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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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by thrillseeker (518224)
      Nice debunking of the debunker's debunking.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:42PM (#16843424) Homepage
      I strongly disagree. The cherry picking answer is key.

      The first article did NOT make an argument. Instead it attempted to convince everyone he was correct by saying how X,Y and Z arguments are false. But there are 100's of arguments for global warming. OF COURSE some of them are false.

      The first article was a poorly thought out piece of crap, because it did NOT do what science must do: present disprovable data. Instead it simply disproved a small portion of other people's arguments.

      That is called Cherry Picking. It is a stupid way to argue, I can use it to prove anything.

      Here: Some people (my 3 year old nephew) claim that Communists killed Jesus. This is patently false, because Jesus was killed and ressurected years before Communism was invented. Others (my 10 year old niece) claim that Communists killed their father. I have here a signed affadaivit that her father is alive and well, and living with a 19 year old stripper in Miami. Finally, some people (my insane neighbor), claim that Communists are poisoning our water supply with fluride, but I have here ten studies, all double blind, showing that Fluride is not harmfull in the quantities placed in our water.

      Therefore Communists do not kill people.

      This is EXACTLY what the first article did. It picked a VERY few articles, that may or may not have been false, and attacked them. This is called Cherry Picking. Such a methodology is foolish and proves nothing.

      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Funny)

        by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:58PM (#16843756)
        Your nephew is an idiot. The Jewish high priests were definitely Capitalists.
      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by greginnj (891863) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:04PM (#16843868) Homepage Journal
        The first article did NOT make an argument. Instead it attempted to convince everyone he was correct by saying how X,Y and Z arguments are false. But there are 100's of arguments for global warming. OF COURSE some of them are false.
        This is a pretty low standard... I believe in global warming. But it's also possible that the arguments for GW are simultaneously 1)true and 2) overhyped. The first article was the least shrill, least tendentious, attempt I have read to present the 'case against'. If we're right about GW, it shouldn't be hard to disprove it, using the same or higher standards of both rhetoric and logic. I notice that TFA didn't say anything specific about the 390x overweighting of bristlecone-pine climate data and its use in erasing the the warm period during the middle ages. I'm willing to believe the original article got it wrong; since science is on our side, it should be easy to explain how.

        Further -- the Monbiot article says that "climate sensitivity is an equilibrium concept" -- meaning that CO2 release precedes its effects by several decades. Nice, but the original (Monckton) article claimed that the problem was that warming preceded CO2 rise, which means Monbiot didn't really rebut him. There are many, many specific claims in the original article (and the linked-to PDF is even more detailed); Monbiot tackles very few of them adequately. Rather than slamming a journalist for lack of sufficient credentials, he should be congratulated for attempting to meet the scientists halfway by speaking their own language, and set right where he needs to be set right. The truth has nothing to fear from polemic.
        • Re:Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rho (6063) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:48PM (#16844606) Homepage Journal

          Nobody says "I believe in gravity." I think Michael Crichton made this point first, but it's still relevant.

          The main problem serious people have about global warming is the reactionary solutions, most of which seem to primarily be a kind of retroactive success-tax on Americans. Example: Kyoto didn't deal with emerging countries who are both 1) ramping up energy use, and 2) aren't saddled with any of the green regulations that 1st world nations put on themselves.

    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:56PM (#16843686)
      You failed to mention that the article he debunked asserted that there was a global conspiracy headed by the UN to promote the concept fo global warming in order to establish a world government. Is that really the domain of serious science? Hmmm?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      George Monbiot always posts his stories in the Guardian to his website [monbiot.com] and they are always cross-referenced against various sources there (where it's feasable to do). Say what you like about him but Monbiot knows what he's doing and has covered a lot of very interesting stories - the usually turn out to be backed up with substance.

      Sensationalist? Yes. Smart? Fuck yes. A "moonbat"? Dumb names tell you more about the people using them than anything else.

