The Myth of Settled Science

Guest post by Donald R. Baucom

A key defense of AGW and now climate change is that the science is settled.  Historically and philosophically, this statement is unsustainable.

                        Who would dare assert that we know all there is to be known?
– Galileo Galilei, Letter to Father Benedetto Castelli, 21 Dec 1613.

If you rely upon America’s mainstream media for your news about climatology, you may not have noticed that the idea of an impending global disaster caused by anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is somewhat passé.  Still, the same mantra used in efforts to silence critics of AGW is now being deployed in defense of climate change or AGW light:  The science of climate change is settled.  In reality, the assertion that any science is settled is essentially a political slogan that misrepresents the nature of science.

One of the reasons people may not have noted the shift from AGW to climate change is that the mainstream media continue to hype global warming.  Reports on the results of a recent study headed by Professor Richard Muller, a physicist from the University of California-Berkeley, illustrate the slanted manner in which global warming is all too often handled by American journalists.

Muller’s study concluded that the earth’s temperature had increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the last two hundred-plus years.  This conclusion was well-reported.  Less well reported is the fact that Muller was and continued to be skeptical about the role of human activities as a cause of this increase.  Furthermore, Muller noted that even if this warming is caused by human activity, there is virtually nothing the U.S. can do to abate its effects, given the growing carbon emissions produced by the expanding economies of India and China.

A major point missing from much of the coverage of Muller’s report is dissent from a member of Muller’s own study team, Professor Judith Curry, who heads the Department Of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.  Curry believes the publicity surrounding the Muller study has mischaracterized its results by saying that this study should end skepticism about global warming.

In fact, Curry noted, the Muller study had pointed up a major anomaly for those who may still believe that the earth is warming and that this warming is caused by human use of fossil fuels: there has been no increase in the global temperature since 1998 in spite of the fact that carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is considered the major cause of global warming, has continued to increase.  This calls into question any direct cause-and-effect linkage between carbon dioxide and global warming.  This in turn suggests that the continued use of fossil fuels may not produce catastrophic results as global warming advocates like Al Gore have long proclaimed.

The absence of global warming in the past decade or so was noted as long ago as 2008 by Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  According to Lindzen, there had been “no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”

Lindzen and Curry are among the dissenting scientists that AGW advocates seek to silence with their “settled science” mantra.  To re-iterate, this mantra is a political slogan used by those who would use global warming to justify draconian measures to force a shift from fossil fuels to green energy.  Moreover, global warming would also be used to justify annual transfers of as much as $100 billion from developed to undeveloped nations under the guise of offsetting the effects of global warming on these lesser developed nations.

Regarding the transfer of wealth that is involved here, all doubt about the political goals of at least some climate change zealots should be removed by the November 2010 comments of Ottmar Edenhofer, a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  In an interview published by the “Neue Zürchen Zeitung,” a Swiss German-language daily newspaper based in Zurich, Edenhofer said:  “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

The loftiness of such goals does not justify the invention of fictions to suppress opposition.  As Thomas Mann put this matter:  “In the long run, a harmful truth is better than a useful lie.”  Dissent and disagreement are crucial to the advancement of knowledge according to philosopher Karl Popper, who also noted that scientific theories can never be completely, finally verified—they can only be falsified.  And, of course, the falsification of a concept hopefully leads to the development of another, more comprehensive one.

Popper’s views are echoed in Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic study, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”  Kuhn, a physicist turned historian of science, argued convincingly that science is an open-ended process composed of a never-ending series of cycles.  For the sake of example, we may start this cycle with the establishment of a paradigm, a theoretical framework that is accepted and supported by a body of scientists.  These scientists then seek to explain a set of natural phenomena in terms of the paradigm.  In addition to explaining phenomena, the paradigm determines the questions scientists ask about these phenomena.

When a paradigm is first established, there are still problems to be solved within its context; Kuhn refers to this as the puzzle-solving phase of the scientific cycle.  The challenge of solving these puzzles is one feature of the paradigm that attracts adherents.  However, at some point, new puzzles emerge that cannot be explained within the accepted paradigm.  (Think here of the absence of an increase in global temperature in spite of a continuing increase in the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.)  These anomalies now drive the cycle into a crisis phase in which adherents to the old framework begin to think outside the confines of the paradigm.  A new theoretical framework emerges and wins supporters.  The cycle begins anew.

Science at the end of the nineteenth century illustrates what can happen when practitioners conclude that they have achieved a complete understanding of some aspect of the natural world.  According to historian Lawrence Badash, a number of scientists in the late 1800s concluded that they had developed a complete theoretical framework.  All that remained to be done was to secure more precise measurements that could be used to improve “‘physical constants to the increased accuracy represented by another decimal place.’”

Within a decade or so of such pronouncements, an entire world of new phenomena emerged.  The discovery of X-rays, radioactivity, electrons, etc., ended the era of classical physics that had begun with Sir Isaac Newton and spawned the quantum and relativity revolutions.

Lest a reader conclude that the situation in classical physics is not commensurate with today’s science, here are comments on the open-ended nature of science from two leading contemporary scientists.  According to Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous scientists of our day:  “Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis:  you can never prove it.  No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.  On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.”  Similar views have been expressed by Freeman Dyson, a physicist who made major contributions in the field of quantum mechanics.  In his 1985 Gifford Lectures, which were later published in book form under the title “Infinite in All Directions,” Dyson wrote:  “The cutting edge of science moves rapidly.  New discoveries and new ideas often turn whole fields of science upside down within a few years.”

The insights of these two scientists would seem to be unknown to far too many advocates of AGW/climate change who seem incapable of confronting anomalies spawned by increasing knowledge of phenomena like cloud cover, sun spots, and cosmic radiation.

Finally, virtually no one seems to remember the grave warning that President Dwight Eisenhower issued concerning the undue influence of a scientific-technological elite.  While Eisenhower’s warning against the military-industrial complex is one of the most oft-quoted presidential pronouncements, few seem to remember that Eisenhower also told us in the same speech that “the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture” had been spawned by “the technological revolution during recent decades.”

Eisenhower went on to say that this revolution thrust scientists and technicians into positions of unprecedented influence.  Of this situation, Eisenhower warned:  “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy should itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

For several years now, some members of our scientific elite have been using the “science is settled” mantra in an effort to quash opposition to their position on human-induced climate change.  Science and all of us will suffer should they succeed.

About these ads

132 thoughts on “The Myth of Settled Science

  1. In my opinion, it is the mis-selling of the precautionary principle which keeps the politicians on board because it can be seen to be very logical and is used to reasure the waverers. It is being sold by advocates and lobbyists ,to NGOs and the green activists and those people have infiltrated such bodies as the IPCC.

  2. The thing that amazes me is that this is worthwhile printing at all. It is blindingly obvious to any proper scientist. It just goes to show how the IPCC et al have distorted science.

  3. It can’t hurt to read the letter, or at least the paragraph from which the loose quote is taken, to get the context.

    http://www.disf.org/en/documentation/03-Galileo_PBCastelli.asp

    “Given this, and moreover it being obvious that two truths can never contradict each other, the task of wise interpreters is to strive to find the true meanings of scriptural passages agreeing with those physical conclusions of which we are already certain and sure from clear sensory experience or from necessary demonstrations. Furthermore, as I already said, though the Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit, because of the mentioned reasons many passages admit of interpretations far removed from the literal meaning, and also we cannot assert with certainty that all interpreters speak by divine inspiration; hence I should think it would be prudent not to allow anyone to oblige scriptural passages to have to maintain the truth of any physical conclusions whose contrary could ever be proved to us by the senses and demonstrative and necessary reasons. Who wants to fix a limit for the human mind?*** Who wants to assert that everything which is knowable in the world is already known?**** Because of this, it would be most advisable not to add anything beyond necessity to the articles concerning salvation and the definition of the Faith, which are firm enough that there is no danger of any valid and effective doctrine ever rising against them. If this is so, what greater disorder would result from adding them upon request by persons of whom we do not know whether they speak with celestial inspiration, and of whom also we see clearly that they are completely lacking in the intelligence needed to understand, let alone to criticize, the demonstrations by means of which the most exact sciences proceed in the confirmation of some of their conclusions?”

    Ironically, Gallileo’s assertions about a fixed and immovable Sun are a good example of” settlled science” being not so settled.motionless

  4. The Global Warming theory is not science. It has nothing to so with science, never has and never will. A bunch of radicals with a political agenda have doctored data and lied to the world about a problem that only exists in their sick, twisted, corrupt minds. The science of psychology should have a close look at these people. That’ll be about as close to science the Climate Liars will ever get.

