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The false, the confused and the mendacious: how the media gets it wrong on climate change

The Conversation wraps up Clearing up the Climate Debate with a statement from our authors: the debate is over. Let’s get on with it. Over the past two weeks The Conversation has highlighted the consensus…

The debate may be fiery, but it’s also phony. AAP

The Conversation wraps up Clearing up the Climate Debate with a statement from our authors: the debate is over. Let’s get on with it.

Over the past two weeks The Conversation has highlighted the consensus of experts that climate change caused by humans is both real and poses a serious risk for the future.

We have also revealed the deep flaws in the conduct of so-called climate “sceptics” who largely operate outside the scientific context.

But to what extent is the “science settled”? Is there any possibility that the experts are wrong and the deniers are right?

Certainty in science

If you ask a scientist whether something is “settled” beyond any doubt, they will almost always reply “no”.

Nothing is 100% certain in science.

So how certain is climate science? Is there a 50% chance that the experts are wrong and that the climate within our lifetimes will be just fine? Or is there a 10% chance that the experts are wrong? Or 1%, or only 0.0001%?

The answer to these questions is vital because if the experts are right, then we must act to avert a major risk.

Dropping your phone

Suppose that you lose your grip on your phone. Experience tells us that the phone will fall to the ground.

You drop a phone, it falls down.

Fact.

Science tells us that this is due to gravity, and no one doubts its inevitability.

However, while science has a good understanding of gravity, our knowledge is only partial. In fact, physicists know that at a very deep level our theory of gravity is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, so one or both will have to be modified.

We simply don’t know for sure how gravity works.

But we still don’t jump off bridges, and you would be pretty silly to drop your phone onto a concrete floor in the hope that gravity is wrong.

Climate change vs. gravity: Greater complexity, comparable certainty

Our predictions of climate change aren’t as simple as the action of gravity on a dropped phone.

The Earth is a very complex system: there are natural effects like volcanoes, and variations in the sun; there are the vagaries of the weather; there are complicating factors such as clouds, and how ice responds; and then there are the human influences such as deforestation and CO₂ emissions.

But despite these complexities, some aspects of climate science are thoroughly settled.

We know that atmospheric CO₂ is increasing due to humans. We know that this CO₂, while being just a small fraction of the atmosphere, has an important influence on temperature.

We can calculate the effect, and predict what is going to happen to the earth’s climate during our lifetimes, all based on fundamental physics that is as certain as gravity.

The consensus opinion of the world’s climate scientists is that climate change is occurring due to human CO₂ emissions. The changes are rapid and significant, and the implications for our civilisation may be dire. The chance of these statements being wrong is vanishingly small.

Scepticism and denialism

Some people will be understandably sceptical about that last statement. But when they read up on the science, and have their questions answered by climate scientists, they come around.

These people are true sceptics, and a degree of scepticism is healthy.

Other people will disagree with the scientific consensus on climate change, and will challenge the science on internet blogs and opinion pieces in the media, but no matter how many times they are shown to be wrong, they will never change their opinions.

These people are deniers.

The recent articles in The Conversation have put the deniers under the microscope. Some readers have asked us in the comments to address the scientific questions that the deniers bring up.

This has been done.

Not once. Not twice. Not ten times. Probably more like 100 or a 1000 times.

Denier arguments have been dealt with by scientists, again and again and again.

But like zombies, the deniers keep coming back with the same long-falsified and nonsensical arguments.

The deniers have seemingly endless enthusiasm to post on blogs, write letters to editors, write opinion pieces for newspapers, and even publish books. What they rarely do is write coherent scientific papers on their theories and submit them to scientific journals. The few published papers that have been sceptical about climate change have not withstood the test of time.

The phony debate on climate change

So if the evidence is this strong, why is there resistance to action on climate change in Australia?

At least two reasons can be cited.

First, as The Conversation has revealed, there are a handful of individuals and organisations who, by avoiding peer review, have engineered a phony public debate about the science, when in fact that debate is absent from the one arena where our scientific knowledge is formed.

These individuals and organisations have so far largely escaped accountability.

But their free ride has come to an end, as the next few weeks on The Conversation will continue to show. The second reason, alas, involves systemic failures by the media.

Systemic media failures arise from several presumptions about the way science works, which range from being utterly false to dangerously ill-informed to overtly malicious and mendacious.

The false

Let’s begin with what is merely false. A tacit presumption of many in the media and the public is that climate science is a brittle house of cards that can be brought down by a single new finding or the discovery of a single error.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Climate science is a cumulative enterprise built upon hundreds of years of research. The heat-trapping properties of CO₂ were discovered in the middle of the 19th century, pre-dating even Sherlock Holmes and Queen Victoria.

The resulting robust knowledge will not be overturned by a single new finding.

A further false presumption of the media is that scientific opinions must somehow be balanced by an opposing view. While balance is an appropriate conversational frame for the political sphere, it is wholly inappropriate for scientific issues, where what matters is the balance of evidence, not opinion.

At first glance, one might be tempted to forgive the media’s inappropriate inclusion of unfounded contrarian opinions, given that its function is to stimulate broad debate in which, ideally, even exotic opinions are given a voice.

But the media by and large do not report the opinions of 9/11 “truthers” who think that the attacks were an “inside job” of the Bush administration. The media also do not report the opinion of people who believe Prince Phillip runs the world’s drug trade. The fact that equally outlandish pseudo-scientific nonsense about climate science can be sprouted on TV by a cat palmist is evidence not of an obsession with balance but of a striking and selective failure of editorial responsibility.

What is needed instead of the false symmetry implied by “balance” is what the BBC calls impartiality – fact-based reporting that evaluates the evidence and comes to a reality-based conclusion.

The dangerously ill-formed

An example of a dangerously ill-informed opinion on how science works is the widely propagated myth that scientists somehow have a “vested interest”, presumably financial, in climate change. This myth has been carefully crafted by deniers to create a chimerical symmetry between their own ties to political and economic interests and the alleged “vested interests” of scientists.

In actual fact, climate scientists have as much vested interest in the existence of climate change as cancer researchers do in the existence of the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Cancer researchers are motivated by the fact that cervical cancer kills, and the scientists who developed the HPV vaccine did so to save lives, not to get their grants renewed.

Climate scientists are likewise motivated by the fact that climate change kills 140,000 people per year right at this very moment, according to the World Health Organization.

The scientists who have been alerting the public of this risk for nearly 20 years did so to save lives, not to get their grants renewed.

Climate scientists are being motivated by the realisation that humanity has got itself into serious trouble with climate change, and it will need the best scientific advice to navigate a solution.

As scientists, we ask not for special consideration by the media, but simply for the same editorial responsibility and quality control that is routinely applied to all other arenas of public discourse.

Selective failure of quality control and editorial responsibility when it comes to climate change presents a grave public disservice.

The malicious

Finally, no truthful analysis of the Australian media landscape can avoid highlighting the maliciousness of some media organisations, primarily those owned by Newscorp, which are cartoonish in their brazen serial distortion of scientists and scientific findings.

Those organisations have largely escaped accountability to date, and we believe that it is a matter of urgency to expose their practice.

For example, it is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to misrepresent what experts are telling Newscorp reporters — some of whom have been known to apologize to scientists in advance and off the record for their being tasked to return from public meetings, not with an actual news story but with scathing statements from the handful of deniers in the audience.

It is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to invert the content of scientific papers.

It is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to misrepresent what scientists say.

It is not a matter of legitimate editorial process to prevent actual scientists from setting the record straight after the science has been misrepresented.

None of those sadly common actions are compatible with legitimate journalistic ethics, and they should have no place in a knowledge economy of the 21st century.

The very fact that society is wracked by a phony debate where there is none in the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the Australian media has tragically and thoroughly failed the Australian public.

This is the final part of our series Clearing up the Climate Debate. To read the other instalments, follow the links below:

Join the conversation

159 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Douglas Cotton

    B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

    Folks, in order to answer your questions I have modified Footnote 1 and added Footnote 2 at http://earth-climate.com These footnotes are copied below. I will not be logging in here again as I have nothing more to add. If you have genuine questions or suggestions my email address is on the website.

    FOOTNOTES

    1. THE 60 YEAR CYLE: Nicola Scafetta and John Dodds are not the only ones to have observed the 60 year cycle. Mathematical statistical analysis of the data confirms its existence…

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    1. Bob Bingham

      Mr.