  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:31PM (#16843208) Homepage
    If you'd like to run a global climate model (GCM) yourself, you can now do so. The NASA GISS Model II GCM has been ported to run on Mac/Win computers and wrapped in a point-and-click interface. GISS, the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, is the lab that Hansen (mentioned in the summary) runs.

    The EdGCM [columbia.edu] project provides this free GCM wrapped in a GUI. If you want to add CO2 or turn down the sun or whatever, you may now do so with some checkboxes and sliders.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by diersing (679767)
      End result is always extinction; I don't like this game let's play something else.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@nOSPam.lynx.bc.ca> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:33PM (#16843252) Journal

    ... can disbelieve in global warming.

    The earth *IS* getting warmer. This is a fact. Annual temperatures are hotter than they have ever been since we started keeping records, glaciers are drastically smaller than they've ever been in recorded history, and the polar ice caps are shrinking. The earth _IS_ getting warmer, ergo, global warming is real.

    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... that this warming is just part of a natural cycle the earth goes through before another ice age and then a gradual reheating (the latter period being one in which we are currently living).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thelost (808451)
      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
      • by Llywelyn (531070) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:52PM (#16843630) Homepage
        """there's a very simple reason people disbelieve global warming - their conscience."""

        Funny, this is part of the reason that people follow the concept blindly and vehemently, attacking any who attempt to raise even the specter of a rational debate.

        It is a lot easier to believe that we are responsible than it is to believe that we cannot do anything about it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by InsaneGeek (175763)
        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....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2short (466733)
      Over the recent past, the warming has not been "gradual". It appears it has been several orders of magnitude faster than ever before.
      Nobody says there is "proof" humans are causing it. They say a heck of a lot of smart people have tried very hard to come up with an explanation for it, and they've got exactly squat other than the industrial revolution.
      If you've got a realistic explanation for warming rates over the recent past other than human action, I'd love to hear it. But "it's
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      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 evolu
    • cause and effect. (Score:3, Informative)

      by mbkennel (97636)
      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... that this warming is just part of a natural cycle the earth goes through before another ice age and then a gradual reheating (the latter period being one in which we are currently living).

      This isn't good enough.

      If you want to assert a non-human-generated cause you can't just imagine something random might be out there. You need mechanisms and observable facts.
  • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:34PM (#16843262) Journal
    The Debunker who debunked the debunker has been debunked.
  • Repair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gt_mattex (1016103)

    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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      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

    • Re:Repair (Score:4, Informative)

      by flyingdisc (598575) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:51PM (#16846212)
      We it is not repair, but there has been a recent report (the Stern Review) which looks at the economic impacts of acting now or later on climate change. It represents the first attempted at linking economic impacts to the impacts of climate change.


      The report can be found here [hm-treasury.gov.uk]

  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brickwall (985910)
      I agree we can't predict exactly what will happen, or what the rate of change of will be, but that doesn't stop the fools from trying. Here's what Jeremy Siegel, Ph.D., posted on Yahoo's Finance site last week:

      In the last century, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have shot up from 285 parts per million (ppm) to 377 ppm. Historically, carbon dioxide levels had averaged between 180 and 290 ppm. Every 10 ppm increase in CO2 concentration is associated with a half a degree Centigrade increase in temper

    • Re:no no no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Actinide (772269) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:12PM (#16844034)

      As a scientist working in a related field I find this desire to polarise the whole thing utterly exasperating. For whatever reason, mainstream scientific opinion gets lumped on one side of this divide, and the other side is left fixated on fringe opinions from a tiny minority of dissenters on one wing of the science. The media then jump into the fray with their desire for "balance" and give these fringe dwellers equal airtime and column space with the mainstream, in doing so manufacturing a series of debates which are not really there.