  5. not just settled, but VERY PRECISE:

    17 Jan: Courier Mail Australia: Matthew Sadler: Global warming to cut short lives
    A GLOBAL temperature rise of 2C by 2050 would result in increased loss of life, a new Queensland study has found.
    Scientists from the Queensland University of Technology and the CSIRO examined the “years of life lost” due to climate change, focusing on Brisbane.
    “A two-degree increase in temperature in Brisbane between now and 2050 would result in an extra 381 years of life lost per year in Brisbane,” lead researcher Associate Professor Adrian Barnett, from the university’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said…
    “A four-degree increase in temperature would result in an extra 3242 years of life lost per year in Brisbane.”
    Interestingly, the study found that a one-degree increase would result in a decrease in the number of lives lost.
    This is believed to be because the increase in heat-related years of life lost are offset by the decrease in cold-related years of life lost.
    The researchers said cold-related deaths were significant, even in a city with Brisbane’s warm climate.
    And many deaths could be avoided if people had better insulation in their houses…
    The study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/global-warming-to-cut-short-lives/story-e6freoof-1226245930928

    17 Jan: Age, Australia: Reef fish at risk as carbon dioxide levels build
    Researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University say concentrations of CO2 are predicted to reach between 700 and 900 microatmospheres before the end of the century, interfering with the ability of the fish to hear, smell, turn and evade predators…
    The team concluded that high levels of carbon dioxide stimulates a receptor in the fishes’ brains called GABA-A. The receptor’s function is reversed and some nerve signals become overexcited.
    Professor Munday said 2.3 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions dissolved into the ocean each year.
    ”We’ve now established it isn’t simply the acidification of the oceans that is causing disruption, as is the case with shellfish and plankton with chalky skeletons. But the CO2 itself is damaging the fishes’ central nervous systems.”
    The fish most affected are expected to be those with high oxygen consumption…
    The research has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/reef-fish-at-risk-as-carbon-dioxide-levels-build-20120116-1q361.html

    12 Feb 2010: Sydney Morning Herald: Julian Lee: TV news is not factual program, says regulator
    News does not constitute a ”factual program” according to the media regulator, which is reluctant to investigate whether TV networks should disclose that banks pay them to be financial commentators in their news bulletins.
    Some commercial TV networks are receiving up to $3 million a year from banks’ broking houses to appear in the news bulletins and commentate on the day’s trading…

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/tv-news-is-not-factual-program-says-regulator-20100211-nv6h.html?skin=text-only

  6. Stephen hawking on climate change, man caused. “Hawking warns: We must recognize the catastrophic dangers of climate change”, which is puzzling from him. You would think he could see through the scam in no time. Where is he getting his information? —-http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/hawking-warns-we-must-recognise-the-catastrophic-dangers-of-climate-change-432585.html

  7. As I recall, Professor R Muller, of BEST, has never been an AGW skeptic. Moreover, He is a principal in a consulting organization that has a great deal of skin in the climate alarmism arena.

    Assuming my recollection is correct, the matters noted indicate both motivation and bias that is noteworthy.

  8. Less well reported is the fact that Muller was and continued to be skeptical about the role of human activities as a cause of this increase.

    Although Muller estimates 2 in 3 odds that humans are causing global warming, “the fact that the original conclusion of Mann et al. is ‘plausible’ is damning with faint praise,” he said. “Theories are plausible; discoveries are supposed to be proven.”

    http://bit.ly/xLEG6v

    It’s fairly weak skepticism if you feel it necessary to lay short odds like that.

  9. … Dissent and disagreement are crucial to the advancement of knowledge according to philosopher Karl Popper, who also noted that scientific theories can never be completely, finally verified—they can only be falsified. And, of course, the falsification of a concept hopefully leads to the development of another, more comprehensive one. …

    One of the realities of all science is that humans are inherently conservative, occasionally to the their own detriment. A great deal of scientific debate – in all fields – is social rather than scientific at heart. Thus we see formation of cliques – such as the AGW clique – which, if their members can maneuver into positions of influence can effectively guide funding and “permissible” research topics for years or decades. Because of this, it is common for a “theory” to be taught for decades, even though it does not well, or potentially, at all, rather than simply say “we don’t know.”

    Thus, the “geosynclinal” theory in geology was used for decades, despite that fact that it was logically untenable, failed to explain or address self-evident phenomena, and relied on physics that were nearly as convoluted as the forms used in AGW theory to amplify CO2 effects to a serious result. The theory remained in textbooks for decades until plate tectonics emerged as a viable, and evidently more complete contender. Similarly, proponents of biological and abiotic theories on the origin of petroleum continue to contend. Neither is likely a “complete” theory and both have been used “with success” to find oil fields. Each offers strengths in some manner that the other lacks. Potentially both may be right, since nothing in the current science appears to exclude that possibility.

  10. Owen – here’s an example of the political radicals you refer to:

    http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=6970

    “The Earth’s climate continued to change during 2011 – a year in which unprecedented combinations of extreme weather events killed people and damaged property around the world. The scientific evidence for the accelerating human influence on climate further strengthened, as it has for decades now. Yet on the policy front, once again, national leaders did little to stem the growing emissions of greenhouse gases or to help societies prepare for increasingly severe consequences of climate changes, including rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea-levels, loss of snowpack and glaciers, disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and much more.”

  11. I can’t help feeling that there is a bit of a straw man here. Just who is saying “the science is settled”? (There are no quotes or links offered in the post.) I don’t hear any climate scientists saying that. Among other things, this might harm their chances for funding! Maybe some politicians and journalists say that: which ones? (I do recall Bill Clinton saying “the science is solid”, which is not the same thing.)

  12. “Historically and philosophically, this statement is unsustainable.”

    replace unsustainable with “absurd” and that’s it in a nutshell.

  13. In a public debate I was in a year ago with a professor from a major eastern PA research university I challenged him to relinquish all claims to further research funding and to return all unspent funds if, indeed, the science was settled as he held. I then challenged him to resign his post as professor with a clause in his resignation that his colleagues should do the same and hand the reins over to politicians. In a reiteration later in the debate, I told the audience that if the science was settled, we had no need for university scientists to tell us that they made themselves obsolete, so what is this guy doing here and why is still on the public dole?

  14. The post states:
    According to historian Lawrence Badash, a number of scientists in the late 1800s concluded that they had developed a complete theoretical framework. All that remained to be done was to secure more precise measurements that could be used to improve “‘physical constants to the increased accuracy represented by another decimal place.’”

    Maybe some scientists took this position. But not the best. Many physicists, perhaps Maxwell most prominently, knew that their theories could not explain the observed specific heat of gases. Not until quantum theory was developed did the theory of specific heat match the measurements.

    Billy

  15. Let’s be fair on this settled science thing. Engineers build bridges on settled science. The theory might be wrong, but it works. (Ptolemaic astronomy worked for astrological chart predictions and for guiding travellers even after Newton.) A theory can always be superseded, and so is always wrong in this sense, but there is some degrees by which some science is more settled than others, and so can be the basis for reasonable action — whether to build bridges or mitigate climate catastrophe. If we dont grant this then we are suggesting science can never inform action, can never inform public policy. It can, and it does (eg public health policy last century).

    No science is settled. We don’t need play such a big hand as this. Rather, all we can and should do is as WUWT does, and continually try to take the debate back to the basics of evidence-based science; keep saying, let’s argue the evidence.

    If we are looking for reasons why the evidence debate became irrelevant 15 years ago, we could start by looking at the funding mechanisms driving this pseudo-science, and also look at the way the science has be corrupted by political drivers.

  16. Kuhn did not echo Popper – he took apart the latter’s argument about how scientific knowledge is obtained. Kuhn was deliberate in using the word “revolution” in his work.

    I think Popper would look at the state of climate science and call it “pseudoscience”.

  17. Tom G – Your assertion should be shouted front and center to lame stream media every time they regurgitate the ‘settled science’ meme.

  18. Nicely put by Donald R. Baucom. But here he is preaching to the choir; every sentence has been discussed many times on WUWT. Now if he could get this essay published in The New York Times, [] that would be an accomplishment.

    Of course, as Owen points out above (January 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm), the “science is settled” fiction promulgated by the Alarmists is grounded, not so much in Kuhnian paradigmatic obduracy, but in an ideological movement promulgated by radical neo-Marxists masquerading as ‘environmentalists’ and ‘greens’. This means it will take more than a “scientific revolution” to overturn it; it will take a political revolution as well. Getting the Congress to defund the IPCC and the EPA would be a good start.

