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Topic Title: E&T Magazine - Debate - Is climate change a man-made phenomenon?
Topic Summary: E&T Magazine - Debate - Is climate change a man-made phenomenon?
Created On: 21 November 2012 10:41 AM
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 18 January 2013 11:29 PM
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HazelGroveWolf

Posts: 93
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Geoff,

The carbon dioxide plant food hypothesis seems to work well in agriculture, an abundance of food in our supermarkets doesn't seem to have poisoned anyone. Ontario view

Geoff, you seem desperate to cling on to a none issue. I will continue to research this issue but I would politely request that you might use some engineering methodology to determine what might be reality.

Regards

Dave
 18 January 2013 11:30 PM
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richwin

Posts: 96
Joined: 25 July 2008

Originally posted by: geoffbenn

Only problem is that we're discussing "There is a conclusive body of evidence to support the existence of man-made climate change".



I thought we had agreed that these were both true?

"There is an almost conclusive body of evidence to support the existence of man-made climate change"

"There is an almost conclusive body of evidence to support the existence of natural climate change"

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 18 January 2013 11:52 PM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: geoffbenn

Obviously there is no point referring to other denier sites because they will just refer to the dodgy analysis above!

Well, more time wasted on rubbish allegations when what we really wanted to do was look at the maths...

Regards


Have some maths: 2 + 2 = 4
Now understand that I am funded by Big Oil.

When your head has stopped spinning, try this:


Scientific American claims that:

"On February 20, Peter Gleick, a nationally known expert on water resources, admitted that he had obtained the documents by posing as a Heartland board member."

That is "wire fraud" and is a federal crime in the USA.

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 19 January 2013 12:06 AM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: geoffbenn

The Big Picture


In response to your SkS article may I suggest that this describes the skeptical viewpoint quite well. (Not that every sceptic has exactly the same views, of course.)

Climate of Scepticism

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 19 January 2013 12:18 AM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: richwin

Originally posted by: geoffbenn

The Big Picture

Oftentimes we get bogged down discussing one of the many pieces of evidence behind man-made global warming, and in the process we can't see the forest for the trees. It's important to every so often take a step back and see how all of those trees comprise the forest as a whole. Skeptical Science provides an invaluable resource for examining each individual piece of climate evidence, so let's make use of these individual pieces to see how they form the big picture.



The animated graphs are nice. I like the ones in other articles that compare current temperature datasets with the "same" ones from a few years ago. The ones that show how various groups have modified some old points downwards and some recent ones upwards thus increasing the current warming trend. Changes always seem to be upwards, don't they?


Coincidentally, WUWT has a posting on how various organisations have retrospectively changed temperatures for undefined reasons. Again, most of these "corrections" make the present hotter and the past colder.

There are many links to the animated graphs I was referring to above.

Cooling the Past and Warming the Present

Again, I ask, if the science really is so overwhelming, why do they need to do it?

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 19 January 2013 12:58 AM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: geoffbenn

Obviously there is no point referring to other denier sites because they will just refer to the dodgy analysis above!

Well, more time wasted on rubbish allegations when what we really wanted to do was look at the maths...



More on the dodgy analysis and maths front - percentages.

How many times have you seen: "97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming?"

In the best traditions of this forum I pasted that from the Skeptical Science site. One of the quoted "peer-reviewed" references is Doran et al (2009).

Their survey comprised 3,146 earth scientists and two questions. Question 2 of the survey was: "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? This is quite similar to the question being asked here.

Note the SkS quote says "humans are causing" while the question actually asked in the survey is "human activity is a significant contributing factor".

The paper concludes that 97.4% of "specialists" answered "yes" to the question.

This all sounds quite impressive until you actually read the report to find that although all the above is true, the 97.4% refers to only 75 carefully selected scientists.

So next time you see a claim that "97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming" remember that the question asked was actually slightly different and only 75 "specialists" said yes anyway.

My question would be: "Why are scientists carrying out such a survey?" This is not how science is done. You do not ask everyone in favour of gravity to raise their hands. That is a political process.

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
 19 January 2013 01:39 AM
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robmercel

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Geoff,

You seem confused. Your 'dodgy analysis' was performed by independent forensic experts who specialize in the subject.

Unlike the sanitized world of SkS where inconvenient truths are hidden so as not to offend the readership, sceptical sites tend to put forward the whole truth.

