Alarmist climate science and the principle of exclusion

AGW theorists are being misled by the principle of exclusion

Story submitted by Paul Macrae

In 1837, Charles Darwin presented a paper to the British Geological Society arguing that coral atolls were formed not on submerged volcanic craters, as argued by pioneering geologist Charles Lyell, but on the subsidence of mountain chains.

The problem, as Darwin saw it, was that corals can not live more than about 30 feet below the surface and therefore they could not have formed of themselves from the ocean floor. They needed a raised platform to build upon.

However, the volcanic crater hypothesis didn’t satisfy Darwin; he thought the atoll shape was too regular to have been the craters of old volcanos. There were no atoll formations on land, Darwin reasoned; why would there be such in the ocean? Therefore, Darwin proposed that corals were building upon eroded mountains, an hypothesis that, he wrote happily, “solves every difficulty.”

Darwin also argued, in 1839, that curious geological formations—what appeared to be parallel tracks—in the Glen Roy valley of Scotland were the result of an uplifted sea bed.

Darwin didn’t have any actual physical evidence to support these two hypotheses: he arrived at them deductively, through the principle of exclusion. A deductive conclusion is reached through theory—if X, then logically Y must be so—as opposed to induction, which builds a theory out of empirical data. The principle of exclusion works from the premise that “there is no other way of accounting for the phenomenon.”[1]

As it turned out, Darwin was wrong on both hypotheses. Later physical evidence showed that Lyell’s volcano theory was closer to the mark, and the Glen Roy tracks were caused by glaciers, which were still a mystery in Darwin’s time.

Darwin later wrote of his Glen Roy hypothesis: “Because no other explanation was possible under our then state of knowledge, I argued in favour of sea-action; and my error has been a good lesson to me never to trust in science to the principle of exclusion.”[2]

While Darwin rejected the principle of exclusion, at least as a primary scientific tool, alarmist climate science has not. Instead, the principle of exclusion is one of the most-cited arguments to support the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis.

For example, in a 2010 interview with the BBC on the Climategate scandal, Climate Research Unit (CRU) head Phil Jones was asked: “What factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?” Jones’s reply: “The fact that we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.” In other words, Jones is using the principle of exclusion: while he and his colleagues can’t prove that human activities are causing warming, they can’t find any other explanation.

Canada’s Andrew Weaver also relies on the principle of exclusion when he writes, in his 2008 book Keeping Our Cool: “There is no known natural climate mechanism to explain the warming over the 20th century. And that is one of the many pieces suggesting that a substantial portion of the warming of the 20th century is associated with greenhouse gases.”[3]

Similarly, the IPCC’s 2007 report notes: “Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” The IPCC has no empirical proof that human carbon emissions are the main cause of planetary warming; the “proof” is that the scientists can’t find another explanation, i.e., the principle of exclusion.

It’s not unreasonable to claim that human activities are the main cause of global warming. If carbon emissions and temperatures increase at the same time, it’s possible they are connected although, of course, correlation does not equal causation. And many scientific theories are based on the principle of exclusion, including much of Darwin’s theory of evolution itself.

Where alarmists like Jones, Weaver and the IPCC betray the accepted principles of science is in claiming that a possible causal connection between human carbon emissions and temperatures is settled, certain, and, as Weaver puts it in his book, beyond debate (he writes: “there is no such debate [about the certainty of the AGW hypothesis] in the atmospheric or climate scientific community” (p. 22)).

Even worse, these scientists call anyone who dares to challenge their hypothesis a “denier,” deluded, a fraud, bought-off by the oil industry, or worse. One cannot imagine Darwin, a modest scientist, making similar claims of certainty for his two hypotheses, or throwing slurs at anyone who didn’t accept them.

Yet there may well be other explanations for a warming earth that we still don’t know about or enough about—the cosmic ray theory seems like a good contender, as do fluctuations in solar intensity and cyclical ocean temperatures: given the complexity of climate, there are many possible causes for a temperature rise (or fall).

But, then, the deductive rather than empirical (inductive) nature of alarmist climate science was stated clearly by climatologist Chris Folland two decades ago: “The data don’t matter… We’re not basing our recommendations on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.”[4]

And so, alarmist climate scientists find themselves under siege by skeptics and increasingly distrusted by the public because they blindly accept the principle of exclusion, in the face of considerable empirical facts that don’t fit the AGW hypothesis. For example, for more than a decade, the earth has not warmed as the AGW hypothesis predicts. Nor are the oceans warming as the hypothesis predicts. Yet, when skeptics point out the problems, alarmists cannot admit they have made a mistake because then the whole alarmist edifice (and the juicy research grants that go with it) would collapse.

Darwin himself battled the principle of exclusion in proposing the theory of natural selection. Up to Darwin’s time, no one could think of any other way to explain the creation of species than by an all-powerful god. This led scientists and clerics into all sorts of logical absurdities, such as claims that the earth was mere thousands of years old or that God had put fossils into the earth to test scientists’ faith. However, in the mid-1800s, there was no better explanation to hand.

Darwin (and Alfred Russell Wallace) supplied a better, more scientific explanation: nature itself, acting over eons of time, was the creator of species, an hypothesis so simple and so logical that Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s main promoter, declared: “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that.”

The AGW hypothesis may well prove to be correct. However, the simplest and most logical explanation for climate change, in the past, now, and in the future, is natural variation. If so, then the AGW hypothesis, based on the treacherous principle of exclusion, will go the way of Darwin’s two hypotheses on the Glen Roy tracks and the creation of coral atolls.

And so, while alarmist climate scientists are quite within their rights to propose the AGW hypothesis, they should also be cautious: AGW is an hypothesis. It has not reached the status of a scientific theory (it has not passed enough scientific tests for that), nor is it a scientific fact, as the public is told. Instead, alarmist climate scientists have thrown the proper scientific caution to the winds to make claims that aren’t supported by the evidence, and to smear those who point out the possible errors in their hypothesis.

To repeat Darwin’s words: “My error has been a good lesson to me never to trust in science to the principle of exclusion.” This caution is especially true when climate-science errors could lead to anti-carbon policies that will cost billions of dollars and destroy millions of livelihoods, while having no effect upon the climate because humans are only a small part of a much larger picture.

Darwin gave good advice: beware the principle of exclusion. It’s a pity that today’s alarmist climate scientists are unwilling to heed that advice.

[1] Darwin’s thought process is described in Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution. New York: W.W. Norton, 1962 (1959), pp. 99-106.
[2] Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, I, London, 1887, p. 69. Quoted in Himmelfarb, p. 106.
[3] Andrew Weaver, Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World. Toronto: Viking, 2008, p. 59.
[4] Quoted in Patrick J. Michaels, Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming. Washington: Cato Institute, 1992, p. 83.

Paul MacRae is the author of False Alarm: Global Warming—Facts Versus Fears, and publishes the blog False Alarm at paulmacrae.com

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118 Responses to Alarmist climate science and the principle of exclusion

  1. Phillip Bratby says:

    Bob Watson, serial bureaucrat, ex-IPCC chair and long time chief scientific adviser to Defra in the UK has on numerous occasions publicly stated “There is no known natural mechanism to explain the recent warming” and “the overwhelming majority of scientific experts believe that human-induced climate change is inevitable”. He is a believer in the principle of exclusion, appeal to authority and belief over evidence.
    He is typical of the problem we face in the UK in trying to get a return to scientific integity and sanity.
    We need to repeal the Climate Change Act and get a sensible energy policy.

  2. jim hogg says:

    Nicely argued and written. A tough point for the AGW “the science is settled” brigade to answer.

    PS The Scot, Patrick Matthews, trumped Darwin by about 24 years on natural selection, in a note to a text on arboriculture for boatbuilding timber, of all things, if my memory serves me correctly. He thought it was so obvious that it was hardly worth mentioning!

  3. John Shade says:

    What a fine essay! The sorry intellectual state of CO2 alarmism, and of various scientific establishments which have chosen to defend or even promote it, would be no more than a source of wry amusement in academia were it not for the widespread acceptance of this alarmism by policymakers and others in positions of power or influence.

  4. Tucci78 says:

    Couple the principle of exclusion with the precautionary principle and there are real troubles in the offing.

    In itself the precautionary principle sounds harmless enough. We all have the right to be protected against unscrupulous applications of late twentieth century scientific advances – especially those which threaten our environment and our lives. But the principle goes much further than seeking to protect us from known or suspected risks. It argues that we should also refrain from developments which have no demonstrable risks, or which have risks that are so small that they are outweighed, empirically, by the potential benefits that would result. In the most recent application of the doctrine it is proposed that innovation should be prevented even when there is just a perception of a risk among some unspecified people.

  5. gyptis444 says:

    Diagnosis by exclusion is based on the assumption that ALL the possible causes are known. In medicine this comprises a ‘differential diagnosis’ a working list of possible causes from which clinical tests can be performed to exclude/confirm candidate causes. In the case of climate science the assumption becomes ‘ALL the possible causes AND their feedbacks (positive/negative) are known and have been quantified’.
    Given the complexity of the climate system and its non-linear, chaotic behaviour the assumption does not seem to be justified.
    PS In medicine it is not uncommon to adopt a ‘working diagnosis’ (based on known circumstances, prevalence, etc.) for purposes of management while working towards confirmation/exclusion. Positive diagnosis is usually required. However, problems arise when a new disease appears (e.g. the early experiences with HIV/AIDS, toxic shock syndrome etc.) when intensive investigation and open-minded involvement of a multi-disciplinary team may be needed to understand and manage the condition.

  6. oakwood says:

    Excellent article. Thanks

  7. I think this is a good point. However, when I tell people that tornados and floods are no more proof of Climate Change than they are of Leprechauns they tend to think I’m just nuts. What else could explain believing in such unlikely things?