    /Mr Lynn

  19. It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably used more often by AGW skeptics (clearly, not approvingly) than it is by AGW proponents. It is of course true that in science, all knowledge is tentative…And, yet people don’t argue that one should make policy decisions under the assumption that we are the Law of Gravity could still theoretically be overturned by new knowledge (which may sound ridiculous, but if you consider the issues of Dark Energy and of the fact that nobody has ever successfully married quantum mechanics and gravity, there truly are some unsettled issues).

    The fact is that various aspects of the science are known to various degrees of certainty. The basic mechanism of the greenhouse effect and the fact that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are increasing due to our burning of fossil fuels is, despite some arguments on this website, as settled as about anything in science can be. The value of climate sensitivity…and particularly the feedback from clouds is clearly much more uncertain, as are some of the consequences of climate change on sea level, flora, fauna, and society. However, that does not mean that nothing is known about them.

    To the extent that AGW proponents do say things to the effect that “the science is settled,” what is often meant is that the weight of the evidence is sufficiently clear that it is unwise to act as if we are not facing a serious problem and that continuing to burn through all of the likely reserves of fossil fuels is probably going to cause significant disruptions. Depending on just how large the climate sensitivity turns out to be and how large the impacts from climate change turns out to be, we could in fact face significant disruptions if we don’t more drastically curtail our emissions. This is the sort of thing that is agreed to by a broad consensus of scientific organizations, be they the IPCC, the NAS or the similar bodies in other countries, the councils of the various professional societies such as APS, AMS, and AGU, etc.

  20. This from memory, I read it somewhere:

    When Neils Bohr asked the university physics professor for his opinion on whether it was advisable for Bohr to take up physics at university, this professor replied that they know everything there is to know and advised Bohr to study some other subject. Bohr, of course went to study physics and we all know the outcome.

  21. You probably mean anthropogenic, not anthropomorphic.
    anthropomorphic: “described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes”
    anthropogenic: “of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature”

    [Fixed, thanks. ~dbs, mod.]

  22. You may want to correct your article… “… impending global disaster caused by anthropomorphic global warming (AGW) is somewhat passé. ”

    Anthropomorphic: 1: described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes 2: ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things

    Anthroprogenic: : of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature

    [Fixed, thanks ~dbs]

  23. Below is a link to an article I found to be extremely interesting. I touches on many of the points raised, especially the wrong thinking that leads to ‘the science being settled’. If one replaces ‘medical science’ with ‘climate science’ in the article, it exactly mirrors what is so wrong with the belief system that passes for climatology today.

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/12/ff_causation/

  24. The science is settled I tells ya. There was even a consensus among doctors as to the main cause of stomach ulcers. Why deny the settled science?????? Stop asking questions and go with the program.

    5 October 2011, Guardian
    A scientist whose work was so controversial he was ridiculed and asked to leave his research group has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    Daniel Shechtman, 70, a researcher at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, received the award for discovering seemingly impossible crystal structures in frozen gobbets of metal that resembled the beautiful patterns seen in Islamic mosaics.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/05/nobel-prize-chemistry-work-quasicrystals

    Further references:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15181187

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/05/does-this-treatment-sound-familiar/

  25. Anonymoose states, “You primates might want to notice that the National Center for Science Education, an evolution proponent group, is going to start treating climate change as being as definitively proven as is evolution.”

    You might want to notice that our education system is being hijacked by Eco-extremists.

  26. Ev’rythin’s up to date in CAGW fantasy land
    They’ve gone about as fur as they c’n go!
    They settled the science with a climate model many fallacies high,
    About as high as a model orta snow.
    Ev’rythin’s like a dream in CAGW fantasy land,
    It’s better than a magic lantern show!
    Y’ c’n turn the grant gravy train on
    Whenever you want some cash.
    With ev’ry kind o’ advance fix for comfort
    Ev’ry peer review is all complete.
    You c’n jet all over the world
    And never tie CO2 to your feet!
    They’ve gone about as fur as they c’n go,

    Yes sir!
    They’ve gone about as fur as they c’n go!

    With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein

  27. nc says:
    January 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Stephen hawking on climate change, man caused. “Hawking warns: We must recognize the catastrophic dangers of climate change”

    It seems as though out of every celebrity scientist there sometimes emanates the words of a fool.

    S. Hawking: “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”
    A. Einstein: “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”
    W. Eschenbach: “keep your !@#$%^ God to yourself”.

  28. Theory is when you know everything and nothing adds up, practice is when it all adds up and no-one knows why.

    (badly translated from the Norwegian)

  29. When science is settled hell will freeze.

    The worst part of that wouldn’t be that the science was at all settled, nor that hell froze, but that there was a hell to freeze, since hell is not supposed to exist, according to some, but considered to already be frozen, according to others. :p

  30. @Joel Shore: The AGW hypothesis is false and those who believe in science see it plainly. What is also plain is that there are those who have at best bought into the advocacy “science” and at worst would lose out in real financial terms should people stop buying the advocacy “science.

    Those who fall into the latter group have tried to keep the gravy train rolling by switching the hypothesis to man-made climate change in hopes that no one noticed. By trying to save the hypothesis they have made it un-falsifiable. Now everything proves the hypothesis and nothing can disprove it. This is what Popper calls “pseudoscience”, and once again those who believe in science can see it plainly.

    Due the continued refutation of the claims of the alarmists, those who are not at the extremes of the debate (most notably politicians and associated policy-makers) are now ignoring it entirely. Calling this majority names like “denier” won’t bring them over to your side.

  31. @nc: If professor Hawking had made such a statement he is merely stating the obvious. I mean look at what happened to the dinosaurs when the climate changed catastrophically.

  32. Joel Shore says:
    January 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably used more often by AGW skeptics (clearly, not approvingly) than it is by AGW proponents. (paraphrasing,…… our knowledge of gravity is like our knowledge of AGW )
    ===========================================================
    Joel, that’s a horrible analogy. The base of our knowledge of gravity doesn’t compare to AGW. While theoretical overturning of scientific knowledge is possible, that isn’t the point of contention with AGW, or more accurately, CAGW.

    Here’s why: the law of gravity works. The CAGW hypothesis, (in its many forms) does not. I can drop an object of specific shape from a specific site/height and if I replicate the environment,(dependent upon variables) I will be able to tell you when it will hit the ground and at what velocity. Every time. Even if I can’t mathematically demonstrate it, by observation, all things being the same, I would still be able to tell you after one observation. If something new comes to be found or understood, it won’t change the outcome of my dropping the object. Regardless of what gets discovered or understood, I’ll still be able to tell you what is occurring when I drop an object for all practical and physical purposes.

    Now, compare this to our understanding of climate science………. oh, there is none. With the exception of some meaningless knowledge as far as practical application. Yes, CO2 absorbs certain IR frequencies. Yes, the energy then gets emitted. Yes, a by product of life is CO2. This is by and large, the extent of our knowledge. The rest is supposition, superstition, theory and WAG. We have no observational data that supports CAGW. We don’t even have a testable hypothesis, much less any demonstrated predictive skill. The use of the word science attached to climate study is a misnomer. What it is; it is a type of bastardization of science mated with buggery of our maths, and the offspring is what we commonly know as climatology.

  33. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

    http://www.alberteinsteinsite.com/quotes/einsteinquotes.html#general

    Why the heck should I listen to such a dumb old man’s quotes? Chaotic climate science is settled; let’s overhaul the world’s entire energy sector because of the trace rise of the trace gas co2 which has lead to over a decade of lack of warming. Let’s just do it, now! Let’s make a few rich people lots more money on carbon schemes while the poor get robbed, again. You know it makes sense. Plant more trees while the biosphere greens by its lovely self. That’s the ticket!

  34. AnonyMoose, I only recently found out about that myself. I’ve sent an email to Eugenie Scott, and am in conversation with Andy Petto, the editor of NCSE Reports, that their new position on climate is both partisan and ultimately damaging. I’ve also submitted a reply to David Morrison’s defamatory article recently published in NCSE Reports, 31(5). We’ll see whether it gets published.

    I’ve been a $upporter of NCSE for many years, and have actively debated the scientific nonsense that is creationism and so-called “Intelligent Design Theory;” even to publishing on it. But if NCSE persists in its present unethical and objectively indefensible position on climate science, I’ll have to cease any and all support.

