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Global Warming Debunker Debunked 676

Posted by kdawson
from the you're-getting-warmer dept.
Earlier this month we ran an article linking Christopher Monckton's attempt to discredit global warming. The submitter asked plaintively, "Can anyone out there go through this piece and tell me why it might be wrong?" George Monbiot has now done so. From the article: "This is a dazzling debunking of climate change science. It is also wildly wrong... In keeping with most of the articles about climate change in [the Sunday Telegraph], it is a mixture of cherry-picking, downright misrepresentation, and pseudo-scientific gibberish. But it has the virtue of being incomprehensible to anyone who is not an atmospheric physicist... As for James Hansen, he did not tell the US Congress that temperatures would rise by 0.3C by the end of the past century. He presented three possible scenarios to the US Senate — high, medium, and low. Both the high and low scenarios, he explained, were unlikely to materialise. The middle one was 'the most plausible.' As it happens, the middle scenario was almost exactly right. He did not claim, under any scenario, that sea levels would rise by several feet by 2000." And on the political front, the only major ally for Pres. Bush's stand on global warming, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, is now willing to look at carbon trading.
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Global Warming Debunker Debunked

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  • Moo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chacham (981) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:27PM (#16843146) Homepage Journal
    It's amazing how many monikers this "debunker uses". "cock-a-hoop", "cherry-picking, downright misrepresentation and pseudo-scientific gibberish." And while the original article mentioned sources and showed the numbers he was talking about, this article just keeps saying how the first was incorrect, and how others have proven this or disproven that. However, the details are not found there.

    This is just pandering to those who want thim to respond. But there's really nothing to see here if you don't like name calling.
  • Repair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gt_mattex (1016103) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:34PM (#16843264)

    Now, I'm not a 'professional' scientist however I do take interest in such matters, I was wondering if anyone has any information on what it would realistically take to begin to reverse the damage.

    How do we make any significant progress to undo what we have already done?

  • no no no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by misanthrope101 (253915) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:34PM (#16843268)
    No, we can't predict exactly how much warmer it will be, or exactly what the rate of change will be. We don't know exactly how much humans contribute to this anyway. Until we know absolutely everything, we might as well do absolutely nothing. Just because all of our lab experiments lead to the conclusion that carbon dioxide makes warming worse, and we pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment, we should still do nothing. Humans changing our habits wouldn't fix all the problems, everywhere, forever, so we should still do nothing.

    I really think almost all of these questions end up as what I call side of the room questions. People line up via their political orientation, and they end up on the side of the room with Michael Moore and Al Gore, or Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. You might not like everything about the people on your side of the room, but if you find the other side of the room more unpalatable, you shut up and live with your reservations. The polarized nature of politics makes you at least act as if you buy into everything from your side of the room--if you vacillate (waffle!) you might embolden the other side of the room. Aaargh! So smart people end up believing stupid stuff, just so they don't have to stand on the same side of the room as Michael Moore (or Anne Coulter, depending on your aversion). And no, I'm not exempting myself from this. I find Michael Moore's stuff smarmy and irritating, but I'd do some serious soul-searching if I ended up on the same side of the room as Anne Coulter.

  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:35PM (#16843280)
    So... If you inventory of 5.4kg/m2 is correct, then how can the rain scrub 800 kg/m2? Where does the other 794.6kg/m2 come from?

    I'm not trying to be a troll - I'm just asking...
  • by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:43PM (#16843458) Homepage
    Maybe so, but Monbiot is also a masterful spinner of information - his books are intentionally written to appeal to the downtrodden masses to increase sales volume. Any piece, PERIOD, by Monbiot is suspect because he doesn't bother with things called "logic" or "the scientific method."

    No idea about him and the scientific method, but he definitely bothers with logic in this article..

    Any discussion on this piece is a waste of time. Please see the appropriate peer-reviewed articles in the appropriate scientific journals and/or conferences for a proper discussion of the facts on global warming.

    Interestingly enough, the fact that the 'climate change debunking' article was not published in such a form is one of the main complaints from Monbiot, so you may find yourself in agreement with him on where to look for good information on this.

    But hey, this is slashdot, so why bother to read the article before commenting..
  • by thelost (808451) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:45PM (#16843486) Journal
    there's a very simple reason people disbelieve global warming - their conscience. To keep it clean they turn their head and look away and it sickens me.

