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Comment Pardons (Score 1) 185

As Ford so often consoled himself, accepting a pardon is an admission of guilt. I wouldn't be sure that, if offered, a pardon would be accepted. If it were offered and accepted, I am quite sure that the Republicans would be delighted to hang her in the court of public opinion for being guilty of a felony, pardon or no. Which is not to say that she would not deserve that; I don't think there are many Americans who would for a moment accept electing a known criminal to the Presidency, but her political opponents are ready to seize upon the breath of an indictment, and a pardon would be playing into their hands.

Comment Re:Credibility of Climate Science (Score 1) 322

Hysterical... Is not it wonderful, when one can set his own criteria for success?

Well, it's less silly than arbitrarily declaring what someone else's margin of error is. Especially if you have no idea what "80%" refers to. Relative temperature? Absolute temperature? Heat content in megajoules? Watts per square meter of forcing?

I'm not really terribly concerned with your "format requirements". The data is presented above, and your ignoring it only harms your own position. But let's have you quit dodging around for a minute. What part of the theory of AGW do you think is inaccurate? "The whole thing" would imply, e.g. that CO2 does not absorb IR, that it does not build up in the atmosphere, that the Earth is not warming, and many other things. Given how easy some of these things are to measure, I don't think you're making that argument. If, as I said a minute ago, you can't identify any part of the theory you think is unsound, we are forced to conclude that you think the theory is sound. So what exactly is your disagreement?

Comment Re:Credibility of Climate Science (Score 1) 322

Successful predictions include surface warming and stratospheric cooling coincident with a rise in CO2 levels, and stronger warming effects at the poles. Are you under the misapprehension that producing fine-grained projections of global temperature is the only thing that climate scientists do?

The challenge I put forth asked for correctness of just 80% for any cited prediction

Studies usually already include their error margins. If a prediction comes in within its own error margin, that is a successful test. Surely you don't apply your own arbitrary standards to other physical sciences? As it happens, results within the error margins of prediction are true for Hansen et all (1988), linked previously, for Plass (1956), Arrhenius (linked previously), and most accurately by Sawyer (1972), who managed to get both the magnitude of increased emissions and the resulting temperature increase exactly correct. I apparently wasn't clear when I gave you the temperature predictions earlier for Sawyer, Plass, and Hansen. I assumed that you would be able to find a graph of global temperatures for the 20th Century. Here's a graph for you, which corroborates their findings. I hope it's not too much trouble to be able to look at my previous posts for the numbers.

Also, Arrhenius (1896) and Callendar (30s-40s) were confirmed in the mid-50s with CO2 and temperature measurements. You could also consider Plass and Kaplan (1952) to be confirmation of the previous work on the matter. Also, you will note that Hansen's spacial distribution of the temperature anomaly was very accurate. Looking at graphs in the 1995 IPCC report their prediction (p40) of the warming trend matches the observed warming through to the present quite well.

We see scary predictions published — even on Slashdot — about once a week.

If you're getting your scientific information from the popular press, you're probably being misinformed in some manner. In my experience newspaper articles are rarely peer reviewed, and I don't think I've seen very many cited, or that have citations. As it happens, I believe most of the articles on Slashdot are concerned with weather events and annual records.

does this mean, you admit, no predictions I seek have been made until "just recently"?

What you want isn't actually a test of the science in the way you think it is. Global climate models cannot be used to disprove AGW any more than epidemiological models can be used to disprove the germ theory of disease, and Kerbal Space Program is similarly not a test of relativity. Economists can construct models to show that rapid expansions of the monetary supply cause harmful inflation, and there is empirical evidence to support this idea. Constructing a model to predict the exact effects of the Fed's Quantitative Easing program would be something of a challenge. Failure to model something accurately means that your model is inaccurate, not that the theory is wrong. Are climate models inaccurate? Of course they are! Every model is inaccurate. All of science is inaccurate, it's inherent to empirical observation. The question is to what degree they are useful, and to begin to be able to answer that, I would suggest you start here or here.

A (hopefully) less controversial example might be black holes. We have predicted these objects and modeled them to some degree, but not completely. We observe objects which match the predictions in many ways. Can we model these things completely accurately? No. Can we confirm that the observed object is what we think it is? Not entirely. Does the inability to completely model a black hole mean that relativity is wrong? Of course not. We know relativity is true because of a wide variety of tests and phenomena, and because there is no contradictory evidence.

If you'd care to specify what part of the theory you find insufficiently well supported

I find the entire discipline of "Climate Science" to be insufficiently established for any governmental policy-changes to be based on it

Dodging the question. I have never once suggested that the government should or should not take any action. It is not rational to reject empirical reality because you don't want to be told what to do. Even if I didn't know that having to go on record as disagreeing with any of the theory would spoil your little game, there isn't really a citation to give for all of climate science, any more than you can give one for all of chemistry. However, the latest IPCC report would be a good start -- but I presume you've got a well-developed reflex for avoiding the IPCC reports by now. If you can't identify any part of the theory you take issue with, then we must assume that you support the theory. Again, doing otherwise would not be rational.