      If you want balance, and you want to put the opinions of a handful of scientists on one extreme of the argument into it, then leave the vast majority of us in the middle out of it and go find the same level of extremism on the other side. Those who argue that we're in danger of imminent collapse of both the East Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, or who talk alarmingly of extreme "runaway greenhouse" feedbacks, for instance.

      Alternatively of course you could all just stop fixating on tiny minorities of fringe scientific opinion. There is plenty of genuine debate going on and opportunity for journalistic and political "balance" in covering it - but it is simply no longer over such big picture questions as "is the climate warming now?" or "are human emissions largely responsible for this warming?"


      • There is plenty of genuine debate going on and opportunity for journalistic and political "balance" in covering it

        I've no doubt that journalists could do an excellent job at explaining this (and some do). But that would assume that the majority of journalism and media is about informing people. It's not. The media outlets are very clearly about selling eyeballs. What do you think would sell more eyeballs, an honest discussion about what we really know about global warming (it's happening, it's caused by
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rho (6063)

      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 know this gets brought up all the time, but it's an important point. Just a decade or so ago, we were supposed to act now an

  • The Bush position (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:38PM (#16843352) Homepage Journal
    From the Financial Times, July 7 2006:

      "I recognise the surface of the earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem," he said during a visit to Denmark en route to Gleneagles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:42PM (#16843422)
  • 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.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:52PM (#16843642) Homepage Journal
    The Guardian article said NASA scientist Hansen was wrong in a forecast.

    Well, there's what Hansen said, and there's what got reported. The meta-debunker went back to primary sources and found:

    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. But a climatologist called Patrick Michaels took the graph from Hansen's paper, erased the medium and low scenarios and - in testimony to Congress - presented the high curve as Hansen's prediction for climate change. A memo sent in July from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, a US company whose power is largely supplied by coal, revealed that Michaels has long been funded by electricity companies.
  • 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.

  • Myth (Score:3, Funny)

    by pwntang (902080) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:12PM (#16844044)
    Global warming is a myth. Just like those dinosaur bones.
  • by gstegman (988905) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:23PM (#16844196)
    I would like to see a climate study done by someone who doesn't have an agenda.

    It seems like everyone I see starts with the premise that Global Warming is reaching epic proportions or that it is bullshit. It doesn't seem like anyone is going out there from a neutral point of view.

    It seems like anyone can spin data to prove a point they already have in mind.
  • by Socguy (933973) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:42PM (#16844514)
    The real problem with many of these articles 'debunking' global warming is that they have no real intent to disprove the science behind global warming, rather they have the goal of creating confusion and the appearance of controversy with a net result of inaction and a continuation of the status quo. This is why virtually all 'debunking' publications occur in the mainstream media whereas the actual science continues where it always has, in academia, away from the public eye.

    One can only speculate on the motives of these 'debunkers'. Obviously there are those who profit mightily and so have a powerful interest in the status quo. Next, there are skeptics who will never accept anything, no matter the evidence or risk of inaction. As near as I can tell, their only goal is to drag as many people as possible to their side. Finally, as an Albertan, I see many other people who have been frightened by the economic doom and gloom emanating from certain quarters. These people will not accept Climate change because they see it as an attack on them and their livelihood. They don't want to change how they live so they choose only to believe what will enable them to continue as they are. The first two groups of people can never be convinced so we shouldn't really bother trying, rather we must be mindful of their effects on legitimate debate. The third, and far largest group, can be convinced once they realize that combating climate change is not just a problem but can be an opportunity; an opportunity to reinvent society and unleash innovation! Certainly, once you accept the science behind climate change most rational people must acknowledge a moral imperative to our fellow human beings to combat this issue.
  • by CrankyOldBastard (945508) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:20PM (#16845102)
    John Howard is a very accomplished politician. He's making "climate change" noises now purely to distance himself from the US election results. This is the man who claimed that the Boat People refugees were "throwing their children overboard" even though the military told his people that wasn't true within 24 hours after the alleged event. He continued to support the Children Overboard story for over a month, until after the Federal Election. See http://www.alp.org.au/features/lies.php [alp.org.au] for a breakdown of some of his side-stepping and double dealing. Or even better try http://www.google.com.au/search?q=john+howard+lies [google.com.au] for a wider view.