    It's the same kind of logic that keeps people smoking when they know exactly what it is doing to them. They simply don't want to think about what is happening so they ignore it - it's the elephant in the middle of the room.

    plus, as many people here have said climate science is one of the most tainted - my fingers personally are pointed at the oil businesses and their sister companies the Governments.

    As Al Gore said, this is a moral issue. Whose side are you on?
  • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:46PM (#16843512) Homepage
    and I think you begin to notice that in -this- way GWB is reflecting the will of the American peoples.

    There is no set of eco-friendly economic or political rules where the balance of power shifts away from the U.S. that will ever be adopted. For example, when the world starts trading polution credits, a country with rich forests pumping out oxygen won't suddenly become an economic superpower.

    Every developing nation with some "fire in the belly" is going to laugh at the foolish american who has no choice but to acknowledge that we have pillaged huge amounts of natural resources and continue to pollute with reckless abandon on our way to global dominance. So why can't they? Well, they can and they will.

    I'm all for a less polluted planet, but I don't see how it happens. I see lots of little nature preserves acting like ecological museums or zoos without cages making us feel better. (Yosemite anyone?) But that's about it.

  • by ccarson (562931) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:47PM (#16843522)
    I've been following global warming for a long time now doing a lot research on the side for the last couple of years. Here are some facts about global warming. Some of which you hear and don't hear from the main stream media: 1.) The world appears to be getting warmer with many computer models showing an increase in global temperature. 2.) Tying a trend to warmer temperatures based on older data from the early 1900's is suspect at best. Good, reliable, accurate scientific equipment that measures the temperature wasn't readily available until recently (late 1900's). 3.) Apparently, the Earth magnetic field has decreased by 10% in the last 150 years (source: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/earth_magnet ic_031212.html [space.com]). I'm an electrical engineer and during my studies in particle physics, I learned that a particles velocity can be affected by magnetic fields. I keep hearing about the increased activity of our Sun and believe it's possible that more of the Sun's radiation is penetrating the Earth's magnetic field due to it being weaker. If more radiation hits the Earth and the Sun is spewing out more heat, shouldn't that also increase the overall temperature of the Earth and can global warming be attributed to this? 4.) Jupitor is experiencing the same climate change that Earth is. (source: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060504_red_j [space.com] r.html [space.com]) 5.) Mars is experiencing the same climate change that Earth is. (source: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/ [space.com] mars_snow_011206-1.html and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/new s/news.html?in_article_id=410901&in_page_id=1770 [dailymail.co.uk]) How can you explain the recent same climate changes on different planets? I doubt it's all those cars being driven there. Is it possible that the warmer temperatures that Earth is experiencing are caused by cyclical natural phenomena? What about glaciers in Greenland that have been shrinking for 100 years (source: http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/08/21/060821191 [breitbart.com] 826.o0mynclv.html [breitbart.com])? Also, how do you explain huge ice ages on Earth? Were thse caused by huge carbon emissions or was it a small natural climate cycle that just happens? Were those climate changes, which are no doubt more extreme than what's going on now, caused by the combustion engine?
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:50PM (#16843586)
    When I was a kid, the highest SPF suntan lotion you could buy was SPF 8.
    I was told: "Higher than that you'd be crazy"

    Today I see SPF 50 on the shelves and nothing below SPF 16.

    Maybe once I see SPF 1000 we'll finally know what is the cause of Global warming.

    Until then we should still cut back on any emissions that would make things worse in terms of climate change, REGARDLESS OF the real cause.

    While we're at it cut back,..err, cut out polution of ANY kind. I have to dump my AA batteries in the garbage because they wont recycle that but they'll gladly polute the air and water to recycle my newspaper which can rot by itself anywhere.
  • Re:Slashdot position (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Glock27 (446276) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:52PM (#16843628)
    Wrong. There *is* scientific consensus, their is just not media or lay-person consensus.

    Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by "consensus". Certainly not all qualified scientists believe "human caused global warming" is a dominant factor in current climate change. You might check this 2002 article (for instance):

    http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/5/14 /161152.shtml [newsmax.com]

    The one tangible thing that's been done to try and address global warming is the Kyoto Protocol. It is quite flawed, though, in that it gives exemptions to the countries which are most likely to be big polluters in coming decades. It would also impose economic penalties on countries like the US which are already doing quite a lot to reduce their environmental impact.

