Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Selling science: the lure of the dark side

THE STATE OF SCIENCE: Has prolonged scrutiny of climate science revealed more about the way science works than scientists themselves might like? Matthew Bailes thinks so. Although often ignorant of the…

Funding and fame can depend on selling a compelling scientific story. cambiodefractal

THE STATE OF SCIENCE: Has prolonged scrutiny of climate science revealed more about the way science works than scientists themselves might like? Matthew Bailes thinks so.

Although often ignorant of the details, the general public marvel at the genius of intellectual giants such as Einstein and the purity of his scientific endeavours.

Einstein’s peer-reviewed work was quick to bring him world-wide acclaim, a Nobel prize by 1921, and ensured his name would be forever synonymous with genius.

He was also Jewish, and in 1931 a German book – 100 Authors Against Einstein – was published, written by many professors of the day, mainly criticising relativity.

Time has shown that all 100 were wrong and that the book was propaganda. Many of the 100 were just bad scientists; some had opposing theories; many were commenting on a topic outside their own areas of expertise; and some probably possessed ulterior racist motives. But the lesson here is that it’s possible to find 100 experts to criticise what is a valid scientific theory.

Modern experimental science

Modern experimental science often requires assembling large teams and expensive infrastructure, and that requires political lobbying. Research empires are built upon grants that demand the marketing of ideas, outstanding track records and scientific publicity.

For some scientists the publish/publicise/grant cycle becomes intoxicating, leading to an exponential increase in the dimension of their empire, but also a temptation to engage in unethical behaviour. Some falter.

When exposed, all of science loses credibility, and rightfully becomes vulnerable to attack.

Big prizes and scientific downfall

The biggest breakthroughs (and hence prizes) in science often involve radical paradigm shifts and vehement scientific debates. It is a high-stakes game.

As in a high-profile medieval trial, leading scientists often act as defenders of the faith or heretics. Ideally the evidence is judged and community consensus dictates the winner. This process advances science. If conducted appropriately, both combatants are ultimately respected for their roles.

Unfortunately, the losers sometimes refuse to acknowledge their victors. Bizarrely, they start to only see the evidence in support of their own theory and become completely oblivious to the truth.

It is almost as if their theory is inseparable from their own feeling of self-worth, and to acknowledge their error would negate all the positive contributions they made to the earlier debate. These scientists often become strange recluses who congregate with others who have also failed.

They start to see conspiracies where none exist; some even create their own journals, write non-peer-reviewed articles and books and rebel against the scientific establishment.

The lack of peer review removes any checks on their evidence and they lose all scientific perspective. Their writings become propaganda. When recruits are needed to attack any consensus view in science, they are eager volunteers ready for revenge.

Climate science

The current consensus view of climate scientists is that rising CO₂ levels due to man-made activity are leading to a change in global temperature that, if left unchecked, could be catastrophic.

We know the planet’s climate changed before mankind could have had significant effect upon it from historical temperature records that show ice ages as well as warmer periods.

So the question is not whether the climate changes or not, but whether the current changes are both significant and being caused by mankind.

Extrapolations of climate models are “model-dependent”, because they, like the earth, are so complicated, yielding a range of potential impacts upon our future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was the United Nation’s response to the potential climate crisis.

Unfortunately there are few parallel organisations in other areas of science and scientists love to challenge each other’s theories and data. They often fiercely resist documents meant to represent the view of the entire community and bristle against being told what they are collectively saying. As a result some legitimately feel the need to disengage and protest.

Conspiracy theorists believe climate scientists have yielded to the temptation of the “dark side” and are vastly exaggerating the effects of climate change to bolster themselves, their empires, and their own importance, thus invalidating any evidence that man-made global warming is real.

The increased scrutiny of climate science has revealed more about the way science works than scientists themselves might like. All scientists compete for funding, and the more compelling the evidence and story, the greater the chance of success.

It would be unthinkable that climate scientists would not, at least subconsciously, be using the potential catastrophic consequences of global warming to maximise their funding.

But scientific heroism is ultimately found in revealing the truth.

The professional motivation for most scientists is to make positive contributions that they are recognised for by their peers. If there was some glaring error or conspiracy in temperature measurements, climate models and CO₂ levels, there is ample opportunity for glory by revealing it in peer-reviewed journals.

To deny the truth ultimately makes you look stupid, and it becomes more and more obvious as time goes by, as instrumentation improves, computers get faster, and more of your peers check your results. For most scientists, ultimately their reputation is everything.

Instant experts

Bad scientific practice doesn’t equate to peer-reviewed evidence. The idea that non-specialists, like retired engineers or lawyers, can waltz into any field, be it astronomy or climate change, make a few quick back of the envelope calculations or statistically-flawed deductions and “prove” the opposite of what experts with well-funded teams are repeatedly demonstrating is comical.