Again you have put up a wall of cut and paste but what you appear to have overlooked is that all the points you noted had been taken into consideration by the forensic experts before they reached their conclusion that Gleick was, on the balance of probabilities, the forger.

You also appear to remain ignorant of other supporting evidence; evidence which came from the forged document had led many to believe that Gleick was responsible before he admitted the fraud.

He was even asked if he was the forger but failed to respond.

I am still unaware of any investigation that cleared Gleick of forgery and you have still failed to cite one.

The press release from the Pacific Institute is carefully worded so as to avoid the forged document.

The term 'interaction' excludes the forged document. The forged document may have referred to the Heartland Institute but there was no 'interaction'.
 19 January 2013 01:47 AM
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robmercel

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Again Geoff,

You claim that you want to discuss the maths and science yet when presented with a table of verification statistics you once more resort to cut and paste.

What is your personal opinion of Wahl & Ammann's R2 verification statistics?

In your own words please.
 19 January 2013 06:30 PM
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HazelGroveWolf

Posts: 93
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A quick look at history and common sense:

Snow a thing of the past

Common sense

Do we ever learn

Just a few things that caught my attention today, how any organisation can assert that they have all the answers is beyond comprehension.

Regards

Dave
 21 January 2013 11:23 AM
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clivebrown

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Recent posts have demonstrated admirable passion and persistence on both sides of this debate - especially by Geoff.

Most of us engineers are not climate scientists, which is a highly complex and rapidly developing subject. My simplistic view of it is that a stable global climate, which earth has experienced for around the last 10k years, exists because of a very delicate balance between large warming and cooling forces; most of these forces cannot be influenced by mankind but an exception could be warming caused by increased greenhouse gases (principally CO2 from burning fossil fuels and rain forest destruction). Is this additional greenhouse gas going to cause significant warming of the planet and if so by how much?

That question, especially the second part, can't be answered with 100% certainty; but the vast majority of the world's most senior scientific establishments (National Science Academies, in the UK the Royal Society) consider that there is risk of dangerous warming due to man's activity - I accept that collective expert view. (I sometimes think it amazing that a few hundred ppm of CO2 can have so much effect but then remember such things as the need for certain trace elements for plant growth or the consequences of a drop of arsenic to the human body.)

If significant warming should occur, the possibility of positive feed-backs affecting the present climate equilibrium does seriously bother me (although I don't think it will be in my life time). Two such feed-backs are caused by reduced arctic sea ice cover in summer and melting of frozen tundra releasing trapped methane. I believe that current climate models do not incorporate these feed-backs, which could result in our planet becoming pretty inhospitable to man. Evidence indicates that very rapid climate change has occurred in the past; my worry is that the next could be self inflicted. Although there is no certainty, surely precautionary action would be wise.

I'll just give one citation, which I was led to by the IAP (Inter Academy Panel: The Global Network of Science Academies, representing 105 countries):-
http://www.science.org.au/reports/climatechange2010.pdf

I've just been back for a re-read of the statements by Peter Langdon & Johnny BalI and a look at the vote (49% yes/51% no); although I voted 'YES' (and obviously remain firmly in that camp), there is much in the 'no conclusive body of evidence....' statement that I can go along with, eg:-

'... There is much evidence to show that we are the greatest burden that Earth has to bear. To simply rape the earth of all its fossil-fuels would be gross folly....

But we are a burden to the Earth and reducing that burden is our responsibility. The answer is engineering greater efficiency.....

Whatever our future problems, including unburdening the planet, engineering is our only salvation, and improvements are huge in every aspect. Recent miracles will be dwarfed by those we will achieve in the future. But only if we put our faith in leading-edge engineers finding the best and safest way forward.....'

Is it possible for us all to agree that, since the majority of humanity's energy requirement comes from unsustainable resources, a major objective for our profession should be reduction of carbon consumption?

Regards.......Clive

Clive Brown MIET

-------------------------
clivebrown
 21 January 2013 01:21 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: HazelGroveWolf

Geoff,

The carbon dioxide plant food hypothesis seems to work well in agriculture, an abundance of food in our supermarkets doesn't seem to have poisoned anyone. Ontario view

Geoff, you seem desperate to cling on to a none issue. I will continue to research this issue but I would politely request that you might use some engineering methodology to determine what might be reality.