  8. Venter says:

    Fantastic article. Should be sent to every climate scientists and politician involved in the AGW scam.

  9. Thanks; simple, clear, straightforward and balanced.

  10. Stephen Skinner says:

    “But, then, the deductive rather than empirical (inductive) nature of alarmist climate science was stated clearly by climatologist Chris Folland two decades ago: “The data don’t matter… We’re not basing our recommendations on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.”

    Models are used effectively by modern manufacturers to aid in the design of complex design and materials. However, as most here will understand, Boeing had to rethink it’s design model for the wings of the 787 when they failed in testing. Can anyone imagine Boeing stating after the wings had failed “The data don’t matter… We’re not basing our design on the data. We’re basing them on the design models.”

  11. Starwatcher says:

    To be blunt; Alot more of us that know a little about this topic but not enough to evaluate high level discussion independently would be more understanding of the skeptical side if obvious charlatans, some of which that have multiple appearances on this very site, didn’t get such uncritical applause from what seems to be a plurality of skeptics. There is no excuse for holding people such as Christopher Monckton in high esteem.

  12. Ryan says:

    There clearly hasn’t been any warming, so I’m not sure what Mr MacRae is writing about here.

    We shouldn’t exclude the possibility that measurements that have suggested warming might be happening may simply be wrong.

  13. Ed Zuiderwijk says:

    And a “science” based exclusively on the principle of “exclusion”, and does not let any real data stand in the way of its “theories”, is called: a pseudo-science.

  14. meemoe_uk says:

    Thanks Paul, a useful point to make in arguements with AGWers.

  15. C Porter says:

    An excellent post and my thoughts exactly, but put much more succintly.

    I pull what is left of my hair out everytime I hear our Chief Scientist Beddington and his predecessor King say “Well we can’t think what else it can be, so it must be due to CO2.” These cannot be real scientists with such flawed logic, and are never called to account for their ridiculous statements by the political media.

  16. John Marshall says:

    Good Post.
    Alarmists continue to claim that temperature rise is caused by CO2. High resolution data from both ice caps, Greenland and Antarctica, show that the opposite happens, temperature rise causes a parallel rise of atmospheric CO2. ie. their cause is driven by the event which makes a mockery of the data, and themselves.

  17. RB says:

    It is worse than that. As you say the principle of exclusion operates when there is NO other explanation from reason or deduction. Here we have exclusion operating when there is indeed by deduction an alternative explanation available that is at least equally viable – natural variation. And so our current position is in fact the result of a deliberate choice made between two possible explanations, both of which it seems to me are equally viable from reason alone (and if one acepts that climate has changed in millenia gone by one might say that the proper application of reason to the issue would result in a preference for the idea of natural variation). In my view we do not have the exclusion principle operating here in a “pure” sense, but a deliberate “exclusion” of at least one other explanation that is equally viable from reason alone in favour of the AGW hypothesis. What I am saying is that if one aplies reason and deduction alone one is more likely to arrive at the conclusion that natural variation is the correct explanation.

    But deduction is not the only method of considering natural variation to be a possible explanation – there is now growing empirical evidence of this natural variation which is beginning to overrun the chosen AGW conclusion based on modelling and deductions therefrom, (and even from what empirical evidence is also now deployed in support of it). So here exclusion is applied resulting in pushing the AGW hypothesis in the face of reason AND empirical observations which point to the contrary or at least to a very minor overall impact of the AGW hypothesis, if true.

    Then, on top of this “selective” exclusion is applied the “precautionary principle” which removes the debate even further from the first principle of explaining the various possibilities and into other considerations which are deemed urgent – by doing this those who chose AGW have moved the game beyond the academic search for an explanation of climate change so that anyone talking about these first principles is described as “behind the game” or, as we see so often, challenging that which is “settled”.

    Darwin had the good sense and grace to recognise when his “best guess” unravelled. He was a true scientist.

    Chris Folland’s remarks are the only explanation for how this state of affairs exists.

  18. J. Simpson says:

    “Jones’s reply: “The fact that we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.” In other words, Jones is using the principle of exclusion: while he and his colleagues can’t prove that human activities are causing warming, they can’t find any other explanation.”

    This is also the main argument offered to the lay public by the UK Met Office in thier “climate guide”.

  19. RB says:

    Tucci78 – we were thinking the same thing at the same time, it seems :)

  20. DN says:

    The power of science as an investigatory/explanatory mechanism derives entirely from adamant unwillingness by scientists to make claims in the absence of empirical evidence. The difference between science and religion boils down to comfort with ambiguity. The theologian attributes all otherwise unexplainable phenomenon to non-falsifiable mechanisms, whereas the scientist is – MUST – be comfortable saying “I don’t know.” Hypothesization is fine (indeed, mandatory), but it is also mandatory for scientists, if they are to merit the title, to adapt hypotheses in the face of contradictory observed data, and to jettison hypotheses that cannot be adapted to explain observed data.

    For a scientist to say, “Even though we have no empirical evidence and haven’t been able to demonstrate a causal mechanism for global warming/climate change/climate disruption, it MUST be carbon dioxide – and human-produced carbon dioxide, at that – because there isn’t anything else” is a betrayal of science because it implies perfect knowledge, which is a theologian’s argument. It implies that all other possibilities have been eliminated, which ignores two other logical possibilities: it’s something we’ve thought of and is logically plausible, but haven’t been able to find data to support; and it’s something we haven’t even thought of. Real scientists have to be willing to say things like “This hypothesis has not been validated by observed data”, “This hypothesis has been falsified by observed data”, and most important of all, “I don’t know.” Real scientists don’t nail their colours to the mast of any one theory until it has accumulated an overwhelming mass of validating empirical data, without a SINGLE instance of falsifying data. Einstein put this principle best when he said, “A single experiment can prove me wrong.”

    The Svensmark case is a textbook example of this. On one side of the ledger we have the anthropogenic CO2 forcing hypothesis, for which no causal mechanism (nor even a correlation!) has been observed and for which there is no validating evidence – and, in fact, a large and ever-increasing body of contradictory empirical evidence. On the other side, we have the low cloud nucleation by GCR hypothesis, for which both a correlation and a causal mechanism have been empirically demonstrated, and for which there is a significant and growing body of observed evidence validating the argument. Yet climate “scientists” continue their attempts to shore up the former and decry the latter.

    There are plenty of words that may be used to describe someone who continues to support a demonstrably falsified hypothesis while ignoring an increasingly validated one, but “scientist” isn’t one of them.

  21. Coldish says:

    Excellent article, Paul. Thank you.
    Re Glen Roy and its ‘parallel roads’. I had understood that they are now interpreted as beaches of a former glacial lake. There are currently no glaciers in Scotland (although they’ll doubtless be back some day as the Milankovich cycles turn), but there were formerly glaciers flowing off the Ben Nevis range which are thought to have blocked the outlets of several valleys including Glens Roy, Gloy and Spean, in each of which the ‘fossil beaches’ are preserved.

  22. Smokey says:

    Starwatcher,

    What are you, Mr. Projection? Have you never seen the fawning acceptance of the most ridiculous, wild-eyed statements on climate progress, RC, etc? Further, those blogs heavily censor comments such as yours. You can give such opinions here because WUWT allows and promotes all views. Readers can then make up their own minds instead of being spoon fed one-sided alarmist propaganda.

    Finally, Lord Monckton is willing to go toe-to-toe and debate any of the alarmist crowd at any time. He has spanked them good and hard, so now they’re reduced to taking pot shots from the safety of their ivory towers. They will no longer debate him because he is knowledgeable and competent, and he publicly puts them to shame. I am proud to have someone on the skeptics’ side who is never afraid to debate. The alarmist crowd certainly fears Monckton. That explains their impotent name-calling.

  23. Alex Buddery says:

    Modern scientific method is founded on deductive logic not inductive logic. You misrepresent deductive logic in that you say it is not based on empirical evidence but it is. In inductive logic you look at the empirical evidence that you have and then decide how the world works from this. In deductive logic you look at the empirical evidence and form a hypothesis from which you deduce what would happen in an untested situation which is likely to prove your hypothesis wrong. You then execute the untested situation and see if you correctly deduced the outcome. This is how the modern scientific process works.
    As Karl Popper describes, inductive logic is fundamentally flawed because it creates universal statements from singular ones. As more singular statements are added it is possible to simply induce different universal statements to explain them. This is also flawed in that you cannot assign probability to universal statements and thus you have no indication of how reliable your universal statements are. To quote Popper ‘my own view is that the various difficulties of inductive logic here sketched are insurmountable’. With deductive logic you derive singular statements from universal ones and in this way are able to test your singular statements empirically to support your universal statement. As probability can be assigned to singular statements you can also have a reasonable idea of the chances of disproving your universal hypothesis with your experiment. To quote Popper again ‘the method of critically testing theories, and selecting them according to the results of tests, always proceeds on the following lines. From a new idea, put up tentatively, and not yet justified in any way-an anticipation, a hypothesis, a theoretical system, or what you will-conclusions are drawn by means of logical deduction’

  24. Starwatcher says:

    @Smokey
    Monckton is on the level of Al Gore. I do not have a high opinion of climate progress. Rebuttals on articles here are often laid out in a easily understood and highly descriptive manner (Pat Franks last one here is last example). I’ve seen the same quality level directed at something from Real Climate….only once. Not to mention their index is one of the best repositories of information on this out there.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    The principle of exclusion fails as it presumes we know all the possibles, and we don’t…

  26. Smokey says:

    Starwatcher says:

    “Monckton is on the level of Al Gore.”

    If you believe that then we are too far apart on the issue to have a meaningful conversation.

    A debate between Gore and Monckton would be the equivalent of Bambi vs Godzilla.

  27. Stacey says:

    Very good post.
    The self named climate scientists also have used the exclusion principle, to well, exclude the publication of papers
    which they disagree with.
    Certainty is madness?