The “dark side” applies and appeals to people on both sides of the climate change debate. Writing up some bad science that gets fan-mail from laymen, some prominent failed scientists or publicity from journalists with a cynical or sceptical bent, can be just as addictive as those trapped in the more mainstream scientists’ publish/fame/grant cycle.

It is nice to have people saying you are very clever and to appear in the media, so why not do some more “research”? But oh dear, what if it shows your earlier claims were wrong?

Luckily if you are ignorant enough you can do some more bad science and find the two-sigma result you were looking for.

Can you get these findings published or peer-reviewed by an unbiased and anonymous referee? Probably not. But who needs conventional recognition of your work when a journalist or climate-denial blog will give you the attention you crave?

After all, the climate change conspiracy would have ensured your paper got rejected from any of the established peer-reviewed journals. Right?

The Risks

In the 1950s, long before climate change was fashionable, scientists at Mauna Loa were measuring CO₂ levels. They saw an annual cycle, and noted CO₂ levels were rising every year.

www.esrl.noaa.gov

They are still rising. In fact, CO₂ has increased by about 20% in about 50 years at ever-increasing rates. It is an alarming statistic. Is the fact this coincides with a large increase in the rate of burning of fossil fuels by humans just a coincidence? Probably not.

Whether global warming is being caused by our changing CO₂ levels is a very complicated question. My own view is that changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere is a dangerous thing to do.

I’d prefer to err on the side of caution and work to return it to lower levels for the same reason I want the number of fish in the ocean to be roughly constant.

Remember the Ozone Layer Hole?

People often forget that we avoided a near catastrophe when atmospheric scientists correctly identified that man-made emissions of a different type (fluorocarbons) were creating a hole in the ozone layer. Fortunately the change to our daily lives by eliminating their use was minimal. Or was that a conspiracy too?

Hey, aren’t these the same scientists who are telling us CO₂ levels and temperatures are rising?

It only seems to be those theories that cause us to change our lifestyle or question our religious beliefs that suffer the wrath of the new breed of “sceptics” or “cynics”.

Evolution and climate change fall into this category, as does the branch of astronomy that describes the true age of the universe, as opposed to what’s in the Bible.

Good scientists are sceptical, but they apply tests and models in an unbiased way and are judged by their peers, not politicians or the media.

The consensus view of modern science is rarely at fault in the long-run, regardless of the temptations for scientists of any discipline to sell their ideas.

If there is a lesson to be learnt from all this it’s the following: ultimately we as scientists will only be respected if we conduct ourselves appropriately. People engaging in unethical conduct should be punished severely. Lessons on ethics should not be confined to those involved in human experimentation, but extended to all scientists involved in research.

This will ultimately help increase people’s respect for science so practitioners can continue to deliver the many advances that enhance our quality of life.

Science doesn’t advance by people congregating with pre-conceived ideas determined to reveal “the truth”. It advances by unbiased approaches and competition for funding based upon track records, research plans and peer-reviewed evidence.

Without peer review we end up with propaganda, similar to that which condemned Einstein’s theories in the 1930s.

This is the thirteenth part of The State of Science. To read the other instalments, follow the links below.

Join the conversation

76 Comments sorted by

  1. Philip O. Haddad

    PhD.Chem. E. retd

    I am having a hard time getting people to accept my hypothesis that CO2 is not the cause of global warming but is the by-product of the combustion of fossil fuels. It is the heat produced by this combustion (as well as the heat contributed by nuclear energy). It is enough to potentially raise the temperature by 0.04*F. per year. Actual rise is about half due to cooling by photosynthesis and glacial melting. I am getting little agreement,(since I have not been "peer-reviewed"). Should I stop trying, since "experts" are telling me I am wrong ? Many of them disagree with each other. The energy usage and atmospheric mass are available on the network. Figure it out for yourselves and decide what you think.

    report
    1. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to Philip O. Haddad

      Phillip, I say hang in there. While I'll be just as skeptical with your view as I am with the current view, I can see where it could be just as valid.

      report
    2. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to Philip O. Haddad

      "Remember the Ozone Layer Hole?"

      Yes, I do. I'm wonder if the author recalls it. The ozone hole oscillates. We discovered the hole when we had the technology to find it. We don't know if it is suppose to be there or not. We got alarmed by it when we saw it expanding. Since then, we've seen it contract and expand..... with increased fluorocarbons and decreased fluorocarbons. Turns out, there isn't a relationship. At least nowhere near linearly. Recently, there have been studies showing…

      Read more
    3. Emil Lenc

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Sexton

      Please read the second article that you posted a link to more carefully and you will see where you have gone terribly wrong. In particular, take note of:

      "The recently completed 2006 World Meteorological Organization/United Nations Environment Programme Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion concluded the ozone hole recovery would be masked by annual variability for the near future and the ozone hole would fully recover in approximately 2065."

