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Sceptics

Ian Plimer – Heaven and Earth

Update: Prof Ian Enting from University of Melbourne has provided a detailed, point-by-point critique of Heaven and Earth. You can download the 46-page PDF here (version 2.0).

Edit: The Australian newspaper has published an article on Brook vs Plimer (see here).

Today I attended the formal launch of Professor Ian Plimer’s new book “Heaven and Earth” (held in the historic balcony room of South Australia’s Parliament House). Ian had kindly sent me an invitation and I thought it a good opportunity to get a summary of his recent opinion, straight from the horse’s mouth. The book went on sale a few days before, and having been lent a copy, I’d read through it on-and-off over the last few days. Here is what the blurb suggests the book achieves:

The Earth is an evolving dynamic system. Current changes in climate, sea level and ice are within variability. Atmospheric CO2 is the lowest for 500 million years. Climate has always been driven by the Sun, the Earth’s orbit and plate tectonics and the oceans, atmosphere and life respond. Humans have made their mark on the planet, thrived in warm times and struggled in cool times. The hypothesis tha humans can actually change climate is unsupported by evidence from geology, archaeology, history and astronomy. The hypothesis is rejected. A new ignorance fills the yawning spiritual gap in Western society. Climate change politics is religious fundamentalism masquerading as science. Its triumph is computer models unrelated to observations in nature. There has been no critical due diligence of the science of climate change, dogma dominates, sceptics are pilloried and 17th Century thinking promotes prophets of doom, guilt and penance. When plate tectonics ceases and the world runs out of new rocks, there will be a tipping point and irreversible climate change. Don’t wait up.

I’ve been critical of Ian’s views before (see here and here). In short, my view was that Ian’s assertions about man’s role in climate change were naive, reflected a poor understanding of climate science, and relied on recycled and distorted arguments that had been repeatedly refuted. Ian and I have regularlydebated‘ on this issue, so I’m probably more familiar than most with his lines of argument. (I actually think it’s rather silly to debate the science, because this the role of the scientific community as a whole, and in doing so they’ve reached a view that this is a serious problem — but one-on-one debate is what the media demands.) Anyway, after reading the 500+ page tome that is H+E, I find that nothing has fundamentally changed.

Plimer tackles literally hundreds of lines of argument in his book. He claims that mainstream science – including the ‘experts’ in each area (those that focus on particular focused questions within narrow discipline areas) are ALL wrong – every argument, every one of those scientists. I quote (from a recent Adelaide Advertiser article on the book): Professor Plimer said his book would “knock out every single argument we hear about climate change”, to prove that global warming is a cycle of the Earth. “It’s got nothing to do with the atmosphere, it’s about what happens in the galaxy. You’ve got to look at the whole solar system and, most importantly, we look back in time.”

There are a lot of uncertainties in science, and it is indeed likely that the current consensus on some points of climate science is wrong, or at least sufficiently uncertain that we don’t know anything much useful about processes or drivers. But EVERYTHING? Or even most things? Take 100 lines of evidence, discard 5 of them, and you’re still left with 95 and large risk management problem. It’s an unscientific and disingenuous claim. As is his oft repeated assertion that a single apparently contradictory piece of information axiomatically overturns all other lines of evidence. Plimer apparently thinks Popperian falsification is the dominant deductive modus operandi in the natural sciences. I’ve got other news for him (I’m happy to email people my full article from BioScience if they email me a request).

Ian Plimer’s book is a case study in how not to be objective. Decide on your position from the outset, and then seek out all the facts that apparently support your case, and discard or ignore all of those that contravene it. He quotes a couple of thousand peer-reviewed scientific papers when mounting specific arguments. What Ian doesn’t say is that the vast majority of these authors have considered the totality of evidence on the topic of human-induced global warming and conclude that it is real and a problem. Some researchers have show that the Earth has been hotter before, and that more CO2 has been present in the atmosphere in past ages. Yes, quite — this is an entirely uncontroversial viewpoint. What is relevant now is the rate of climate change, the specific causes, and its impact on modern civilisation that is dependent, for agricultural and societal security, on a relatively stable climate. Ian pushes mainstream science far out of context, again and again.

Ian also claims that a huge body of scientific evidence — indeed, whole disciplines such as geology and astronomy — have been ignored. This is an extraordinary proposition and quite at odds with the published literature, as reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I wonder if Ian has ever read their reports to find out what they actually do say. Terms like ‘solar’ and ‘volcano’ get frequent mentions, and there is a whole chapter on ‘paleoclimate’. Ian’s stated view of climate science is that a vast number of extremely well respected scientists and a whole range of specialist disciplines have fallen prey to delusional self interest and become nothing more than unthinking ideologues. Plausible to conspiracy theorists, perhaps, but hardly a sane world view — and insulting to all those genuinely committed to real science.

There is another important general point about the book. In the final chapter (pg 473), Ian quotes Charles Babbage; this quote is relevant to the thrust of his book, and underscores to me why it is so distorted. Babbage outlined three criteria for detecting non-science: trimming, cooking and forgery. Here is a useful description of what Babbage said:

Trimming “consists of clipping off little bits here and there from those observations which differ most in excess from the mean, and in sticking them on to those which are too small.” Babbage believed trimming was not a serious threat to the search for truth because it merely reinforced the average results and eliminated some odd outlying data. In contemporary clinical research, however, rare adverse effects can be literally a matter of life and death. Thus, clinical investigators today are not so complacent on this point.

Cooking is the selective reporting of a group of results, picking out the data from among several measurements that most supports the desired conclusion. Babbage had in mind the actions of a single investigator, but selective reporting might also draw concern as a cause of publication bias. Is an investigator who does not report the results of a study with a negative finding committing fraud? This is a question that has not yet been answered by the research community.

Blatant forgery, as in reporting measurements on imaginary patients, was for Babbage the most nefarious type of fraud. Yet as medical research and its relationship to the pharmaceutical industry and to consumers has grown more complex, it has become more difficult to clearly define investigator fraud. Medical professor and ethicist Robert Levine defines “fraud” as “the deliberate reporting in the scientific literature or at scientific meetings of ‘facts’ that the reporter knows are unsubstantiated.” But the scientific community, Levine says, has not yet agreed on how to distinguish between “felonies and misdemeanors” in the context of research misconduct.”

Trimming might include surreptitiously deleting outliers that do not fit with models or theory. Cooking is good old cherry-picking, a la the “1998 was the hottest year on record and so the Earth has cooled since” meme. Forgery is typified by Fig 3 in the Introduction of Plimer’s book. Guess where that came from?

Here (first edition of the Great Global Warming Swindle). This is the original version of his Fig 3:

The above figure contains fabricated data, as can be seen in this comparison (Ian used the purple version):

I wonder what happened to the last 20-odd years of warming in Ian’s plot, and where did all that smoothing and flattening come from? There are numerous other examples of Babbage’s misdemeanours in the book. (A bunch more are listed below).

Ian says that creationists use all three tricks — I’d agree. But he then says that the IPCC uses at least two of them, and rants on for a few pages as to why. But of course herein is the great irony of Plimer’s position: a rogue accuses others of what he is most guilty. The pseudo-sceptics of climate science, like the tobacco lobby, liberally undertake all three malpractices to convince their audience of their position. Their twisted logic goes something like this: We know we do it, so surely the ‘other side’ (climate scientists, IPCC etc.) must do it too! Of course, the other side deny that they do it, so we must deny as well. And so it goes on.

The irony of the distortion of Babbage seems to be lost on Ian. Or perhaps it’s all part of the illusionist’s box of magic.

Ian’s book contains over 2,000 references to the scientific literature, although the most cited journal by far is Energy and Environment. What the unsuspecting reader might not realise, however, is that a large number of the scientists he cites in footnotes would agree with the mainstream consensus — just a casual look turns up names like Broeker, Alley, Barnosky, Rampino, Lambeck, Royer, Berner, etc. (even Brook, heh, heh). It’s all about the context, and Ian is not averse to implicit extrapolation…

Here are some notes on the numerous figures contained in the book (see comments above on Fig 3):

Fig 1 — Contrasts actual yearly temperatures to mean model projections (not individual, variable, simulation runs) — and doesn’t include the data beyond the low point in January 2008. This is comparing apples and orange (illustrating a complete lack of understanding of stochastic modelling) and it’s trimming to boot (elsewhere in the book, data up to early 2009 is included, so why not here?). Edit: Apparently this figure, originally created by John Christy, is scooting around the net.

Fig 8 — No citation, I have no idea where this weird temperature reconstruction of the last few thousand years comes from (it puports to show a systematic decline in temperature), but it isn’t from the science literature.

Fig 11 — The lower figure is not Europe, as claimed, it is central England (see section “Central England is not the world!” in link).

Fig 15 — Sunspots and temp correlation — this is the UNCORRECTED version of the Friis-Christensen and Lassen study with mathematical errors retained (for that link, see section entitled “Temperature matches solar activity exactly!”). See also this BoM rebuttal. Was the corrected version rather too inconvenient?

He makes an argument at one point that volcanoes could be the cause of rising CO2 (rather strangely, after trying to convince the audience that CO2 doesn’t change climate — one wonders why he then bothers about volcanoes, since this trace gas is apparently unimportant anyway). He’s claimed this before, but doesn’t seem to want to listen to the facts.

Fig 23 — A cartoon diagram of glacial-interglacial temperatures with no citation — why not use the real data, and why hide the fact that these are polar, not global, temperatures?

Fig 24 — That notorious cartoon plot of CO2 vs temperature throughout the Phanerozoic, purporting to show no relationship. Hmmm — that’s a rather strange source for a geological reference…

Fig 40 — A sea surface temperature plot with no citation, so I have no idea where this data come from. Yet it is flat and the one from Fig 38 is rising. Why the difference? Never explained.

Fig 42 and 49 — UAH satellite temperature PRIOR to the bias adjustment for satellite drift that caused it to erroneously show no trend! Was this incorrect series more convenient to his argument that there as been almost no warming over the past 25 years?

Fig 44 — Says 98% of greenhouse effect comes from water vapour — errr, no.

Fig 52 — Plots chemical measures of CO2, fluctuating between 300 to 450 ppm over two centuries and as much as 120 ppm over 10 years — did he bother to work out implications of this? (literally hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon released and sequestered again, within a few years, without anyone ever noticing where it came from or where it went)

Fig 54 — This seems to be the original Mann et al. 1999 hockey stick (not updated 2008 version or 2007 IPCC mutli-proxy version) — but with the uncertainty bounds deleted. Plimer then (and throughout the book, in fact), claims that climate scientists ignore uncertainty. Yes, well…

Pg 491 he says: “Even if the IPCC’s high “climate sensitivity” to CO2 were correct, disaster would not be likely to follow. The peer-reviewed literature is near-unanimous in not predicting climate catastrophe. 2304” Ref 2304 is Schulte, K.-M. 2008: Scientific consensus on climate change? E&E 19:281-286. Ahh, you’ve got to chuckle.

Pg 492, says DDT ban killed 40 million children before the UN ended it. Is that really the best he can do to discredit environmentalism?

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Update: Tim Lambert continues the page-by-page debunking here: The science is missing from Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth
—————————————

The launch ended with a statement of conviction from the master of ceremonies that this book will become a classic, alongside the other great works of modern science. Well, it may well be held up as an example for the future. An example of just how deluded and misrepresentative the psuedo-sceptical war against science really was in the first decade of the 21st century.

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

1,053 replies on “Ian Plimer – Heaven and Earth”

The way I see it is that main stream don’t like it so they go into damage control and try and point out bits they believe can discredit this information. Any one with half a brain will look and do their own research and come up with their own oppinion, and question it for them selves like why hasn’t global warming continued since 1998, why does the bureau of metorology use ocean sea tempurature that dates back 20 years to predict weather if ocean temps are hot now than back then. Why did the Northen hemisphere are having their coldest winters in 15years when it suposidly is getting hotter. Lets face it we have to look at everything co2 isn’t the big picture.

The problem is GLOBAL WARMING doesn’t have anything to do with us at all. What happens if the sun becomes lazzy again we will see a fall in temps and they will blame it on the conveyor belt of ocean currents. Thats right we have melted so much ice we have created a global cooling, when in fact it’ll be the sun has gotten lazzy or with the earth wobble we are further from the sun.

Think about it, if climate change is as bad as they say we have technology there to have zerro addmissions but thats no good as we can’t make substantial moneis from that.

Look at geo thermal power Most countries can make their own electrictiy from this and power nations, this won’t happen anytime soon as it is free to run. Japan has made an water powered engineabout one to two years ago. It’s a running prototype that actually drives around Japan only running on water.

So think about it, if climate change is so drastic and we have these technologies in place why aren’t we using them.

I believe that Carbon Tax is so we can pay big buisness to clean up it’s act. In reality they should be paying for this themselves as most of these technologies have been around for decades and big buisnes hasn’t wanted to change as they won’t be making as much money “Sorry Bush”.

So why should we the people of this beutiful world of ours have to pay for the monopalization of big buisnes that have forced us to use Oil based products ie, Plastic, Gasoline, Petrol, Coal, etc. when we could have started using alternitve energies instead of poluting our planet.

Geo thermal power is the way of our future and water powered cars “ZERRO ADDMISSIONS” as well as no TOXIC fuems which is the real reason for smog not co2 admission as this is invisable to the naked eye.

I ask you this in the forrest can you see oxygen. Lets put it another way in the forrest can you see co2! the answer is NO! It’s there has been for millions of years. Why because it’s invisable. In cities the smog is not made from co2 it’s all the other crap that goes up with it! This is our problem, this is what is killing us and our planet NOT CO2!!!

Ross Strachan

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Why do you persist in trolling – same old arguments meticulousy and persistently refuted here and at many other respected climate change blogs. If you can’t spell try using you spell-checker – that works for most mistakes, and certainly for all yours, including “zerro addmissions”, “fuems”, “monopalization” etc, etc. The fact that you are too lazy even to use the computer tools, demonstrates the laziness of your research and, inevitably, your laughable arguments.
Barry – please disemvowel him!

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Fig 52. Good old EG Beck.

A favourite of the NZ denialists also.
The best they came up with in defense in an email exchange was “Well no peer reviewed study has disproved it so it must be true”.

Though I see R. Keeling had a response in E&E about Beck’s “paper”.
Oh wait, I take the point (all respect to Ralph) about not being peer reviewed.
(In fact we purchased a copy of the full paper to write a detailed rebuttal but decided if E&E could flick off R.Keeling then we would be wasting our time though it is on the list of things to do one day).

I actually had a wee popular article (in response to one by a local denier in a business newspaper) where I criticised the use of Beck. The denier wrote to my vice-chancellor (a real still publishing scientist) demanding that I provide references to prove Beck was rubbish or retract. Funnily enough, I had discussed the article with the Dean (a glaciologist) and they were greatly amused.

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A set of slides from a presentation by Naomi Oreskes on the scientific consensus on climate change provides a good, simple exploration of the topic for non-scientists at http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/Presentations/Oreskes%20Presentation%20for%20Web.pdf

She concludes: “There is a scientific consensus over the reality of anthropogenic global warming.[It is based on] multiple, independent lines of evidence converging on a single coherent account.”

To me, her statement that there are “multiple, independent lines of evidence converging on a single coherent account” is an excellent summary of why there is a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. Ian Plimer’s work fails to provide a coherent account that is consistent with the evidence and that is why it will not be accepted by the scientific community.

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I am shocked. Having read some of Plimers articles on global warming, I knew that it would be bad – but I didn’t expect the cherry picking of flawed data and some obvious pseudoscientific work.

I would love to see a review of this book in The Australian Sceptics.

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Barry this fair critique would embarrass Plimer if there were much of science left about him. Full of contempt though for the majority of working scientists today – as you say “a rogue accuses others of what he is most guilty” – he won’t be listening. Plimer’s become a very poor example to students of what a scientist should be, he wrestles in the mud and is happy to be there. Thanks for doing the dirty work of looking through his stuff for us (somebody has to do it!)

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I was going to write something meaningful, but I’ve change my mind. I wait for the time when climate change deniers will be persecuted, and perhaps jailed. Seems to me that everybody who happens to have a different opinion, is ridiculed. Just like the middle ages.

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Plimer isn’t being persecuted, just being criticised. Some of Barry’s criticisms show that the book is at the very least, astonishingly sloppy … nevertheless he’s been getting non-stop media and applause. Is that how the witches in the middle ages were persecuted? I could lap up a little of this Plimer persecution.

If you want to see persecution, go to Afghanistan … as a woman.

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If in 50 years time the overwhelming majority of scientists are proven to be right, and we have not acted in time to prevent catastrophic climate change (because we spent so much time having to argue with people like Ian Plimer), I can imagine that the youth of the day would like nothing more than to travel back in time and put climate change deniers in jail…but then it will be too late.

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I have also heard Ian claim that many scientist are trying to cash in on climate change when many that I know provide their time and information for free (take this site for instance). If this such is a bad thing as Ian claims then why is he selling his views in a book instead of providing it for free? Who is trying to cash in on the climate change debate now?

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I am pretty sure that Pearson gave advanced “warning” is his column the previous weekend in the Australian. My question is”how many state-based launches were there and who did them?” I know it was senator Boswell in Brisbane.

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“Nullius in Verba” – don’t take anyone’s word for it. This is a fundamental part of any scientists training. When I first investigated global warming some 18 years ago it was news that the sea temperatures were measured in the past by slinging a canvas bucket over the side and hauling it in and leaving it to stand on the windy deck – the result was cooler than actual temperatures.
Techniques have imporoved in all areas – but to say that the scince is settled and there is no room for evidence and new ideas is contradictory to the ways of science. Ian Plimer’s book brings scholarship and evidence to the fore. It is a timely work.

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I would think that “scholarship” and “evidence” in the sciences is best left to the world of academic publications rather than trying to argue through the popular press or through paperbacks.

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Unfortunately “Scholarship” and “Evidence” are all too frequently missing from the world of academic publishing.
Dispassionate editorial committees are not the rule

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Maybe – but they are even less apparent in “populist” works. Ditto for dispassionate editorial.

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Why do you think he does it? It is incomprehensible to me. Could he genuinely think that all those scientists are wrong and that Andrew Bolt is right? (Which is basically what his position boils down to.)

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There are some sceptics who are plain evil (or more precisely have no empathy for others) IMHO but the majority actually believe they are right and on the side of “good” (coal keeps us warm, oils gives us mobility and medicine). The frames through which they view all new information prevents them from ever changing their minds. This is particularly the case for older males.

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Even better is what I’d call honorary solar, a compressed air based water heater that apparently uses so little grid energy (even hidden in a cupboard) it is about as efficient as solar water heating. If it truly is efficient then why not call it that?

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Ken @ 5, I hope you weren’t expecting “Australian Sceptics” to say anything sensible about the book. I recently got a coupl of emails from the local branch inviting me to the launch, and expressing approval of the book itself.

I don’t think the Sceptics are any where near as sceptical as they should be of the denialist position. (This is the main reason I haven’t renewed my membership, in fact.)

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“I don’t think the Sceptics are any where near as sceptical as they should be of the DENIALIST position.” (emphasis added)

Do you assume that the burden of proof lies on the “skeptics” to DISPROVE your theory of Man-made Global Warming?

Or is it not the other way around?

Do you ever consider the reason these so-called “denialists” exist is because your “theory” is not yet well-defined (I would suggest it is even less than that…)

But I digress… I quoted your use of the word “Denialist” to basically prove my point… There are no “denialists” in the field of science, only those not convinced by the prevailing body of evidence…

Once you start veering towards the absolutes, you begin to teeter on the edge of religious fanaticism…

Stop trying to make yourself sound right by attacking the individual and perhaps redirect that enthusiasm towards trying to come up with better evidence… please…

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Dave – the point is that many so called “sceptics” lap up anti-AGW propaganda without discretion – when they should in fact apply equal levels of scepticism to any science theory. Of course there are warmists who lap it up without discretion too, but actual “sceptic” associations need to be sceptical.. not just cranks.

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Dave

Your completely right, which is why I still defend my right to beleive the world is flat. I defy anyone to come and stand in my back paddock with me and tell me that I’m not standing on flat earth.