  28. Andy G55 says:

    As I see it, the most likely place to find the principle of expulsion used as the basis, is in a religion.

  29. Chris Wright says:

    An excellent article. I had long been familiar with that particular argument, but it’s nice to have a convenient label: the exclusion principle. To have Darwin himself speaking against it is a nice piece of ammunition!

    Of course, the exclusion principle as practised by climate scientists is complete nonsense. The very obvious problem is this: the very people who apparently can’t find other explanations are the very same people who don’t *want* to find other explanations. If they could find an alternative that completely explained the 20th century temperature rise, then there would be no place left for carbon dioxide – and that wouldn’t do, would it?

    Another point. Are they able to explain the MWP and the earlier warmings? If not, then their ‘proof’ falls down completely – because CO2 levels were completely natural, as SUV’s and international air travel hadn’t really caught on in the Medieval and Roman periods. Oh, hang on – they solved that small problemette by ‘getting rid’ of the MWP.

    In my opinion, having to invoke the exclusion principle is a pretty good indication that their theory is wrong. Real theories, Relativity being a perfect example, can only be proven by data and experiments that confirm predictions made by the theory. There doesn’t appear to be any genuine, empirical proof of AGW at all. And yet the world is poised to bet countless trillions of dollars on this unrproven theory – a theory that is almost certainly wrong.

    Chris

  30. Tucci78 says:

    At 1:26 AM on 8 June, gyptis444 writes:

    Diagnosis by exclusion is based on the assumption that ALL the possible causes are known. In medicine this comprises a ‘differential diagnosis’ a working list of possible causes from which clinical tests can be performed to exclude/confirm candidate causes. In the case of climate science the assumption becomes ‘ALL the possible causes AND their feedbacks (positive/negative) are known and have been quantified’.

    Given the complexity of the climate system and its non-linear, chaotic behaviour the assumption does not seem to be justified.

    Not only that, but there’s the even more egregiously unjustified assumption that the evidence being used to advance the AGW contention hasn’t been so thoroughly “cooked” that the promulgation of this fraud needs to be moved from the Weather Channel to the Food Network.

    Though I really don’t think that even Alton Brown could come up with something to sell this preposterous bogosity.

    PS In medicine it is not uncommon to adopt a ‘working diagnosis’ (based on known circumstances, prevalence, etc.) for purposes of management while working towards confirmation/exclusion. Positive diagnosis is usually required. However, problems arise when a new disease appears (e.g. the early experiences with HIV/AIDS, toxic shock syndrome etc.) when intensive investigation and open-minded involvement of a multi-disciplinary team may be needed to understand and manage the condition.

    Well, I remember when we were calling it GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) and there was serious consideration that it was being caused by amyl nitrate “poppers” then being used by sexually promiscuous males indulging in “fisting.” Before we had an identified retrovirus (HIV-1) and reliable serological testing to provide evidence of infection with the pathogen, we had begun to get a handle on the prevalence of the epidemic by using reliable serological markers for Hepatitis B, which is a virus also quite commonly transmitted by way of the same kinds of sexual contact and parenteral (IV) drug use through which HIV-1 has proven to be acquired.

    Most people don’t realize that the constellation of opportunistic infections first noticed in AIDS cases (one of the annual multidisciplinary international meetings of greatest value in the cutting-edge research on HIV infection is still the CROI – the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections) were not unfamiliar to doctors in the developed or developing world. Congenital, malignant, and iatrogenic immune deficiency syndromes – the last category most commonly seen in patients on cytotoxic chemotherapy regimes for the management of malignant diseases – had been identified and were being addressed long before AIDS came out of Africa to start killing people all over the world.

    A lot of the time you have to initiate treatment on the basis of disconcertingly tenuous “horseback” diagnoses because if you wait for the empirical evidence to come in, the potential for morbidity – and mortality – as well as economic treatment and recovery costs become damned adverse. You just gotta keep that “non nocere” bit in mind.

    Is it any wonder that Arthur Conan Doyle – an ophthalmologist – modeled his Sherlock Holmes character on a demon diagnostician who’d been one of the author’s instructors in medical school?

  31. Andy Mayhew says:

    Coldish is correct re the Parallel Roads – they are now believed to be the shorelines of a glacial lake. So Darwin wasn’t too far off the mark.

    btw if the warmists were predicting warming for the past 10 years and (some) sceptics predicting cooling over the same time period and we end up with a fairly static temp trend, what does it tell us? Maybe they were both right?

  32. Starwatcher says:

    @Smokey
    Debates are poor mediums for discussing anything that is empirically based. The reason I conflated them both, is because they both look good until you fact check.

  33. Hector Pascal says:

    A slight clarification here. The “parallel tracks” used to be marked on the old OS 1 inch to 1 mile maps as parallel roads. When I were a nipper in the scouts, their origin was explained as them being beaches formed at the margins of (temporary) glacially dammed lakes.

  34. Smokey says:

    Starwatcher,

    You want to discuss empirical facts? Then answer me this. The central claim of the alarmist contingent is that CO2 is harmful. Let’s ‘fact check’ that assertion: provide empirical evidence showing global harm from CO2. Such evidence must be testable and falsifiable, per the scientific method.

    The fact that there is no such evidence does not eliminate CO2 as the cause of global warming. It does point out that there is no evidence that CO2 causes global warming. None. That makes for an incredibly weak argument, based on faith rather than data.

  35. MrX says:

    I’ve talked about this many times. It’s not that they know humans caused it. It’s that they’re ignorant of the cause and their lack of imagination is their proof.

  36. polistra says:

    The problem isn’t really the exclusion principle, it’s a religious mindset. Before the Mead/Schneider gang took over climate science, everyone who analyzed climate scientifically understood the influence of sunspots, and took sunspots into account. When the Carbon Cultists monopolized the discipline, they automatically turned every explanation other than CO2 into Unfacts. Sunspots can’t be the explanation because sunspots can’t be the explanation. Why? Because we know. It’s an axiom, not a fact.

  37. Starwatcher says:

    @Smokey
    The IPCC took over a thousand pages to make their case, and you want me to provide that chain of logic in an internet post? Sorry, but the world isn’t always so simple where big sweeping questions like that can be answered in brevity. Besides, I’m more of a consensus guy. Way I look at it is Atmospheric Physics is hard! I banged my head against it for a while and still don’t get alot of it. But what the hell, I do know a little. If you can pick a topic a little more precise then is CO2 bad I’m game

  38. Roger Knights says:

    @ Starwatcher:
    Monckton is not blameless. Many of us here recognize that. I’ve said so here several times. But he stacks up very well against his critic Abraham. Here’s the first video in a series of videos titled “Monckton Refutes Abraham”:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/cfact#p/u/26/Z00L2uNAFw8

  39. Alexander K says:

    An excellent, clearly-written post.
    I shall be using ‘The Exclusion Principle’ in future discussions with Warmist acquaintances.

  40. B. Kindseth says:

    How is the “Principle of Exclusion” any different from the fallacious “Arguement from Ignorance?”

  41. Alexander K says:

    Anthony, what happened to the clear, easy-to-read script that was a feature of ‘Leave a Reply’?
    The new model is damnably hard on elderly eyesight!

    [Reply: This comment should be posted in Tips & Notes, which Anthony always reads. Any other comments regarding the small font should be posted there as well. ~dbs, mod.]

  42. richard verney says:

    The reliance upon ‘there being no other known explanation’ for what is being observed is not proof of anything other than the fact that we do not have sufficient knowledge about and understanding of the system being observed. It is simply an admission of ignorance, since if we had sufficient knowledge and understanding of the system in question we would be able to positively explain and prove empirically the cause behind the observations in question.

    The precautionary principle is fundamentally misconceived since its limits are constrained by no more than one’s imagination and is therefore always as long as a piece of string. The precautionary principle always begs the next question, what if the percieved threat is not curtailed by the action thought to be necessary and desirable? What happens then?

    For example say that we spend spend trillions of dollars in decarbonising the world and say that this does not have any noticeably effect on temperatures which continue to rise at an accelerated rate (say because what is driving upward temperatures is not CO2 but something different) and say that these rising temperatures bring about the disasterous consequences that the CAGW crowd claim that will occur (eg., drastic sea level rise, crop failures, droughts, prolonged excessive heat waves, melting of ice caps and glaciers etc). What happens then if we have effectively bankrupted the developed economies? The developed world will not have the financial wherewithall to spend yet further trillions on required adaption. Indeed, it will not be able to muster the industrial might to conduct the constructural challenges that adaption would require since it has killed off its industry (possibly forcing these overseas etc). The developing nations will not have the industry, skill set, expertise nor infrastructure to carry out the required construction and indeed, these countries may well (in this scenario) be on their knees through drought and famine etc so that they could not conduct the required and necessary adaption. Thus the precautionary principle demonstrates that mitigation is not the answer because one always has to ask what if that course of action goes wrong and does not solve the problem or perhaps even what if it makes the situation worse (there is always a chance that with a system not well understood, reducing CO2 ,may make matters worse eg., by stunting forest, plant and crop growth).

    What we shoulkd be doing is not focusing to the exclusion of all other causes on just one ‘culprit’ and we should be looking for a proper and full understanding of the system so that we can positively explain what is going on rather than saying we can think of no other explanation. If mankind had simply been prepared to accept that we can think of no other explanation, we would be stuck in the dark ages with hundreds of gods explaining events surrounding us. Fortunately, there are some who are not so blinkered or complacent and will strive to know and understand the world around them.

  43. BBk says:

    Is it any wonder that Arthur Conan Doyle – an ophthalmologist – modeled his Sherlock Holmes character on a demon diagnostician who’d been one of the author’s instructors in medical school?

