Abusing Science

Number 20 of a series

This series is dedicated to stories related to abuse of science. Abuse can take a number of forms, including outright fraud. Sometimes the approach is to talk it to death. This appears to be the approach in a video from Fox News. It’s the Mark Levin Show from last year. I see no indication of when this aired, but it was posted to YouTube on 21 October 2018.

Here we see host Mark Levin interviewing Patrick Michaels, a real scientist involved in climate research. Put it all together, Fox News, Mark Levin, Patrick Michaels—it’s going to be some kind of global warming denial. From Wikipedia:

Patrick J. (“Pat“) Michaels (born February 15, 1950) is an American climatologist. Michaels is a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. Until 2007 he was research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, where he had worked from 1980.[2][3]

A self-described skeptic on the issue of global warming, he is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has written a number of books and papers on climate change, including Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming (1992), The Satanic Gases (2000), and Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (2004). He’s also the co-author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know (2009).[2] Michaels’ viewpoint, as argued in a 2002 article in the journal Climate Research, is that the planet will see “a warming range of 1.3–3.0°C, with a central value of 1.9°C” for the 1990 to 2100 period (a value far smaller than the IPCC’s average predictions).

Yes, I forgot to mention the Cato Institute:

The Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974 by Ed CraneMurray Rothbard, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries. In July 1976, the name was changed to the Cato Institute. Cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence.[8]According to the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies ProgramUniversity of Pennsylvania), Cato is number 15 in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” and number 10 in the “Top Think Tanks in the United States”.

The Cato Institute is libertarian in its political philosophy, and advocates a limited role for government in domestic and foreign affairs. This includes support for abolishing minimum wage laws; opposition to universal health care; the privatization of many government agencies including Social Security, NASA, and the United States Postal Service as well as public schooling; abolishing child labor laws; and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

I have encountered the Cato Institute before and have noted they often come down against scientific studies that go against their philosophical leaning. With all that said about Michaels and Cato, what really counts is what is true and what they have to say about it. You can see what Michaels has to say by watching the video, and there appears to be a transcript on line dated 21 October 2018. I will post a few excerpts. Start with this.

LEVIN: It’s a great honor to see you, Patrick Michaels, doctor. Expert on all things climate and environment, as far as I’m concerned. A little bit of your background. You’re the Director of the Center for Study of Science at the Cato Institute. You hold an AB and SM, you hold those degrees in Biology, Sciences and Plant Ecology from the University of Chicago – pretty good school. PhD in Ecological Climatology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, 1979. You’re past President of the American Association of State Climatologists. You were Program Chairman for the Committee on Applied Climatology at the American Meteorological Society. Say that fast five times.

That is some build-up, and I recall seeing this kind of thing before. When creationists introduced an authority to debunk evolution, they would go to great lengths to lay out  his credentials to make sure I knew this was not some blowhard come to dish the dirt. I must declare my suspicions get tickled when I see this kind of thing.

With that, it will be interesting to see what Patrick Michaels has to say. To start, he does not deny global warming, and he does not deny an element of human contribution. His assessment is that we are behind about half the observed rise, and the rest is natural.

MICHAELS: Well, surface temperature of the planet is warmer than it was a hundred years ago about 9/10th of a degree Celsius.

LEVIN: Nine-tenth degree of a degree Celsius.

MICHAELS: That’s all.

LEVIN: Is that a lot?

MICHAELS: No. It’s not a lot. There are two periods of warning, one in the early 20th Century that could not have been caused by human beings because we hadn’t put enough CO2 in the air, and one in the later part of the 20th Century that either slows down or ends depending upon whose data you use somewhere in the late 1990s, only to resume with the big El Nino that covered the news the last couple of years.

So that means that probably about half, maybe half of that nine-tenths of the degree might be caused by greenhouse gases because when the planet warmed beginning in 1976, the temperature of the stratosphere started to drop and that’s the prediction of greenhouse theory that’s not intuitive. The great philosopher of science Karl Popper said, if you can meet a difficult prediction with your theory, you can continue to entertain your theory.

Stop here for a moment. “[O]nly to resume with the big El Nino that covered the news the last couple of years.” Professor Michaels, an El Niño  event is a weather phenomenon, confined to a locality (large in this case) of the planet. Stuff like that gets ironed out in the averages. For perspective, the most recent temperature plots I have—representing global averages—show a continued rise to the present day. Here is one from Berkeley Earth, and I have preserved the largest available size to enable you to examine it up close. Click on the image to get the large view.

He also talks about atmospheric modeling, which figures greatly in predicting the effects of adding CO2 to the atmosphere. He wants us to know the bulk of models being used are worthless and he lays this at the feet of the practice of parameterizing the models.

But we just don’t really have a good explanation for that, but because we forced the computer models to say, “Aha, human influence, CO2 and other stuff.” We made the models too sensitive, and so that’s why when you get to the late 20th Century, all of a sudden they’re warming up like crazy and the reality is down here. It was guaranteed to happen.

This was revealed in “Science” magazine in late 2016, and there was a paper that was published by a French climate modeler called “The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning,” and in it, he speaks of parameterizing — we could say fudging — the models to give, his words, an anticipated acceptable range of results. [emphasis added]

Being what I am, I felt the need to track down this particular reference. In truth, I could find no such article appearing in Science magazine in the weeks (October) preceding the 2016 election. I did find this: “Using climate models to estimate the quality of global observational data sets.” Science, 28 October 2016, Vol. 354 Issue 6311, p. 452. There is an item with a similar name: “The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning,” which Michaels may have been thinking about, but this was not published in Science, and it came out in 2017, not 2016. You can pull it up to read for yourself, but here is the abstract:

We survey the rationale and diversity of approaches for tuning, a fundamental aspect of
climate modeling, which should be more systematically documented and taken into account in multimodel analysis.

An introductory paragraph:

As is often the case in sciences that address complex systems, numerical models have become central in climate science (Edwards 2001). General circulation models of the atmosphere were originally developed for numerical weather forecasting (e.g., Phillips 1956). The coupling of global atmospheric and oceanic models began with Manabe and Bryan (1969) and came of age in the 1980s and 1990s. Global climate models or Earth system models (ESMs) are nowadays used extensively to study climate changes caused by anthropogenic and natural perturbations (Lynch 2008; Edwards 2010). The evaluation and improvement of these global models is the driver of much theoretical and observational research. Publications that analyze the simulations coordinated at an international level in the frame of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) constitute a large part of the material synthesized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports. Beyond their use for prediction and
projection at meteorological to climatic time scales, global models play a key role in climate science. They are used to understand and assess the mechanisms at work, while accounting for the complexity of the climate system and for the spatial and temporal scales involved (Dalmedico 2001; Held 2005).

Michaels decries the climate models being used by various governments, except, he says, the one used by the Russians is accurate. Additionally he displays a plot that purports to show the divergence between the parameterized models and actual measurements. Here it is. Click on the image to get the full size:

Sum of the story, Michaels is jawboning the issue. He agrees that humans are contributing to global warming, but he excuses this by noting there are other contributions. He points to outrageous predictions and shows how they failed. He notes the increase in property damage by weather correlates to the increase in property to be damaged (in terms of the GDP). But he never denies the existence of the human contribution, which he cannot. I urge readers to watch the video and get back to me. There is more I would be able to add, given more time and space.

Next up: a YouTube video pushing some weird science.

Abusing Science

Number 20 of a series

This is a continuation of the dissection of Dan Kuttner’s 11 points regarding the science behind AGW, anthropogenic global warming. Dan posted these on Facebook a few months ago, and he reposted them again this year. He challenges readers to answer his 11 points, and he has agreed to allow me to use his name. He says in a separate communication that this is not a prank and he considers these to be serious matters. Here are Dan’s remaining seven points:

5. Since “Climate Change” is the new mantra, how and where is the climate changing?

The ocean and atmosphere temperatures are rising.

6. Since [fill in name of crisis] is bad, what is the “proper” temperature of the world without the influence of man-made CO2?

There is no proper temperature. What is desired is that the average global temperature not change radically. We built cities, populated land areas, created industries based on temperatures of the past few hundred years. A rise in average temperatures of more than a few degrees will result in enormous economic impact.

7. How has the correlation of an alleged increase in man-made CO2 and global temperatures been used to prove >> causation << by man?

