Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Debating with climate change sceptics

This morning I received an email from a friend who thinks the whole climate change thing is a fraud.  He forwarded a speech by David Evans who is part of the new 'Galileo movement', ie climate sceptics who compare themselves to Galileo who on this very day some centuries ago was forced by the church to recant his view that the earth revolved around the sun. This is a neat inversion of the facts I have researched because these sceptics are the ones using dodgy science, not the other way around.

This technique of inversion is used ruthlessly by aggressive conservatives worldwide and it is winning them a lot of undeserved traction. An example is the current editorials in The Australian claiming it is the fair and unbiased journal despite its declaration last year that it had set out to destroy the Greens - much like Fox News describing itself as 'Fair and balanced'.

Normally I don't bother debating with these types as they simply ignore all the arguments and hold their view. But my friend IS a thinker and a genuine person so I replied. I linked him to some excellent climate science websites that soberly debunk the sceptic claims, and reproduce the thread below. The original David Evans' speech is at the bottom; my response with links at the top.


This Galileo Movement stuff, sponsored by Alan Jones and ilk, is the true fraud. It is mostly recycled nonsense featuring massive inversion of fact and argument. On the 'cheating fat cat scientist' argument, this is like saying a mouse is bigger than an elephant, the elephant being the global fossil fuel and power industries and their vested interests and the mouse being scientists who mostly publish their arguments unpaid, and green industries which are struggling in their infant stages. We know the massive fossil fuel industries bankroll denialism. If global warming were not true, climate scientists would still get their grants to study that, so the argument is deeply flawed

The science behind denialism is at best shaky, at worst outright fraud. See this excellent new site for an exposé of the abuse of peer review by deniers. Check the home page for a lot more.

On the thermometer story (here recycled for about the 100th time I have seen), see this site for a rebuttal (it seems scientists are not as dumb as the sceptics claim because they adjust for thermometers located in artificially hot places).

On the tropical hotspot, the argument is a lot more complicated than David Evans makes out, and the climate scientists acknowledge the evidence is ambiguous.

While you can argue any of these points, I note that deniers (notably Ian Plimer) keep repeating arguments long after they have been thoroughly discredited, relying on public ignorance to gain traction. This severely discredits them.

Don't debate it with me unless you can genuinely discredit my sources with science, not rhetoric. Here's a quote from the last link re the Quadrant Online scientist/deniers (including David Evans) :

"So the number of peer-reviewed papers that adequately expose the ideas of Carter and co-authors to the scientific peer-review system on the climate change issue is 0, 0, 0 and 0."

"Searching for articles by David Evans and William Kininmonth revealed no peer-reviewed scientific literature that tests their claim that climate change is not happening."

They have little crediblity in this field.

The upshot is, climate changers ('alarmists') have a lot more credibility than the deniers so we should take precautions. And if we do build clean green power and transport systems, where's the downside, as the cartoon above neatly says?


And here's the speech by David Evans. read his convincing CV beneath and wonder why he still peddles debunked arguments.


Will the full truth only come out here after the carbon tax is passed?

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro thin half-truths and misunderstandings.

I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, I understand the evidence, I was once an alarmist, but I am now a sceptic.

Watching this issue unfold has been amusing but, lately, worrying.

This issue is tearing society apart, making fools and liars out of our politicians.

Let’s set a few things straight.

The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess which was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now cheat and lie outrageously to maintain the fiction about carbon dioxide being a dangerous pollutant.

Let’s be perfectly clear. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in the air, the warmer the planet. Every bit of carbon dioxide that we emit warms the planet. But the issue is not whether carbon dioxide warms the planet, but how much.

Most scientists, on both sides, also agree on how much a given increase in the level of carbon dioxide raises the planet’s temperature, if just the extra carbon dioxide is considered. These calculations come from laboratory experiments; the basic physics have been well known for a century.

The disagreement comes about what happens next?

The planet reacts to the extra carbon dioxide, which changes everything. Most critically, the extra warmth causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. But does the water hang around and increase the height of moist air in the atmosphere, or does it simply create more clouds and rain? Back in 1980, when the carbon dioxide theory started, no one knew. The alarmists guessed that it would increase the height of moist air around the planet, which would warm the planet even further, because the moist air is also a greenhouse gas.

This is the core idea of every official climate model: for each bit of warming due to carbon dioxide, they claim it ends up causing three bits of warming due to the extra moist air. The climate models amplify the carbon dioxide warming by a factor of three – so two thirds of their projected warming is due to extra moist air (and other factors), only one third is due to extra carbon dioxide.

I'll bet you didn't know that. Hardly anyone in the public does, but it’s the core of the issue. All the disagreements, lies, and misunderstanding spring from this. The alarmist case is based on this guess about moisture in the atmosphere, and there is simply no evidence for the amplification that is at the core of their alarmism. Which is why the alarmists keep so quiet about it and you've never heard of it before. And it tells you what a poor job the media have done in covering this issue.

Weather balloons had been measuring the atmosphere since the 1960s, many thousands of them every year. The climate models all predict that as the planet warms, a hot-spot of moist air will develop over the tropics about 10km up, as the layer of moist air expands upwards into the cool dry air above.