  35. Joel Shore, check these proponents..Canada’s top 2 proponents
    David Suzuki: the science has been settled since 1988 ( after Hansen ).
    Elizabeth May: “science is settled”, no need to discuss that

  36. 13 Jan: VIDEO: CBS: Tax dollars backing some “risky” energy projects
    Solar panel maker Solyndra received a $528 million Energy Department loan in 2009 – and went bankrupt last year. The government’s risky investment strategy didn’t stop there, as a CBS News investigation has uncovered a pattern of cases of the government pouring your tax dollars into clean energy…

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57358484/tax-dollars-backing-some-risky-energy-projects/

  37. Braddles says:

    “… Just who is saying “the science is settled”? (There are no quotes or links offered in the post.) I don’t hear any climate scientists saying that…”

    Dunno if an actual bona-fide card carrying scientist has stated it, but examples are all over the place from adherents.

    Al Gore – to House Energy committee and the Senate Environment committee.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642

    U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/02/23/23greenwire-epa-chief-goes-toe-to-toe-with-senate-gop-over-72892.html

    Maybe someone can come up with a few pseudo-scientists … such as Michael Mann if they look hard enough. Before any one takes an affront to that statement, there is absolutely no way that you can convince me that someone that produces such poor work, should be called a scientist.

  38. Joel Shore says:
    ” The basic mechanism of the greenhouse effect and the fact that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are increasing due to our burning of fossil fuels is, despite some arguments on this website, as settled as about anything in science can be.”

    Mr. Shore,
    With our C02 level constantly rising, can you tell me when our temperature will actually start rising?

    I keep visiting this web site year after year and can never get an answer to that question.

    I tried looking at computer models but they never seem to be accurate.

    Thank You in advance.
    Ron Richey

  39. “. . . exaggeration or distortion of scientific findings to support public opinion or a policy position is always illegitimate. Accurately reported scientific findings have a key role to play in support of public policies for the most sensible decisions about how to deal with society’s problems. Good science is the source of that knowledge.

    Advocacy for particular policies that is based on good science is always legitimate. But advocacy based on twisted science and intimidation not only discredits the scientists who practice it and the scientific community in general, but more importantly it risks significant diversion of public resources from the resolution of real problems.”

    source: http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv30n2/v30n2-1.pdf, a 2007 paper by Stanley W. Trimble, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

  40. Thomas Jefferson said something that goes sorta like this and I won’t quote. A lie needs government backing,but the truth stands alone.
    The UN and governments need your money only to enrich themselves and gain more power. They don’t do things to help no one but themselves. They usually falsify their good intentions.

  41. Joel Shore says:
    January 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm
    we could in fact face significant disruptions if we don’t more drastically curtail our emissions.
    =========================================================
    [Phil Jones] I’m not trying to make any sort of point here, just to state that repeating an analysis with exactly the same data is normally very difficult.
    —-
    Muller’s study concluded that the earth’s temperature had increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the last two hundred-plus years
    —–
    According to Lindzen, there had been “no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”
    —-
    the Muller study had pointed up a major anomaly for those who may still believe that the earth is warming and that this warming is caused by human use of fossil fuels: there has been no increase in the global temperature since 1998 in spite of the fact that carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is considered the major cause of global warming, has continued to increase.

    …30 years of global warming….and half of that time has been spent standing still……….

  42. Hon. Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, in May last year said, “The science is in, climate-change [whereby she means AGW] is real. The science is clear: man-made carbon pollution [meaning CO2] is making a difference [whereby she means a great and catastrophic difference] to our planet and our climate.”
    Politicians and other con-artists have indeed suggested that the science is settled.

  43. Professor Muller stated in his video Climate Change and Energy Oct 2010, that although he believes that humans may be affecting the climate that he would not be associated with the work that Michael Mann did and he claimed what Mann did with the hockey stick ‘Is not science’.

  44. 15 Jan: Atlanta Journal Constitution: Ga. failure not the only ethanol misadventure
    Ethanol ventures backed by billionaire entrepreneur Vinod Khosla — including Range 
Fuels, which built a failed factory in Georgia — were given the green light for an estimated $600 million in federal and state subsidies, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal- Constitution.
    Yet none of the dozen or so companies financed or controlled by Khosla over the last decade has produced commercially viable ethanol…
    Government spokesmen said the science behind Khosla’s companies was vetted and deemed plausible.
    “USDA’s loan decisions are based on commercial viability and grant decisions are based on scientific merit,” said spokesman Justin DeJong. 
“USDA is committed to providing oversight on loans and grants to safeguard federal investments.”…

    http://www.ajc.com/news/ga-failure-not-the-1302706.html

  45. Joel Shore says:

    “It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably used more often by AGW skeptics (clearly, not approvingly) than it is by AGW proponents. It is of course true that in science, all knowledge is tentative…”

    OK, now you admit that the science is never settled. But were you commenting here that the science is never settled when Algore’s An Inconvenient Truth came out? And do you write similar disclaimers to blogs like the one Donna Laframboise posted above, correcting their lunatic beliefs? They would certainly listen to you before they listened to a scientific skeptic tell them the same thing, so you might make a real difference there. Or do you just waste your time here, trying to convince intelligent WUWT readers that Down is Up, Ignorance is Strength, and The Science is Almost Settled?

  46. That’s a tad naive Joel, though you sound generally reasonable. ‘The science is settled’ is a propaganda piece intended primarily to intimidate and quash dissent from those who dare stand in the way of the AGW agenda. It appeals to authority in a way that is likely to work with the uninformed public and liberal minded but unlikely to intimidate the majority of individuals who frequent WUWT

    Also, few will disagree that oil is a limited resource. That is not part of this debate, rather a redirect.

  47. ThePowerofX says:
    January 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    A key defense of AGW and now climate change is that the science is settled.

    Straw man Alert! Straw man Alert!
    ===================================================
    Could you elucidate? It seems that statement is consistent with the title and thrust of the post.

  48. I just happened to catch an incredible softball interview of “scientist’ Katherine Hayhoe on Canada’s MSNBC (CBC). They love her because she’s been playing the victim act lately, claiming to have received ‘oceans of hate mail’ (which are, of course, never detailed… so this comment probably also qualifies as that).

    Anyhow, Hayhoe stated that ALL scientists KNOW that the whole AGW story is “real” based entirely on the data and other unexplained evidence.

    So, there you are. It is settled. Don’t know why anybody doubts her.

    P.S. She sure does look like Mike Mann!!!

  49. “The science is NOT settled,” sounds like it means that it might turn out that doubling atmospheric CO2 actually WILL result in a 3C global temp change.

    I wonder how many who agree with, “The science is not settled,” would strongly disagree with, “Doubling atmospheric CO2 may result in a 3C global temp increase.”

  50. As long as there are a few scientist who push AGW it will be considered settled. Government has too much to be gained by controlling this issue. Its just a huge win win for ruler types. It also spells win for media outlets who find the outlandish forecasts wonderfully perfect headlines.

  51. Donald R. Baucom,

    Popper’s views are echoed in Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic study, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

    Uh … no.

    Popper and Kuhn were ideological antagonists. Popper and Kuhn had a rather famous debate circa 1965, and it wasnt because Popper heard an echo. You should read about it.

    The fundamental difference between the two, is that Popper was philosopher of science, and his goal was to rescue induction from the arguments of Kant. His purpose was to determine what scientific practice should be, in order to provide reliable knowledge. Kuhn was a historian of science, more interested in how “science” actually was practiced, rather than epistimological considerations regarding how science should be practiced. His “scientific revolutions” occur not when better data and logic supplant old ideas by proving them false, but when the people who hold the old ideas die.

    Effectively, Popper said “Scientists must do this to be scientific”. Kuhn was closer to “Whatever scientists do is science”. Psycologists, sociologists, and ecologists tend to like Kuhn. Scientists tend to be more Popperian.

  52. The thing I find so painfully obvious is that CAGW theory is entirely based on luck and data manipulation and is therefore unscientific.

    There are three basic outcomes for average global temperature in any given year: increasing, decreasing and unchanged. So let’s look at accurately, CAGW theory has worked over the past 111 years:

    1900-1939: Average temps rose, man-made CO2 negligible: CAGW- FAIL
    1940-1978: Average temps fell, man-made CO2 increased: CAGW- FAIL (New Ice Age predicted)
    1979-1997: Average temps rose, man-made CO2 increased: CAGW- PASS
    1998-2011: Average temps unchanged, man-made CO2 increased: CAGW- FAIL

    The CAGW theory only correctly matched empirical results about 16% of the time… It was blind LUCK that the 18 years CAGW theory “worked” coincided exactly during the time the false claim “CAGW theory is settled” was wrongly proposed.

    In real science, any theory that only accurately predicts outcomes 16% of the time is unceremoniously thrown on the trash heap of failed ideas.

    CAGW theory failed and failed miserably. CAGW isn’t science it’s pure unadulterated politics of the worse kind.