The rise in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere corresponds with the amount of CO2 from fossil fuels introduced into the atmosphere by human activity.

8. How will paying a tax to a mandated monopoly headed by Al Gore’s British company fix the world’s emission of greenhouse gases?

It probably does not, so it does not make sense for me to respond to this non-existent event.

9. Since so far none of the climate-alarmists’ predictions have come true, why should we believe them today?

If by “alarmist” is meant grossly exaggerated claims, then you should not believe them. What is to be believed are the claims made by serious scientists. You should also believe the observed changes in the climate and the observed effects.

10. Since the claimed increase in temperatures and rise in sea levels are less than the statistical margin of error for even an excellent sample, how can any claim of an increase be made?

The premise of the question is incorrect. This is an instance of the logical fallacy called “begging the question.” First, the increase in temperature measured is within the statistical margin of error. Second, given a sufficient number of samples, accurate measurements can be obtained, even if individual measurements are imprecise.

11. If Global Warming is real, why have the main proponents of it been caught at least THREE times faking, fudging or redefining the figures to make it come out that way?(e.g. East Anglia’s “climate-gate” emails).

This is another example of begging the question. The person who presented this question must demonstrate the premise is true if a serious response is required.

This set of 11 points is representative of many of the attacks on legitimate climate science. When the opponents of an idea are unable to present cogent opposition, then the impression grows that there is no valid opposition. That is the case with the matter of anthropogenic global warming. The science is based on valid principles, it is being carried out by responsible and capable people, and results are in agreement with observed conditions. My own observation is that opposition to this science is mostly politically motivated, without any valid arguments being presented. In short, the opposition is a hoax of the worst kind.

Quiz Question

Number 200 of a series

Here is a nice problem, not too difficult, pertinent to a current hot topic.

Hypothetical scenario: Nothing is adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide has a 100-year half life in the atmosphere. We crank up a contraption that pumps 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. How much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere when  a steady state is obtained?

Post your answer as a comment below. Extra points for describing the calculation.

 

 

Abusing Science

Number 19 of a series

This is a continuation of the dissection of Dan Kuttner’s 11 points regarding the science behind AGW, anthropogenic global warming. Dan posted these on Facebook a few months ago, and he reposted them again this year. He challenges readers to answer his 11 points, and he has agreed to allow me to use his name. He says in a separate communication that this is not a prank and he considers these to be serious matters. Here is Dan’s point number 4:

If global warming is happening, why did they change the name of the crisis to “Climate Change?”

Once again, Dan has assured me he is serious about his 11 points, and this is not some kind of come-on. Respecting that, this is an easy question to answer. And here is mine.

Global warming is still the problem. To be sure, global warming is logically a subset of climate change. If the air and oceans get warmer, the climate is going to change. There is going to be a shift in weather patterns. Predicting what the shift will be is a keener problem than predicting temperatures will rise. So far we have seen temperatures rise in our life times, and we are witness to some of the consequences: melting land and sea ice, rising sea levels, flooding of low-lying coastal regions. Other consequences, less rain here, more rain there, stronger and more frequent storms, some of this can be attributed to rising global temperatures. It is difficult to determine which event is one of the consequences of global warming.

This is your president speaking.

Number 206 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Wind turbines are not only killing millions of birds, they are killing the finances & environment of many countries & communities.

The image above is President Trump at a political rally, speaking to his supporters. What is amazing is not that the United States President would make such a statement, but that supposedly intelligent people—people who can read, people who handle sharp objects, operate heavy machinery and vote—are not laughing. Takes my breath away.

Abusing Science

Number 18 of a series

This is a continuation of the dissection of Dan Kuttner’s 11 points regarding the science behind AGW, anthropogenic global warming. Dan posted these on Facebook a few months ago, and he reposted them again this year. He challenges readers to answer his 11 points, and he has agreed to allow me to use his name. He says in a separate communication that this is not a prank and he considers these to be serious matters. Here is Dan’s point number 3:

How have other climate variables, such as the sunspot cycle and naturally produced gases including, but not limited to, CO2 been subtracted from the IECC climate model?

The first thing I had to do was to figure out what is the IECC climate model. “The IECC® is a model energy building code produced by the International Code Council® (ICC®). It is referred to as a “model” code because it was developed through a public hearing process by national experts under the direction of the ICC.

Dan may be confused here, since the IECC climate model is not a main driving force behind AGW science. But his question deserves some kind of answer, and here is mine.

Start with the data plot above. That shows global temperature changes compared to sun activity. The thing to note is that temperature change does not track solar activity, which is comparatively flat. Compare the solar activity plot to the CO2 plot from the Keeling measurements below. These measurements show a dramatic increase in CO2 levels since 1958, when the study began.

The final answer to Dan’s question is the effects of other factors are effectively subtracted out due to their being relatively constant during the study period. The only other greenhouse gas that has changed notably is methane, and it is recognized that methane introduced by human activity is contributing to global warming.

Abusing Science

Number 17 of a series

Continuing from last week (see the above link), here is Dan Kuttner’s point number 2:

Since Mercury, Venus and Mars’ temperatures have been rising, how does the CO2 count on Earth affect those planets?

My initial response is, “Do I really have to answer this question?” When I engaged Dan Kuttner a few days ago about his Facebook posting I asked him if these were serious questions. He assured me he considers them to be serious, and I agreed to take him at his word. So here goes.

Duh!

There is no relation between carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere and the temperatures on Mercury, Venus, and Mars. May I be allowed to stop right now?

Next week’s post will address Dan’s point number 3. See the list.

Abusing Science

Number 16 of a series

Last week I posted Dan Kuttner’s 11 points titled “Some questions on the science behind Global Warming.” The idea being these 11 points seriously bring into question the validity of the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Dan is of a conservative bent, and a theme running through American conservative politics is that AGW is hoax science. I will not rehash any motivations conservatives may have for leaning in that direction; that is for another day. I will address Dan’s point number 1:

How does CO2, which is 1.4x heavier than air at sea level, get above the troposphere to cause a greenhouse effect?

I am one of those who contend there is no such thing as a stupid question. There are exceptions. This question is worded in the worst possible way. First off, whoever composed it confuses “heavier” and “denser.” Carbon dioxide does, itself, not have a weight, but it is denser than air. If air has a density of 1.00 on some scale, then carbon dioxide has a density of 1.53 (my first-order calculation). So even if point 1 meant to say “denser” it would have still been wrong. This is an example of the logical fallacy called “begging the question.” A question is posed with a premise pre-loaded.

And while I am being pedantic, 1.4 times heavier is not the same as 1.4 times as heavy as. 1.4 times heavier is 2.4 times as heavy as. It’s the English language, folks.

Now for the second part. Granted that carbon dioxide is denser than air, how does it get above the troposphere? Dan is a qualified airplane pilot, and one the things taught in pilot training is atmospheric science. From that he should have learned that gases in the troposphere are fairly well-mixed by atmospheric turbulence. The concentration remains abut 400 parts per billion by volume throughout. In truth, I found no figures for carbon dioxide in the stratosphere, but there is no reason to believe the gas does not propagate to that region.

But here is the sticker. Dan’s question is again loaded. The premise is that carbon dioxide needs to get into the stratosphere to have an effect on global warming. The fact is that the vast bulk of the atmosphere is in the troposphere, and also it matters little at what altitude carbon dioxide is encountered. It absorbs infra red radiation at any altitude, and it is particularly effective in the lower regions, close to the ground. Energy absorption by carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere close to the ground, keeping the surface warm and causing the surface to absorb the trapped energy. The oceans particularly become warmer by this process.

And that should answer Dan’s spurious question regarding carbon dioxide in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The next post in this series will address Dan’s point number 2. Keep reading.

This is your president speaking.

Number 202 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace: “The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science. There is no climate crisis, there’s weather and climate all around the world, and in fact carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life.” Wow!

The president is quoting Patrick Moore.

Patrick Albert Moore (born 1947) is a former environmentalist and member of Greenpeace.

After leaving Greenpeace and becoming a paid advocate for the oil & gas industry, Moore has criticized the environmental movement for what he calls scare tactics and disinformation, saying that the environmental movement “abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism”.