    If /.ers want to rally around a single approach that would be beneficial not just to human related global warming if it exists, but also to energy independence and reduced pollution, do whatever you can to advocate constructing new nuclear reactors here in the US. That is the single best thing we could do at this point.

    Those who can plug in hybrids or electric cars to charge would then be running nuclear powered vehicles...sweet! :-)

  • Re:Repair (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:52PM (#16843632) Homepage Journal

    We just need to learn how to breath in carbon dioxide, and exhale oxygen. This would not only help with global warming, but if this is something we can do on demand, it will help tremendously in the field of Scuba diving.

    If I sound flippant, it's because I'm not really sure there is an answer any more. Many climatologists appear to believe we've already gone too far, we could have done something about it ten years ago, but we've squandered the opportunities that were available to us. And suppose someone comes up with an astonishingly good way of sucking huge amounts of CO2 out of the air before it's too late (such as the various proposals involving algae), isn't the fact a "quick fix" was available likely to undermine efforts to be responsible in terms of our planet management in the future?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16843848)
    I have said this before and may yet say it again. Monckton is a professional level wind up merchant. While at Cambridge he spent a lot of time trying to get publicity by writing stuff which he did not in fact believe for one moment. He despises the middle classes and likes to mock their preoccupations. He would like to be P J O'Rourke except that he sees himself as an upper class Roman Catholic, and so O'Rourke, as an American Irish Catholic, is too lower class. I am quite sure that he is well aware of exactly where in his article he has carefully presented only one side of the argument - he comes from a family of lawyers, and it is through very special legal services that his family got the peerage.

    To be fair, part of the reason for his behaviour is a long standing medical problem. I wouldn't mention this if it were not for the fact that Wikipedia has seen fit to publish it.

  • Re:Slashdot position (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:07PM (#16843940)

    Took me all of 10 seconds to find the Wikipedia entry on global cooling [wikipedia.org].

    At a conference on climate change held in Boulder, Colorado in 1965, evidence supporting Milankovitch cycles triggered speculation on how the calculated small changes in sunlight might somehow trigger ice ages. In 1966 Cesare Emiliani predicted that "a new glaciation will begin within a few thousand years."
    Apparently there was some formal support, though it was apparently more popular in the media than it was with the scientific community (gee, why in the world does that sound familiar...?) What I find particularly amusing is the apologetic tone of the article. It's obviously trying to make the case that nobody worth anything ever seriously thought that global cooling was a possibility. The article actually uses some of the same arguments (lack of data, local min/max vs. overall change in global temperature, etc.) that global warming skeptics use in order to demonstrate that real thinking scientists back in the 70's didn't hold with any of this environmental change nonsense. Priceless.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:33PM (#16844374)
    Newsflash: Methodology is EVERYTHING in science. If your methodology is bad, your data is less than bad - it is misleading. Hence why so much revolves around whether people followed proper methodology when presenting their data.

    The reason that the "save the rainforests" is quieter now is because people are actually doing something about it.

    Finally, this entire "you have to present both sides of a story" has to stop. Now. This is not a game show where you get to choose which door to open. There is a public debate on an important topic, and that debate needs to happen in public. That's true. However, debating something in public does not mean that you simply pick a side you like and then clamor that everyone needs to listen to you "because all sides need to be heard". It means debating the theory, the data, the methodology, investigating problems and striving towards finding the most reasonable answer or theory. Granted, most news stories don't get this either, but that doesn't mean that we can't tell them to stop being idiots about the way they present science debates.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:52PM (#16844662) Homepage

    What is causing it, however, is another matter... some say there is proof that humans are causing it, others will say it's merely circumstantial.

    The difference is that the people who say that humans are causing it are climate scientists (and have evidence to support the claims), and the others (including this guy in the frickin telegraph) aren't. I guess I tend to believe scientists who've actually been educated on this matter rather than a journalist who think's he's real smart.

    It's kind of like the evolution vs creationism argument. The people who claim that evolution is real are scientists (and have evidence to support those claims). The people who claim that it's not aren't scientists (or at best aren't scientists who study evolutionary biology), and have no real evidence that evolution doesn't exist.

    The point being that if you're going to judge anything based on "some people think this, others think that", you'll never reach any conclusions since there's ALWAYS some nut who's not honestly looking at the data, misunderstands something, or is just a plain old liar. Right now there's a bunch of dangerous nutjobs who claim HIV doesn't cause AIDS.

