Spencer on AGW: “If you’re paid to find something, you’re going to find it,”

From the Raleigh News and Observer – Scientist: Warming is natural
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1221488.html

Published: Sep 17, 2008 12:30 AM Modified: Sep 17, 2008 02:03 AM 

RALEIGH – Scientist Roy Spencer thinks global warming is a natural occurrence and not man-made.Over the past year, Spencer and his theory have gained more attention on the Rush Limbaugh radio show, where Spencer is the “official climatologist.”On Tuesday, Spencer spoke about his book, “Climate Confusion,” to members of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh think tank that advocates for smaller government. “Scientists need money, and they need to have pet theories,” said Spencer, a research scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. “And who wouldn’t want to save the Earth?”

Spencer said scientists are paid to find that global warming is caused by humans. “If you’re paid to find something, you’re going to find it,” he told about 80 people in a Holiday Inn ballroom. Spencer agrees that humans are creating more carbon dioxide, but he doesn’t agree it’s causing climate change.”This is a philosophical idea that CO2 is bad,” Spencer said.Instead, Spencer said, the Earth naturally heats up over a period of time and then cools. He showed histories of the Earth’s temperature fluctuating over hundreds of years and said the planet hasn’t warmed in seven years.

Bill Chameides, dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, said Spencer’s arguments are what magicians call “ignoratio elenchi” or logical fallacy.”We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds, and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases,” he said, adding it’s insulting that Spencer would suggest scientists are paid to come to this conclusion. “Scientists make their reputation on debunking theories.”

Spencer said he wrote his book, a New York Times bestseller, because of the economic effects global warming policies have had on the poor. Alternative energy sources, like biofuels, have driven up the cost of food, which hurts people in Third World countries, he said.”Radical environmentalists are responsible for the deaths of millions of people — mostly black Africans,” he said, because they won’t allow those countries to use DDT pesticide to kill mosquitoes, which cause malaria. “And now they’re starving people because of biofuels.”

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40 thoughts on “Spencer on AGW: “If you’re paid to find something, you’re going to find it,”

  1. “And who wouldn’t want to save the Earth?”

    (Fresh from leafing through the Stern Review) Too bad they need to destroy it in order to save it.

  2. They’ve looked at Clouds are potential source of heat!

    It’s a thin band but if you look hard enough you will see Cloud radiation somewhere between UV and Blue on the Electromagnetic spectrum. Cloud radiation is Al Gore approved as you can warm your home with enviromentally safe Cloud heat. The Silicon Valley has recently funded 4 or 5 Start Ups using Naturally Compressed Cloud heat to solve the energy crisis. And that’s not all as the latest news from research community shows promising results for Fog heat, Damp and Dank heat, and Dew heat. But despite all the promise of this new research area, compressed greenhouse gas still holds the record for the most watts per meter.

  3. Uhh – one from an admitted physics-challenged viewer of the action on this blog

    BUT

    How are GHGs a source of heat ? I thought the heat largely came from that big, bright thingy in the sky that motors by daily ??

    Or am I missing something again on all this ?

  4. Moderator: this version corrects a spelling error. Please scratch version 1.

    Aha! The Capitalist Effect.

    An interesting example of this well known but rarely modeled phenomenon was written up at ICECAP by (I assume, no author listed) Joe D’Aleo:

    “ICECAP — Sep 16, 2008

    Lehman Brothers Close Ties to Gore, Hansen and Carbon Trading

    Al Gore’s carbon trading business GIM was banked with Lehman Bros. It will be interesting to see how this will play in the future but I suspect that this increases the risk of participating in Carbon trading. Merrill Lynch was also deeply involved in this business.

    Last year Lehman Brothers released a long and highly publicized report about climate change in which they preached about decarbonization, trying to make their investors keep getting high profits from the Kyoto carbon trade scheme and the support of huge public subventions. All that, of course, with the applause of the usual choir of politicians, the entire media and the Greens.