Moore apparently was being featured on Fox & Friends when he made the remarks. President Trump, delighted to find a claimed environmentalist chiming agreement with one of his pet narratives, happily repeated the good news on Twitter.

Take note: despite claims to the contrary, Moore was not the founder of Greenpeace. Read the entry from Wikipedia linked above.

Our president continues to demonstrate what a “very intelligent person” he is. Take joy.

Abusing Science

Number 15 of a series

 

The title of this series comes from a book of that name by Philip Kitcher. Abuse comes in numerous manifestations, some appearing to spring from deep-seated ignorance of basic science. That’s what’s going on here.

Dan Kuttner is a person I knew when I lived in Austin 50 years ago. After serving in the military and working in communications, he now hosts the Radio Free Mind site, giving him the opportunity to express his varied views. I highly recommend you visit the site and tune into his thought processes. Let me know what you think. It is definitely something.

That aside, Dan also posts on Facebook, and he agreed to allow me to repost from his feed. It is a repeat (and he emphasizes that) of something he posted before. When this was originally posted I had a go at it, and there are a number of Skeptical Analysis posts that draw from Dan’s, what I call, “11 points.” Here they are, copied and pasted from Dan’s timeline:

Some questions on the science behind Global Warming:

Radio Free Mind

Questions:

  1. How does CO2, which is 1.4x heavier than air at sea level, get above the troposphere to cause a greenhouse effect?

  2. Since Mercury, Venus and Mars’ temperatures have been rising, how does the CO2 count on Earth affect those planets?

  3. How have other climate variables, such as the sunspot cycle and naturally produced gases including, but not limited to, CO2 been subtracted from the IECC climate model?

  4. If global warming is happening, why did they change the name of the crisis to “Climate Change?”

  5. Since “Climate Change” is the new mantra, how and where is the climate changing?

  6. Since [fill in name of crisis] is bad, what is the “proper” temperature of the world without the influence of man-made CO2?

  7. How has the correlation of an alleged increase in man-made CO2 and global temperatures been used to prove >> causation << by man?

  8. How will paying a tax to a mandated monopoly headed by Al Gore’s British company fix the world’s emission of greenhouse gases?

  9. Since so far none of the climate-alarmists’ predictions have come true, why should we believe them today?

  10. Since the claimed increase in temperatures and rise in sea levels are less than the statistical margin of error for even an excellent sample, how can any claim of an increase be made?

  11. If Global Warming is real, why have the main proponents of it been caught at least THREE times faking, fudging or redefining the figures to make it come out that way?(e.g. East Anglia’s “climate-gate” emails)

Full disclosure: before I determined to react publicly, I communicated with him, and he convinced me the 11 points are not meant to be a joke, and, yes, I could attribute these to him. These are his 11 points.

In another world there should be no need for me to comment further, as the above language speaks for itself. However, this blog site is all about commentary, so I will spend the following 11 posts of this series addressing each of the 11 points in turn. Keep reading. It is an interesting world out there.

Abusing Science

Number 14 of a series

The above is called the Keeling Curve:

The Keeling Curve is a graph of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the island of Hawaii from 1958 to the present day. The curve is named for the scientist Charles David Keeling, who started the monitoring program and supervised it until his death in 2005.

Keeling’s measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.[1] According to Dr Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History of Science at Harvard University, the Keeling curve is one of the most important scientific works of the 20th century. Many scientists credit the Keeling curve with first bringing the world’s attention to the current increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Obviously these measurements did not stop with the death of Charles David Keeling. His work inspired others to conduct similar measurements at points around the globe. Ralph Keeling, son of Charles David Keeling, continues the measurements at Mauna Loa, and this work will likely continue through the remaining history of the human species.

But there are other measurements, and Steven J. Allen of the Capital Research Center  wants you to know about them. He holds a Ph.D, in Biodefense from George Mason University, and in 2012 he had this to say:

Scales over our eyes: Using graphs to frighten people about global warming

We’ve been led to believe that the earth faces a global warming catastrophe that will flood coastal cities, turn farmland into desert, and unleash the forces of nature to punish mankind for its use of carbon-based fuels.  But, in fact, the opposite is true: Current projections show that temperatures will plummet in just the next few days.

Here’s the chart, based on data from the online edition of The Washington Post, that proves I am right.  It shows how the temperature in Washington, D.C. fell by half in just 15 hours between yesterday afternoon and this morning.  By half!

Yes, Dr. Allen is going to demonstrate for you that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a hoax, and scientists are using propped-up graphs to trick us. Read the article. He shows a plot of the temperature in Washington, D.C., from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning. We see what we expect to see. We see the temperature drop, because the sun has gone down in the interim. Now he advises us to extrapolate from this graph, and we see that in the past it was intolerable hot, and in the future it will be intolerably cold. Unlivable. He next explains to us this is what scientist are doing with the temperature history of the earth. He shows this plot:

It looks remarkably like this one, which I previously presented:

And Dr. Allen has more to say, including this (from the same posting):

At least I didn’t use one trick often used by scientist-activists: I didn’t just make up the numbers.  At least I used actual temperature numbers from actual meteorologists.  (News media meteorologists, unlike scientist-activists, tend to be trustworthy because they are held accountable for the accuracy of their predictions. They make mistakes, but they don’t lie.)

Trustworthy journalist (Dr. Allen is one such) may make mistakes, but they do not lie. Scientist-activists do make up numbers and they do lie. Please get that point.

He goes further. He links to other sources, which links have since gone stale, so I cannot vouch for the sources. He points out the numbers are from NASA, a government agency that “was supposed to run the U.S. manned spaceflight program,” ending with a sarcastic comment about the demise of that program. Again, this was in 2012. He pointedly informs us of NASA’s :outreach to the Muslim world,” providing another link that has gone stale. Here is a related link I could find. As a scientist, I have to wonder how “the Muslim world” fits into Dr. Allen’s message. He also mentions NASA has outsourced its work to people with political connections, again providing a stale link. The implication is that these political connections have contravened real science, rendering the results suspect. And NASA promotes belief in AGW.

At this point it becomes difficult to summarize, so I will post an entire paragraph from the original:

For purposes of this post, let’s accept that these numbers are real.  Let’s assume, for the moment, that NASA personnel and their cohorts at organizations like the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change possess the ability to calculate mean surface temperatures worldwide, down to one-hundredth of a degree as they claim, all the way back to 1880.  (Perhaps they use an infinite number of thermometers, plus a time machine.)  Given those assumptions, let’s look at how the numbers are presented in the famous chart.

Journalists “may make mistakes, but they do not lie.” Apparently they do exaggerate to make a point. “[A]n infinite number of thermometers, plus a time machine?” He wants you to know that global average temperatures are being measured to a hundredth of a degree. Here he plays on the readers innocence regarding how data are summarized. Suppose thermometers measure only to 1/10 degree—good ones do. So, how do you report averages to 1/100 degree? That’s what happens when you compute averages? A short lesson in laboratory practice.

I have a thermometer that measures to 1/10 degree. This is not difficult to obtain. Not only do laboratory grade thermometers measure to that precision, they measure to that accuracy. You bring in another thermometer made by a different company from a different country, and both will measure the same beaker full of water to the same 1/10 degree.

Now suppose you are only concerned with temperature changes. Accuracy is no longer a consideration, because any inaccuracy of a measurement by something like a thermometer is most likely in the form of an offset with respect to the correct measurement. When you measure a temperature difference the offset is subtracted out, and the difference will not reflect the inaccuracy. The difference will be accurate.

Now you take a large number of measurements all over the planet, and you average them. The averages will be the sum of a large number of measurements divided by a large number, resulting in an average that has several positions to the right of the decimal point. You may not be measuring to 1/100 degree (although it would be possible), but you are computing averages to that precision. Note the difference between precision and accuracy. Precision does not account for an offset to the correct value, but when you measure the temperature change from one year to the next the accuracy of the difference will be close to solid gold.

Dr. Allen wants to know why the previous plot starts in 1880 and not some other year. He thinks he knows the answer, and that answer is the scientists want to ignore times when the planet experienced other temperature anomalies. He mentions the Little Ice Age of several centuries ago. Let’s have a look at past times:

I advise readers to peruse the Wikipedia entry for a more complete story, but above plot is enlightening. Whatever the cause of the Little Ice Age, the current state of global temperatures cannot be explained by a rebound from that time.