Regards

Dave

An issue which you raised, and then suggested was something warranting your further research. More recent science:

peer-reviewed research article
As carbon dioxide rises, food quality will decline without careful nitrogen management


Carbon dioxide could reduce crop yields

The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere continues to climb and heat up the climate. The gas is, however, indispensable for plants, as they use the carbon it provides to form glucose and other important substances. Therefore, the more carbon dioxide the better? The equation is unfortunately not as simple as that. The plants, which ensure our basic food supply today, have not been bred for vertical growth but for short stalks and high grain yields. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology and the University of Potsdam have now discovered that an increase in carbon dioxide levels could cancel out the beneficial effects of dwarf varieties.


Agriculture and Food Supply Impacts & Adaptation
Warmer temperatures may make many crops grow more quickly, but warmer temperatures could also reduce yields. Crops tend to grow faster in warmer conditions. However, for some crops (such as grains), faster growth reduces the amount of time that seeds have to grow and mature. [1] This can reduce yields (i.e., the amount of crop produced from a given amount of land).


Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:24 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: richwin

Originally posted by: geoffbenn

Only problem is that we're discussing "There is a conclusive body of evidence to support the existence of man-made climate change".


I thought we had agreed that these were both true?

"There is an almost conclusive body of evidence to support the existence of man-made climate change"

"There is an almost conclusive body of evidence to support the existence of natural climate change"


They are both true. Is that a problem? Your post seems a bit pointless. Except that it's good to know that you agree with both

Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:26 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: richwin

Originally posted by: geoffbenn

Obviously there is no point referring to other denier sites because they will just refer to the dodgy analysis above!

Well, more time wasted on rubbish allegations when what we really wanted to do was look at the maths...

Regards


Have some maths: 2 + 2 = 4

Now understand that I am funded by Big Oil.

When your head has stopped spinning, try this:

Scientific American claims that:

"On February 20, Peter Gleick, a nationally known expert on water resources, admitted that he had obtained the documents by posing as a Heartland board member."

That is "wire fraud" and is a federal crime in the USA.
And in the UK...?
Another pointless post. I've already pasted that. But it doesn't mention forgery. Note the page title:
The Peter Gleick Incident: All Heat and No Light
Will the unethical release of documents from the controversial Heartland Institute undermine climate science?

And 3rd page
So what, ultimately, does this incident with Peter Gleick and Heartland mean for the climate debate say, a month from now, a year from now?
Nothing. Has it affected [the public's] sensitivity to climate issues? No. Has it affected our political ability to fund renewable energy and reduce emissions? No.


Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:27 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: richwin
Originally posted by: geoffbenn
The Big Picture

In response to your SkS article may I suggest that this describes the skeptical viewpoint quite well. (Not that every sceptic has exactly the same views, of course.)
Climate of Scepticism

Yes the 'skeptics' seem to have a whole load of 'views', each one seems to enjoy a variety of myths as part of their mix. WUWT has presented so much rubbish that I won't spend further time on it.

Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:28 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: richwin
Originally posted by: richwin
Originally posted by: geoffbenn
The Big Picture
Oftentimes we get bogged down discussing one of the many pieces of evidence behind man-made global warming, and in the process we can't see the forest for the trees. It's important to every so often take a step back and see how all of those trees comprise the forest as a whole. Skeptical Science provides an invaluable resource for examining each individual piece of climate evidence, so let's make use of these individual pieces to see how they form the big picture.

The animated graphs are nice. I like the ones in other articles that compare current temperature datasets with the "same" ones from a few years ago. The ones that show how various groups have modified some old points downwards and some recent ones upwards thus increasing the current warming trend. Changes always seem to be upwards, don't they?

Coincidentally, WUWT has a posting on how various organisations have retrospectively changed temperatures for undefined reasons. Again, most of these "corrections" make the present hotter and the past colder.
There are many links to the animated graphs I was referring to above.
Cooling the Past and Warming the Present
Again, I ask, if the science really is so overwhelming, why do they need to do it?

Scientists will be doing what they consider to be scientifically correct. Because you've decided not to trust scientists then you have a real problem on your hands.
More WUWT, sorry SkS might not be perfect, but WUWT just presents far too much rubbish to be worthy of consideration.

Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:33 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: richwin
Originally posted by: geoffbenn
Obviously there is no point referring to other denier sites because they will just refer to the dodgy analysis above!
Well, more time wasted on rubbish allegations when what we really wanted to do was look at the maths...

More on the dodgy analysis and maths front - percentages.
How many times have you seen: "97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming?"
In the best traditions of this forum I pasted that from the Skeptical Science site. One of the quoted "peer-reviewed" references is Doran et al (2009).
Their survey comprised 3,146 earth scientists and two questions. Question 2 of the survey was: "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? This is quite similar to the question being asked here.
Note the SkS quote says "humans are causing" while the question actually asked in the survey is "human activity is a significant contributing factor".
The paper concludes that 97.4% of "specialists" answered "yes" to the question.
This all sounds quite impressive until you actually read the report to find that although all the above is true, the 97.4% refers to only 75 carefully selected scientists.
So next time you see a claim that "97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming" remember that the question asked was actually slightly different and only 75 "specialists" said yes anyway.
My question would be: "Why are scientists carrying out such a survey?" This is not how science is done. You do not ask everyone in favour of gravity to raise their hands. That is a political process.

"climate experts" / "specialists" - well I'd hope they would be carefully selected, unlike the thousands who signed the Oregon Petition...

Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project
The 'OISM petition' was signed by only a few climatologists.

In fact, OISM signatories represent a tiny fraction (~0.3%) of all US science graduates (petition cards were only sent to individuals within the U.S)



Regarding the 97% would you like to suggest who was excluded when they chose the 75 carefully selected scientists? Ideally someone who actually has main-stream peer-reviewed published climate science?

Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:34 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: robmercel
Geoff,
You seem confused. Your 'dodgy analysis' was performed by independent forensic experts who specialize in the subject.

It's not my 'dodgy analysis', it was presented by WUWT. My understanding and point is very clear: the experts are clearly distancing themselves from the conclusion by clearly stating that the data is insufficient. They clearly state that it's worse than "simply disastrous."...
Originally posted by: robmercel
Unlike the sanitized world of SkS where inconvenient truths are hidden so as not to offend the readership, sceptical sites tend to put forward the whole truth.

Sceptical sites, especially WUWT, tend to present without consideration for context and understanding of significance, ie. mis-information and hence the raising of doubt. That's not truth in my book.
Originally posted by: robmercel
Again you have put up a wall of cut and paste but what you appear to have overlooked is that all the points you noted had been taken into consideration by the forensic experts before they reached their conclusion that Gleick was, on the balance of probabilities, the forger.

And you're ignoring (blind to?) their warnings concerning the dangerous nature of the conclusions.
Originally posted by: GeoffBenn
It seems that the software being used for the analysis is not exactly reliable. It needs careful manual intervention... And alot of data (about 8 times what they had!)... Now I wonder.... WUWT site has already been shown to be just a bit unreliable to say the least, but just take a look at this detail:
Forensic analysis of the fake Heartland 'Climate Strategy Memo' concludes Peter Gleick is the likely forger
These complications became especially evident when writer Shawn Otto at the Huffington Post used the JGAAP software to do his own analysis, coming to the conclusion that Joe Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, had authored the fake memo.

Always good to look at exactly what was written:
speci
fically whether the primary author was Peter Gleick or Joseph Bast. I conclude, based on a computational analysis, that the author is more likely to be Gleick than Bast.
- just more likely? Well I suppose that might be of interest. But what if it was someone else altogether? Or what if they "have extremely similar writing styles" (see below).?
Analysis
24 This task is challenging for several reasons, some technical and some linguistic.
25 First, the Heartland memo as published contains a great many quotations taken from other sources. As originally published, the memo contains approximately 717 words, but at least 266 of those words have been identified as belonging to phrases (or paraphrases of phrases) found elsewhere in the stolen documents). [N.b. this identification was done by the Heartland Institute, who admit that these 266 words are "paraphrases [of] text appearing in one of the stolen documuments."
As paraphrases, they may nor may not reflect the style of the original authors, and they also may or may not reflect the style of the alleged forger. For this reason, we analyzed both the full document as well as the 451-word redacted document with the controversial passages removed.
26 Second, even the full-length document is rather short for an accurate analysis. Most authorship attribution experts recommend larger samples if possible. (E.g., Eder recommends 3500 words per sample, noting that results obtained from fewer than 3000 words "are simply disastrous.")
- so 451 words are being analysed when less than 3000 is disastrous . Just 15% of the words needed to reach a 'simply disastrous' 'result' and they kept going? 3500 words is almost 8 times the number of words that they had to work with! Well this is well dodgy (as are most things from that camp)...And that's not allowing for the 2 guys "have extremely similar writing styles" (see below).
27 Thirdly, perhaps as a result of the previous factors, we have observed that Bast and Gleick appear to have extremely similar writing styles.