    Last year Lehman Brothers released a long and highly publicized report about climate change in which they preached about decarbonization, trying to make their investors keep getting high profits from the Kyoto carbon trade scheme and the support of huge public subventions. All that, of course, with the applause of the usual choir of politicians, the entire media and the Greens.

    A year ago they couldn’t predict their bankruptcy but were predicting the climate 100 years ahead. Thousands of green militants have been using the Lehman report as a proof of global warming and impending chaos. Lehman Bros said it! sacred words! Its scientific advisor is James Hansen! The report is the basis for policies on climate change in Spain, Argentina and several other countries playing the progress game; it is used by economy professors playing the climatologists; by newspapers editorials, and even by a State Secretary: Lehman Bros, said it! …”

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Dr. Christy’s presentation was geared toward a layman. And, seeing how the science of climatology is so inextricably linked to politics, it’s appropo for him to comment on the relationship between the two. After all, the IPCC is an international government body established to show the impact of man’s activities on the climate, i.e., it was taken as a given that AGW was true.

    But that paragraph on Dr. Chameides left me incredulous.

    I hope it was just sloppy reporting on the part of the journalist to say, “’ignoratio elenchi’ or logical fallacy.” The wording imples that the meaning of the term “ignoratio elenchi” is “logical fallacy” which is not the case. It should have been worded “ignoration elenchi” or ignorance of refutation, which is a form of logical fallacy. Another form of logical fallacy of which we are are too familiar is “ad hominem” or argument against the man.

    But to speak of clouds or greenhouse gases as sources of heat is of a level I’d expect from a poorly thinking high school student trying to ‘wing it’ when answering a teacher’s question.

  6. So Bill there, a dean of environmental studies at a university, seems to think he knows more about day to day working science than a scientist whose job it is to understand the subject of which he speaks. A DEAN.

    And the reportage is awful. Spencer isn’t a world renowned scientist and climate specialist who runs UAH; he’s some sort of crackpot who advises Rush Limbaugh. (Hoo haw, ain’t that a riot! Limbaugh. Heh. Yeah, this guy must be a real winner. It’s probably red state science… ) And of course the reporter had to add counter verbiage from an actual authority, who, in an authoritarian tone, added some basic dead language quotation. Everyone knows that only really smart people can do that. Duh.

    The effect is that this is an op-ed disguised as news where the reporter is telling us what to think rather than simply reporting. This is what journalism has come to. The mind boggles.

  7. Is Bill Chameides a physicist? Does he know what heat is? Greenhouse gases are souces of heat!? Really!!

    IMO, most scientists would rather do something positive, like formulate or prove a theory, rather than something negative, like debunking a theory. Reputations are made on the positives, not the negatives.

  8. “WTF Bill? So that means that the sun has a temperature of -273 Kelvin?”

    273 degrees below absolute zero? Maybe you meant celsius.

  9. evanjones

    I think G Alston was criticising the way the reporter wrote up the story by referring to Limbaugh rather than Spencer’s scientific day job and not taking a pot shot at Spencer himself.

    [REPLY – Upon further review . . . I am an idiot! ~ Evan]

  10. The effect is that this is an op-ed disguised as news where the reporter is telling us what to think rather than simply reporting. This is what journalism has come to. The mind boggles.

    I guess they learned from the masters: Gore and Hansen.

    Why is it that when a study or paper has funding from a company or person that once had a cousin who worked for a week at an oil company, suddenly they are all in the pocket of big oil and will find any results they are paid to find?

    But anyone working for a government organisation is somehow beyond reproach?

    Whatever one’s views on AGW, one has to at least admit that if the AGW theory disappeared tonight, then there are going to be a lot of out of work scientists by tomorrow morning.

  11. The tv show “Medical detective” had a story once where a woman was arrested for killing her chilled by starting a fire.

    The fire was investigated by arson fire investigator. Sure enough looking for arson they found causes of arson while ignoring some inconvenient truth.

