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Straw man science: keeping climate simple

Straw man: an argument, claim or opponent which is invented in order to defeat or create an argument. Climate change is controversial and much debated in the media. But did you know much of the debate…

Straw man climate science is like real climate science, but without all the annoying science. Robin Ellis

Straw man: an argument, claim or opponent which is invented in order to defeat or create an argument.

Climate change is controversial and much debated in the media. But did you know much of the debate is about straw man climate science?

Straw man climate science is like real climate science, but with the science, awkward facts and complexity removed.

It can be confusing. Straw man and actual climate science appear in the same articles and interviews. Editors drop the words “straw man” from articles. Some people even confuse straw man and actual climate science.

So let’s take a look at straw man climate science in action.

How much?

We have increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by 40% since the 1800s. How does straw man climate science deal with this?

“And I can’t recall the number of times I have said, and it is uncontested, that human beings produce 3% of the carbon dioxide in the air.”, Alan Jones, 2GB, 19 October 2012

We produce a modest percentage of all CO2 emissions. But the extra emissions aren’t absorbed by the carbon cycle, so CO2 builds up in the air. A small rise each year has resulted in a 40% increase of CO2.

An error of omission on emissions.

Straw man climate science confuses the percentage of CO2 emissions we produce with the percentage of CO2 in the air we are responsible for. A big problem is hidden with a comforting number.

Harmless?

There is plenty of evidence that CO2 will influence climate. Lab measurements show different gases have very different properties. CO2, water vapour and methane are far more effective greenhouse gases than nitrogen and oxygen.

How dangerous can it be? cobalt123/Flickr

Scientists have measured how CO2 blocks infrared light in the atmosphere, using satellites looking down and telescopes looking up. Climate models with and without anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be compared with observations.

The evidence points to increasing CO2 causing climate change.

What does straw man say?

“And of course carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant. It’s a harmless trace gas that’s necessary for life”, Alan Jones, 2GB, 15 March 2011

Jones has delivered a one-two punch of non-sequiturs.

Are Jones' statements relevant to the lab results? Are they relevant to satellite and telescope measurements of the atmosphere? Do they have any relevance to CO2 and climate change? No, no and no.

Steady as she goes?

Earth’s climate is complex. It is influenced by the sun, volcanoes, CO2 and more. Consequently there are variations from year-to-year.

Now for the straw man:

“Last year was the sixth coldest since 1997, which shows the catastrophic scenarios of recent times are no longer looming over us.”, Imre Salusinszky, The Australian, 11 January 2012

Salusinszky is ignoring real world complexity. Scientists never predicted a perfectly steady rise in temperature. Years that are slightly cooler than our hottest decade are no surprise.

CO2 will produce a warmer climate, but CO2 won’t switch off variability. Suggesting otherwise is ignorant or deceptive.

Down down?

Seas are rising, but complexity lurks. Changing rainfall patterns make sea levels temporarily dip when there is a switch from El Niño to La Niña.

What was The Australian’s headline?

“Sea Level Fall Defies Climate Warnings”, The Australian, 29 September 2012

Straw man climate science ignoring variability again. The dip’s cause and temporary nature were predictable. The fall stopped in March 2011, and was followed by a rapid rise.

Sea levels have risen over decades, but brief dips in sea level do occur. CSIRO http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/images/alt_gmsl_seas_rem.jpg

The Australian’s headline doesn’t match the science. The headline only matches the introduction to Graham Lloyd’s article, and is at odds with the experts he interviewed. Straw man climate science is often practised by journalists, not scientists.

Storm in a tea cup?

Anyone who has been to Cairns and Melbourne knows climate varies from place to place.

Even at the same latitude, climate can be radically different.

Climate change varies from place to place too. Rainfall will rise in one place and drop in another. Around Australia temperatures and seas are rising at varying rates.

Let’s check in with the straw man:

“And, we’ve had a record Arctic melt. But better not mention the storm that NASA concedes broke the ice up and drove it south, or the record Antarctic ice gain.” Maurice L. Newman, The Australian, 5 November 2012

Polar temperatures are rising, but sea ice is more complicated than ice melting in your G&T. Prevailing winds play an important role. The Arctic and Antarctic are very different places. The Arctic is a sea surrounded by continents while the Antarctic is a continent surrounded by sea.

These two records are a cause for concern, not relief. They don’t cast doubt on rising global temperatures. Instead, they remind us that rising global temperatures have different consequences around the globe.

2012 was a record low for Arctic sea ice. NOAA http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/2012/10

Let’s look closer at Newman’s reporting on sea ice. The Arctic sea ice is clearly at record lows for months while the Antarctic sea ice is far closer to the average. Globally sea ice is declining. Errors of omission by Newman.

Antarctic sea ice was not much higher than the average in 2012. NOAA http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/2012/10

What about the storm? This is a red herring. The storm was in August but the Arctic sea ice was tracking record lows in July. Also, a dramatic low in Arctic sea ice cannot be produced by just one storm. Oops, more errors of omission.

Consensus?

“No consensus among climate scientists after all”, The Australian, 14 October 2010

Scientific consensus is often demanded for policy making. But it should not be confused with 100% agreement.

Vocal minorities will never accept the evidence. A handful of biologists don’t accept evolution. A handful of astronomers think there was no Big Bang. A handful of climate scientists say there is no such thing as anthropogenic climate change.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists, peer reviewed papers and scientific organisations have concluded anthropogenic climate change is real. This is scientific consensus.

But isn’t science never settled? Yes. But apples won’t start falling up because we don’t understand quantum gravity. Global warming won’t stop because we don’t know if temperatures will rise 2, 3 or 4 °C.

We don’t know exactly how climate will change, but we know it is changing and will continue to do so.

What is it?

So what is straw man climate science?

Straw man climate science marries facts with errors of omission. Comforting numbers are presented with logical fallacies. Any uncertainty is confused with complete uncertainty. Uncertainty about “how” is confused with uncertainty about “if”. Dissent by a tiny minority is confused with a lack of scientific consensus.

Straw man climate science ignores real world complexity. Variations from year-to-year and place-to-place are assumed to undermine the case for anthropogenic climate change. This is just plain wrong.