My evidence for this is the inability of the discipline's adherents — such as yourself — to cite any successful predictions

Do you really imagine that any scientific discipline can exist for over a hundred years without making any predictions? What do you imagine those people do all day? Also, I completely disclaim any authority or expertise on the subject. If there is an issue with the credibility of the reporting, I concur that you are far better off reading the scientific papers and evaluating their claims yourself. I'm sure you don't need to be spoon-fed all this information, right?

Comment Re:Earth shifts (Score 1) 322

The format is perfectly reasonable — you do not disagree. And yet, despite replying here yet again — and putting a considerable amount of effort in crafting the reply too — you are unable to complete the challenge.

If you are more concerned with formatting than content, that's your own issue. Various studies have predicted warming which has occurred, to the detail specified in their error bounds. Namely, Hansen, Plass, and Sawyer. They published in different years, and the period their predictions covered were generally through to the year 2000. It would be harder to find a model that did not show warming, in point of fact.

Mostly though we're just recently getting to the point of being able to make specific temperature forecasts; it's been an intensive task trying to replicate the historical data. And even today, we can only guess at what emissions levels are going to be -- those don't follow physical laws. If you're only going to be satisfied with exact answers, you're going to have to look somewhere other than science -- error is inherent to empiricism. Demanding an arbitrary level of precision allows you to disregard any theory you like, from gravity to evolution.

Begging the question — are these facts really accepted? By who? By scientists? Who are they and what successful predictions have they made? Go back to square one...

Tyndall, Boltzmann, Arrhenius, and various other scientists since then. Many people predicted warming, which has since then occurred. If you'd care to specify what part of the theory you find insufficiently well supported, I can try to find you a citation.

Comment Re:Earth shifts (Score 1) 322

Your demands for citations are cute. If they're not in the right format, you won't read them. I'm sure that will make them go away.

To illustrate, that we've seen both kinds of predictions, and that the climate science has a long way to go to establish its credibility. These cooling papers came after Arrhenius, did not they?

Again, we can find contrarian research published about plate tectonics decades after it was accepted science. The existence of papers is not an argument for their credibility.

Arrhenius' first paper on the subject of warming is here. His prediction was about 4-6 degrees per doubling of CO2, with greater effects at the poles. That's on the high end of current estimates, but given the amount of hand-calculation he had to do, it's still a pretty impressive result.

Most of the early work on climate change was proving that it was possible for the climate to change at all, and as you can see in Arrhenius' paper, they mostly deal with the planet in an equilibrium state, and don't account for ever-increasing levels of CO2. One early attempt at modeling the globe in order to make these sorts of predictions was Hansen et al, 1988. He overestimated warming by about 15-25%; this article gives a post-mortem on his predictions. Essentially, using the same model with one slightly different physical constant reproduces the temperature trend far more precisely. An earlier study (Plass 1956) predicted a rise of 1.1 degrees C per century, assuming 1950s emissions levels. Warming since the 1950s has been on the order of .8C, so his prediction was something of an underestimate. Sawyer's prediction in 1972 was .6C by the year 2000, which was much nearer the mark.

However, you're also reversing the burden of proof. Basic physical laws suggest that a higher partial pressure of CO2 will warm the Earth, and simple laboratory experiments show a strong positive feedback from H2O.

Great! And this was all known this for decades (if not centuries), right?

The laboratory experiments on the infrared absorption of various gases date back to Tyndall (1859), and general radiative laws derived by Boltzmann (1884). A more specific overview of radiative forcing effects can be found in Myhre et al, 1998, if you're interested. So for the general idea that CO2 affects the temperature on Earth, you can look to any of the above for confirmation, or grab an IR camera and take a photograph.

So if CO2 affects the global temperature, and CO2 is measured to be increasing (which presumably you do not dispute), then wouldn't it be obvious that temperature must also increase? Not so fast! The absorption bands of CO2 and H2O overlap, and the atmosphere is so full of water vapor that it periodically precipitates. Clearly anything CO2 could do, H2O must already be doing, right? Bzzt. The flaw in this thinking is that because H2O precipitates out before it reaches the upper atmosphere and CO2 does not, allowing the latter to build up in the upper atmosphere (Kaplan 1952). Specifically, it extends the CO2-rich layer further out into space. There are a couple more details about where emission happens at what probability for a given photon of a given energy, and how many times it can expect to hit something on its way up, but again, your IR photograph should tell you that the mean free path is pretty short. This paper gives an overview of Earth's radiative balance.

I don't have to offer my own theory — because I do not seek to convince and/or compel you to alter your way of life. You seek to do that to me, so the burden of proof is on you.

