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June 8, 2011

What to say to a global warming skeptic?

Sunday's column was about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision to pull the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It was critical of Christie's decision. Perhaps predictably, I got emails from climate-change skeptics saying or implying I am a dupe of the liberal establishment. One was typical of previous missives in which I am asked on the spot to scientifically prove that anthropogenic activity is causing hazardous climate change. To wit:
Dear Jay: On Sunday, I read your column on NJ's withdrawl from the RGGI. Based on your past columns it is abundantly clear that you accept the scientific hypothesis of the man-made global warming.
Would you be kind enough to send me a detailed list of the sources you relied upon to reach your conclusion. Please provide the author's names, dates of publication and the titles of the relevant journals. All the best,
None of us, media pundits included, carry around detailed academic citations in our heads or in our files. However, a question along the lines of, "Why do you, who are paid to express opinions and potentially influence the opinions of others, believe climate change is real?" is legitimate. Without writing a whole column I tried to give him an answer. I'm not sure how good it was, but here it is:
Hi Chris: Thanks for your message. It’s always good to be skeptical, but I believe the evidence and authority are on the side of those who believe in manmade global warming. Nobody argues about the physics – increased atmospheric CO2 will cause a greenhouse effect. Nobody argues about the levels. CO2 is rising. Nobody argues about the source of the CO2. It’s anthropogenic.
So you have a pretty good argument right there for paying attention and worrying about bad effects. But people a lot smarter than I am also believe that global temperatures are indeed rising and are connected to the CO2 increase, and I’m prepared to take their word for it. If you want a cite go to the 4th IPCC report, which I’m sure you already have. Given the weight of evidence and opinion, the onus is on skeptics to falsify the proposition that humans are causing global warming. And they haven’t done it. JH
Posted by Jay Hancock at 6:09 AM | | Comments (37)
Categories: Environment
        

Comments

It's called "appeal to authority". It's a "fallacy".

"the onus is on skeptics to falsify the proposition that humans are causing global warming"

What?! Um I don't think so. It is not up the skeptics to do anything of the kind. It is the CAGW alarmists who are making the claims of future climate catastrophe, it is up to the alarmists to support those claims. And up to now that have not done that. When it comes down to it, based on what you wrote above, you believe in AGW by gut feelings only. CAGW is dead, the world has moved on.

In 2007 when the IPCC released their AR4 report, there were 200 journalists attending from all over the world, speaking many different languages, it was like a journalistic orgy. And when the IPCC release their AR5 report in 2012 we’ll see if there are 200 reporters speaking many different languages in a journalistic orgy this time around. I’m sure there will be some journalists there, but it won’t be anything like what we saw in 2007. I’ll bet it will hardly get any coverage by the US media. Climate change is dead and it will be the MSM that will demonstrate it.

Cheers

Jay,
I think it should be recognized that denialists are suffering from a mass buy-in to a conspiracy theory, that climate science is a 'trillion dollar international fraud to take over the world economy.' This is simple irrational fringe thinking which, somehow, has been adopted by half of the US political system, and a very large number of Americans. The resistance to reason and the absurd attribution of the motivations of the most expert among us to this 'hoax' clearly place denialists in the company of birthers, 9-11 birthers, people who drink their own urine to cure cancer, and those few who still assert AIDS is a nutritional issue. What research or relevant successes can we look into from those who have dealt with conspiracy theorists before?

All of the pseudo-science poppycock chrurned out by the Climate Denial Spin Machine has been systematically and thoroughly debunked on SkepticalScience.com.

Actually, "klem" is partially correct. There will be few journalists present when the IPCC AR5 is released in 2012. That's because, according to the IPCC website:

Work is now underway on the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), following scoping and other preparatory activities carried out over the past two years.

The Working Group I report is scheduled to be finalized in September 2013, the Working Group II report in March 2014 and the Working Group III report in April 2014. The Synthesis Report will be finalized in September 2014.

