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Global Warming Debunker Debunked 676

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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  • 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 [] 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:Slashdot position (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:36PM (#16843308)
    Wrong. There *is* scientific consensus, their is just not media or lay-person consensus. Also, there was not one scientific article claiming global cooling, again, that was the media. Get your sources straight and don't waste your time with sources that are not knowledgable in the domain.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:4, Informative)

    by MyNymWasTaken ( 879908 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:36PM (#16843312)
    By your own statistics, we will double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere in less than 100 years. That is not a negligible point.

    CO2 provides the most climate forcing due to its chemical properties and relative bulk in the atmosphere. To forestall the atmospheric H2O canard - H2O is a more powerful GHG, but it only maintains the current temperature. It is not a forcing agent because it cycles too fast. H2O cycles in 14 days. CO2 cycles in ~150 years.

    The comment about rain scrubbing is utterly nonsensical. It shows no time component and is irrelevant because rain doesn't fall evenly over every square meter of the planet.
  • 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)
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:44PM (#16843478) Homepage Journal
    >Effect, not cause.

    Both. One of the reasons we need computer models. Especially since warmer climates speed up some processes that *absorb* CO2 as well as speeding up processes that release CO2.

    CO2's causal role is simple phsyics. The numbers on feedback have been hard to pin down. But there's not any question that *other things being equal* more CO2 means a warmer planet on average.

    >Humans are unlikely to be the cause:

    We are, indeed, responsible for only a small percentage of the CO2 in the atmosphere. The amount that was there before we started is responsible for keeping the oceans from freezing. A small change to that large an effect is worth thinking about.
  • Re:Slashdot position (Score:2, Informative)

    by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:46PM (#16843508)
    Wrong, there is not scientific consensus, and yes, most scientists were claiming global cooling, based on the temperature drop that occurred from the 1940s to the 1970s. They predicted natural disaster by the 1980s and a "new Ice Age."

    Please, do your research before making yourself look uninformed. This is a serious debate that requires knowing all the facts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:51PM (#16843616)

    His basic attitude, it seems to me, is that most people are children who have to be ordered about by an all-knowing government. Just the sort of thing one expects from a European intellectual.

    It wasn't that long ago that Bush was claiming that he knew for certin that Iraq had WMD (based on secret evidence that the people could not be allowed to see) and that people should be properly obedient and do what he wanted without question and attack Iraq. Just the sort of thing one expects from an American anti-intellectual.

  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:5, Informative)

    by MyNymWasTaken ( 879908 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:52PM (#16843624)
    A 22.5% increase over 2 centuries, 19.4% in 45 years, is a small percentage?

    [ [] ]
    An atmospheric CO2 record for the past 200 years was obtained from the
    Siple Station ice core.
    Neftel et al. (1985) concluded that the atmospheric CO2 concentration
    ca. 1750 was 280±5 parts per million by volume (ppmv) and that it
    increased by 22.5% to 345 ppmv in 1984 essentially because of human

    [ [] ]
    The Mauna Loa record shows a 19.4% increase in the mean annual
    concentration, from 315.98 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of dry
    air in 1959 to 377.38 ppmv in 2004.
  • 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 @04:57PM (#16843714)
    Global warming has nothing to do with increases in UV radiation. It is caused by greenhouse gases trapping infrared radiation from the earth. You're confusing it with the ozone hole. Although, you were possibly trolling.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:3, Informative)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:04PM (#16843878) Journal
    Ahh, fine poppycock you're spouting there. Have you ever worked in a lab with solutions in equilibrium? How about buffer solutions, simple high school chemistry stuff? Or indicator solutions? The effects of 1 mL reagent in 100L solution can indeed be drastic, depending on how much reagent is there already. Do you know for certain that 5.6 kg/m2 isn't the tipping point at which we face drastic climate change? I sure as hell don't, and I'm not sure I want to find out.