  53. James Sexton:
    Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night.
    God said, Let Newton be, and all was light.
    Alexander Pope 1727, the year of Newton’s death
    Newton’s law of universal gravitation was classical science (mechanics). Most scientists then believed they were discovering natural laws, That concept of law is still used in theology and less often in science, as in Ohm’s Law (1827) which defines relationships in simple DC circiuits. Newton’s law is an excellent decription of how gravitational force operates, but he was exasperated that he could not understand what that force was and how it could operate at a distance. Scientific law, as used today, seems to be a description of observed facts. Theory goes beyond that and offers an explanation of observed facts. Newton observed falling apples and celestial bodies and brilliantly computed how the “force” of gravity acts at a distance. Most of us can here understand that and do the computations. Eistein’s explantion of those same observed facts- gravity- is completely different. Gravity is not a force, but a warping of time and space by matter- a concept that most people (including me, except perhaps after 1 joint or two drinks) can not understand. Where does climate science fit in? Maybe after 1 joint or two drinks, I’ll know. Maybe you do already.

  54. I have Kuhn’s book on my bookshelf – I guess it’s time to read it!

    I have no objection in principle to transferring sums of money to developing countries, I merely object on the practical level that such infusions of cash tend to ingrain corruption ever deeper and therefore worsen the lot of ordinary people in those countries.

  55. My background is applied science and mathematics. Recently, I have become engaged in climatology. As a disclosure – I do not drive, do not use air conditioners at home (even in Australia). I do that to live as simple a life as possible. Also I was member of greenpeace in university. Based on science and science alone I see the following:

    1) Co2 is rising due to industrial activity and will continue to rise. Doubling of Co2 will cause (based on known physics) approximately 1.2 centigrade rise in temperature and at that time the frequency of IR that Co2 absorbs will be consumed and further rise will be tiny (overall this is represented by the log relationship);

    2) IPCC takes this point and adds a net positive feedback to jack the warming up to 4.0 degree centigrade. This feedback “hypothesis” makes a prediction. The prediction is that net positive feedback is driven my water vapour and will thus heat up the troposphere.

    3) Last 30 years of satellite and balloon measurement of troposphere do not show any rise in temperature. The prediction of the feedback hypothesis has failed and thus the hypothesis need to be revised. The IPCC refers to this as the missing heat problem. In any case missing or not the hypothesis need to provide a new prediction of missing heat, where it has gone and how it gets there. If these cannot be provided than maximum temperature rise from doubling of Co2 has to be no more than 1.2 degree centigrade.

    So all efforts of good scientist should focus on point 2 and 3 to develop a better model or a revised hypothesis. I equate this logic to the prediction made by general relativity in relation to gravity affecting light ( which up to that time was deemed not be under the effect of gravity or immune to effect of gravity). The prediction was tested by Eddington and confirmed to be true and rest is history. Thus, feedback prediction in relation to tropospheric heat having failed, the net positive hypothesis is null and void.

    Please advise if i have made a logical error here

  56. Donna Laframboise, I bought your book and loved it! Yes, you’re right, “the science is settled phrase is used” frequently by journalists and others who should know better. My liberal friends who read the NYT and Wash Post and Huffpo, etc. are always citing an article they read about the settled science.
    Everyone, go to Amazon and buy Donna’s “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert.” Buy some extra ones to give to your liberal friends. I’m a liberal. Send one to me!

  57. Joel Shore says:
    January 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm
    “It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably used more often by AGW skeptics (clearly, not approvingly) than it is by AGW proponents.”

    The CAGW proponents, most notably Al Gore, started using that term. It looks like they regret it now. It’s too late, Joel.

  58. Smokey says on January 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Joel Shore says: “It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably …”

    OK, now you admit that the science is never settled. But were you commenting here that the science is never settled when Algore’s An Inconvenient Truth came out? And do you write similar disclaimers to blogs like the one Donna Laframboise posted above, correcting their lunatic beliefs?

    Witness the sight, the sound of rock beginning to fracture … a process that may easily take a Millenia to ‘work’ off the facade of the outer-most layers through paired freeze-thaw cycles …

    .

  59. JJ says:

    “Psycologists, sociologists, and ecologists tend to like Kuhn. Scientists tend to be more Popperian.”

    On that we can agree. [I would certainly add engineers along with scientists. And Womens’ Studies along with Kuhn fans.☺]

    Popper correctly pointed out that the essence of the scientific method is testability. Models have their place, but replicable real world experiments always trump models. The problem with the climate catastrophe contingent is that they base their conclusions on models – which are programmed by humans.

    Kuhn sends a tingle up the legs of academics. But to scientists and engineers, Popper is the real deal.

  60. “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”
    The loftiness of such goals does not justify the invention of fictions to suppress opposition.
    —————————————
    Redistribution is a lofty goal Mr Komrade Baucom?

  61. Tony Mach January 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm
    That is “Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ)”, not “Neue Zürchen Zeitung”.

    I thought so, too, but the newspaper calls itself “Neue Zürcher Zeitung,” so apparently only the “n” is wrong, but perhaps not even that is true:

    Here’s a page showing what the paper calls itself – but the URL itself uses the -en ending.

    Wikipedia calls the paper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung.”

    Google translates both “Zürcher” and “Zürchen” into English as “Zurich.”

    Wikipedia says that “Zürcher” is “the adjective.” Could the “n” be a case ending?

  62. Samurai January 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm
    The thing I find so painfully obvious is that CAGW theory is entirely based on luck and data manipulation and is therefore unscientific.

    CAGW means “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming,” does it not? But your argument works just as well (or poorly) against simple AGW. So by saying “CAGW,” you’re making things easy for an opponent. That is, you’re claiming less than you should.

  63. Ok – when I got to this part I laughed hard:

    Finally, virtually no one seems to remember the grave warning that President Dwight Eisenhower issued concerning the undue influence of a scientific-technological elite.

    Clearly the author has not read much of Dr. Curry’s blog where Oliver K. Manuel endlessly repeats, daily it seems, President Eisenhower’s admonition to be ever vigilant of the military-industrial complex and the adjunct science for profit components of that evil conspiracy.

    As to the point the science is not settled – of course it is not, and it is impossible that it can be. That which is settled cannot also be called science. A weasel way out of this is to declare the probability of a thing is very high and so very likely to the degree it is a certainty. If that is to be the argument then show me the data, show me the work. Just don’t expect me to accept it is settled and especially so when it happens the dog ate your homework (I’m thinking of you, Dr. Mann).

  64. @Smokey: Popperian falsification occurs within Kuhn’s periods of Normal science, under the paradigm theory within a particular field. Kuhn also pointed out that when faced with a possible falsification of the paradigm theory (due to experimental/observational anomalies) the scientific program that depends on its validity will resist accepting the falsification. The emergence of new theories to explain the anomalies leads to a messy period where factions are vying for acceptance of its theory to become the new paradigm.

    Popperians would have us believe that scientific progress is cumulative and evolutionary. Kuhn makes a convincing argument (using chemistry as a key example) that progress comes through revolutions where a new theory completely overthrows the existing theory. The new theory is not an incremental step; the two theories do not translate from one to the other (incommensurability). The most persuasive example he uses to illustrate this concept is the difference between the phlogiston theory and the combustion theory of matter in chemistry. Lavoisier’s new theory was resisted by the scientific establishment until a critical mass converted. Only then was the phlogiston theory wiped off the syllabi of universities. Kuhn also uses the Newtonian->Einsteinian->Quantum transitions as examples of the overthrow of paradigm theory.

    I used to think scientific progress was cumulative because that’s the only view presented in most science-based university programs. After studying Kuhn I’m less persuaded by that view. Kuhn’s view makes scientific progress out to be a far more messy business and I think his view is more real when held up against the history of science.

  65. This post repeats the falsehood that “there has been no increase in the global temperature since 1998.” This is simply untrue.

    Here are the trends for the last 156 months of data:

    HadCRUT3 (surface): +0.04 +/- 0.02 C/decade
    UAH (LT): +0.17 +/- 0.03 C/decade
    UAH (MT): +0.10 C/decade
    UAH (LS): -0.09 C/decade (as expected by GH theory)

    How can anyone look at these results and conclude there has been no increase in global temperatures?

  66. Who says the science is settled? This is from a James Hansen paper Willis linked to a few weeks ago — didn’t anyone actually go read it?