    Awaiting her trial under house arrest the woman, the woman found a fire investigator who wrote a paper that warned about the risk of bias by arson fire investigator. Unable to help because he was living in Australia, he put the woman in contact with an expert from the US. He was able to prove that the fire wasn’t arson and the woman released.

    This shows that if you are looking for something you will find it.

    In the case of climate science they play with statistics and once it shows what they believe they should see then they stop looking. Not wondering if their statistical application are correct or not.

    William M briggs write a great blog about the danger of smoothing. Somethings that is all too common in climate science.

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/2008/09/06/do-not-smooth-times-series-you-hockey-puck/

  12. …what magicians call “ignoratio elenchi” or logical fallacy.”We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds, and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases,” he said.

    ‘Magicians’ like Aristotle, Boole and Frege, presumably. Here is a brief account of ‘ignoratio elenchi

    http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/ignoratio.html

    I didn’t know clouds were a form of heat.! I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

  13. Ignoratio Elenchi is a particular form of informal logical fallacy (and it is not ‘magicians’ that refer to this, it’s a term used by those that study logic. Maybe the reporter misreported the Dean as refering to magicians instead of logicians?) It is sometimes colloquially refered to as a Red Herring.

    The meaning is that Dr Spencer’s work is correct (valid) but it does not address the issue he claims (global warming/climate change) and is meant to confuse and divert attention from the ‘true cause’, which, according to the Dean is ‘heat from greenhouse gases’. I sincerely hope the reporter also misrepresented this statement as well, because it would be truly sad for a scientist to make statements like this.

  14. G Alston,

    Actually, Roy Spencer is a world renowned scientist and climate specialist at UAH.

    Dr. Spencer has a PhD in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-
    Madison, and has been involved in global warming research for close to
    twenty years. He has numerous peer reviewed scientific articles
    dealing with the measurement and interpretation of climate variability
    and climate change. Dr. Spencer is also the U.S. Science Team Leader
    for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Dr. Spencer
    is currently a Principal Research Scientist at the University of
    Alabama in Huntsville.

    Mike Ramsey

  15. If CO2 exposed to solar heat were capable of generating or retaining significant amounts of heat, wouldn’t it make an excellent heat battery?

    You could demonstrate this and put an electric motor in a CO2 filled box equipped with a volatile liquid filled retort and turbine generator. With a little starter electricity to warm the system, the motor will heat the CO2, which will warm/evaporate the liquid, spin the turbine and generate more electricity for the motor. Since CO2 generates heat when activated, the system might have to be cooled to keep from reaching a tipping point, generating even more engery for other uses!

    This could be the ultimate AGW proof and a green way of generating unlimited electricity!

    Of course, if CO2 doesn’t generate heat, it probably won’t work.

  16. Bill Chameides, – ”We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds, and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases,”

    The funny thing is Spencer is the only one who is actually looking for the heat sources. The warmers are not actually looking, carefully measuring, tracking heat sources over time – they are just running computer models.

    Where is the study using satellite data from the atmosphere which shows GHGs are trapping more heat than they used to? There’s a small study here and there looking at one small part or the other and even then it is only one or two years worth of data.

    Spencer is the only one looking for the actual global warming signatures over time.

  17. Mike Ramsey, Evan Jones…

    Apparently satire doesn’t always work well. I’m well aware of Dr. Spencer’s qualifications.

    Face it, the “reporter” is a member of the sneering condescenti, happy to evoke the image of ignorant yokels (who else listens to Limbaugh in the reporter’s world?) The dean was/is a complete jerk, coming off as if he doesn’t know Spencer from genital warts. This does little more than reinforce the (reporter’s) implied suggestion that Dr. Spencer is some sort of nutjob.

    [REPLY – Ding! Ding! Got it. ~ Evan]

  18. Bill Marsh: Nice take.

    Spencer is annoyingly finding a cause, self-interest, to explain behavior that Chameides protests is motivated by higher Reason and an uncompromising fealty to Truth.

    This can be maddening where good reasoning is a sufficient explanation for the behavior and one’s motivation unalloyed with the cares of life. Logic is no help here without human observation and sympathy.