      This highlights the importance of acting quickly. We have indeed saved the world from ourselves but the healing process is slow and will not be complete until 2065.

      report
    4. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to Emil Lenc

      Emil, please logic that out. We don't know that it isn't suppose to be there. Just because I linked an article to show you something doesn't mean you have to simply accept all of the content of the link.

      The hole, since measuring, has expanded and retracted. And the annual measurements aren't symmetrical. Further, as my first link indicates there are peer reviewed papers suggesting a link with temps, not fluorocarbons. BTW, you can Google a few others. But, there are other posits about what reduces ozone... for instance, here's one that states hurricanes reduce ozone..... http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/ozone_drop.html So, unless hurricanes are caused by fluorocarbons, we've found yet another mechanism that reduces ozone. But, we know fluorocarbons were the cause of the hole........ right. Let me write that down next to all of the other correlation = causation posits.

      "Fully recover"..... and how could they possibly know what that point would be?

      report
    5. Emil Lenc

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Sexton

      Apologies, but it defies all logic to pick and choose those points that you would like to believe while leaving out those you don't want to believe - that is far from being objective.

      With regards to the first (peer-reviewed) article that you linked to, it seems to suggest a correlation (and anti-correlation - depending on altitude) between temperature and ozone. It doesn't appear to say anything about fluorocarbons - where did you see that? It would be a bold claim to say fluorocarbons had no effect…

      Read more
    6. Oliver Roberts

      PhD

      In reply to James Sexton

      In the context of the original Conversation starter by Matthew Bailes, the "Remember the Ozone Layer Hole?" question is posited rhetorically, the implication is that as we believed the science on ozone then, skeptics should not challenge the 'consensus' science of AGW now.
      As I recall, there was little public debate in the time leading to international agreement on the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer. I believe this was because, firstly, the explanation of the mechanism…

      Read more
    7. Oliver Roberts

      PhD

      In reply to Oliver Roberts

      whoops, "firstly, the explanation of the mechanism by which long-lived fluorocarbons increased the ozone concentration...." should read "firstly, the explanation of the mechanism by which long-lived fluorocarbons DECREASED the ozone concentration......"

      report
    8. Oliver Roberts

      PhD

      In reply to Oliver Roberts

      I think this article by Matthew Bailes is a timely, considered appeal for general respect for the scientific method and that greatest credence should be extended to those findings which have been peer reviewed. However, the peer review process is neither perfect nor incorruptible, and the saying that 'Science advances one funeral at a time' has an element of truth.

      With regard to the temptation of the “dark side”, there is a parallel discussion on the RealClimate blog (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/11/science-narrative-and-heresy/)

      report
    9. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to Emil Lenc

      Emil, I'm not suggesting anything other than we shouldn't be so quick as to believe we did anything that effected the hole. The author is correct in that in many ways the ozone science has many similarities to the CAGW hypothesis. We're long on models and short on empirical evidence. And, in fact, like the CAGW hypothesis, as time continues, we see evidence that the original hypothesis may have been incorrect. And, yet, "science" has closed its mind on these subjects. After all these years, a person can ask, where's the proof, and we still have none. That should cause a pause for any critical thinker.

      report
    10. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to James Sexton

      James, I wonder if you noticed that our friend Dr Harrigan has made a real blunder which you may wish to "discuss" with him.

      On this* thread Dr Harrigan posted ..

      "What matters is INCREASING GHGs leading to increasing thermal energy being retained, creating a higher thermal equilibrium and hence higher temperatures."

      Anyone with a bit of physics to their name would see the fallacy in this statement.

      It's rather like saying that if your electric jug applies a constant 2400 watts to a quantity…

      Read more
    11. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      I can see Doug Cotton still totally fails to understand the very basic physics of how GHGs act - even though everyone else gets it.

      Here's just one paper that spells out very well that it is increasing levels of GHGs that produce higher temperatures - even showing the lagging effect before a new (higher) thermal equilibrium is reached when you increase the GHG's levels.

      http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/43307/2/JGR_2009JD012105%5B1%5D.pdf

      It Illustrates the matter beautifully in Figure 1 - showing…

      Read more
  2. Stephen Prowse

    Research Advisor at Wound CRC

    This is an unfortunate article that suggests a lack of understanding of the scientific process. One the difficulties with debates about complex scientific matters such as climate change and the use of GMOs is that most of the public and some scientists do not understand the process of discovery.

    The public want black and white yes/no answers to complex issues. Scientists recognise the uncertainties.

    The public and some scientists think that they are seeking the ultimate truth as suggested by…

    Read more
  3. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    With respect, the article appears to carry an assumption that the study of the effects of carbon dioxide on global temperatures is entirely within the discipline of "climate scientists." Yet it also involves quantum mechanics and heat transfer theory from the realm of physics, and analysis of trends from the realm of mathematical statistics.