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Douglas your theories do not appear to be supported by NASA who have a lot of scientists and a massive budget working in the same area. If you want people to see your web site I suggest you switch to the 'proof of aliens' as a subject where you will get a more appreciative audience.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      I'm bored beyond tears - it seemed comic for a while, then tragic, now it's merely farcical.
      However, I've got to admit that in a sad, upside-down kind of way, I've never yet seen anything that has cemented my confidence in the real science quite as adamantly as poor old Douglas.
      But one can take only so much cement...

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    3. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Several contributors to this discussion forum exemplify the following passage from the article;

      The deniers have seemingly endless enthusiasm to post on blogs, write letters to editors, write opinion pieces for newspapers, and even publish books. What they rarely do is write coherent scientific papers on their theories and submit them to scientific journals. The few published papers that have been sceptical about climate change have not withstood the test of time.

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    4. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Im excited, he finally made an attempt at how gravitational forces is causing the current global warming. Completely fanciful but at least he gave it a shot. I look forward to him publishing an article on it and being heiled the new Newton of our times.

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    5. James Harrison

      Postgraduate student at Monash University

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      And just like that, he was gone again. I feel left out that Doug never replied to any of my comments or questions. In his memory, here are some select comments of mine in response to Doug over this series:

      "No, Douglas, don't go! You still haven't told me why you think the theory of AGW assumes CO2 creates energy! Seriously, why do you think that?"

      "Douglas, The FIRST SENTENCE of this abstract is just blatant idiocy, or not-so-innocent ignorance.
      [Quote from abstract] 'Adding CO2 and greenhouse…

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    6. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Micahel Brown: You have yet to respond to my request for you to show which climate change models do in fact take into account (1) primary water vapour generated by the sun and (2) uptakes of VCO2 emissions by the global biota at around 56% p.a. on average over the ENSO cycle.

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    7. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      There is a litany of errors in Tim Curtin's work and theories. While these errors have been pointed out many times, including in comments in this series of articles, this has never damped Tim's enthusiasm nor altered his ideas. Tim does exemplify the passage from the article that I quoted above.

      This being the case, I will not take time to address Tim's demands as it is unlikely he will change his views in response and it will only lead to more demands. Tim may claim victory in response, but it will be a false victory.

      Many of the errors in Tim Curtin's work and theories are discussed at http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/04/tim_curtin_thread_now_a_live_s.php. I will be the first to admit that the quality of these responses is wildly variable, but a number do cite the relevant literature and back up arguments with hard numbers.

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  2. Rod Lamberts

    Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University

    A neat, directed, and really useful summary guys - thank you. Congrats also for not getting drawn into the world of those who abuse you, and sticking to clear, well reasoned arguments and simple language. Maybe there's hope after all?

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  3. Simon Arnold

    Mr

    Not only a polemic this time but now with sophistry.

    "But despite these complexities, some aspects of climate science are thoroughly settled.

    "We know that atmospheric CO₂ is increasing due to humans. We know that this CO₂, while being just a small fraction of the atmosphere, has an important influence on temperature.

    "We can calculate the effect, and predict what is going to happen to the earth’s climate during our lifetimes, all based on fundamental physics that is as certain as gravity."

    So did they say that it is settled that we could predict climates during our lifetimes, with the certainty of gravity? Well perhaps not quite, but it would be nice if you took that implication.

    Neither of these two have any published peer reviewed papers dealing with uncertainty in climate modelling, so not "written by acknowledged experts" and frankly as long as this kind of stuff gets carried not "a site you can trust".

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Simon Arnold

      Simon, I generally approve of recycling, but recycling hollow nonsense like this does little other than demonstrate how empty your arguments actually are.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Simon Arnold

      Sophistry - "subtle, superficially plausible, but actually specious or fallacious reasoning"

      You mean like

      "So did they say that it is settled that we could predict climates during our lifetimes, with the certainty of gravity?"

      Perhaps not as it is not very subtle.

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    3. Simon Arnold

      Mr

      In reply to Simon Arnold

      To answer my own question, obviously not Ove Hoegh-Guldberg because this isn't his area, and obviously not David Karoly because he says in "Decadel Prediction Can It Be Skillful?" 2009 Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology: "... because decadal prediction is so new, there are a number of outstanding scientific and technical questions that need to be addressed. One of the chief challenges is how to initialize the modeled climate system" etc.

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    4. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Simon Arnold

      Michael Brown - you have to be joking re Uwe Hoegh-Guldberg:

      He claims there is global evidence that the oceans are “acidifying” everywhere at once, but some deltas are getting fresher (less alkaline), others are becoming more alkaline. There is NO evidence that the GBR is acidifying, despite Hoegh-Guldberg’s best efforts – if there was we would have heard of it. AIMS at Townsville has striven mightily to prove “acidification” there and failed utterly.

      Most scientists’ efforts to show the claimed…

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    5. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Simon Arnold

      Do you seriously think that thousands of scientists around the world are just being paid off to produce false results in such a wide range of scientific fields to give an illusion of AGW? That would take a lot of organising, across generations and various governments both left and right. Its quite insane - its a Dale Brown novel. I think that a fair proportion (99.9%) of scientists are scientists because of a thirst for knowledge and all dream of making the next big discovery.

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    6. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

      Director, Global Change Institute at University of Queensland

      In reply to Simon Arnold

      "AIMS at Townsville has striven mightily to prove “acidification” there and failed utterly."
      What rubbish.

      Tim - it would take a long time to counter your extensive misunderstanding and misquoting of the science. However, the best answer is simply said that ocean acidification is straight chemistry. To deny that it is occurring, is to deny the basic rules of chemistry.

      For those that are interested in examples of oceanographic surveys showing its occurring and its impacts on ocean life, recommend Doney's recent peer-reviewed paper, which is available for free here: http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/QwPqRGcRzQM5ffhPjAdT/full/10.1146/annurev.marine.010908.163834

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  4. Andrew Barratt

    Firefighter

    Thanks again for the series 'Conversationalists'. No crap, just the facts explained in a way i can understand, if I can understand there's a fair chance anyone can. I hope you leave the whole series in a place that can be accessed by all into the future as it's a great reference for us non scientific types who may be arguing the toss with skeptics (like I do with my dear old Andrew Bolt loving mum and others). Thanks again, keep up the good work!

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  5. James Harrison

    Postgraduate student at Monash University

    Excellent series.

    My thanks to all contributors, you've done the public an amazing service. Thanks also to those who trawled the commentary answering questions, addressing misrepresentation and clarifying points when necessary.

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  6. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist at Australian National University

    THE INSURANCE/PRECUATIONARY PRINCIPLES

    Presumably those who deny the evidence of climate disruption insure their homes and cars, issue travel insurance and support the maintenance of large military and security forces - all with the purpose of protecting lives against odds which range from one in thousands to one in ten or twenty.

    On the other hand they object to humanity insuring itself against a major climate calamity indicated by some 97 percent of scientists, the peer review literature, scientific…

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  7. Nathan Stewart

    Mr

    Great series, thanks organisers. And can i mention a small thanks to the ABC who first drew my attention to this on the "The Drum" section of their website.

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  8. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    well, I don't know about anything else, but I am convinced - or almost.

    Since climate-change is such a clear and present danger - according to the spruikers - it would seem reasonably that the True Believers would like to make some grand gesture to demonstrate their commitment to cutting emissions.

    Perhaps if Prof. Lewandowsky, and Ashley were to commit to not attending anymore overseas conferences or taking any overseas holidays as a personal gesture towards saving the planet, that would be an impressive step towards proving their sincerity.

    After all, in this day and age of interconnectivity, there is no need to physically travel any more. There can be no excuse for any future physical conferences of climate scientists, which should now all take place using video conferencing.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      So climate science now rests on whether climate scientists use air travel.

      I' ll file that under "Al Gore is fat".

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    2. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      I understand that a return flight to Sydney to London releases over 11 tons of CO2 per passenger. That is substantially more emissions than I use in a year.

      How can climate scientists justify such selfishness in order to preen in front of their peers?

      However, I am a compassionate man, and I will allow exceptions for funerals and the weddings of children.