    Sherlock Holmes works simply because ACD can posit that SH has perfect knowlege of any pertainant fact. It’s fiction. :) Imagine how SH, with his old knowlege, would have trouble deducing modern crimes comitted using cell phones, infrared scanners, etc, etc.

    “The only reasonable explaination is that the gunman made a deal with the Devil to observe the movements of the occupants of the house from 400 yards away through solid brick. All other reasonable explainations have been exhausted, so whatever remains, however outlandish, must be true.”

  44. Mark in Oz says:

    Starwatcher.

    “Besides, I’m more of a consensus guy.”

    You just blew your credibility out of the water with that lame admission.

  45. Larry Fields says:

    Good job, Paul. Philosopher Larry’s stoopid question of the day: Isn’t the Principle of Exclusion a glorified version the classical logical fallacy: Argument from Ignorance?

  46. observa says:

    Yes the medical analogy is a good one as medicine is dealing with an extremely complex system just like the global climate. That’s where I find the term ‘Climatologist’ and the consequent pseudo-science of ‘Climatology’ so pathologically presumptuous. It’s like me and a few jumped up mates getting together and calling ourselves peer reviewed Humanologists and the doyens of the settled science of Humanology(what you haven’t heard of us?) and all bow to our new edicts and prescriptions henceforth. How often have you heard some scientist commenting upon climate research pooh poohed for not being a ‘Climate Scientist’ or ‘Climatologist.’ You can instantly see how the current ignorati and deniers in medicine, psychology, biology, sociology, economics,etc can all be subsumed by we superior Humanologists in the know about all such things. Welcome to the very essence of the exclusivity of climatology today.

  47. richard telford says:

    Still waiting for the deus ex machina?

  48. mikemUK says:

    This is such a delightfully moderate piece, it would be interesting to see it in print in the MSM together with an invitation to major protagonists to offer their personal responses.
    For example, in the UK it should be an irresistible challenge to people like Beddington, Paul Nurse, etc. on the one hand, and Monckton, Lawson, etc. on the other – for the enlightenment of the general public, not just those of us who already hold a view.
    I deliberately omit mention of those actively involved in ‘climate science’ itself, on the grounds that anything useful they might say on the matter would be hopelessly compromised by legal advice.

  49. TA says:

    Can anyone explain to me why soot (black carbon), can’t be one of the biggest contributors to our recent wave of warming? We have been steadily pumping it out since the industrial revolution began, besides being a GHG that warms the atmosphere it also accelerates the melting of ice when it lands on it and introduces more water into our hydrosphere. Water vapor, being the greatest GHG of them all, warms the earth and causes the soil to respire Co2 more and a downward spiral begins.

    That story of the man towing iceburgs seemed to me a apt metaphor. It’s not the Co2, it’s man’s effect on the hydrosphere that should be focused on.

  50. Tom in Florida says:

    Since all religions are based on the principle of exclusion, AGW clearly meets the criteria for a religion.

  51. Theo Goodwin says:

    RB says:
    June 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Excellent comments on a fine article. I am fast approaching the conclusion that the climate modelling community is committed to creating a “Gaia Model” and that this commitment is what drives their intellectual concerns, though not their policy concerns. The fierceness with which they resist any and all discussion on the basis of science or scientific method points toward a non-scientific goal, a metaphysical goal. Such a commitment would explain their lack of interest in evidence and in the natural world generally. It would also explain their clumsiness as scientists; that is, if you cannot address any empirical matter until you have completed a model of The Whole, Gaia, then you will disengage from science or produce very sloppy science in the meantime.

  52. mathman says:

    Let us get real.
    Admitting one’s ignorance does not
    a) contribute to academic advancement;
    b) obtain grant money;
    c) receive press coverage;
    d) win admittance to the UN Councils;
    e) add your own here.
    Providing a false claim does all of these wonderful things.
    The honest truth is that we do not know what a global temperature is. We do not have a standard for taking such a temperature; the connection between minimax and average temperature is not well-established; the baseline for the stability of current sensing devices has not been established; temperature sites have either been altered by urbanization or moved to reduce urbanization effects; I could go on.
    The honest truth is that we do not know what the carbon dioxide budget is. How much enters the ocean? How much escapes the ocean? What is the relation between these and the boundary air/water conditions?
    Our ignorance is all but total. The actual study of these questions is just beginning.
    Creating social policy based upon ignorance is folly.
    And folly is where we are now.

  53. David says:

    Great post. I think this idea of allowing outsiders to submit posts is a great idea. Very good articles have come out of this. Thanks.

  54. Theo Goodwin says:

    Tucci78 says:
    June 8, 2011 at 12:58 am
    “Couple the principle of exclusion with the precautionary principle and there are real troubles in the offing.”

    As a decision matrix, the Precautionary Principle is equivalent to Pascal’s Wager, as are all choices that can be represented by a matrix containing “infinite” (indefinitely large) negative consequences. Given this fact about the Precautionary Principle, a rationally consistent Lisa Jackson, EPA Head, would be proposing a tax on Americans who do not attend church on Sunday morning.

  55. Ken Harvey says:

    To me the real fallacy is the belief that the globe is warming at all. Just outside of my front door I can see the edge of one and a third billion cubic kilometers of sea water. No one has yet been able to convince me that the average temperature of that body of water has warmed over the last century by 0.000001 degrees. My local weather varies, fairly moderately in this coastal location, in accordance with variations in air and ocean variations. There has been no weather event locally over the past forty years which cannot be attributed directly to these natural variations. Any competent weather man could today predict the temperature for this location fifty years hence and be confident that he will be accurate within a couple of degrees. Of course someone would have to inform him first in some detail as to what air currents and ocean cycles are going to be doing on that day! He would not, however, need any information as to what CO2 levels in the atmosphere will be in the future.

  56. Sal Minella says:

    And yet the principle of exclusion is alive and well in many areas of science. The theory of evolution, itself, is a shining example. There is no empirical evidence of the transformation of one species into another, however, it is universally accepted that we evolved from one-celled life. Why? Because “science” has no alternate explanation. Deductive logic, anyone?

  57. observa says:

    Which leads me to define Climatology as that frustrated rump of Meteorology that stinks locally, therefore emotes globally.

  58. NikFromNYC says:

    Such tunnel vision it is for Jones to blame CO2 for one stumbled upswing, while leaving the very similar one that preceded it unexplained:

    http://oi45.tinypic.com/5obajo.jpg

  59. mkelly says:

    Starwatcher says:
    June 8, 2011 at 1:57 am
    To be blunt; Alot more of us that know a little about this topic but not enough to evaluate high level discussion independently would be more understanding of the skeptical side if obvious charlatans, some of which that have multiple appearances on this very site, didn’t get such uncritical applause from what seems to be a plurality of skeptics. There is no excuse for holding people such as Christopher Monckton in high esteem.

    “What you say Willis?”

  60. Alan the Brit says:

    Good post, well argued.

    Maurice Garoutte says:
    June 8, 2011 at 1:33 am
    I think this is a good point. However, when I tell people that tornados and floods are no more proof of Climate Change than they are of Leprechauns they tend to think I’m just nuts. What else could explain believing in such unlikely things?

    Using the AGW/IPCC/Wet Office/Advocate appeal to authority one can prove anything, as I have written elsewhere on this post before, i.e. out of 100 people, you ask who believes in leprechauns, & 95 people put their hands up. You then ask who doesn’t, or has doubts or is not sure, & the remaining 5 people raise their hands, job done. Leprechauns exist by majority vote!

    Also as I have so boringly written before, the Sun apparently contains 99.9% of a the mass of the solar system, the Earth barely a few hundreths of that mass. To say a 1/10th of 1% change in TSI in the cycle of the Blue Whale couldn’t have an effect on the minnow seems arrogant to me, especially when many suspect TSI is not the whole story, as Extreme UV varies by between 6-10% over a Solar Cycle, then it seems a good candidate to me, & many others too boot! We know for a fact that space weather is caused by Solar activity. We know that volatile activity on the Sun can cause power outages, satellite failure, communications failures, etc. We know that the Sun & Moon affect the tides around the world. There is even evidence that volcanic & earthquake activity are linked to such activity, or the lack of it. However, they hell bent on thinking outside the box they haven’t bothered to simply look inot it instead! The Icecaps on Mars are receding, other planets in the Solar System are warming, but no, it’s not the Sun! Jeez.

  61. Mark Wilson says:

    @Starwatcher

    That the IPCC took 1000 pages is beyond doubt. That within those 1000 pages it made it’s case is demonstratebly false.

  62. If I remember correctly, Sherlock Holmes ascribed to God the beauty, the fragrance, and the perfection of a rose, since, in his opinion, these qualities of flowers had no thinkable purpose.
    Thus, he (Conan Doyle) applied the principle of exclusion. And how wrong he was!

  63. Allen63 says:

    Excellent essay in both concept and execution. Moderate in tone. Highlights one of the most major faults of the pro-AGW argument. This easily-understood logical fault alone should give pause to all the cost-ineffective “mitigation” measures pushed by governments — at least, if they are sincere (not mere unscrupulous attempts to gain unearned power and money).

  64. T Huxley (from Heaven) says:

    How stupid not to have written that myself.

  65. Mac the Knife says:

    “The principle of exclusion works from the premise that “there is no other way of accounting for the phenomenon.”[1]. ……To repeat Darwin’s words: “My error has been a good lesson to me never to trust in science to the principle of exclusion.” ”

    The Bard knew……..
    Act 1: Hamlet:
    “And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  66. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Elegantly written and argued, Anthony. You missed your true calling.

  67. Robert Austin says:

    Starwatcher says:
    June 8, 2011 at 1:57 am
    “There is no excuse for holding people such as Christopher Monckton in high esteem.”

