), 1 December 2008 — “A design that draws on jet engine technology could halve the cost of generating electricity from wind.”
    * The Unbearable Lightness of Wind“, Ross McCracken (Editor), Platts Energy Economist Insight, April 2009
    * Getting Real on Wind and Solar“, James Schlesinger and Robert L. Hirsch, op-ed in the Washington Post, 24 April 2009

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