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  9. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Thank you all so much for this excellent series of articles. Quite apart from the clarity, rationality and common sense displayed throughout, the experience of following all the postings has been exhausting (and frequently the intellectual equivalent of swimming through a sewer) but it has been thoroughly worth it.
    If there was ever going to be a forum and an opportunity for a genuine scepticism to present its case, this has been it. Instead the 'anti' postings have been, without a single exception, either irrational mish-mashes of spurious or false data, or sad sulk pieces by people who think that it is their democratic right to have their discredited nonsense taken seriously.
    I simply hadn't realised just how utterly clear the situation really is.

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  10. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist at Australian National University

    Readers who may be confused by various scientific/technical points in the debate, here and on other threads, can apply an elementary criterion allowing, in most instances, a distinction between those who follow the scientific method and ethics and those who do not:

    Peer review published scientists learn from an early stage to adhere to courterous technical and scientifc language which, with few exceptions, avoid personal references and certainly avoid abusive terms.

    Scientific debates, as distinct from pub browls, refrain from provocative language even when facing adversity.

    Those who do not follow this rule may, or may not, be aware that by using certain type of language they casts doubt in the mind of the reader as to whether they practice the scientific method and ethics.

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  11. Douglas Cotton

    B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

    As I anticipated, there has not been a single email because I suspect none of you can put forward a valid contrary argument to John Dodds' theory which I have summarised in my website.

    Contrary to what some of you may think, I have modified some statements and removed others from my website http://earth-climate.com (before today) reflecting valid comments and endeavouring to avoid any issue of which I was not totally confident. I have also expanded the footnotes today to make them easier to understand…

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    1. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Douglas, why dont you check out this experiment with CO2 on absorption of IR radiation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot5n9m4whaw

      Now i put it to you, IR radiation is readily observed exiting earth. even at night you can see IR radiation leaving earth - and there is even a website where you can see this http://www.nightearth.com/

      So combine the two facts, that IR radiation is being emitted from earth at all times of the day (more during day, less during night). It makes perfect sense that…

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    2. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Sorry, when i said "same speed" i meant same amount...you know what i mean. The amount of IR energy entering and exiting earth should remain relatively constant, on average, no matter how much green house gasses there are - once the green house gasses have stabilised and are not increasing at an alarming rate.

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    3. Michael J. Biercuk

      Senior Lecturer in the School of Physics at University of Sydney

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      "As I anticipated, there has not been a single email because I suspect none of you can put forward a valid contrary argument to John Dodds' theory which I have summarised in my website."

      No Mr. Cotton, you do not receive email responses because scientific debate is not carried out by blog. It is carried out exclusively in the peer reviewed literature. Nonetheless, challenges to all of your points have been posted extensively online, linked, etc. The fact that *you* did not receive emails does not validate your claims.

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    4. Douglas Cotton

      Douglas Cotton B.Sc. (Physics) B.A. (Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin.

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Michael - please just keep comments to this paragraph updated 21 July at http://earth-climate.com - and kindly base any comments on Physics ... thanks. It's a bit hard finding the time for a PhD now - I did my Physics at Sydney Univ under Harry Messel, Julius Sumner-Miller etc in 1963-66. There is however a US student doing a thesis in consultation with myself and others. I am aware that some early statements didn't stand up, but have spent much time on further reading and updating. Doug

      Now…

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  12. James Szabadics

    BSc

    Why do people equate gravity to climate change? I dont understand how a psychologist would use invalid and irrelevant comparisons to make a point about the infallability of climate knowledge circa 2011. Gravity effects can be measured and experiments to measure it and its future effects do not need computer models loaded with questionable assumptions that get it wrong. If you tried to predict what gravity will do to objects of certain mass of standard matter tomorrow or in 10 years you should…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Sorry to have to tell you this James but the model is not the climate.

      We can tell that climate change is happening from the land and satellite temperature record, the melting of glaciers, the melting of the polar ice caps, the rise in sea levels, the response of plants and animals to changing temperature etc. etc.

      We know the likely effect of AGW from the work of paleo climatologists looking at past climate when CO2 was as high as it is now.

      Climate models are part of the tool set that climate scientists have available. Their strengths and limitations are extensively discussed in the scientific literature.

      As statistician George EP Box said "All models are wrong, but some are useful".

      James' claim is repeated so frequently by climate change deniers that the web site Skeptical Science has a section devoted to it.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/Can-we-trust-computer-models.html

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    2. Tristan Croll

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Ha - if you think climate models are chaotic, you should look at the behaviour of multi-body orbital simulations (where the dominant force is, indeed, gravity). The slightest miscalculation early on - ie. an engine burn a second too long or too late - can change your destination by thousands or even millions of kilometres. Yet orbital simulations of our solar system are used on a routine basis these days to send multi-billion dollar spacecraft on journeys of hundreds of millions of kilometres, to rendezvous with objects that are often no more than a few kilometres across.

      "Chaotic" does *not* equal "unpredictable".

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    3. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Mike -

      I'm not sure where you got the idea that someone thought climate change is not happening but the rate of change has been decellerating in recent times which is not what the models predict. IPCC AR4 models in all scenarios fail to model real world which simply means they need some improvement. They are useful as long as development continues.

      The rate of change of temperature from 1989 to 1999 was an unusual 2.6 degrees per century and since 1999 Co2 has increased by 24 ppm but the rate…

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    4. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to James Szabadics

      I think you have illustrated the weakness of models perfectly. If the assumptions underlying the model are wrong or the model developers make a mistake int hte model the prediction will miss the reality by wide margins.

      Re miscalculation - i think the model will calculate what the programmer tells it to unless the hardware is faulty. Error will be due to invalid assumptions or a simple programming mistake. I dont think the IPCC AR4 models have any simple mistakes, the invalid model projections are more likely due to invalid assumptions about climate forcings dynamic effects or the lack of consideration of some climate forcing/s in the model is causing an imbalance.

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  13. James Strong

    Mr

    Thank you. I know emotions don't help objective debate but I wanted to say how emotionally relieved I am to read this summary of the climate change debate. For the last three to five years I have watched, with astonishment, as the debate was hijacked by interests that seemed either idiotic or economically self-interested (probably the second). However, I wasn't positioned within the debate and so I felt like an observer, left standing on the shore as the ship of reason and truth sailed off into the…

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  14. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    A myth that propagates through the climate debate is that scientists can only establish careers, publish papers and get research funding if their science is consistent with the results and conclusions of the orthodoxy. This myth has been repeated (in various forms) in this discussion thread and those following other articles in the series. This myth is erroneous for a number of reasons.

    Obviously many of the most famous scientists throughout history established their reputations by challenging the…

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    1. James Strong

      Mr

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Have I got this right?: Co2 emmissions don't contribute to global warming because the earth's core is affected by gravity.

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    2. Paul Richards
      Paul Richards is a Friend of The Conversation.

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael I couldn't agree more. I do wish Douglas had put the efforts used here into a publishable paper for scientific peer review.

      He means well, and I am sure he has a deep seated emotional reason for his stance. In time he may be faced with another that sets him on another path.
      I hope it's soon.

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  15. Andrew Barratt

    Firefighter

    Is it just me, or do the deniers seem more shrill on this site. Perhaps it's because they're copping a belting from the 'Conversationalists' lol. Keep playing a straight bat Stephan & Michael.

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    1. John McLean

      logged in via email @connexus.net.au

      In reply to Andrew Barratt

      Are the deniers more shrill? I could ask what's your measure of shrillness but I'll address it another way. This series of articles have come from a bunch of believers in significant and dangerous man-made warming, not just any bunch but one that seems to hold some influence with the government.

      In point of fact not one of these articles has demonstrated credible empirical evidence for significant CO2 driven warming. Most have been about belief and consensus (as if that determined scientific…

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    2. Andrew Barratt

      Firefighter

      In reply to Andrew Barratt

      You can measure shrill in regards to my post as being 'nob like' or perhaps 'futilely arguing the same lost point over and over and over'. With regard to peer review being rock solid, from what I've read the peer reviewing process is as good as we've got, so for us eneducated folk, peer review gives us a degree of confidence that the reviewed paper is credible. Unlike the bulk of the contrary posts in this thread, which would probably make more sense expressed in Klingon. I'll give it to most of you though, you do a better job than A Bolt and A Jones but in the end it's still just a load of crap.

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  16. Ken Sekiya

    logged in via Twitter

    I've mentioned it a numerous times in Blogs, Social networks and other message boards, analysing the "Climate Change" Debate, from the perspective of a communication specialist.

