July 13, 2014

"But global warming is occurring. That is absolutely unequivocal. Since the 1950s, the climate system has warmed."

"That is an absolute fact. And we are now 95% sure that that warming is due to human activities. If I was 95% sure that my house was on fire, would I get out? Obviously I would. It is straightforward."

Said University of Miami atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman, quoted in an article in The Guardian titled "Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away" ("Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on. The problem is the city is run by climate change deniers").

That house-on-fire business is an interesting analogy. I heard a similar analogy yesterday, also on the topic of global warming, using the same percentage: If you were 95% sure your plane was going to crash, would you get on that plane?

Chez Althouse, we have a running joke called "Bad Analogy Man." It consists of singing the line "He's Bad Analogy Man," as if it were the theme song of a TV sitcom about a comic character who was always trying to explain things with exasperatingly inaccurate analogies.

I didn't taunt my plane-crash interlocutor with the "Bad Analogy Man" theme song. I took the more pedestrian route of challenging the correspondence of the plane crash and the predicted horrors of global warming. And who are these plane-crash experts with knowledge of a particular plane about to crash? Why would that plane be taking off at all? Similarly, with the professor's house-on-fire analogy, when would you be 95% sure your house was on fire and run out based on that percentage? I think I'd start looking around for the fire, while ensuring that I had an easy exit I could get to before becoming engulfed in flames or overcome by smoke. I'd look for something I might be able to put out and try to determine if I should call the fire department for help. If it was a dire emergency, and I really did need to exit immediately, I would be 100% sure the house was on fire or 100% sure there was a smoke problem that required me to leave regardless of whether the house was on fire.

What a distraction! The question about climate changes is whether we should believe what are predictions of what will happen in the future that are based not on a percentage of certainty about the prediction — we're not "95% sure" that it will happen — but on the percentage of experts who ascribe to the prediction. And I have no idea how sure the individual scientists are. They just agree with the other scientists. Who knows what motivations to agree lurk within their big brains? And who decided what is the set that counts as 100%? If believing what must be believed is what gets you into the set of experts, I'm surprised the number of experts who agree isn't 100%. And obviously, if it were 100%, it wouldn't mean that the prediction is 100% certain to occur.

Anyway, everyone ought to educate himself about the logical fallacies. I like this book "76 Fallacies," where there's an entry titled "Weak Analogy." And — from a website called The Fallacy Files — here's the "Weak Analogy" page, which rejects the alternate term "False Analogy," on the theory that there's always something similar about any 2 things, as illustrated by answers given to the question Lewis Carroll wrote — apparently intending as nonsense — "How is a raven like a writing desk?"

ADDED: The Fallacy Files and I missed the discovery that Lewis Carroll actually did have an answer to the riddle some have waggishly "solved" (e.g., "Poe wrote on both") and I always assumed was intended as nonsense:
In 1976, over a century after the book was first published, Denis Crutch from the Lewis Carroll Society of North America discovered that the real answer was in a long forgotten typo. Crutch found out that in 1896, Carroll originally wrote: "Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front." Later editions corrected the word "nevar" -- not realizing that Carroll clearly meant to write "raven" backward. As in, "It is raven put with the wrong end in front."

93 comments:

sojerofgod said...

The contention of 95% of climate scientists that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is occurring reveals the absolute truth that climate scientists need to get out more.

Or perhaps I could apply for a grant to study the extent of peer pressure and group dynamics on climate scientists who's primary human interaction is with members of their own area of study.
Hey, that one almost writes itself!

Michael K said...

As the trend continues with no warming and possible cooling of Antarctica and even the Arctic, I expect the warmists to become more hysterical. The Little Ice Age ended in about 1850. Warming after that was inevitable. A hundred and fifty years later, we see no warming for 15 years.

The warming trend has been exaggerated and the data manipulation is such that there is no confidence in the recent modeling. Science has a history of wrong answers going back, at least, to Phlogiston and, more recently, to Lysenko , which the present episode most resembles.

Lysenko provided a science answer to a political question that is not unlike the present political issue of state control.

Original Mike said...

"[Miami] will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on."

I'm suppose to go live in a cave because people want to live on the coast. There's plenty of room in Utah, people!

Expat(ish) said...

I was much more scared of global cooling in the 70's because I couldn't imagine how we'd feed everyone with a temp drop like the one(s) predicted.

Now I'm merely skeptical of all predictions that are longer range than the ability to remember who predicted what and when.

-XC

rehajm said...


Banning automobiles would be economically and socially disruptive in a way that banning a single pesticide would not.

There are many alternative pesticides available to replace a banned one, but there are few modes of transportation available which could replace cars.

Automobiles play a significant role in our society, whereas chlordane was used only to prevent termite damage to houses, which is of comparatively minor importance.


Pointing out a logical fallacy using examples that outrage the fallacy perpetrators is not a winning strategy.

Bobber Fleck said...

If there was a 95% chance that in 500 years a glacier will cover the spot you are standing on, wouldn't you move?

jaed said...