In other words, if the journalists show up in 2012, they'll have a lot of time to kill before the report is released.

The IPCC website can be found here: http://bit.ly/lBuifP

I didn't realize that the target date for AR5 was 2014. Wow by that time, climate change will be so old news perhaps no one will show up.

Climate change is truly dead. Thanks for the heads up.

If people can't see what is going on. What catches my attention is the words like "first time in history" keep thinking old news but NOW where shall I start, Solar blast, lighting storms, earthquakes lasting 50 minutes @ 6.3 flooding this country and others, fires due to no water. we need to face the fact that something is changing AND FAST

Hi Holli - you mention solar blast. I think you're on the right track in mentioning that. Are you familiar with long-range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn? He says his work on solar influence on weather and climate has led him to conclude that it is the sun which drives changes to climate, and that the CO2 scare is alarmist pap.

Has any of the skeptics given thought that what if, just what if they are wrong, and there is a man made influence (at least in part) to climate change. We only have one planet to live on, and I personally am not willing to take a gamble with that home. There are a lot of small things we can do to reduce future impacts that people are too lazy or personally greedy to bother to implement.

And climate change should not just be viewed as CO2 and man's contributions. Some of the climate change (i'm sorry, we can argue about the cause, but I don't see how anyone can argue about the current outcome) may be a cause of urbanization - fewer green areas that absorb little heat, and paved/man altered surfaces that are more efficient at producing heat energy, and can absorb heat to release later in the evening (urban heat island rings a bell). That can alter local precipitation patterns because of altered atmospheric circulations. Urbanization also reduces the amount of moisture available in the air by reduced plant transpiration and ground evaporation, which can alter precipitation patterns. Impervious surfaces cause a 3rd problem, increased flooding, because when it does rain, there are few areas for the water to soak into the ground to be held, or slowly released into streams. All the water rushes into local waterways. This is why NOAA issues urban flood warnings from thunderstorms in urban areas long before flash flooding becomes an issue in rural areas.

Lets also not forget feedback loops. It's a measurable fact that there has been less and less summer sea ice in the arctic for the past 30 years (again, i'm not going to pick a side as to why). Ice = white or near white surface and a very high albedo, the now dark blue water has a much lower albedo, and is able to absorb more solar energy and turn it into heat. This creates a feedback effect, melting more Ice, exposing more dark surfaces. This feedback will certainly lead to a warming arctic (and antarctic, with melting ice sheets and snow cover), which will lead to a rise in sea level. Warmer arctic regions may lead to another problem (warning, greenhouse gas theory will be assumed true below) - increased release of methane in the permafrost. In a labratory, methane is about 20 times more efficient at blocking and storing long wave (heat) energy (as said on one of the science channels how the universe works shows, describing Venus and one of the moons of Jupiter). The estimated quantity of methane, if all released from melting permafrost, would make the amount of atmospheric carbon released through man's practices seem insignificant. Again, that feedback loop I guess is only to concern if you believe in the greenhouse effect.

Maybe we should at least be thinking about how to deal with climate change, and in the process implement small measures that may not lead to *possible* worsening of it. Regardless of what started the warming, feedback loops will ensure it'll continue for some time to come (at least until the next ice age about 18,000 years from now).

@ Steve Schulin;
It might be clear that the Sun contributes to the amount of solar radiation coming TO the earth, and CO2 prevents heat to LEAVE the atmosphere.

If Solar radiation is causes the main rise of average temperatures, temp. on days should rise more than night temp. And summer temp more than winter temp. Agree?
Well, everyone knows that average night temperature rises faster than day temperatures. And winter temperatures faster than summer temperatures? Can you explain me how - in your opinion - this matches with the simple basics of physics??

Also, if sun causes the main temperature rise, this rise would obviously be more or less equal in higher and lower athmosphere. The measured temperature rise, mainly occurs in the lower athmosphere instead. Even my 8 years old little brother understands that this rather must be caused by some 'mysterious' trap of the outgoing heat, than from an increase of the incoming heat.
I'm wondering what kind of physics you use, to believe the opposite?