Straw man climate science is rarely the work of climate scientists. Usually it is the work of journalists, op-ed writers, bloggers and think tanks. Straw man climate science tells us more about their agendas than it does about science.

Join the conversation

130 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Chris McGrath

    Senior Lecturer at University of Queensland

    Thanks for a well written article Michael.

    Your key point that "straw man climate science ignores real world complexity" made me think of Carl Sagan's point that "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out." Many of the straw man arguments you pointed to rely on listeners not engaging their brain to think about the claim in any detail.

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    1. Ian Donald Lowe

      Seeker of Truth

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      I have been thinkong and statements such as this:

      "Climate change varies from place to place too. Rainfall will rise in one place and drop in another. Around Australia temperatures and seas are rising at varying rates."
      Certainly make me think. Australia is an island surrounded by oceans that are all linked together. A body of water, no matter how large, by it's nature, will level itself out over time. How is it possible for oceans to be "rising at various rates"? Surely the rise must level…

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    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Ocean currents, prevailing winds, the thermal expansion of water and air pressure are reasons why sea level rise can vary from place to place. An extreme example of air pressure and winds impacting sea levels is a storm surge.

      This obviously differs from our daily experience of small bodies of water (bathtubs etc).

      A map showing sea level rise around the globe is online at http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/map-sea-level-trends

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    3. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Ian,

      "body of water, no matter how large, by it's nature, will level itself out over time. "

      If the body is not being effected by any other forces, then yes. But the worlds oceans are not like this. If you would like to no more you could do worse than start here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level

      "the hated gas is spread evenly throughout the atmosphere and the same sun shines on all of us, surely there should be some sort of equanimity throughout the global system?"

      But this is belied by the fact that we already have, and have had throughout the earths history, existing climatic variation from location to location (and that other thing called weather). The earths climate system is not uniform, increased CO2 will not make it more uniform. It is not a closed system.

      "Am I being a strawman by asking questions?"

      No. A strawman describes a type of argument, not the individual who proposes it.

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      I've just read some genuine questions about climate change on The Conversation.

      What an amazing blast of fresh air after the endless denier vs science discussions on other articles.

      If there were a way to down-vote trolls I think that Ian Donald Lowe's post would NOT be down-voted. Genuine questions should be welcomed by all, and for those who can answer the questions it is worth writing a reply because the questioner is wanting to learn.

      To me there is a huge difference between the claims made by the deniers (which are often strawmen) and Ian asking a sensible question.

      So Ian, assuming that you are learning from the replies, you are not being a strawman.

      PS - I wonder why the regular deniers are not present in this thread?

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    5. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Ian Lowe

      "Am I missing some of the complexity somehow? Am I being a strawman by asking questions? "

      See my earlier comment.

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    6. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Ian

      "Am I missing some of the complexity here?"

      Yes, Ian, loads of it.

      This video by Prof Jerry Mitrovica is a much watch if you want some inderstanding of Sea Level. The sound quality isn't always great - Jerry tends to wander away from the microphone. But he is one of the world experts on the subject.

      Simple, gob-smacking take away from the talk - if the Greenland Ice Sheet completely melted, global average sea levels would rise 5-6metres. But around the coast of Greenland itself, sea level would FALL by around 100 meters. When you understand why, you are starting to get an understanding of sea level.

      Basic point. Sea Level ain't level. Not even remotely.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhdY-ZezK7w&feature=player_embedded

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  2. james rohan

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Great response Michael.

    Mindtools explain that Straw man is useful in that it ensures a tangible concept to work from. The problem though is that it relies on incomplete information. Your points are well made and perhaps we need a database where these different perceptions can be challenged.

    It might be a short discussion but help educate those of us who are interested in this research.

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    1. james rohan

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to james rohan

      Thanks @MichaelEMann for pointing out @skepticscience already exists!

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  3. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    There could be a whole series of these. Next up, the red herring of climate science: "But it warmed before."

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  4. Ian Donald Lowe

    Seeker of Truth

    To Michael Brown and Geoffrey Edwards, I am fully aware of the various factors that can have temporary affects on ocean levels at specific locations and those factors are not necessarilly due to climate change. One of the greatest factors influencing ocean levels in the short time frame is the moon and the tidal surges associated with the lunar cycle but that has nothing to do with climate change. How can any measurements of ocean level rises caused only by climate change be believable if localised…

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    1. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      "If ocean level rises are not uniform on a global scale, are they really ocean level rises or are they just temporary localised events?"

      If the average global sea level is rising, then no, you would not call them temporary local events.

      The fact that there is variability in the rate of change at different locations speaks to the tactic of arguing that because the Sea level has only risen by X at any given point, then we other meausres are doubtful. i.e., Drawing a generalisation from a particular…

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      How can science possibly measure something if there are lots of factors involved? By using science Ian.

      This is why good science takes into account many factors to determine what is having an effect rather than just taking a measurement and saying "look, God did it."

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    3. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian

      Sea level is complex. Really complex. the first point is that sea level isn'tlevel. Not even remotely. Oceanographers refer to that simple idea as the 'bathtub model'.

      Gravitational attraction isn't just about the moon andtides. Sea level is significantly higher near the continents due to the gravitational attraction of the mass of the continent. And Ice sheets on top of a continent increase that attraction. If the Greenland ice sheet totally melted, average sea levels around the world…

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    4. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      And to return to the topic of the post, one argument 'skeptics' like Bob Carter use is to point out that there is evidence from the coast of Greenland of sea levels there several meters higher 1000's of years ago as if this refutes the idea that GLOBAL sea levels are higher now.

      But that ignores Isostatic rebound - Greenland is rising, and it ignorres the fact that a with more ice on itin the past, sea levels around Greenland would be higher, not lower.

      Oceanographers don't just take old…

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    5. Paul Savage

      Theme Leader, Biotechnology at CSIRO

      In reply to Ian Donald Lowe

      Ian Donald Lowe: "One of the greatest factors influencing ocean levels in the short time frame is the moon and the tidal surges associated with the lunar cycle but that has nothing to do with climate change. How can any measurements of ocean level rises caused only by climate change be believable if localised factors such as weather and wind get in the mix as well?"

