Wednesday, December 21, 2016

No climate science evidence needed

Here is the current Rationally Speaking podcast:
Over the last two decades, the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) movement has transformed medical science, pushing doctors to rely less on intuition or "common wisdom" in choosing treatments, and more on evidence from studies. Sounds great -- but has EBM become a victim of its own success? This episode features John Ioannidis, Stanford professor of medicine, health and policy, and statistics, and author of the famous paper, "Why Most Published Research Findings are False." John and Julia discuss how EBM has been "hijacked," by whom, and what do do about it.
Ioannidis makes a lot of great points about the fallibility of research papers in medicine and social sciences, but he loses me with this:
There's some things in science that we're very, very close to 100% certain about them. It's like 99.999% — like climate change and the fact that humans are making a difference in that regard, or smoking is killing people. It will kill a billion people in the next century unless we do something.

It's 99.999%. I think that it makes a huge difference, compared to pseudoscience claims that are “100% correct” and there's no way that you can reach a different conclusion, in that we're always open to evidence, and open to understanding what that evidence means.

I don't think we need more evidence about smoking and about climate change. I think that we've had enough.
Really? No need for more evidence?

I get worried when our most extreme skeptics refuse to be skeptical about some things. Even assuming that humans are making a difference in the climate (which is probably correct), we need a lot more evidence before we can adopt reasonable policies. We need more smoking evidence also. This opinion is strange.


  1. Roger,
    I was taught that you should always be aware of the view you are opposing, know your own argument, but also know the argument of those you disagree with. When I ask my 'Global warming/change' advocating friends what the weakness of their argument is, they have no idea or don't believe there is any weakness to their position. When I ask them for a single argument of the other side of the spectrum of why some might think anthropogenic global warming (AGW )is not be determined by man made CO2, at least in any way that can be measured against natural variation I get blank stares and the mantra "98% of scientists agree on ..." (which both false and completely irrelevant) followed by some variation of "you are a science denier",(the word is 'skeptic', not denier, and science is actually full of them) followed by 'well, they all must work for the oil companies if they disagree with AGW', while not being able to name a single scientist that actually does disagree with AGW, much less who funds their research.
    If I mention we still don't actually know what causes ice ages, that ice core samples all indicate that carbon dioxide levels follow temperature change, they don't lead it)and that it has been both warmer in the MWP (medieval warming period)and colder in the LIA (little ice age) than now, I get the frightened deer in the headlights look. I also get the 'well nobody smart can deny...etc', which only tells me they have never really looked into the matter and are just parroting talking points.

  2. That's right. There is rock-solid science behind some of the climate science, but the overall evidence for the policy recommendation very much weaker than what the AGW proponents admit.

  3. As I write this, Michael E. Mann (aka. Mr. Hockey Stick Graph) tweets:

    As I have noted before, the problem w/ climate discourse isn't "information deficit". It's "disinformation surplus"

  4. There is some rock solid science behind climate science? Well, if adjusting climate records repetitively without full disclosure (NASA), Fabricating results and using phony proxy data (Michael Mann), or trying to destroy email records and manipulate peer review to reflect political bias as well as hiding from FOIA requests (Climategate and the University of East Anglia, UVA, and Penn State)goes for rock solid, you have a great deal to be uneasy about.
    I carefully note that most of what goes for 'climate science' falls under:
    1. We need more money to study what we claim to fully understand, but can't really demonstrate, nor provide any solid numbers for. Show me an actual number for how much carbon dioxide forces the climate to warm, I dare you.
    2. We need more power over everything that breathes so we can fight climate change by...having even more control over everything that breaths or oxidizes or decomposes...despite having no credible plan to actually do anything that will have any statistical significance that is detectable against natural background variation.
    3.We must establish a world wide government agency to implement said unsaid policies and enforce taxation for the benefit of ...mumble mumble mutter mutter... because SCIENCE!!!

  5. I have wondered this for over a decade, and wonder if anyone here can answer this challenge to the CO2 - AGW theory:

    We need empirical evidence for AGW from CO2, but it's never trotted out except for scary comparisons to Venus and its "runaway greenhouse." But I look at Mars with its similarly 100% (to a first approximiation) atmosphere as being a good proxy for empirical evidence.

    A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that Mars actually has MORE CO2 than does Earth's atmosphere - about 16X as much, with Earth at 400 ppm. With 16X the CO2, shouldn't Mars be a much better retainer of solar heat than Earth? That is, IF CO2 traps heat.