He wants to make a point about the scale of the plot. The vertical axis has been restricted to barely cover the range of temperatures. He says that is to impress upon viewers the enormity of the change. Actually, that is to allow people to see the change with their eyes. If the vertical range were increased to, say, 100 degrees, then it would be difficult to discern any variation. The plot would have the appearance of a straight line. And he presents such a plot:

Not very impressive. This is science? I’m guessing Dr. Allen wants you to believe it is. The truth is, the small variations matter, and without knowing it, Dr. Allen has revealed a terrible truth. Go back to his first plot, a daily temperature variation. The sun is down. It’s cold. The sun come up. Within minutes the temperature is up several degrees. After the sun comes up the temperature will typically climb twenty or more degrees F. And this is not due to a warm wind coming in from the south. It is not due to a nearby forest fire or a volcano. It is the sun. The daily rise in atmospheric temperature illustrates the tremendous driving force of solar radiation. And then the sun goes down, and the temperature drops, and the cycle repeats the following morning.

Now imagine that something tweaked the driving force of the sun, ever so slightly. Suppose it increased a fraction of a percent. There would be a noticeable increase in average temperatures over the entire planet. And that is what is happening. There are many factors affecting the driving force of solar radiation, and carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is one of these. Look at the Keeling Curve. Carbon dioxide levels are going up relentlessly, and there is no indication they will be going down soon. The temperature will rise due to the human contribution to carbon dioxide loading, and the effects of this rise are largely predictable. And nothing that Dr. Allen has written in his posting contradicts this fact.

Dr. Allen writes about political influence, this while propagandizing for an organization with an known political agenda. He uses his platform to disparage the work of real scientists. This is what abuse of science looks like.

Abusing Science

Number 13 of a series

This is not about Kathleen Hartnett White. That’s another story, but I needed an image for this post, and somebody loaded this onto my Facebook feed. This story is not about a government employee working to subvert science but about a government employee with an earnest regard for the truth. It’s an illustration of how the government, in particular the current administration, abuses science:

A Scientist Who Resisted Trump Administration Censorship of Climate Report Just Lost Her Job

The Trump administration has demonstrated every intent to overthrow the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and the signals were early and unambiguous:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

In case you doubted his intent, once gaining access to the nation’s highest office, Donald Trump proceeded to make his fantasies come true:

In October 2017, President Donald Trump nominated White for the position of White House senior advisor on environmental policy. Had she been confirmed by the United States Senate, she would have led the Council on Environmental Quality. On December 21, 2017, the United States Senate sent her nomination back to the White House. Trump resubmitted his nomination of White in January 2018.

Her nomination drew controversy due to her history of advocacy for fringe theories and pseudoscience. Hartnett questions the scientific opinion on climate change and has criticized the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She has called for increased use of fossil fuels, and criticized the Endangered Species Act. She said carbon dioxide was not a pollutant but “a necessary nutrient for plant life” and that there were “really beneficial impacts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere”. She has expressed skepticism that there has been “unprecedented warming of the climate, extreme weather events, declining Arctic ice, and rising sea levels”. She has complained about “Apocalyptic Anthropogenic Global Warming” being “the Left’s secular religion”, and that “grand schemes to decarbonize human societies” are part of the “unabashedly totalitarian policy of the Left.”

White has compared the work of mainstream climate scientists to “the dogmatic claims of ideologues and clerics.” During her November 2017 Senate confirmation hearing, she defended past statements that “particulate pollution released by burning fuels is not harmful unless one were to suck on a car’s tailpipe.”

At White’s Senate confirmation hearing in November 2017, she stated that her top three environmental concerns are air quality, the potential failure of waste water and drinking water systems, and climate change. During her hearing she said: “I am not a scientist, but in my personal capacity I have many questions that remain unanswered by current climate policy. We need to have a more precise explanation of the human role and the natural role.”

In February 2018, the White House confirmed their intention to withdraw their nomination of Hartnett White as a senior advisor on environmental policy.

In case you failed to notice the ground moving under your feet, the Republican Party held the majority in the Senate at the time and had the ability to confirm Hartnett White without regard to protests from the Democrats. The Republicans have of late been the party that favored ideology over science whenever push came to shove, and that Hartnett White triggered their gag reflex speaks volumes. Apparently abuse of science does have limits.

Abusing Science

Number 12 of a series

To this list you might add the Institute of Public Affairs. Based in Australia, they are the sponsors of the book shown above. The book has a number of contributors, and I have been reviewing contributions by geologist Ian Plimer, long known as a defender of biological evolution against the claims by creationists. On the matter of AGW he has cast his lot with those who deny some valid science. In Climate Change The Facts he has contributed a chapter titled “The Science and Politics of Climate Change.” He concludes his section with:

Conclusion Climate change catastrophism is the biggest scientific fraud that has ever occurred. Much climate ‘science’ is political ideology dressed up as science. There are times in history when the popular consensus is demonstrably wrong and we live in such a time. Cheap energy is fundamental for employment, living in the modern world, and for bringing the Third World out of poverty.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

His concluding argument is interesting in the way it plays off requirements versus reality. Presently the use of fossil fuels is what is keeping a large segment of the human population afloat. I sometimes make the unsubstantiated claim that if everybody stopped pumping petroleum today, upwards of one billion people will die as a result within the first year. There is no doubt the dependency exists.

However, bad news does not counter sober fact. Arguing that drastic reduction of carbon dioxide emissions today will have bad consequences is not the same as arguing that carbon dioxide emissions will lead us to a catastrophe in the future.

In his section Ian Plimer addresses five points:

Many Western governments have a politically popular ideology that argues that:

i. There is an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by human activities;

ii. The increased CO2, a greenhouse gas, will lead to ever increasing global warming;

iii. There will be tipping points, sea level rises, extinctions and ocean acidification;

iv. Climate change will be irreversible and that human emissions of CO2 must be reduced or stopped as soon as possible; and

v. In order to stop climate change, energy sources need to be shifted from coal, gas and oil to wind, solar, tidal and biomass.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition. [emphasis added]

Governments and their agencies claim that science supports their ideology, but while research grants are given to support this ideology, naysayers are denied grants, ignored, or—more commonly—pilloried. This doesn’t happen in many other branches of science, where competing theories are supported with research funds, ideas are energetically discussed, and theories are changed based on new validated evidence. Matters of climate change have been politicised, everyone has an opinion (despite commonly not having the knowledge to underpin an opinion), scientifically illiterate journalists become champions of a cause rather than impartial journalists, and various media networks have taken a partisan political position.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

It is interesting that Plimer should take this tact in light of the sponsor’s name on the cover of the book. The following is from the Wikipedia entry for the Institute for Public Affairs:

The IPA adopts a position of doubt about climate change and finances several Australian climate change science doubters.

In 2008, the institute facilitated a donation of $350,000 by Dr G. Bryant Macfie, a climate change sceptic, to the University of Queensland for environmental research. The money is to fund three environmental doctoral projects, with the IPA suggesting two of the three agreed topics.

In 2010, the IPA published a compilation of essays by prominent climate change skeptics titled Climate Change: The Facts and edited by John Roskam and Alan Moran. An expanded version with 22 essays was published in 2015 through Stockade Books and a follow-up edited by Jennifer Marohasy was published in 2017, both in Kindle format.

In 2017, Marohasy and IPA colleague John Abbot publisher a paper on climate change in the journal GeoResJ, also discussing the work on the IPA website,in The Spectator Australia, and in Marohasy’s blog. The research concludes that much of recent warming could be attributable to natural variations, and that the “world was about as warm in 1980 as it was during the Middle Ages.” This conclusion was welcomed by conservative media outlets but heavily criticised by climate scientists who pointed to methodological flaws in the research and declared it unworthy of publication. Gavin Schmidt, the Director of NASA‘s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has pointed out that some data were shifted in time by approximately 35 years, leading to the omission of warming that has occurred since 1965. Schmidt described the research as “worthless” and an example of “what happens when people have their conclusions fixed before they start the work.”

Despite Plimer’s saying, “…naysayers are denied grants, ignored, or—more commonly—pilloried,” it would appear there is ample funding to support opposing views in climate science. Ample funding to support opposing views comes appears to be ample funding not so much for research as for propaganda.