    I’ve toured Duke (not UAH) and I’d bet money, rafts of it, is a bigger temptation for the latter than for the former.

  19. G Alston,
    Sorry. :-)

    I have learned to use the irony emoticon
    .~

    to make sure that people understand when I am kidding.

    Mike Ramsey

  20. There was a high profile case in Fort Collins, Colorado of a kid who spent 20 years in jail for a murder in which there was no physical evidence or motive linking the boy. The conviction was based entirely on the testimony of a highly paid expert who said that the boy’s artwork indicated a propensity to violence.

    He was released earlier this year after DNA tied the murder to someone else.

  21. “We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds, and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases”

    I guess that’s why the planet Mercury is the same temperature on both the bright and dark side.

  22. With the (im)proper use of statistics, you can prove anything.

    Evanjones:
    “And who wouldn’t want to save the Earth?”
    (Fresh from leafing through the Stern Review) Too bad they need to destroy it in order to save it.”

    Deja Moo all over again. Vietnam revisited. We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

    If this nonsense continues, we’ll probably get the same result.

  23. Mike86 – love the idea of CO2 as a renewable energy source!

    And clouds as a source of heat – another renewable, surely, for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing! :-)

  24. > ”We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds,
    > and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases,” he said,

    This is basically the same “logic” used by the “Intelligent Design” camp. It goes like so… “duhhh, I can’t come up with a coherent physical theory to explain what’s happening. Therefore. it’s got to be the handiwork of some intelligent entity”.

    Since man wasn’t around at the beginning, the “Intelligent Design” camp has to invoke a God. Since man is around now, the AGW camp claims that rising temperatures were the handiwork of man.

  25. “I can’t come up with a coherent physical theory to explain what’s happening.”

    ‘Therefore it has to be explicable in terms of a physical theory I can envision, (if not make plausible).’

    I think this fits the ID, AGW and Static Sun crowds a bit better than the intelligent agent implication.

  26. ”We’ve looked at every possible form of heat, including clouds, and the only source of heat is greenhouse gases,” he said, adding it’s insulting that Spencer would suggest scientists are paid to come to this conclusion. “Scientists make their reputation on debunking theories.”

    The ONLY source of heat is greenhouse gases? Really? I was reminded of something the Climate Skeptic said back some weeks ago, so I looked at his site. Lo and behold, he had read the article on WUWT! So I will just quote and link here and leave it at that. He replies:

    “Well, a number of folks would beg to differ that scientists have truly eliminated every other possible cause, particularly Mr. Sun (more than really eliminating these effects, they seem to be seeking excuses to ignore them). In fact, climate models of late have admitted that they don’t even include the Pacific Decadal Osculation in their models, or didn’t until recently. So much for thinking of everything.

    But if Mr. Chameides wants to talk in terms of logical fallacies, I will as well: Just because scientists cannot imagine another cause does not mean that another cause does not exist. Can you imagine the first astrophysicists to discover pulsars to say “well, we can’t think of anything else that would cause this phenomenon, so it must be space aliens.” Well, come to think of it, some people did say that. But it turned out to be absurd, and after some decades of effort, we think we now understand pulsars. But it is a bizarre form of arrogance to assume that it is not possible in our current degree of climate knowledge that there is some factor we don’t even know about.”

    http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/09/we-cant-think-o.html

    It’s not as if Dr. Spencer is the first person to make this claim either. See this. One more quote from the Skeptic will suffice. This is from the second link, the one I had read before that this article triggered in my memory.

    “Here is a big fat clue for climate scientists: It is not part of the scientific method to confidently ascribe your pet theory (and source of funding) to every phenomenon you cannot explain. Or, maybe climate scientists are on to something. Why does gravity seem to work instantaneously at long distances? Co2! What causes cancer cells to turn on and grow out of control? CO2! Hey, its easy. All of our scientific dilemmas are instantly solved.”

    http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/08/its-co2-because.html

  27. Dr. Roy Spencer did recently consult with California’s embarrassing, renowned climatologist, petroleum geologist, and U. S. Senator, B. Boxer. At the conclusion of their exchange, the Senator did suggest that an outside influence may have compromised Dr. Spencer’s information on the subject they discussed.