      Ian's question and Sean's comments about a few cm change in an ocean 1000m deep are partly based from the same common issue. Assuming…

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  5. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    The ABC's Catalyst program recently had a special on climate change in Australia ("Taking Our Temperature"). The program does discuss some of the complexity of climate change, including regional variation. It also discusses how just 10 cm of sea level rise (which sounds small) can have a significant impact.

    The episode can be found online at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3633447.htm

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    1. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      So what is the average depth of the ocean?
      Just as a guess lets say it is 1000 meters. What you asking is that a complex system that has a variation of 0.01% over 30 years can be reliably extrapolated for centuries. Let alone the potential for scientists to consciously or unconsciously bias the algorithms they use to create their "global" figure.

      The body of water contained in the oceans is massive, it is pointless to demand that unless the variation of the oceans is absolutely zero we are in a situation of catastrophe.

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    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      There are a few straw men in Sean Lamb's post.

      A common logical fallacy is using back of the envelope numbers to suggest something is too hard and thus concluding it must be too hard for the experts too.

      The rate of flooding roughly triples for each 10 cm of sea level rise. We have to deal with that irrespective of what causes sea level rise.

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    3. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Clearly a PhD in astrophysics does not include training in logic, but must include training in obfuscations.

      It is not a logical fallacy to use a clearly flagged back of the envelop calculation - I welcome a precise figure for the average ocean depth - nor did I suggest anywhere that it was too hard. Although the concepts I raised do appear to have overwhelmed Dr Brown's intellect.
      .

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Yet again, The Conversation, which aims to promote "evidence-based research" is acting as a platform for promoting climate change denial.

      Why can't the readers be given the option to down-vote people like Sean Lamb so that his comments are not shown (unless readers click a link to show it) so that the majority of readers can get on with rational debate?

      If The Conversation wish to give a platform to right-wing loonies (some of who I suspect are paid to disrupt) then these conversations are a waste of time.

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    5. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Mr Wilbur-Ham,
      I am certainly open to higher offers.

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    6. james rohan

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      It is interesting to read all the comments, whether evidenced based or not, as it shows The Conversation has a broad spectrum. Straw man is an approach than can be useful and the degree of argument does provide justification for climate research.

      MWH, there is some irony that the level of denial you are disappointed with might actually be helping build argument for science funding. And without discussion, researchers are unable to see gaps whether in research or communication. Science is rarely able to gain consensus.

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    7. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Sean Lamb's logical failure isn't in doing a back of the envelope calculation. It is assuming back of the envelope calculations can prove that something cannot be done. For example, that sea level rise cannot be estimated (albeit with considerable uncertainties) for the next 30-years.

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    8. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      " It is assuming back of the envelope calculations can prove that something cannot be done."
      Errr, no. My point was that we should very small changes in measuring large complex systems. It would be ridiculous to expect absolutely no variation in sea levels and there is no evidence to show that the observed variation is out of the ordinary.

      " For example, that sea level rise cannot be estimated (albeit with considerable uncertainties) for the next 30-years. "
      You can predict all you like, that doesn't mean your predictions have any validity. What you seem to be suggesting you can extrapolate that line for the next 30 years, you present it at the level of assertion only.

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    9. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "You can predict all you like, that doesn't mean your predictions have any validity. What you seem to be suggesting you can extrapolate that line for the next 30 years, you present it at the level of assertion only."

      You always compare predictions against observation. Currently the models appear to be comparable too (or perhaps even slightly less than) observed sea level rise.

      "Extrapolation" is not the correct word for models of sea level rise. Rather than fitting to current sea level rise and extrapolating into the future, models of sea level rise have a physical basis.

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    10. Stephen McCormick

      Research Fellow (Mathematics) at University of New England

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      I couldn't help but notice that Sean (shorn) Lamb is signed in through a Facebook account with only one "friend". It's likely that the whole purpose of the account is simply to be a nuisance, so it would probably be best to simply not engage.

      Good read though, Michael.

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    11. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      @ Stephen McCormick - We all know that some major companies and some of our very rich put large amounts of money into promoting a right-wing agenda. As well as expensive Canberra and state lobbyists, they fund organisations such as the IPA and much more.

      My suspicion that some of the regular looney-right posts here are part of an organised campaign has not got much support. Yet when we think about how much money is put into promoting right-wing views it is hard to believe that they would ignore the internet and forums such as this. And employing just a few people (who probably use many different names) is one of the cheapest ways to influence public opinion (incredibly cheap compared to a professional advertising campaign).

      How would things look if there was an organised campaign to push right-wing views?

      I think it would look exactly like what we see now. Not proof. But highly suspicious.

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  6. Wil B

    B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

    Although I don't want to dismiss your well written article, I'm afraid it completely misses the point and is pretty irrelevant.

    Climate science denialism does not have very much at all to do with hard science, and a lot to do with psychology, tribalism and ideology. The misquotes and other rubbish that you've identified by Alan Jones and the like are just a symptom, an expression of a disease,a world view.

    People don't reject climate science because they misunderstand the science, they reject climate science for other reasons and then go about misunderstanding the science.

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    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Wil B

      I agree that deniers reject climate science for reasons that have little to do with the actual science. For example, debunked myths are repeated many times despite explanations being readily available.

      Why people reject science has been discussed elsewhere, including on The Conversation (http://theconversation.edu.au/why-do-people-reject-science-heres-why-4050)

      With a 1000 word article, one has to limit one's scope. In this case I'm highlighting that many attacks on climate science in the media are discussing straw man climate science. Straw man climate science often has little to do with actual climate science.

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    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      It is often quoted that for a phenomenon to be universally accepted, it must not only be accepted by the discipline from which the phenomenon is discovered, but for disciplines that are related, those that are affected, and those which use similar tools. This is why we call those places universities. Climate science uses statistics. Would you call a straw man the problem in the scientific community of statisticians of how to adequately define the concept of climate? Before we make probabilistic statements it is necessary to define your subject:

      http://empslocal.ex.ac.uk/people/staff/dbs202/publications/2012/stephenson.pdf
      Environmetrics June 2012
      (no paywall)

      Another problem highlighted by this article is the treatment of uncertainty. Uncertainty regarding future events is no straw man.