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there was a time people did believe the earth was flat, then a scientist discovered it wasn’t and he had skeptics and then he proved the theory and now the world knows it to be fact.

now, i tell you show me the facts without interpretations, show me the truth without bias and then and only then will i support steps to combat AGW.

i am not a follower of ether sides of this coin and feel we should not do anything about greenhouse gases till the Fact’s come in without bias. <-(which i see on both sides)

Bias- is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective.[1]. In other words, bias is generally seen as 'one-sided'. The term biased is used to describe an action, judgment, or other outcome influenced by a prejudged perspective. It is also used to refer to a person or body of people whose actions or judgments exhibit bias. The term "biased" is often used as a pejorative, because bias is inherently unjust, lacking merit.

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David, I suspect that you’re correct, but I’d love to be proved wrong. If I get around to reading the book and it really is that bad, I’d consider nominating it for a bent spoon.

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I went to the publisher’s website, and my god! Prof Plimer is in very strange company, especially for an atheist who tried to sue some creationists under the Trade Practices Act.

Some of their other publications look like they’d be a real hoot.

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I’m waiting for Plimer to sue climatologists – I wonder if he’d have the courage…

It was a shame though that his suit of the Creationists failed: he had a much more reasonable point there.

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In The Sydney Morning Herald on April 13, Plimer was quoted by Paul Sheehan as saying this:

“To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable – human-induced CO2 – is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. Yet when astronomers have the temerity to show that climate is driven by solar activities rather than CO2 emissions, they are dismissed as dinosaurs undertaking the methods of old-fashioned science.”

This gross misrepresentation, in each of the three sentences, of the mainstream position, is reason enoungh to avoid wasting money on Plimer’s book.

In The Australian on April 18 he’s quoted as saying:

“Global warming and a high CO2 content bring prosperity and lengthen your life … without CO2 there would be no complex life on Earth.”

Another gross misrepresentation, a standard straw man argument – of course no-one advocates getting rid of all CO2 from the atmosphere, or that CO2 is bad per se, as he is implying.

From the same spoon-fed story:

“He reviewed five computer predictions of climate made in 2000, underpinning IPCC findings, and found there was no relationship between predicted future temperature and actual measured temperature even during a short period.”

Here he implies short term temperature measurements can be used to test the merit of predictive climate models. What baloney.

Then there’s the lack of logic. He dismisses climate models as being unable to explain climate change, then blithely asserts his belief in what he claims “astronomers” say drives the climate. (Again, as if the role of the sun is somehow ignored by atmospheric scientists.)

It’s the same old line – you don’t know what’s happening because your models are no good but I do know, even though I don’t even have a model.

I really wish a sceptic would come along and argue the facts on their merits, rather than resorting to misrepresentation, straw man arguments, and illogical use of cherry picked data.

Plimer argues about the climate they way drunks argue about football matches.

This gross misrepresentation of climate asceince is reason enough to

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Re: “short term temperature measurements can be used to test the merit of predictive climate models. What baloney” What is the test? None of the models predicted any near term cooling.

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“Every one is entitled to his opinion but not to his own facts” (Senator Daniel Moynihan).

A technological civilization whose members find it increasingly difficult to distinguish between science fiction and science fact are as amenable to COLLAPSE, in the sense of Jerad Dimaond’s book, as past civilizations which, in the name of their Gods, cut their forests in order to erect statues … or spent $billions shooting rockets into space, or $trillions to construct global war machines.

And when the consequences can no longer be ignored, people will find comfort in faith healers and Messiahs who tell them what they want to hear.

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I have no problem at all with spending billions to shoot rockets into space — provided their payloads are scientists/engineers, satellites, interplanetary probes etc. All part of the great scientific endeavour.

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I’m with Andrew on this one. Some knowledge is valuable, very much so, but some isn’t worth its cost of production.

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In an ideal situation space exploration is definitely a very wonderful thing, but on a fast-warming planet with acidifying oceans, its a bit of a luxury as resources are needed for miitigation and adaptation.

Yet space exploration is not the point, since it still costs at least 3 orders of magnitude less than the industrial/military complex and its destructive consequences.

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As Plimer’s book is likely to be influential (at a popular level; from the description, it does not seem capable of being the basis of rational science or policy, unless the policy is simply denial and delay regardless of the facts), it would be useful to have a definitive rebuttal. (Compare this rebuttal to Gerlich & Tscheuschner. It sounds like the book’s essential proposition about climate is (quoting the blurb) “Climate has always been driven by the Sun, the Earth’s orbit and plate tectonics and the oceans, atmosphere and life respond.” So the essence of a rebuttal would have to tackle that proposition directly, perhaps particularly making the case for carbon dioxide’s causal role in the formation of the Antarctic ice sheets and in the amplification of Milankovitch effects, in a way that engages with Plimer’s take on those issues.

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Perhaps it can be a community effort — all the material is out there, it’s just a matter of someone (or a group) taking the time to compile it in an ordered way that steps through Plimer’s claims. I remember thinking, as I read the book, that just about each and every page I could provide answers to Plimer’s so called ‘unexplained’ data, or rebuttals, or arguments in proper context. I was imagining a face-to-face conversation with a reader, who refers to a given page and asks for my response on that point. But trying to do this in a systematic way would be painful to say the least — hence I didn’t try it in this review, other than providing a critique of some of the most glaringly deficient display items. I just didn’t have the energy for more.

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I am in the process of preparing a detailed paleoclimate-based critique. However, the point is, the “skeptics” have the media platforms both in the broadsheets and numerous blogs.

One thing the “skeptics” know they need to avoid is finding themselves on on platform/stage jointly with climate scientists, who can just display the data they are trying to deny. I can’t remember where and when such open debates took place?

At that stage they just resort to ad-hominem and conspiracy theories.

Having just received the “badge of honor” from Andrew Bolt …
http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/sceptics_are_parasites_to_an_anu_scientist/

The focus of activity is on the US, where the EPA declared CO2 a polluting substance, and to an extent the UK where Brown is talking about near-40% emission reduction by 2020 relative to 2000).

Australia seems to have now taken a backstage (backwater) stage so far as climate mitigation is concerned.

It is likely nature will have the last say …

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I posted on Bolt’s Blog (about East Antarctica ice mass) 2 days ago words to the effect: If you put energy into a system, the system heats up, if there is water around it evaporates and condenses out somewhere, as rain or snow.

It must have slipped through the censors but in reply to a question (repeating what I said), I was informed by Bolt’s moderator my IP address has been banned and I can no longer post there.

Work that one out.

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Hi Andrew,

I’ve heard a 3 on 3 debate which included Richard Lizden verus Gavin Schmit. The audience majority went in believing the proposition that global warming is a critical problem. At the conclusion the majority of the audience voted against the orignal proposition.

The tactical error make by the ‘for’ side was they argued the facts of science. While the against side had been (I assume) well prept by strategists, and argued about the urgency of other “more immeidate problems”- using the Borjn Lombourge tactic. I assume the scince lost people’s attention compared to the emotional imediacy of sick children in poor nations.

The other structural problem of a one on one debate is that it can lose the scale of weight of evidence. If you have 4 minutes to say your point and they have 4 minutes, then this hardly represents the balace of argument.

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I really doubt it will be influential.
Denialists probably won’t buy the book because they agree with it so don’t need to read it (and in any event it seems all the arguments have been used before).

For this reason it is probably better to categorise the arguments and add any new ones to something like Coby Beck’s “How to talk…” at ill considered and help fill in the gaps to comprehensively address the old lies.

Then go through the book (preferably while browsing in a shop instead of buying it) and just make notes like: “Page 123: misleading point 24, lie 17”.

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It’s deeply disappoing that this merry go round won’t stop. I’d like to think our elected members will take their science advice from Australia’s and the world’s leading science institutions but I suspect rather a lot of them still cling (if only in private) to the old unscientific orthodoxy that what people do can’t change the climate. It’s not an automatic default truth anymore, not after a couple of decades of serious efforts to understand climate.

If Plimer had real contributions to make to real science he would submit to real science journals like a real scientist and influence the real scientific debate about real science. Instead he is reduced to attempts to skew the political debate against science based public policy. He hasn’t even stepped up to the wicket, just yelled abuse at players and umpires from the stands. Why should he have any kind of equal time with the real players?

And with this distraction the lack of real action on shifting to clean energy goes on with barely a mention.

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Yes indeed.

It all happened in Easter Island during the first half of the 2nd Millenium, except they were different kind of gods the islanders cut all the trees to trasport and erect their statues for …

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One wonders if Ian Plimer has some sort of revenge/hate against his grandchildren(does he have any) where he wants them to suffer from the future temp rises. Isn’t it better to be safe and do something even if it proves not necessary rather than sit back and do nothing and say ‘sorry’ later?

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My guess would be he really believes it. Consider what how keen Plimer is to assert links between Creationists and “Warmists” or “Alarmists”. For Plimer its about religon.

Then consider the apt quote above “a rogue accuses others of what he is most guilty”. It’s my understanding Plimer intimately linked with the IPA, a free market fundamentalist lobby group.

I think it is about religion. My experience is that many from this group experience cultural emmersion, and end up beleving that anything (like AGW) that contradicts their fundamental ideology (about “free markets” maxising befits for all) must be wrong.

Those with a more nuanced understanding of markets, their uses and limits to “free markets” seem to be more open to scientific nuance.

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Ian Plimers contention that the sky would be filled with specks of carbon if climate change was true just shows that he seems not to understand that there is a difference between carbon and carbon dioxide, one a solid and one a gas. Also that the gas is absorbed to some extent by trees, oceans etc

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I’ve just listened to Ian Plimer vs a marine scientist from Townsville on Radio National talking about cc and the book. I have to say that Ian won, not because he was right, but because he put enough out there to an interested lay audience to pique their interest and appeal to any prejudices. The marine scientist, on the other hand, thought that he was talking to a bunch of dry scientists and argued from authority, i.e. who Ian cited and didn’t cite. Epic fail, and this supported Ian’s assertion about elitist, irrelevant scientists.

Not a blow was struck, whereas it could have been a smack down!

“Scientists don’t consider the whole climate system, including over geological time?” That’s funny, why is this explicitly referred to in the IPCC reports. Or, why does Chris Turney explain it all in easily readable terms in Ice, Mud and Blood?

“If carbon was pollution then we wouldn’t be able to see because it would be all black.” Carbon takes many forms, including graphite and diamonds. Perhaps Ian would be happy to breathe carbon monoxide; it’s not black?!

“CO2 is always a follower not a causal factor.” Ian is showing his ignorance of the dynamics of the complex system that he claims to understand. He seems ignorant of the shifting dominance of feedback loops. The climate system has many different balancing and reinforcing feedback loops operating simultaneously and at multiple scales. The feedback loops that dominate will determine system behaviour. However dominance can shift, e.g. by changing the budget of geologically stored vs available carbon in the climate system.

etc, etc.

Ian has jumped the shark. Unfortunately he is reinforcing the prejudices of the type of people that he once derided, i.e. the creationists.

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Listening to that debate, for me the strongest point made was by Charlie Veron, who pointed out the Plimer had avoided the peer reviewed process.

Though, the majority may not be as convinced by such points.

Interesting that Craig though Plimer won, I thought he sounded unsettled and quickly reverted to attacking self scientist seeking grants.

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Yes, as a scientist myself, that was a telling point. But it is a largely irrelevant issue to most non scientists, and to the conspiracy theorists it just says that we want to suck him into the black hole of our AGW dogma through this process, and suppress him! :-)

I didn’t get the same impression that Ian was rattled. To me, he just appeared to stick to his mantra of disingenuous factoids. And they were delivered in a comfortable reassuring manner. Charlie on the other hand may have been more comfortable in the bear pit of a scientific debate, but wasn’t prepared to deliver sound bites to a lay audience. Just my opinion.

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I’ve listened to Prof Brook debate Plimer at the SA Sceptics Society. He demolished Plimer who looked very uncomfortable throughout. Barry convinced many AGW sceptics (with the possible exception of the conspiracy theorist and pseudo-sceptics) on that day and I would say he is the one to confront Plimer in the media. He seems to have the knack of pitching his responses to a lay audience by directly refuting Plimer’s poor science in an easily followed, yet scientific, rebuttal.
I think this debate may still be available to download at the SA Sceptics website.

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I thought Charlie Veron was fine when he talked about marine science, but for the first part of the interview he just used ad hominem, saying Plimer didn’t have the right acknowledgments, peer review, etc, etc, just an “argument from authority”. Such nonsense shouldn’t persuade anybody that Plimer is wrong … and probably don’t.

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MOST PEOPLE ON THIS SITE ALREADY KNOW THE ARGUMENTS, HERE IS A RESPONSE I MADE TO A “SKEPTIC” IN ANOTHER PLACE:

Having debated “climate change skeptics” for some years now, my experience is that:

(1) First they attempt to make technical comments, some valid but mostly mistaken
(2) I try and respond to their technical comments (based on 40 years of studies of the Earth/atmosphere system)
(3) Next they raise further technical comments
(4) I try further to explain
(5) Next, truth is out – they resort to derogatory terms such as “alarmists”, “warmists”, AGW theorists”, and worse, which reveals they are not really interested to learn either the science facts or the physics/chemistry explanation, but have a prior conviction, i.e. the atmosphere is not warming, or if it does its not of anthropogenic origin.

Where they can not argue with scientists on technical/scientific points, they resort to personal denigrating comments. Just about every climate scientist has been subject to such references, including Wallace Broecker, James Hansen, Steffen Rahmstorf,.Pep Canadell, David Karoly, Barry Brook, myself …

I already indicated earlier climate change is a far from a smooth process, representing interaction between GHG, solar, ENSO, aerosol, ice melt, ocean currents and other factors.

While decade- scale increase in temprature resulted in 0.8C since the early 20th century (1.3C when albedo effects are taken into account), annual or biannual variability is increasing, a result from the increased energy level of the atmosphere/ocean system and enhanced turbulence/storminess.

I tried to explain that GMC models are not used as substitute to direct measurements from ground stations or satellites, but are tools (extending the brains’s calculation speed) aimed at testing the extent to which combination of various forcings match the measured data as well as projecting into the future.

Whereas climate “skeptics” repatedly question computer calculations as means of climate research, but probably don’t worry too much about the use of computers in hospitals, enginering, communciations, aviation and so on.

Virtually all climate scientists regard Hansen and his group as leaders in the field. The difference is that he has taken an ethical stand to warn humanity of the dangers of using the atmosphere as an open sewer for carbon gases, just as Crutzen and Lovelock warned the world about depletion of the ozone, and medicals warned regarding tobaccoo smoking.

Holocene climate proxies have error margins, but mostly are in agreement in sub-concordant trends, lending confidence to paleo-T variations. Paleo-climate papers provide explanaions for “background noise”, namely periods of high sun-spot activity and of low sun-spot activity and periods affected by volcanic activity.

Thus the Medieval Warm Period (1150 – 1300 AD) is marked by high sun spot (40 – 55), the Little Ice Age (~1700 AD) by almost no sun spot activity, and the first half of the 20th century very high sun spots (60-80). However, even the latter maximum is responsible for no more than 0.4 Watt/m2 (~0.3C) T rise.

The oceans are still sequestering CO2, albeit at a reduced rate due to increase T, by about 0.2 – 0.3C in some regions. Ocean pH has decreased by ~0.1-0.3 points due to increased CO2 saturation and decreased calcification of organisms and thus of sequestration.

Further atmospheric CO2 rise lead to a “greenhouse Earth” state where only small burrowing mammals can survive. The beathing mechanism of larger exposed mammals developed mainly after 34 million years ago, are not atuned to such temperatures. The Antarctic sheet formed 34 million years ago when CO2 levels fell below 500 ppm and the atmosphere cooled abruptly by about 4 – 5 degrees.

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Andrew – I have been doing the same thing for many years however without your credentials. I can engage the sceptics on my layperson level as most of them are equivalent to this. I have had exactly the same response as you and the same lack of progress as the same skeptic arguments do not stay debunked.

I think that one of the problems is that we WANT it not be our fault and will grip onto anyone who says anything to support that world view. We in the First World have very comfortable lives based on fossil fuels and we desperately want that to continue. Some of us accept the danger posed by fossil fuels and want to switch to alternatives however a much easier position is just to deny that it is happening and cling to any evidence that shows that it is not us. This is what I call the “Its cold today therefore global warming is wrong” brigade headed by Andrew Bolt. Any small piece of evidence that somewhere on the globe is it colder is held up as evidence that the whole theory of AGW is wrong and we are OK.

I really do not thing rational argument will sway any of the skeptics as they will recycle the same talking points over and over.

My belief is that the only thing that will really shift the emphasis of the world from comfortable lives to real action on climate change is a catastrophe that is categorically attributable to global warming. If this does not happen, and I fervently hope that something like this does not happen, then I think we will just be slowly cooked like the proverbial frog.

Pilmer is simple confirming what people want to hear.

(the term ‘we’ is meant to be the general public)

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True.

And if and when, perish the thought, sea level rises on the scale of meters, I can imagine people like Bolt and their followers claiming its all the fault of greenies and climate scientists, just as Miranda Devine published environmentalists should be hanged from lamp posts in view of their (alleged but not true) objection to back-burning!

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Ender said
24 April 2009 at 10.24
‘We in the First World have very comfortable lives based on fossil fuels and we desperately want that to continue. …. a much easier position is just to deny that it is happening and cling to any evidence that shows that it is not us.’

I wholeheartedly agree – rational argument will not sway people who can’t bear the thought of their comfortable lives being threatened. However, there are many out their who just want to know the truth, but don’t understand the arguments and have no idea what the scientific method and peer review is all about.

I don’t think Senator Fielding is a denialist. He’s trying to get to the truth so that he can make responsibLe decisions. People like Barry Brook and Ian Enting may influence such genuine sceptics. Denialists are NOT sceptics.

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I think from a media sense Plimer ‘beat’ Charlie Veron. But what a desperately unfair thing to do – I don’t know Mr/Dr/Pr Veron, he’s probably an excellent marine scientist, but he doesn’t appear to be a media-trained climatologist, hasn’t got a voice for radio or an ability to communicate in soundbites, unlike Plimer. He’d had an hour to read the book, observed that it wasn’t science, what was he supposed to do?

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Charlie Veron, Former Chief Scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Author of Reef in Time; The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End (Harvard Uni Press 2008)

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It’s interesting (if slightly ad hominem) to compare the publishers of the two books: Plimer has been published by a small company that seems to specialise in fundamentalist Catholic books, and Veron was published by a press associated with one of the world’s great universities.

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This may seem a bit optimistic but frankly I’m not too worried about this book or climate change denialists in general. There are always going to be shysters and Quacks out there, who won’t accept the evidence, for what ever reason. Hence my post above, there really is a flat earth society! Still fighting the “evidence”.
The Quacks always have their followers but their followers are not reasoning human beings, they are people with an axe to grind, usually against science itself. They see it as the debunker of all dearly held beliefs and the shysters cash in on that. But these people are in the minority most people are either just plain disinterested and so happy to leave it to the “experts” or interested enough to follow the science and go with the weight of evidence.In the Plimer/Veron debate the former don’t care who won and are mostly bewildered about the whole thing. The latter know who won because they already know the basic facts.
I see evidence of a popular swing toward an acceptance that climate change is a real problem everywhere. My library has a whole shelf groaning under the weight of popular books on climate change and how to reduce your carbon footprint etc. Then there’s reality style T.V. programs such as Carbon Cops, popular science shows like Quantum regulary addressing in issue in various contexts, even mainstream gardening shows and magazines are being to drop words like ‘drought’ and refer instead to ‘climate change’. None of this would be happening (that is none of this would be commercially viable)if there was not a mainstream consensus out there that climate change is real.
As with all the denialist types the best way to deal with them is to laugh at them, make a joke out of them, cause really thats all they are.
Am I being too optimistic?

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“Am I being too optimistic?”

Depends on your opinion as to whether the people need to get politcal to change targets proposed by government.

Without democratic outrage I fear the established power balance (industry funded lobbysts, think tanks, advertising, political dontions, media consolidation, path depenancy- intertia- and the amplyfying power feedbacks that result) will holdon too long.

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Mark Byrne

“Facile Optimism”. Ouch!

Slide 5 –
“Elements necessary for a comprehensive climate solution.”
1. A society wide agreement on how bad thing are.”

My point was that I think we are reaching the point of (as I awkwardly put it)”…a mainstream consensus… that climate change is real”.

Therefore we don’t really need to be sucked in to debating about whether or not climate change is happening etc right now ’cause thats just getting in the way of talking about the important stuff, like what are we going to do about it. I think the attitude I have towards denialists now is; look the debate is over, if you still want to rant on about it, go and join the other rank a file denialists because I’ve got more important things to do… like save the world from iminent catastrophy.
We need to be moving quickly to slide 5’s second element ” 2. A social consensus on matching targets and timescales.”