Where is there scientific evidence, ie an experiment, to show that a small concentration of CO2, ie .04%, causes a greenhouse effect? A large concentration as on Venus does not make it true for a small concentration. The only indication I have found of such an experiment showed that the low concentration of CO2 with water vapor caused cooling. EGADS! The ClimateGate episode indicates great corruption among the so-called scientists. They are doing what is necessary to obtain grant money.
I do not know if there is warming, cooling, or staedy-state because the science has been corrupt and no one knows for sure what is happening.

Z4NT
Steve's citing Piers Corbyn is a perfect example of my point about Denialists being Conspiracy Theorists, and further should show that appeals to reason with Steve will fall short. Piers Corbyn is a fringe nut with no expertise in climate science, a history of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars with Weather Action making false predictions, and yet, in the face of the multiple lines of research and evidence of hundreds of committed intelligent scientists, Steve chooses that single nut's provenly false tin-hat rantings to science. Go ahead, post till you're blue in the face, but if reason would have gotten anywhere with the American Right it would have by now. Is there anyway to short-cut a Conspiracy Theorist's pathologically irrational defenses and bring someone back to reason?

@anon - It's called "appeal to authority". It's a "fallacy".

Only when it's a "because so-and-so said so" kind of argument. The study he cited has direct scientific references, which makes the citing of that study not an appeal to authority, but instead the citing of a reference.

Oh, I'm sorry Z4NT, I meant to address that to BB. But thank you for your post, it is an excellent example of Conspiracy Theory, with the global cabal cited, and the use of ClimateGate, even! Anyone who knows anything about the hacked e-mails knows they don't at all undermine climate science, five investigations showed absolutely no wrong-doing, and holy cow, the physics of CO2 and infra-red absorbtion goes back over 150 years to Arrhenius ( plus a little more progress since then).
But of course, pointing out the five investigations about ClimateGate will get nowhere with you. The investigations were all corrupt, too, I'm sure.

Terribly sorry, Z4NT, can't figure these posts out.
I meant that last one to mesns. To whom I would also like to point out, if you were diagnosed with lymphoma, would you be so dismissive of expert opinion when chemotherapy was recommended? Would you insist on having subtle details and hundreds of years of science and reason taught to you before you consented? When you haven't even understood a news story ( that is, 'ClimateGate')?

Terribly sorry, Z4NT, can't figure these posts out.
I meant that last one to mesns. To whom I would also like to point out, if you were diagnosed with lymphoma, would you be so dismissive of expert opinion when chemotherapy was recommended? Would you insist on having subtle details and hundreds of years of science and reason taught to you before you consented? When you haven't even understood a news story ( that is, 'ClimateGate')?

I've made my own quick glance visual guide on how to handle those evil skeptics:

http://oi52.tinypic.com/wlt4i8.jpg

Jay, there is basically NOTHING you can say to a climate denier that will change his or her mind. This person is completely armed with specious arguments masquerading as facts.

Some years back, global warming was not an ideological topic. Both liberals and conservatives recognized the threat and believed something should be done - they just differed on the means.

But with millions of dollars of funding by Exxon and others with interests in fossil fuels, a whole ton of baloney "science" was disseminated in order to make people doubt the reality of anthropogenic global warming. Add to the phony science an ideological "spin" -- that the whole theory is a hoax concocted by evil liberals who want to take over the world. And what do you get? Oil, gas, and coal interests are smiling with satisfaction, knowing that no serious action will be taken by the United States government to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Maybe high gas prices will force us into smaller cars. But we need many more energy-saving measures to have any chance of staving off worsening climate change. Forget about reversing it or even stopping it. That chance is gone. All we can do now is hope to slow the rate of increase and protect ourselves against the inevitable effects of more droughts, floods, high temperatures, rising sea waters, melting glaciers, etc.

What to say to a global warming sceptic?

How about

SORRY!!