We that's enough for me. I'm surprised WUWT put that lot on their web site!


Originally posted by: robmercel
You also appear to remain ignorant of other supporting evidence; evidence which came from the forged document had led many to believe that Gleick was responsible before he admitted the fraud.

If WUWT can't present the most convincing evidence then I'm certainly not going to go digging.
Originally posted by: robmercel
He was even asked if he was the forger but failed to respond.

Gleick denied forging the document.
Originally posted by: robmercel
I am still unaware of any investigation that cleared Gleick of forgery and you have still failed to cite one.

He is innocent until proven guilty. As far as I'm concerned the worse than "simply disastrous." analysis above .
Originally posted by: robmercel
The press release from the Pacific Institute is carefully worded so as to avoid the forged document.
The term 'interaction' excludes the forged document. The forged document may have referred to the Heartland Institute but there was no 'interaction'.


Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:35 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: robmercel
Again Geoff,
You claim that you want to discuss the maths and science yet when presented with a table of verification statistics you once more resort to cut and paste.
What is your personal opinion of Wahl & Ammann's R2 verification statistics?
In your own words please.

My own words are simple: they concluded that though there were problems, overall it was correct. I won't be trusting sites which present mis-information and dodgy busted myths who claim to challenge that. And hence I won't be wasting my time digging into relatively insignificant details.
Originally posted by: GeoffBenn
Based on the outcome of the Peter Gleick 'issue' above, I'm going to keep this simple. Let's just look at their summary:
Robustness of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes reconstruction
of Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures:
Examination of criticisms based on the nature and
processing of proxy climate evidence

Also, recent "corrections" to the Mann et al. reconstruction that suggest 15th century temperatures could have been as high as those of the late-20th century are shown to be without statistical and climatological merit. Our examination does suggest that a slight modification to the original Mann et al. reconstruction is justifiable for the first half of the 15th century (∼+0.05 - 0.10◦),which leaves entirely unaltered the primary conclusion of Mann et al. (as well as many other reconstructions) that both the 20th century upward trend and high late-20th century hemispheric surface temperatures are anomalous over at least the last 600 years. Our results are also used to evaluate the separate criticism of reduced amplitude in theMann et al. reconstructions over significant portions of 1400 - 1900, in relation to some other climate reconstructions and model-based examinations. We find that, from the perspective of the proxy data themselves, such losses probably exist, but they may be smaller than those reported in other recent work

Not forgetting that it's about the Northern Hemisphere, rather than the global picture.
Regards


Regards

-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 01:37 PM
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geoffbenn

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Originally posted by: clivebrown

Recent posts have demonstrated admirable passion and persistence on both sides of this debate - especially by Geoff.

Most of us engineers are not climate scientists, which is a highly complex and rapidly developing subject. My simplistic view of it is that a stable global climate, which earth has experienced for around the last 10k years, exists because of a very delicate balance between large warming and cooling forces; most of these forces cannot be influenced by mankind but an exception could be warming caused by increased greenhouse gases (principally CO2 from burning fossil fuels and rain forest destruction). Is this additional greenhouse gas going to cause significant warming of the planet and if so by how much?

That question, especially the second part, can't be answered with 100% certainty; but the vast majority of the world's most senior scientific establishments (National Science Academies, in the UK the Royal Society) consider that there is risk of dangerous warming due to man's activity - I accept that collective expert view. (I sometimes think it amazing that a few hundred ppm of CO2 can have so much effect but then remember such things as the need for certain trace elements for plant growth or the consequences of a drop of arsenic to the human body.)