    I personally do not require an excuse to admire Christopher Monkton, The man is an accomplished orator and debater, and has the balls to take on the CAGW establishment for no rewards beyond abuse from people like yourself. Certainly, Monkton has made some mistakes, he has his peccadilloes, but who amongst us has perfect knowledge of all areas of climate science. But for the most part, he gets it right.

    What is a “travesty” is to put Monkton in the same category as Al Gore. Gore will not debate, will not field skeptical questions, leads an indulgent life while dictating that the hoi polloi make sacrifice to Gaia and has made a pile of money off CAGW to boot. Why don’t you just say that you loathe Christopher Monkton and be done with it?

  68. Jim Clarke says:

    I have been arguing this point for many years, citing that the rationale of the warmists was no more valid than the ancients blaming the displeasure of the god’s for bad weather. The ancients did not know any other explanation, so the gods must have been responsible…right?

    What I did not know was that this type of argumentation has a name: The principle of exclusion, and that it has long been identified and put in its place. Thank you for the edification and the ammo!

  69. theduke says:

    A good follow-up post might be an expose of the precautionary principle which customarily is invoked after the postulation of the exclusionary principle.

    If the exclusionary principle is arguing from ignorance, than the precautionary principle is arguing from fear engendered by ignorance.

  70. ferd berple says:

    Since we cannot find a reason for the increase in temperature, it must be caused by witchcraft. During the Little Ice Age many hundreds of people were burned as witches for causing the poor weather and crop failures.

    Now today, the entire planets economic future is to be put to the stake, again on the suspicion that we are causing the climate to change. Not by the sin of witchcraft, but by the sin of industrialization.

    Google: The little Ice Age: how climate made history 1300-1850. Brian Fagen page 91.

  71. TomB says:

    You’re destroying a long cherished belief of my own. Namely, the Holmsian saying that “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” A direct application of the principle of exclusion.

  72. son of mulder says:

    There are two types of exclusion

    1) the type when you honestly know of no other or cannot imagine other possible mechanisms or combination of mechanisms that may explain an observation.

    2) the type where your objective is attained by consciously ignoring other possible mechanisms or combination of mechanisms because it is convenient for you.

  73. Arno Arrak says:

    What they are really doing is applying the principle of exclusion to fake warming. You can pretty much explain the early twentieth century warming, from 1910 to 1940, by invoking solar influences but you can’t do that with the late twentieth century warming, so that warming must be anthropogenic greenhouse warming. Which is complete bull. That warming is anthropogenic all right but criminal, not gaseous. Satellites observing global temperature since 1979 simply cannot see it. What they do see is a temperature oscillation in the eighties and nineties, up and down by half a degree for twenty years, but no rise until the super El Nino of 1998 arrives. But when you look at NASA, NOAA, and Met Office temperature curves they feature a steady rise of temperature during these years. Which is correct? To find out, compare the curves. Looking at these three curves you wonder what happened to the oscillations that satellites show. They do exist in two of these curves but you have to use the same high resolution as the satellite data to see them. Then you find that the oscillations have been monkied with. The peaks of this temperature oscillation, and there are five in twenty years, correspond to warm El Nino years. They have all been retained. But what is different is that the valleys between the peaks, the cool La Nina years, have all been lifted up and made shallow. And this has the effect of giving the entire curve an upward slope. I know of no natural process that can selectively and raise the temperature at the precise location of these valleys without changing the peaks too. If you want to see this graphically take a look at my figure 24 in “What Warming?” which compares HadCRUT3 from the Met Office with the satellite curve. It is pretty obvious that they simply reduced the valley depth to half and thereby created a rising curve. NASA GISS did the same but NOAA could not even be bothered and simply eliminated the valleys. This is a long-term, coordinated deception and not a rogue action by a few zealots. It had to start in the late seventies because prior to that there was no warming for thirty years. Its beginning coincides in time with Hansen joining GISS in 1978. His first assignment at his new job was to create an improved method for recording global temperature change, which he did according to GISS. The manipulation of temperature curves started about the same time and requires complicity by three organizations, one of them CRU of East Anglia University. It is a colossal fraud besides which the Climategate scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. But Climategate gives us clues. You will recall Phil Jones stating that they threw away the original temperature records and only kept the “value added” data set. The global warming movement that exists today got a kick start when Hansen testified that warming had started in 1988. The warming he testified about then was a fake warming but it still is present on official temperature curves. This is an international conspiracy to fake global warming, active over a long period of time, and should be investigated.

  74. Tom T says:

    @SkyWatcher Name one fact that Christopher Monckton has said that is factually untrue. I can name many that Al Gore has said that are untrue. We can start with his implying that the ice core data shows that CO2 rises before temperature when in fact it is the other way around.

    I will however agree with you on one point you made, “I banged my head against it for a while and still don’t get alot (sic) of it.” You got that right, you still don’t get a lot of it. Come back here for a real conversation when you understand a bit about what you are talking about. Quite frankly it really isn’t that hard. The fact that you find it so hard says more about you than it does about atmospheric science.

  75. ferd berple says:

    AGW should have gone the way of the dodo bird when it was discovered that CO2 lagged temperature. If CO2 causes warming, then there must be a signature in the paleo records that shows this. Over time CO2 will go up and down for reasons of chance, unconnected to temperature. If CO2 causes warming, then the signature will be there in the paleo records. The fact that this signature has not been found, only the reverse signature, that warming causes CO2, should have been sufficient to throw serious doubt on the AGW hypothesis.

    The simple fact that Climate Science and the IPCC did not stand up and announce that there were serious problems with the AGW hypothesis when the lag between CO2 and temperature was discovered if strong evidence that Climate Science is not opperating in accordance with accepted scientific principles. The use of terms such as “the science is setled” and “incontrovertible evidence” are not used in any other branch of science except Climate Science.

    As such, Climate Science is not engaged in Science – which is the quest for knowledge. Climate Science is engaged in politics, advertising, and promotion – advocacy of a particular point of view to the economic advantage of one group over another. It is a gravy train to benefit the few at the expense of the many. It is Robin Hood in reverse. Taking from the poor to give to the rich, dressed in the garb of science.

    No other branch of science includes the word “science” in its name. You can be sure a country is not democratic when it includes “democratic” in its name. You can be sure a “science” is not science when it includes “science” in its name. Climate Science is as much a science as The People’s Democratic republic is a democracy.

  76. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From TA on June 8, 2011 at 4:28 am:

    Can anyone explain to me why soot (black carbon), can’t be one of the biggest contributors to our recent wave of warming? We have been steadily pumping it out since the industrial revolution began, besides being a GHG that warms the atmosphere it also accelerates the melting of ice when it lands on it and introduces more water into our hydrosphere. (…)

    You’re mixing a few things up there. Most importantly, soot (black carbon) is a solid, thus it is not a GreenHouse Gas (GHG). When the soot particles are very small (aka particulates) and suspended in the air they are known as an aerosol. The particulates don’t stay in the atmosphere forever, they eventually settle out, usually within mere days. During the last century, when people were worried about “acid rain” before high efficiency “stack scrubbers” became standard, an expected US weather pattern was precipitation in the Northeast on the weekend due to particulates released from Midwest coal-burning power plants during the workweek.

    Soot has been shown to be a major cause of what has been cited as proof of global warming, namely glacier melt and Arctic warming.
    LBNL on Himalayas: “greenhouse gases alone are not nearly enough to be responsible for the snow melt”
    Black carbon linked to half of Arctic warming
    Oh, soot! (“UI researcher finds black carbon implicated in global warming”)
    New Earth-Moving UN Study Says Half Of Arctic Warming Caused By Soot (And Not CO2)!
    Soot having a big impact on Himalyan temperature – as much or more than GHG’s
    etc.

    To mention a glacier-like loss, Mt. Kilimanjaro’s snow cap, an oft-cited poster child for global warming fears, is going away due to local land use changes.
    More proof that Kilimanjaro’s problems are man-made; but not what some think it is
    At least it was, a recent recovery has been noted, might be temporary.
    Kilimanjaro regaining its snow cap

    Claims of Arctic warming, as previously discussed here, are complicated by the lack of a proper historical record for the Arctic with very few weather stations, especially with issues like the GISS dataset extrapolating much of the Arctic temperatures primarily from a single station in Canada. With the amount of warming dubious, and black carbon capable of accounting for half of the reported warming, it’s possible there has been no Arctic warming that can’t be accounted for solely by soot.

    The usual issue is global warming. Black carbon (soot) has been tied to signs of regional warming that are often cited as proof of global warming. Meanwhile, despite questionable finagling of assorted historical temperature records, the “recent wave of warming” you mentioned, isn’t happening, for a decade or more. Indeed, the evidence is pointing towards global cooling, either happening now or imminent. Thus your musings about the hydrological cycle are moot.

    (…) Water vapor, being the greatest GHG of them all, warms the earth and causes the soil to respire Co2 more and a downward spiral begins.

    That a whole ‘nother can of worms. To attack it generally and give you something to consider, more atmospheric water vapor yields more precipitation which yields more vegetation, and vegetation is carbon storage. So are you certain more water vapor leads to a downward spiral?

  77. ferd berple says:

    “once you eliminate the impossible”

    Climate science has not eliminated dozens of reasons for climate change having nothing to do with CO2. Top of the list is human bias. Mann’s hockey stick was accepted over-night without the normal scientific requirements for independent confirmation because it was what people wanted to see. Even today it makes no difference to many that the hockey stick has been invalidated. Mainstream Climate Science continues to insist that there was no Little Ice Age, no Medieval Warm Period, no Roman Warm Period.

    Mainstream Climate Science does not believe that climate varies naturally on time scales of a few hundred years – the hockey stick “proved” this – so the only explanation left is that humans must be responsible for climate change. What Climate Science has not considered is there are many ways that humans can be responsible for climate change.