    John Howard has been using his absolute majority in both Houses to force all sorts of ideologically motivated laws through, regardless of how they may change Australian Culture. He seems to be intent on making us a new state of the USA. He is the person responsible for ensuring that the USA is not alone in its' Kyoto stance. He is responsible for a "Free Trade" agreement which is dismantling our fair-use provisions under copyright, is introducing DMCA legislation, is changing our patents office to be in line with the US model, is diluting our PBS (the Government sponsored sale of pharmaceuticals, all of which must happen before 2010, yet the USA is under no obligations under this agreement until 2022.

    He is responsible for setting up concentration camps for refugees (more precisely, for illegal immigrants who are requesting refugee status). Most of these camps are in the back of beyond. There are children who have liven for most of their lives behind the razor wire, and there is a horrific incidence of mental illness associated with this detention in sub-human conditions.

    Now that public opinion can be shown to be swinging against the US Republican approach to the Middle East and "The War on Terror" he's simply waving an extremely large, colourful and exciting flag (climate change acceptance) to distract people from his complete failure to interface with the Democrats. The news is now that the Democrats are going to demand a US inquiry into the AWB scandal (The AWB, run by Howard's mates, was busted paying hundreds of millions of dollars to Saddam Hussein to get around the trade sanctions, abusing the UN "Oil for Food" program).

    I, along with many other informed Australians, do not believe there is any change of heart in Howard's new "Climate friendly" position. It's all just an attempt at distraction from the real issues.
  • by pavera (320634) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @09:30PM (#16847228) Homepage Journal
    The original article asked for a point by point analysis and evidence that the first article was wrong. This "believer" in global warming throws out a few personal attacks against the original author, and then boldly states that "The medieval warm period is accepted as having not happened" But gives no evidence whatsoever. I was taught about this period all through elementary school (in the early 80's). The leading theory then was it was this warm period that allowed the world to escape the dark ages because less people had to spend 100% of their time subsistence farming.

    Basically this article says "Global warming is happening, accept it" while providing no evidence other than "This guy's an idiot, he doesn't even have a degree". He only tries (very weakly) to debunk one of his claims, that the world has been warmer in the past. A claim which if not confirmed by the warm period of 5-600 years ago, is certainly confirmed in the earth's history. I read an article in Scientific American or National Geographic just last month that conceded this point, stating that the fluctuation of the earth's temperature has a range of 15-20C over the past 3-5 million years. Obviously more than 5 9s of that data is pre-industrial revolution (thus not caused by man). Those articles also plainly laid out that we are at historical lows in both temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

    If this Stefan-Boltzmann equation is designed to model a "black body" how is the UN justifying any modification to this model? What are they basing their alterations on? How do they decide how "non-black" the earth is.

    The only other thing he mentions is Hansen's predictions. Ok, so Hansen had 3 predictions low, middle, high and said it would probably be middle, and it was close to that (.1C). The UN itself had much higher predictions (3C-5C) so why are we supposed to believe the UN now when they say 5C-9C over the next 100 years if its going to be closer to .1C? or even .3C?

    In short, this is a completely typical article to see from global warming believers. They pretty much all go like this "The world is over, if we don't turn off all electrical devices by tomorrow and start riding bikes then global warming will kill us all. If you don't believe this statement you are an idiot!". If you ask global warming advocates for evidence they say things like "The evidence is all around you! Look at the hurricanes! Look how many people died in the heat wave last year!" People die in heat waves every year, the temperature and localized weather events fluctuate wildly. The climate on the whole remains pretty steady, and if anything activity on the Sun is much more likely to change the climate than anything we do.

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