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    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Uncertainty regarding future events is no straw man. As noted in the article, predictions for global temperature rise do have uncertainties. What often happens in straw man climate science is confusing limited uncertainty with complete uncertainty.

      As Spiro Vlachos' link highlights, there is considerable work within the climate community and beyond in improving the statistics of climate models.

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  7. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    This article is deceptive in that it claims to counter strawman arguments made by a small number of those holding sceptical views. However, the quotes by sceptics included here are not strawman arguments. These arguments involve misrepresenting someone's point of view and then refuting the misrepresented point of view. None of quotes here fall into this category.

    This article doesn't provide any compelling evidence that human activities are significantly contributing to dangerous global warming…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Yet again The Conversation publishes rubbish like the above without anyway for educated, rational thinkers to down-vote this rubbish.

      The Conversation isn't one sided - it is platform for deniers to post non-science.

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    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "The argument here is that since sceptics can't prove their case, then CAGW must be true" is a strawman. As noted in the article, there are many lines of evidence for AGW (e.g., properties of CO2 in the lab and air, rising CO2 levels since 1800) and it is these that should be used to assess the reailty of AGW.

      Many of the quotes presented are examples of straw man arguments. For example, assuming sea levels and temperatures will steadily rise when variability is an established part of climate and climate science.

      My main point with this article is much of the media debate/opinion about climate science isn't even discussing actual climate science. Instead it is attacking a pretend climate science to achieve debating points.

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    3. Mike Butler Snr

      Managing Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      I am really replying to Michael Wilbur Ham, who really just seems to be a pusher of left wing rhetoric. Perhaps people who describe themselves as "writer" rely on Arts grants for their income --- I wouldn't really know. My name sake (Michael W H) posts the following:-

      "Yet again The Conversation publishes rubbish like the above without anyway for educated, rational thinkers to down-vote this rubbish.

      The Conversation isn't one sided - it is platform for deniers to post non-science."

      I am not a scientist, but I really enjoyed the article we are commenting on --- but for Mr Wilbur Ham to dismiss anybody who does not share his total view of climate science in the arrogant way he always does, does no credit to him! If nobody who disagrees with Mr Wilbur Ham is allowed on this site --- then how can we have a CONVERSATION?

      All you would end up with is a bunch of sycophants in a circle all patting each other on the back!

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      @ Mike Butler Snr - Interesting response.

      Saying that I'm a "pusher of left wing rhetoric" shows that he thinks this is about politics. I'm criticising The Conversation for promoting non-science and irrationality. As far as I'm concerned this is non-political.

      Then the line "Perhaps people who describe themselves as "writer" rely on Arts grants for their income." An attempt to imply that 'left views' are funded to counter my point that I'm pretty certain tht many poster's here are funded…

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    5. Mike Butler Snr

      Managing Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Amazing responses from MWH and Chris O'Neill. What is it about being a telecommunications engineer or an ex-telecommunicatons engineer that makes them think they know all about climate change and that I might be some sort of Tea Party troll. (Sorry, guys, I did verbal you then, but you get the drift!)

      For many years, I have subscribed to (and been a regular contributor to) Alternet (the most left wing website around), and am also a subscriber to The Nation. Unlike some of the contributors to this page, I keep a very open mind. Perhaps it comes from living (so far) for 66 years and being reasonably intelligent! Over my 66 years, I have met many people like MWH. So, so, sure of their facts and positions --- but ultimately to suffer the ignominy of their certainty dissolving in the face of further evidence. Never ever be sure you are so right you can dismiss all opposing views! It can be a recipe for lots of googie-egg on your face

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    6. Alan John Emmerson

      Former chief engineer , Civil Aviation Authority

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Right on Geoffrey.
      Lots of other examples of believers evading the issue, but no straw men.

      The pulling of an argument by Cox in this thread was shamelessly disgraceful.

      ..With what authority do the respondents to Conversations presume to judge the conclusions of others on this subject. Have they analysed any data or examined any models ?

      I see no direct evidence of the CO2 forcing + feedback argument. There is some circumstantial evidence and lots of conjecture..

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    7. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      @ Mike Butler Snr - There is no certainty about the science of climate change.

      But I am certain that if the science is to change it will have nothing to do with the deniers.

      In years of reading posts by deniers I have yet to read anything that casts any rational doubt on the big picture of climate change. I've yet to read any rational explanation of the big social picture e.g. how have so many climate scientists got it wrong for so long? Are they ALL stupid? Is this just a giant conspiracy?

      Post such as yours might appear rational. But really you are as foolish as someone who believe that Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny are real because no-one has proven that they are not.

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Wrong on AlanJE (& Geoff) -- "I see no direct evidence of the CO2 forcing + feedback argument"

      Kinda like that bus you didn't see because you weren't looking, eh?

      If either of you actually studied the data and science before writing so naively, your words might carry weight.

      Plenty of very clear references are available -- some presented here. The isotopic analyses of air & sea are irrefutable. The behavior of CO2 & other GHG molecules in air is irrefutable. The rise of the seas is irrefutable, both from ice-melt content and thermal expansion.

      So playing chicken with IPCC reports, models & variations in air-temp data just exposes an unscientific, dishonest approach to the problem.being left to our descendents, with your help.

      So either if you -- man up and let's see some arguments "ripped apart". C'mon, show some real science mates!

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      MBS says: "Perhaps it comes from living (so far) for 66 years and being reasonably intelligent! " -- only 66 years, Mike?
      ;]
      Sounds like a Managing Director should have learned in that many years how to discuss, rather than how to label.

      What's your iron in the combustion industry fire, Mike?

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    10. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Mike Butler Snr: "am also a subscriber to The Nation."

      In that case you should have some interest in the article I cited: http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0#

      What is your response to a question it contained?:

      “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

      This is the attitude behind "Heartland" and most climate science denial activity.

      "Never ever be sure you are…

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    11. Mike Butler Snr

      Managing Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Seemingly, unlike some of the contributors to this site, I have a business to run and employees to actually keep in a job --- so I can't spend all day logged in. It does bug me however when correspondents such as Alex Cannara can make statements like:

      "Sounds like a Managing Director should have learned in that many years how to discuss, rather than how to label." --- and then goes on to LABEL me as some sort of plant from the "combustion industry".