    CO2 is one explanation. Another is human error and bias. Climate Science and the IPCC have not factored this possibility into their calculations. Until and unless Climate Science conducts itself using experimental method to eliminate error and bias from climate models, data collection, statistical analysis and of course “adjustments”, there is no reason to trust the result. Does anyone believe that Hansen adjusts past temperature free of bias? Why did he adjust 1934 downwards after MacIntyre showed it was the hottest year on record in the US?

    We would certainly not trust medicine or social sciences conducted in this fashion.

  78. Doug says:

    The AGW crowd in large part use the exclusionary principle as part of thier religion. The end game in their religion is not eternal life in heaven, but the control of us ignorant masses, redistribution of wealth etc.
    As has been stated, it is not about science, but forever funding of grants to prove thier holy grail of CO2 as the devil. Unfortunately it is to the detriment of many due to policy decisions running economies into the ground, and restricting an improvement in the lives of those in less developed countries. Until politicians that believe in this false religion are voted out of office, and entreched bureaucracies are replaced, we will continue to fight this uphill battle for real science. What is settled is AGW is junk science, but the beleivers have the main stream media and educational facilities at all levels promoting it.

  79. Smokey says:

    Skywatcher says:

    “The IPCC took over a thousand pages to make their case…”

    …and they failed miserably.

    Have to agree with Tom T: “Come back here for a real conversation when you understand a bit about what you are talking about.”

    Come back when you’re at least somewhat up to speed on the topic.

  80. Zeke the Sneak says:

    It appears to me from personal observation that the principle of exclusion is really not so bad – as long as you are the one doing the excluding. Cases in point: an interview with Drs. John Christy and Gavin Schmidt.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6S1unDve-M

    A. Notice how the Climategate emails in question are really not of much interest – unless you are one of the scientists who has been the subject of denigrating emails for disagreeing with the Team. The principle of exclusion receives a little help through peer review, consensus, etc.
    B. Notice how climate models of course are not proof of anything – but according to Dr Schmidt, they do provide evidence of manmade global warming. Exclusion principle generously applied, by assuming that the inputs in the model do not leave out major driving influences and interrelationships in earth’s weather systems.
    C. Notice how the uncertainties are considerable and the case for warming being caused by man is extremely tenuous, and yet, the principle of exclusion applied generously shows us that there is a rise in temp and there is a rise in CO2 emissions by man, and CO2 is a ghg, ergo, that is enough to work from, that is, what we do know.
    I think Gavin Schmidt demonstrates well for us how the principle of exclusion really can be a powerful scientific tool!

  81. R. Craigen says:

    It is somewhat dangerous to strictly conflate exclusion with deduction. Exclusion is only one starting point for deduction. As any scientist knows, deduction, correctly executed, is completely reliable in and of itself, but the conclusions one draws are only as reliable as the assumptions upon which it is based. Exclusion is a risky razor to apply to facts in which there are a world of possibilities. And one must remember that “assumptions” in this case, include not only initial point of data but also the model used to arrive at final points. This is the problem with climate models today. Although they begin with doubtful data, the data themselves are not the key problem — it is that the models themselves are incomplete and, in places where they are probably basically “right”, they have completely inappropriate parameters. Even a cursory look by anyone familiar with mathematical modelling is enough to convince one that any predictive value of such models is lost. The deductions themselves are likely correct — I’ve litte doubt that competent programmers can correctly implement these models. But the models themselves are hopelessly inadequate. A further problem is that, because of the dynamics of climate, even if we could produce an in-principle complete and correct model and feed it unimpeachable data, its predictions would be useless, simply because of the nature of the dynamics being modeled.

    Let us not cast aspersions on deduction, however badly practitioners abuse the art. It is in principle more reliable than pure induction from pure empirics. The best science combines induction and deduction so that they provide a check on one another.

  82. Smokey says:

    The Exclusionary Principle is reflected in the logical fallacy Argumentum ad Ignorantium [argument from ignorance]. It goes something like this: “Since we can’t think of anything else that could cause warming, then it must be due to CO2.”

    It has now ben shown that CO2 is a function of temperature: as temperature rises CO2 is outgassed from the oceans. Effect cannot precede cause. Changes in CO2 follow changes in temperature on time scales from months to hundreds of millennia. The planet is currently starved of CO2, and the biosphere is greatly benefitting from the added airborne fertilizer.

    Finally, there is no evidence – none – that CO2 is causing global harm. Conclusion: CO2 is harmless and beneficial. More CO2 is better, at current and projected concentrations. It is, after all, just a tiny and beneficial trace gas.

  83. James Evans says:

    Starwatcher,

    Just to let you know – I’m a sceptic/luke-warmer, and I’m no fan of Monckton. In fact, I strongly suspect that he does more harm to scepticism than he does good. Personally, I don’t pay attention to what he says.

    All of which is perhaps a tad ad hom. But c’est la vie. I’m sure he’s a lovely person when you get to know him. :)

  84. Tucci78 says:

    In response to Starwatcher at 1:57 AM on 8 June, we find Robert Austin at 8:03 AM writing:

    :What is a “travesty” is to put Monkton in the same category as Al Gore. Gore will not debate, will not field skeptical questions, leads an indulgent life while dictating that the hoi polloi make sacrifice to Gaia and has made a pile of money off CAGW to boot. Why don’t you just say that you loathe Christopher Monkton and be done with it?
    In addition to the other differentiating characteristics (compared with Algore, Mr. Monckton is better educated, better informed, more articulate, and less sexually promiscuous, among other qualities), Monckton is intensely pro-American while Algore most emphatically…er, is not.

    Anthony doesn’t want us using the kind of language here that most accurately describes Algore’s attitude toward the people of these United States and the concept of civil government under the rule of law established in the U.S. Constitution, right?

  85. Tucci78 says:

    I have posted to the “Tips & Notes” forum my complaint about the idiotic change in the “Leave a Reply” box format which sets the work therein to a font size way to hellangone smaller than that of the Web page’s text, thereby making it extremely difficult for people with impaired vision to avoid making HTML errors (see in my most recent previous post).

    If one increases one’s browser “Zoom In” function to get a decent size in the “comments” box, the text in the body of the Web page assumes scare headline dimensions, and one has to then “Zoom Out” to restore scale. This is a profound pain in the Sitzplatz. Just what the hell kind of purpose is supposedly served by this idiotic “change-for-change’s-sake,” anyway?

    Anybody else interested in barraging the “Tips & Notes” page with complaints about this pestiferous stupidity?

  86. Stonyground says:

    On reading this post, the first thing that entered my head was Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. It was he who stated that once you have eliminated every other possibility, whatever is left, however unlikely, must be the truth. Of course he missed out the fact that there might be a really obvious explanation that you had simply never even thought of.

    A really good test of this line of thought is magic tricks. One that is so simple to do that I taught it to my then five year old daughter, who then proceeded to amaze her grandparents with it, involves a sheet of coloured paper, a pound coin, a coloured hankie and a glass. The glass is placed beside the coin on the paper, the hankie is placed over the glass and then both are placed over the coin. The hankie is then removed revealing that the coin has disappeared. The hankie is then placed over the glass and both the hankie and glass moved aside and the coin has mysteriously returned. There is a slightly more complex version that involves passing the coin through a solid wooden table but the principle is the same. When done well the trick is brilliantly convincing and, as already mentioned, a small child can do it. Were Holmes unable to think of an explanation, he would be forced to conclude that it was real magic, as real in fact as the Cottingly Fairies. In fact, there is a coloured paper disc taped over the mouth of the glass that is invisible to the observers but covers the coin and makes it look as though it has disappeared.

    In the case of climate change, the other explanation is obvious and in plain view. The climate has been changing for millions of years and humans have only existed for a few thousand years. The natural forces that caused these changes before humans had the slightest influence could possibly still be working. It is almost as if some people have been shown that there is a paper disc taped over the glass but prefer not to notice it and conclude that it is real magic.

  87. Bart says:

    YES, YES, YES! This is THE logical fallacy upon which the whole charade is founded. Very well stated.

    Starwatcher says:
    June 8, 2011 at 3:00 am

    “Rebuttals on articles here are often laid out in a easily understood and highly descriptive manner (Pat Franks last one here is last example).”

    Please see my rebuttal of the rebuttal near the end of the relevant thread.

    BBk says:
    June 8, 2011 at 3:53 am
    TomB says:
    June 8, 2011 at 8:40 am

    And, others… be aware that Sir Arthur redeemed himself with this quote from his famous detective:

    It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.

  88. Tucci78 says:

    At 3:53 AM on 8 June, BBk had replied to my observation that Arthur Conan Doyle – an ophthalmologist – had modeled his Sherlock Holmes character on a demon diagnostician who’d been one of the author’s instructors in medical school with:

    Sherlock Holmes works simply because ACD can posit that SH has perfect knowlege of any pertainant fact. It’s fiction. :) Imagine how SH, with his old knowlege, would have trouble deducing modern crimes comitted using cell phones, infrared scanners, etc, etc.

    …failing to get the blinkin’ point. I was referring not to the character but to the real-life exemplar who had inspired Doyle to create the persona of Sherlock Holmes, Joseph Bell, JP, DL, FRCS, with whom Doyle had done a clinical clerkship during his medical training.

    What Dr. Bell had demonstrated to Arthur Conan Doyle (and what every medical doctor can tell you about at least one of his own instructors or preceptors; mine was a sleepy-eyed, slow-talking Oklahoma general practitioner with an eidetic memory, an IQ too high for Mensa, and an inexhaustible supply of “dumb Texan” jokes) is that a painstakingly built and maintained fund of knowledge can provide information sufficient to encountered situations to confer insights not obvious to those who have not the diligence to learn, to remember, and – above all else – to observe the evidence.

    Elementary, right?