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

I am yet to find a scientist or read a paper which claims that the climate is not changing.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

He has yet to find a scientist who claims the climate is not changing. That means one of two things. Either a bunch of scientists are lying, or else the climate is changing. And the climate is changing.
According to a study led by Eric Rignot from the University of California at Irvine, which looked at details of ice and snow from the entire continent of Antarctica since 1979, Antarctica’s crucial ice sheet has been melting for the entire 39 year period, but that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Talk about politics and scientific malfeasance if you want, but you need to counter the evidence that the ice is melting. Good luck with that.

Stupidity on Stilts

Number 6 of a continuing series

The above meme showed up on my Facebook feed, and I grabbed it up.

I call this series “Stupidity on Stilts,” because first there is stupidity, but when you want to elevate it even more you need to put it on stilts. There are people who do just this, some even get paid to do it. One Ben Shapiro, “an American conservative political commentator, writer, and lawyer.” His Wikipedia entry continues:

He has written seven books, the first being 2004’s Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth; Shapiro began writing this book at age 17. Also at age 17, he became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the United States. He writes columns for Creators Syndicate and Newsweek, serves as editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, which he founded, and hosts The Ben Shapiro Show, a daily political podcast and radio show. He was an editor-at-large of Breitbart News between 2012 and 2016.

That should explain a bunch. “conservative political commentator,” “Creators Syndicate,” and “Breitbart News” provide a clear heads up about what is coming next:

From there, he winds up to deliver the made-for-virality part of his outline: Even if global warming happens, Shapiro asks dramatically, and even if its effects as as disastrous as predicted, aren’t rational, free-market actors already equipped with the tools to deal with it?

Let’s say for the sake of argument that all of the water levels around the world rise by, let’s say, five feet over the next 100 years. Say 10 feet over the next 100 years. And it puts all of the low-lying areas on the coast underwater. Let’s say all of that happens.

Now get ready for the TRUTH BOMB…

You think people aren’t just going to sell their homes and move?

I will give readers about a second and a half to digest that.

Finished? Good! In the interest of pandering to the obvious, let me spell it out.

  • Sea levels are rising. Shapiro acknowledges that.
  • The cause is global warming. Shapiro acknowledges that.
  • Human activity is contributing enormously to global warming. Shapiro acknowledges that (I think).
  • Homes near the coast are going to be under water. Shapiro acknowledges that.
  • No big deal. What!!!!
  • Shapiro says it’s no problem because people whose houses are going to be under water will just sell them and move to higher ground. Really?

Ben. Ben! Who’s going to buy a home that’s going to be under water in a few years? People living in a soon-to-be-flooded area are screwed. Nobody is going to buy their houses. Let me dig deeper.

Suppose your house is going to be flooded, but not for about 50 years. You’re going to be dead by then, even if you may have already relocated for other reasons. But you sell your home anyhow. Somebody purchases your home, and this person knows that in 50 years it’s going to be flooded. He figures like you, that he will be out of there before it’s under water. He’s going to die or sell first.

Sooner or later somebody is going to have to buy a home that’s already threatened by high water. Yeah, this train of events will eventually break down.

Ben, forget about what you learned from studying economics in school. Here is what is going to happen. Property that’s going to be unusable in 50 years will decrease in value over time and reach zero about the time waves start to breach the property line.

Hopefully we are done with that line of reasoning, so we can now take a look at the bigger picture. With rising sea levels the land area of the North American continent will decrease perceptibly. Places where we have, in ignorance or in defiance of climate predictions, built infrastructure and personal and commercial development are going to be under water. They will either be under water, or they are going to be protected by dikes to stave off the sea level rise.

More specifically, roads will need to be elevated, power stations will need to be protected by dikes, electric, water, and sewer facilities are going to have to be drastically restructured. A pile of money will need to be poured into regions near the waterline. This expense will be borne by those directly affected, citizens and businesses in the region, or else the entire country will be called upon to pitch in through their tax dollars.

So, that’s the bad news. And now for the bad news. There is nothing we can do today to stave off catastrophic sea level rise. We waited about a century too long to get started. It is too late to turn the world’s economy around and shed its dependency on fossil fuels. Existing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are sufficient to cause catastrophic sea level rise, and CO2 levels will continue to rise for the next 50 years, despite the best measures we can take now.

In the meantime you might plan ahead and start shopping for some of that prime Orlando beach front property. Ben, are you listening?

Abusing Science

Number 4 of a series

I’m sure the source of the above cartoon will not mind my re-using it without permission. I am guessing Glenn McCoy came up with this to demonstrate to all who will pay attention that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a hoax. And that is what this post is all about. It’s about people who abuse science to make that claim.

For a major part of the 20th century the principal abusers of science were the creationists, some of whom sported phony college degrees and asserted that creationism is a fact and that evolution is an evil scheme to undermine religious faith. By the end of the century it became apparent that others were denying basic science for political and personal reasons. First came those who denied the problem with stratospheric ozone depletion, but that notion was dispelled decisively when the people who did the scientific studies came away with Nobel Prizes. Now denial of AGW has taken its place alongside creationism as a motivation for abuse of science.

If you have the idea that creationism and denial of AGW fit comfortably within political conservatism, you will be on solid ground. It you think conservatives have a lock on anti-science, then you are on quicksand. But more on that in future posts.

A powerful force against creationism has been Australian geologist Ian Plimer.

Plimer is an outspoken critic of creationism and is famous for a 1988 debate with creationist Duane Gish in which he asked his opponent to hold live electrical cables to prove that electromagnetism was ‘only a theory’. Gish accused him of being theatrical, abusive and slanderous.

In 1990 Plimer’s anti-creationist behaviour were criticised in Creation/Evolution journal, in an article titled “How Not to Argue with Creationists” by skeptic and anti-creationist Jim Lippard for (among other things) including false claims and errors, and “behaving poorly” in the 1988 Gish debate.

Once again, you should not conclude that supporters of science are of one mind. Plimer is noted for his rejection of AGW, to a degree. His objections to the scientific consensus incorporate a belief that the drive to obtain funding motivates researchers to cough up the preferred conclusions.

The theory of human-induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures are treated as evidence. Furthermore, climate ‘science’ is sustained by government research grants. Funds are not available to investigate theories that are not in accord with government ideology.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

It is rational to question scientific conclusions when a motive for bias is apparent, but the possibility of bias is not sufficient. It is also necessary for the conclusions to be incorrect, and it is here Plimer’s arguments edge into abuse of science.

ii. The increased carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, will lead to ever increasing global warming

Point (ii) has shown to be invalid on all time scales. There is no doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. However, the main greenhouse gas is water vapour. The first 100 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 have a significant effect on atmospheric temperature, whereas any increase from the current 400 ppm will have an insignificant effect. Furthermore, because CO2 has a short residence time in the atmosphere, it is naturally sequestered into the oceans, life, or rocks in less than a decade. In fact, only one molecule of every 85,000 in the atmosphere is CO2 of human origin, and yet we are asked to believe that this one molecule drives hugely complex climate change systems. We are also asked to believe that the 32 molecules of CO2 of natural origin in every 85,000 molecules play no part in driving climate change.

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

At this point Plimer ignores the evidence, and he also dabbles in abuse of science. First of all the abuse. He states correctly that the prime greenhouse gas is water. To be sure, without water vapor in the air our planet would chill out quickly. But he follows this accurate statement with one that has no basis in fact. The additional 120+ ppm added by the use of fossil fuels contributes an addition to the existing greenhouse effect, and it is that addition that is causing the observed global warming.

Next, examine the statement, “In fact, only one molecule of every 85,000 in the atmosphere is CO2 of human origin,…” Some math: At 400 ppm, one molecule of CO2 is in every 2500 molecules of the atmosphere. Human activity is credited with adding about 1/3 of that 400 ppm. That is one molecule of anthropogenic CO2 for every 8300 molecule of air, not one for every 85,000. Since Plimer is a serious scientist, I am guessing this is an error in math and not deliberate on his part.

Next: “Furthermore, because CO2 has a short residence time in the atmosphere,…” Actually, it takes 200 years for an influx of CO2 to exit the atmosphere. Plimer may be thinking of the persistence of methane, which has a life in the order of 15 years. Readers need to keep in mind that CO2 introduced into the atmosphere never completely vanishes. The effects of an influx diminish with time, and eventually the effect is subsumed by other factors. I will contend that CO2 exits the atmosphere at an exponential rate. The rate of decrease is proportional to the concentration.