    And your figure for rain scrubbing of 800kg/m2? Utter bullshit, on two counts -- 1) CO2 is simply not that soluble in H20 at atmospheric pressures. 2) That CO2 that does get "scrubbed" finds its way back into the air. It's not a one-way reaction, it's a global equilibrium.

    When we add carbon into the cycle, we add atmospheric CO2. Plain and simple. The question is at what point the extra carbon disrupts our welfare to a degree that is unacceptable -- and the answer is based upon the magnitude of the effects and our tolerance for the effects. We're constantly learning more about the magnitude of the change, but our tolerance to change will be in debate as long as humans exist.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:3, Informative)

    by jguthrie ( 57467 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:26PM (#16844246)
    Science is not about consensus (which is a political thing) nor is it about an appeal to authority (which is a religious thing) but about data and the conclusions that can be drawn from that data. Now, I'll admit that the gp botched the argument, but at least he's talking about data and conclusions that can be drawn from them and not saying that we should believe in anthropogenic global warming because everybody whose opinion matters believes in it.

    What causes the higher carbon dioxide pressure in warm beer than in cold beer is the fact that gasses generally dissolve more poorly in warm liquids than in cold ones. (I think they covered that in the chemistry course I had my third year of high school.) Since a great deal of carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans, the ocean's surface temperature will affect the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

  • by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:46PM (#16844582) Homepage
    Has anyone measured CO2 levels on mars and venus? So far the only proof we have that co2 is linked to global warming is that any time in the past when temperatures have gone up, so has CO2. How can we prove which one is the cause, and which one a symptom? And if we can't even prove that, how in the world can we possibly expect to determine exactly how much effect CO2 has on temperature?

    With regards to Mars, the following pages (among many others) contain info about the exact makeup of the Mars atmosphere: [] xide.html [] []

    This would suggest that such measurements have been made.

    I'm pretty sure this is true for Venus as well.

  • Re:Slashdot position (Score:3, Informative)

    by Graham Clark ( 11925 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:52PM (#16844670)
    As long as you mean "consensus" then no, it doesn't depend. Having a scientific consensus does not mean that every last scientist agrees - only that the broad mass of scientists agree. And on this issue, there is consensus. A very large majority of climatologists agree that human emissions are increasingly causing climate change.

    Pointing out one, or ten, dissenters from the consensus does not prove the consensus doesn't exist.
  • by syphax ( 189065 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:58PM (#16844754) Journal
    ... which brings us back here. []

    Man is causing the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. I don't know of any alternative hypotheses that come close to fitting the data. There are large carbon natural fluxes and we've tipped the balance.

    OK, climate sensitivity is something worth talking about. I'll bet you my house the sensitivity is closer to 5 degrees than .005 degrees if we go 3x baseline CO2 (closer on a log scale that is). If we could gain high confidence that the impact would be more like .005 degrees than yeah, you can rest your case, but we aren't exactly there yet. Of course, we'd still have to worry about acidification of the oceans (guess where a lot of the excess CO2 goes [CO2 + H2 = HCO3- + H+]), but that's another story.

    So, to recap:

    Increased CO2 concentrations: Our fault. I'll bet my wife and 1st born.
    Increased CO2 concentration leads to higher temperatures: Yup. I'll throw in kids 2 and 3.
    Climate sensitivity to 3x CO2 is Y degrees: There's pretty good science here, but there's room to haggle. I'll throw in my two cars and road bike that we need to be worried.
    Impact of the sun: Obviously a factor, but if there's a smoking gun tying temperature to solar output this century, I sure haven't seen it. Here's a RealClimate article [] on the subject.
    Ocean acidification: Definitely happening; this is basic chemistry. Severity of impact not well known, but think "Alka Seltzer'

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:01PM (#16844802)
    OK - this is getting easier and easier, since more and more people have extensively answered your questions before.

    1) This is why people prefer global climate change rather than global warming, because it gives people who read only headlines the wrong idea. What that article refers to is thermohaline inversion and the stopping of the Atlantic conveyor belt, which is responsible for a good chunk of the nice coastal temperatures in Europe. For more details, and just because I can, I'll point you to alink [] that is in the same article you just quoted.