      "What's your iron in the combustion industry…

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      To MikeB: Since when is asking a quearion "vitriol"? Glad to hear you're not a combustion shill, as we have indeed had here before.

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  8. Richard Koser

    Dude

    I like Jones' 3% argument because it's so easy to refute. Just paraphrase Dickens. "Annual income $101,000, annual expenditure $100,000: happiness. Annual income $101,000, annual expenditure $103,000: the bank own$ your ar$e at 20% compound interest, so in 20 years time you'll owe them $115,012."

    As for the temperature variation: 2011 was a La Nina year, the hottest La Nina year on record.

    Don't you hate facts?

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  9. Arthur James Egleton Robey

    Industrial Electrician

    Not nearly pessimistic enough.
    After every climate talk fest and promises in fact the CO2 just keeps trundling up.
    Policy makers will confess "We predict 5 to 6C increase. Why frighten the horses?"
    If the wet bulb temperature goes above 37.5C you will die if you cannot get to refrigerated air conditioning.
    One such event and the countryside is depopulated as effectively as if hit by a neutron bomb.
    Pray for the end of civilization. That is what will stop the dumb bunnies burning carbon.

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  10. Phil Dolan

    Viticulturist

    What a breed we are. The climate change deniers can be summed up by an experience I know of.

    When a Jehovah's Witness was given two choices by a doctor, a blood transfusion of death, she chose a blood transfusion. This was put to two of them who were pestering us one day and they categorically denied it. Said under no circumstances would that have happened. Their brains could not accept it, but it's the truth.

    So all you deniers, your brains are similar to a non thinking follower of a cult. What did Stalin call such people? Useful idiots.

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    1. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Supposedly it was Lenin who coined the term, although there is scant documentation for it.

      You might have to work on your anecdote because I am not sure I am understanding it. Even when accepting that the "blood transfusion of death" is a typo.

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    2. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Well, that's the first time Sean Lamb has been correct. Indeed, Blood transfusion OR death.

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  11. William Bruce

    logged in via Facebook

    Is Communication the problem?
    I am yet to see a list of "proven Scientific facts" re CC or GW or whatever else is the problem...or will be the problem....FREE OF RHETORIC...And a list of proposed solutions.

    In the absence of this one has a duty to be skeptical...Isn't this what Science is supposed to be?

    Regardless, it seems to me moving to Green energy is a huge Economic opportunity....If for example we can produce a windmill or a wave harnessing generator etc that can produce FREE power FOREVER (given very minimal maintenance cost) we ought create the LEGAL & FINANCIAL incentives to do this.

    Seems to me sadly Gillards et al ETS will not do this, and moreover, will do massive Economic harm.

    The ETS is another financial fort...If they are fair dinkum just tax the bad gradually & subsidise & create incentives for the good....so we KNOW where OUR money is going.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to William Bruce

      "Seemed just more political rhetoric & didn't make much clear to me"

      You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

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    2. William Bruce

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bruce

      Chis says....."You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink."

      Do you mean to offend? I read a lot of things into that article and what it didn't say about who was behind ETS schemes & profits.

      Why don't you make your point clear?

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    3. William Bruce

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bruce

      And Chris why doesn't someone table a list of this "Consensus" we keep hearing about the "The Scientific Facts"?

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  12. john tons

    post graduate student

    Chomsky's in the The Manufacture of Consent demonstrated instances where public opinion was being manipulated to suit particular political agendas. I have no doubt that this is what is happening here. It is relatively easy to do. Trawl through the scientific papers long enough and you find snippets that, if carefully stitched together, can be used to manufacture a credible attack on whatever scientific position you choose to take.
    Until now scientists have not had to cope with those who want to hijack their research for ideological purposes but clearly the world is changing.
    The following book describes the problem only too well: Gardiner, S. M. (2011). A Perfect Moral Storm: The ethical Tragdey of Climate Change. Oxford, OUP.

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  13. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    While I have used quotes from the Australian media, the problem of straw man climate science is global. Ignoring variability comes up time and time again.

    An interesting example is...

    "THE world’s climate has cooled during 2011 and 2012, temperature data from Britain’s Met Office reveals — just before this year’s talks on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions. The figures show that, although global temperatures are still well above the long-term average, they have fallen significantly since…

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "The figures show that, although global temperatures are still well above the long-term average, they have fallen significantly since the record seen in 2010." Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times, 18-11-2012"

      I guess Leake wouldn't put the word "statistically" in front of "significantly" or else his hypocrisy would become definitive. Leake is from the crowd who complained that the warming trend from 1997 to 2011 inclusive was "not statistically significant" meaning it was only 97.3% likely to not be caused by random variation. "Statistically significant" requires 97.5% likelihood.

      Of course, the cooling trend since 2010 is nowhere near statistically significant, but that doesn't stop shameless hypocrites like Leake from calling it "significant".

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  14. Anthony Cox

    logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

    Real climate science is critiqued here:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/10/man-made-global-warming-disproved/

    A more detailed analysis of some of the papers from the extensive bibliography at Jo's is here:

    http://theclimatescepticsparty.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/has-man-made-global-warming-been.html

    http://theclimatescepticsparty.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/has-global-warming-been-disproved-part-2.html

    The dominant issue remaining is whether human emissions of CO2, ACO2, are the primary or only cause for the increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, or whether natural emissions are.

    The issue is complex because there is a bulk and flux component.

    The bulk component, the change in the atmospheric CO2 concentration, was looked at in Knoor's paper which I'll look at in the next post.

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    1. In reply to Anthony Cox

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. In reply to Anthony Cox

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. In reply to Anthony Cox

      Comment removed by moderator.

  15. Bruce Laidlaw

    logged in via Facebook

    I sent this to a friend and he replied:
    ........

    "Vocal minorities will never accept the evidence. A handful of biologists don’t accept evolution. A handful of astronomers think there was no Big Bang. A handful of climate scientists say there is no such thing as anthropogenic climate change."