I think slide 22 sets out an important point, “climate denial and avoidance cannot be dealt with by more information alone.”
If people understand the problem but can see no way out then it does just lead to a head in the sand type situation. The only way we are going to get to element 2. is by giving the denialists a contemptuous flick and talking up action, big action not just the change your light bulbs, half fill your kettle type stuff, not just personal action, national/global action.

Needless to say that is what I like about this site, lots of ideas and debate about how we can solve this thing.

At a grass roots level I’m trying hard to communicate what I read at this site to everyone around me. What gives me optimism is that when I talk solutions, even radical solutions like IFR (in fact especially IFR) the disinterested get interested.
Besides a little bit of optimism is all that keeps me going.

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Excellent post MLB – you get to the nitty-gritty – forget the pseudo-sceptics- action is what we need and we need to convey this to a wider audience through the media.
Barry- is Tom Blees coming out to Australia? How can we get the heartening news about IFR technology to the media, the general public and of course the politicians.
My daughter’s husband, a former member of a rock group, came up with the idea of a “media kit” of the type which publicists use to promote new groups on the airwaves and in the popular newspapers and magazines.
Has to grab the attention of journalists looking for the a great “good news” story on climate change. Anyone on the blog who can give advice on the best way to proceed with this idea?

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Yes, I was also attracted by the point that “climate denial and avoidance cannot be dealt with by more information alone.”

I guess I must share some of your optimism, as I’ve just had a baby.

However if you’ve seen most posts in the IFR debate you know that I don’t quite share Barry’s optimism on that technology.

If the answer is mass mobilization of the public, I can’t see millions comming out for the promise of IFR while renewables are yet to be funded properly (on a scale that we fund wars and bank bailout combined).

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Well if someone called Mark can have a baby, we all have to be optimistic about the amazing things that can be acheived with modern science! (Congrats, BTW)

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Cheers Gaz!

Though I think people called Mark have had babies for thousands of years.

;)

But I think I get the point you want to make- We can be hopeful about technology?

The point I raise is that consolidated power can trump technology. Many disruptive technologies have surpressed through patent acquasition and other tactical surpressive methods (take lobbist like the “Greenhouse Mafia”). Combine this with political process becomeing increasingly influenced by concentrated wealth.

Tom Blees says this has been used to derail IFR, I point out that this has been used to shelve reneawables.

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Sorry to spoil the fun, but perhaps “tragi/comic” is a more suitable term, given these flat Earth society people provided conservative governments with the excuse they needed to avoid carbon reduction and climate change mitigation for almost 20 years, despite overwhelming scientific evidence.

cf. the influence the Lavosie Society had over Howard ministers and Michael Crighton had over Bush.

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I am increasingly thinking that Plimmer is simply a contrarian to most things, and sees himself as a persecuted fighter for truth. Through this lens no objectivity is possible, as any criticisim is seen as a personal attack. When he first wrote “Lying for God” i had some sympathy, but this book does him no credit.

Does Plimmer repeat any of these views to students? I hope not. As a private person we can think and publish what we like within the limits of the law, but when operating in a professional capacity we must act within professional norms. As a geologist, he is operating outside his field of expertise on climate science.

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Remember that Doubt is the product.

Awell troden strategy to protect revenue and diswade public from action is to give people the slightest excuse to doubt the need for action.
http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/doubt-is-our-product-pr-versus-science/

And for all those half interested or disintereted punters out ther, Plimer’s argument all over the media givem them an excuse to keep their head down and weather the buffeting from the daily rat race. (morgage, morgage, morgage, job security, health insurence, got to keep going, puff puff puff!)
http://www.powerlinefacts.com/Sciam_article_on_lobbying.htm

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BTW have you seen the disclaimer when you comment at the Australian?

“Please note that we are not able to publish all the comments that we receive, and that we may edit some comments to ensure their suitability for publishing.

Feedback will be rejected if it does not add to a debate, or is a purely personal attack, or is offensive, repetitious, illegal or meaningless, or contains clear errors of fact.

Although we try to run feedback just as it is received, we reserve the right to edit or delete any and all material”

If only they rejected articles that contained clear errors of fact as well.

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In my experience the conservative broadsheets, far from being “balanced”, are almost impervious to articles by scientists and environmentalists concerned about global warming.

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Chris,

Some geologists are “different” in the following respects:
1. Some/many are professionally and commercially closely related to the mining and fossil fuel industry.
2. Other tend to think in terms of millions of years, tending to overlook the current danger to the biosphere.
3. Otherwise they are not bad fellows …

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Having vented my pessimistic thoughts, there is a bright side. Many “skeptics” with a strong media platform have nailed their colours to Plimer’s book. Given that Plimer has used such misleading, distortionary (are we allowed to say fraudulent) graphs as those removed from the Great Swindle, then these media supports should be tared with Plimers errors (are we allowed to say fraud).

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I wouldn’t dream of saying “fraud”. It’s much nicer to say “misrepresents cited sources”
and it has the advantage of bring all the different types of “misrepresents ***’
together in my index. So far I have concentrated my efforts on Plimer misrepresenting actual scientific papers (with more leads to check). Lots to do on the graphs.

But what Mark says about Plimer’s supporters is really important — but not just the
media — we know about them. Wasn’t Janet Albrechtsen on the ABC board that forced management to buy the “GGW Swindle”?. Similarly Christopher Pearson was fabricating quotes from the Pope on AGW almost 18 months ago.

Beyond the media, Senator Boswell did the QLD launch, and Kininmonth (who is usually more careful) came our pro-Plimer). I haven’t been tracking who else.

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From Deltoid: “Plimer doesn’t tell you the source of this graph, but it comes from Durkin’s Great Global Warming Swindle and omits the last 25 years of warming. Even Durkin admitted it was wrong and changed it, but it lives on in Plimer’s book….

…The problems with the Swindle graph were given wide publicity. It was one of seven major misrepresentations that 37 scientists asked Durkin to correct. On page 467 Plimer addresses their request claiming they did so because that deemed Swindle to present an “incorrect moral outlook”, so he was well aware of what was wrong with the Swindle graph but used it anyway.”

What is the level of diseminatin of falsehood is necessary before it is namable as fraud? What are the limits distruction misreprsention that one can make without being fraudulent?

Is there a laywer in the house?

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Appologies, the last bit outside the quotes is mine, (got the cite tags wrong)

From Deltoid: “Plimer doesn’t tell you the source of this graph, but it comes from Durkin’s Great Global Warming Swindle and omits the last 25 years of warming. Even Durkin admitted it was wrong and changed it, but it lives on in Plimer’s book….

…The problems with the Swindle graph were given wide publicity. It was one of seven major misrepresentations that 37 scientists asked Durkin to correct. On page 467 Plimer addresses their request claiming they did so because that deemed Swindle to present an “incorrect moral outlook”, so he was well aware of what was wrong with the Swindle graph but used it anyway.”

What is the level of diseminatin of falsehood is necessary before it is namable as fraud? What are the limits distruction misreprsention that one can make without being fraudulent?

Is there a laywer in the house?

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Here is my response to Ian Veizer, including an invitation for a debate in the peer-reviewed science literature. In my expeirence the Copnservative broadsheets are almost impervious to articles by climate scientists concerned about global warming.

I will be pleasantly surprised if The Australian publishes anything I propose to submit to them.

Andrew
24-4-09

———————————————————————————-

Dear Ian Veizer,

You are sadly mistaken.

The level of water vapor over the poles in very low, yet it is in these regions where warming is fastest, X2 to X4 times the mean global rate (up to 4 – 5 degrees C in some parts of northern Siberia).

The melting of the cryosphere ice, a feedback process (where melt water re-melts ice, with consequent loss of the ice albedo and gain of infrared absorption by water), is as important as the feedback warming process due to the carbon cycle. Both factors drive global warming.

Likewise the level of transient water vapor over dry desert latitudes is very low, yet these zones are warming fast, including in the Australian outback.

The main zones where the role of water vapor factor is highly significant are the tropics, while elsewhere it constitutes a transient response, as contrasted with the long residence time of CO2.

Nor do you account for the cumulative effect of CO2 levels, now reaching 387 ppm (or CO2 + Methane equivalent of 440 ppm), a level DANGEROUSLY CLOSE close to that of the mid-Pliocene (3 million years ago)(when T rose by 2 – 3 degrees C and sea level rose by 25 meters), and even to the late Eocene threshold of the large ice sheets, as established by numerous studies (Berner, Beerling, Royer, Zachos).

The lag of CO2 behind rising temperatures during the glacial terminations represents the critical role of the ice melt/feedback, triggered by orbital forcings of the Milankovic cycles, followed by a lag effect of CO2 release from the oceans and biosphere.

The conservative media will almost always publish views such as yours, i.e. which support the open-ended use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for carbon gases, but will rarely publish the views of climate scientists concerned about dangerous global warming.

I invite you to a debate of these issues in the peer-reviewed science literature.

(Dr) Andrew Glikson
Earth and paleoclimate research
Australian National University
24.4.09

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Well Dr. Glikson, you sure sound smart. I considered your points with great interest. But why did you bring into question your motivations and the validity of your arguments in your second to last sentence? I listen to both Liberal and Conservative media on shortwave and medium wave, in addition to reading from 2 dozen liberal, libertarian and conservative news/blog type websites and another dozen research and policy websites (I do not watch television). I also own a business in which I personally convey technical data about work our company performs to about 2000 customers per year. Very often these conversations deviate to current events and issues. I can tell you that no Liberal, Conservative or Libertarian I have ever talked to since climate change became an issue has ever voiced support for “open-ended use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for carbon gases.” You contrived that generalization to try to strengthen your argument and it is childish and unbefitting a man of your position. If your arguments are valid, no such generalizations will enhance them. You can ask (and I mean you personally ask them, not read an article about someone else who asked them) any man or woman of any political pursuasion if they agree we should pursue smokeless energy sources and you will find overwhelming affirmative agreement. The chief disagreement I find among folks is the pace at which we should be pursuing these alternatives.
Simply, if I mandate that my home be fully converted to solar by this Friday, then I will miss several mortgage payments, ruin my credit standing, be unable to buy food for my wife and children for several months, etc. I can stretch it out over 7 or 8 years however without the dire consequences I described ever taking place. When I discuss this pace issue, some of my associates accuse me and point their finger at me the way you do at conservatives, making wild generalizations about my reasons for pursuing the transition at a sustainable cash pace, rather than going into massive debt to do it. I contend that if we bankrupt our economies by mandating expensive accelerated timetables for such a transition, the benefits will not seem so sweet. Your intelligence and arguments would be more convincing if you would refrain from these generalizations and present your arguments and supporting data alone.

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Scott, I am not entirely clear what point you are making. However, in so far as you question my reference to the “use of the atmosphere as open sewer for carbon gases”, this reference questions the special raison d’etre of “climate skeptics”, since people do not generally go to so much trouble as these people do in order to, for example:

1. Question surgeons regarding open heart procedures.
2. Jet pilots for actions they take in mid-air during a storm.
3. Nuclear physicists while they handle enriched uranium rods.

In the main people give specialists the respect they deserve. Only rarely do they have either the expertise or the motivation to try and probe into a field about which they know little.

So why the huge media campaign against climate science and climate scientists?

Could there be a motivation here, other than pure science (such as, for example, the profit motivation of coal and oil companies)?

Is it not just a bit reminiscent of the well funded campaign by the tobacco industry against lung desease specialists?

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I wouldn’t regard myself as a sceptic, just one who is willing to be convinced if I see some honesty. What i see in the proponents is a very strong connection with the green movement. If the proponents want to convince the lay public, they need to:
(a) distance themselves from the greens, who regularly demonstrate their dishonesty and lack of integrity; and
(b) explain – don’t just keep repeating this mantra that there is broad consensus. One way to explain is to write a book, confronting Plimer’s assertions in plain English.

Lay people can’t read scientific papers. Plenty of people (eg Jared Diamond, John Gribbin) have written books that lay people cna understand. If scientists can’t write plain anguage themselves they can hire somebody to do it.

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Tony, please see my new post. I understand what you are saying, and this provides one such useful guide:

https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/04/27/more-ice-flat-temperatures-what-does-it-all-mean/

There are other books on the topic which you may find useful. A recent one (published last month), written by a climate scientist in terms that most people should find understandable, is this:

http://www.csiro.au/resources/Climate-change-the-science-impacts-solutions.html

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A consistent method used by those who deny the reality of climate change is to avoid discussing the data and instead discard just about every active climate scientist, environmentalists and greens : hardly a substitute to evidence-based discussion.

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We don’t question pilots/ nuclear physicists because they don’t challenge our lifestyle. We may well seek a second opinion from another surgeon as our life may be under threat. Ender (24th) is right – many want to question the IPCC recommendations since they threaten lifestyle. The pollies know there is consensus on reducing CO2 emissions, as long as lifestyles aren’t challenged. Our PM’s artifice is working wonders. It was the same mindset in the 80’s with exporting uranium as long as we didn’t have to collect the reactor waste – I witnessed this response then conducting a doorknock survey.

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Steve, click on the “err,no” link. Water vapour is a feedback, not a forcing. If you have an engineering/maths background, then the reason your question doesn’t quite make sense will be instantly clear.

If you don’t have this background, then think of it this way. Everybody gets a little depressed from time to time. Now suppose you overeat and get fat, being fat makes you extra depressed, so you overeat some more. “depression” is a feedback, it is both a result of overeating and a cause of still more. Being fat makes you prone to some diseases. What do you say when someone asks how much of this extra disease is due to this (extra) depression?

The question doesn’t make sense. But if we were actively pumping water vapour into the air, then it would make sense.

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Geoff, I don’t understand your statement that “Water vapour is a feedback, not a forcing.” Indeed, the “err, no” link says:
“The radiative forcing for water is around 75 W/m2 while carbon dioxide contributes 32 W/m2 (Kiehl 1997). ”
Surely a gas can only be a feedback if it is also a forcing. The extent to which it is a forcing depends on the current concentration (which, in the case of a feedback, depends on the current temperature), whereas the extent to which it is a feedback depends on both its forcing/concentration relationship and the concentration/temperature relationship (again, at the current temperature).
As a result, I feel comparisons like Kiehl’s result do not help laity (e.g. me) to understand the significance of anthropogenic GHGs. More to the point is the end result: what will the temperature be with Xppm of the GHG, all other external inputs (other GHGs, solar irradiation, ..) remaining constant?

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Yes, water vapour is a forcing. But it gets generated by increased temperature, so it can’t be used to let us off the hook as a driver of the problem. Feedbacks also make predicting climate sensitivity inherently tough. Small errors in measuring the drivers are amplified by the feedbacks.

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Steve,

The polar regions, where temperature rise rates are at the maximum, in some regions up to 3 or 4 degrees C relative to the 1951-1980 NASA/GISS baseline (look at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/) have very low transient concentrations of water vapor.

The desert and arid regions, also warming fast (over 1 degrees C over the last 50 years or so) also have low to very low transient atmospheric water vapor.

It is in the tropics that water vapor are important, but the heavy cloud cover also acts as reflector to solar radiation, with a compensating effect. Temperature rises in low latitudes are relatively less than than at very high latitudes.

The distinction between primary forcings (external to the atmosphere/ocean/biosphere system) and secondary responses (feedbacks) is essential.

Primary forcings includ greenhouse gases derived from buried/fossil carbon deposits (i.e. which have been removed from the biosphere for hundreds of millions of years), the sun, volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts.

Feedbacks include CO2 released from the oceans and drying biosphere, ice melt/water interactions, water vapor, clouds and dust, triggered by primary forcings.

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Not having read Plimer’s opus, I don’t think he would have even considered this rationale – such the way of people living in the past.

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Thanks again Andrew, but I have one further question for you.
I now understand from your replies and from others that water vapor in the atmosphere is a feedback mechanism and not a forcing;but with warming temperatures there will be more water vapor in the atmosphere than in the recent past, which will presumably exacerbate global warming.
It would also follow that global atmospheric circulation will change markedly. How confident can you be that the computer models are sophisticated enough to model these changes accurately? Today’s desert maybe tomorrow’s granary.

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It would also follow that global atmospheric circulation will change markedly. How confident can you be that the computer models are sophisticated enough to model these changes accurately?

And if they can’t model these changes accurately then…? Will we then be like a punter rolling a dice at the casino with his life savings?

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The pseudo-skeptics propagate a misconception as if computer calculations are uncontrolled, coming up with crazy models etc.

Nothing is further than the truth. Copmputers basically extend, but not replace, the human thinking process in terms of the speed of calculations, as applied in just about every other science and technology.

So basically the skeptics message is computers are “unreliable” – therefore “stop thinking”.

Most scientists feed computer programs with hard (measured) data, testing General Circulation Model trajectories produced by assumptions consistent with known physical and chemical processes. Future projections are tested with time. To date CO2, T and Sea level trends occur at the top of IPCC model scenarios (Rahmstorf, 2007), showing just how careful/conservative the scientists are.

Regarding your question about the hydrological cycle:

(1) There is no “confidence” in “precise” climate scenarios: the “sapiens” experiment is a novel one, and at the extreme rates of CO2 rise (2 orders of magnitude faster than during the last glacial termination) and T rise, tipping points of little-defined nature may occur;

(2) The IPCC-2007 report contains regional projections which, in the case of Australia include (A) southward migration of climate zones, i.e. further drying of southern Australia; (B) migration of cyclons south along the Qld-NSW coast, as is already occurring; (C) migration of cyclons from the NW to the SE, rsulting in heavier precipitation over the Canning-Officer basin but also NW warm air flow such as have caused the Victorian drought/fires; (D)strengthening of the El-Nino would result in much of the evaporation re-precipitating over the Pacific Ocean.

Worry is the rate of these changes may be faster than that to which civilization and species may be able to adapt (look at http://www.pnas.org/content/105/6/1786.full)

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Again thank you Andrew for taking the trouble to answer my question, although I am not sure that your remark about cyclones at (B) has a long enough recent record to be definitive.
The reason that I asked the question about the accuracy of computer simulations was the following passage that I read by Fred Pearce in May 1 2008 New Scientist viz:

“On top of this, some climate scientists believe that even the IPCC’s global forecasts leave much to be desired. In particular, they say that because the IPCC cannot take the most recent research into account, its predictions are too conservative.

Next week, climate modellers from around the world will meet in Reading at the World Modelling Summit for Climate Prediction, held under the auspices of the UN, to try to improve our forecasting abilities. Its declared aim is to “prepare a blueprint to launch a revolution in climate prediction”, including measures that will allow us to predict how the climate will be affected locally as well as globally.

The organisers say that this will require the computing power brought to bear on the problem to be increased “by a factor of 1000″. One option likely to be discussed is the creation of a global climate modelling centre – a climatological equivalent of international collaborations like the CERN particle physics centre in Europe.”

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p.s.

25.4.09: So far my comment in The Australian following Veizer’s article, which were posted last night (24.4), has not been published , although other comments have …

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I just sent this to the Australian:

“I understand Andrew Glikson has submitted a comment on
this story. It hasn’t appeared. Do you have a deliberate
policy of only publishing comments by people who
agree with the author?”

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Thanks Geoff,

I also tried the “Independent Weekly”, entering the comment below. Though not holding my breath to see whether they will publish it.

“Based on my 40 years experience in the study of the Earth system, I am available to provide a review indicating the ideas in “Heaven and Earth” are:

(1) inconsistent with the observational and experimental evidence on the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere.

(2) inconsistent with the evidence derived from in-depth studies of the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores and from Phanerozoic sediments.

(3) The evidence presented by CSIRO, BOM, NASAm Hadley, Potsdam Oceanographic, and thousands of peer-reviewed papers in science journals, and as presented by the IPCC, Granut and Stern reports, points to an anthropogenic origin of global warming beyond reasonable doubt.

(4) The (mostly conservative) media appears to be almost impervious to articles and letters by mainstream climat scientists.”

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I sent IW a letter … along the lines that Plimer’s logic seems to be like that of a doctor when confronted by a man thinking he has been poisoned. “No sir, your temperature and vomiting are within the range of natural diseases, so poisoning is impossible … and we don’t need to waste money on those silly diagnostic tests.” Then I threw in Lockwood and Frohlich as relevant data that the sun wasn’t to blame.

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The IPCC is a UN political body. It’s charter only allows it to consider human causes of climate change . Garnaut and Stern are economists not scientists

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Plutocrat, your comment that the IPCC’s charter “only allows it to consider human causes of climate change” implies it is not allowed to consider any other causes of climate change.