    2) The Clean Air act is supposedly responsible for this nice little event. As for whether this would be able to affect the global climate in the level that we're seeing it, I'll refer you to this link.

    3) Nice little effort at cherry-picking your events. For an actual event, you can go to Greenland and see how their farming efforts are a little easier now. However, the bad events far outweigh any positives we've gotten so far, primarily because it takes time to profit from change. Until we learn to take advantage of what Global Climate Change can do for us, we'll have seniors dying in droves from heat waves, pipelines and houses buckling due to vanishing permafrost and crops dying in areas that are getting too hot for comfort.

    4) Since this is the same exact point as in 2) (complete with link to article that has the same quote), I'll refer you to the link I posted there. Besides, that article is a complete light weight when it comes to determining how much more light has reached the earth, its causes (which, btw, include reduced albedo, which is a side-effect of Global Climate Change) or its impact on what we're seeing.

    Try again.

  • by jnaujok ( 804613 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:03PM (#16844834) Homepage Journal
    Sigh, done this one before.

    Throughout history, CO2 levels have always lagged behind temperature increases. Even RealClimate admits it [].

    A major component of this is that climbing temperatures release large amounts of CO2 locked in the permafrosts. 006-09-06-permafrost-warming_x.htm []

    So there, in two links, are strong evidence that CO2 change could be a result of temperature change and not vice-versa.

    Now I await the flames... let me guess the order:
    1. Someone will argue that the RealClimate article says that CO2 lag is only at the start of interglacials, and the rest of the time it is the driving force of climate change. This ignores the fact that they never explain a mechanism for this reversal, or explain how it isn't a continuous feedback process that results in run-away greenhouse. Nor do they explain how a constantly climbing amount of CO2 suddenly causes the next ice age...
    2. Someone will argue that the second article comes from USA Today, hardly a credible source, without bothering to spend two minutes with Google rmafrost [] finding the dozens of scientific papers.
    3. Someone will claim I work for the oil companies (I don't.)
    4. My post will be modded down as -1 Flamebait to make sure no one reads it.

    Like I said, I've done this before.
  • cause and effect. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:12PM (#16844966)
    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. Saying "there might be something else" is true, and facile, and has been explored heavily for decades.

    If we had climate scientists 10,000 years ago with modern scientific understanding and observations we'd also be able to attribute climate change then to specific causal factors.

    Answer is that no explanation which excludes major human-induced greenhouse warming is compatible with known physics and current observations.

    Obviously there is a natural cycle of some sort relating to astrophysical parameters, and there are other effects in geological time due to volcanism. But the Earth has not magically changed its axis and violated angular momentum since the advent of industrial civilization, nor has global volcanism simultaneously gone haywire. Those are measured facts.

    As to the "circumstantiality" of the proof: direct measurements of infrared emissions from the upper atmosphere (the causal source of the greenhouse effect) have been taken for decades by aircraft, balloons and satellites, simultaneously with samples of the chemical composition of such atmosphere. The result is that the increase in IR flux has been observed and correlates exactly with the significant change in atmospheric composition (due to human activity) and known laboratory-verified facts about the scattering cross sections of molecules. This is the forcing term from the greenhouse effect, and it has changed on human timescale.

    It is really impossible by the laws of physics for the climate not to change as a consequence.

    And this is but one small piece of the evidence.
  • 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 [] for a breakdown of some of his side-stepping and double dealing. Or even better try [] 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.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:3, Informative)

    by syphax ( 189065 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:34PM (#16845288) Journal

    The oceans are not saturated with CO2, buddy. The oceans were roughly at equilibrium with the atmosphere before atmospheric CO2 increased. The driving force is into the ocean. People actually measure this stuff. Find me valid research that shows a global (not regional- global) net flux of CO2 from the ocean to the atmosphere and I'll buy you beer for a year.