    “…Climate sensitivity, the eventual global temperature change per unit forcing, is known with good accuracy from Earth’s paleoclimate history. However, two fundamental uncertainties limit our ability to predict global temperature change on decadal time scales.
    “First, although climate forcing by human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) is known accurately, climate forcing caused by changing human-made aerosols is practically unmeasured. Aerosols are fine particles suspended in the air, such as dust, sulfates, and black soot…. Aerosol climate forcing is complex, because aerosols both reflect solar radiation to space (a cooling effect) and absorb solar radiation (a warming effect). In addition, atmospheric aerosols can alter cloud cover and cloud properties. Therefore, precise composition-specific measurements of aerosols and their effects on clouds are needed to assess the aerosol role in climate change.
    “Second, the rate at which Earth’s surface temperature approaches a new equilibrium in response to a climate forcing depends on how efficiently heat perturbations are mixed into the deeper ocean. Ocean mixing is complex and not necessarily simulated well by climate models. Empirical data on ocean heat uptake are improving rapidly, but still suffer limitations.”

    — James Hansen et al, “Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications,” 2011,
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110415_EnergyImbalancePaper.pdf (pg 1-2).

  67. Jugesh says:
    3) Last 30 years of satellite and balloon measurement of troposphere do not show any rise in temperature.

    Jugesh, do you know how to calculate trends? Here are the 30-year linear regression trends for the UAH dataset:

    lower troposphere: +0.17 C/decade
    middle troposphere: +0.07 C/decade
    lower stratosphere: -0.39 C/decade

    (The cooling of the stratosphere is predicted by greenhouse theory and is a sign of the greenhouse effect {yes, it’s complicated some by the ozone holes}).

  68. Doug Allen says:
    January 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm
    =====================================
    Beautiful! How strange that I quoted Pope, just today……http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/and-then-there-were-5/
    While I agree there has been a change in the vernacular, and perception, science is still simply a description of Nature.

    I conceive that Newton and Einstein viewed the same objects but in a perpendicular manner. Much as we would a cylinder. For one, it is a circle, for another it is a rectangle, or perhaps a triangle. Yes, to those giants, it may have been simple to see the other view, but its the best analogy I have for them.

    Two drinks never suffice. :-)

    James

  69. Allen says:
    January 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm
    ‘Kuhn did not echo Popper – he took apart the latter’s argument about how scientific knowledge is obtained. Kuhn was deliberate in using the word “revolution” in his work.

    I think Popper would look at the state of climate science and call it “pseudoscience”.’

    Spot on. If you go down the Kuhn path, aside from wasting your time, you will inevitably end in the land of Postmodern Science, PMS, which dispenses with facts, evidence, truth, and the whole nine yards so that only the Precautionary Principle and such nonsense remain.

    The best philosopher of the second half of the 20 Century, W. V. Quine, absolutely refused to give up the view that there is some “fact of the matter” in choices among scientific theories and the view that some scientific theory among the competitors is true. However, he recognized that scientific theories progress and that new discoveries can lead us to change them.

  70. “One of the reasons people may not have noted the shift from AGW to climate change is that the mainstream media continue to hype global warming.”

    So do the fundamentalist turkeys at Australia’s CSIRO. “We have only seen one degree of warming so far but we will see substantially more as we move through the century”, says a CSIRO prophet, David Jones.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/drought-breaking-la-nina-made-the-continent-cooler/story-e6frg8y6-1226236841072

    Once an internationally renowned repository of authentic scientific research, the CSIRO is now essentially a clanging megaphone of alarmist propaganda. Witness its latest unconscionable opportunistic drivel:

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/sci-tech/climate-warming-would-cause-loss-of-life/story-fn5fsgyc-1226245137356

  71. All that remained to be done was to secure more precise measurements that could be used to improve “‘physical constants to the increased accuracy represented by another decimal place.’”

    Indeed, that next decimal place is often a sharp pin through the balloon. But in this case, Climastrology doesn’t even have the whole numbers right, much less the (any) decimal places. It will probably stand through all history as the major “modern science”, self-so-called, to persist to blatantly in defiance of huge discrepancies of projection, prediction, and modelling with reality. And thereby provide a gold, platinum, and iridium mine of case histories for the sociology of science to plumb in examination of the susceptibility of “professional scientists” to venal group-think.

  72. Anonymoose states, “You primates might want to notice that the National Center for Science Education, an evolution proponent group, is going to start treating climate change as being as definitively proven as is evolution.”

    A spokeswoman for that group was covered in a 15-minute segment on “This American Life” on National Public Radio this past Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.

  73. Joel Shore says:
    January 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    “…unwise to act as if we are not facing a serious problem and that continuing to burn through all of the likely reserves of fossil fuels is probably going to cause significant disruptions.”

    Here, Joel, I’m absolutely in agreement with you. Fossil fuels are a wonderful resource, but ultimately finite. Conservation of this precious reserve should certainly be on the agenda. We should use it prudently.

    But then you write:

    “Depending on just how large the climate sensitivity turns out to be and how large the impacts from climate change turns out to be, we could in fact face significant disruptions if we don’t more drastically curtail our emissions.”

    Here however I don’t follow your argument. Change is a permanent and natural feature of the earth’s climate. It’s unstoppable. Yes, humans can and do contribute their widow’s mites of artificial environmental influences on climate such as urbanisation, rural land use changes, soot emission, even possibly (although as yet, it seems, undemonstrated) CO2 and CH4 emission. And it’s a good policy to monitor all these actual and potential anthropogenic influences. But nothing we can do will stop natural climate change, which can be both sudden and major. If we are really worried about the impact of future climate change, we have little option but to prepare for a wide range of eventualities. Tinkering with energy policy won’t help.

  74. Smoking Frog :
    Tony Mach January 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm:

    Inhabitants of Zürich correctly should be “Züricher”, but for reasons everybody who is a bit lazy can understand they are called “Zürcher” in Switzerland (I suppose in would be “Zür’cher” in English).
    So it really is “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”. (That is since 1821, it was just “Zürcher Zeitung” before.)

    (“Zürchen” does not exist; it would be “den Zürchern” (dat. pl.))

  75. This is one of the most intelligent peices I have seen on here for a while – in terms of my own interests and specialisms as a social scientist (please suppress your laughter). The whole AGW snowball and the tribalism within has long been of interest to me as a study in the dynamics of human behaviours in groups. I have been awaiting the citing Kuhn for sometime in relation to this topic. I might slightly disagree, however in that scientific paradigms as envisaged by Kuhn usually enveloped almost the whole of the scientific community at least for a brief time, until contrary evidence makes paradigm shift becomes inevitable lead first by a trickle, then a flood. I do not beilieve AGW comprises a Kuhninan ‘paradigm’ in science at present, as at no point do I beleive was there an absence of a significant sceptical community nor a wide arraw of contrarian evidence, despite attempts to claim so. AGW proponents may however wish AGW to be considered a paradigm, hence attempts to parrot ‘the science is settled’ meme. A good case can be made however that a wide variety of the dynamics outlined by Kuhn do exist within the ‘warmist’ camp – careers which depend upon the ‘paradigm’ remaining unchallenged, resultant attempts to suppress contrarian opinion and data, confirmation bias etc etc. You could say im in it for the popcorn sales but this will continue to be a fascinating area of study for the social scientist for many years to come.

  76. Science is settled… Political Science. It was finalized by Mr. Machiavelli back in the 16th century.

  77. I still find it hard to understand how people can just look at the land and atmosphere temperatures and say global warming is not happening. I mean the fact they are talking about a short trend is one factor that should be laughed at, but the oceans are where people need to be looking… Thank goodness science is not blind http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL048794.shtml

    • Duh! Let’s see? Oh! You’re obviously another marxist [snip] like Obama, so It’s also quite obvious that you must have voted for him! No wonder that you’re only a major and not even a Colonel, let alone a General. Just saying…

  78. Roger Knights says:
    January 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Anonymoose states, “You primates might want to notice that the National Center for Science Education, an evolution proponent group, is going to start treating climate change as being as definitively proven as is evolution.”

    A spokeswoman for that group was covered in a 15-minute segment on “This American Life” on National Public Radio this past Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.

    She also said that the present is much warmer than the medieval period.

  79. “It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably used more often by AGW skeptics (clearly, not approvingly) than it is by AGW proponents.”

    Of course it would be used more by skeptics.
    To mock the alarmists.

    Al Gore won a joint Nobel Prize with the IPCC, I don’t see them trying to set the record straight and saying “you know Al, it’s not really settled” , maybe it’s more convenient to let it ride.

  80. “You primates might want to notice that the National Center for Science Education, an evolution proponent group, is going to start treating climate change as being as definitively proven as is evolution.”

    They may decide to cover it that way, but yet it moves. (i.e. nature will do what it will, whatever spin man attempts to put on it)

  81. major9985 says:
    January 17, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Straw man. Climate gets warmer, it gets colder. Temperatures rise, temperatures fall. And they have been doing so for the last 4.5 billion years. Long before man came on the scene. So why is now any different?