This implication, whether or not you intended it, is clearly false.

In order to understand “the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation” the IPCC has to consider all influences on the climate.

Anyone with even a passing familarity with the IPCC reports will know the IPCC does this at great length and in great detail.

Do you genuinely believe the IPCC does not consider any other causes of climate change?

Have you actually read anything published by the IPCC?

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In my limited experience the Australian is very selective about what it puts – it’s not keen on the other side. About a year or more ago, they ran high profile articles alleging a Sierra Leonean author had fabricated dates of his autobiography, about child soldiering. I knew the book fairly well. I pointed out to the Aus, the author had in general been very vague on dates, had said he had no means of recording dates, and one could not expect any dates given, to be other than rough estimates. The Aus didnt publish that either .

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Off topic, I know, but deserves to be known…

NZ NIWA chief climate scientist Jim Salinger was fired on Friday for speaking to the media.

There’s been a new censorship regime imposed on NIWA by the management, and he’s fallen foul of it. A very ugly business indeed.

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apparently my office is ’salubrious’

He obviously meant to type “salacious and lugubrious”, and had a mishap with his word processor.

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Surely “salubrious” relates to healthy or health giving and therefore cannot be a description of an office. How about “luxurious”? Knowing a little about academic offices, I guess its not that either, eh Barry?
Why are so many journalists so lacking in knowledge of grammar, and depth of vocabulary? Obviously he/she hasn’t heard of a dictionary, let alone a thesaurus!!

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Presumably, Ian Plimer can look forward to receiving a well deserved Nobel prize in the near future – for fiction!

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Hmm. Well I have read every comment on this blog and it appears that a great many of you invest much thought and consideration into all of this. I admire that. However, since there are so many on and off this blog making predictions based on science, I have a prediction based on history. The epidemic number of men addicted to internet pornography (temple-based idolatry via computer) is having a far more verifiable degenerating effect on our race than climate change. I hope that none of you are enslaved by this stuff. Good Day.

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I’m going to buy a V8. Should I get a HSV or an FPV? It’s a real relief because the idea of a Prius was making my skin crawl. Thanks Plimer for clearing my conscience.

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Would be interesting to know, if man made climate change turns out to be a furphy, are we going get our money back spent on ETS and the rest of it, or not?

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Hi,

One of the most misleading statements to me from Ian Plimers material is his statements on sea level rise. He made them again last night on Lateline. For actual facts on sea level rise and land subsidence the Bureau of Mets National Tidal Centre do annual sea level rise monitoring reports for both Australia and the South Pacific: http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/tides.shtml and this is linked in with Geosciences Australias analysis of land movements using CGPS systems http://www.ga.gov.au/image_cache/GA6732.pdf which show for example Tuvalu is ‘sinking’ at the grand rate of 0.2mm/yr while measured sea level rise there is ~5.3mm/yr, with similar figures at many other locations. Once again the real facts go missing from Ians material, in an area where scientists have been devoting a lot of resources to increase our understanding of exactly what is happening!!

DR

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This is a graph of global temperatures that Bolty and others like to present as proof that the world is cooling:

http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

“The graph above represents the latest update; updates are usually made within the first week of every month. The smooth curve in the graph is a fourth-order polynomial fit to the data, which smooths out the large amount of monthly variability in the data and helps reveal the underlying ‘trends’. (There is no claim that this curve has any predictive power for the coming months or years.)”

Can anyone explain why a fourth order polynomial would be applied to this? Is this the same as the 6th order polynomial rubbish that Tim Lambert was talking about?

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Thank you Barry. This damaging book and the broad and supportive media coverage it has received will further feed public complacency. Your posting needs to be communicated far and wide!

Kind Regards
Lorraine

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Professor Plimer seems to be getting a hard time. Since you cannot buy his book in Sydney today (28-4-09) I can only go by the reviews, all antipathetic. I presume he is writing for a general audience, not a scientific journal. He wants to move cubic, (dollar volumes in sales, I mean) and some of you guys are helping him by your approach. Controversy is good for business! I think anyone who professes to be a climatologist should be able to predict the weather from day to day. Not a lot of that around. That is how you will be judged by members of the public. Anyone with an interest in these matters can get the basic esential facts from Wikipedia, and form their own opinion. I believe Ian Plimer has a right to express his considered opinion, he appears to be qualified in at least one earth science, and can easily extrapolate that experience to climate change/global warming. I don’t think he is arguing against the observed facts, but that he is disputing the alleged causes. I am inclined to agree with him, which is ridiculous without reading his considered arguments. If people make political decisions to harvest fossil fuels for a prolifigate lifestyle in the full knowledge that they are depleting an irreplaceable resource,should they not think about generating energy from another source as happens already overseas, dare I mention nuclear energy? The geological climatic record and abandoned civilisations show that there is nothing new about climate change, perhaps we should factor in more variables. Politicians who control our destinies have attention spans of three to six years at most, so they cannot be expected to make long term decisions. I think his blurb is directed against “Climate change politics is religious fundamentalism masquerading as science. A new ignorance fills the yawning spiritual gap in Western Society”. If he is wrong reason will prevail, no harm done by going over all the relevant factors (and obviously many that are irrelevant). There are a lot of “rabid environmentalists” destroying logical and factual arguments. Charles Darwin got a hard time with his hypothesis, and died believing there was a good chance his soul would attract eternal damnation. 

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Salvarsan,
How do you accout for or accept Plimers use his own temperature data? Do you know the source of his temperature data?

It sounds quite hopeful that your at least recognise that you are inclined to agree with Plimer before your read his work. Who’s work has helped you develop that inclination?

Your reference to climate change not being new, indicates you may have you come to the conclusion that established climate science ignores the causes of past climate change. If this is your assumption how would you test if the assuption is correct?

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On the lateline program (27/4/09) Ian Plimer claims the Arctic Sea Ice extent in the 1930s was less than it is now. – Really?
I would like to know where Ian P. got his information from?

The paper by Norbert Untersteiner ’20th Century Changes of the Arctic Sea Ice Cover’ [http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_untersteiner.html] clarly shows that the 1930s Sea Ice Extent was significantly greater than for the present decade. See also Walsh, J.E and W.L.Chapman, 2001, “Twentieth-century sea ice variations from observational data”, Annals of Glaciology, 33, Number 1, January 2001 , pp. 444-448.

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“Decide on your position from the outset, and then seek out all the facts that apparently support your case, and discard or ignore all of those that contravene it.”

Interesting that you point this out about his book, I find that climate change believers do that all the time…

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Plimer’s book and his media appearances are directed to lay people, not scientists. If he convinces the lay population, the politicians will go his way. Plimer needs to be countered by scientists capable of addressing a lay audience. Plimer is a friend of mine, but what he is doing could have a disastrous effect on my children and grandchildren.

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Mark Byrne reply:-Thanks Mark:- I am a mid 20th Century pharmacist, not a climatologist, meteorologist or even a geologist. I was going to give Geology a go but couldn’t cop the idea of spending my life in Mount Isa or similar environments. (I was born in Mt Isa) I subscribe to National Geographic, the April edition had two articles about climate change (1)Australia goes Dry” and (2)Changing Rains. This is not my total resume, put me down as an intelligent follower of rational debate. Coincidentally I heard recently on radio several references to Professor Plimers recent book, so I Googled “Heaven and Earth, Climate Change” and here I am. This seems to be a rational scientific evidence based site free of “rabid environmentalists”, “tree huggers” and “climate change politicians who are religious fundamentalists masquerading as scientists”. I realise like any other site you need to let “a thousand fields of thought contend”. I am not a creationist or unbeliever in any way. To answer your questions (1) I have no idea where Plimer gets his temperature data. Looking at his previous book “a short history of planet earth” which I got from the local library yesterday afternoon he quotes references from Aberham to Zielenski which looks impressive but might be totally irrelevant, as some if not many learned articles are.
(2) I agree with the proposition put forward by Plimer that it is difficult to prove that one factor (man made CO2 emissions) can be singled out at the sole cause of climate change, but that will have to wait till I read the book, and or see convincing arguments to the contrary. I will continue looking here, at least you seem to recognise nuclear energy could substitute for fossil fuels.(3)Unfortunately many articles on climate change give the impression it only commenced recently, which is patently incorrect, and a deceit on the readers of those articles. Fear and fright are great persuaders. You may be arguing from the point of view of an informed and intelligent member of the established climate change community, but this is not how some articles come across to an intelligent lay reader. Now I know where to look for rational discussion I will continue upgrading my climate change knowledge base. I would hope that examination of the historical an geological record of past climate changes would be the starting point for analysing the current situation, as well as taking into account all the other variables that are not preserved or cannot be found in records from the past.

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salvarsan, palaeoclimate is often discussed here, with regards to how it contextualises modern impacts of global warming. Some examples:

https://bravenewclimate.com/2009/03/14/did-climate-change-kill-off-woolly-mammoths-and-giant-wombats/
https://bravenewclimate.com/2008/09/03/a-warning-from-the-ghost-of-climate-past/
https://bravenewclimate.com/2008/08/14/will-global-warming-cause-a-mass-extinction-event/

No rational climate scientist would claim CO2 is the sole cause of climate change. There is strong evidence that it is the primary cause modern warming, however. Browse the site more and you’ll see plenty of discussions of the multiple drivers of climate change, or check out lecture 2 of my series:

http://www.adelaide.edu.au/climatechange/seminars/climateqanda/#two

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Salvarsan – “I agree with the proposition put forward by Plimer that it is difficult to prove that one factor (man made CO2 emissions) can be singled out at the sole cause of climate change..”

And good on you, because no-one’s trying to prove that at all.

My earnest advice to you would be to read the IPCC report.

You can find it at

http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm

Of course you don’t have to read all of it, but there are FAQ sections and summaries and so on.

Once you’ve dipped into that report you’ll realise Plimers claim’s about the IPCC position are truly gross misrepresentations. What he says is really only plausible to people who are not familiar with the IPCC position.

You say: “I would hope that examination of the historical an geological record of past climate changes would be the starting point for analysing the current situation, as well as taking into account all the other variables that are not preserved or cannot be found in records from the past.”

Anyone who’s looked reasonably closely at the IPCC report would realise they are doing that already, contrary to what Plimer claims.

Essentially what he’s saying is that hordes of well-qualified scienctists with years and years of experience in their fields are so incompetent they’ve ignored the obvious. It’s totally absurd.

Plimer is directing his book and his radio/TV patter to an audience with absolutely no knowledge of climate science than what they read in the newspaper or see on TV, because anyone else could work out easily that he’s completely misrepesented the scientific consensus and has nothing to offer in its place.

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Hi there Salvarsan,

My earnest advice is to have a look at the latest IPCC report at

http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm

You don’t have to read the whole lot – there are summaries and FAQs, and you can dip into the various parts of it to satisfy your curiosity.

There are also other sources of solid information, eg from NASA and the CSIRO on their web sites.

Once you’ve got an idea of the breadth and depth of the work that supports the IPCC’s conclusions, you’ll realise Plimer’s claim about the scientific consensus are grossly misleading.

As you say, you hope that “examination of the historical an geological record of past climate changes would be the starting point for analysing the current situation, as well as taking into account all the other variables that are not preserved or cannot be found in records from the past”.

Rest assured, these things are the basis of the science, despite Plimer’s outrageous claims to the contrary.

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More for Salvarsan:
I suggest you look at the technical summaries. You bypass the whole issue of so-called “political” oversight of the summaries for policymakers.
(apart from blandness, the whole “politicisation” of SPM is a beat-up:
(a) too many pulls in opposing directions (b) risk that scientists would spit the dummy)

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Hi Salvarsan, Sounds like you’ve got the most important tool of open mined inquiry. Though be prepared for several iterations of surprise with what you will read on various sites.

Its helpful to know from your perspective about how some of the articles come across. A pity, that is the perception they leave, as the established science has rich detail on past causes of climate change as well as current influences such as solar radiation.

I asked about Plimer’s source for temperature data because it is a clear example of data that doesn’t come from the peer reviewed literature. I believe that he doesn’t cite the source. The instrumental temperature record is pretty fundamental to this discussion. Hence I’d suggest that if you can source the temperature data he uses and compare it to the peer reviewed scientific data you’d get a sense of why so many scientists have been so critical of the arguments in his book.

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Barry and Mark:-Thanks, I will check it out. One page 213 of A Short History of Planet Earth Prof.Plimer discusses temperature readings and greenhouse gases etc. He says inter alia the weather stations in fixed locations in cities etc are giving higher readings due to changes in the microclimate. This then “makes analysis of data misleading for the computer models that are the basis for many weather and global climate predictions”. I presume NASA and others have more sources of readings than the old existing city based weather stations,but this book was written in 2001. I presume his latest book has been upgraded. Something we are all stuck with, revision as more facts come to light. I will keep in touch. Salvarsan.

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I believe NASA still use ground measuring stations (providing continuum from earliest temperature records. In addition there are also satellite records starting from 1978. The systematic error that Plimer refers to is sometimes called the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect. Andrew Watson of the Bureau of Met gave a presentation relevant to how these measurements are made and how this error is limited. http://www.adelaide.edu.au/climatechange/seminars/climateqanda/#one
From memory I believe that the BOM remove stations that suffer from this bias.

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Hi,

The list of stations that the Bureau of Met contribute to the global record as Climate Reference Stations is available here:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/reference.shtml

A couple of years ago there was a concerted effort by climate sceptics to discredit the global surface temperature record. There were a few problem sites in the US but the Australian sites and record stood up well under the scrutiny. Metadata and pics are available when you click on any particular site.

As you can see they are all non urban locations. A particularly telling one is the record from Cape Borda on the western end of Kangaroo Island which is part of a lighthouse station that is extremely isolated and surrounded by a great deal of bush.

The records can be seen in more detail here:

http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/hqsites/site_data.cgi?variable=meanT&area=sa&station=022801&dtype=anom&period=annual

As with sea level rise, there is a lot of work going on to make sure the best quality information is available, and this work is ignored by sceptics as their arguments fall apart when faced with the real data!!

DR

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Cancel last signal. Ta.

Barry,

Good humour in this would help, pejorative words and phrases perhaps do not. And as you say, claiming surety in the natural sciences is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot.

Just under Babbage on “trimming,” most unfortunately, at least on Mozilla Firefox, your preferred graph stops its headline with the word “Compara” and the effect below is that the critical data for your argument, 1998 on, or even 1980 on, is just not there.

I would not dream of accusing you of trimming, but some less careful folk might. Glass houses and unintended virtual stones?

Do see my own set of ghastly errors on an alternative geomagnetic shift model for climate change, at
http://www.freewebs.com/psravenscroft/ (link needed, I blew it), if you have the time.

I have been at geology for four decades now, getting ever more confused about the fiendish sense of humour of so many geological processes, so I absolutely guarantee it is full of errors.

Regards, all the best and keep going. This lot is important.

Peter.

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Peter, click on the plot if your browser window is not showing it all.

You’d be best to ask a geophysicist or two about your geomagnetic shift model and whether this can provide a plausible driver for change, how it would interact with the climate system, and how this would offset CO2 effects.

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Barry et al,

I clicked on the graph and all trimming vanished, ta for that. Except that the graph still stops at the year 2000 AD. And I suspect that some changes have happened since, that may just be relevant.

You are absolutely right that my guesswork re deep geomagnetic shifts controlling climate change needs comment from geofinks. I am clean out of tame ones. Here in Closeburn, they are very scarce.

Any volunteers?

I tried Jeremy Bloxham. Dean of Physical Sciences at Harvard, on whose models I have based my wild guesses re the geomag theory, but no reply at all. Monckton of Brenchley was going to run it past a friend of his, but deadly silence has followed.

This lot is popular with no-one, be they carbon-storm troopers or devout sceptics and so, no comments are forthcoming, so far. Ditto re the 50 million centrifugal pumps and sea level rise. ditto re the CO2 phase shifting etc when you pull up deep ice cores without holding the pressure constant. Also on the stratigraphy lost from icecap slippage over time.

My guessing on the deep geomag and magnetosphere waltz is based on the observable fact that there is this most extraordinary coincidence of the geomag z (radial field) shift maxima, the enhanced southern aurora just there, and the very persistent temperature trend high from the GISS data and interactive maps, just around and west of the Antarctic Peninsula. The northern hemisphere is more messy and not my campsite, so I tend to leave explaining the dance of the Siberian magnetic bear to others. t dashes all over the place, but aways seems to go home to the middle reaches of the Lean River, where the big mag z or radial trend hift for the northern hemisphere lives. There is no fit at all withe th northern aurora. Why the difference, other than the weak excuse that the field is reversed, I do not begin to understand.

I have the NASA IMAGE satellite southern auroral image enhancement and a light article on this lot up on ABC Pool, under my surname and in their science section. Also on Digital Journal under science.

So far, those voting for AGW have had a go at this geomag guessing on every peripheral issue, but never a word on the key concept, except, “young man, you should go read your textbooks,” which is what I have heard every time I have either blown it entirely or been ahead of the herd, since undergrad days.

The energy in the geomagnetic field is very large. It creates the magnetosphere. Vary the geomag field and you vary the effectiveness of the magnetosphere, and then the incoming radiation changes.

Also, the temperature at the cmb is about 4,000 degrees C or something. On a small football-sized model of the earth, the crust is a moderate pencil line thick. Heat flows through the ocean floor are largely unknown, mantle pluming causes huge magnetic shifts, and then we are aghast that surface temperatures on this football in space dare to vary over a couple of dozen degrees, when it all gets frisky?

The real question perhaps is, how does the planetary surface remain so amazingly temperature-stable?

Must be all the hot air we blow off in these debates.

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Someone above said the se level rise was over 5 mm. Yup, but just once – that was the peak year, where the sentence tendered implies more years. Babbage again?

A quick one, on ground stations measuring surface temperatures. The urban heat island effect has long been debated, with Warwick Hughes, among others, putting in huge effort.

What is almost always overlooked is the rural heat island effect. Most ground recorders are in or near farmland, some of it new, and tractorland is generally a bit warmer than the forest or whatever was there before. Also, overgrazing reduces humus and then the soil dries and gets warmer.

My vote is for the satellite data. That has problems too, but satellites do not need to go along (warmish) roads usually while burning fossil fuel in internal explosion engines, to get their readings.

Sure the climate is very warm at present. But why? The laws of thermodynamics say you cannot transmit heat from a cold body (the sky) to a warm one (the surface of the earth), I think. So the basic physics of the CO2-driven greenhouse model may be a bit shaky. Heat going through from the sun is fine, no conflict.

Sea levels are up in the last few decades, perhaps largely because groundwater tables are down in many places, thank 50 million centrifugal pumps. Plus clay and silt from enhanced activity in tractorland and all those lovely chainsaws exposing soil to drying and then blowing or washing to the sea. And the goats, my personal pet unfavorite animals. Me, I will defend donkeys to the death, but the goats! The Church of the Holy Molecule needs a new devil? Use the old one and stop both global warming and sea level rise dead in their tracks.

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Peter,

“So the basic physics of the CO2-driven greenhouse model may be a bit shaky.”

Don’t be such a tease. If you reckon you’ve overturned basic principles of physics, let’s have the details. There should be Nobel Prize for you if you can pull it off.

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Barry et al,

Re figure 23 of Ian Plimer’s work and your (Barry’s) referral of readers to Petit et al, 1999.

First, that link does not give the real data, it gives an abstract and a dead end, unless you have money or back issues handy. When you do get there, from memory I think they merely give their derived graphs and not the real data.

Petit et al (1999) did their level best, hats off to them. That graph has hd a huge impact.

But the existence of icebergs off Antarctica proves that the icecap there is subject to flat faulting. It is so virtually by definition anyway. That gaps the record, if the fault is a reverse. Who on earth anyway said ice, up to 420,000 years old for Vostok and 740,000 for Dome C(we think) is a leakproof container for CO2? Ice is a brittle rock and will, in an icecap fracture at all levels from the molecular up to the big flat faults. Which last will be undetectable, uness the ice core experts are a lot better than all other core-loggers with more differentiated rocks to play with. And if that ice has ever leaked that gas, even internally and thereby merely trimming the CO2 peaks, and the decay of the CO2 peaks back in time suggests it may well have, then we have no reason whatever to conclude that this one is not a perfectly normal interglacial. As I think emailed, lifting ice cores to 3km long, in the case of Dome C, takes you through two phase shifts for CO2, perhaps explosively, I am not sure. Anyway, you simply cannot model past climates on just two narrow and highly experimental ice cores from the same stratigraphy, when on this planet you only have those two.