What to say to a skeptic? How about "you're right!"

What to say to a global warming skeptic? How about

"Thanks"

Klem (second comment) has it right. The scientific method is to come up with an hypothesis, then test it until it's proven to be true. You don't accept it, then wait for someone to disprove it. So far, the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis fails most real data tests.

Sorry folks, but any problem in which the proposed solution involves taxation sets off my BS detector.

"What catches my attention is the words like "first time in history" keep thinking old news but NOW where shall I start, Solar blast, lighting storms, earthquakes lasting 50 minutes @ 6.3 flooding this country and others, fires due to no water."

And you buy that "first time in history" line? These statements imply that the earths climate is static and that what we see today is in some way unusual. I'm a geologist, paleo-climates are my thing. The earths climate has never been stable. Ever.

First time in history, more like first time anyone remembers.


"All we can do now is hope to slow the rate of increase"

Um, oil companies are finding huge shale gas deposits all over the world, and they are looking at using deep sea methane hydrate deposits as new fuel resources. The fossil fuel industry is about to grow exponentially, up to now the industry has been in its infancy. We aint seen nothing yet. The world is awash in fossil fuels, that means falling fuel prices and bigger SUVs. It also means prosperity in parts of the world where people sleep on dirt floors.

Cheers.

RE: Melting ice

Spend some time reading about black carbon (soot) and the role it plays in accelerating the melting of ice.

Man is playing a role in the warming of the planet, but it's the methane/soot/aggressive land use that is dramatically unlocking more water vapor into our hydrosphere and increasing the warming.

Co2 is merely the response to a warming world, not the cause. Let's focus on soot and methane mitigation first, because that's where we will see the immediate rewards and the least amount of obstacles.

Smarten up, you silly alarmists.

Here is Jay: "...I believe the evidence and authority are on the side of those who believe in manmade global warming. Nobody argues about the physics – increased atmospheric CO2 will cause a greenhouse effect. Nobody argues about the levels. CO2 is rising...."
You are quite wrong about nobody arguing the physics. Ferenc Miskolczi has shown that the infrared transmittance of the atmosphere remained constant for 61 years while the amount of carbon dioxide increased by 21.6 percent during that same period. This immediately nullifies the enhanced greenhouse effect that climate models use to predict dangerous global warming ahead. It does that because it is an empirical observation of nature, not derived from any theory. Any theory whose predictions do not correctly describe nature must be either modified or discarded. The theory that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere warms it is one such theory. Miskolczi used NOAA database of weather balloon observations that goes back to 1948 in his work. The Tigr2 database from France gives similar results. His work has been out for two years now and not a single peer-reviewed article has attempted to dispute it. I am not surprised you don't know about it because global warming advocates do not want you to know. The bottom line is that all computer models that use enhanced greenhouse warming as input have been fed garbage. And if you put garbage into a computer you get garbage out too. Or GIGO. This is what predictions of dangerous greenhouse warming amount to. Unfortunately politicians believe this green propaganda and are beginning to implement some of their agenda. They are aided in this by a gullible press. It will cost trillions, not billions to get rid of carbon dioxide emissions, all in the name of fighting a non-existent warming. And it will destroy civilized life as we in the West know it. On top of that, scientific societies have jumped on the global warming bandwagon. The Royal Society, the National Academies of Science, and dozens of others have expressed approval of the global warming movement. Our scientific elite has not been so wrong since the eighteenth century when phlogiston was all the rage. They renamed it caloric but it still would not fly and both imaginary substances ended up in the dust heap of history. That is where the global warming movement belongs.

So let me get this straight. After 16 years of either stable temps, or in many (even most) of those years cooling temps, and with the ice in the Antarctic regions reaching record levels you are SURPRISED that a majority of Americans don't buy into global warming?

Really!!?

Doesn't take much to surprise you does it!

"Ferenc Miskolczi has shown that the infrared transmittance of the atmosphere remained constant for 61 years while the amount of carbon dioxide increased by 21.6 percent during that same period."