    We all understand that Science is much like a court of law. No one piece of evidence trumps the whole argument - rather balanced on a scale.
    And so, Peer-reviewed judgement made by the science community (not one single organisation, as many controversy-theorists have claimed) had ruled that to declare a scientific consensus…

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    1. Mike Sandiford

      Director, Melbourne Energy Institute at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Ken Sekiya

      Geothermics is the study of the thermal structure of the Earth – and we have been studying if for a century or more. And we know a goof deal about it.
      The average heat flow out of the earth is .087 Watts/m^2. This compares to the of 1366 Watts/m^2 solar insolation received at the top of the atmosphere. So the heat flowing from the Earth provides a negligible contribution to the energy balance of the atmosphere. We can discount it.
      Further when we measure temperatures in shallow boreholes we invariably…

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    2. Simon Arnold

      Mr

      In reply to Ken Sekiya

      As I read Pollack's work he uses the measured temperatures over the last century to calibrate models that use bore hole temperatures to estimate temperatures further back in time, beyond the directly measured data. So one would be very surprised if they weren't "entirely consistent with a rise in surface temperatures of about a degree over the last century".

      What HPS2008 does attempt to show using these reconstructions is that the recent temperatures are higher than those in the Medieval Warm…

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  17. helen stream

    teacher

    Stephen Lewandowsky:
    I realise you’re not a climate scientist, but even in your own field of cognitive science, I don’t know how you can be so careless and imprecise, and get results that hold water.
    In your first paragraph in the Scepticism and Denialism section, you imply that you can tell the difference between what you see as an acceptable, ‘true’ sceptic, and an unacceptable ‘denier’.
    The difference, you imply, is that if the person ‘comes round’ to your way of thinking and becomes a true believer…

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    1. Michael Ashley

      Professor of Astrophysics at UNSW Australia

      In reply to helen stream

      You say that we define a "denier" as someone who "reads up on the science, looks at all the views, from consensus and sceptical scientists, and finds the sceptical scientists more credible".

      We don't say that at all. We are quite explicit: a "denier" is someone "who no matter how many times they are shown to be wrong, they will never change their opinions." Which seems a fair enough description.

      If you want to learn the truth about climate science, you should stop reading The Australian. You are being misled. There is no credible scientific evidence that argues against the fundamentals we discuss above.

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    2. Simon Arnold

      Mr

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      "There is no credible scientific evidence that argues against the fundamentals we discuss above."

      Being upfront about uncertainty in the scientific evidence goes to the very heart of being scientific. In the piece above you make unscientific claims around the certainty of the evidence and are therefore being unscientific, full stop.

      You start on the slippery slope by asserting "Climate Change vs. gravity: Greater complexity, comparable certainty".

      Do you really stand by that statement as a scientist…

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    3. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      Michael Ashley:
      The point I make is that you completely exclude the possibility that a person could read up on the science, and the challenges to it, looking at all sides on the corruption of the scientific process....and remain sceptical about the consensus view, and the claims that the science is over.
      It seems that the climate scientists expect the general population to pretend the fudging of results, denial of data legitimately requested under FOI, the corruption of the peer review process by…

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    4. Michael Ashley

      Professor of Astrophysics at UNSW Australia

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen:

      You say that my "last paragraph , which comes over as a sneer, is a perfect illustration of your contempt for dissent."

      This isn't how I feel at all. I wasn't sneering. And I don't feel contempt for dissent. When I read what you write I feel sadness that you have been taken in by a very effective misinformation campaign. You have obviously thought about this a lot, and you have done a lot of reading, but unfortunately you have come to the wrong conclusion. I can understand how you can do…

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    5. Michael Ashley

      Professor of Astrophysics at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      I should have said "geophysicists" rather than "climate scientists". There are tens of thousands of geophysicists. But use whatever number you want. My argument remains the same.

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    6. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      Michael Ashley
      Thank you for your reply.
      I’m sorry I’m so late in answering, but I thought comments had closed.
      You ask what a scientist should do if he thinks he can prove GW is not significant.
      ‘Publish the proof!’ you say.
      You ask is the climate science conspiracy so strong that----etc etc
      What is strong is the yearning for relevance---to be part of the successful group---the group that gets all the approval and star treatment from media and government---where membership puts a scientist on…

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    7. Michael Ashley

      Professor of Astrophysics at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      Helen,

      All I can say is that you have been conned by a very convincing story from the deniers.

      Science is a very competitive business, and the best way for a young ambitious researcher to make a name for themselves is not to agree with a consensus, but, if the evidence warrants it, to boldly challenge an accepted paradigm and prove that an existing consensus is wrong.

      Why hasn't this happened with AGW? Simple: no one has found any evidence that the science is wrong.

      Why do some "deniers" and "skeptics" have trouble getting their papers published in prestigious journals? Simple: their papers are rubbish.

      But let's suppose for a moment that the peer review process is as corrupt as you say. There is nothing to stop the deniers/skeptics from publishing their rejected papers on the internet for all to see.

      The fact of the matter is that no one has come up with a coherent argument against AGW, whether published in the peer reviewed literature or not.

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    8. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      The earth didnt warm between 1983 and 1996 - and i can cherry pick a bunch of other dates if you like.

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    9. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      Wouldnt the scientist suicide rate also be astronomical if scientists felt that they were pressured into doing sham research after all their training they have done and i assume their greatly accentuated thirst for knowledge and discovery that they have?

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    10. Ian Enting

      Honorary Senior Associate, Faculty of Science at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      "There’s the fact that researchers were able to show that the hockey stick inner circle’s algorithms were programmed to produce hockey sticks with any data. "

      This is quite simply a lie, but of course you are free to try to prove me wrong. As a way of making all this open, most people who are genuine about the issues use the R statistics package. It is free, fairly easy to use, runs under virtually all operating systems, contains pre-packaged routines for the various operations used by Mann et al, has integrated graphics, and many of the recent paper on this topic make available their R code which use you (or someone helping you) could use as a starting point.
      So I think that you should either back up your claim or apologise for your unsubstantiated and defamatory remark about Michael Mann and his colleagues.

      As Michael Ashley says, you have been conned by a very convincing story from the deniers

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  18. John McLean

    logged in via email @connexus.net.au

    This series of articles was nothing more than a SNAKEOIL SALESMEN'S CONVENTION

    I don't use the term flippantly but, like my other statements (and unlike others people's), I can support the claim.

    The authors didn't quite promise a miracle cure and coloured water, but they came close. Their "cure" is to reduce atmospheric CO2 and they base it on their belief that CO2 is a signiifcant cause of warming, but none of them was able to present one iota of credible empirical evidence to support that claim…

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  19. Toby James

    retired physicist

    "as The Conversation has revealed, there are a handful of individuals and organisations who, by avoiding peer review, have engineered a phony public debate about the science, when in fact that debate is absent from the one arena where our scientific knowledge is formed."

    The authors clearly recognise the importance of peer review in the progress of climate science. However, it is not accurate to assert that the view contrary to the AGW position has not been subject to peer review in the specialist…

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  20. Nathan Stewart

    Mr

    This is addressed to all persons here that are certain that AGW theory is wrong:

    If anyone is able to provide a valid explanation as to why it is that all the world’s major scientific organisations are convinced that AGW is occurring, can you please explain it to me.

    Are they all simply incorrectly interpreting the data? Are they all financially motivated? Whatever the reason is, please explain and provide some detail.

    This is a double edged sword for me personally, because if someone can…

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    1. John McLean

      logged in via email @connexus.net.au

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      "If anyone is able to provide a valid explanation as to why it is that all the world’s major scientific organisations are convinced that AGW is occurring, can you please explain it to me."

      Most of those scientific organisations are closely affiliated with the ICSU, formerly known as the International Council of Scientific Unions, a body that was instrumental in the establishment of the IPCC. Following the criticisms of the IPCC's 2007 report those organisations published statements of support…

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John McLean

      The world's scientific organisations come to same conclusion because that is where the facts lead.

      It is interesting to note that there is essentially one theory of AGW - global temperatures are rising (an observable fact) due to the release of C02 into the atmosphere due to burning of fossil fuels.