We have no deep ice core experts, at least on this planet and using the’more poplar arrow of time that most folk use.

When we have ten thousand deep ice cores, we will have some folk who will be informed enough to be usefully confused. All the credit in the world to Petit et al, but do not rush out to build nuclear power stations on the basis of their best guesses, just this week.

Hooroo,

Peter.

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All the credit in the world to Petit et al, but do not rush out to build nuclear power stations on the basis of their best guesses, just this week.

There are many good reasons to hasten the construction of nuclear reactors. Just one for now is to save the huge swaths of pristine land currently slated to be torn to bits to feed the coal furnaces.

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Gaz,

Not playing games, just under the weather. No Nobel for me, mate, though ta for the offer. For these lads, maybe. Their paper is

Falsifi cation Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse E ffects
Within The Frame Of Physics
Version 4.0 (January 6, 2009)
replaces Version 1.0 (July 7, 2007) and later
Gerhard Gerlich
Institut fur Mathematische Physik
Technische Universitat Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig
Mendelssohnstrae 3
D-38106 Braunschweig
Federal Republic of Germany
g.gerlich@tu-bs.de
Ralf D. Tscheuschner
Postfach 60 27 62
D-22237 Hamburg
Federal Republic of Germany
ralfd@na-net.ornl.gov

Google will find it. And, you can ask them themselves, as they were game enough to put their emails on the front page. There are 115 pages, with many of equations that are way beyond me.

But, the main point is, the Second Law of Thermodynamics seems to be violated by AGW.

I would tentatively chuck in the First Law also, as it says you cannot keep pumping heat into the system with no discernible result, which is what the temperature decline since 1998, while CO2 has risen, seems to me to imply if you go with AGW. Where has the heat gone? Not into the oceans, as they are warmer than the atmosphere.

I think there is a real problem here.

What we are all after is a closer approach to reality. Ja?

Hooroo,

Peter.

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Gaz, reply the second:

You know me, would I ever stoop so low as to tease?

So:

I will start right at the basics. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is this:

It is impossible for a process to have as its sole result the transfer of heat from a cooler body to a hotter one. So I suspect you cannot, with that as its sole result, transfer heat from the atmosphere (the cold body) to the earth’s surface (the hot body) Going through the atmosphere from he sun is fine, as most folk suspect the sun is warmish.

I do not expect you to accept this on third hand, airy-fairy theoretical evidence. I have checked.

I had an old uncle who flew open-cockpit fighters in World War One, in dawn patrols over the Western Front. Uncle Viv told me himself it is cold up there. That is why they used to wear warm coats. Not being a trusting sort, I later went up a little way in hang-gliders to check. I got cold. Then I went a bit higher in my brother’s open cockpit ultralight. I got colder. Not being entirely satisfied, since what is in question here is relative temperatures, I spend almost a year checking ground temperatures in the Namib Desert. Then in some other parts of Africa, then in most of Australia, and then in Fiji, Same result. It does seem to be warmer down here. I did check in Scotland and in the Alps, and that got chilly alright, but I still think I was colder in the ultralight. So I think Uncle Viv had it right. He was a professor of physics afterwards, and probably did that just to check his own opinion in this matter carefully. Apart from the flying about, he was a careful man. I don’t think that him crashing his Bristol fighter makes the case invalid by way of it being a second result.

Hence the entire greenhouse gas theory of climate warming is perhaps complete nonsense. Game, set and match. All over, all quiet on the Western Front. I wish.

Thermodynamics has a parting kick for the notion that carbon dioxide is causing climate warming, This comes from the First Law of Thermodynamics, which can be stated

“The change in a system’s internal energy is equal to the difference between heat added to the system from its surroundings and work done by the system on its surroundings.

Though this may sound complex, it’s really a very simple idea. If you add heat to a system, there are only two things that can be done — change the internal energy of the system or cause the system to do work (or, of course, some combination of the two). All of the heat energy must go into doing these things.”

I am indebted to Andrew Zimmerman Jones for those two definitions. See his excellent summary of thermodynamics on the Internet at About.com:Physics

(http://physics.about.com/od/thermodynamics)

Apologies Barry, at this senile stage, just have no self- discipline left

Regards all,

Peter.

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I am forever mystified by the way various arcane arguments arise about the issue of anthropogenic global warming.

Sadly I don’t have a graph to share – but imagine a straight line (historical and future human population size) with a vertical blip in it – that represents our discovery and rapid utilisation of fossil fuels and the resultant rapid growth of the human population, which forms a second blip, slightly lagging in phase with the first. A third trace, with a fast onset (paralleling the human growth curve) and with a far far slower decay – is the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gasses (stated as CO2 equivalents).

In this sense we are like any other organism, with sudden access to an accessible energy source (in this case fossil fuels) – we make full utility of it. This is inevitably followed by a crash – there is no other possible outcome.

To deny that humans are not the agent of the present global warming is disengenious at best – look at the land-use changes that are occuring in places such as the Amazon – to say nothing of Europe, N America and Australia. We developed and eject massive amounts of greenhouse gasses other than CO2, or even methane – think of flurocarbon refrigerants and foaming agents (with CO2 equivalents in the thousands or tens of thousands..). We have burned (and are still burning) millios of hectares of forest per year. All stored carbon… released as CO2.

I am reminded of the cartoon of Willy E Coyote – who has overshot the cliff – and finds himself in mid-air without any means of support.

We are Willy Coyote – en route to the edge of the cliff….

Hugh

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It’s interesting to note how many of the posters are so concerned about every minute detail of Plimer’s claims (granted it is a thread about Plimer’s book), yet I have never seen the same examination of the audacious claims from the climate lobby. Where are all the howls of criticism of that moron Garret and his “sea levels will rise by six metres)? Fair dinkum, if there was honesty from the climate lobby, especially from zealots like Karoly, that the science is not settled and that there is still a lot to understand about climate, then I’m sure people would be more accepting of the theory. My personal observations of who takes what side indicate that tree hugging lefties and the well-meaning, but mindless tend to believe the propaganda from the climate lobby. The critics tend to be very smart, politically savvy and able to easily spot a con job.

I’m sure there is a lot of truth in Plimer’s argument. The ferociousness of the attacks against him indicate a degree of self doubt from the climate camp. He has exposed a weakness in the “warmies” and they don’t like it.

All the debate is probably pointless anyway. It is highly improbable that there will be any international agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, so if it is going to cause global warming then I suggest we should be worrying about how to live in a warmer world.

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What you call fine detial is basic fact checking. How would you determine the veracity of his claim?

The “fine detial” shows he has used a bogus temperature chart to makes his argument. That is not a good basis.

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The reason there is interest in looking at the detail in Ian Plimers book is because the information to which he refers to back his arguments is demonstratably rubbish!! Little ‘details’ like Tuvalu is sinking so global sea level rise is not happening. Yes actual sea level rise measurements show Tuvalu is sinking…at 0.2mm per year while sea level rise measurements record rises of 5.6mm per year!! Little ‘details’ like this are obviously important!!

In regards to Peter Garretts 6m sea level rise comment, there is every reason to be concerned about multi metre sea level rise. Sea level rates of rise are accelerating and estimates revised upwards recently to be around 1m by 2100 with 1 to 2m a very real possibility, and with 7m of global sea level rise in the Greenland ice sheets which are starting to melt, and another 5m at least in the rapidly warming West Antartic Peninsula, well over 6m is a very real possibility over extended time frames of several centuries. And these processes are irreversible short of another deep ice age, so once initiated in a big way will play out over several hundred years.

Hundreds of millions of Euros are already being spent in European cities like Hamburg, London and the Netherlands to ‘adapt’ to sea level rise in measures that will likely not be enough. It is going to cost trillions to deal with this issue alone around the world by 2100 let alone after that!!

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Gar et al,

Here are Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s link and their abstract
re why AGW, in their view, offends the laws of thermodynamics.

That’s the link for the full paper, 115 pages.

Abstract:

“The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea the authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861 and Arrhenius 1896, but which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism by which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system.

According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist.

Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such a mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles clarified.

By showing that
(a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects,
(b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet,
(c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 °C is a meaningless number calculated wrongly,
(d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately,
(e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical,
(f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero,
the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.”

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Ummm, er … Peter, where did you do ‘climate science 101’ again? Or is what you are saying your own words?

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Peter Ravenscroft said:

I had an old uncle who flew open-cockpit fighters in World War One, in dawn patrols over the Western Front. Uncle Viv told me himself it is cold up there. That is why they used to wear warm coats. Not being a trusting sort, I later went up a little way in hang-gliders to check. I got cold. Then I went a bit higher in my brother’s open cockpit ultralight. I got colder.

[snip]

Hence the entire greenhouse gas theory of climate warming is perhaps complete nonsense.

I wonder – what would the temperatures of the surface and the atmosphere of the earth be, assuming that there were no atmospheric greenhouse gases? Similarly, what would the temperatures of the surface and the atmosphere of the earth be, assuming that there were half the concentrations of each of the atmospheric greenhouse gases?

What is the implication of the magnitudes of these temperatures, under these scenarios, for the current changings of concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases?

If you add heat to a system, there are only two things that can be done — change the internal energy of the system or cause the system to do work (or, of course, some combination of the two). All of the heat energy must go into doing these things.

What exactly do you believe the “parting kick” to be? And as an aside, can heat not leave the system again without “doing work”?

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Chris,

Ta for that. I will try to be perfectly informed in future.

I will give it my best shot, but I last did physics forty years ago, so if I drivel, you are not winning in the A league. I will email Gerlich and Tscheuschner and Smith next, so maybe we can get the horses mouths to the table here and get it straight.

Just for openers, however, Arthur Smith wrote:

“The fundamental characteristic of a planet in space is that of no material interchanges with its surroundings. The only substantive way energy can come in is through electromagnetic radiation, and the only way energy can leave is similarly through the planet’s own electromagnetic emissions.”

What does this chap think the solar wind consists of? Or that protons and helium nuclei (alpha particles) actually are? Not to mention all the dust that descends daily as micro-meteorites. I accept the last are probably energetically trivial in this case, but the first two are not. They bring in huge anounts of energy. So I an suspicious of his case from square one.

Bernardm

Ta also. No idea what the temperatures would be in the cases you propose, seems that could be tricky to establish with numbers, in the real universe.

No-one is arguing that we do not have an infra-red absorbing atmosphere that lowers temperatures, of course we do, and that atmosphere ofcours re-radiates heat back into space. What is being challenged is the ability of a cold atmosphere to heat a warm planetary surface. That is what seems to Gerlich and Tscheuschner (and to their tentative acolyte here) to offend the Second Law.

The parting kick guess of mine, re the First Law, is where has all the CO2-trapped solar energy gone since 1998? Atmospheric CO2 rises steadily, greenhouse radiation trapping is assumed by AGW to be still switched on, temperatures wobble down and the heat is not going into the oceans. So where is it? Or what work has it done. I know the IPCC report is thick, but …. Is the heat hiding in the the extra hurricanes that we seem not to be having, by the stats? In the thickening Antarctic icecap? Where?

Peter

P.S. My email, for one and all to use, is p.s.ravenscroft@gmail.com I will try to reply to all emails, if I can.

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Peter, re: “The parting kick guess of mine, re the First Law, is where has all the CO2-trapped solar energy gone since 1998?”

You do realise that the global temperature series showing the blip up in 1998 refer to surface temperatures and the oceans are on average about 4 km deep, right? I mean, you do know this, don’t you?

Yes?

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Gaz, global temperatures over the last ten years, with the degree of cooling influence from volcanic activity and aerosols and slightly declining solar activity, leaving greenhouse gases aside, should be back down near where they at the start of the 20th C when we had a similar levels of solar, and volcanic activity. What is keeping temperatures about 0.7 degrees higher than that?? The warming from greenhouse gases. Explain that and you might have something.
It is a also a very poor argument to take the really strong El nino in 1998 as your starting point and then try to argue global warming is over because global temperatures are slightly less than that natural event. El Nino’s leave the globe warmer than otherwise for the year or so they play out and this was a humdinger. You are going to have to do better than this!!

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DR I think you may have misconstrued my comment.

I was simply pointing out to Mr Ravenscroft that the system in which heat is building up, thanks to increased greenhouse gas concentrations, includes more than just the surface of the ocean and the lower troposphere.

Hence the answer to his rhetorical question “where has all the CO2-trapped solar energy gone since 1998..?” is “Nowhere. It’s still there, just not in the small part of the system we happened to be measuring.”

Presumably, next time an El Nino comes along and shuts all the 98ers up, he will ask where all the heat came from. The answer will be much the same – it was already there, but now it is in the small part of the system we happen to be measuring.

I assure you I am not arguing global warming is over.

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Bernard,

When you link a spoof paragraph to a conclusion and leave out all the serious plodding, fair enough, but see Babbage on trimming, above.

The link to Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009) keeps escaping me. It is here:

I hope.

Donza,

With you all the way, except that we do not have any idea if the world will get warmer or colder next. This is the peak of an interglacial with a slightly lower plateau than usual on its tail, in which we are camping. The peaks are usully sharpish But in a few millennia, we will fall off this pleasant (for rainforest apes gone walkabout) plateau, so sprint now for your winter woolies.

But in the interim? No AGW, no certainty. Life gets exciting again.

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We are at least 5000 years from another ice age from Milankovitch cycles and recent work indicates the extra warming we have created may have delayed that out to 20,000 years. The Sun is pretty inactive at present. We may go into another Maunder Minimum if this continues but the extra warming from CO2 is far greater than the cooling effect from this influence. So I wouldn’t go for the woolies just yet!!

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Peter,

Did you really think all those scientists worked for years – over 150 years in fact – on a theory that turned out to be a basic and obvious contravention of a fundamental principle of phyics? And all those guys with PhDs in Physics and other disciplines, with all their supercomputers and so on, and all their publications in peer-reviewed journals, they all just happened to not notice?

Really?

There’s plenty of expert commentary about G&T if you’re interested – you can start at the Wikipedia entry. Eli Rabett and some others are working on a comprehenisive rebuttal you can get to via his blog, if you want to follow it up.

As a general rule, if someone with little or no track record in a scientific field pops up and claims to have proven everyone else wrong, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re either deluded or lying.

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Peter Ravenscroft

Ta for that. I will try to be perfectly informed in future.

That’s OK. Just try not to be so badly misinformed.

They bring in huge anounts of energy.

As in ….. how much compared with electromagnetic radiation?

So I an suspicious of his case from square one.

That’s pretty amazing compared with your lack of suspicion of Gerlich and Tscheuschner. Ever thought of trying to be consistent?

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Chris,

1) Have you read everything relevant to climate change in, say, glaciology, sport? Or maybe in crystallography? You would be the first, if you have.

2) Compared to EM radiation, don’t know. Good question, will pursue.

3) Yup. I was sceptical of G and T, still am, it’s my trade. Just did not see any such an apparent glaring error in the Germans’ paper as in Arthur Smith’s abstract. I have now emailed Gerhard Gerlich and asked for his comments. Will then try find Arthur Smith.

Gaz,

First, ta for the links. Will follow.

Re this planet having deep oceans. Yes, I have noticed. I did study physical oceanography, once way back.and have worked at it also, tracking currents. The problem for CO2 driven-warming is, if you wish to transfer heat to the deep oceans, how do you get it down there without the ocean surface showing any trace of its passage? We do after all measure sea surface temperatures fairly steadily with satellites. Does it suddenly, like the malgas, dive into the sea when and just where the El Ninos surface? And why does it only go down deep during and after major El Ninos? And re El Ninos, Antarctic Bottom Water seems to take of the order of a hundred years to reach just South Africa, probably similar or more time to Peru. And, the oceans are very thermally stratified. You may perhaps be able to store the missing heat in kinetic energy in the seas, but that has not been demonstrated to be happening. If it is, as the CMB temp is about 4,000 degrees C, and heat flows through the sea floor are pretty much unknown, we then get into a whole new game. If you can find the lost heat, I will be delighted.

We may have a whole new Hollywood genre here. Gaz and the Search for the Lost Heat. A thrilling (and romantic, you can have any pretty co-star you like, of course) adventure, set in the deep abyssal plains, in which the intrepid adventurer single-handedly (even-handedly?)saves AGW.

Next. Not sure yet if I think “they” have all missed the thermodynmics show stopper, but I have seen some astounding oversights in science since I started. Plate tectonics had just surfaced, to everyone’s amazement. Pretty big things to overlook, continental and oceanic crustal plates. In my first year, blokes were rushing about grinning from ear to ear, asking, how did we miss that lot? Alex Du Toit’s manuscript notes on Mesosaurus tenuidens were in the department’s museum cupboard, but. Who ever heard of him? And so on.

I am never shocked at what the science population has missed. If you run through the list of 34 people that Charlie Darwin himself gave as having tackled evolution, (often by natural selection), before him, in the later editions of the forewords of the “Origin”, you will see quite a few folk you probably do not know of. And nor did anyone else. Aristotle sure, but Wells and Matthew? I do not know which of the Frenchmen and Germans were then unknowns, but it is still difficult to find several of them.

Geology at least does not depend particularly on the pronouncements of the famous – just on the solid guesswork of the myriads. Collecting medals and accolades is a separate department. And we are as a trade forever overturning hallowed dogmas and hypotheses. Bacon suggested continental drift in about 1629, but it took a while to catch on, and it is most likely that some total unknown suggested it to him. But eventually we bought it.

The Pope just bought evolution. Now how did the tens of thousands of learned Jesuit doctors miss that lot? Given that Aristotle had explained it clearly, before there were Jesuits? The Church of the Holy Molecule may also in time, have to give up some hallowed ground.

I am not yet solidly through Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009) and as said, I am not up to understanding the equations, let alone commenting intelligently on them. There is a lot of close argument there. Have you read it all, and would you care to comment on their work in detail?

Re how hot would it be here without an atmosphere? See the moon. Same distance from the furnace, basalt as we have much of here. Max 120 degrees C near midday, minus 150 C at the end of the night.No-one is saying the atmosphere does not moderate the planet’s temperatures.

P.S. Ta for the title, by the way. Mister? I won’t know myself! It would be nice to know who I am debating, here.

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Peter,

1) Making a cursory internet search on something doesn’t mean you will be perfectly informed, just better informed than you were about Gerlich and Tscheuschner. I don’t know why you are trying to make a strawman.

2) Solar wind particles do not reach the Earth’s surface and very few get through the magnetosphere and reach the upper atmosphere. Your objection is insignificant nitpicking.

3) If you are sceptical of Gerlich and Tscheuschner, why do you bring it up here as some sort of authority? If you want glaring errors in G&T, here’s a few:

(a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects,

Yes, “greenhouse effect” doesn’t really describe how a greenhouse works. Scientists have known that for longer than G&T have been alive.

(b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet,

Take the temperature in representative areas and take the average. They had the figure approximately right as far back as the late 19th century.

(c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 C is a meaningless number calculated wrongly,

It’s the difference between the Earth’s mean global annual surface temperature of 288 K and its radiative equilibrium temperature of 255 K (I get 254 K myself). Yes, if Earth didn’t have an atmosphere, its albedo would probably be different and Te would be a little different, but so what? What possible relevance does that have?

(d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately,

The formulas of cavity radiation aren’t generally used at all in atmosphere physics unless one is discussing blackbodies. The Stefan-Boltzmann law:

I = s T^4

is the basic “cavity radiation law.” For a greybody one adds an emissivity term, and for a real body one adds a wavelength or frequency subscript to the emissivity term and accounts for the fraction of radiation output in the range of interest. Usually you can use the Planck law for the blackbody fraction, then multiply by the appropriate fractional constants.

(e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical,

Very true. The Earth’s atmosphere is in radiative-convective balance, not radiative balance. G&T apparently think climatologists don’t know this.

(f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

Thermal conductivity and friction are covered in the expressions for surface cooling by sensible heat loss, which is part of what makes up the “convective” part of “radiative-convective equilibrium.” They are only set to zero for theoretical simplifications usually shown to students.

If you want to avoid trashing your credibility further, it would help a lot if you didn’t mention G&T again.

BTW, if you’re wondering where all the CO2-trapped solar energy has gone since 1998, perhaps you should also wonder where all the heat suddenly came from between 1997 and 1998.