    Spirit and Opportunity gave me the opportunity to test this empirical evidence. Mars has the opportunity to lose heat - at NIGHT. Now, if Mars were to hold its heat at night within 2 or 3 degrees C, then I would be very worried for Earth. Earth at the surface at sea level typically drops 10-20 C overnight. Mars has a comparable night length - only about 19 minutes longer. So I checked the data from the MER rovers. It's available easily from the website. The results?

    It turns out that Mars typically drops 80-90 C overnight! Wow. All that extra CO2 does NOT hold in the heat! On the other hand, looking at Venus with its THICK CO2 atmosphere, one sees two things: a very high temperature... and also very little variation from day to night (months long on Venus).

    So from this calculation, using planetary empirical evidence:
    1. CO2 does not trap heat
    2. Thicker atmospheres trap heat better than thinner ones - it seems the content of the atmosphere is irrelevant, at least for solar system examples!

    Maybe someone could point out the flaw in this line of reasoning. :-)

    Dave R

  6. Lab experiments show that CO2 absorbs infrared light (and heat). Fossil fuel power plants are putting CO2 into the atmosphere. That much is rock solid science.

    1. But there is very little agreement amongst researchers about what proportion of increasing planetary CO2 is contributed by man, figures range from 3.5% to 60%+

  7. Roger,
    HOW MUCH CO2 are you talking about? How many parts per million? We know the earths atmosphere has had higher levels of CO2 in the past when it far colder, and far lower amounts when the temperature is higher because of fossil and ice core testing. There is always a lag between temperature change and CO2, with temperature ALWAYS leading, never the CO2, which is always trailing, usually by several hundred years. There has never been a lock step change between CO2 and temperature.
    Here's a simple experiment with heat and carbon dioxide release. Why do we refrigerate soda pop? Besides taste? As the soda pop heats up (unless it is in a pressurized container), it releases the carbon dioxide much faster and goes flat. When the liquid is cold, it can hold far more carbon dioxide, the same is true with the oceans. It goes to follow that if the earth heats up, the oceans will release more carbon dioxide. There is no danger of a run away chain reaction, because had there been such a chain reaction the world would have a very different climatic history than it actually does, and the ice core samples and geologic record would reflect this. In Al Gore's inconvenient truth, the graphs he uses screw with the time lines by moving the carbon dioxide changes to predate the temperature changes, it's basically cooked science, you might watch "The great climate swindle" if you want a good synopsis of what the ice core samples really indicate, Dr. Roy Spencer of NASA actually talks about ice core samples and readings a good deal. There is no historical/geological evidence of run away heating due to carbon dioxide being released in greater amounts due to rising ocean temperatures. As per the ridiculous example of the 'greenhouse' effect (borrowed from speculation about Venus' atmosphere), greenhouses are enclosed glass structures that react very differently to added heat than planetary atmospheres do, for one thing, when you heat a greenhouse up, the pressure increases far more rapidly as the air is contained. Planetary atmospheres are not pressurized enclosed glass boxes. In addition, one volcanic eruption makes fossil fuel emissions over years look rather insignificant in comparison, and the planet has been MUCH more volcanic in the geologic past and yet life somehow flourished, even more so than now with a much higher ppm of CO2. You might also study the progression of how much heat C02 can hold, there are a lot of lab experiments about that too, it does reach a saturation point, and NO it IS NOT linear, it reaches a plateau then has diminishing ability to hold additional heat, which is well known and documented. You might try the website "Watts up with That" if you wish to read about the evidence of this and the strong evidence against CO2 as being a strong driver of 'climate change', whatever that means. Cause and effect are important, screw that up, not much else makes sense.

  8. Maybe I should have said that while CO2 seems to trap some heat, so do other gases, like hydrogen and helium. I think also Jupiter has a similar atmospheric temperature across the day and the night side.

    I agree with CFT, I have also seen that criticism about the cause and effect. It happened in the 1998 el Nino, where there was a boost in Pacific temperture and then CO2 had a big jump... afterwards.

  9. Dave,
    We are also living on a planet covered mostly with water. Water vapor is THE leading greenhouse gas on Earth with many magnitudes the effect as a greenhouse that carbon dioxide ever was. I would love to see the apoplectic 'stop climate change' crowd try to come to terms with that. Maybe they should try to cap and trade water vapor...I'm sure that'll work, they would just have pass legislation to tax the sun and the oceans for...being there.

  10. "I get worried when our most extreme skeptics refuse to be skeptical about some things"

    When that happens, it usually means that they are writing about something that is important to their social or political identity (and in some circles there is no clear distinction between the two). However, I say "usually" rather than "always" because nobody has the time to fully investigate every issue. Of course, the biases introduced by social and political identity will also affect which things people decide are worth investigating and which can be taken for granted.