Now for Plimer’s disregard for the evidence, particularly:

The above is from Temperature Change and Carbon Dioxide Change on the NOAA site.

Temperature change (light blue) and carbon dioxide change (dark blue) measured from the EPICA Dome C ice core in Antarctica (Jouzel et al. 2007Lüthi et al. 2008).

I have no explanation why they did not use contrasting colors.

A final point on Plimer before I close. A major concern with AGW is the resulting rise is sea levels. As land ice melts and flows into the oceans, the sea level will rise. There is also a rise associated with warming and expansion of ocean water. The consequence is flooding of coastal areas. Plimer has this to say:

Land level changes

There can be no understanding of sea level rise and fall without an understanding of local land level rises and falls. Scandinavia, Scotland and Canada are rising because, during the last glaciation, ice sheets covered these areas and pushed down the land. Now that the ice has melted, there is rebound and the land is rising. If land rises, other areas of land may sink, such as Holland. Land rises in mountains as a result of compression (e.g. Himalayas) whereas, when there is extension or pulling apart, land sinks (e.g. Lake Eyre). The world’s oceans formed by extension and, because the oceans are still growing at the mid-ocean ridges, the land masses at the edges of oceans are uplifted into hills or mountain chains (e.g. Great Dividing Range).

Abbot, Dr John. Climate Change: The Facts . Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

He is obfuscating the fact of sea level rise with this discussion of the rise and fall of land masses. While this process is real and observed, it does not change that coastal regions not affected by the sinking of land are now experiencing increased flooding due to sea level rise, and this sea level rise is due to global warming.

There is a lot more of abuse of science related to global warming, and future posts will touch on these cases.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 10 in a series

Forgive me for plowing under last year’s crop, but this came to my attention only yesterday. Also forgive me for posting two of these on consecutive days—makes it appear I’m in a rut. The fact is, unfortunately, that the stupid is strong and is likely to remain so. To the story:

“I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth,” Wagner said. “We’re moving closer to the sun.”

That was “gubernatorial hopeful, Scott Wagner” shilling for the natural gas industry last year. I assure you, readers, that Mr. Wagner’s being a Republican candidate has nothing to do with his support for fossil fuels and his opposition to the idea of AGW (anthropogenic global warming). Typical, maybe, consequential, well… Well you have me there. Placed against a wall and facing a firing squad I would be unable to name somebody professing to deny AGW who is not a Republican in this country. The stupidity I throw that in for free.

Some facts. AGW, a rise in global temperatures as a consequence of human activity, is well-documented, and is shown to not correlate well with solar activity. It’s not that solar activity would be unable to affect global temperatures, it is that the sun is relatively quiet compared to the activities of humans on the planet. And, yes, Earth does get closer to the sun, but then it gets farther away. That’s because Earth’s path around the sun is not a circle but is an ellipse. There is a closest point and there is a farthest point (perihelion and aphelion), and the closest point this year was January 2.

Mr. Wagner says it has been a long time since he was in a science class, and it appears it has been some time since he was in any language class related to English. Earth rotates (spins) about its axis, and it revolves about the sun.

And that is about all the stupid I can handle for now. More to come. Keep reading.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 9 in a series

So this is the situation we’re in right now. In times past we had presidents who were not clued in on science, thought matters of science were negotiable. Some even thought creationism should be taught in public schools. Things are different now. With Donald Trump we have a president who has not only a great appreciation for science, but also appears to know more about it than most scientisst. By his own admission he is a very stable genius.

Anyhow, the ICCP is out with its report on recent studies, and their conclusion is that the planet will reach a tipping point about 2030 if greenhouse gas levels are not brought to heel by then. Luckily our president has the insight and the power to rein in this kind of nonsense. Here is what he had to say in an interview with an reporter for the Associated Press:

I said the worst hurricane was 50 years ago, far worse than what this one was. Then, in 1890, they had one that was even worse. This was No. 3 or 4 or 5. We had worse hurricanes in 1890, we had worse, a worse hurricane 50 years ago. We’ve gone through a period, actually, fairly recently, where we have very few. I live in Florida to a large extent and spend a lot of time in Florida, and we had a period of time where we went years without having any major problem. And then you have a problem and it goes in cycles, and I want absolutely crystal clear water and I want the cleanest air on the planet and our air now is cleaner than it’s ever been. Very important to me. But what I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows. And you have scientists on both sides of the issue. And I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth. So we’ll see.

I mean, you know, I am a person that believes very, very strongly in the environment. I am truly an environmentalist. I know some people might not think of me as that, but I’m an environmentalist. Everything I want and everything I have is clean. Clean is very important — water, air. But I also want jobs for our country. And if we would have, as an example, entered certain agreements with other countries, I actually think that we’re doing it so they could have an economic advantage. Because we would have had a tremendous— we would have been at a tremendous economic disadvantage if we entered into certain agreements.

It is so heartening we now have a president who is concerned with the environment, apparently more concerned than any president has been in the past. And he wants clean. He likes clean. He is, however, level-headed enough to know that we must never sacrifice profit for clean. I am reassured. Maybe  Scott Pruitt can get back his job at the EPA.

The AP reporter followed up by reminding the president about the tipping point. He had a ready, and very stable, response.

No, no. Some say that and some say differently. I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.

President Trump’s natural instinct for science is going to be the world’s salvation. I feel it in my bones.

People Unclear

This is number 40 of a long series

If you’re like me, you wonder where people like this come from:

GOP congressman asks if rocks are causing sea levels to rise

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I found it impossible to omit Representative Brooks’ affiliation with the Republican party. It’s not as though when you decide to run for office as a Republican you have to check the “global warming is a hoax” box. But it helps.

But let’s get serious for a moment. Representative Brooks may have a point there. The truth is that the world’s rivers daily deposit tons of soil, scourged from the continents, into the oceans. That has got to account for some sea level rise. Some Skeptical Analysis is in order. Take the Mississippi River as an example. All the stuff that gets washed down from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains eventually makes its way to the Mississippi Delta. A similar thing is going on with the Nile. This has been going on for millions of years. We should all be under water by now.

Not quite. Look at Florida. The state is bare inches (many inches) above water. It has an interesting geological history:

Sea levels have had a profound effect on both Florida’s geology and ecology. The fossil record indicates a mass migration of plants and animals occurred between North and South America approximately 2 million years ago, when sea levels were much lower and a land bridge connected North America. During the last ice age, Florida was as much as three times the current land area (red line on Figure 1).

Here is Figure 1:

The map shows what is now Florida and the shape of the coast line 5 million years ago (smaller) and during the previous ice age, when a bunch of the planet’s water was stacked up as ice on the continents (much larger). Melting of the continental ice shrunk Florida to its present day size.

And Florida is much the same shape as it was 500 years ago when Europeans began to explore it. All this while the Mississippi, the Nile, the Amazon, the Indus—all  these great rivers—have been dumping silt into the oceans. Only recently, the past 100 years, has human activity started to make serious changes to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. And Florida is finally beginning to experience the result:

Map Shows Which Miami Condo Buildings Are Most Threatened by Rising Sea Levels

Even as scientists continue reminding us that Miami is one of the most susceptible cities to the potential damages of sea-level rise, developers continue erecting shiny luxury tower after shiny luxury tower in the areas most threatened by rising tides. So EMiami Condos, a website that tracks condo development in the city, put two and two together to figure out which buildings are at the highest risk. 

The site gathered information from the FIU School of Journalism’s Eyes on the Rise app. The app allows you to key in your address and find out how many feet of sea-level rise it would take for your home to be underwater.

Another source provides additional history:

Although all the details are not well understood, the driving force behind these glacial/interglacial cycles are slow variations in Earth’s orbit as it circles the sun, which slightly decreased/increased the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface. For the current interglacial, the orbitally-driven warming eventually came to an end after the Holocene Climatic Optimum (HCO), and by 4-5000 years ago all the vulnerable land-based ice had disappeared. The volume of the global ocean was static until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, and by the 19th Century global sea level had begun to rise again. Despite undergoing short-term accelerations, and decelerations, globally-averaged sea level has undergone long-term acceleration up to the present day (Church & White [2006]Merrifield [2009]).