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Gaz:

Presumably, next time an El Nino comes along and shuts all the 98ers up

The next time an El Nino comes along all the 98ers will suddenly becomes experts on El Nino, i.e. they will constantly assert that the new record warmest year is only warm because of El Nino. At the moment if you ask them what El Nino is, you will get a response along the lines of “duh, what’s that?”

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Peter Ravenscroft said:

Bernard,

When you link a spoof paragraph to a conclusion and leave out all the serious plodding, fair enough, but see Babbage on trimming, above.

“Spoof”? You were making an inference, no matter your example, and I simply tried to elicit some deeper thinking on your part. Which, by the way, you seem to have avoided.

And as to “trimming”, I used a typical internet convention to omit extraneous (and in this case, irrelevant) padding. I would note too that any reader could easily find the post I quoted from, if they were so inclined, and understand the complete context of your comment.

Anyway, whilst you are grappling with the laws of thermodynamics and the questions I posed earlier, perhaps you could also explain to us why the atmosphere, which is exposed to the same radiation from the sun that heats the planet’s surface (as well as to the reflected and reradiated ER from the same planetary surface), is so much colder for much of its thickness than is the surface. Most especially, how does this factor into the thermodynamics of the greenhouse effect? And as another aside, and as somewhat of a hint, why is it that you assume that scientists say that it is the “cold atmosphere [that is] heat[ing] a warm planetary surface”, and not the sun?

I know that the greenhouse metaphor sticks in the craw of many denialists, but perhaps you could also explain the significance of the fact that I often have condensation on the inside of my own greenhouse, and that the interior is able to increase in temperature in spite of the mechanism that leads to this condensation.

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Seems desent is not flavour of the month, as is Swine flu, wonder what it will be next month.
I know the media will tell us and we can all relax or get ready for more doom and gloom.
what a bunch of sheep people are when their little certainties are challenged.
Ah the inquisition is alive and well in the minds of the people who should know better.

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When some people’s certainties are challenged, they re-evaluate and (sometimes)
change their mind … this was the point of my post.

A nice little piece on realclimate.com today shows
what other people do … Lord Monckton just makes stuff up and tells lies.
Swine flu? The sequence of WHO daily updates on the
number of people officially infected for the past 4 updates has been 615, 331, 257, 148 — starting from the most recent. Not quite doubling every update
but close. The good news is that the case-fatality rate looks to be
relatively low … just like the first wave of flu in 1918. Anybody not
concerned doesn’t understand viruses, anybody panicking also doesn’t understand
viruses.

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Having read several comments above, but having spent my career as an environmental scientist at *ground zero* – ie, Boulder, Colorado, USA, home of UCAR, NCAR, one NOAA lab, and two influential university atmospheric science departments at ground zero – and having been moved to embrace BOTH sides of the AGW issue over time, I must enter a few comments on critiques of a book I have not yet read (and, it seems, no one commenting above has either).

First, invoking Oreskes as authoritative, when roughly half a dozen social science pieces have been done on the “majority” question, is ridiculous. To my mind, all of them have flaws. Second, it amazes me is how few knowledgeable earth scientists (eg, last summer’s world Geological Congress in Oslo – the session on global warming is available online), outside of the confines of that odd neologism “climate scientists,” embrace AGW. Third, there seem to be no debates between AGW alarmists and critics where the “consensus” side wins. How is this possible? Too much ducking? Or is there something fundamentally wrong in doing “science” based on “weight of the evidence” instead of according to traditional standards like replication and falsifiabilty?

Certainly, appeals to “majority” such as Brooke and Frankis ought to be ruled out of court! While boards of institutions composed of scientists might do so, science itself does not and has never functioned according to democratic rules. If atmospheric science is to be saved from the path of Lysenkoism, such appeals must be rejected by everyone concerned with the truth-finding function of honest science.

Liberal science, as Jonathan Rauch explains in “Kindly Inquisitors,” is at stake as much as AGW-alarmists claim civilization is threatened. When will we realize this? On the account of the above critique, not soon.

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Orson, have a look at realclimate.com’s post today on Lord Monkton. It
seems pretty clear to me that the man is not just mistaken but fraudulent. When
I see Ian Plimer, as in

http://www.independentweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/environment-the-new-religion/1254171.aspx

seriously assert that climate scientists ignore new facts, I think the man
is either wrong and knows he’s wrong or wrong and doesn’t, which makes
him lazy or stupid. Did, for example, climate scientists ignore the
criticisms of Mann’s famous hockey graph? Not a bit, they used different
statistics and different proxies to redo the work. By
2007, there were 11 replications. And Plimer comes along and
says climate scientists ignore criticisms. Does this sound like
a valid criticism to you?

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Orson, can you refute Oreskes’s findings?

Re. debate- I think you’ll find the debate in pages of peer reviewed literature. Would you like to suggest a more appropriate media for scientific exactness?

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Glickson states:
“(5) Next, truth is out – they resort to derogatory terms such as “alarmists”, “warmists”, AGW theorists”, and worse, which reveals they are not really interested to learn either the science facts or the physics/chemistry explanation, but have a prior conviction, i.e. the atmosphere is not warming, or if it does its not of anthropogenic origin.

Where they can not argue with scientists on technical/scientific points, they resort to personal denigrating comments.”

No-neither. Never in the dozen (or so) debates in the US and Canada I have been privy to. Instead, the shoe is on the other foot: alarmists commit these errors, sullying their stance.

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Orson, You did relise you contradicted your self in this post?

“they resort to derogatory terms such as “alarmists””

“No-neither. Never in the dozen (or so) debates in the US and Canada I have been privy to. Instead, the shoe is on the other foot: alarmists commit these errors, sullying their stance.”

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Orson.

I note that you did not address Geoff Russell’s points. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about them.

Also, geology is even not remotely the same as meteorology; nor is it climatology. However, many geologists have ‘mining interests’ associated with fossil fuel production, and it is not a long bow to draw to imagine why they might have inherent biases in their interpretations with respect to climate change. Perhaps you could detail a procedure to convincingly exclude this obvious risk from the colouring of opinions of many geologists.

Finally, some of the most intelligent and scientifically sceptical geologists and geophysicists I know (and I know a few) have no difficulty at all with the AGW premise. How would you explain this?

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Chris,

Ta for your time again.

I will mention Gerlich and Tsheuschner as an when it suits me, ta also for the sage advice, but I am not particularly interested in my personal credibility, that went west decades ago. As ever, I am just interested in finding out, as best I can, what the reality is. I have no medals to hunt or career to advance and do not give a stuff who gets the accolades and who the brickbats. Just in nudging the debate along.

Why did I dare mention the work of G and T if I am sceptical o it? Because,as I said, I am not in a position to determine for myself if their physics is correct. They say AGW is nonsense and infinges the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Folk like you say it is not and does not. Fine, as with geologists, we have a debate, this one with the usual Internet bad manners.

I have some reason to believe, on geological criticisms, see my website if you have nothing better to do,at

http://www.freewebs.com/psravenscroft/

that there are serious holes in the AGW case. So, when I see physicists or others who are also sceptical, I am interested to throw it into the ring, to see what others such as yourself say.

In essence, we are all, paid or not,working for an understanding of this issue, as it has some importance for what humanity ought or ought not do next. .

I think, correct me if I am wrong, that all your criticism of G and T’s work so far is derived from their abstract. Have you read the whole paper? Care to comment further?

I have to some extent avoided criticism of Ian Plimer’s book because I have not read it, so I started by commenting on some of Barry’ remarks.

There seems to be an edge of desperation in some of the criticism of CO2 sceptics. I find it everywhere. Why else all the abuse, scorn and invective? This is simply a debate in science, which has got through a few hundred year mostly with good manners. Attempts at mild humour seem to invoke frenzies. All very odd.

Re the old one below as to why geologists are so sceptical, and are we all in the pay of or biased by some wish to see mining proceed unhindered by reality. I much doubt that. After you have worked for a few dozen exploration companies, mostly run by desk jockeys from dreamland, the usual attitude is one of amused contempt. with some remarkable exceptions. it is jut that we put up marvellous theory after marvellous theory, then shoot them to pieces ourselves with the next line of drill holes. The fantasies built up around the only two deep ice cores we have to date, Vostok and Dome C, about pt atmospheric CO2 levels, are astounding. So we are sceptical as a group. Of course some geologists accept AGW – some also accept an earth that is 6,000 years old. Some hve complex arguments as to why AGW is real, but most probably take the opposite view. And yes, there are some company men and women who push the company line as part of their work, and they make lot of noise, having large trumpets. But that does not sway most of us. we are just very sceptical of the science. It looks far too simplistic to be true.

Re the heat that appeared in 97-98. I have wondered. Antarctic Bottom Water, at least the branch that surfaces off Peru, crosses the warmest path of sea floor in the world,by seismic velocity work, at least in part. It moves moves very slowly and along very active (and warm) plate boundaries, where the heat flows are largely unknown, but keep in mind that basalt melts at fairly high temperatures, and what sea floor preading is. I hve had a go at tying to calulate the heat involved withthe actual melting over the time availble an it i way insufficient, but if there is substantial warming on the flanks of the spreading areas, it may be significant. We are a couple of orders of magnitude out (too low) given the heat flow guesses currently popular for averages, but then, we just found water at depth and at, I think it was 400 degrees C, in the Atlantic. And had no idea it was there. There may be large areas that are a few degrees warmer than we have estimated, an that erratically. Mantle pluming is real and moves vast amounts of heat. So, maybe internal heat adds kinetic energy to the deep water, and when an energetic pulse surfaces, we get El Ninos. I think there is too much heat in those sudden pulses for it to have an atmospheric origin. All that is wild guesswork, and I am aware that the met folk will not like it at all. so if you can trash it, very good. Just without the hectoring tone would be good.

Re the solar wind. If the magnetosphere weakens, and it is weakening now, if the atmosphere does not stop the extra protons and alpha particles that then get past the magnetosphere, then what does? And if the atmosphere does stop them, it will heat. I suggest this is or may be a far from trivial heat source.

You did not answer my enquiry as to whether you have read everything relevant to this topic, in glaciology and crystallography. If you have not, are you sure you are competent to give opinions and advice in this field? By precisely the arguments whereby you suggest I am not and should not?

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Bernard,

Sure there are geos on both sides in this debate, and I know of no polls about what the “intelligent” ones think. I have found it diplomatic to assume that all are about equally sensible or daft, though I do accept some are sober more often than others.

The past record of climates is mostly contained in rocks. Ice is formally a rock. Sedimentology is very largely about past surface climates. This entire debate depends largely on whether the CO2 peak at present is abnormally high, compared to past interglacial CO2 peaks. If this is a normal peak, what is the fuss about? There are serious grounds for questioning whether we either do or can know that simple point, from the data to hand.

That is about why many geologists, like Ian Plimer, get involved, not because we all want bigger pay packets. I have looked for and found coal but would be happier if we mined and wasted far less. I personally do not give a rats what the coal and oil companies think about my views. Or the uranium miners either. Being folk who work a bit away from offices and bosses, we are a reasonably independent and ill-disciplined bunch.The notion that we are a group of company sycophants crawling for gold watches or something is faintly amusing.

We are simply folk who have seen endless strings of fine hypotheses shot down by drill holes and surface sampling and remote sensing and mining. And by logic, occasionally. .

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Peter Ravenscroft,

You think “This entire debate depends largely on whether the CO2 peak at present is abnormally high, compared to past interglacial CO2 peaks” but this more to it that that.

No, the significant question is whether it would be as high as it is now in the absence of human activity and the well-established answer is “NO”.

Do you really think the current level of atmospheric CO2 is in any way “normal”?

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Peter Ravenscroft:

I will mention Gerlich and Tsheuschner as an when it suits me, ta also for the sage advice, but I am not particularly interested in my personal credibility, that went west decades ago.

Didn’t say you couldn’t. You’re just another person with no credibility.

Why did I dare mention the work of G and T if I am sceptical o it? Because,as I said, I am not in a position to determine for myself if their physics is correct.

How is that a reason FOR mentioning it?

They say AGW is nonsense and infinges the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Folk like you say it is not and does not. Fine, as with geologists, we have a debate

There is no debate in the scientific literature which is hardly surprising considering the glaring errors in it.

I have some reason to believe, on geological criticisms, see my website

So you think the main weakness of AGW is that past warmings were very much greater than “now”. In other words if what would now be considered a catastrophic change has happened in the past, your argument is that change that is a substantial fraction of those past changes is nothing to worry about simply because it’s happened in the past. What a bizarre argument. Not only that, it isn’t actually an argument against AGW, it’s just arguing that the consequences are insignificant.

that there are serious holes in the AGW case

I think the serious holes are in your argument, as I’ve pointed out above.

I am interested to throw it into the ring, to see what others such as yourself say.

This has already been done which is why I suggested you should have searched the internet. There’s plenty out there already if you really want it.

I think, correct me if I am wrong, that all your criticism of G and T’s work so far is derived from their abstract. Have you read the whole paper?

What? So you think if a paper’s abstract is garbage that that is of no real significance? The abstract is supposed to be a summary and contain the main conclusions of the paper. If the abstract is garbage then the paper’s conclusions are garbage.

Why else all the abuse, scorn and invective? This is simply a debate in science

You may not have noticed but this debate is not being done by scientists. It is being done by many non-scientists some of whom are blatantly dishonest (e.g. Monckton) or offensive nutcases (e.g. Curtin. These people usually start the offense, as well as being dishonest.

if the atmosphere does not stop the extra protons and alpha particles that then get past the magnetosphere, then what does? And if the atmosphere does stop them, it will heat.

Yes in the upper atmosphere. Not really significant at the surface where AGW is happening.

I suggest this is or may be a far from trivial heat source.

You haven’t yet tested Arthur Smith’s hypothesis (i.e. with actual values). I can’t see any evidence that your objection is anything other than insignificant nitpicking.

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G’day all,

Here is some comment on Professor Gerlich and Professor Tscheuschner’s (peer-reviewed, by jingo)work, that may prove interesting. (Yeah, I know all Germans are professors, but it does seem these two are included in that club. They have not got back yet, by the way)

It seems the physicists do not all have the same opinions either. Three cheers for them.

See also where one more physics prof and a geofizz one chip in their two bobs worth.

Some of them, who do not think Gerlich is right, do not think that carbon dioxide is making any significant contribution to warming anyway.

And, stuck in my personal groove, I still keep thinking that a cmb of 4,000 degrees C, a pencil-thin crust on a hot football, and a rapidly shifting internal magnetic field, with a fierce solar wind just offshore, are a better bet as drivers of planetary climate change than the trace tailpipe gas of one large primate. Is CO2 supposed to have triggered the ice ages? The IPCC itself (may its name be ever hallowed) says it does not think so.

So, why are we now, just this last century, in a totally different mode of climate change? If you claim that the proof is that sea level rise is abnormal, a major point used against Ian Plimer, you need to explain away the quite abnormal groundwater pumping and depletion since the invention of the centrifugal and force pumps and the motors that drive them. Where are you going to store all that water? This is, by the way, Ian Plimers main argument – that we are well within the bounds of natural variability here. The notion that recent CO2 levels are abnormal for an interglacial peak cannot yet be proven from the data to hand.

Meanwhile, there is this extraordinary match on the maps, taking the simpler southern hemisphere case, between the region of maximum geomagnetic shift, the region of greatest incoming radiation from the Van Allen belts (the auroral enhancement on NASA’s IMAGE satellite image, see ABC Pool etc)and where the planet is warming most.

Why, on AGW grounds, is the maximum heating for the southern hemisphere consistently at and west of the Antarctic Peninsula?. What concentrates CO2 radiation-trapping abilities just there? Right where we have developed the greatest weakening in the geomagnetic field on this planet, in the last few hundred years? No-one has yet explained that to me.

An aside. One more reason why geologists, particularly those from the exploration industry, are so sceptical as a mob about AGW, has just occurred to me. We cook up fine hypotheses, about where the ore is. Then we drill, and everyone from the camp cook to the company chairman knows you just blew it, because one project in 3,000 finds a mine, at present. And they know it a couple of weeks, on average, after you dreamed up your masterpiece. And see their jobs going down the drain in onsequence, often enough. So we are used to a) being wary of our own or other’ bullshit theories b)seeing them going down accompanied by the quiet laughter of Murphy, and c) being very publicly wrong. In academia, in contrast you can often put up nonsense and get away with it for years, or even forever, because very little of obvious consequence or cost hangs on the result. Go read a few zoology or botany PhDs.

And in climatology?

Cheers,

Peter

PS Not “scio,” I know or I understand, but “cogito,” from the dictionary, the intellectual processes of the self or ego, i.e. I think? Science has a bad name? Any volunteers to be cognitists?

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Peter Ravenscroft:

“We cook up fine hypotheses, about where the ore is. Then we drill, and everyone from the camp cook to the company chairman knows you just blew it, because one project in 3,000 finds a mine, at present.”

I get it now. The prospect of only having a one in 3,000 chance of being right is just business as usual. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

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Dear Chris,

Again, ta for your time and your charming comments. Am just back from paddling my old kayak round a beautiful and deserted lake, try it some time, it may change your views both on science and on being light and airy.

As a nitpicker with no credibility, as we have now established beyond question, I would like to ask again, have you read the whole of Professors Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s (peer-reviewed, I suspect)paper? And would you care to comment on the content therein,rather than just on the abstract? It is free on the net, you know.

If you do, I will look forward to sending it on to them.

I am sorry to be a complete idiot, but if all the solar wind is stopped in the upper atmosphere, what are the auroras? As they are visible from the ground you cannot claim that nothing whatsoever gets through. Photons may not be in quite the same class as CO2 in the planet-warming department, and I will in fact cheerfully accept they are useless at it. But they are not sweet nothing. And they may be accompanied by ore energetic distant relatives

Here is a snippet from the net

from :

“The Van Allen belts are most intense over the Equator and are effectively absent above the poles. No real gap exists between the two zones; they actually merge gradually, with the flux of charged particles showing two regions of maximum density. The inner region is centred approximately 3,000 km (1,860 miles) above the terrestrial surface. The outer region of maximum density is centred at an altitude of about 15,000 to 20,000 km (9,300 to 12,400 miles), though some estimates place it as far above the surface as six Earth radii (about 38,000 km [23,700 miles]).

The inner Van Allen belt consists largely of highly energetic protons, with energy exceeding 30,000,000 electron volts. The peak intensity of these protons is approximately 20,000 particles per second crossing a spherical area of one square cm in all directions. It is believed that the protons of the inner belt originate from the decay of neutrons produced when high-energy cosmic rays from outside the solar system collide with atoms and molecules of the Earth’s atmosphere. Some of the neutrons are ejected back from the atmosphere; as they travel through the region of the belt, a small percentage of them decay into protons and electrons. These particles move in spiral paths along the lines of force of the Earth’s magnetic field. As the particles approach either of the magnetic poles, the increase in the strength of the field causes them to be reflected. Because of this so-called magnetic mirror effect, the particles bounce back and forth between the magnetic poles. Over time, they collide with atoms in the thin atmosphere, resulting in their removal from the belt.

The outer Van Allen belt contains charged particles of both atmospheric and solar origin, the latter consisting largely of helium ions from the solar wind (steady stream of particles emanating from the Sun). The protons of the outer belt have much lower energies than those of the inner belt, and their fluxes are much higher. The most energetic particles of the outer belt are electrons, whose energies reach up to several hundred million electron volts.

Studies show that intense solar activity causes disruptions of the Van Allen belts, which in turn are linked with such phenomena as auroras and magnetic storms. See also aurora; magnetic storm.”‘

But, and this i the discredited nitpicker here again. given those very high altitudes, we still have the auroras coming down to between 70km and 400 kms. There are some very energetic particles up there, 30 million EV is not nothing, and I suspect some of that lot gets down further, maybe explaining the temperature peak at 50 kms. And maybe, where the magnetosphere is locally weakened, also a fair bit of the temperature change in the troposphere and close to and at the surface. We do have magnetic storms that knock out power grids, when the sun plays up. I think those power grids are mostly parked close to the ground, anyway, I have seen few in orbit. Permanently reduce the magnetosphere, as is happening now, and the ability of such solar storms to transmit heat to the surface will be increased, AGW experts will doubtless claim the energy is trivial, as they already know what is warming the surface etc., but I do not think we know, as yet.

What I do know is the CO2-increase graph parted company with the temperature graph a decade back, after being in step for only a few decades. All the IPCC predictions were for steady warming, and it simply has not happened. I would neither buy on the stock market on such a poor correlation nor site a drill rig on any theory that claimed that such a thing was not a serious mismatch. Not when the empirical evidence, the map overlaps in this case, suggests that entirely another game is in play.