This is a new one to me. If I spend my time looking this up, would a negative result from me (meaning I show this to be wrong) change your opinion on climate change?

The answer to the question "what to tell a global warming skeptic" is "it doesn't matter, they won't listen any way".

You can try to point them here:
http://www.realclimate.org/

But they won't read it.

You can try to correct the incorrect facts that have been poured into their head. It won't make any difference.

You can try to explain to them that their logic is flawed. Good luck with that.

They will not listen on a plane, they will not listen on a train.

Jay,
I have an offer for all those who believe global warming is caused by the CO2 created by anthropogenic activity. I have a very simple experiment that should answer the question once and for all.
If all of you (global warming alarmists) will stop producing CO2 (personally) for just ten minutes, the rest of us will be able to tell whether your exhaling of CO2 was actually a contributing factor. Let's pick a time -- say this Sunday at noon. Thanks.

Thanks, Jay, for keeping this issue on the front burner...

For an apolitical, objective summary of today's climate science... and the promise of renewable energy to power the planet... please tune in to WETA in DC at 9pm Tuesday June 14th for Richard Alley's PBS special, "EARTH: The Operators' Manual." He's both a member of the IPCC and a church-going Republican. Also in the program, look out for Rear Admiral David Titley's assessment of climate change and what the Army and Marines are doing to save lives and money by cutting back on fossil fuels. Maybe some are skeptical of scientists, but most of us trust our men and women in uniform.

Mike Haseler,
I just noticed your lengthy response to my post on WUWT that included this statement:
"Now, I’m not saying peak oil will be the end of the Western civilisation (more accurately “modern” civilisation), but neither can I honestly say it won’t."

Our civilisation can operate on fossil fuels for at least another 300 years but that is worrying considering that recorded history is already ten times longer than that.

Fortunately, the next technology is already available. Nuclear fission can provide the power we need for at least 100,000 years even with today's known reserves. That should give us plenty of time to develop a long term source of power based on nuclear fusion (for example).

You say that the human race was lucky to find a substitute for whale oil. I say "Necessity is the Mother of Invention".

I also like Gene Sarazen's "The more I practice, the luckier I get".

Everyone blames suv's and other mechanical machines about the release of CO2, but no one blames the 6.5 billion people to exhaul CO2 with every breath.

"What to say to a global warming skeptic?"

Well, what you say is, "It doesn't matter that the proponents of the theory of global warming have made numerous specific predictions about future events, every one of which has been shown to be absolutely false when the dates came and went. It doesn't matter that the major proponents have been caught red-handed talking about manipulating, suppressing, and falsifying data in the emails that they sent privately to one another. it does not matter that there has never actually been a scientific consensus but rather an agreement between an incredibly small number of high-ranking bureaucrats to put forth this position and to make sure that no dissent or discussion, much less any scientific process, is allowed. In fact, it doesn't even matter that there has been no warming whatsoever for a decade, anthropogenic or otherwise. The media and the government and the organizations run by these bureaucrats are saying this, and you must believe it if you are a good person. Because they are out priest and have privileged access to God that your unenlightened mind can never under--oh, excuse me, they are our scientist and have privileged access to science that your unenlightened mind can never understand."

That's what you say. And then you gape in disbelief at the heresy of the unbeliever.

Guess what? Science doesn't happen by supernatural revelation. If you develop a theory and make predictions based on the theory, and the predictions are found out to be false, it invalidates your theory. You aren't allowed to pretend you didn't write what you did and insult the intelligence of anyone who dares question you. You can't declare first that your theory is global warming and make specific predictions about future average temps, and then, when these temps are way off the mark, declare that global cooling is also a sign of global warming, and you never said it was just warming, anyway, and it's all "climate change."

When NOTHING disproves a theory, it's not science anymore. It's a faith. If you'd just have the intellectual honesty to admit it, you wouldn't have a problem with us.