    I disagree. I think that is a mischaracterization. I can recall maybe TWO actual climate scientists who outright reject anthropogenic climate change. Most who don't agree with the consensus (and there…

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    1. Bruce Laidlaw

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bruce Laidlaw

      When he says "we burn coal pretty cleanly..." he's talking about the US.

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  16. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    Can the moderator please explain why a series of posts by Anthony Cox were removed from this site? These posts contained an interesting discussion on the relative contributions of CO2 from anthropogenic and natural sources to measured increases in the overall concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere with a series of links to 'peer-reviewed' research.

    Could it be than any links to research that contradicts the the tenets of the so-called consensus position on CC is like kryptonite to the editors of the Conversation or am I just being too cynical.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "Can the moderator please explain why a series of posts by Anthony Cox were removed from this site?"

      Pretty simple really. Michael Brown had already pointed out some of the strawman arguments used by denialists. Further examples were superfluous.

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    2. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      @ Chris O'Neill

      That's right. Publish your article at a sceptic hostile website. Shut out any dissenters. Avoid any scrutiny. And then you win the argument. Congratulations on your hollow victory!

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    3. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      I don't knpw why Anthony's comments were removed. I totally diasgree with the guy and what he said and would have commented on the posts he made before they were belatedly removed.

      However, since lots of folks saw the comments via the email feed and they didn'tseem to breach comment policy guidelines, the reason for their removal is confusing.

      A simple statement from the Moderators as to why they were removed would be enough - perhaps Anthony has had commenting priviledges revoked - I…

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      I missed this from Geoff: about a "sceptic hostile website".

      Why are these self-described "skeptics" so sensitive? Why do they scurry to claim the victim mantle?

      If they actually commanded facts and argued honestly, they might find all sorts of amenable folks around them.

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      @ Geoffrey Henley

      Thank you for providing another example of a strawman argument.

      Funny how none of these "skeptics" try to argue that the examples stated by Michael Brown aren't strawman arguments. Very telling.

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    6. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "It probably broke one or more of the community rules outlined at..."

      Try as I might, I can find nothing in any of Anthony Cox's posts that comes even close to contravening the community rules.

      So it appears that no-one can provide any compelling reason why these posts were removed. What does it say about this site when it appears to not even follow its own rules?

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    7. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Anthony Cox has posted the 700-word essay on his blog.

      Along with links to several denier blogs, much of the essay is on Wolfgang Knorr’s 2009 paper, which is about the absorption of CO2 as part of the carbon cycle. Anthony Cox has misinterpreted Knorr’s numbers, ignored Knorr’s conclusions and come up with his own flawed interpretation of Knorr’s results.

      This sort of thing happens on the blogsphere quite often. Taking complex results and respinning them with flawed back of the envelope calculations…

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    8. Jane Rawson

      Editor, Energy & Environment at The Conversation

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey, discussions go so much better when they're on topic. Anthony's four long posts didn't appear to be engaging with the article. I may have gone too far in removing all of them, and I have reinstated the first of them, even though it isn't on topic. Enjoy.

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  17. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    The key mentioned is indeed the fact that we've swamperd the natural carbon cycle by a factor of about 30...

    http://energyseminar.stanford.edu/node/461

    This will now commit us to thousands of years of very unpleasant realities, of which, warming may be the least -- ocean acidification is years, not decades, away from shutting down the sea life food chains, form which humans derive 20% of all food protein. Of course the fish will suffer most.

    The saddest reality s that solutions were determined…

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  18. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    I have a Straw Man question for you Mr Brown.

    Given that climate change caused by burning fossil fuels is now a fact, why do so many people get upset when I say they should stop choosing to burn JetA1 fuel to fly overseas this Christmas for a holiday?

    Surely the good of the planet is more important than their own, discretionary use of precious, non-renewable fossil oil stock to trek Nepal, tour Europe, ski Colarado or walk the Inca Trail.

    I have repeatably asked those people how they ethically justify telling me to stop driving my car when they continue burning JetA1 fuel for their own pleasure.

    Perhaps you can help me understand.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerald - just look at the answers to the last time you asked this, and the time before, and the time before, and the time before, and the time before .....

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    2. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard.

      Can we assume that you never fly anywhere? No domestic flight Sydney? No turbo-prop flights to Launceston perhaps.

      And who is asking you to stop driving a car. Go get a nice prius and drive a car and produce fewer emissions.

      More seriously Gerard, you endless repitition of this point has a common character to it: The comparison of the behaviour of one individual's actions against those of another.

      Person X is burning JetA1 vs Person Y might be burning more petroleum or some…

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Mr Dean, I have a Straw Man question for you.

      Whereas most of us are not in a position to choose an airline that fuels its aircraft with carbon-neutral biofuels, it may be that Rupert Murdoch is able to exercise such choice.

      After all, did he not include in his address at the Hudson Theatre, New York, 9 May 2007, the following statements?
      "Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction.
      "We must transform…

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  19. William Bruce

    logged in via Facebook

    Scientists, why so much chat and NO CLEAR LIST of facts re the problem for all to see & so few proposed solutions?

    Also, why no detail on exactly how much money will be taken in, supposedly for CC, and the best way to spend it?

    Didn't Lord Kaphoops or whatever his name was say it would be cheaper to deal with the consequences of CC if & when they happened than have an ETS? Why not cross our bridges when we come to them?

    Also, perhaps we ought immediately cut waste & move to energy efficiencies & free fast light rail on main routes only...
    ...and, also ALL CC money ought be used to gradually move to Public owned Green energy because if we do it right it we will get virtually FREE energy forever. ...This makes good ECONOMIC sense.

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  20. Alan John Emmerson

    Former chief engineer , Civil Aviation Authority

    I do not know why, but there is no tag for me to hang a reply to Alex Cannara.
    I'll pin it here.

    Firstly Alex I should tell you that I have in fact done my own analyses of temperature data as a part of my interest in this subject for the past 10 years or so.
    In particular I have studied the stability of the Earth's global mean surface temperature, and the coincidence of higher rates of change of temperature with the presence of various.warming agents.

    I used the Allen Variance method of…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alan John Emmerson

      Alan, I've no idea what you're talking about. I recall no exchanges with you. But, I;ll point out that your logic is faulty as it realtes to use of statistical procedures to somehow magically determining "the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence".