    I'm sure if you looked hard enough you could find some people that don't believe in heliocentric theory (that is the earth and planets revolving around the sun) that could contruct some complicated arguments against it that most people don't understand, but at the same time sound convincing. Does that mean that helio-centric theory is wrong? No, it just means that science often requires extra knowledge to understand it.
  • I believe it's *immoral* to possibly make a large number of the population unemployed to rush in so-called "solutions" that may have absolutely no affect to the environment, but will have a large affect on the economy. There's a reason why when the Byrd-Hagel resolution for that the US shouldn't vote for the Kyoto treaty as written, the Kyoto treaty didn't get a single negative vote against it, not one (95-0), really if it's that good, or even partly good you'd think someone would have wanted it....
  • by irenaeous (898337) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:12PM (#16844978) Journal

    How?

    By destroying the credibility of the Monckton article in several of its major assertions, it makes any claim by Monckton suspect. This is basic skepticism 101.

    Do you remember the principle, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?" The Monckton article is at the extraordinary end of the scale because he is a journalist making claims that run contrary to the consensus of climate scientists. To be credible, his evidence has to be impeccable and virtually irrefutable. Monckton did well for a pseudo-scientist, getting a normally credible, but known to be biased widely read mainstream British newspaper, to print his claims. When I read the original article, I thought to myself that he may have some valid points, and raised some interesting questions. I judged it likely that he was wrong -- the scientific consensus is not easily overturned -- but I was opened minded to his views to some degree. Now that Monboit has shown several of Monckton's claims to be not only wrong, but an egregious misrepresentation of the facts, now I know that he is not credible. His somewhat extraordinary claims have weak or no evidence that we can believe, so his claims should be rejected by reasonable people. In this way Monboit, by answering some major claims convincingly as shown that we can believe nothing really that Monckton says on this issue and has refuted indirectly everything.

    If someone else has a separate claim regarding some particulars that were mention in Monckton's original article, then they will have to show some somewhat extraordinary evidence for that claim, and to give us some good reasons to listen to them. It is not up to the rest of us to refute any more of Monckton's claims. He credibility is shot. Nor is there any need to congratulate him or give him further attention.

  • Re:no no no (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Moofie (22272) <leeNO@SPAMringofsaturn.com> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:13PM (#16845000) Homepage
    Nope. Sorry. I'll be right here in the middle until I see convincing evidence to move me. I am absolutely convinced of one thing: Anybody who thinks that this is a binary choice is too stupid to be making the choice.

    I do what I can do to minimize my impact on the environment. I live in a modest house, close to work. I ride the bus. I buy green energy. I also happen to think that mankind's ability to effect the climate is very, very small. I will not, repeat, WILL NOT, be bullied into your ideological simplifications.
  • by cca93014 (466820) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:48PM (#16845460) Homepage
    And what do you think is going to happen to the unemployment figures if the earth warms by 5 degrees and sea levels rise by a factor of meters?
  • name calling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @08:38PM (#16846784)

    Of course the anti-capitalists (which is the true goal of the so-called environmental movement) would never present a low probability wild guess based on intentionally falsified data (such as the "hockey stick") as fact...oh wait...that's exactly what they did.

    Do you really need to name calling for those who you disagree with? You're doing the same thing as what you accused the grandparent of doing. Fact is is not all environmentalists are anticapitalists, sure some are but not all. I know people who, like me, are both environmentalists and capitalists as well. And more and more companies are getting into the act as well. The book Natural Capitalist [natcap.org] offers a bunch of case studies and such illustrating how businesses have been able to cut expenses by reducing resources and waste. The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) [rmi.org] is a nonprofit that "shows businesses, communities, individuals, and governments how to create more wealth and employment, protect and enhance natural and human capital, increase profit and competitive advantage, and enjoy many other benefits--largely by doing what they do far more efficiently."

    Falcon
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @09:25PM (#16847184)
    Sounds good. But um, the carbon is still there.

    That's because trading is only half the picture. The other half is reducing the units.
    Country A uses 100 units, has 150 units allowance and sells 50 units. Country B uses 300 units, has a 250 unit allowance and buys 50 units.
    Next year, both countries have their allowances reduced by 10% to 135 and 225, giving only 35 units to sell and 75 wanted if neither country reduces emissions. Looking at the overall picture, each year the total pool of surplus units reduces and the demand for it increases, so surplus units become more and more expensive. This provides an incentive for even countries well below quota to reduce emissions since their surplus units are more valuable.

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