    Here's a decent page [] at NASA:
    Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the annual uptake and release of carbon dioxide by the land and the ocean had been on average just about balanced. In more recent history, atmospheric concentrations have increased by 80 ppm (parts per million) over the past 150 years. However, only about half of the carbon released through fossil fuel combustion in this time has remained in the atmosphere, the rest being sequestered the ocean

    Evidence for solar output as a driver for current warming is weak (but at least plausible). Please stop the idle speculation; there is a rich body of knowledge here.

    I did write my M.S. thesis on oceanic carbonate chemistry, so you'll have to do better than 'If water gets warmer, it absorbs less CO2.'. Yes, solubility decreases with temperature, but that's a completely irrelevant factoid.

  • by syphax ( 189065 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:54PM (#16845576) Journal
    AARGHHH. There is a TON of research on this stuff. Readers of ./: I know how this place works (post before thinking), but this is ridiculous. Why speculate when basic facts are a Google away? Start here. []
  • 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 []

  • by dircha ( 893383 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @09:32PM (#16847246)
    " 4 /161152.shtml"

    LOL! This is too good. To refute claims of scientific consensus, you refer us to an article on "Well it depends on what you mean by 'consensus'". Just like the meaning of "is"? Or is this different?

    Do you people modding this guy up know what NEWSMAX is? It is an online conservative news re-publishing magazine.

    When I clicked through the ad on the right said "Conservative T-shirts" picturing a T-shirt reading "Hippies Smell". God, this has scientific, scholarly research written all over it!

    There were an additional 11 ads lined up along the left column. And a further 6 ads on the bottom of the page.

    The linked article is actually an article from (it says so at the top of the article). claims:

    "Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets "

    And further:
    "The Cybercast News Service was launched on June 16, 1998 as a news source for individuals, news organizations and broadcasters who put a higher premium on balance than spin and seek news that's ignored or under-reported as a result of media bias by omission."

    LOL. The Slashdot mods are being duped by the online equivalent of FOX "News".
  • by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @11:09PM (#16847926)
    Well done, Citizen 2short! Was anyone keeping record of the ACTUAL temperature back then?

    The individual who raised that question has obviously never heard of dendochronology [] nor paleoclimatology []. Science is about elucidating reality to the nimrods....

  • Re:Moo (Score:3, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:02AM (#16848304) Journal
    Interesting you call the argument for AGW a religion, yet you use other peoples discredited objections to support the argument against it, further more you don't even link to anything that would proffess to support your "religion".

    I will give you a hand in the link department. You will find all the myths you quoted debunked here []. Also you will find the novelist Crichton is in a state of confusion [] over most things scientific. Lastly the predictions quoted in the origial article and credited to Hannsen are bald faced lies, if you want an accurate prediction that has come true (so far) go back and study at the "most likely" extrapolations of the original "hockey stick" graph by Mann (published in the early 80's and widely available on the net).
  • Re:Moo (Score:3, Informative)

    by kwiqsilver ( 585008 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:35PM (#16891806)
    We really hold the planet in spite; this is all about our agenda to turn the world into a UN-run communist authoritarian dictatorship where businessmen are hunted for sport.
    Find one "environmental" group that doesn't support increasingly centralized government.

    We hold the vast majority of the world's "scientists" in our sway with large payouts
    Yes, I know, the system in question is the government grant system. If your research doesn't support the party line on the issue of the day, then you don't get funding. Thousands of scientists worldwide who doubt the hockey stick theory have been unable to get funding from their respective governments.

    Worry not -- you shall not live to see the day. After we confiscate everyone's guns, the blue helmets will make sure that you who know the truth are the first against the wall.
    So you're implying I'm a kook, because I don't want the world to be taken over by a world government? Most members of the UN are dictatorships where the rights to free speech, a free press, to own firearms, and a fair trial are unheard of. Most members are autocratic kleptocracies where the rulers live like kings (or literally are kings) at the expense of the people. And I'm a kook, because I don't want people like that being able to force policy on me? Apparently people who love freedom are a rare breed.

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