Hmmm. I read a note from a doctoral sociology student a while back, discussing her dissertation topic: she was studying American farmers to find out why their rate of belief in global warming was less, statistically, than that of the general public. She was puzzled, because wouldn't these people - living on the land, paying close attention to the weather, and for whom shifts in climate were a matter of professional concern - understand climate change even better than the public? And yet, they didn't believe in it. How could such a thing happen? Surely there must be some complex sociological explanation - their information sources, their age, perhaps their religion - and she was out to find it.

I didn't have the heart to make the obvious response. She was so excited about her project.

tim maguire said...

The 95% figure is thrown about because it is the standard threshold for scientific significance (less than 5% chance that the results are the result of chance), but as has been pointed out by skeptical websites like wattsupwiththat, this figure was not arrived at through any scientific method, there is no statistical data behind it. It is simply a number put forth by the bureaucrats tasked with summarizing the work of climate scientists.

"How sure are you?"

Shrugs shoulders, "oh, 95% sure."

As with so much climate science once it's been run through the filters of bureaucrats and journalists, the science has been stripped out and only the jargon remains.

Charlie Martin said...

The contention of 95% of climate scientists that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is occurring reveals the absolute truth that climate scientists need to get out more.

No, the contention that anthropogenic warming is occurring is completely non-controversial. (See eg the recent -- see Monckton's recent post http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/11/the-climate-consensus-is-not-97-its-100/#more-112798.

What;s controversial is the magnitude of the anthropogenic component, and the value of proposed amelioration.

Anonymous said...

Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy says:

Notice that Althouse -- when talking about percentages and house fires -- doesn't even consider who started the fire. Was it an arsonist? An anarchist? A flaming arachnid? She seems rather sure that she herself is not to blame: no, she didn't start the fire. So who did -- Billy Joel? It is this kind of slippery thinking that makes me think the Professor needs to better question the ulterior motives that we all can see far too clearly.

EDH said...

I found his argument inconsistent, pandering and disingenuous.

He forefronts coastal mitigation and downplays the need to put a damper on global economic activity.

Paradoxically, it would seem, he does this in order to suggest to his readers that we can continue what he also typifies as the over-development of coastal areas.

Given his predictions about sea rise, he never estimates the eminently more predictable cost-benefit analysis of quantifying whether the economic loss globally from the policies he won't explicitly advocate is greater or less than the expected value of the coastal economic loss caused by a rising tide he uses statistical inference to attribute to human economic activity.

Instead, he keeps returning to partisan politics. Maybe it's a political calculation that coastal cities have disproportionate sway over national policy? Hence, convince them they can continue with their risk-taking ways as before, if only they will vote to restrict the economic opportunities of others.

Roger Sweeny said...

So where does "University of Miami atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman" live? If Miami is going to drown soon, I sure hope he's found high ground somewhere.

chickelit said...

Two thousand years ago, the Mediterranean Sea was 2 to 3 meters lower, as evidenced by the best preserved ruins (e.g., Herculaneum). I doubt the Romans were exercised about inundation then either, being too busy trying to ward off the tide of the Dark Ages.

SGT Ted said...

His assertions are contradicted by actual measured temperatures. As well as his 95% claim being bullshit.

Chicken Little, your name is Ben Kirtman.

If I was 95% sure of my house being on fire, went outside and discovered it wasn't actually on fire, I'd adjust my opinion to fit the reality and not call the fire department insisting my house is on fire and that they must DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, RIGHT NOW!

Because if I did that, I'd look like a lunatic. Which is how the alarmists are looking more and more every day with the unsubstantiated claims about AGW being a threat.

sane_voter said...

If we keep atmospheric CO2 levels too low we risk a Snowball Earth

steve uhr said...

The scientists are strongly united on the issue. Why don't those who are 95% plus sure they are wrong try to study and understand the scientific analysis and experiments so they can explain the errors? One must, at a minimum, read a SCOTUS decision before one is qualified to attack it as misapplying precedent, etc. Why don't the same rules apply here? Too much work to understand the science? Much easier to simply attack the conclusion because you "don't like it."

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

"[Miami] will be swallowed as sea levels rise

Ha. He writes that as if it would be a bad thing.

Bob Boyd said...

If somebody came to your door and said,
"I'm 95% sure your house is going to burn, Burn! Burn to the fucking ground with your whole family inside! Do you hear me?! And its going to happen in the next...oh....say twenty years. For serious! There's Science and a movie and here's me with some famous people.
But I can save you! All you have to do is let me move in and then sign this form designating me as head of your household and requiring you to follow whatever rules I come up with. OK? Don't stand there! Do something! You're running out of time!"
Would you do what he said?

MadisonMan said...

Ocean-front interests must try to come to grips with their inevitable -- seemingly -- outcome. It might not happen in their lives, but make your money while you can, I guess.

As long as it costs me no money, should I care if Miami has a lot of development?

Paco Wové said...

"Belief" in global warming, on a 1 - 6 scale.