    The points below are examples of the intertwining of these disciplines ...

    GHG have both a warming effect and a compensating cooling effect. The net difference…

    Read more
    1. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug, you persist with your points time and time again, despite having them debunked in every post. Might I suggest you read this very simple post on how CO2 radiates energy: http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect.htm

      As you can see, your arguments are invalid due to your misunderstanding of high school physics principles. This is also why CO2 is referred to as having a "net warming" effect, rather than a "gross warming" or statements suggesting that no energy radiates out of the atmosphere (please refer to energy budgets of the globe for more info).

      report
    2. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Good old SkS quoted yet again - continually thinking, just because carbon dioxide captures radiation, that the thermal energy can't escape to space through another gate.

      Look at what they say: "An enhanced greenhouse effect from CO2 has been confirmed by multiple lines of empirical evidence. Satellite measurements of infrared spectra over the past 40 years observe less energy escaping to space at the wavelengths associated with CO2. Surface measurements find more downward infrared radiation warming…

      Read more
    3. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      You are still not grasping the basic physics I learnt in high school with regard to molecule energy absorption. I suggest you read the introductory physics books, especially considering you are missing the point about net energy budgets.

      Also you state a number of falsehoods that are completely at odds with the measured and documented science. Sea levels are still rising, temps are still rising. Trying to ignore that with daily and yearly variation (night gets cooler? wow!) rather than the net long term trend shows you are not reading the science. Also which part of the bible discusses absorptive radiation spectra for molecules? Because I'm not sure the relevance of your last point otherwise.

      report
    4. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Yes the long-term trend in temperatures is still rising, but at nothing like the rate the IPCC "calculated" and there is no certainty that such a rate of increase will not turn to long term cooling even within 50 years - as indeed I predict it will as per: http://earth-climate.com/planetcycles.jpg

      The Bible is the inspired Word of God (II Tim 3:16) and is full of His wisdom. There is abundant evidence that He shares such wisdom with believers, for how else would hundreds of prophecies in the Old…

      Read more
    5. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim Scanlon:

      I'm quite aware of the molecular absorption by GHG molecules, thank you. What you are not grasping is that I'm talking about the other energy that leaves the surface by ways other than radiation.

      Diffusion is well documented - see Wiki "Heat Transfer."

      The fact that warm air rises in the atmosphere is basic physics.

      The fact that oxygen and nitrogen don't radiate significantly at atmospheric temperatures is basic quantum mechanics.

      The fact that the warm surface warms…

      Read more
    6. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug, I don't know where you studied physics but there is conclusive evidence of radiation being trapped in the atmosphere that directly associated with the wavelengths of greenhouse gases. This is irrefutable evidence, not an unsupported theory like yours.

      Yes, the rates of global warming are actually faster in some respects, especially considering how much CO2 the ocean has been soaking up (~94% of emissions). The IPCC have been criticized for being too conservative with their estimates, when…

      Read more
    7. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Try reading at least the last paragraph on the Home page at http://climate-change-theory.com for a response to your first point.

      I am not here just to read copy-cat reiteration of the official greenhouse propaganda of which I am probably more aware than yourself..

      You would know where I studied physics if you read yesterday's post to the end.

      Frankly, you show no knowledge whatsoever of the points I have made, nor the work of Professors Knox and Douglass for starters.

      Try explaining how oxygen and nitrogen shed their thermal energy. No one else has in over a month now.

      report
    8. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug, you are pushing an unsupported theory, it is up to you to prove it with evidence, something you are failing to do. I'm not following any propaganda, I'm a scientist, which means I follow the evidence.

      I am familiar with Knox and Douglass. Douglass' work was soundly debunked by Santer et al in 2008. I am also familiar with the fact that most of the claims by Knox, Douglass, Linzden, et al., are based on poorly measured data that was debunked in 2001 and 2005.

      I suggest you spend less time on your blog and more time reading the peer reviewed literature. Science is correct and you are wasting time being wrong instead of installing solar panels and getting our government to act.

      report
    9. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      What do you perceive as my theory? I doubt that you could answer.

      And I also doubt that you could be the first to explain how oxygen and nitrogen cool. I'm still waiting for nearly a month now for any alternative explanation to the one I put forward. Just think - all the physicists etc who read The Con and what do we have? John Nicol (very knowledgeable I suggest) talking about the same process as I did and absolutely no one else able to offer any alternative to this critical question.

      As…

      Read more
    10. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      James Sexton, in his post copied below, made a good point that there have now been 15 years of level temperatures, and apparently the alarmists agree that a 17 year trend is sufficient to determine what's happening.

      If you do run a linear trend over the last 17 years of NASA sea surface temperature data (which is a better indicator than land measurements because 90% of the thermal energy is in the seas and oceans) then you get a very much lower gradient than those used in the projections quoted…

      Read more
    11. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Dr Harrigan wrote "There is NO other way for the earth to rid itself of incoming heat other than via radiation" (as if James Sexton, John Nicol and I didn't know this) but I'm glad he does understand such.