If significant warming should occur, the possibility of positive feed-backs affecting the present climate equilibrium does seriously bother me (although I don't think it will be in my life time). Two such feed-backs are caused by reduced arctic sea ice cover in summer and melting of frozen tundra releasing trapped methane. I believe that current climate models do not incorporate these feed-backs, which could result in our planet becoming pretty inhospitable to man. Evidence indicates that very rapid climate change has occurred in the past; my worry is that the next could be self inflicted. Although there is no certainty, surely precautionary action would be wise.


I'll just give one citation, which I was led to by the IAP (Inter Academy Panel: The Global Network of Science Academies, representing 105 countries):-

http://www.science.org.au/reports/climatechange2010.pdf

I've just been back for a re-read of the statements by Peter Langdon & Johnny BalI and a look at the vote (49% yes/51% no); although I voted 'YES' (and obviously remain firmly in that camp), there is much in the 'no conclusive body of evidence....' statement that I can go along with, eg:-

'... There is much evidence to show that we are the greatest burden that Earth has to bear. To simply rape the earth of all its fossil-fuels would be gross folly....

But we are a burden to the Earth and reducing that burden is our responsibility. The answer is engineering greater efficiency.....

Whatever our future problems, including unburdening the planet, engineering is our only salvation, and improvements are huge in every aspect. Recent miracles will be dwarfed by those we will achieve in the future. But only if we put our faith in leading-edge engineers finding the best and safest way forward.....'


Is it possible for us all to agree that, since the majority of humanity's energy requirement comes from unsustainable resources, a major objective for our profession should be reduction of carbon consumption?

Regards.......Clive

Clive Brown MIET




-------------------------
Geoff Benn BSc(Hons) CEng MIET
George Washington: Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.
skepticalscience.com: getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
sourcewatch.org: exposing public opinion manipulation
 21 January 2013 11:36 PM
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richwin

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Originally posted by: clivebrown

Recent posts have demonstrated admirable passion and persistence on both sides of this debate - especially by Geoff.


" ... especially by Geoff !!!"

Geoff, you have a fan

I would like to point out on the passion front that I do all this off the top of my head. I do not need a large resource of pastable quotes to provide the answers.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

Most of us engineers are not climate scientists, which is a highly complex and rapidly developing subject. My simplistic view of it is that a stable global climate, which earth has experienced for around the last 10k years, exists because of a very delicate balance between large warming and cooling forces; most of these forces cannot be influenced by mankind but an exception could be warming caused by increased greenhouse gases (principally CO2 from burning fossil fuels and rain forest destruction). Is this additional greenhouse gas going to cause significant warming of the planet and if so by how much?



Clive, the "how much" part is really the $64,000 question.

Mostly, there is just hand waving. Note how few posts here have attempted to suggest an amount.

This is also why questions such as the one posed in this forum are of little use. They have yes or no answers and you know if you want to answer yes but only a fraction of a per cent your answer will be taken by some as a yes and 100%. Alternatively, if I were to answer no then I would not be telling the truth as I see it.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

That question, especially the second part, can't be answered with 100% certainty; but the vast majority of the world's most senior scientific establishments (National Science Academies, in the UK the Royal Society) consider that there is risk of dangerous warming due to man's activity - I accept that collective expert view.



You need to remember that this is not a scientific debate; it is a political one. The point about the "scientific establishments" shows that. Yes, it scores highly on the political points scale and if you do not think any more about it you could be swayed. But:

Firstly, as Aristotle pointed out, this is "argument from authority" and is not a valid way to rebut an argument. This is the grown up version of "my dad is bigger than your dad".

Secondly, do you know if any of the learned societies polled or otherwise canvassed the views of their members? I have tried to investigate that from time to time but have drawn a blank. So my supposition is that these policy pronouncements were made by a political sub-committee with perhaps only one or two activist members - possibly with an eye to funding and keeping in with their respective governments.

Thirdly, science is not done by voting. As Einstein is reputed to have said:
"If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!" - Albert Einstein, commenting on the book 100 Authors Against Einstein


Quote borrowed from Wikipedia.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

(I sometimes think it amazing that a few hundred ppm of CO2 can have so much effect but then remember such things as the need for certain trace elements for plant growth or the consequences of a drop of arsenic to the human body.)


Beware, alarmists will switch seamlessly between greenhouse gasses, all CO2 and man-made CO2. This is to make it seem that man-made CO2 has all the effects of the greenhouse gasses. In reality, there is a ratio of about 25:1 between each. The few hundred ppm you mention is for all CO2.