Chris, if you would like to joust with a solar man who will match your style, Leif Svalgaard has put a whole lot of effort (and invective, aimed at others, I hasten to add) into a thread I inadvertently started with a dud Ap Index-SOI graph, a week or two back, on Wattsupwiththat, Anthony Watt’s (very sceptical) blog. I can ask him if he would like to get into this debate, if you like.

Curtin I do not know, Monckton I do, having interchanged several emails with his lordship. For what it is worth, I never found M of B dishonest, just a touch formal. Algy declines to debate him still, I think?

Regards,

Peter.

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May I point out that the energy necessary to induce power surges in excess of 25 volts per kilometre of grid is not trivial. Magnetic flux on the order of more than 2000nT/min is 400 times higher than anything we’d expect to observe from a magnetic reversal – unless the magnetic poles wandered over the grid you are plugged into. We are currently overdue for such an exciting natural event.

This is perhaps the strongest argument against centralised power systems, aside from their vulnerability to lack of maintenance and other symptoms of executive accounting practices.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Plimer on Lateline

I’ve just caught up with Ian Plimer’s interview on Lateline and wish to share a few ideas with Barry and his bloggers.

Plimer performs well, he is like a politician with is favoured lines he just has to get out – but they work, they stick in listener/viewers’ minds, so very clever.

But I think he muffed badly by attacking, so relentlessly, Jones, toward the end of the interview. This revealed a side of the ‘scientist’ as overtly a man driven by political agendas – what sort of political agendas? How far to the right wing of the political spectrum? If too far, one starts to look a little loopy and that just crept out toward the end of the interview – it won’t help
him.

What the public want, I figure, is politics out of the debate, they want to know what the counter arguments are, no doubt, but want it delivered without the type of passions Plimer evokes – same goes for the other side. That’s why I think Flannery is losing it as a convincing advocate for more action. And while he does convey these well, he ends up drawing suspicion that he his motivated by something else apart from the study of the facts as they are contended.

Barry’s political advantage in all this, as I see it, lies with him being environmentalist who wants practical and, s I see it realistic even hopeful,answers to how emissionsmay be reduced. And certainly supporting nuclear energy confounds those who would like to box him into the typical greenie crowd. Lots of street cred in that position, I figure.

Back to Plimer’s book, I’ve read the first and last chapter, I thought it most curious the paragraph in the final chapter on Garnaut. I attended his book launch and recall his complaining about his critics who tend too often to ‘play the man’ but this is just what he does with arather nasty cheap shot at a fellow mining company director! The attack had nothing to do with Garnaut’s report – all very odd.

So that adds to the picture that Plimer may well struggle with being ‘objective’, – the very thing he champions. He comes across, the more I watch him as little dogmatic and driven to crush his opponents. Yes he is funny with amusing turns of phrase, but they a also a little hackneyed as well. But in the end, his claim that all the ‘warmist’ science is ‘wrong’ strikes me as just so extreme and at least Lateline used Barry’s point on this matter, namely that that is ‘absurd’.

In the end I want to be convinced by Plimer, but so far I’m still for ‘buying an insurance policy’ against the future. Our governments, State and Federal and international agreements on emission reductions remain important, but more importantly, government investment support for low carbon emitting technologies is required as means for encouraging private sector investment.

Regards,
HayMan

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Anybody who thinks Plimer’s pretence at objectivity is anything other
than pretence, then have a look at the Independent Weekly story

http://www.independentweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/environment-the-new-religion/1254171.aspx

When Plimer took on the creationists (at great personal cost), I thought
he was wonderful. But his first Independent Weekly article (before they
were online) convinced me that he just plain didn’t know much about
climate science.

BTW, there is a great (and free) on-line resource that people with a spare
year or two to invest in solid study should consider. Its an
online book (text book actually, complete with questions and workbook
if you want to get your hands dirty), soon to be published, from one of the realclimate.com garcons

http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

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Figure 24. on p. 242 is sourced according to the caption on my web site (if anyone actually bothers to read anything they discuss these days) from:

“Carbon dioxide after Berner (2001) & temperature after Scotese (2001; see also Boucot et al., 2004) sourced from http://www.geocraft.com showing the degree of variation in carbon dioxide throughout geological history.”

Although out of date, more up to date studies such as Royer et. al. 2004) that go beyond projections into real hard data, nonetheless fail to support the correlation of CO2 and temperature: see http://climate.geologist-1011.net

Prove you’ve actually read the book by addressing the two key questions instead of playing rhetorical chairs.

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Timothy Casey,

The strawman you seem to be challenging everyone to defend is that CO2 correlates directly with global temperature regardless of what other factors are doing.

If Plimer or someone else has given you this impression, then you’ve been misled.

I noticed your chart of CO2 and temperature for 500 M years was lacking data of solar irradiation. Other factors you might include are land (continental) distribution and its effects on albedo and circulation (ocean and atmospheric).

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“The CO2 as a primary driver of climate” claim has been made before. It is the title of the paper by Royer et al (2004).

Thank you for the constructive suggestion of adding solar radiation, land dissemination degree, and albedo curves to my comparison chart. Do you have any additional sources to suggest?

Thanks in Advance

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The book makes a lot of sense, if you take the author as a company director, with the legal duties to shareholders and investors that entails.

This is not ad hominem, and it is relevant – heres why. Most of the comments above assume on Plimer, the duties of a professor, but in writing the book he may not be acting wholly in that role. Law imposes on directors, strict duties to provide good returns for shareholders and investors, and that constrains what they say in public, and how they act. It’s part of the legal duties of directors. A director cant be totally honest or forthright in public about his/her opinions of the corporation or products, if that would damage earnings. He has to remain silent, or spin. If that seems odd – imagine Richard Bransen authoring a book . Then imagine all airlines have freqeunt problems with losing baggage – not just Virgin Blue but all of them. Then imagine how much Bransen will put into the book, about this problem.

This may sound paranoid, but it’s worth reading “The Corporation” by Canadian legal academic Joel Bakan, who spells it out, gives the case law behind it, and explains the consequences in terms of what directors are oblilged to do, may do if they wish, and cannot do.

Plimer says in the book he is director of 3 corporations. Is he writing this book as Prof Ian Plimer scientist and public academmic? Or as Ian Plimer, Director of CBH resources?

It is important to know which role he thinks he is in, in this book. As it makes a great deal of difference to what he can legally put in print, and how thorough and balanced it has to be.

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Here is an interview (downloadable MP3 file) on ‘Backstory’ Radio Adelaide 101.5, in which I talk for about 40 minutes on Ian Plimer and the book Heaven & Earth:

[audio src="http://www.backstory.org.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Barry%20Brook.mp3" /]

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More ad homenim nonsense. May I point out that it doesn’t matter how many famous scientists agree on an idea if the idea is not supported by all the pertinent facts.

Let’s for argument’s sake, suppose that Ian R. Plimer is actually ‘Satan Incarnate’, come for any obviously nefarious end you care to imagine;

How exactly does this change a fact presented by Plimer; for example as observed by Andren et al (2000), that there were tropical organisms thriving in the Baltic Sea (53-66 degrees north of the equator) during the Medieval period – but not during the twentieth century?

Does anyone here care to comment on the obvious implications of this fact and its independence from the various character assessments on an author that presented it?

I’m still waiting for Brook to address the key questions of Heaven & Earth. Does Brook not know what these are?

I’d also like to know how someone who regularly discusses climate with Plimer knows less about Plimer’s sources than I do when I haven’t spoken with Plimer for ten years now…?

Doubt is the arbiter of science and sole guardian of intellect.
Discard doubt at your peril.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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http://www.aussmc.org/IanPlimerclimatebook.php
There are more opinions on Plimer’s book here, and elsewhere on the Net including Deltoid and Real Climate.
Timothy – you obviously haven’t read this post fully or listened to the interview Barry gave or you would have to agree that the “shonky” science had been rebutted.
I am not a scientist so I cannot answer your question, however I am a librarian, and as such, am able to comment on the criteria used to judge a book’s scientific worth for purchase.

1. All quotes, graphs, citations of other scientists must be referenced – not just those which suit the author to acknowledge. We are not mind readers or clairvoyants which is why many of Plimers sources are unknown.

2.The work has been comprehensively peer reviewed. If not, why not?

3. It has, therefore, been accepted for publication by a well-known scientific publisher and not a little known family publisher characterised by right wing, capitalist agendas.

Plimers book fails all three!

Of course, a work of fiction has different criteria – enough said!

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Firstly, you conduct a scientific experiment when you look both ways before crossing the road. Your conclusion that the road is either clear or not clear is a scientific conclusion because, like science, that conclusion is based on evidence, not on consensus, public opinion, nor any form of status or authority. That makes you as much a scientist as the rest of us. In science, a fact you present stands on it’s own validity and not on your validity.

Nevertheless, you don’t have to be a expert to answer my question. All it takes is that you read Plimer’s book and thus know what his key questions are. I’m not asking people to answer Plimer’s key questions. I’m asking people to address Plimer’s key question. Even if you don’t know the answer (which nobody does yet) connecting your argument to these questions would actually make your argument relevant to the book – if it is Plimer’s book we are discussing here. That is what I am asking for.

May I point out that Plimer’s book is not a peer-reviewed compilation. Neither is it a text book. It is a book discussing facts and lack thereof, both from the past and the present in the context of a modern political issue. Does that sound like a science text book to you?


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Exactly my point – the book is not peer reviewed science – why not? What is Plimer afraid of? The book does not discuss facts or lack thereof – it suggests that these facts have been not been debated and discussed many times by numerous scientists from a multitude of disciplines. Plimer knows that is not correct. Climate Change is not a political issue – the Earth cares nothing for the politics of man – you cannot bargain and obfuscate with the climate. However, this very statement from you illuminates what is guiding your and presumably Plimer’s agenda.

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Climate Change is not a political issue – the Earth cares nothing for the politics of man …

Perhaps Perps. Put another way:

Climate Science is not a political issue. This is why all member states and signatories to the UNFCCC take the IPCC reports so seriously – they accept the science.

However, there is great debate on how they (collectively and individually) are going to address the problems of Climate Change leading up to Copenhagen in December for a post 2012 action plan.

In this sense, it is no longer about science, it is about political and economic ideology. This is what most people are arguing and are fearful about (not the science), they just don’t realise it.

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Plimer is not publishing original research, and if it’s not original research it’s not even appropriate to submit for peer review.

It’s not a matter of Plimer being afraid of anything, it’s a matter of the fact that the research he cites has been published already.

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Plimer is my friend, so I’d hardly be referring to him as ‘Satan Incarnate’. He’s just wrong. You are waiting for me to box with shadows, Timothy.

For an excellent review of Plimer’s book, published today in The Australian, by astronomer Prof Mike Ashely, read on here:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25433059-5003900,00.html

To conclude: Plimer has done an enormous disservice to science, and the dedicated scientists who are trying to understand climate and the influence of humans, by publishing this book. It is not “merely” atmospheric scientists that would have to be wrong for Plimer to be right. It would require a rewriting of biology, geology, physics, oceanography, astronomy and statistics. Plimer’s book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.

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May I point out that Professor Mike Ashley also failed to address Plimer’s key questions. Failing to acknowledge what the author explicitly identifies as key themes, key questions or key statements invalidates a review and raises the question of whether the critic actually read the book in the first place or just browsed their favourite points of contention.

Professor Mike Ashley shouldn’t be so ready to point fingers, when he as a putative head of a university science department speaks in absolutes; the language of religion, not science. Ashley claims with the title of his review that there is “No Science in Plimer’s Primer” – an absolute statement and a generalisation of such astonishing fragility that even a child could refute him with a single quotation. For example, Plimer says:

“A study of 6000 boreholes on all continents has shown that temperature in the Medieval Warming was warmer than today and that the temperature fell 0.2 to 0.7 degrees Celcius during the Little Ice Age”.

Is this not science? The peer reviewers at Geophysical Research Letters certainly thought so when they published the original research of Huang et al (1997) in their science journal. Therefore Ashley’s principle assertion is factually incorrect, no matter how many errors might be discovered in Plimer’s book. If Ashley even bothered to read Plimer’s book he’d know that however much he disagrees with Plimer’s point of view, there is indeed science in this book.

I think it a disservice to science when people entrusted with the leadership of our most prestigious education institutions resort to unsubstantiated generalisation. May I point out that the peer-reviewed literature is most certainly not a platform for anyone’s opinions whether they are Plimer’s, Oreskes’, Ashley’s or even yours. People who forget that estimates (guesses) are not facts will just as easily forget that opinions are not facts either.

Doubt is the arbiter of science and sole guardian of intellect.
Discard doubt at your peril.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Timothy Casey,

Amonsts the many strawmen you threw up, I noted one question; “How exactly does this change a fact presented by Plimer; for example as observed by Andren et al (2000), that there were tropical organisms thriving in the Baltic Sea (53-66 degrees north of the equator) during the Medieval period – but not during the twentieth century?”

Without incorporating anymore information I would conclude that this provides evidence to argue that the Baltic sea could support some tropical organisms in which ever part of Medieval period was specified. Depending on other factors, a logical argument could be made that this could be evidence of warmer temperatures in the Baltic Sea in that period.

What does it say about global temperatures? We know that local or regional temperatues can vary dramatically due to changes in currents without changing global temperatures. With little effort Plimer could have found these findings to incorporate into his analysis
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/302/5644/404

Click to access Bradley.pdf


http://geology.er.usgs.gov/eespteam/Atlantic/GPCabs.htm
http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/070.htm

One wonders why Plimer would leave this out?

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Because none of it adequately explains tropical hotspots north of 53 degrees north or south of 53 degrees south. None of it explains how, if the Twentieth Century is indeed the hottest century of the Millennium we see no examples of high latitude tropical hotspots in this century.

You can’t scientifically use disagreement with tree ring studies (which don’t agree with other tree ring studies much less any other temperature proxies) as an evidence for a theoretical process that is as yet unobserved in nature or the geological record. Especially when global studies such as Huang et al (1997) still stand.

Where is the sedmimentalogical evidence for the process that could theoretically create high latitude tropical hotspots, and where is the sedimentological evidence of such a process in direct connection with the thriving of tropical organisms in the Medieval Baltic?


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Timothy Casey,

I’ll look past the strawmen and non-sequiturs I see in this post and address the single question of science in this post. You ask: “How exactly does this change a fact presented by Plimer; for example as observed by Andren et al (2000), that there were tropical organisms thriving in the Baltic Sea (53-66 degrees north of the equator) during the Medieval period – but not during the twentieth century?”

I’d suggest that tropical organisms are possible evidence of warmer sea temperature in the Baltic Sea for the period in question. A curios mind might ask, what does that say about global temperatures? We understand that local/regional temperature can change without a change in global temperatures. Eg. as currents change.

So a curios mind might like to see what all the proxies for temperature tell us about that period. Without too much work Plimer could have found this data to incorporate into the analysis:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/302/5644/404
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html
http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676

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http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/302/5644/404
Doesn’t specify “the data” – it seems there are a great many conclusions drawn depending on whether it is a tree ring study on a species more heavily representative of CO2 availability or an isotope study that is somewhat less influenced by so many unmeasured factors.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html
Defers to the IPCC plot, mostly of tree-ring studies, on p. 467 of AR4. Turn to p. 468 and an alternative selection of tree ring studies “proves” that there is no globality to climate, putatively for the sake of attempting to refute the Medieval Warming period. I am particularly partial to what this “proves”, but alas more consistent data from other proxies demonstrates that this apparent lack of climate globality is little more than an indication that tree rings do not reliably correlate with temperature. The data of Graybill & Idso (1993), which confirmed some correlation of growth with local carbon dioxide concentration (amongst a great many other parameters) was nonetheless used by Mann et al (1998) to estimate temperature!? The relationship between plant growth and carbon dioxide availability has not been refuted, and although it has been demonstrated that this relationship stops at the limit of growth, it hardly applies to the vast majority of trees and plants that have not reached this limit. A reading of Graybill & Idso (1993) is in fact reminiscent of Plimer’s key questions.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html
This is based on combined proxies. This method of demonstrating temperature trends is suspect because scaling and methodological errors between proxy interpretations introduce trend features that don’t exist.

For example, remote tree ring studies will reliably flatline due to differences in response to highly localised factors such as nutrient availability, humidity, and topography. So when averages are combined with recent instrumental rises known to be caused by urban heat contamination such that the most recent and still flatlined tree ring averages are replaced by mostly rising urban temperature measurements, you get the illusion of a runaway process.

Real science occurs when people like Huang et al (1997) conduct worldwide studies without mixing their proxies to cook up a convenient outcome. Royer et al (2004) also avoid mixing their proxies and managed to produce a Phanerozoic temperature curve so robust, that independent climate indicators such as glaciation (see Boucot et al., 2004) and extinction rates correlate with identical features of the curve. For example, when extinction rates of Futuyma (1998) top nine families per million years, the temperature is always falling through 19 degrees Celcius – no exceptions and very little variation. I posted the comparison chart at:

http://climate.geologist-1011.net
The chart is on page four of the printout

You cannot achieve this precision of correlation with real data unless the data is both globally representative and reliable – which is more than I can say for the kind of sources favoured by the IPCC in their latest assessment report.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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The first article on your list of links doesn’t specify “the data” – it seems there are a great many conclusions drawn depending on whether it is a tree ring study on a species more heavily representative of CO2 availability or an isotope study that is somewhat less influenced by so many unmeasured factors.

The second article on your list of links defers to the IPCC plot, mostly of tree-ring studies, on p. 467 of AR4. Turn to p. 468 and an alternative selection of tree ring studies “proves” that there is no globality to climate, putatively for the sake of attempting to refute the Medieval Warming period. I am particularly partial to what this “proves”, but alas more consistent data from other proxies demonstrates that this apparent lack of climate globality is little more than an indication that tree rings do not reliably correlate with temperature. The data of Graybill & Idso (1993), which confirmed some correlation of growth with local carbon dioxide concentration (amongst a great many other parameters) was nonetheless used by Mann et al (1998) to estimate temperature!? The relationship between plant growth and carbon dioxide availability has not been refuted, and although it has been demonstrated that this relationship stops at the limit of growth, it hardly applies to the vast majority of trees and plants that have not reached this limit. A reading of Graybill & Idso (1993) is in fact reminiscent of Plimer’s key questions.

The third article on your list of links is based on combined proxies. This method of demonstrating temperature trends is suspect because scaling and methodological errors between proxy interpretations introduce trend features that don’t exist.

For example, remote tree ring studies will reliably flatline due to differences in response to highly localised factors such as nutrient availability, humidity, and topography. So when averages are combined with recent instrumental rises known to be caused by urban heat contamination such that the most recent and still flatlined tree ring averages are replaced by mostly rising urban temperature measurements, you get the illusion of a runaway process.

Real science occurs when people like Huang et al (1997) conduct worldwide studies without mixing their proxies to cook up a convenient outcome. Royer et al (2004) also avoid mixing their proxies and managed to produce a Phanerozoic temperature curve so robust, that independent climate indicators such as glaciation (see Boucot et al., 2004) and extinction rates correlate with identical features of the curve. For example, when extinction rates of Futuyma (1998) top nine families per million years, the temperature is always falling through 19 degrees Celcius – no exceptions and very little variation. I posted the comparison chart at:

http://climate.geologist-1011.net/
The chart is on page four of the printout

You cannot achieve this precision of correlation with real data unless the data is both globally representative and reliable – which is more than I can say for the kind of sources favoured by the IPCC in their latest assessment report.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Brilliant review Mike! I am ASTONISHED, but delighted,that The Australian printed such a sane, logical review. Thankyou!

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Some reading for perps outlined by the bibliography at:
http://climate.geologist-1011.net

Why exactly are you evading my questions? I’ll ask again.

How exactly does Plimer’s reputation change a fact presented by Plimer; for example as observed by Andren et al (2000), that there were tropical organisms thriving in the Baltic Sea (53-66 degrees north of the equator) during the Medieval period – but not during the twentieth century?

Does anyone here care to comment on the obvious implications of this fact and its independence from the various character assessments on an author that presented it?

Are these questions so threatening that nobody is game to answer them? Is it possible that the real reason you are unwilling to discuss them is because they demolish some cherished notion?