      Net radiation from an interface such as surface/atmosphere is a function of temperature difference. There is rarely a huge temperature difference between the surface and the first millimetre of the air. This is because a lot of thermal energy is continually passing back and forth between the…

      Read more
    12. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Wow - I appear in this thread even though I have never posted before.

      Doug Cotton, whio claims not to have the time to publish his er, interesting "rebuttals" of established climate science apparently has the time to almost dominate the comments :)

      But his Talentless Regurgitations Of Lugubrious Loquaciousness show him for what he is.

      Of course he is joined by a bunch of the usual suspects - Philip (it's the heat from power I tell you!) O Haddad, James (I'm an IT guy but those climaate scientists know 'nuttin) Sexton and also a brief cameo from the resident ecomometric climate "expert" Mr Curtin.

      Sheesh - haven't these guys anything better to do??

      report
    13. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      In a peer-reviewed published paper Dr Spencer and eight other authors demonstrated direct from published data that the sensivity is quite low, this being a direct consequence of the fact that the ratio was 0.8, not 1.4 as the models use.

      You still don't get it do you Dr Harrigan? It's pointless trying to show you as you are blinded to the truth.

      I'm quite happy to go along with Dr Spencer's private views. I have NOT said there is no greenhouse effect - just that it is mostly (if not entirely) offset by a cooling effect so the sensitivity is very low.

      The reasons the calculations are wrong is that they attribute all of about 35 deg.C to GHG, whereas most of that is due to the natural temperatue gradient in the atmosphere which results from the fact that it takes a finite time for warm air to rise by convection.

      report
    14. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      What Dr Spencer has said about climate sensitivity (which is challenged by the bulk of climate scientists) has zero bearing on your non-science claims about GHGs providing a conduit for cooling. You have no evidence for it. It is not supported by the science.

      You are a Tiresome Regurgitator Of Loopy Logic.

      report
    15. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim: I really don't care if it's Gilbert Plass, Gavin Fialkowski or yourself who says carbon dioxide slows down the rate of escape of thermal energy, I simply don't agree, so we will have to agree to disagree.

      As you well know, radiation occurs at the speed of light, so time delays are infinitesimal. On the other hand, the physical rising of warm air by convection does take a finite time.

      Furthermore, Gilbert Plass and all of those involved in advising the IPCC have completely overlooked the role of GHG molecules in absorbing diffused thermal energy from oxygen and nitrogen molecules which cannot cool themselves by radiating at atmospheric temperatures.

      report
    16. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Laughable idiocy. 2011 was the 10th warmest on record and the warmest EVER during a La Nina (known for it's cooling effects). The 17 year moving average temperature data (and the science says a minimum of 17 years is required to remove the "noise" from natural varaitions due to effects from la Nina ) shows unabted warming.

      Doug Cotton has no scientific basis for his silly statements

      report
  4. James Sexton

    Network administrator

    Well, never mind about all of this...... bolt your shorts on .... FOIA has done it again!

    News at eleven.!

    report
    1. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to James Sexton

      E-mail number 3066 FOIA part II !!!!

      <3066> Thorne:

      I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
      which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

      report
    2. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to James Sexton

      <2884> Wigley:

      Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
      dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

      report
    3. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to James Sexton

      <3456> Overpeck:

      I agree w/ Susan [Solomon] that we should try to put more in the bullet about
      "Subsequent evidence" [...] Need to convince readers that there really has been
      an increase in knowledge - more evidence. <b>What is it?</b>

      (emphasis mine) :-)

      report
    4. James Sexton

      Network administrator

      In reply to James Sexton

      <0714> Jones:

      Getting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital - hence my comment about the tornadoes group.

      <3205> Jones:

      Useful ones [for IPCC] might be Baldwin, Benestad (written on the solar/cloud issue - on the right side, i.e anti-Svensmark), Bohm, Brown, Christy (will be have to involve him ?)

      report
    5. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to James Sexton

      Never was a truer word spoken.

      report
  5. Oksanna Zoschenko

    logged in via Twitter

    Matthew Bailes needs to either audit a course in Science Philosophy 101, or start a new unit "Bedtime for Scientists". His positivist vision of science as an accretion of knowledge over time is like a fairytale for the white-coat brigade. Chugging along well up until the wheels fell off at the train-wreck of "community consensus dictates the winner" and "The consensus view of modern science is rarely at fault in the long-run".