      On the other hand the deniers have 100s of theories as to why
      - it is not happening
      - it is not us
      - it is not serious
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/

      We have been treated here to Doug Cotton's gravity…

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    3. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to John McLean

      Thanks for responding John and T

      So to summarise -

      1. Most/All the worlds major research organisations take some form of direction one way or another from the ICSU, perhaps not written in a formal agreement, but everyone knows what the rules are.

      2. Government policies,- and therefore funding priorities - have created an implicit knowledge in the scientific community that to continue to receive research money they are best to continue to find links to AGW within all the data that they are producing…

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    4. Mike Palin

      Dr at University of Otago

      In reply to John McLean

      John-
      Do you truly believe in that sort of grand globally conspiracy? Do you think research scientists can be led around like mica through a maze with sugar water? If you do, I am very sorry for you because you obviously have never experienced the joy of discovery and learning that I do every day. Perhaps you should consider a move.

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    5. Jim Mitchell

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Oh my goodness now i see the light Gavin! Who would have thought the the financial backers of the sceptics/loony deniers movement i.e. coal and mining companies etc etc, have the worlds population's best ineterest at heart? all along I thought it was their shareholder's interests they were most concerned about!

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    6. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      This boils down to a kind of he said, she said , they say blah blah blah type discussion.

      It would be better if we talk about the real world observations and try to make it more clear what causes changes in climate. We can see a change in the trend around the start of the current century but we cant say why. This lack of explanation is a good reason to be skeptical of model predictions. CO2 is still a GHG so dont panic about the laws of physics just yet but why have we seen a decelleration in the trend of warming? Could it be that the force/s responsible for this decelleration which has overcome all additional CO2 warming since 2000 is/are also possibly responsible for the accelleration of global temperature from the mid 70s or at least partly responsible?

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    7. Ian Enting

      Honorary Senior Associate, Faculty of Science at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Gavin, the denialists have plenty of explanations out there about the reasons for the conspiracy by climate scientists and all I can do is give you a few pointers.

      John McLean (and Paltridge) on the financial incentives is more about "how" than "why". The starting point on “why” was an alliance between Margaret Thatcher and neo-marxists in order to break the power of the mining unions (Great Global Warming Swindle) and more generally climate scientists acting as stooges for the nuclear industry (John Daly). The broader agenda is to increase the power of the UN as a step towards socialist/stalinist world government (a few posts here) and replace christianity by a pantheistic religion (Cardinal Pell). Underlying all this is the objective of genocide at the behest of the drug-running British royal family (Citizens' Electoral Council).

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    8. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      James - it is merely your opinion, your interpretation of the data, that says warming has decellerated since 2000. Here is an alternative interpretation of the data

      "Figure 2(b) shows the 60-month (5-year) and 132-month (11-year) running-mean surface air temperature in the GISS analysis. Contrary to frequent assertions that global warming slowed in the past decade, as discussed in our Rev. Geophys. paper, global warming has proceeded in the current decade just as fast as in the prior two decades…

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    9. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Gavin

      If you look at the actual GISS data here you can see warming has slowed dramatically this century compared to the 1990s.

      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

      Convert the GISS monthly global T anomaly values to degrees C by dividing them by 100, then average each years 12 monthly values to get a yearly value. Plot the yearly value data from Jan 2001 to present and what is the trend per century? Answer 0.23 degrees C per century or 0.02 degrees C per decade. Compare…

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    10. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to James Szabadics

      addendum - i used the average of the first 5 months of 2011 to give me a preliminary 2011 data point for my slope calculation. If we ignore the so far cooler 2011 and just go to end of 2010 (temp actually lags el-nino/la nina cycle) then the slope increases to 0.07 per decade which is still a long way from 0.18 and still shows a clear decelleration of warming compared to the prior decade.

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    11. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Looks like you didnt even read my post properly.

      Here is another one then from http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/images/GRL2009_ClimateWarming.pdf that explains to you how a decade or two of no apparrent warming can be accounted for:

      "Abstract
      Numerous websites, blogs and articles in the media have claimed that the climate is no longer warming, and is now cooling. Here we show that periods of no trend or even cooling of the globally averaged surface air temperature are found in the last 34 years…

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    12. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      I am happy to say that if warming kicks off and gets going then the rate of change of temperature ill be accelerating. As we both understand that isn't what is happening and now you DO agree that warming has decelerated in the last 10 years and furthermore you say that it could actually cool for the next 30 years which would mean that sea level rise would slow or even decline.

      It is intersting to see you quoting a reference that says that cooling may have begun and that some natural force or cycle is overriding the steady increase of CO2 GHG. Could it be possible that some of the observed warming was due to the opposite phase of this cooling cycle combined with GHG induced warming and if so - how much??

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    13. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Im really not sure what your point is. Are you trying to suggest that there is a strange force at work that scientists are not aware of?

      Did you read the last report i gave you? It is only 7 pages plus a few of graphs. It answers the exact questions you are asking. This is the conclusion of the report http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/images/GRL2009_ClimateWarming.pdf

      "What does this say about the variability of the climate system? Climate models
      are often criticized for producing a more…

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    14. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      My point is that warming has slowed in the last decade.

      The reasons for the decelleration of warming in the recent decade are not well explained.

      It is great that the models on more than 1 (multiple) model runs can produce 3 decades of cooling. But is this a 2 in 10000 runs situation or does this happen on every run of the model? Is this treated as a purely random event or is it "apparently random" because we dont understand the actual reason for the change? If the change is well understood then the model should tell us in advance when these cooling periods will be and warn us.

      I do not see ANY cooling periods forcast in IPCC AR4 projections from 2007. Why?

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    15. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Stop being so focussed on such a short time period, its happened plenty of times before which you can easily see in the global temp graphs. You can cherry pick a whole bunch of decades in the past 40 years where there is no apparrent warming. Why is this decade any different?

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    16. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      I simply make the point that warming has slowed this recent decade and that the reasons for that slowdown are not well catered for in model projections. Because they are not well understood then they cannot be catered for in models and any long term changes in the underlying cause of the recent decelleration could significantly alter the resultant century scale warming outcome.

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    17. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Here are two comments made by you previously in this thread:

      "The IPCC 2007 AR4 prediction is for best case 1.8 degrees per century (Scenario B1) warming or 0.18 degrees C per decade but observations by GISS show 0.02 degrees per decade or 0.2 degrees C per century."

      "addendum - i used the average of the first 5 months of 2011 to give me a preliminary 2011 data point for my slope calculation. If we ignore the so far cooler 2011 and just go to end of 2010 (temp actually lags el-nino/la nina cycle) then the slope increases to 0.07 per decade"

      So you yourself have shown by simply adding or subtracting the last 5 months of GISS data you can change the 10/100 year slope by 350%. Need I say more?

      I dare say if you look at data so closely on such short time periods you will be holding up a billboard saying the end is nigh once an El Nino kicks in and dramatically increases your slope to apocolyptic levels.

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    18. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Gavin, you make a valid point. The ability to accurately predict the future temperature change 100 years hence is difficult. I simply illustrated that the current trend is well shy of the IPCC predictions and warming will really need to get cranking to catch up.

      People who read the thread will realise that I excluded 2011 data to compare a more pessemistic data set with the IPCC projection. You yourself have made a clear and valid point that the temperature record shows a few 30 year periods…

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    19. Mike Palin

      Dr at University of Otago

      In reply to James Szabadics

      James-
      You claim the warming has slowed. What are the errors on the slopes? Are they statistically distinguishable? Be careful how you answer, remember what happened to Phil Jones.

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    20. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Perhaps you'd like to enlighten me as to where i said we are likely to see a 30 year cooling period? I cant find it myself.

      You are claiming to observe a trend based on 10 years of data. That is not enough time to observe a trend - as you yourself have shown that a few months makes the world of differrence.

      Answer this question - what was the global temp difference between 1983 and 1993? what was the slope then? I can cherry pick a few other similar decades for you also if you like.

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    21. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      You should also enlighten me as to where i said the temerature records shows a few 30 year periods of cooling.

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    22. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      You are correct - you only said "a decade or two" and I was thinking of the last 30 year cooling period that ended in the early 70s. The paper you referenced only uses the term "multi year" i.e more than 2 years - is there mention of the maximum duration of flat trend we should expect to see?