    It is not warmer than at any time in (even in human) history. It is warming after a long ice age about 10-15k years ago. So again, why is now any different? There have been many ice ages, and many interglacial periods.

    The problem with you and the other accolytes is that you have yet to find any hypothesis that works. The models do not work – they have yet to predict a fleas hop. Predictions of disaster are shown to be lies as soon as they are made. So it boggles my mind how anyone can dismiss (not disprove, dismiss) the null hypothesis and believe in something that has to be changed constantly to keep up with the fact they are constantly wrong.

    Good science says: Disprove the null hypothesis first. Climate science has not even done that yet.

  82. Roger Knights says:
    January 17, 2012 at 6:52 am
    She also said that the present is much warmer than the medieval period.

    Most women are reluctant to admit they are that old.

  83. PhilJourdan says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

    “Climate gets warmer, it gets colder […] So why is now different”

    Well Phil, we are increasing CO2 and this is the cause of more downward infrared radiation hitting the Earth. With over half a billion years worth of climate data, comprehensive conclusions have shown over the long term there is indeed a correlation between CO2 and temperature, as manifested by the atmospheric greenhouse effect.” p.201. (http://earth.geology.yale.edu/~ajs/2001/Feb/qn020100182.pdf).

    This was the same conclusion for all the other studies:

    CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate — D. Royer et al, GSA Today, March 2004 (http://droyer.web.wesleyan.edu/GSA_Today.pdf)

    CO2 forced climate thresholds during the phanerozoic, Dana L. Royer 2005 (http://droyer.web.wesleyan.edu/PhanCO2(GCA).pdf)

    Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature, Andrew A. Lacis, Gavin A. Schmidt, David Rind and Reto A. Ruedy, 2010 (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6002/356.abstract)

  84. I await the day Stephen Hawking gives his ” my greatest scientific blunder speech” as Einstein did. His jumping on the CAGW bandwagon is clearly it. Unfortunately, I doubt whether Prof Hawkin has much more time, in this manifest reality, to realize it. After all, he is in his seventies now and we can hardly call him a “picture of health”. May gaia bless him. GK

  85. major9985 says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:57 am

    We are also sending men into space. We are also bottling water. We are also sending submarines into the deepest depths of the ocean. Again, you gave a non-sequitur.

    So what? Why have you not disproven the null hypothesis? instead of trying to convert some to a new faith, why are you not trying to prove that faith?

    We have many years of climate data – but we do not have a cause and effect YET.

    You have yet to post anything relevant to the question. People are living longer now – so the temperature is going up? As plausible as anything you have posited – and as proven. In otherwords, nothing.

    So instead of preaching your gospel, please explain why you have yet to disprove the null hypothesis. Most people do not care about the color of your priestly smocks. We want to know how they got them.

    • PhilJourdan, you are RIGHT ON THE NOSE! WOW! HOW DID YOU SKIP OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM? Just asking…

  86. To claim the science is settled is clearly wrong but to claim the world hasn’t warmed since 1998 is disengenuous – if not an outright lie. OK 1998 was the warmest year on record….just. But since 1998, we have seen the hottest decade on record – let’s be honest!

  87. major9985 says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:57 am

    This extra downward infrared radiation is expected to be the cause of all the extra warming we are seeing.
    [IMG]http://i44.tinypic.com/fu6e09.jpg[/IMG]
    The scientific papers I referenced all explain that due to the 30% dimmer sun millions of yeas ago the earth should had been much colder. But due to increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere it was nice and warm. Its simple physics, more greenhouse gases means more warmer earth. But the debate is over sensitivity of the climate system, CO2 will only increase temperatures on earth by so much, its the feedback/forcing’s which are the concerns.

  88. If Muller’s study shows a 1.6 degree F increase (less than 1 degree C) over a period of 200 plus years, is that even statistically relevent?
    When you consider we were just emerging from an Ice Age, albeit Little, just over 200 years ago according to the USGS (see later Balog piece) why is this considered at all abnormal?
    Most would consider it a good thing! I’d much rather be hot than cold!
    Unless you look at in the context of money or power, it just does not make any sense!

  89. major9985,

    Wrong. But that’s the result when you get your talking points from Pseud-Skeptical Pseudo-Science.

    The long term trend since the LIA has been in the same range, and has not accelerated as repeatedly predicted by the always-wrong alarmist cult [although the green line shows a long term deceleration]. Thus, the recent ≈40% rise in CO2 has had no measurable effect.

    You really need to get up to speed on the facts. Your claim that CO2 kept things warm is wrong. CO2 has been very high at times when the planet descended into an Ice Age, and low when emerging from Ice Ages.

  90. b says:
    January 17, 2012 at 9:41 am

    To claim the science is settled is clearly wrong but to claim the world hasn’t warmed since 1998 is disengenuous – if not an outright lie. OK 1998 was the warmest year on record….just. But since 1998, we have seen the hottest decade on record – let’s be honest!

    You seem to have a problem with verbs and tenses. The globe WARMED up to 1998. Since then it has been WARM. However, if the temperature has flatlined, it is just plain wrong to say it is still “warming”.

  91. one does not need to know any science at all to know if AGW is for real, all one has to do is observe the proponents and see if they actually behave as if they believe (carbon credits don’t count) and from what I have observed none of the so called experts, scientists or spokesmen have sworn off fossil fuels and moved to zero emission farms, so until that happens I will know that they are just more lying socialist scum

  92. @elbapo: If we are to apply Kuhn to the development of climate science he would say that it is in a “pre-paradigm” phase because no dominant theory exists under which all of its practitioners operate. Popper would be far less generous than Kuhn and call the AGW component of the field to be “pseudoscience”. And sadly billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this very pseudoscience.

  93. Smokey says:
    January 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I don’t write the science Smokey.. But increased CO2 makes more downward infrared radiation, which heats the planet http://thingsbreak.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/anthropogenic-and-natural-warming-inferred-from-changes-in-earths-energy-balance.pdf you are going to have to come to terms with it one day.

    And Wrong again smokey, comprehensive conclusions have shown over the long term there is indeed a correlation between CO2 and temperature, as manifested by the atmospheric greenhouse effect.” p.201. (http://earth.geology.yale.edu/~ajs/2001/Feb/qn020100182.pdf).

    I would like to see where you get the idea that CO2 was high in concentration during an Ice Age? If you are referring to snow ball earth, your wrong.

  94. Erinome:

    ” calculating trends” You indicate the the trends per UAH of 0.17 degree centigrade per decade.

    I agree with that. On that basis the continuing Co2 rise over last 30 years of trend per your post projected into future will provide on more than about 1.2-1.4 degree rise in temperature at the end of 2100 (assuming no discontinuous change in slope of the trend).

    So what is the fuss with the rise of 1.4 degree or even 1.7 degree per 100 years? If you read my post it will be clear the I confirm in point 1 that the planet is warming BUT that there is no proof that it will warm as per the IPCC projections as predicted by the feedback hypothesis.

  95. ” Furthermore, Muller noted that even if this warming is caused by human activity, there is virtually nothing the U.S. can do to abate its effects, given the growing carbon emissions produced by the expanding economies of India and China.”

    It is not just India and China! The production of CO2 & methane are by-products of human and many other forms of animal life. Farming, defecation, heating all produce these gases as well as others. The only way to really reduce these is to reduce population significantly. Perhaps we need more wars or pestilence? More well developed countries may take care of food production, sewage and heating more efficiently but as population grows so will “greenhouse gases”. So what? Not an issue in the overall scheme of nature or the climate. The C originally came from the atmosphere in any event.

    China is in the process of depopulation through abortion of a significant portion of their female children to be. Soon they will not have enough women to keep their population steady. Everyone there wants male children since they may only have one child. Probably an omen for a more warlike society. Europe is not replacing their population at the present time, at least not with Europeans. So, perhaps we have a part of the solution in the making. All that will be left is Muslims, Mormons, Hindus and a few Catholics.

  96. PhilJourdan says:
    The globe WARMED up to 1998. Since then it has been WARM. However, if the temperature has flatlined, it is just plain wrong to say it is still “warming”.

    As I wrote above, the globe is, in fact, still warming. Here are the trends for the last 156 months of data:

    HadCRUT3 (surface): +0.04 +/- 0.02 C/decade
    UAH (LT): +0.17 +/- 0.03 C/decade
    UAH (MT): +0.10 C/decade
    UAH (LS): -0.09 C/decade (as expected by GH theory)

    By the way, a planet that is warmer than 1998 still requires a continual source of extra energy to maintain that warmth, or else it would cool off.