During the warming of the late 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the weather balloons found no hot-spot. None at all. Not even a small one. This evidence proves the climate models are fundamentally flawed and they greatly overestimate the temperature increases due to carbon dioxide.

This evidence first became clear around the mid-1990s.

At this point official “climate science” stopped being a science. You see, in science empirical evidence always trumps theory, no matter how much you are in love with the theory. If theory and evidence disagree, real scientists scrap the theory. But official climate science ignored the crucial weather balloon evidence, and other subsequent evidence that backs it up, and instead clung to their carbon dioxide theory — this just happens to keep them in high-paying jobs with lavish research grants, and gives great political power to their government masters.

There are now several independent pieces of evidence showing that the earth responds to the warming due to extra carbon dioxide by dampening the warming. Every long-lived natural system behaves this way, counteracting any disturbances, otherwise the system would be unstable. The climate system is no exception, and now we can prove it.

But the alarmists say the exact opposite, that the climate system amplifies any warming due to extra carbon dioxide, and is potentially unstable. Surprise - surprise, their predictions of planetary temperature made in 1988 to the US Congress, and again in 1990, 1995, and 2001, have all proved much higher than reality.

They keep lowering the temperature increases they expect, from 0.30C per decade in 1990, to 0.20C per decade in 2001, and now 0.15C per decade – yet they have the gall to tell us “it’s worse than expected”. These people are not scientists. They over-estimate the temperature increases due to carbon dioxide, selectively deny evidence, and now they cheat and lie to conceal the truth.

One way they cheat is in the way they measure temperature.

The official thermometers are often located in the warm exhaust of air conditioning outlets, over hot tarmac at airports where they get blasts of hot air from jet engines, at wastewater plants where they get warmth from decomposing sewerage, or in hot cities choked with cars and buildings. Global warming is measured in tenths of a degree, so any extra heating nudge is important. In the US, nearly 90% of official thermometers surveyed by volunteers violate official siting requirements that they not be too close to an artificial heating source. Nearly 90%! The photos of these thermometers are on the Internet; you can get to them via the corruption paper at my site, Look at the photos, and you’ll never trust a government climate scientist again.

They place their thermometers in warm localities, and call the results “global” warming. Anyone can understand that this is cheating. They say that 2010 is the warmest recent year, but it was only the warmest at various airports, selected air conditioners, and certain car parks.

Global temperature is also measured by satellites, which measure nearly the whole planet 24/7without bias. The satellites say the hottest recent year was 1998, and that since 2001 the global temperature has levelled off.

So it’s a question of trust.

If it really is warming up as the government climate scientists say, why do they present only the surface thermometer results and not mention the satellite results? And why do they put their thermometers near artificial heating sources? This is so obviously a scam now.

So what is really going on with the climate?

The earth has been in a warming trend since the depth of the Little Ice Age around 1680. Human emissions of carbon dioxide were negligible before 1850 and have nearly all come after WWII, so human carbon dioxide cannot possibly have caused the trend. Within the trend, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation causes alternating global warming and cooling for 25 – 30 years at a go in each direction. We have just finished a warming phase, so expect mild global cooling for the next two decades.

We are now at an extraordinary juncture.

Official climate science, which is funded and directed entirely by government, promotes a theory which is based on a guess about moist air and is now a known falsehood. Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only way to curb emissions is to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government — how exciting for the political class!

A carbon tax?

Even if Australia stopped emitting all carbon dioxide tomorrow, completely shut up shop and went back to the stone age, according to the official government climate models it would be cooler in 2050 by about 0.015 degrees. But their models exaggerate tenfold – in fact our sacrifices would make the planet in 2050 a mere 0.0015 degrees cooler!

Sorry, but you’ve been had.

Finally, to those of you who still believe the planet is in danger from our carbon dioxide emissions: sorry, but you’ve been had. Yes carbon dioxide is a cause of global warming, but it’s so minor it’s not worth doing much about.

Dr David Evans consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Climate Change) from 1999 to 2005, and part-time 2008 to 2010, modelling Australia’s carbon in plants, debris, mulch, soils, and forestry and agricultural products. Evans is a mathematician and engineer, with six university degrees including a PhD from Stanford University in electrical engineering. The area of human endeavour with the most experience and sophistication in dealing with feedbacks and analysing complex systems is  electrical engineering, and the most crucial and disputed aspects of understanding the climate system are the feedbacks. The evidence supporting the idea that CO2 emissions were the main cause of global warming reversed itself from 1998 to 2006, causing Evans to move from being a warmist to a sceptic.

PS - Speaking of bias in The Australian:

From today’s Crikey

Greens leader Bob Brown describes The Australian’s misreporting as "extraordinary" but believes this kind of "verballing" is not uncommon. In fact, he’s been keeping a dossier on the topic. In January he requested the parliamentary library investigate how many times the paper had mentioned the Greens or himself in editorials over the previous decade and how many of these mentions were favourable, neutral or negative. The findings are revealing.

There were 252 editorials over that period. Of these, 188 were negative, 59 were neutral (because they expressed no opinion) and only five -- or 2% -- were positive. The report stipulated the positive editorials were "not glowing endorsements, but rather simple agreement with a statement that they [the Greens] had made".

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