      As a degreed statistics guy, who's even taught it, I'll just say what I've said on Day 1 of any university class -- Statistics is what we use to make decisions when we're ignorant of how something works.

      If you wanted to…

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  21. Bob Cormack

    logged in via LinkedIn

    I notice that a significant number of comments here refer to "climate change deniers" or those who "deny climate change". This is ironic, given the subject of this post, since this is one of the biggest "Straw Men" in the whole debate. Those who are skeptical that the AGW hypothesis has been proven do not deny that the climate changes -- only that Humankind's part in it is not proven.

    Since the charter of this site explicitly claims that one of its goals is to "Provide a fact-based and editorially-independent forum, free of commercial or political bias", I would like to see somebody give an example or two of people who are skeptical of the AGW hypothesis that actually deny that the climate is changing. Failing that, perhaps this blatant falsehood could be dropped, and the discussion confined to facts.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Bob Cormack

      Bob Cormack: "I notice that a significant number of comments here refer to "climate change deniers" or those who "deny climate change"."

      I could only count one but I guess that is significant to you. Most of the time it's about denial of something somewhat different but there are some who do indeed deny recent climate change (and the issue is recent climate change). They are the ones who repeat lies such as "there has been no global warming for the past 16 years". I'm sure you've read some of these people even if you didn't realise what they were.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Bob Cormack

      Ok Bob, one more run at your request

      "I would like to see somebody give an example or two of people who are skeptical of the AGW hypothesis that actually deny that the climate is changing" -- as I gave you an example before, Monckton said this many times.

      The problem you have is imprecision of meaning. That's why I asked you to define the length of time that would be valid for "climate", since :climate" is not an instantaneous measure. Otherwise, your request is meaningless.Got iit?

      But you do go overboard with pomposity......

      "Given that I've only been trying to get you to understand simple English, while you've been accusing me of being a paid lackey of unnamed industrial interests"

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    3. Bob Cormack

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Bob Cormack

      Chris O'Neill:

      "I could only count one [instance of "climate change denier"] but I guess that is significant to you."

      OK, I'll grant that the other 20 or so times people just said "denier". Perhaps I made a hasty assumption and they were only referring to people with rational objections to the latest "projections" of the GCMs. Nevertheless, "denier" seems a bit strong in a rational argument.

      "They are the ones who repeat lies such as "there has been no global warming for the past 16…

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  22. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Wow, more fresh fact-avoider meat! Bob Cormack has a "gotcha" --

    "I would like to see somebody give an example or two of people who are skeptical of the AGW hypothesis that actually deny that the climate is changing."

    Nice try to deflect to subject from climate change via human activity, which is what AGW appears to stand for.

    However, to humor your need, folks like Monckton have gone around the world claiming no 'unusual' climate change. No one claims climate "doesn't change" -- so there's…

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    1. Bob Cormack

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex,

      'AGW' stands for "Anthropogenic Global Warming". It is the hypothesis that the recent warming of the globe is human-caused. Strange that you didn't know that, being as how you are up with the 'facts'.

      The 'blatant falsehood' I obviously was referring to was the claim that those who think that the AGW hypothesis hasn't been proven 'deny climate change'. If you don't see how this is also a straw man, you should look up the definition.

      What's amazing here is the ability you have to…

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Bob, you seem to be the problem reader here. What I said was that there indeed are some deniers who say climate is effectively not changing.

      So the question is why do you raise your straw man?

      You do fo overboard when challenged, eh?

      "What's amazing here is the ability you have to wildly speculate, based on poor reading comprehension"

      "Oh, and saying that recent climate change is "not unusual" is not equivalent to saying that it hasn't happened. Perhaps you also need some remedial education in logic."

      That last one is particularly revealing, Bob -- what is unchanging "climate"? Maybe for a day? Maybe a month? A year? A decade? Century? Millenium?

      Your logic about how to use "unchanging" seems to be the fault here.

      And yes, your 'blatant falsehood' is a straw man. My question is why did you bother writing any of it?

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    3. Bob Cormack

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex,

      What in the world does your question:

      "... -- what is unchanging "climate"? Maybe for a day? Maybe a month? A year? A decade? Century? Millenium?"

      have to do with my statement:

      " ...saying that recent climate change is "not unusual" is not equivalent to saying that it hasn't happened."

      ???

      Here's a hint, Alex: the phrase "change is not unusual" is not equivalent to the phrase "change is non existent". And neither phrase is useful as a definition of "change". Are you grasping…

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  23. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    Some of the straw man arguments discussed above have appeared elsewhere in the media.

    For example, the Antarctic argument was run on Andrew Bolt's blog (http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/confirmation_bias_the_numbers/). The plot used on Bolt's blog does not show the previous record. The plot also does not show the +/- 2 sigma range that one can use to assess how unusual or normal the 2012 sea ice extent is.

    Bolt's posts on the topic imply sea ice should behave in the same way near both poles as climate change takes place, but (as noted above) there are many factors at work.

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  24. Berthold Klein

    Civil-Environmental engineer

    Michael J.I. Brown you have done a great job of presenting all the reasons why the greenhouse gas effect/ Mann-made climate change does not exist. Your skill at using double talk and satire to fool the Lilliputians of Australia is worth an award. It's The Jonathan Swift award.
    Of course if he believes that the Climate Skeptic don't have credible proof that the GHGE does not exist then he is ignorant of the following:There is an experiment that proves that the Greenhouse gas effect does…

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    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      There is over a century of evidence for the greenhouse effect and this is backed up by the physics of radiative transfer.

      For those with a science background, there is a good introduction to the topic at http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/papers/PhysTodayRT2011.pdf

      For those without a science background, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect and references therein are a good start.

      Some of the problems with experiments that bogusly claim to disprove the greenhouse effect are discussed at http://www.readfearn.com/tag/richard-pearson/

      Slayingtheskydragon is a website by pseudo-scientists which is edited and reviewed by other pseudo-scientists. It is a litany of errors.