    Applying the ideas of Thomas Kuhn, who beautifully described the irrational…

    Read more
  6. James Sexton

    Network administrator

    <1939> Thorne/MetO:

    Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
    troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
    wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
    uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these
    further if necessary [...]

    report
    1. Philip O. Haddad

      PhD.Chem. E. retd

      In reply to James Sexton

      This is a wonderful way for us "peers" to communicate with each other and express our points of view. There are many divergent views and there is enough uncertainty that all should be thoughtfully considered. You know my position on CO2 vs. Heat as the main cause of global warming. IF the heat generated through our use of energy IS the predominant cause, the question boils down to " how much standby power do we need to allow for the variability in renewable power, and in such a circumstance, will fossil or nuclear serve equally well?".

      report
  7. Dennis Alexander

    logged in via LinkedIn

    I see the usual trolls are out in force again.
    What they know is that real scientists will patiently argue the data while they throw up spurious and discredited twaddle interlaced with vague and not so vague aspersions on scientific credibility mixed with thinly disguised vitriol and venom.

    What Stephen Prowse leaves out is that the public can be, and probably has been, misled into this wanting black & white, binary answers to the wrong complex issues. Mix in some technical sounding language and…

    Read more
    1. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      Just wondering Dennis which of the nine authors here http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/2/9/2148/pdf you consider to be "trolls" and whether you are aware of any peer-reviewed papers which debunk their findings that the lower troposphere is not warming 1.4 times as fast as the surface - as the models say it should.

      It appears they knew this at the IPCC even before this paper was published last year - ie back in 2009 when the Climategate2 emails must have been obtained and then released this week - see other posts for the actual email referred to.

      report
    1. Oksanna Zoschenko

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Thank you for the link, Doug. Mr Howard's introduction to the GWPF report on the IPCC makes a great little (albeit political) rejoinder to this article - the sort of to-and-fro repartee which The Conversation lacks due to editorial slant, and could benefit from if it truly lived up to its name. I fear that it has yet to come to grips with a problem of the herd behaviour alluded to by Kuhn (before his rather pathetic and unconvincing recant) - that because scientists tend to stick to the majority…

      Read more
  8. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Dr Harrigan and others really have been sucked in by the IPCC suggestion that 30 year trends are all we need look at.

    Just suppose for one moment there really is a 60 year cycle and that the cooling periods (roughly) 1880-1910 then 1940-1970 had been used for 30 year trends. All would have looked great for the future in 1910 and 1970.

    Now suppose we are having another from 1999 to 2029 (the cycles are actually 59.6 years) then all you have to do is wait till 2029 and you'll predict the world will…

    Read more
    1. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      As I anticipated. No one has come up with anything that disproves my explanation of the cooling role of GHG molecules as (using John Nicol's term) they act as "conduit" helping the thermal energy from oxygen and nitrogen to escape the atmosphere. I'm right on that one, and it is highly significant because it wipes out any significant warming effect of carbon dioxide, doesn't it.

      Prove me wrong! No one has answered this challenge in nearly a full month

      report
  9. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    I will write in this thread because posts seem to remain here. Please excuse duplication:

    Dr Harrigan: There is peer-reviewed published information by nine authors which has been around since last year which shows that the empirical real world data has a LT:SST ratio of 0.8 +/- 0.3 whereas the models require a ratio of 1.4 (which is needed for warming) because that's where they say more thermal energy must build up if carbon dioxide really does "trap" it.

    Now well you might say it's just one paper. BUT, the data is wide open for anyone to examine and, I'm sure if they made a mistake, it would have been pounced on by now. So I feel we can be confident that the data does yield the above result and, to me anyway, that is direct proof the the models are way out.

    It has nothing to do with the credibility or otherwise of the authors, or whether of not some previous paper(s) by some author(s) has/have been debunked.

    report
  10. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Mark Harrigan commented:

    "Anyone who claims that GHGs can cause cooling doesn't use physics"

    Physics says:

    1. Just like any gas molecules, GHG molecules can acquire thermal energy by diffusion

    2. The molecules from which they acquire thermal energy (eg oxygen and nitrogen) lose an equivalent amount of thermal energy.

    3. Losing thermal energy equates to cooling.

    4. Unlike oxygen and nitrogen molecules, GHG molecules can radiate thermal energy

    report
    1. Philip O. Haddad

      PhD.Chem. E. retd

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Mark is not considering the fact that the GHG CO2 cools through photosynthesis, an endothermic chemical reaction, which removes almost 5000 BTUs of solar energy for each pound of CO2 that is converted to cellulose (trees for example).

      report
    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Philip O. Haddad

      CO2 doesn;t cool through photosynthesis - plants do. And the increased atmosphereic levels of CO2 have nothing to do with what you are proposing. Perhpas you could point to the data that shows the dramatically increased amount of plant matter and trees evidene from what you claim?

