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A Chilling Experience: Comment Response January 13, 2009

Posted by Jamie Friedland in Climate Change.
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This post is in response to an extended comment posted by the moderator of ThePeregrin.com.  In order to fully understand this post, I suggest reading my post “A Chilling Experience” (below), and his comment to it.  He also posted my post and his comment on his site under the title “Climate Change: One Blog Gets It Wrong,” so I thought I should return the favor.  The following is also posted as a response on ThePeregrin, but I just wanted to have the chance for a little rebuttal here.  Enjoy.

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“Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, as well as for your layout compliments.  I would like to address a few of your points, though.

First, you mention the “hockey stick” controversy.  As I understand it, the argument is about the source data of one study reconstructing North American surface temperatures over the last millennium.  It boils down to whether a certain tree species’s ring data should be used.  And according to RealClimate, despite the controversy, the main point that the last decade has likely been the warmest in at least 1000 years still stands.

But it’s silly to get bogged down by a single group of tree rings when we know from many other sources (tree rings from other species, but also thermometers, ice cores from both the Arctic and Antarctic, sediment cores, corals et al.) that we are currently experience a period of rapid, sustained warmth, and that this warmth is highly correlated with human industrialization.

Now I know that correlation does not prove causation, but if you understand the basics of the greenhouse effect, we can easily demonstrate how this warming occurs.  It is not controversial that greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, methane, even water vapor) trap infrared solar radiation close to the earth as heat.  We owe the habitability of our planet to this concretely established phenomenon.  It is also verifiably proven that the combustion of fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide.  This too is beyond argument.  So when temperatures rise in conjunction with a massive increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, and we know that we’re releasing gigatons of CO2 into that same atmosphere via fossil fuels and deforestation, I feel quite comfortable saying 1+1=2.  It’s not faith in science, it’s just that simply apparent.  But I set out to address your points specifically, not the larger matter in general.

You mention physicist Richard A. Muller of the University of Berkeley.  I followed the link you provided in your comment but was unable to find the specific lecture to which you referred.  I would be grateful if you could send me a more direct link, but it doesn’t really matter.  Muller may disagree with MBH98 (the “hockey stick” report) and he may even be correct.  But he maintains that anthropogenic warming is occurring. A simple search of climate change terms on that site quickly led me to a paper he authored in which he explains, in no uncertain terms, that global warming is occurring and anthropogenic (caused by humans) via fossil fuels and deforestation (6th paragraph).  You say Muller said that Al Gore lied about the conclusions of MBH98, but Muller would also say that you were lying about his conclusions about Gore’s use of MBH98 if you try to use them to refute the existence of global warming (as you did in your post).

By all means, do your own research, and, when possible, take advantage of opportunities to learn directly from knowledgeable sources.  But one quote doesn’t disprove a report and one scientist isn’t widespread dissent.  There is remarkable scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.  I’d urge you to watch “An Inconvenient Truth” for more on that point but I don’t think you’d appreciate it.  Instead, I will suggest you read the reports by Naomi Oreskes at the University of California San Diego (which Gore was citing).

Now, for your second point.  Your “recent report” is a piece by Michael Asher that appeared in the prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journal Daily Tech (for clarification, Daily Tech is none of those things: it is an online magazine that provides, according to its “About Us” section, “hard-hitting and up to the minute CE, PC, IT and information technology news”).  It has no environmental science credentials.  And then there’s Michael Asher.  With no apparent background or training in science, Asher has, as Mitchell Anderson at DeSmogBlog put it, “a monotonous habit of slagging climate science.”  He, like many other climate-denying bloggers, simply tries to poke holes in legitimate work and contributes nothing to the actual body of knowledge.  And, like you appear to have done with Prof. Muller, he has just cherry-picked a single data point that happens to coincide with his preconceived notions, despite the fact that the organization from which it is taken harbors no uncertainty about climate change.  But let’s examine his claims.

Asher wrote, “Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago…” It is true that “sea ice levels” are roughly equal to those in 1979, the first year in which sea ice mass came under satellite observation.  But what Asher doesn’t realize or more likely ignores, is that the situation isn’t that simple.  According to NASA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2008 saw the second lowest summer medium since the observations began, continuing a negative trend.  Some researchers predict we will see the first ice-free arctic summer within the next 20 years.  And while I would enjoy continuing this play-by-play on how Asher lied in his “report,” I find that the work has already been done in wonderful, cited detail by the blog greenfyre’s.  So in the interest of time and on the off chance that anyone is still reading this, I will urge you and others to check out that post to see explicitly how Asher is deceitfully wrong.  And he is.

In conclusion, you are correct in that pollution is not a good thing.  Smog does suck.  But please allow me to correct your lemming metaphor: in today’s world, the cliff is rushing towards the hapless rodents (all of us).  And not only are we doing nothing to avoid the approaching danger, we are in fact accelerating its approach.  And if anyone is leading us to our demise, it’s climate skeptics.  As for your populist claim that Americans are generally well informed, I submit to you every public policy class I’ve ever taken explaining rational ignorance, a heap of public polling statistics I no longer have the drive to track down, and a sarcastic “yeah, right.”