So perhaps a more accurate analogy would be that the poison comprised 1 part of man-made arsenic, 25 parts of natural arsenic and over 600 parts of ricin. Some people will insist that the 1 part of arsenic made all the difference. (NB ricin would be analagous to the other greenhouse gasses - mainly H2O.)

Originally posted by: clivebrown

If significant warming should occur, the possibility of positive feed-backs affecting the present climate equilibrium does seriously bother me (although I don't think it will be in my life time). Two such feed-backs are caused by reduced arctic sea ice cover in summer and melting of frozen tundra releasing trapped methane. I believe that current climate models do not incorporate these feed-backs, which could result in our planet becoming pretty inhospitable to man. Evidence indicates that very rapid climate change has occurred in the past; my worry is that the next could be self inflicted.



The feedbacks are critical in my view but are not well understood and many do not figure in the climate models - cloud feedbacks, for instance. Using an analogy, we have the experts looking at the boiler saying that if we keep putting fuel in it will keep getting hotter and hotter but they have not underestood the role of the thermostat yet.

Should we really be looking to spend trillions on a speculative climate problem when we have so many real ones? Many people in the world have a short and brutal life and they die of preventable causes e.g. diahorrea, malaria, smoke inhalation etc. A few billion correctly focussed would make a massive difference.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

Although there is no certainty, surely precautionary action would be wise.


The "Precautionary Principle" is a flawed idea. It makes various assumptions that are, in this case, not justified.

First, is this the only problem we should be concerned about? What about the possibility of a meteor strike, for instance? You might ask how likely that is but I would say that meteor strikes have happened many times in the past so shouldn't that be higher priority?

Second, it sounds like an insurance policy. You insure your expensive house for a small premium. In this case, the best schemes I have seen will save only a fraction of a degree increase but will cost the farm. The possible benefit is worth only a tiny fraction of the premium. Lord Stern did an early report on the benefits but there are others now. He fiddled the assumed borrowing rates and still could not make a good case.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

I'll just give one citation, which I was led to by the IAP (Inter Academy Panel: The Global Network of Science Academies, representing 105 countries):-

http://www.science.org.au/reports/climatechange2010.pdf


Sorry, only got to page three of that. It just reinforced how little we actually know about the climate.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

I've just been back for a re-read of the statements by Peter Langdon & Johnny BalI and a look at the vote (49% yes/51% no); although I voted 'YES' (and obviously remain firmly in that camp), there is much in the 'no conclusive body of evidence....' statement that I can go along with, eg:-

'... There is much evidence to show that we are the greatest burden that Earth has to bear. To simply rape the earth of all its fossil-fuels would be gross folly....

But we are a burden to the Earth and reducing that burden is our responsibility. The answer is engineering greater efficiency.....

Whatever our future problems, including unburdening the planet, engineering is our only salvation, and improvements are huge in every aspect. Recent miracles will be dwarfed by those we will achieve in the future. But only if we put our faith in leading-edge engineers finding the best and safest way forward.....'




Some years ago, I saw a picture of the earth with two much smaller spheres near it. One was all the earth's water and the other was all the earth's atmosphere. It put things in perspective. Allow me to do something similar.

Have you seen that picure of the Eiffel Tower with all the flat space around it? Well, try to imagine it occupied by a cube of side 3 Eiffel Towers. I think all of humanity would fit in that cube.

Another view, it is believed that here are more ants than humans. Not just in numbers but also in terms of bio-mass. The same can be said of termites and krill etc.

Originally posted by: clivebrown

Is it possible for us all to agree that, since the majority of humanity's energy requirement comes from unsustainable resources, a major objective for our profession should be reduction of carbon consumption.


Well, it sounds like a good idea, but like so many good ideas it struggles when put into practice. I would like to see electrical engineers being honest about the number of wind turbines or solar panels we would need to power the UK and also, what would we do when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining (e.g. dark, cold winter evenings.)

I would like them to point out that using low energy light bulbs that contain mercury is not an ideal soution, that neodymium magnets in wind turbines cause devastation to the area from which the ore is extracted, that pump storage will not solve all our energy storage problems.

Please see my sig for further details.

-------------------------
Richard Winstone MIET

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
IET » Other and general engineering discussions » E&T Magazine - Debate - Is climate change a man-made phenomenon?

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