      Whoops! No, you can't - in fact the evidence shows the opposite http://www.sciencemag.org/content/278/5340/1117.abstract

      How anyone who claims to be a scientists can put forward the unsupported rubbish that you do is beyond me. You and Doug are clearly sould mates.

      report
    3. Philip O. Haddad

      PhD.Chem. E. retd

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark you are an unbelievably competent nit-picker. Of course it's plants that do the cooling. I did not say or imply that there will be an increased amount of plant matter. In order for photosynthesis to work is for there to be enough chlorophyll,(leaves on trees) to support the reaction: CO2+H2O+ sunlight+ chlorophyll=Cellulose (trees and more leaves) + O2. Equation not balanced of course but used to illustrate the limiting factor in the left side of the equation is chlorophyll. Deforestation has contributed to a decrease in cooling by photosynthesis. Please don't tell me you cannot understand and accept this without "peer reviewed" articles. Mark forcing me to look up the spelling of words like chlorophyll to answer you, tests my patience and I hope increases my tolerance level. I look forward to your next rebuttal. (I must have a pitiful existence). Maybe one day we can try to leave out science long enough to do an exercise in logic. Are you game?

      report
    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Philip O. Haddad

      You said "Mark is not considering the fact that the GHG CO2 cools through photosynthesis" - that is simply wrong. You are now admitting so. Your obvious implication was that somehow plants were using the excess CO2 to lower temperatures - which is patently false.

      As for an exercise in logic - you haven't done too well so far on dealing with the patently absurd and non physical basis for your "calculations" (arithmetically correct but flawed on the physics) purporting to show it is waste heat from power generation that is leading to increasded temperatures - despite being shown (by myslef and several others) on the data, the physics and the numbers that it is, at best a 1% contributor.

      Logic without science is like singing a song without a tune. It may follow some rules but in the end achieves nothing

      report
    5. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Philip O. Haddad

      No he's not game, Philip. In hundreds of replies to myself Dr H has never resorted to thinking through an issue using his own knowledge of physics, let alone tried to understand what I am explaining or even what I already know from the literature. A good example is his latest "teaching" post reiterating yet more of what I already know.

      Bear with me while I copy this into a WP to do a spell check for typos. We have to be careful of such things for our teacher, Dr H, don't we. (I hope I got the right "bear") (LOL)

      report
    6. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      I really can't help it if Mr Cotton fails to understand the basic physics, and the evidence, when it is pointed out to him. BUT, if by "resorting to thinking through an issue" he mean "making things up out of thin air without any supporting evidence" (which he does) then he is correct. Not once have I done that.

      Try Reasoning On Logical Lines Mr Cotton - and avoid your Terebrant Remarks of Limited Lucidity

      report
    7. Philip O. Haddad

      PhD.Chem. E. retd

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug, I am just now beginning to realize how important it is to Mark that the nuclear energy industry stage a resurgence. Many others may feel strongly about it. Our throwing in negative comments detracts from the discussion of which is the best/better approach to promote nuclear energy. Perhaps nuclear or even fossil has a limited role as back-up power, how much of a role will largely be dependent on how much we are able to increase the cooling capability of CO2 through photosynthesis by furthering the planting and nurture of trees. I believe Mark understands more of this than he can permit himself to believe. I think I will try to organize my thoughts and try to submit them for publication (at Mark's suggestion) and leave the forum to those who believe nuclear power may be the answer.

      report
    8. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Philip O. Haddad

      My concern is that we get ourselves off the trajectory of increasing CO2 emissions because the evidence shows if we do no not all of us, and our children, will suffer.

      I have mixed views about the role of nuclear in that process.

      Those who contribute nonsense pseudo-sciencific claptrap are a barrier to making progress in that direction.

      report
    9. Philip O. Haddad

      PhD.Chem. E. retd

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I share your concerns. In any event we must agree that fossil fuels must be greatly curtailed which will reduce both heat and CO2. The role of nuclear can be determined after we have more clearly established the relative contributions of CO2 and heat to global warming. As you have suggested, I will try to organize my arguments and submit them to a
      journal. Best regards

      report
  11. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    PS The warming effect of carbon dioxide is temporary, whereas the cooling effect is immediate. The thermal energy returned to the surface will in a sense "bounce" up and down at the speed of light. Each time it bounces up, more than half goes to space. Even if only half, then it does not take many iterations of a series like 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64 + 1/128 + 1/256 + ... to get very close to unity. So the "delay" talked about which is supposed to cause climate change can, in fact, be only a matter of seconds at the most, more likely very small fractions of seconds. Hardly climate changing!

    report
  12. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    PPS Now I know that in regions away from the tropics the oceans are obviously warmer in local summer than in winter. This is because short wavelength (high energy) solar insolation can penetrate deeper into ocean waters, and currents can then "trap" the thermal energy. The longer hours of daylight allow less time for cooling at night and so some residual thermal energy remains in the oceans from one day to the next. However, in winter, more energy can escape during the longer nights so that cooling results. The temperature of the oceans will have an impact on nearby land surfaces (islands, coastal areas, etc) and so there can also be a seasonal build up of thermal energy in the land surfaces. None of this has much to do with the much lower energy (long wavelength) IR radiation sent back by carbon dioxide because it will not penetrate as deeply as UV and visible light.

    report
  13. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Chris: The NASA energy diagram at http://earth-climate.com/CaseAgainst.html shows 117% radiation from surface + 7% reflection = 124% which I rounded to 2 sig.figs.