      If the current flat trend from the last dozen or so years or even cooling was to persist 30 years or 50 what conclusions could we draw from this about the role of CO2? In say 20 years if temps were similar…

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    23. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      I personally think cosmic rays causing climate change is a bit of a stretch. Not as nutty as gravity causing climate change, but doesnt seem to pass the common sense factor like massively increased GHG's causing climate change.

      See this link for what Skeptical Science has to say on it
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/cosmic-rays-and-global-warming-advanced.htm

      Anyhow, the worlds best and brightest are on to it, i think it is prudent to heed their warnings, a bit of financial pain is a small price to pay if AGW ever turns out to be wrong (and i sure hope AGW is wrong, but my reasoning tells me that is highly unlikely).

      Besides, lets not get stuck into the ocean acidification debate set to do terrible things to fish supplies.

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    24. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Its not that cosmic rays directly cause climate change, its an idirect effect through small changes in low cloud cover. The rays are modulated by solar geomagnetic activity.

      The Skeptical science information is 10 years out of date, they actually reference Lockwood from 2001 to say "Solar magnetic field strength correlates strongly with other solar activity, such as solar irradiance and sunspot number. As is the case with these other solar attributes, solar magnetic field has not changed appreciably…

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    25. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Mike Palin

      Microsoft isnt perfect :) , but i have calculated there is a 36% chance that the regression lines are parallel so I cant say that I am 95% confident that they aren't parallel. Sorry to take so long to reply Mike i didnt notice your comment till tonight! I have uncertainty ....... I cant say with 95% confidence that they are parallel. I can only say with 64% confidence that the trend is not the same and has decreased....

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    26. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Mike Palin

      I will do a bit more work on this tomorrow night, and use the monthly data itself rather than annual averages I used tonight so I have more data to work with and see what eventuates.

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    27. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Hi John, the Skeptical Science website was last updated May 23, 2011
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/cosmic-rays-and-global-warming-advanced.htm

      I really couldnt debate with you about the solar magnetic fields. I wouldnt know what is significant or not. Perhaps you should make a comment on the SS site. But apart from solar magnetic strength it says other things also:

      "Cosmic ray flux on Earth has been monitored since the mid-20th century, and has shown no significant trend over that period…

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    28. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Gavin indeed we would expect cosmic ray flux to be higher over the next decade with a lower solar geomagnetic activity solar cycle so this should either debunk svensmark forever if we see significant warming resume or perhaps go some way to vindicate him if we see significant cooling. If he is correct in the cloud cover link I would not expect to see near instantaneous cooling in the global average temperature record with cloud cover changes of 1 or 2% but I would expect to see a decelleration of warming and a gradual change of trend to cooling if the cloud cover was increased consistently for a decade or two , which if he is correct you would expect in a sequence of 2 low geomagnetic activity solar cycles. We live in interesting times

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    29. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Its an interesting theory. I suspect that at best it would have a moderating affect on global temps but not halt global temperature rises over the long term.

      All things need to be explored however, good on Sven. Do doubt his research and subsequent follow up research will add to the body of knowledge. It's just dissapointing to see some deniers out there touting it as further proof that global warming is not man made - but that cant be helped i suppose, Global warming has become a somewhat…

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    30. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Gavin and James: The solar cycle is going back up as per the usual 11 to 12 year cycle (which is of course regulated by the gravity from planets) and NASA expect it to peak in June 2013 http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml but at a lower maximum than last time - which is actually because the 60 year cycle is going down now until 2028. Then it will go back up to a long-term maximum in 2059 (about 0.1 to 0.3 deg.C higher than 1998-2002) and then the 934 year cycle goes down for another…

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  21. Gary Mount

    logged in via Facebook

    Interesting that you use gravity as an example.
    Scientists can measure gravity to at least 15 significan digits but when it comes to CO2 climate sensitivity, they don't even know the value of the first digit, they don't even know if its positive or negative.

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    1. Paul Richards
      Paul Richards is a Friend of The Conversation.

      In reply to Gary Mount

      Thank you all in involved in The Converstion "Clearing up the climate debate"
      I appreciated the opportunity to discuss and be informed about both sides of the argument. I am pleased that this meme about man made climate change grows.

      Anyone who makes a decision with their heart for an emotional reason will never change their stance, unless faced with another emotion to counter the decision. None of us can provide any deniers with this, that is for them to discover, I just hope they do as soon as possible.
      Then we will move into a win win scenario.

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  22. David Bentley

    I notice that this debate has meandered down the scientific conspiracy path again, with certain contributors asserting that the scientists are only supporting AGW because that's where their grants come from. Taking this to its logical conclusion, one would think that it is in the sponsor's (ie. Government's) interest to produce evidence to support AGW. But I don't really understand this motivation. If one were a lawyer looking to prove a case, I don't think this would achieve the "motive" requirement…

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  23. Bruce Tabor

    Research Scientist at CSIRO

    Thanks Stepahn and Michael,

    This is an excellent article with which I have only one quibble.
    It is quite wrong to state the "certainty" regarding climate change is "comparable" to the "certainty" regarding gravity.

    The field of evidence based medicine (EBM) is a good illustration of how the quality of evidence can be assessed. The highest quality of evidence in medicine comes from properly designed randomised controlled trials - something clearly impossible with planets - fololwed by unrandomised…

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    1. Paul Richards
      Paul Richards is a Friend of The Conversation.

      In reply to Bruce Tabor

      I thank all the staff at The Conversation for the chance to put a point or two, and respond to malicious, misguided, passionate mindsets in the Climate Change debate.

      What I have learned and you highlighted in your article;
      ".......there are a handful of individuals and organisations who, by avoiding peer review, have engineered a phony public debate about the science, when in fact that debate is absent from the one arena where our scientific knowledge is formed."

      I really though better of those outside the consensus, and I stand corrected.

      I now totally agree, there really are those who have actively engineered a phoney public debate, for there own unique reasons.

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  24. Douglas Cotton

    B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

    There are indeed a lot of false statements being propagated and a lot of confused people, scientists among them - Monckton among them too. Yes, it's me saying that, because Monckton has not quite got it right either.

    Yes, the consensus of peer-reviewed "science" says "we caused climate change" for the simple reason that it takes time for a majority to come to grips with the "New Theory."

    Some people probably still think that the sun's solar radiation is the Earth's main source of energy. It is…

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    1. Mike Palin

      Dr at University of Otago

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Doug-
      Do you live near the ocean? If so, spend a day on the beach and observe the effects of the moon's gravity on Earth's oceans. There are no such effects from Jupiter. Why? Because the force of gravitational attraction between two objects is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This means the effects of the moon are 100x greater than those of Jupiter. Do the calculation yourself.

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    2. Bruce Tabor

      Research Scientist at CSIRO

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Doug,
      Over the Earth's surface over a whole year the average energy reaching the top of our atmosphere from the Sun is 1366 Watts per square metre (1.366 kW). That's a small bar radiator or stove top element per square metre for every square metre on planet Earth - including the oceans that cover 70% of the surface.

      Yet the temperature at the bottom of the ocean is 2-3 Celcius, with little convection (mixing) which would be expected if there was a heat flow of 1.4 kW through every square metre…

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    3. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Douglas: Are you suggesting that we all think that the sun caused the heat in the core of the earth - i refer to your comment:

      "But, knowing that the mine temperatures are what they are, how then could the liquid core have got so hot? The heat could not have come from solar insolation. It has to have come from changes in potential energy causing huge currents in the liquid core, and thus huge friction."

      I suggest you look up geological history of the earth on the internet. You will find a much more rational explanation than gravity or the sun causing the heat in the centre of the earth.

      See this link to educate yourself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geological_history_of_Earth I know you dont like wikipedia but it has a bunch of references attached to it for you to go nuts on.

      I think even a 1st year highschool student could tell you this stuff.

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  25. Douglas Cotton

    B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

    This paper explains the connection between gravity and temperature.
    http://www.firstgravitymachine.com/temperaturedifference.phtml

    The IPCC did not take into account the component of temperature of every molecule on the planet that is affected by changes in potential energy as the distance of the Earth from the sun, Jupiter, Saturn etc varies. See http://earth-climate.com for more detail.

    How come temperatures this last 12 months have been lower than those for 2003 when CO2 levels continue to climb on a near linear trend? (See http://climate-change-theory.com/2003-2011.jpg ) Find out why on my site!

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    1. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Gravity machine on the what now? Have you built one, does it work?