  89. Pompous Git says:

    It seems there are a few babies being thrown out with the bathwater here. There is nothing wrong in principle with deduction, just its misapplication. Consider what I believe to be the most elegant gedanken experiment of the last couple of thousand years as conducted by John Philoponus, Galileo and others.
    Aristotle contended that objects fall to the ground at a speed in direct proportion to their weight. An object of X units will fall half as fast as an object 2X units in weight. If we tie the two weights together, then they will fall at a rate of 3 times the speed of the smaller weight since the combined weight is now 3X units. The smaller weight will act as a drag on the larger weight, so they will fall at a rate somewhat less than an object of 2X units in weight. Similarly, the larger weight will drag the smaller weight along faster than it would fall alone.
    Obviously, we do not see any object falling at different speeds at the same time; this is an impossibility. Therefore, all objects fall at the same rate regardless of their weight. QED.
    Galileo attempted to demonstrate this empirically by having an assistant simultaneously dropping a wooden cannonball and an iron cannonball from a great height. Using the Principle of Exclusion, we can deduce this was not at Pisa else the assistant was some 300 feet tall, or the tower was 300 feet higher at the time than now. The wooden cannonball initially fell faster than the iron cannonball, but the iron cannonball overtook the wooden one and beat it to the ground by a noticeable margin. Galileo managed a fair explanation as to why the empirical evidence failed to support the gedanken experiment.
    The important take-home message is that both deduction and induction are important in generating an argument to the best explanation; the best explanation is a value judgement, there being as often as not, several competing explanations for the observed phenomena.

  90. Ian W says:

    Andy Mayhew says:
    June 8, 2011 at 3:12 am
    Coldish is correct re the Parallel Roads – they are now believed to be the shorelines of a glacial lake. So Darwin wasn’t too far off the mark.

    btw if the warmists were predicting warming for the past 10 years and (some) sceptics predicting cooling over the same time period and we end up with a fairly static temp trend, what does it tell us? Maybe they were both right?

    No it tells us that they were both WRONG.

    The difference between the two of course is that the warmists were wrong while on the basis of the incorrect claims are enriching themselves, causing the deindustrialization of the first world and leading to starvation in the third world by raising tax and turning food stock into fuel. Whereas those sceptics forecasting cooling were just wrong.

  91. Pompous Git says:

    Inductive logic can be expressed in deductive form as per Sir Karl Popper:

    If my Theory is correct, then I will make particular observations; I do make those observations. Therefore my Theory is correct.
    To see the flaw in this argument form, consider the following:

    If Hilary is pregnant, then Hilary is a woman. Hilary is a woman, therefore she is pregnant. This is called affirming the consequent and is a well known fallacy. We have identified the necessary condition, but not the sufficient condition to make our argument sound. This is the problem of all inductive argument. We can never know what we have yet to discover, the so-called black swan problem.

  92. Philip Mulholland says:

    During the Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Dawin made field observations of coral-reefs in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Darwin studied the modern environment and used this information to establish his ideas on the formation of these coral structures.
    See The Voyage of the Beagle Chapter 20. Entry dated April 12th
    http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-voyage-of-the-beagle/chapter-20.html

  93. TonyG says:

    In religion, I believe this is called “God of the Gaps”: We don’t know what caused it, therefore it must have been God.

  94. SteveSadlov says:

    Thomas L. Friedman has a piece (of … ) today. Mr. Hot Flat and Crowded claims the Earth is full (of human “vermin”). Didn’t he get the memo that we’re in a population death spiral (this is mathematically assured at this point)? He also must have missed the memo regarding cold and food shortages.

  95. phlogiston says:

    Smokey says:
    June 8, 2011 at 10:36 am

    The Exclusionary Principle is reflected in the logical fallacy Argumentum ad Ignorantium [argument from ignorance]. It goes something like this: “Since we can’t think of anything else that could cause warming, then it must be due to CO2.”

    While I agree with the spirit and conclusions of this article, there seems to be some shifting in the definitions of deductive and inductive and their role in climate science. The exclusion principle is – as Smokey says – closer to Aristotle’s argumentum ad ignrantium than deductiveness. The philosophy of Karl Popper has been cited repeatedly on WUWT in relation to climate science. Popper was clear that deductive science is good, real science, while inductive is non-science and illusory. The present article has it the other way around and I think it has confused the two terms. Essentially the Popperian deductive argument means hypotheses (or “conjectures”) need to be falsifiable and risky – statements that can practically be falsified i they are not true. Willis Eschenbach echoed this in a recent post (a rebuttal to a somewhat inductive Ravetz), stating that a scientific assertion that is true is one that might be false. This is a very elegant expression of Popper’s view.

    The big problem with CAGW is that it is inductive. That is to say, assumption is built on assumption in a linear manner such that the whole edifice is obscured and protected from effective falsification. Hence the foundational and sometimes even exclusive role of computer models. Complex inductive theories have the appearence of expaining everything, as did for instance Marxism and dialectic communism in Popper’s time. Popper realised that the supposed strength of such super-theories – they can “explain everything” – was in fact a fatal weakness – they can explain nothing. This led him to his insights on conjectures and refutations, which will eventually be recognised as the foundation of the scientific process. In this respect CAGW is in the same category as dialectic communism and Marxism – an impressive mountain of arguments and data but not falsifiable, not risky and thus not containing any real truth.

  96. SteveSadlov says:

    The fact of Mankind’s success over the past 10000 years and therefore our development of advanced technology and means to harness energy to do work, are themselves likely a result of the benign, warm interglacial. To think that even our greatest outpourings intentional and non intentional will permanently arrest the glacial is utterly naive.

  97. andy says:

    Sherlock Holmes made a similar mistake. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

  98. Jimbo says:

    Natural variation?

    Dr Roy Spencer
    “The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling.

    How could the experts have missed such a simple explanation? Because they have convinced themselves that only a temperature change can cause a cloud cover change, and not the other way around. The issue is one of causation. They have not accounted for cloud changes causing temperature changes.”
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/04/the-great-global-warming-blunder-how-mother-nature-fooled-the-world%e2%80%99s-top-climate-scientists/

    Recently, Dr Roy Spencer, has stated that he has changed his mind about cosmic rays and has put one foot into that camp.
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/05/indirect-solar-forcing-of-climate-by-galactic-cosmic-rays-an-observational-estimate/

  99. gyptis444 says:

    Tucci 78 ??? preposterous bogosity? What does that mean?

    I agree with everything else you have written. My intention was to acknowledge the problems that arise when a new disease entity appears. As you point out, the syndrome of immune deficiency was well recognised (albeit in other contexts) but isolating and identifying the viral cause and developing antiviral treatment combinations took time etc. That was all I was getting at.

  100. gyptis444 says:

    Further to my earlier comment.
    The assumption underlying use of the exclusion principle in climate science is more comprehensively stated as
    ‘all the relevant factors and their feedbacks and interactions are known, accurately characterised and quantified’ etc.

  101. gyptis444 says:

    Pompous Git
    You cite a good example.
    Recently I came up with a similar one.
    At the swimming pool where my grandson attends swimming lessons, I observed that most of the adult females of child-bearing age were actually pregnant. Even the ones who were not obviously pregnant had small child(ren) in tow. The inductive hypothesis from this is that swimming causes pregnancy in adult females of childbearing age. There must be a fertilising factor in the water, maybe chlorine.
    All I have to do now is exclude any consideration of the non-swimmers in the population (and a mass of medical reproductive science). Voila!

  102. Khwarizmi says:

    “The problem, as Darwin saw it, was that corals can not live more than about 30 feet below the surface…”

    Darwin couldn’t see much below 30 feet…

    “Black corals are a group of corals that belong to the order Antipatharia. Black corals are found all over the world and at all depths.
    http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06laserline/background/blackcoral/blackcoral.html

    “Different species of black coral can be found from shallow depths of 1m/3ft to depths up to 6000 m / 20 000 ft where no light can reach them.
    http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/corals/blackcoral.php

    “I have argued that empirical science is a genuine human universal. In this chapter, I shall broaden this claim even further by arguing that the scientific method is not merely typical of all humans, but is also a key feature in the lives of most birds and mammals. Science as we know it in the Western world is the product of a highly formalized version of something very basic to life, namely the business of learning about regularities in the world.” — Robin Dunbar, The Trouble with Science, The Roots of Science, p. 58

    Also, in the vernacular of modern science the somewhat ambiguous term “exclusion principle” is typically associated with Wolfgang Pauli’s important and useful contribution to quantum physics:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=exclusion+principle

  103. Tucci78 says:

    At 5:37 PM on 8 June, gyptis444 asks of me:

    …preposterous bogosity? What does that mean?

    Well, “preposterous” finds definition as “contrary to nature, reason, or sense; absurd; ridiculous [from Latin praeposterus reversed, from prae in front, before + posterus following].” Think “bass-ackwards.”

    To the best of my recollection, the concept of anthropogenic atmospheric release of carbon dioxide as the sole cause of some kind of catastrophic planetary warming (by way of the greenhouse gas mechanism) first came to my attention sometime between 1979 and 1981, and I received it as follows: “Preposterous! These idiots are overstating the heat trapping effect by at least three orders of magnitude.”

    And I learned later that I was underestimating their error by a couple orders of magnitude, too.

    Given its “bass-ackwards” connotation, “preposterous” is particularly apt when we discuss the causal link between global warming and atmospheric CO2 levels on account of the fact – as has been demonstrated – atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increases lag behind planetary warming by about eight hundred years. First the warming, then the CO2 comes up.

    “Bogosity” is a widely used neologism derived from the term “bogus,” meaning “Counterfeit or fake; not genuine.”

    The AGW contention is therefore accurately characterized as a “preposterous bogosity.” See?