Oh, and the onus is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS on proving a theory. Which no one has done. You don't present something as fact because some powerful people think that it sounds like it will get them a lot of research money by making their profession of vital importance--I'm sorry, I mean, because some powerful people propose it. I don't care who likes an idea or what position they have. That's not science. That's not proof. And your intellectual bankruptcy in your refusal to recognize that is disgusting.

Oh, and by the way, your response was stupid and ignorant. People ARE arguing about the relative contribution of humans to the CO2 in the atmosphere and the connection between CO2 levels and temperature. The historical data clearly show that the rise in CO2 has lagged temperature increases in the past--vast quantities of CO2 are held in the oceans, which can hold less as the water warms, thus increasing CO2. Therefore, the CO2 surge appears to be a result, not a cause, of temperature increases historically. And while we are putting some CO2 in the air, the total human contribution versus, say, a single big volcanic eruption is very much a matter that needs to be discussed. If huge historical eruptions have not been followed by warming trends, it's a good bet that our much smaller human contributions really aren't going to make a bit of difference. We'll get more algae in the ocean, which will feed more zooplankton, which will feed more fish, but that's about it. Whoopee. In addition, there's a huge question as to how much warming CO2 is even capable of given the electromagnetic frequencies it's capable of absorbing. The study of this is called absorption spectroscopy, and because CO2 is composed of only carbon and oxygen atoms, it is capable only of absorbing those wavelengths. And once it absorbs all the energy on that wavelength (and radiates a percentage of that back to earth), that's all carbon dioxide can do toward warming the earth, period. Yes, there's some self-building effect, as some of the radiation will be on the same part of the spectrum as the absorption, but that's it. And it turns out that carbon dioxide in very low concentrations ends up absorbing most of the spectrum it's capable of absorbing already.

Now, that's physics. Fairly simply physics, actually, with calculations that a thoughtful person with a good high school education can perform (PLEASE tell me that you did absorption spectroscopy in high school....). So if you don't believe me--hey, research it yourself. The absorption line spectrum of CO2 is readily researched. So is info about the energy spectrum of the sun. Check it out and find out exactly how much doubling the CO2 concentration would heat the earth--if the earth didn't have a weather system that is pretty good at handling tiny changes like that.

If you can understand it, since it's written by a person a lot smarter than you are, try this for some actual science for a change.

Start here: http://www.iitap.iastate.edu/gccourse/forcing/spectrum.html

Then go two pages forward for this gem:

"The absorption bands (wavelength regions) for carbon dioxide are nearly saturated......"

Yep. That's right. For carbon dioxide to cause significant global warming, it'd have to break the laws of physics.

Notice, here, the reliance on actual, measurable, indisputable data that can be collected by anyone and has been accepted as accurate for many decades. This is not extrapolation from a correlational link (if you don't no the difference between correlation and causation, you should resign now) that exists in a highly controversial data set of reconstructed historical temperatures that contradicts all earlier attempts at reconstructing historical temperatures. (The Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warming Period is a BIG FREAKING DEAL to climatological historians. I learned about it years before there was a peep about global warming, and new models that rely on erasing these events should be more than a little suspect.)

You should understand the difference in the quality of the measurements. One is reproducible, simple, obvious physics, with nothing that CAN be in dispute because it relies on every step on procedures that are well-grounded in scientific acceptance. The second requires, first, a incredibly elaborate reconstruction that flies in the face of previous reconstructions--a reconstruction that must be extremely accurate to make any decent predictions when previous scientists have explicitly cautioned that all such reconstructions must be seen only as approximate; second, that there is a causation link where none has ever been demonstrated; and third, that the cause is in fact the one and only cause of the observed changes in a mindboggling complicated system.

The farcical nature of averring that the second proposition is even a scientific endeavor should strike one strongly when comparing it to the first.

There is no debate about CO2 spectroscopy because it has such excellent, proven science behind it. The CO2-cause anthropogenic global warming nonsense? Not a bit of it.