    Snip, snip?

  28. “In fact, climate models of late have admitted that they don’t even include the Pacific Decadal OSCULATION in their models, or didn’t until recently. So much for thinking of everything.”

    SMOOOOCH

  29. I guess that I didn’t realize that Roy Spencer was doing volunteer work. I was mistakenly under the impression that he was funded by the same sources (NSF, NASA, NOAA) that are paying scientists to claim that there is global warming.

    Mark Ramsey:
    “Actually, Roy Spencer is a world renowned scientist and climate specialist at UAH.”

    Spencer is a competent scientist but hardly among the best-known or most honored. What little “world renown” Spencer has comes mainly from being a skeptic.

    You all can have your fun laughing at the dean’s poor choice of words, but it doesn’t change the validity of the point that he was making, which is that no one has come up with a natural mechanism to explain the warming of the last 30 or so years.

  30. You all can have your fun laughing at the dean’s poor choice of words, but it doesn’t change the validity of the point that he was making, which is that no one has come up with a natural mechanism to explain the warming of the last 30 or so years.

    Spoke like a landlubber. Arrr.

    Well, then let me be the first. (Well, to be more accurate, the zillionth.)

    The six main oceanic-atmospheric multidecadal cycles (PDO, IPO, AMO, NAO, AO, AAO) changing from cool phase to warm from 1976 to 2001. Then a nice flat temperature interval. (Then a PDO flip and a temperature drop.)

    There now. Wasn’t that easy?

    We may now continue laughing at the dean.

  31. “Scientists make their reputations on debunking theories” ??? 70 – 100 yrs ago, perhaps (the canonical example is Einstein). However, given funding realities and the req’ts for promotion, tenure, and so forth, publishing in PEER REVIEWED journals and having grant proposals favorably PEER REVIEWED requires that the theories in vogue NOT be debunked, that they fall in line with the (here it comes) consensus. Again, taking the historical view, consensus is generally inimical to science (as an example, consider the cholera epidemics in London during the late 1840’s). Dr Chameides’ comment was disingenuous at best, fatuous and pompous at worst.

  32. Pingback: Other voices on climate change » Warren Meyer: We can’t imagine what else it could be

  33. evanjones:
    “The six main oceanic-atmospheric multidecadal cycles (PDO, IPO, AMO, NAO, AO, AAO) changing from cool phase to warm from 1976 to 2001. Then a nice flat temperature interval. (Then a PDO flip and a temperature drop.)”

    Temperature drop? Where?

    You might want to forward this finding to Roy Spencer. Spencer has said in several seminars, including one that he gave in Boulder, CO this summer, that he can’t explain the warming of the last 3 decades.

  34. “You all can have your fun laughing at the dean’s poor choice of words, but it doesn’t change the validity of the point that he was making, which is that no one has come up with a natural mechanism to explain the warming of the last 30 or so years.”

    The dean’s choice of words was impeccable. Your characterization of his logic, and Spencer’s for that matter, less so.

    Either grant Evan’s temperature drop this millenium or give up your 30 year rise.

  35. Gary Gulrud:
    “The dean’s choice of words was impeccable. Your characterization of his logic, and Spencer’s for that matter, less so.”

    The dean’s point was obvious. If you couldn’t understand it, that’s your problem, not mine.

    “Either grant Evan’s temperature drop this millenium or give up your 30 year rise.”

    If you want to believe that it’s not warmer now than it was 30 years ago, that’s your choice.

  36. “The dean’s point was obvious.”

    The dean attempted to make the issue one of logic, rather than a baser motive, i.e., a re-direction rather than rebuttal.

    You are simply following that lead.

    Avarice is the driving motive behind AGW.

    Now, rather than avoid the issue, tell us why your scientists are above reproach.

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