      Slayingtheskydragon's founder, John O'Sullivan is known for his attacks on other deniers and lies (to be blunt), as detailed at http://www.desmogblog.com/affidavits-michael-mann-libel-suit-reveal-astonishing-facts-about-tim-ball-associate-john-o-sullivan

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Considering you are using the internet which uses the same principles of physics that were used to understand absorption of energy by molecules, your claims that the greenhouse effect doesn't exist must mean your internet post doesn't exist.

      I guess this is all just a dream then.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Berthold is back! With all his pages of links that don't mean anything he thinks they mean, because he hasn't actually bothered to study the science!

      Welcome Bert! Comic relief, finally.
      ;]

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Your usual attention to detail, eh Berthold?...

      "Mann-made climate change does not exist. " -- I agree with that, though I don't know Mann and wish he/she would stop it.

      When you get some study of sea rise and acidification in, write back.
      ;]

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    5. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Problem is Berthold, Carl is wrong.

      “An essential element of the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is the positive “water vapor feedback” hypothesis. That is, if something causes an increase in the temperature this will cause an increase in the evaporation of water into water vapor.”

      What he doesn't understand is that the water vapour feedback doesn't depend on increased evaporation. Perhaps it could be better worded as:

      "water vapor feedback - that if air temperatures increase, water vapour…

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    6. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Michael

      O'Sullivan is so ignorant of science that he actually thinks that the Stefan-Boltzmann eqn is the work of one person - supposedly knows a bit of science but has never heard of Ludwig Boltzmann? Nuff said

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  25. Comment removed by moderator.

  26. Comment removed by moderator.

  27. Jane Rawson

    Editor, Energy & Environment at The Conversation

    Hi, could you please limit your comments to comments on the content of the article. This isn't the place for posting a bunch of links to other websites; it is supposed to be a discussion. Thank you.

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    1. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Jane Rawson

      Jane,
      If you want a limit on the number links, then why isn't this stipulated somewhere within the 'community rules'? Anthony Cox's posts do not contravene any of these rules. The appropriate action should have been to leave Anthony's posts in place and make a comment to keep links to a mimimum in future.

      Notably, a number of posts here do appear to contravene the rules. Ad hominen attacks and the use of condescending labels such as 'denialist' and 'climate change denier' are relatively common here. I don't claim to be 100% innocent here as I have been a bit abrupt when provoked by 'smear tactics'. If these types of comments are removed, then it might create a more civil atmosphere.

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  28. Neil Gibson

    Retired Electronics Design Engineer

    The problem I find with climate science is not straw men but the ever changing historical data which prevents any simple analysis. In the latest instance I am aware of ,the average global temperature 1950-1980 is purported now to be 14 Deg C or 57.2 Deg F. However it wasn't always that value and was quoted in the 1990 IPCC report as 15 Deg C and that figure was also used by James Hansen in 1988 before Congress.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/11/fourteen_is_the_new_fifteen.html#ixzz2DWL53H00
    Somewhere around 1997 the historical average global temperature changed by a degree which could only happen in climate "science".

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Neil, the data hasn't changed at all. You are just confusing what is being quoted. This is just another example of disinterest or active opposition to information, such that people see inconsistencies because they have cherry picked information rather than taking in all of the information.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      "the ever changing historical data which prevents any simple analysis" -- really?

      Did you bother looking at the physical reasons for the "ever changing" bit? You know, the ~700,000-year Vostok core data, the various Greenland core data, the millions of years of sediment & fossil data?

      Plenty of all that is publicly available, if you actually want to ask real questions, Neil.

      Here are some summary links, if you haven't bothered to look at them in the other msgs here...

      http://online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/2012/mar12.html
      http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/#seaIce

      Plenty more, even IPCC--free, to avoid the straw-man phobia.
      ;]

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Neil Gibson: "Somewhere around 1997 the historical average global temperature changed by a degree which could only happen in climate "science"."

      If Neil was honestly interested in global absolute temperature (which he isn't), then he could find out why it is far more difficult to determine global absolute temperature than changes in global temperature by reading documents such as this: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html

      But we know that Neil is bound by a political agenda so we can't expect any honest interest from him.

      By the way Neil, did you ever get around to explaining what the word "bible" means in "global warming bible"? What dictionary did you use?

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    4. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      The American Thinker article tries to sow confusion by throwing around a whole bunch of numbers, including approximate numbers, precise numbers, numbers from emails, numbers from popular books and numbers measuring slightly different things.

      The IPCC AR2-AR4 reports use a zero level determined using the
      1961-1990 average temperature whereas IPCC AR1 uses 1951-1980. Compare Figure 3.1 of IPCC AR2 (1995) with Figure 3.1 of IPCC AR4 (2007) and the results are very similar.

      The American Thinker article is a conspiracy theory, since it requires thousands of scientists (including Christy, Spencer and others) to change the climate record without telling anyone. Indeed, it requires sceptics and deniers to not notice this for roughly 15 years too!

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      MichaelB, to see where hacks like "Am. Thinker" get their presentation ideas, just watch one of Monckton's old videos of him flipping graphs with umpteen lines & numbers on slides in front of a dozing, captive audience.

      I must again render apologies across the Equator for our US dementors Heartland, American Tradition, etc. and their $ influences on Aussies who deserve better.

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  29. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    In addition to Arctic sea ice extent dropping to record lows (as discussed above), Arctic sea ice thickness has been dropping over the years. For this reason, storms may now have a greater impact on sea ice extent than they once did.

    This is discussed at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/arctic-storm.html (which predates the 2012 record low).

    Some of the relevant data can be seen at http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/sea_ice.html

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  31. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    There are many aspects of straw man climate science that I did not discuss in my article.

    For example, in science it is very important for independent groups to reproduce results using a variety of independent methods. For example, the temperature history of the Earth has been measured by a number of groups using a variety of methods (ice cores, lake sediments, tree rings). There are thousands of scientists working on climate worldwide.

    In straw man climate science just a few people have produced…

    Read more
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  34. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    If you are having a discussion with another user, please use the reply button as a courtesy to others.

    If you are writing a 200+ word comment, please consider if you are (1) truly participating the discussion and (2) truly staying on topic.

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  35. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    It looks like another of Berthold's incomprensible. giant comments has been removed, but if he's trying to insult others, at least he could practice his spellink...

    "Alex the Arrogoant"

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