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Your science questions were answered by Mark Byrne. I do know enough to realise that localised temperatures, as in MWP and LIA, in Europe, make no statement about global temperatures at the time. Plimer conveniently omits this fact in his book. All of Plimer’s pseudo-science has been rebutted at sites such as this, Real Climate, Deltoid etc many times over – what is the point of repeating them here just for you? I advise you, and any others reading this, who are confused, to click on the links to these and other excellent science sites, in the left-hand margin.

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People can say anything they like as long as they are guessing. However, Plimer refers to the 6000 boreholes of Huang et al (1997) whose results clearly show the Medieval Optimum and Little Ice Age were global events recorded globally in the geological record.

There are no real observed factual examples of tropical hotspots above 50 degrees north at times when global temperatures were less than in the Medieval Optimum. In fact, there are no tropical hotspots north of 50 degrees north or south of 50 degrees south and the geography hasn’t changed since Medieval times. Thus there is no reason to believe anything more complex than what Huang and apparently many others (including Daansgard, Keigwin, Shonwiese, etc.) have documented; that it was as warm or warmer then than now.

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Yes, the article by Mile Ashely on Plimer’s book is indeed excellent. He writes “If Plimer can do what he claims, and can prove that human emissions of CO2 have no effect on the climate, then he owes it to the scientific community and, in fact, humanity, to publish his arguments in a refereed journal.” I wonder if the same criteria can be applied to those who would have us believe that carbon dioxide is really responsible for climate change. Let them “prove” it too. What has been put forward by the climate lobby is merely a collection of computer models. The link between carbon dioxide and climate change is about the same as eating carrots and having a car accident (90%+ of those involved in car accidents have eaten carrots within 30 days of the accident). [snip]

[Ed: Slurs deleted. Go away you insulting idiot]

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So far I am still struggling through the second chapter of “Heaven and Earth”, titled “History”. What amazes me here is how Plimer jumps about from one millennium or century to another and back again, endlessly adducing and repeating fragments of information in a most disturbingly kaleidoscopic fashion. It’s as though he’s a quasi-bright school kid who needs to show EVERY piece of research he’s done so as to impress the teacher, when a tenth as much, thoughtfully assembled, would actually show more understanding. The concepts proposed in this sixty nine pages could easily have been set out clearly and well in perhaps five pages.

This may be ad hominem, and having just shelled out $50 for his book I wish I was wrong, but these first sixty nine pages really flash the red light to me that I’ve probably been sold a pup by a guy who, on the surface, appeared to be a respectable – if not respected – academic.

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What you describe is a particular style of writing that threads its way through different aspects of the same theme repeatedly. It is a writing and discussion style that is typically favoured by polymaths. This style of writing stimulates debate and discussion because it presents a variety of assertions+possibilities in each argument. If Plimer wanted to prove a point, the style would have limited each argument to a single assertion and drowned the argument in examples and citations for that assertion – instead of being so kaleidoscopic.

If you are worried about being sold a pup, try reading the source material and considering the facts presented for yourself. However, given the Plimer’s stance (as shown by the book’s key questions), this thought+debate provoking writing style seems most appropriate.

Doubt is the arbiter of science and sole guardian of intellect.
Discard doubt at your peril.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Doubly sorry Jim,
I only had to pay $30 (hope your $50 was a typo). But you (and a reported 15000 other people) have been sold a pup. Plimer took a religious group to court for making a business out of telling lies. he lost — maybe it’s a case of of you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. For me the most striking example of outright lies is the claim that New Orleans subsided 1 metre in 3 years. If you go to the paper that he cites, you find that the actual amount was 15 to 18 mm. His discussions of climate sensitivity through up 3 different numbers: 0.35, 0.5 and 1.5 to 1.6. When you check out his complaints about stuff in the IPCC reports, you find it isn’t actually there. Claiming 2007 was the coldest year since 1995 9see p 405) is inconsistent with his figure 1 data (where only the 2008 numbers seem to be fabricated — cited reference is Washington Times –see Tim Lambert’s blog). Lots more stuff like this.

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Can you people not read? Do you not recognise a hypothetical when you see one? Yet you dodge my point that ad homenim conspiracy theories are invalid and evade the question of Plimer’s key questions.

I don’t believe you have read the book you are attempting to criticise because you fail to address the key questions put to you by the book. Unless you address these questions, your criticisms are irrelevant because they simply don’t address that main point and you haven’t shown your readers that you understand what the book says, much less are capable of making a valid criticism.

Stop evading my challenge. Prove you have actually read Plimer’s book by posting a comment that actually addresses his key questions – or do you not know what they are?

Doubt is the arbiter of science and sole guardian of intellect.
Discard doubt at your peril.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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Tim, go away and foment your silly conspiracy theories in your own cyberspace dungeon. This website is for serious intellectual discussion — something you seem incapable of dealing with.

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What a “serious intellectual answer”!
I wonder how it is relevant?

In the spirit of “serious intellectual discussion”, would the esteemed Barry Brooks care to tell us exactly what conspiracy theory am I supposed to be fomenting on this site? Please, illuminate us by quoting me…

Why are people here so very evasive about questions that really are seriously intellectual? Are the key questions of Plimer’s book neither serious nor intellectual? How is it silly to question the validity of the ad homenim argument or raise the implications of tropical organisms in the Medieval Baltic?

How is this website to be taken seriously if
1. It hosts book reviews that fail to address or otherwise identify the main point of the book.
2. Evades questions about the main point of books reviewed when this issue is raised.
3. Accuses those who ask such questions of “fomenting silly conspiracy theories” in order to end the discussion of the key theme.

May I remind you that it was not I, who insinuated that Plimer’s role as a company director may have tarnished his book’s objectivity.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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You obviously did not bother to check Mark Byrne’s web links. I did (any genuine sceptic reading this blog would have done the same) – the answers as I pointed out before are there – you refuse to accept them – that is your right – but don’t try to pretend that people on this site are incapable of or unwilling to answer. Who you are ,obviously, seems to bear greatly on supposed facts whose verifiability have been shown to be suspect.

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Perhaps you missed my reply. The repetition of my reply would seem to indicate that even I missed my own reply. Fancy that!

Byrne’s links, while most informative, do not address Plimer’s key questions nor do they offer sufficient evidence of the extraordinary processes necessary to drive high latitude hotspots replete with tropical temperatures outside of times that would have to be substantially warmer than the Twentieth Century. For sufficient evidence of such processes you need two things:

1. An example of the process as directly observed by researchers in order to document what the sedimentological and/or other markers of the process are.
Simplified example: asymmetric bifurcating ripples on a modern shoreline attached to a waterway such as the Lower Amazon River or the Gulf of St Vincent.

2. The actual sedimentological markers in situ at the correct stratigraphic level with respect to the specific location where the process is supposed to have operated. Simplified example: Asymmetric bifurcating ripples in some of the horizons of the Grindstone Range Sandstone in the Northern Flinders Ranges indicate a Cambrian shoreline environment attached to a waterway at this location back in the Cambrian.

None of Byrne’s links provide this minimal requirement for chain of evidence as it stands in sedimentology and other fields of geology such as palaeoclimatology.


Timothy Casey B.Sc.(Hons.)
Who am I? More importantly, how does this bear on facts which stand on their verifiability alone?

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G’day Chris et al,

I had a look at Rabett Run and at Arthur Smith’s paper, as advised, for their objections to G&T.

First, on Rabett Run, there is a detailed argument raging between
Eli Rabett and Fred Staples, about the basics of thermodynamics. It is a close call, but being exceptionally blinkered, I would give the laurels to Fred, so far. Try the latest comments on Rabett Run, if the thermodynamics intrigues you. It is a hot debate.

I have a reply from Gerhard Gerlich, to my email. It is the text of a lecture and is in English. Their is more in German, very decent of Gerhard, but I read it not. They stand by their work, and are doing an English version of their formal reply to Arthur Smith now. Watch this space.

I have had a look at Arthur Smiths case. On that, for the comfort zone temperature, those 33 extra degrees, Staples notes all you need is the lapse rate with altitude, not a greenhouse.

Next, Smith considers only incoming radiation. But the temp at the core-mantle boundary is about 4,000 degrees, and who in hell said the mantle and the crust have some sort of greenhouse re-radiator built into them, that works perfectly? And even if so, how then does basalt then reach the surface, molten, rather often? Basalt melts at about 984° to 1260° (old data, 1929, check for new estimates) depending on the mineralogy. This i a thermally active planet, not the moon.

My next nitpicking heresy and uninformed guessing comes from the total or near-total lack of ice left in Antarctica now, from the early Pleistocene, and the fact that the oldest ice we have from there is from extraordnarily close to the last magnetic reversal date. The Japanese Dome Fuji data strongly reinforces that of Dome Concordia. They found no ice older than 720,000 years. Someone put a hot pitchfork to the icecap, back then.

I suspect it is not that he breathes out CO2 like the rest of us. Old Nick’s fork is magnetised.

See the new waffle re the million years of missing Early Pleistocene Antarctic ice on my website, or at ABC Pool, if interested.

We now have two independent lines of evidence that geomagnetic field shits are diving climate change and that CO2 is probably rather irrelevant. The present-day maps for the short term (the last 400 years0 , and the Antarctic deep drilling program, for the million year term. That drilling is coming along nicely. So far.

I stick with Ian Plimer, and hang the minor errors in his book. Jut by the way, no peer review pper publishing house will go wih you on a book on the broad outlines of a scientific issue. Not since Darwin, anyway. You have to do a book. Folk then peer at it.

The geology says we are well within the limits of normal variability. It is just that that variability is rather startling.

It is important, this debate. The field costs are a bit steep, when you wish to scrap an entire planetary power system, nevr mind how awful. Me,I parked my last tractor a decade back, and nowuse a wheelbarrow. But the lights are still steam-powered, I regret to report. And the vegemite comes by semi-trailer, as my donkeys do not deliver to the supermarkets.

Regards all, and keep at it.

Peter

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Peter, scientific books are routinely peer-reviewed by specialist science publishers. If his book was scientifically sound, why did he not get it published by a university press? A book as bad as Lomborg’s original book made it through such a process so it’s not perfect but I would hope that any reasonable review process would pick up problems like his use of obviously incorrect data, such as Durkin’s graph. This kind of thing is not a minor error. Either he knows the data is wrong in which case he is dishonest, or he is astonishingly incompetent for a person of his track record. If the mainstream is wrong, there must be data out there that makes the case and cannot easily be shot down as bogus. I’m still waiting to see that data.

As to your contention that the earth is geothermally heated (if I understand you correctly; you shouldn’t type at 11pm but I liked some of your typos), you may have something there. Write a paper. All those folks who’ve been publishing science based on very different models to yours (e.g. http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008GL036078.shtml) will be thrilled to be corrected.

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“I stick with Ian Plimer, and hang the minor errors in his book.”

Peter we peered at it and found the errors were not minor. Do you think its minor that he can’t get right the hottest global temperature in the instrumental record? Or minor that he uses a bogus temperature chart then cannot cite its source?

Glad you threw your lot it with Plimer’s errors though, gives us a clearer picture.

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Prof. Plimer’s interview with Tony Jones on ABC TV’s Lateline on 27/04/2009 (http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2008/s2554129.htm) makes a telling point, when he states “climatology is really just modern geology in action”. To my mind, this rather oddly implies that neither the atmosphere nor the oceans have an more central role in climatology than does geology.

In the same interview he also states repeatedly that the main point of his book, the “..key thing I talk about is the earth, is the earth is dynamic. It’s always changing..”. That the earth is always changing may well be true, especially over geological time scales, but that simple & obvious fact doesn’t preclude the possiblity of anthropogenic pollution causing changes to the current global climate at a much greater rate than the biosphere can cope with. In other words, it’s not our planet that’s at risk, what’s at risk is most of life as we know it.

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Philip,

Ta for that, sorry about the typos, eyes are a bit shot and you were right about the time. The link you gave unfortunately does not work.

Yes, in theory, you can get a major publisher who will peer-review your book. In reality though, if you’re a climate sceptic, or just someone trying to publish a kid’s book on horses, as a relative is doing, archaeopteryx teeth are easier to find. They have huge anti-manuscript defensive walls – if you put up “Origin of Species” now, no-one would even dain to read the manuscript. Ian Plimer found a publisher in the back blocks of Victoria and they must be delighted with the sales. But to expect them to have arranged peer-reviewing by some anonymous set of well-informed philosophical proponents or opponents, is wishing for the moon. And sure, all books on such fraught topics have data errors. Correcting them is what blogs like this ecellent one are for. It is far better and faster and more efficient review system than that of the copyright pinching publishing houses, and is far more savage and hence more fun for, and of use to, one and all. This is the new science publishing world. It is a bit scratchy, but it works very well. A friend flew to London to see Elsevier, on Saturday. She is a physio and her book is a superb one on aging gracefully.(Yeah, I know, but resist that one) That is the future for such august science publishing houses.

Kimball,

Humans may well do in large chunks of the biosphere, almost a certainty, with ourselves being high on the list for extinction. The rest of the crew of this spaceship will breathe a heartfelt sigh of relief if we do the latter, no doubt. But as AGW cannot even begin to explain the ice ages, the really big recent shifts in the climate, fiddling with a trace gas to the exclusion of solving all the other poblems we generate, may very rapidly fossilize us.

We are living very dangerously, when half our number are in huge refugee camps called cities, as people only provide each other with food out of self interest and the city folk will do everything they possibly can to avoid doing anything useful in that department. The present global economic fuss is, in my view, all about China not having enough water to feed its people, and their Plan B, the indutrilisation of what water there is there,having failed and taken global mnufacturing down with it. I just, to be utterly trivial, sold the core of my crop this year, organic pumpkins, for the equivalent value of a halfpenny a pound when I was a kid. Does anyone think aging and flat broke farmers will feed the urban mobs for much longer? The system may be in terminal decline, if we are not lucky. Then, add that we want to spend a hundred billion, just here in this particular tinpot nation,on killer submarines? We do need to straighten out our collective thinking.

So, we have to get the science of climate change right before we agree to trash the old steam generators taht still drive, say, this laptop, along with the odd other half-useful gadget. Kick your power supply to bits and then see where you are, ask the folk in Somaliland, Zimbabwe, Iraq, the Swat Valley, etc.

You do not, in a sane world, drill two deep drillholes, write one guess-based interpretive paper and then collectively ignore all the other relevant data, including the rest of the drillholes from the program from same region, Antartica, and all the limitations on the original data and its attendant guesswork. And then, with that as your main argument, go out and trash the global power system. Not unless you want civil wars from horizon to horizon. Of course we must switch to renewables, that is blindingly obvious and I have been yelling myself hoarse on that for three decades now,like a million other more articulate folk.

But living in dreamland as we do so, about the role of CO2 and hence of ourselves in climate change, is a recipe for species failure. We have no relaible evidence whatever that this is not a perfectly normal interglacial peak, which is a key part of Ian Plimer’s case. And if it is normal, all the CO2 in the oceans, never mind the one fortieth of that (itself trivial amount when the reservoir in the rocks is considered) that we kick in, is utterly trivial. It will be buffered as it always has been, by the marine sedimentary rocks.

Bloody geology again, why do those arrogant overpaid and dihonest bastards have the audacity to assume they have anything to add about climate change that could possibly be relevant?

AGW is in my humble opinion underpinned by the sort of geological drivel we see popular in boardrooms filled with corporate suits. They want to believe a particular interpretation of the field data, because it is good for the shares. Such companies and in this case such species, are soon history.

There is no match in reality between the CO2 time graph and the rising global temperature, except over a few short decades, which is essentially meaningless, as we only have one arrow of time to play with. You can correlate anything in the universe that varies consistently, either directly or inversely, with anything ele doing the same.

We do have far better fits to orbital cycles, though there are puzzling discrepancies, We also have all the geomagnetic data, that the AGW folk, with religious dedication refuse to contemplate. This is hence a crusade with a lot of sinecures and a lot of genuine effort also, riding on it. The science appears to now be considered trivial. Every school kid knows more about it than those antique idiots called geologists.

Hooroo,

Peter.

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CO2 can be a forcing or a feedback so why would anybody expect
a good correlation over geological timescales? And what would
it prove? Multiple things can drive a rise in temperature, CO2 being
just one of them. Carrying a cigarette lighter correlates well
with death from lung cancer but it doesn’t cause it.
Most people seem to understand that correlation doesn’t
prove causation, but it is also true that causation doesn’t
imply correlation. Cancer will kill you, but does that mean a there
will be a good correlation between death rates and cancer incidence
rates? I’ve never looked but I’m pretty sure that nobody would
argue that the lack of such a correlation can be used to
show that cancer doesn’t kill.

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Interesting comments about publishing, but I really disagree. Ian Plimer has at least 2 books, Telling Lies for God and A short history of planet Earth, which won a Eureka prize. I had far less of a track record when I successfully “cold-called” CUP with Inverse Problems in Atmospheric Constituent Transport. “Getting in the door” can be hard, but not that hard.
I have tried both ends of the spectrum: first CUP and then for Twisted: The Distorted Mathematics of Greenhouse Denial an essentially in-house publication organised by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. There are trade-offs. With CUP you get the prestige. Doing it “in house”, you get cost-containment to keep down the cover price for a small print run, control of the computer systems so you can use automation for all the stuff that can be done automatically and speed, since my time-lines were running up against scheduled long-service leave overseas. However, whether you are working with what is arguably the world’s finest science publisher or “mates down the road”, an author who wants quality control has to organise it for themself and my two books gratefully acknowledge the colleagues who read the drafts. If Ian Plimer had cared about quality, there are plenty of like-minded people with enough scientific literacy to have cleaned up what is a poorly written and edited book.

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Peter, the link is trivially fixed. Delete the closing “)” (the perils of automatic link generators).

Sequestering CO2 in rocks of any form is an extremely slow process. The carbon cycle in pre-industrial times was in balance. Anything we add is in excess and only around half is quickly absorbed by the environment. About 20% will still be with us in 1,000 years. It is this cumulative effect that is the problem.

No one says geologists have nothing to contribute to climate studies. Look at the paleoclimate sections of the IPCC reports. Where do you think those came from?

One of the most useful indicators of possible climate change is studies of the (rare e.g. Permian-Triassic, Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) events in the distant past where massive greenhouse events swung the climate. Here’s a search you could try:

http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?q=greenhouse%20gas%20paleoclimate

And here is a geology site (I hope this doesn’t disappoint you) that explains the biggest of the mass extinction events including the possibility of global warming; the bit about “The Volcanic Scenario” is scarily similar to what our industries are doing today:

http://geology.about.com/od/extinction/a/aa_permotrias.htm

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Peter Ravenscroft said:

“But as AGW cannot even begin to explain the ice ages…”

Erm, is it just me, or is this a non sequitur of impressive proportions?

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G’day again all,

Since I owe this campsite here to gold prospecting, I am always ready to yell “Eureka!” over trivia. But I do think I have it this time.

I just found the Potsdam Institute’s vertical magnetic shift maps for 1980, 1990 and 2000. I have been struggling with 1960’s maps till now.

This lot shows a perfect or near perfect match between the new temperature hotspot in Africa, mostly in the Congo, which had me very puzzled, and the also “new” magnetic field vertical component shifts at the same location.

See for the maps and an explanation.

AGW enthusiasts, all present company of course honourably excluded, may be able to ignore the Antarctic Peninsula and Siberian map matches, but I cannot for the life of me see how this lot, with the greatest patch of entirely new heating on the planet matching the mag shifts perfectly, can be similarly ignored, if science has anything to do with this debate.

There is a link to this up on ABC Pool also.

Thanks to GISS NASA and the Potsdam Institute for the data.

Hooroo,

Peter.

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Given your praise of the lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature
over whatever time scale as proof that AGW is false, I have trouble taking
seriously a map with 3 significant brown
blobs, with just 1 corresponding well with the smallest of the red/dark red
regions of increased temperatures. If this is a good correlation, I’d
hate to see a bad one. And the mechanism? There are at least 2 parts
to infering causality, suitable correlation and plausible mechanism.

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Geoff, notice how magnetic hotspots appear stable over the period of 0.15 K/decade warming?

But I guess that’s enough for some people to yell “Bingo!”, “Eureka”, “QED”, “I do think I have it this time”.

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Peter, I can’t reproduce your map on the NASA GISS site. What settings did you use? As Geoff points out, even if there is a correlation you need causation. How do you know magnetic field is not influenced by surface temperature? In any case, you would need to show this correlation was significant by demonstrating it on multiple data points and showing it was statistically significant. Otherwise even if your temperature map is correct, all you have is one data point that could be a coincidence.

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