      Now you have me interested Mr Cotton, just when i thought this conversation was getting boring.

      Please tell me all about this gravity machine!

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    2. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      So Douglas Cotton - you now state that you no longer believe in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as evidenced by your link to the gravity machine website:
      http://www.firstgravitymachine.com/temperaturedifference.phtml

      The website explicity states that gravity can create temperature gradients (i.e. moving heat in opposite direction - from cold to hot) and that a machine can be built to harness this energy to useful purposes.

      It goes further - Mr Graeff, through his research has not only debunked…

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    3. James Harrison

      Postgraduate student at Monash University

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Wow. I really mean it.
      I remember when we started this discussion that Doug was all about variations in sun spots being the sole determinant of global mean temperatures. Look how far we`ve come!

      Someone needs to introduce him to Ockham`s razor.

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    4. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      I am saying what I am saying at http://climate-change-theory.com ...

      When a molecule loses Potential Energy that energy is converted to another form of energy ... kinetic energy perhaps? Heat perhaps?

      Does that remind you of basic High School / College Physics?

      To say, when the force of gravity of the sun accelerates the Earth (F=ma - basic Physics?) including its atmosphere, that no heat is generated would be about as absurd as saying when the moon circles the Earth no energy is transmiited to the oceans. Now wouldn't it?

      The issue is whether the amount of heat generated VARIES. It wouldn't if there were no planets and the Earth's orbit was perfectly circular and the Earth didn't spin. Now would it?

      It's so obvious you wonder how the IPCC missed it.

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    5. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to James Harrison

      Yes - sunspots are also caused by gravity and correlate very well with temperatures - witness the low activity in the Little Ice Age - see first plot at http://earth-climate.com

      When a molecule loses Potential Energy that energy is converted to another form of energy ... kinetic energy perhaps? Heat perhaps?

      Does that remind you of basic High School / College Physics?

      To say, when the force of gravity of the sun accelerates the Earth (F=ma - basic Physics?) including its atmosphere, that no heat is generated would be about as absurd as saying when the moon circles the Earth no energy is transmitted to the oceans. Now wouldn't it?

      The issue is whether the amount of heat generated VARIES. It wouldn't if there were no planets and the Earth's orbit was perfectly circular and the Earth didn't spin. Now would it?

      It's so obvious you wonder how the IPCC missed it.

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    6. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Rewriting the second law of thermodynamics does not remind me of highschool at all Douglas.

      Gravity machines belong right up there with engines that burn water for fuel!

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    7. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      What gravity machine? There is absolutely no reference to such on my site nor any link to anything about such.

      You really have absolutely no idea of my point about conservation of potential energy do you?

      Where does the potential energy go when Earth "falls" 400,000,000 Km closer to Jupiter?. Answer that my friend!

      PS Re-writing statistics seems to be the forte of the IPCC .... see this experiment

      http://climate-change-theory.com/experiment.html

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    8. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      You posted this link three days ago as evidence of gravity causing heat:

      "This paper explains the connection between gravity and temperature.
      http://www.firstgravitymachine.com/temperaturedifference.phtml "

      This website has a section dedicated to why the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics is wrong and even writes a new definition of the 2nd Law - see the link and find out for yourself.

      It does not inspire a lot of confidence in your scientific judgement.

      Tell me this then: If Earth "falls" 400,000km close to the sun and turns that gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy/heat etc - how does the earth climb back up so it can repeat the process?

      It would need kinetic energy from another source to regain its gravitational potential energy seeing as it has lost energy to heat etc as per your theory (something to push it back up hill), what is this energy and where does it come from? This is a fundamental question i do not see answered anywhere on your website.

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    9. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      That's when it cools and the heat that was gained is then returned and it supplies a very small part of the total kinetic energy, namely that part which becomes potential energy (relative to Earth) in the rest of the orbit - just like a pendulum swinging. Surely you don't believe the orbits just stop. The sun is still accelerating the Earth in its orbit but the gravity from planets causes slight wobbles in the orbit when they are closest. What we are looking at is the relative distance between…

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    10. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Lets leave that gravity machine link alone for now. I still have major problems with it but will get to that later.

      So let me get this 100% clear - a small portion the gravitational energy of the earth relative to the sun is converted to kinetic energy which is then converted to heat (obviously if it was all used it would be beacuse we have crashed into the sun!). The earth then cools as this heat energy is then converted back to kinetic energy which pushes the earth back to its original orbit position so that it has fully regained its gravitational potential energy - thus energy in = energy out.

      Then the process starts again?

      This raises interesting questions, but for now i would like to know if my understanding of the basic principle is correct.

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    11. Mike Palin

      Dr at University of Otago

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Douglas, have you considered the implications your hypothesis for Mars? Think about it, the Mars-Jupiter distance is smaller and proportionally more variable than the Earth-Jupiter distance. So, perhaps this can explain what happened to the canals on Mars?

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    12. Mike Palin

      Dr at University of Otago

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      For those not in the know, the Washington Times is NOT the Washington Post. The latter is a newspaper with a proud investigative tradition (think Woodward and Bernstein), the former is a right-wing rag in the News Corp stable.

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    13. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Mike Palin

      There will be many more papers world-wide in due course. I don't care where people get the link to http://earth-climate.com - there will be many more than the 3,000 hits in the first 3 weeks and many politicians world-wide are also being sent emails. I've barely started yet.

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    14. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Just read the revised version (6 July) with extra footnotes (now 8 in total) http://earth-climate.com

      A small portion of the energy derived from gravity goes into heat via gravity which acts (a) on molecules directly (b) on the magnetic field (c) possibly via cosmic rays from the sun also. All these three increase/decrease simultaneously due to the orbits of the sun and the planets, the latter causing most of the variation. the vast majority of the heat energy being added (to help stop the Earth cooling to absolute zero) comes from gravity and only a small amount from solar insolation which does not penetrate very deep below ground level. Some scientists say the original heat would be less than 20% of what it was originally - some say it has almost gone altogether - but nobody can really know. The point is, more heat has to be being added or otherwise how did the Earth warm up from the ice ages? Now there's a good question for you to answer.

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    15. Tristan Croll

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Perhaps you could explain something to me regarding your gravity "theory".

      Io is Jupiter's innermost moon, and feels the strongest tidal forces of any planet in the solar system. The competing pull of Jupiter's enormous gravity and the other Jovian moons is sufficient to raise its crust up and down by 100m, and the resultant heat and friction is sufficient to keep its core molten and causes its spectacular vulcanism. It experiences *far* more gravitational heating than Earth ever will.

      Yet its surface temperature is around -170 degrees Celsius. What gives?

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    16. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Douglas: That did not answer my question whatsoever. I wanted a very simple yes or no answer: if no - a very simple explanation, yet you send me to your website which does not explain how the gravitational potential energy turns to heat and then back again whatsoever.

      What gives?

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    17. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Basic Physics says Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy are interchangeable (as in a pendulum swinging) and of course kinetic energy turns to heat. Have you ever hit a squash ball?

      There IS a detailed explanation now of the role of gravity in the expanded footnotes (now 8 in total) at http://earth-climate.com

      Moreover, there is now even more evidence of correlation between climate and total gravity from sun and planets documented on my site. Surely that makes you think! Especially when temperatures having been going down since 2003, except on "The Conversation" of course.

      Once you've actually studied what I've actually said in the July 6th update I would be happy to answer ANY questions sent to my email address (on the site) relating to what is actually said there.

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    18. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Tristan Croll

      Not sure what your point is about its surface temperature when Earth's is about 21 deg.C, but I can tell you Jupiter has puzzled scientists in that it radiates more energy than it receives in solar insolation. http://www.universetoday.com/15146/jupiter-radiation/
      Do YOU have an explanation for that?

      I can also tell you that past maximum and minimum temperatures (including 1999) correlate with the eccentricity of Jupiter. But then, you'd know that because it's on http://earth-climate.com

      Another…

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    19. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Tristan Croll

      PS I should not have implied that 1999 was a long-term maximum. Gravity from Jupiter and Saturn correlates with the superimposed 60 year cycles. The long-term 934 year cycle relates to Jupiter's eccentricity nodes. It appears that the next maximum around 2059 will be the last in the long-term cycle which will then head down to a "Little Ice Age" about 450 years later. These cycles are both historic an dpredictable. It's all on my site anyway.