    Water vapour is about 1% in the real atmosphere, so I suppose I could have said that carbon dioxide was ~400 parts per million compared with 10,000 parts per million for all GHG molecules, or about 4% of all GHG molecules.

    So, when we are talking about 11 degrees attributable to all GHG molecules including water vapour, carbon dioxide's contribution would appear to be fairly insignificant.

    Now I'm having an early night and I won't be opening that email address any more, and may in fact cancel it. So if anyone has a genuine sensible question or point to raise with me write to dougcotton@live.com.au

    report
  14. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    t is very apparent from the very significant change in the gradient of sea surface temperatures (which Knox and Douglass called a flattening around 2001-2002) that there MUST be significant natural causes affecting climate. The ENSO cycle, by the way, is a consequence of climate, not a cause. So something else must be affecting climate every bit as much (and probably much more) than carbon dioxide levels.

    It is plain common sense that, if carbon dioxide were really having a major effect, then…

    Read more
  15. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Matthew Bailes, your piece is well considered and much more balanced than the Lewandowsky-Sherwood piece with its not well-concealed demand for censorship here at TC and in the media generally. BTW, by "media" Stephan must mean only The Australian, as the Fairfax group generally (eg especially SMH, less so AFR, while The Canberra Times editorially ) toes the Lewandowsky line.

    However, whilst you are right that "the current consensus view of climate scientists (sic) is that rising CO₂ levels due…

    Read more
    1. Philip O. Haddad

      PhD.Chem. E. retd

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      An important point in considering nuclear power is in deciding how much of global warming is due to CO2 and how much due simply to heat released from our energy use. It is clear that there is more than enough heat released to account for all the rise in temperature. It depends largely on how one wishes to rationalize the distribution. Some is lost through radiation, some through glacial melting, some through photosynthesis, and some through heating the atmosphere. To the extent that heat is the cause, nuclear is not a solution.

      report
  16. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    Thanks Michael - interesting article. I had not heard the sory before about the 100 authors attacking Einstein. The rough equivalent of our modern day 3x,000 scientists signing a "petition" against the science of global warming (most of whom are also not qualified).

    You would think that might be salutory - but alas no.

    You say "The idea that non-specialists, like retired engineers or lawyers, can waltz into any field, be it astronomy or climate change, make a few quick back of the envelope calculations…

    Read more
  17. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Even if you take the last 60 years, the linear trend is 0.10 deg.C per decade which extrapolates to an extra 0.9 degrees C by the year 2100. There is no evidence of any increasing gradient in that period, yet it corresponds with when CO2 started to increase significantly after 1951.

    Hence there is no valid way of extrapolating that trend, curved or linear, to get anywhere near 3 degrees extra by 2100.

    Hence "sensitivity" is much lower than models predict, which is proven anyway by those 9 authors…

    Read more
  18. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    So often "selling science" involves twisting words and totally overlooking or failing to understand key points. An example is Chris's reply to my post on the "Real Climategate" thread - which warrants a brief response.

    1. I accept that referring to "temperature" of individual molecules was terminology better suited for "lay" readers. It should have been obvious that I was talking about energy. My whole discussion centred on the individual molecules, so "average temperatures" of the gases are just…

    Read more
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Brief response?? Complete piffle.

      There is NO radiation peak at 15 microns (or anywhere else) in the blackbody spectrum of thermally radiated IR coming FROM the planet.

      There are only yawning reductions in the normal blackbody curve at the wavelenghs associated with absortion by GHG's - and you can see the corresponding influx of IR at the surface looking up (and the Sun doesn't produce IR) showing that backreflect thermal IR which contributed to maintaining a higher surface temperature than there…

      Read more
  19. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Dr Harrigan confuses absorbed wavelengths with emitted ones. Of course the wavelengths which CO2 absorb are missing at TOA. GHG molecules absorb nearly all the radiation which comes from the surface.

    So in his world carbon dioxide emits radiation back to Earth (which can easily be detected) - yes I agree - but he says the other 50% does not get detected heading to space at the TOA.

    report
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Mr Cotton really is a complete dolt. He understands nothing and certainly hasn't rpepresented what I said acurately - or what the scence says for that matter.

      No-one has said the fraction of GHG absorbed thermal radiation that is re-radiated upwards (as opposed to the fraction radiated down toward the earth) isn't detected.

      He should try looking at the radiation curves again

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/infrared_spectrum.jpg

      Which part of sending around 50% of what GHGs absorb back…

      Read more