    I agree with everything else you have written. My intention was to acknowledge the problems that arise when a new disease entity appears. As you point out, the syndrome of immune deficiency was well recognised (albeit in other contexts) but isolating and identifying the viral cause and developing antiviral treatment combinations took time etc. That was all I was getting at.

    That GRID (later AIDS) was an acquired condition of infectious cause was evident to every clinician of my acquaintance from the very beginning. Remember, however, that virologists at that time had not yet been able to characterize many of the RNA-based retroviruses. We still hadn’t gotten a handle on Hepatitis C, which is caused by a flavivirus species, and were calling it “Non-A, Non-B hepatitis.”

    I was in medical school when “Non-A, Non-B hepatitis” first began to surface as a public health concern, and we got a series of special additional lectures on what was then known about the condition. I was the class note pool’s “designated hitter,” and so I was responsible for taping these lectures, digesting them, and writing them up for distribution. Subsequently, I lost family members and a ton of patients to hepatic cirrhosis with liver failure and primary hepatocellular carcinoma directly attributable to this bastardly little lentivirus.

    Y’see, “the problems that arise when a new disease entity appears” have been encountered in medicine so often that we’ve developed an institutional fund of knowledge on the basis of that experience with which to undertake investigation of both etiologies and treatment options. Even guys like me – a contemptible primary care grunt suitable (in the eyes of the specialists) for no function higher than that of triage and listening to patients’ routine complaints – know enough to keep our antennae up and our noses twitching for the moment when that rare “zebra” gallops into our examining rooms.

    Why the hell do you think that “History of Medicine” is taught in med school?

    We got a structured method for handling “the problems that arise when a new disease entity appears.” Think “standard of care” and you’ve got a handle on just about everything that medical doctors cling to as we stumble our way through the cloud of inaccuracies and outright lies we get from our patients and their family members.

  104. kuhnkat says:

    Darwin used the exclusion principle with evolution also. He was batting 1000!!!!

  105. Ted Wagner says:

    @Starwatcher:

    Are you sure you want to be a “consensus guy”? You may want to bone up on your Charles Mackay.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_Popular_Delusions_and_the_Madness_of_Crowds

  106. Starwatcher says:

    @Ted Wagner
    No one argues that the consensus of experts is always right, merely that it is the best tool we have.

  107. Walter Dnes says:

    This is eerily similar to “Intelligent Design” (i.e. backdoor creationism)… we can’t think of any natural explanation for the universe, therefore it must have been created by an omnipototent supreme being.

  108. Starwatcher says:

    @James Evans

    Good for you. (Not being sarcastic)

  109. Starwatcher says:

    @Smokey
    Sources are appreciated. Also, how do you reconcile your statements that greenhouse gases are not linked to warming and your own supplied graph having temperatures follow a curve that is claimed to represent what should happen with a climate sensitivity of 1.6C per doubling of CO2?

  110. jorgekafkazar says:

    Starwatcher says: “To be blunt; Alot (sic) more of us that know a little about this topic but not enough to evaluate high level discussion independently would be more understanding of the skeptical side if obvious charlatans, some of which that have multiple appearances on this very site, didn’t get such uncritical applause from what seems to be a plurality of skeptics. There is no excuse for holding people such as Christopher Monckton in high esteem.”

    Argument ad hominem, the first refuge of climate scoundrels. Next!

  111. Tucci78 says:

    Of Starwatcher‘s comment:

    To be blunt; Alot (sic) more of us that know a little about this topic but not enough to evaluate high level discussion independently would be more understanding of the skeptical side if obvious charlatans, some of which that have multiple appearances on this very site, didn’t get such uncritical applause from what seems to be a plurality of skeptics. There is no excuse for holding people such as Christopher Monckton in high esteem.

    …at 11:16 PM on 8 June jorgekafkazar writes:

    Argument ad hominem, the first refuge of climate scoundrels. Next!

    Actually, no. It is regrettably very common to erroneously use the term argumentum ad hominem when what is actually being described is nothing more than simple insult.

    Were Starwatcher to write that the denial of the AGW bogosity is wrong because Christopher Monckton is not to be held in high esteem – and for no other reason than that – then and only then would you have an ad hominem fallacy.

    As it is, what we have of Starwatcher in his assertions here regarding Mr. Monckton are assessments of the latter as a “charlatan” without any supporting argument whatsoever. A naked conclusion which Starwatcher seems to expect will be accepted without his effort to provide justification for the opinion he voices.

  112. tallbloke says:

    Solar: We have sunspot records since 1749, and they indicate the sun got more active in the C20th. However, there is a strong move from the mainstream to say the Sun hasn’t varied enough to be the cause of warming in the C20th. At the same time they have to invoke the sun to explain climate change before co2 took over so they are in a contradiction, and don’t like to discuss it. The only solar measure they will use is TSI, which doesn’t vary much (0.1% – enough to cause a ~0.07-0.15C change in surface temp over the 11 year solar cycle, without considering amplification caused by changes in humidity, cloud cover etc). They won’t consider the fact that various wavelengths within the TSI (total solar irradiance) vary a lot more, especially UV. UV variation has poorly known but large effects on ozone, plankton density and etc which have poorly understood but possibly large effects on the absorbance of energy into the ocean, cloud cover, and etc.

    Clouds: The elephant in the room. Simple calcs show that a 1% variation in tropical cloud cover could reverse or double the warming trend. We can’t measure cloud cover (and droplet size, density etc) accurately enough, so the models assume it remains constant. The empirical data (not without its problems) says cloud cover dropped in the tropics 1979-1998. Empirical study of the satellite data shows overall cloud feedback is negative. The modelers assume it is positive.

    Sea surface temp: There’s a pretty flat trend in the southern hemisphere. Co2 mixes fairly quickly from where it is emitted worldwide. How is it that global warming supposedly caused by co2 has warmed the northern hemisphere more than the south? The answer would seem to be that back radiation from greenhouse gases warm the land but not the ocean so much. Since the global ocean surface temp drives atmospheric temp, they don’t really want to go there.

    The fixation with global average surface air temperature masks the underlying important variables:
    Ocean heat content, which is only known with reasonable accuracy since 2004, and has been falling, according to people I trust who have managed to get the data.
    Outgoing longwave radiation: The error in measurement is three times the claimed co2 signal.

    There is a lot that those who call us deniers are in denial of. Especially true levels of uncertainty.

  113. phlogiston says:

    tallbloke says:
    June 9, 2011 at 12:06 am

    A very nice summary of these climate essentials, and of the aversion to reality of the AGW modellers; thanks!

  114. Pompous Git says:

    Starwatcher said @ June 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    “No one argues that the consensus of experts is always right, merely that it is the best tool we have.”

    Sorry, but I disagree (and Bert Russell) on this. The best tool we have is between our ears. It’s just that some refuse to use it.

    “The boy’s got brains; he just refuses to use ‘em that’s all”. Paul Simon

  115. michael hart says:

    The role of imagination is often understated in science: A good scientist is required to imagine (and discount) as many alternative explanations as possible in order to support their hypothesis. This, of course, can be very difficult for those that believe from the outset that theirs is the only possible explanation. Science is done by humans who are far from perfect.
    If my science proposed wholesale changes to the world economy, then I would duly expect a huge amount of detailed suggestions and questions as where any flaws might be.

  116. Zeke the Sneak says:

    …Walter Dnes says:
    June 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm
    This is eerily similar to “Intelligent Design” (i.e. backdoor creationism)… we can’t think of any natural explanation for the universe, therefore it must have been created by an omnipototent supreme being.

    No, intelligent design theory is based mainly on the percepton/observation of irreducible complexity in biologic systems, starting with the single cell.

    And neither does the principle of exclusion find any expression othodox Judeo-Christian teaching on creation. It is fully acknowledged that a “creationist” has made a step of faith in order to understand origins. Belief is a mental process that everyone engages in, whether he is aware of it or not. In this case it is a conscious decision to accept by faith the existence of a spiritual order of things which is not visible to the eye, which is causitive and therefore more “real” than physical reality, and which is ruled by the Creater. The important point is that belief is a decision involving a conscious volitional act, and there is also usually an acceptance that all of one’s questions and arguments are not resolved by making this decision. Belief is a Constitutionally enshrined personal choice in the United States, and protection of the individual freedom to choose what one believes (rather than being conformed culturally and by the state in one’s belief system) is foundational to our society.

  117. Footagus says:

    This is an interesting article. It attempts to make a case by skirting all of the existing science, ignores any data, and then claims that the science of Warmeration is based on exclusion. Weird, that’s what it is; it must be Weird Science. Along the way it oh so cleverly misunderstands Weaver’s statement about the cause of AGW: “There is no known natural climate mechanism to explain…” Does that mean that Weaver cannot suggest an explanation? No, he’s saying that if you’re going to postulate a cause other than anthropogenic CO2, you’d need some substantive evidence.

    In other words, this is exactly analogous to Creationism: You don’t want to believe the mainstream scientific explanation, so you claim that your effect (lack of warming/creation) MUST be a consequence of some unexplained cause. As with creationism, science demands evidence to support those alternative hypotheses. Is there substantive evidence that temperature increases are caused by something other than anthropogenic CO2? Otherwise, this is just anti-science blather.

    And, as mentioned upthread, people like Christopher Monckton, who is only too willing to lie and fabricate evidence to support his fatuous claims, only make the rest of the CC skeptics look like they don’t understand how basic science works. Kent Hovind, anyone? What’s up with that? You folks can’t really take Monckton seriously, can you?

    The sycophantic responses are kind of amusing though.

  118. Nick de Cusa says:

    We took the liberty to translate this article into French and to publish it here, http://www.contrepoints.org/2011/06/13/29733-science-climatique-alarmiste-et-principe-d%E2%80%99exclusion, in the hope of spreading the good word of Anthony wider, in an additional language and to an incremental audience. Anthony and WUWT are of course free to use this translation for any purpose they like.

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