I don't really care what you do, and whether or not the Earth is warming is not actually subject to your opinion. The burden of proof is on those who are challenging the accepted facts. And in this case, speculation is fine, we don't need a formal theory, just whatever you imagine to be true. There are a fairly short list of things that would falsify AGW; we might be able to enumerate them.
* Finding a mechanism which transfers heat to space, other than radiation.
* Finding that there is no greenhouse effect.
* Finding a negative feedback which would (e.g.) strongly increase albedo.
* Finding that CO2 does not build up in the atmosphere.

Another rather less consequential disproof would be if one were able to show that, while CO2 levels are rising, they are not of anthropogenic origin — ditching the 'A' in AGW. You may notice that it's not enough for AGW to be inaccurate. In order to falsify it, there must be some contradictory observation. Newtonian gravity was known to be inaccurate, but it was not disproved until Einstein's predictions were verified. If AGW is inaccurate, then it could be of greater or worse effect than predicted, and this is also true if there was some sort of decades-long global conspiracy fudging numbers. What needs to be shown is that the underlying physical laws are untrue: a vanishingly small probability at this point. The part that is "settled science" is that changes in CO2 result in changes of Earth's equilibrium temperature. How long it takes to get there and the exact degree of sensitivity are still relatively open questions, but the properties of atmospheric gases aren't really open to dispute, especially since they can be verified in your basement.

You have your predictions. Whether they are good, bad, or indifferent is actually beside the point, because what you need is a single contradictory fact. Good luck.

Comment All Governments Are Monopolies (Score 1) 1040

All governments are monopolies -- on violence, if nothing else. The proper function of government is to address market failures. In some cases, this involves providing consumer information. In others, it means breaking up collusion. However, markets are not appropriate to solve all problems: there is such thing as a "natural monopoly". When competition is not desirable or possible, or when services are required to be universal, private ownership is equivalent to a private tax. Governments could be said to be the natural monopoly of natural monopolies, but that's getting a bit clever. In any case, while government monopoly may be a "last resort" necessity, there is no denying it that role: governments are monopolies by definition.

Comment Re:Earth shifts (Score 1) 322

Maybe â" and first they thought, we are dangerously cooling the Earth.

No, Arrhenius was pretty clear about the warming effects. Frankly I don't know why you would mention these cooling papers, they were a minority view at the time they were published, and have been refuted since then. We can find relatively recent papers denying plate tectonics as well.

...because the ancient disappearance of the ice would've been blamed on human sins by the same shamans just as well.

I understand it's useful to some argument of yours that this would be the case, but natural forces have consistently been depicted as being unreasoning and not subject to human influence across all cultures. Catastrophe was "the will of the gods", which humans could appease, but not direct; they very obviously happened regardless of whether people were wicked or holy.

As far as the citations you want, I'd ask you to read the latest IPCC report, or if you want historical predictions, any of the past reports. However, you're also reversing the burden of proof. Basic physical laws suggest that a higher partial pressure of CO2 will warm the Earth, and simple laboratory experiments show a strong positive feedback from H2O. What is your competing theory which accounts for these observations, yet results in no warming?

Comment Water Vapor (Score 1) 322

Water vapor is not ignored; if it were not for the water vapor feedback cycle CO2 would be a non-issue. The issue with water vapor is that there are vast reservoirs of it all around the planet, which we are not able to do much about. Also, your statement that clouds cause cooling is not quite correct: clouds contribute to both warming and cooling.

Right now we are engaging in a massive uncontrolled geoengineering experiment: using CO2 to add energy to the Earth's atmosphere. Modeling the effects of this are very difficult. I'm not interested in additional experiments without a great deal of study to their effects.

Comment Re:Earth shifts (Score 2) 322

Did shamans of those days blame the sins of the humans â" such as burning too many fires â" for it? Probably...

The idea that humans could affect the global climate was one of the most difficult concepts to accept. The default position was that the Earth was too large for human activity to have any effect. That shift in scientific thinking happened about a century ago. Presumably you are late to the party.

Incidentally, while I note speculation that Kodiak may have been connected by glaciation to the mainland during the last ice age, I'm not finding any information about the last time there was a land bridge. Perhaps you can oblige me with a source?

Comment ESR's writings (Score 1) 242

I could not begin to list all of the crazy things ESR has written, especially since CatB. Rationalwiki has a collection, and they do mention his non-batshit writing, but essentially everything in the last fifteen years has been a stain on his character. Honestly, even before that he was a little unhinged. He has his place in open source history, but the best that you can say about him these days is that no one listens to him.

Comment The Warming Arctic (Score 1) 315

That may be true, but the same cannot be said for the northern regions underlain by permafrost. Which is quite a bit of territory. Those places will melt, subside, fill with water, and turn into rather unpleasant bogs. They will also release quite a bit of CO2 and CH4 in the process. We may get more use out of existing farmland, and be able to grow a wider variety of crops, but heating up thin, rocky soils or permafrost will not create more usable farmland. Most people seem to neglect this idea when talking about being able to farm the Arctic.

Out of curiosity, is the phenomenon of permafrost a normal part of educational curriculae in the US? I grew up in Alaska, you see...

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