With some 60-70 metres worth of global sea level equivalent locked up in the vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and with global warming well underway, it raises the question of how much sea level rise we are likely to see this century (and beyond), and just how fast this might happen. Because the dynamics of ice sheet disintegration are only very crudely known, and ice sheet modelling is in its infancy, there is a large range of estimates of future sea level rise. Many now seem to converge on 1-2 metres of sea level rise by 2100 – much higher than current rates. But is this realistic? A recent paper, examining past ice sheet disintegrations, lends credence to these estimates.

Here is the pertinent graph:

Figure 2 – Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

All records I have seen show the sea level rising since 1870, about the time the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear, and we started burning fossil fuels in earnest. The rate of increase has, itself, been increasing during the time we have increased the burn rate. Here is what the current activity looks like:

Those measurements are millimeters.

Anyhow, Congressman Brooks lives in Alabama’s 5th District, approximately 600 feet above sea level. He has nothing to worry about regarding sea level rise, which is expected to be as much as 200 feet if all the polar ice melts. In fact, if he could stay around long enough he might be able to cash in on some of Alabama’s beach front property boom.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 17 in a series

I’ve been having too much fun with politics and Donald Trump. It’s time for me to get to some serious business requiring Skeptical Analysis. Facebook to the rescue.

Cody Knotts is a Facebook friend I sought out after taking in some of his divergent views. This blog would not be very interesting reading if it only pulled from sources that parallel to my own views. As an aside, Cody is a movie producer, currently involved in a film based on the Kecksburg Incident.

Anyhow, Cody posted a link to an opinion piece appearing in Forbes Magazine, and a quick reading reveals it to be worth some comment. Additionally, Cody’s followers on Facebook chimed in, and there is some interesting back and forth. Let me start with the original Forbes opinion piece.

Opinion  

To The Horror Of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling Is Here

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Around 1250 A.D., historical records show, ice packs began showing up farther south in the North Atlantic. Glaciers also began expanding on Greenland, soon to threaten Norse settlements on the island. From 1275 to 1300 A.D., glaciers began expanding more broadly, according to radiocarbon dating of plants killed by the glacier growth. The period known today as the Little Ice Age was just starting to poke through.

And more. The piece runs to two pages, and contributor Peter Ferrara makes a number of assertions, too many for me to address in this short post. I will touch on some highlights, beginning with the paragraph above.

Ferrara emphasizes the so-called “Little Ice Age,” and there is evidence of a global cooling during this period. Follow the link and read the article on Wikipedia. Ferrara may have a valid point, that there have been, and there likely will be, short term fluctuations in global temperature. The following plot tracks the Little Ice Age as described by Ferrara, and it also tracks the up-tick in global  temperatures since the exploding use of fossil fuels.

The plot is available on Wikipedia with the following caption, which should provide some explanation:

The original northern hemisphere hockey stick graph of Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999, smoothed curve shown in blue with its uncertainty range in light blue, overlaid with green dots showing the 30-year global average of the PAGES 2k Consortium 2013 reconstruction. The red curve shows measured global mean temperature, according to HadCRUT4 data from 1850 to 2013.

Ferrara points out observed changes in solar activity since the time people became able to quantize it, and he correlates this with observed climate change. He also discusses later trends.

Those ocean temperature cycles, and the continued recovery from the Little Ice Age, are primarily why global temperatures rose from 1915 until 1945, when CO2 emissions were much lower than in recent years. The change to a cold ocean temperature cycle, primarily the PDO, is the main reason that global temperatures declined from 1945 until the late 1970s, despite the soaring CO2 emissions during that time from the postwar industrialization spreading across the globe.

It will be interesting to examine what went on since the end of World War Two.

This shows the drop, which began before 1945. But then global  temperatures leveled off before beginning to rise in the late 1960s, a rise that continues to this day. Ferrara contends the rise does not track soaring use of fossil fuels following the war, but he does not provide any evidence concerning the increase in fossil fuel consumption and its timing. The Keeling Curve, which tracking began in 1958, shows levels of CO2 in the atmosphere since that time.

Volcanic activity can contribute to a decline is global temperatures, and this is considered as a possible contributor to the Little Ice Age. Volcanic activity is not currently in play.

Nor is solar activity.

However much success his readers believe Ferrara has obtained in convincing them that anthropogenic global warming is a myth, those readers will be amiss in taking his words at face value. That’s because historically his words have had little value.

National Review magazine published his essay “What Is An American?” in its September 25, 2001 issue, after the September 11 attacks. In the essay, he claims that “there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan”, although census numbers show Afghanistan has roughly ten to fifteen times as many Muslims as the United States. The essay was reproduced in a chain e-mail claiming that an Australian dentist wrote it. Ferrara, reflecting on that essay in 2007, still stood by it and supported “more selective immigration so that the U.S. gets a ‘better-educated class of Mexican immigrants.'”

Another indicator is his current employer. From Wikipedia:

Lawyer, policy analyst, and columnist who is an analyst for The Heartland Institute

Yes, we have had previous experience with The Heartland Institute:

Heartland Institute to the rescue. To counter the findings of researchers in the field Heartland engages in various practices to dissuade the voting public from accepting these findings. Desmoglog obtained pilfered internal Heartland documents and heartlessly exposed the contents:

Tue, 2012-02-14 13:13 BRENDAN DEMELLE

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

Of course, that is not the end of the story. I will leave it to readers to figure out for themselves whether Peter Ferrara is convincing. I will turn now to a collection of his readers, particularly people who participated in the discussion on Cody’s Facebook feed. Here are a few comments worth noting.

Sean Logue of course it was obvious… But people believed “science” versus historical evidence and observation.
Few realize that most public scientist are chasing dollars rather than truth. Having studied history and knowing the mini ice age and past cooling and warming trends this was elementary. It also appears in tree rings.

Rob Mudryk It was global cooling to start, the global warming, then climate change, then global climate disruption, then Global Species disruption, then Obama got his Peace Prize for the plan to get the media in line and it went back to Global Warming. But all along since 2000 we knew from actual scientists that there was going to be a 57 year solar minimum and a mini ice age was coming. The head of the Hurricane center said back in 2000 that Hurricanes are going on a 27 year minimum. Science knew what was going to happen, and it happened as they said. Not what the political propaganda of give us more money so we can fix it politicians story of doom and gloom. Even the CFC ban on the Ozone Layer is 100% false, it was found out long long ago that solar cycles control the hole in the ozone. Only in the USA is CFC’s banned.. Freon is still made in the USA and shipped all over the world.

Devin Montgomery Glad I bought new skis. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

Cody Knotts Whether it is cooling or warming, the idea that it is man made is the hubris and the center of the hysteria.

Sean Logue John Blanton, how many cars were there during the ice age, mini ice age, or medieval warming period?

Sean Logue How much CO2 did the dinosaurs put out to make their climate hotter and wetter than ours.

Rob Mudryk John Blanton there is also credible evidence that the warming is being caused by the scientists lowering historical data. The most damning thing to the CO2 claim is first is the increased CO2 is already doubled in plant life causing global greening. Second plant life goes extinct below 160ppm the earth peek plant life is around 1000-2000ppm per historical observations. The fact that the earth temp is not correlating to anything CO2 just show how towing the socialist line it is. 1000’s of scientists are now dropping their unwavering support for global warming now their career is not in jeapority. The climate cult is over, jump off the train before it goes over the cliff, the imperical evidence is no longer in the socialists side.

Rob Mudryk Sean Logue CO2 levels when the dinosaurs were ruling the planet was 1000-4000ppm when plant life and animal was 10 times larger from abundance of food.

Rob Mudryk John Blanton I’m sorry I’ve seen the wayback machines data and it changed. it is fact of the CO2 levels during the earths most green period. It is fact that peer review studies say the CO2 is being absorbed and the earth is getting greener. It is fact that Plants can not live below 150ppm of CO2 We have been at a CO2 famine for quite a long time. Dragging it back to the absolute minimum because politically motivated academics say we have to do it, give us money. It is fact that 10,000 confirmed relavent scientists signed documents to disagree with the global warming theory. It is fact that all the computer models that you base your “facts” on have never been back tracable let alone follow the actual climate over the past 20 years. It is fact that the scientific method does not allow for settled science, that is the realm of political propaganda. So I’ll stick with what I believe, what is actually happening in the world, vs. the chicken little stories of doom and gloom.. We’d be underwater already if your religion was correct.