  97. G. Karst says:
    January 17, 2012 at 9:16 am
    I await the day Stephen Hawking gives his ” my greatest scientific blunder speech” as Einstein did. His jumping on the CAGW bandwagon is clearly it.

    This may be the funniest thing I’ve ever read on a blog. Hawking knows about 100 times more science than anyone here — and yet *you’re* waiting for him to agree with *you*. Maybe you should be wondering instead if it isn’t you who is wrong….

  98. Smokey says:
    major9985,
    Look, and learn.

    What you continually fail to grasp is that past analogies do not necessarily apply, because the current situation is unnatural — there is an artificial injection of carbon into the system. It’s akin to something like a comet impacting the Earth and bringing its carbon into the environment, except it’s an impact that is takes about 200 years, so it’s a long, thin, very slow comet. The most appropriate analogy is probably the PETM, where something happened that unleashed a big load of carbon.

    (By the way, the total amount of carbon in all available fossil fuels is about equal to that of the PETM, and after it the Earth saw an atmospheric temperature ramp-up of about 6 C at a rate of about 0.003 C/decade. Our current rate of warming is about 50 times larger.)

  99. Jugesh says:
    I agree with that.

    No you don’t. You wrote, “Last 30 years of satellite and balloon measurement of troposphere do not show any rise in temperature.”

    On that basis the continuing Co2 rise over last 30 years of trend per your post projected into future will provide on more than about 1.2-1.4 degree rise in temperature at the end of 2100 (assuming no discontinuous change in slope of the trend).
    So what is the fuss with the rise of 1.4 degree or even 1.7 degree per 100 years?

    Feedbacks. Feedbacks happen, and are already starting — the water vapor content of the atmosphere is increasing, the oceans are absorbing less CO2, and the total amount of sea ice (Arctic + Antarctic) is decreasing, so there the Earth’s albedo has changed and more heat is being absorbed.

  100. Smokey says:
    Nonsense.

    I think you grabbed the wrong chart — that one’s for “La Nina.” Do you have one for “climate?”

  101. Erinome January 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Smokey says:
    major9985,
    Look, and learn.

    What you continually fail to grasp is that past analogies do not necessarily apply, because the current situation is unnatural — there is an artificial injection of carbon into the system. It’s akin to something like a comet impacting the Earth …

    (By the way, the total amount of carbon in all available fossil fuels is about equal to that of the PETM, and after it the Earth saw an atmospheric temperature ramp-up of about 6 C at a rate of about 0.003 C/decade. Our current rate of warming is about 50 times larger.)

    You may (or may not) be right about the rate of warming over the past 30 years, but what you’d be right about is a red herring, because: (1) the rate over the past 30 years is the same as with earlier warmings in the late 19th and 20th centuries; (2) there is evidence that greater upward excursions of temperature have occurred during the Holocene and even during historic times. These things make it very difficult to know how much of the post-1979 warming is anthropogenic, but there is evidence that less than half of it is.

  102. Smoking Frog says:
    You may (or may not) be right about the rate of warming over the past 30 years, but what you’d be right about is a red herring, because: (1) the rate over the past 30 years is the same as with earlier warmings in the late 19th and 20th centuries; (2) there is evidence that greater upward excursions of temperature have occurred during the Holocene and even during historic times. These things make it very difficult to know how much of the post-1979 warming is anthropogenic, but there is evidence that less than half of it is.

    (1) That’s not what I see. The 30-yr trend for the HadCRUT3 data has been above 0.15 C/decade since Dec 1998, peaking at 0.19 C/dec in Jan 2004. (It’s now 0.16 C/dec.)
    Previously, it was only ever above 0.15 C/dec from July 1938 to Feb 1943, peaking at 0.16 in June 1942.
    That is, we’re in a period of warming unseen before in the HadCRUT3 data, which starts in 1850.

    This strong warming *cannot* be solely without anthropogenic factors — no known natural forcings or cycles can account for it. That is settled science. There is certainly uncertainty about the exact mix of man vs natural forcings, but human forcings are a significant part of it.

    Thus, that there may have been warm periods in the distant past, especially the MWP, is a cause for concern, because it means that natural fluctuations from a roughly similar baseline can be <~ 1 C, which would add to the human forcing.

    Climate always changes, but not always for the same reasons.

  103. Erinome January 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Smoking Frog says:
    You may (or may not) be right about the rate of warming over the past 30 years, but what you’d be right about is a red herring, because: (1) the rate over the past 30 years is the same as with earlier warmings in the late 19th and 20th centuries; (2) there is evidence that greater upward excursions of temperature have occurred during the Holocene and even during historic times. These things make it very difficult to know how much of the post-1979 warming is anthropogenic, but there is evidence that less than half of it is.
    Erinome says:
    (1) That’s not what I see. The 30-yr trend for the HadCRUT3 data has been above 0.15 C/decade since Dec 1998, peaking at 0.19 C/dec in Jan 2004. (It’s now 0.16 C/dec.)
    Previously, it was only ever above 0.15 C/dec from July 1938 to Feb 1943, peaking at 0.16 in June 1942. That is, we’re in a period of warming unseen before in the HadCRUT3 data, which
    starts in 1850.

    You’re disagreeing with Phil Jones (director of UEA’s CRU). In a BBC interview on February 13, 2010, the first question put to him was:

    Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

    He replied that the warming rates during those three periods as well as 1975-2009> were “similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.” He showed them as 0.163, 0.15, 0.166, 0.161. If Jones is right, the same is true of your 0.16.

    This strong warming *cannot* be solely without anthropogenic factors — no known natural forcings or cycles can account for it. That is settled science. There is certainly uncertainty about the exact mix of man vs natural forcings, but human forcings are a significant part of it.

    “*Cannot*” and “That is settled science” are absurd. We don’t know enough about temperature changes going back many centuries to support it. I would agree that some part of the warming is probably anthropogenic, but not with “*cannot*” etc.

    It is not valid to compare a warming of 30 years or even 100 years to what happened during the PETM, because we don’t have anything like 30- or 100-year temperature resolution for 55 million years ago.

    Thus, that there may have been warm periods in the distant past, especially the MWP, is a cause for concern, because it means that natural fluctuations from a roughly similar baseline can be <~ 1 C, which would add to the human forcing. Climate always changes, but not always for the same reasons.

    If you don’t know why or by how much the temperature changed during short periods in the past, your ability to say that this warming is anthropogenic is badly damaged.

  104. Erinome says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Erinome – read the thread. I was not arguing whether the globe has warmed or cooled or turned purple since 1998. I merely pointed out that “warming” and “warm” are not the same. Your beef is with Phil Jones.

  105. Erinome says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    This may be the funniest thing I’ve ever read on a blog. Hawking knows about 100 times more science than anyone here — and yet *you’re* waiting for him to agree with *you*. Maybe you should be wondering instead if it isn’t you who is wrong….

    Hawkings may be the smartest man alive today, no one is arguing that point. But Hawkings knows something apparently most in climate science do not. He knows he does not know it all (he has already admitted he was wrong about black holes).

    His expertise is not in climate science – which he knows – but you apparently do not.

  106. Erinome says:
    January 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    …This may be the funniest thing I’ve ever read on a blog. Hawking knows about 100 times more science than anyone here…

    Perhaps there is something about the scientific method you do not like or understand? Knowing 100 times more than me hardly establishes validity to CAGW. Both Hawkin and Einstein understood and agreed with this fact. Everyone is mistaken from time to time. Stephen is a personal hero of mine, but he is no deity and is subject to error, just like the rest of us.

    To make him infallible, in any and all fields, is to expose the religiosity of your argument. That is where warmistas hang out… just not here! GK

  107. GK;
    Short paraphrase of Bertrand Russell:
    It’s not safe to be sure all the experts are wrong when they agree. When they disagree, it’s not safe to be sure of anything.

  108. They who fall in lock step with the science of today will only find themselves out of step with the science of tomorrow.

  109. David Harriman’s book “The Logical Leap” rationally covers the scientific process with examples from history, including a bit of coverage of scientists getting things wrong due to their personal ideology. Should be a text book in universities.

    OTOH, Popper in general is a questionable source.

    However, the physics department of the University of British Columbia is peddling “post-normal science”.

    As for the “precautionary principle”, it can cut either way. I say if you don’t know what you are doing the principle is don’t do anything, else you cause serious problems.

    Tom G: “if the science was settled, we had no need for university scientists to tell us that they made themselves obsolete, so what is this guy doing here and why is still on the public dole?”
    ROFL. I like that.

    “Bernie”: The fatal flaw in your analogy is that engineer’s bridges work, CAGW models do not.
    “Joel Shore”: similarly.

Comments are closed.