Note that spectroscopy tells us that CO2 can't be a problem--but CFCs are probably a REALLY good thing to keep a handle on, because those COULD cause measurable anthropogenic global warming, which might end up being a bad thing.

Because this is also real science, it also gives us a way to figure out the potential impact of pretty much anything as long as we know what it turns into in the upper atmosphere and how long it hangs around.

See? No voodoo. No enormous house of cards. Just some simple science.

Now, since we have a water cycle on earth, as well as oceans and winds and things like that, we can't use a simple, pretty calculation to indicate just how much additional energy reflected back toward earth will actually raise the temperature. But it is certain that the actual impact of the additional energy will be mitigated by the earth's weather systems, though how much can only be a matter of speculation at the moment.

BTW, the professor int he link is absolutely correct about everything...except that he leaves the most critical questions unaddressed, and he has one howler of a fallacious statement: "It is important to recognize that the energy the earth receives from the sun is fixed, and the energy the earth re-radiates to outer space is fixed." (The first part is untrue, but the variations are not significant. The second it untrue, thermodynamically impossible, and just plain stupid.)

He appears unconcerned that CO2 is near its total radiative forcing potential and so the maximum possible amount of warming from CO2 is very close to realized and that, therefore, an equilibrium is very close to being reached. This is possibly because he finds any amount of change unacceptable. This is, frankly, a philosophical position, not a scientific one.

An earth continually getting hotter--which is the position of the mainstream global warming proponents--will eventually become a problem to life on the planet. Objecting to that, therefore, could be seen as a scientific stance. The POSSIBILITY of a permanently and stably fractionally warmer earth just isn't because it would be better for most life on earth--particularly people. (And it is just a possibility, as the mitigating effects of the weather have borne out in the past decade, to the embarrassment of the global warming crowd, in the lack of any kind of recent measurable global warming.)

This professor doesn't go there. He stops short at radiative forcing and will not take the next logical step and speak honestly about the real possible consequences of the maximum possible radiative forcing from any kind of co2 level that might be reached in the atmosphere--even at a crazy-high concentration like 5%. (Guess what? It's not that much higher than it is now.) Whether accidentally or deliberately, he acts as is radiative forcing is cumulative in effect--which, of course, it isn't, as radiation is sent into space at a rate that is partially a function of the temperature of the earth.

If you imagine that the earth (sans weather) is a car parked in the sun, you will realize it will not gain heat infinitely in any situation but is radiating that heat continuously into the surroundings so that it reaches a certain temperature based upon the conditions and maintains it. The assertion that removing the tinting from a part of one of the windows will cause the car to gain more solar energy is easy to accept. Declaring that the obvious corollary is that you can calculate the heat gained, *which can be directly converted into a continuous temperature increase until the upholstery spontaneously combusts,* is just as clearly fallacious. Anyone with a lick of common sense will say, "No, the car will get a little hotter, but it won't keep getting hotter forever. It's releasing heat into the space around it all the time, so the temperature will stop rising as it finds a new equilibrium."

And again, as I keep emphasizing, this is sans weather...

But, sadly, that is the logical leap that this professor is paving the way for, by covering the global energy balance only in the beginning and not returning to it in the end and discussing frankly what the the radiative forcing actually means in the context of temperature on earth.

If the earth does end up at a new equilibrium, say, a whole degree warmer than it would be otherwise (which is pretty unlikely), that isn't a reason to declare a crisis. Historically, warm periods have led to human, vegetative, and zoological success and development, while cold periods have led to economic and cultural decline, often catastrophic. Warmer periods are generally wetter--colder generally drier. To put in another way, Al Gore is a liar. Cold kills way more people than heat.

Global warming deniers do not doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. They don't doubt that there's more CO2 int he atmosphere now that before. They don't doubt that more CO2 leads to some level of additional radiative forcing. They just don't buy into the presentation that this can or will lead to a change in temperature that will damage the environment for people or other life, as a whole.

Because it CAN'T. The physics doesn't support it.

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.
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