John Blanton Sean Logue Regarding the number of cars in those historic times, there were none. And the relevance being?

Sean Logue Aren’t cars the number 1 man-made source of CO2?

And that pretty much illustrates the level of discourse this subject receives on Facebook.

Readers are invited to challenge or to expand on any of the points made on this post. My time is at your disposal.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 7 in a series

The way I got around to this book was another book I was reviewing by writer Stephen Moore and would-be political appointee Kathleen Hartnett White, titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy. That book makes a couple of references to another book: The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe by Sebastian Luning and Fritz Vahrenholt, and I purchased the Kindle edition to follow up. My original intent was to read the book and post a thorough diagnosis. After some reading I decided, “No way.” I will explain why.

Published by The Heartland Institute 3939 North Wilke Road Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004 phone 312/ 377-4000 fax 312/ 377-5000 www.heartland.org [link added]

That shows up on page 2, and it’s drop-dead indication this is not going to be a scientific treatment of the subject.

I forgot all about Heartland Institute. Yes I did. The last time I paid them any attention was back in 2012. What I stated then was that Heartland Institute appears to use money rather than actual science to counter inconvenient facts of science.

Yes, we have been down that road before. However, it is worth some examination to determine whether Luning and Vahrenholt (Heartland) have anything new to add to the discussion. Here’s what I was able to glean. Despite the title, the book does not appear to be about the neglected sun and why the sun precludes climate catastrophe. The book appears to be more an argument for avoiding “carbon-neutral” energy sources, a prime Heartland agenda. Before getting into several chapters discussing the sun, the book reveals its heart with a few paragraphs in the preface.

In 2011 Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would implement the Energiewende (energy turnaround) in an attempt to replace nuclear and fossil fuel power plants with renewable sources. At the same time, she promised that Germany would no longer need to import electricit y and that electricit y prices would not go up. Within less than a year this grand declaration proved to be little more than wishful thinking. 1 Today electricit y prices in Germany are soaring out of control due to unlimited subsidies given to renewable power, and the German power supply can be secured only through emergency decrees. Power companies also have to keep unprofitable power plants on standby and large power consumers may find their supply cut off in the event of unexpected supply bottlenecks. Within less than a year, Germany has gone from having a power supply that was one of the world’s most stable to one that is on the brink of collapse.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 43-49). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Yes, carbon-neutral sources are a bane on modern society, and the book is going to explain why anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is of no concern, even a hoax. The arguments are many, and after much reading you may begin to wonder: if these arguments are of any worth, why are there so many of them crowded into this book? If the the sun precludes climate catastrophe, then a single scientific finding should suffice, and the argument could have been put to  death in a few pages. From all appearances—I’m pulling from several excerpts—there is not a lot of sound science behind the sun argument, and those remaining arguments the authors do push are off-base and generally are not relevant to the case. Before I get into some of the arguments laid to the sun, let’s examine a few that make absolutely no sense in this discussion. Here’s one.

Scientists find themselves in a quandary. How are they to deal with the politically incorrect scientific results? Two American researchers, Jackson Davis and Peter Taylor, recently came across something astonishing. While studying an Antarctic ice core covering the past 12,000 years, they identified a total of forty-six strong natural warming events throughout the pre-industrial era. The mean warming rate of these events was approximately 1.2 ° C per century, more than the 0.7 ° C warming we have seen since 1900.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 101-105). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Assuming the above is correct, what does it have to do with the issue hand? Maybe a restatement of the issue at hand will be helpful. Here is mine:

Human activities are raising atmospheric levels of CO2 to levels not seen in thousands of years, and the expected, also observed, result is a rise in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures at a rate the world economy cannot accommodate.

If the authors want to talk about past disasters, they could bring up catastrophic asteroid impacts classified as extinction-level events. None of these arguments have relevance to the issue at hand. Besides that, the authors’ statement appears to be false.

This plot is labeled “Annual surface temperature compared to the 1981-2010 average from multiple, independent research groups. NOAA Climate.gov graph adapted from Figure 2.1a in State of the Climate in 2016,” and it appears to show about a 1.0° C rise since 1900. To be sure, the authors are citing the work of others, but this does not excuse the inaccuracy. Rather, their choice of references indicates they are picking sources that please them. There is more. The authors criticize what they contend is bias reporting by mainstream media.

Similar problems occur with the media coverage of new scientific climate studies. Interestingly, while new results inconvenient to the IPCC are often ignored, the latest climate scare stories – some paid for by insurance companies with a vested interest – are widely carried by the mainstream media. For example, how many of us have heard that winter temperatures at the Antarctic Ross Sea have significantly cooled over the past 30 years? [7].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 111-114). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

The footnote is to “Sinclair, K. E., N. A. N. Bertler and T. D. van Ommen (2012) Twentieth-century surface temperature trends in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica: evidence from a high-resolution ice core. Journal of Climate 25 (10), 3629– 36.”

First I will congratulate the authors on missing the irony of this statement. “[P]aid for by insurance companies with a vested interest.” From all appearances, their own reporting has been paid for by an organization with a vested interest in denying AGW. Considering this section’s topic, of what significance is the matter of winter temperatures at the Antarctic Ross Sea to the global temperature average? I am not sure the authors think this is significant, but it is clear they think it will be significant to their readers, the ones they were paid to impress. Here is a bit more along this line.

One might think that a study documenting that temperatures in southern Italy during the Roman Warm Period were slightly higher than they are today would be a worth reporting [9].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 115-116). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

The reference is given in the footnote indicated. Again, a local or regional event is called upon to  put the lie to an observed global trend. Where have we encountered this before? How about here?

Yes, somebody expanded a piece in The Washington Post from nearly 100 years ago to throw as evidence against AGW. Good for them, the authors of this book did not include this as part of their argument.

Turn now to the book’s main theme, the impact of solar activity on global temperatures. The authors saturate the remainder of the book with the solar argument. Here are a few samples:

Geological climate reconstructions exhaustively show that temperatures on earth have followed solar activit y for thousands of years. That is not surprising when we consider that 99.98 per cent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun. Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 577-580). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

I am especially fond of the appeal to logical deduction: “Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?”

Similar irradiation maximums occurred 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period) and 2000 years ago (the Roman Warm Period). In both periods, pronounced climate warming took place. The Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and today’s Modern Optimum (since 1850) are well documented. Between those warm periods the sun’s activit y decreased and this led to distinct cold phases – the Vandal Cold Period and the Little Ice Age.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 583-586). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Solar magnetic field strength increased enormously, parallel to the increase in solar irradiation over the last 100 years, having more than doubled [133– 134] (Figure 3.8). The solar magnetic field protects the earth from cosmic rays because it forms a protective shield around it. As a result cosmic rays have decreased 9 per cent over 150 years up to 2000, when cosmic ray levels started to increase once again [135].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 1047-1050). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

I find this last bit most interesting. The magnetic field? Cosmic ray flux? Relevance, please. The authors need only a single scientific finding to make their case. If they have it, then they are holding it back and showering their readers with case studies. Figure 3.8 mentioned in the above has the following title:

Figure 3.8 Synchronicity of solar activity, temperature, sea level and Arctic Sea ice cover during the last 400 years. Sources: sunspots [136]; total solar irradiance [39]; visible light [39]; UV [39]; solar magnetic field, [134]; CO2 [51]; temperature (extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere) [109]; sea level [137]; Arctic sea ice cover [138].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 1050-1053). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Here is a screen shot from the Kindle edition, computer-enhanced to clarify details:

Here is another plot, not from the book.

This plot shows global warming with respect to solar flux. While solar flux has been more or less constant from 1880 to 2005, the planet’s warming has shown a persistent rise. Where is this graph presented, even in an effort at repudiation? Here is another interesting graphic.

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

Yes, this is what The Heartland Institute is all about, and it bears no resemblance to real science. Juxtaposed to Luning and Vahrenholt’s inferences of media bias and tilted research is the picture of two writers funded at least in part by The Heartland Institute to propagandize against anthropogenic global warming. This is the nature of the case being made against AWG, and it does not get any better than this.