      Please keep future questions to direct emails using the em address on the site.

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    20. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Doug I did read your website - its rubbish. Point 8 does not provide any scientific explanation of the physics behind the theory. Given that Scafetta didnt attempt to either, im not surprised you cannot.

      I give up - i was hoping you would come up with a truly imganitive explanation for me to have a chuckle at - which you did temporarily with the gravity machine link before you took it down. No more questions from me, been good talking with you.

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    21. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Palin

      Left wing newspaper good---Right wing newspaper bad, is it---a 'rag' in fact.

      Very illuminating.

      This is a Left -Right issue in a lot of ways, but the Left have no reason to feel they're on any moral high ground---anything but.

      There's more than a touch of the same sort of groupthink in this issue ,that in the past enabled Lysenko, with the huge loss of life that resulted.

      The Leftist groupthink, shutdown of information, squashing of dissent, manipulation of information, constraining of freedom…

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    22. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to helen stream

      With that little rant I think everyone has just put you in the "Whackadoodle" category. That's not hyperbole---just unassailable fact.

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    23. James Harrison

      Postgraduate student at Monash University

      In reply to helen stream

      Did the presentation of scientific fact on climate change just get associated with crimes against humanity? Amazing.

      Helen, I think your statement suggesting you think this is a left/right issue belies the reason for your position. I suppose you see yourself as right of centre, and percieve the acceptance of ACC as somehow leftist, thus going against your political beliefs, hence your stringent denial.

      I would point out that at its heart, this is most definitely NOT a left/right issue - this…

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    24. Mike Palin

      Dr at University of Otago

      In reply to helen stream

      helen-
      Yep, those nasty "leftists" at the Washington Post bringing down that champion of free-speech, Richard Nixon. And what about News Corp as protector of our freedoms?
      You haven't been conned, that implies you're an innocent victim of your own ignorance. You're a front-line participant in the misinformation campaign. I hope you are young enough to experience the spoils of your actions.

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    25. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Well perhaps YOU would like to explain why, for example ...

      (a) The IPCC models don't even properly take into account the winds. That's why you need to study what is really going on, including the link to Prof. Lindzen's paper which concludes as here: http://earth-climate.com/lindzen.jpg

      (b) The FACTS are that temperatures have not risen in the last seven and a half years even though CO2 continues its near linear climb. Again I refer you to http://earth-climate.com/2003-2011.jpg and I predict…

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  26. Geoff James

    Head of Regulatory Affairs at CSIRO

    People, please take this off line, it's not interesting to most readers any more. One or two (short) comments, at most, are enough to share your key points. Have a coffee together somewhere. Thank you all article authors for your efforts.

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    1. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Geoff James

      There is a pretty simple solution if you are not interested in these comments anymore.

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    2. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Geoff James

      While you're having your coffee maybe you'd like to think up an answer to this ...

      Fact: The mean temperature gradient from 1940 to the present is LESS than that from 1880 to 1940. Yet carbon dioxide has increased significantly.

      Question: Why?

      Answer; See http://earth-climate.com

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  27. Nathan Stewart

    Mr

    Here is an interesting scientific look at why climate change deniers have such strong conviction in their views despite overwhelming scientific evidence:

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/07/11/3265013.htm

    "Setting the record straight almost impossible"

    "The effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated, even after it has been corrected numerous times, say Australian psychologists."

    "Ecker says this effect, known as 'continued influence effect of misinformation…

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    1. Douglas Cotton

      Douglas Cotton B.Sc. (Physics) B.A. (Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin.

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Here is an interesting question for you Gavin, or anyone.

      In Singapore the maximum temperature is about 31 to 32 deg.C every day of the year and the humidity is always very high ensuring good greenhouse effect especially with the help of all that CO2. I'm sure you can spot check this yourself.

      So, if it is 31 deg.C on a very cloudy day, why isn't it much higher on a bright. cloudless sunny day? Please (try to) use the IPCC greenhouse model to explain.

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    2. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Are you seriously doubting that the atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect? the Green house effects of gasses can be unequivocally tested in the laboratory and in the environment. Even monckton, the self declared lord wouldnt side with you on that one, he simply doesnt think the extra carbon we are putting out will significantly increase the greenhouse effect.

      Why dont you check out the temperature of the light and dark side of the moon?

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    3. Ian Enting

      Honorary Senior Associate, Faculty of Science at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      There is no such thing as "the IPCC model". The IPCC don't do modelling, they report the results of modelling from various research groups. One example is the model that CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology use for their climate modelling. The atmospheric model came from the UK Met Office. This same model (run at higher resolution, I think) is used
      by the Bureau of Meteorology for forecasting and is run daily (I think several times a day), so you can look on the Bureau website and see how this models does at calculating temperatures at places with all different values of local humidity.

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    4. Douglas Cotton

      Douglas Cotton B.Sc. (Physics) B.A. (Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin.

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Gavin - there is a big difference between a lab experiment and the real world. The atmosphere is not a closed system as is required for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which thus cannot be applied, because one of the "results" would have to be uniform pressure at all altitudes. (Look up 2nd law on Wikipedia.) So there can be no insulating blanket sending heat back to Earth by convection. Hence we must consider only radiation down, BUT both radiation and convection up.

      Please just keep any future…

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    5. Nathan Stewart

      Mr

      In reply to Douglas Cotton

      Doug is this you again? Did you get banned under your original name??

      There is no global conspiracy and you are not smarter than the CSIRO, NASA, etc etc. Certainly your 50 year old bachelor degree in physics does not make you more qualified than them either, or your complete lack of any scientific evidence for you theories that require rewriting of several scientific disciplines including geology and physics. The Celebrity Psychic Twins have more scientific credibility than you.

      Here is a video that visibly demonstrates how carbon dioxide absorbs IR radiation.

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    6. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Nathan Stewart

      Hi Gavin - well here's a peer-reviewed lab experiment that debunks the old one http://www.biocab.org/Wood_Experiment_Repeated.html

      I think you had better read my site if you genuinely still believe that

      (a) warm air falls from the skys

      (b) the photons that CO2 emits back to Earth are different from the ones all the other nitrogen and oxygen ones emit to Earth

      (c) that the only heat coming from the ground is radiated heat,

      (d) that deep mines are warmed by the sun,

      (e) the fact that no photons…

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    7. Douglas Cotton

      B.Sc.(Physics), B.A.(Econ), Dip.Bus.Admin

      In reply to Ian Enting

      Well I think you'll find the IPCC referred to literal models made a hundred years or so back which they thought proved that the atmosphere acted like a greenhouse. Not their model making I guess, if you want to be literal.

      Unfortunately those models do NOT model the real world atmosphere in which the Second Law of Thermodynamics does NOT apply. Hence it has been quite easy to demonstrate the old model was a huge blunder, or maybe just a hoax it was so absurd - see http://www.biocab.org/Wood_Experiment_Repeated.html

      For more detail see http://climate-change-theory.com

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  28. simon neville

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    Giggle! Saturn is in the house of Virgo causing global temp to rise due to gravitational fields. Cancer expect a new opportunity to arise if you are willing.

    Mr Cotton with a link to your website in every single post one must ask are you paid per hit?

    Also has it been so long since you have done your bachelor's that you no longer know how to reference?

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  29. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Reply to Hoeg-Guldberg (about 20 hours ago) Thanks for the link, I laready had that paper. Its Abstract confirms my view:

    1."Many calcifying species exhibit reduced calcification and growth rates in laboratory experiments under high-CO2 conditions", namely when buckets of acid have been added to a tank by Uwe to get a really satisfying - i.e. self-fulfilling - level of CO2.

    2. "Ocean acidification also causes an increase in carbon fixation
    rates in some photosynthetic organisms (both calcifying and noncalcifying)." So either good or bad may result, AIMS picks the bad.

    3. "The potential for marine organisms to adapt to increasing CO2 and broader implications for ocean ecosystems are not well known..."; least of all by Uwe/AIMS.

    4. "Both are high priorities for future research" - just send more money.

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  30. Katie Dupont

    logged in via Facebook

    The only fact is Climate change is due to humans error and we have to think that we should take it out and make some changed regarding on how to take care of our planet to last for the next generation <a href="http://www.hlcgroup.net">Mortgage Louisville KY</a> would have more facts on that and they are caring our enviroment.

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  31. Katie Dupont

    News Writer

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