I too apologize for the length of my reply; this nerve is worn out as well.

Sincerely,

Jamie Friedland”

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1. Peregrin - January 14, 2009

Thank you Jamie for your reply.

To answer the first request, here is the direct link to the site that the UC Berkley still offers with the video numer and time of the comments.

http://webcast.berkeley.edu/course_details.php?seriesid=1906978397

watch the 4-26-07 at approx. 30 min marker.

As far as the other comments, I was attempting to make the point that the “settled science” and the 1+1=2 arguments are as usual oversimlified poppycock. Prof. Muller did write a paper on man-made global warming trends; however he was still unconfirmed on its general importance and effect when compared to the other sources of atmospheric CO2. I was using a response in the shortest way to communicate that message intelligently, albeit with lots of grammatical errors, that I found later after re-reading it.

There are many differing theories to the change of weather patterns, worsening of storms, cooling in normally temperate areas and heating of normally cool areas. However, ever since I was a young child the only theory is that it is all man’s fault and we should live in grass huts and never ever burn anything for fuel again. I did some more follow up research, again. This time to be more pointed. I honestly do not expect some one who uses family vacation time to see the artic circle to confirm their own grim assessments to change their mind based on this. Maybe, it will at least cut down on the Macheavalian nature of the argument.

[ All of the following I found at: http://bridgetdgms.wordpress.com/ ; however I did the follow up and confirmed the reality of these statements, as I suggest the serious student does. ]

Newsbusters.org
By Noel Sheppard

Created 2008-05-18 17:12

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM)
Who: Dr. Arthur Robinson of the OISM
What: release of names in OISM “Petition Project”
When: 10 AM, Monday May 19
Where: Holeman Lounge at the National Press Club, 529 14th St., NW, Washington, DC
Why: the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) will announce that more than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition rejecting claims of human-caused global warming. The purpose of OISM’s Petition Project is to demonstrate that the claim of “settled science” and an overwhelming “consensus” in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climate damage is wrong. No such consensus or settled science exists. As indicated by the petition text and signatory list, a very large number of American scientists reject this hypothesis.
It is evident that 31,072 Americans with university degrees in science – including 9,021 PhDs, are not “a few.” Moreover, from the clear and strong petition statement that they have signed, it is evident that these 31,072 American scientists are not “skeptics.”

Khabibullo Ismailovich Abdusamatov- at Pulkovskaya Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the supervisor of the Astrometria project of the Russian section of the International Space Station: “Global warming results not from the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but from an unusually high level of solar radiation and a lengthy – almost throughout the last century – growth in its intensity.” (Russian News & Information Agency, Jan. 15, 2007

Sallie Baliunas – “[T]he recent warming trend in the surface temperature record cannot be caused by the increase of human-made greenhouse gases in the air.” In 2003 Baliunas and Soon wrote that “there is no reliable evidence for increased severity or frequency of storms, droughts, or floods that can be related to the air’s increased greenhouse gas content.”

William M. Gray – professor of atmospheric science and meteorologist, Colorado State University ,”This small warming is likely a result of the natural alterations in global ocean currents which are driven by ocean salinity variations. Ocean circulation variations are as yet little understood. Human kind has little or nothing to do with the recent temperature changes. We are not that influential.” (BBC News, 16 Nov 2000 “I am of the opinion that [global warming] is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people.” (Washington Post, May 28, 2006 “So many people have a vested interest in this global-warming thing-all these big labs and research and stuff. The idea is to frighten the public, to get money to study it more.” (Discover, vol. 26 no. 9, September 2005) )

Marcel Leroux former Professor of Climatology, Université Jean Moulin “The possible causes, then, of climate change are: well-established orbital parameters on the palaeoclimatic scale, … solar activity, …; volcanism …; and far at the rear, the greenhouse effect, and in particular that caused by water vapor, the extent of its influence being unknown. These factors are working together all the time, and it seems difficult to unravel the relative importance of their respective influences upon climatic evolution. Equally, it is tendentious to highlight the anthropic factor, which is, clearly, the least credible among all those previously mentioned.” (M. Leroux, Global Warming – Myth or Reality?, 2005, p. 120 ) )

Fred Singer ,Professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia “The greenhouse effect is real. However, the effect is minute, insignificant, and very difficult to detect.” (Christian Science Monitor ,April 22, 2005) “The Earth currently is experiencing a warming trend, but there is scientific evidence that human activities have little to do with it.”, NCPA Study No. 279, Sep. 2005 . . “It’s not automatically true that warming is bad, I happen to believe that warming is good, and so do many economists.” (CBC’s Denial machine @ 19:23 – Google Video Link ) – Google Video Link )

Thank you for the priviledge of commenting on your space on your blog,

Moderator
Theperegrin.com

2. Peregrin - January 14, 2009

btw-

sp- Machievalian

One should never type on allergy medicine.

3. greenfyre - January 16, 2009

Jamie

Thank you for the kind comment. Two things to note:

i) It’s actually Michael Asher, not David
ii) Peter Sinclair has done a nice video debunking of Asher as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0xqn_dG8ok

Mike aka greenfyre


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