1. The global climate is warming.

2. The global climate is warming because of human activity ("anthropogenic global warming", or AGW).

3. AGW is reversible.

4. Reversing AGW is technologically possible.

5. Reversing AGW with existing technology is desirable.

6. Reversing AGW requires implementing my pre-existing political agenda.

rhhardin said...

Arguing by analogy is like doing plane trigonometry on a sphere.

William said...

Just now I'm reading a book about the rise of the Spanish Empire. Columbus thought that the world was going to end. He wanted to find "rivers of gold" to bring back to Ferdinand and Isabelle in order to finance their conquest of Jerusalem. As all informed people knew back then, it was vitally important to be in possession of Jerusalem when the world ended......When I was a kid I read some book by Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell was then believed to be the smartest man alive. Russell detailed how every previous arms race had ended in war and how weapons once created inevitably come to be used. It was a very frightening book and he was convincing in his arguments that nuclear Armageddon awaited us....... Throughout a good chunk of my adult life, I was mildly anxious about the coming apocalypse. It never happened, but thank God smart people now have global warming to feel pessimistic about, Smart people need an apocalypse to motivate them to get out of bed in the morning and focus their energies.

steve uhr said...

Say you were 95% there was a bomb in it that was about to explode? Would you get out or look for it and attempt to disarm it? Say it was 95% likely that you would not be able to successfully disarm it? Still try?

MikeR said...

Absurd article, got most things wrong. The IPCC projects sea level rises of a millimeter per year or thereabouts due to global warming. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/unfccc/cop19/3_gregory13sbsta.pdf
This is a very slow rise. And if heavy measures are put in place to control global warming, that rise will continue for decades regardless. Cities need to protect themselves _now_ against floods and storm surges and vanishing coastline, each one in ways depending on its current situation - which will change slowly. Holland has been dealing with this for hundreds of years. It's hard, but necessary, and presumably Florida will need to do the same. So too anywhere where they insist on building by the seashore; this is one of the consequences. Making it a political fight about global warming is insane, both from the right and the left.

"But global warming is occurring. That is absolutely unequivocal. Since the 1950s, the climate system has warmed. That is an absolute fact. And we are now 95% sure that that warming is due to human activities. If I was 95% sure that my house was on fire, would I get out?" Total non-sequitur. Warming is due to human activities does not equal house on fire. There is a pretty good consensus on those two points, but no consensus at all on what the impacts will be, on whether it is economically wise to try to stop them or rather to adapt to them instead, or on whether there is politically any way at all to successfully stop them. It is a PR ploy by AGW supporters to equate the consensus that the earth is warming - the part where they have a chance to make a case - with a consensus about massive mitigation measures.

rhhardin said...

People tend to forget that temperature is just what things come to same of if you leave them alone long enough.

You can deduce from this fact alone that temperature is the rate of change of internal energy with respect to entropy.

Entropy is the dog that did not bark.

jimbino said...

No the better analogy would run along the lines of "You need to get out of your house now because your great-grandkids might be in it 100 years from now when it catches fire."

Don't forget. Climate-change fearmongers are asking those of us who have forgone breeding to sacrifice now for the far-off security of the progeny of the breeders. I'd be more in favor of increasing the air-conditioning and turning down the breeding.

John said...

A really silly article. I kept seeing 4', 6', 10' of sea level rise but no mention of how long it would take.

If sea levels are rising 1mm per year, it will take 1200 years for a 4' rise to occur. 3,000 years for a 10' rise.

Not exactly something to worry about.

Perhaps more of a worry would be that Florida is sinking. This is happening because of all the water being drawn out of the aquifer. So the guy is right in that sense, there may be too many people.

John Henry

I am Chilled said...

Sounds like Miami's problem, not ours.

If Madison get's 5 degrees C warmer it will be like living in St. Louis according to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. I think that's survivable.

PB Reader said...

The 95% probability is not obtained scientifically, and most "scientists" who offer probabilities like this are only trying to convince people of what they cannot prove. It is a number picked out of the air close enough to 100% to convince the ignorant that it's the same thing. I doubt that there's little stopping point between zero and 100% on the house fire scale.

John said...

Charley Martin says that global warming is occurring.

I happen to be agnostic on this but that is probably because I know something about how difficult measuring temperature can be, having some experience in trying to do it precisely. I also have some knowledge of how inaccurate temperature measurement in the US and the rest of the world has been.

For example, for much of the last century, norther Canada temp trends are based on a single temperature station. One location is being used to measure temps in an area almost as big as the entire continental US.

NOAA collects data for the US and "adjusts" it for various factors. Turns out that their adjustments keep changing.

Temps are based on constantly moving thermometers. Recently NOAA made available long term temps from a series of stable, unchanged, stations around the US. Turns out that these, with no adjustments, show a long term (since the 30s or so) decline in US temps.

Charley, would you care to tell us just why you seem convinced that warming is occurring? Is it because everyone says so or have you actually looked at the data and how it is collected?

John Henry

Birches said...

I'm reading Think Like a Freak right now (the same guys who wrote Freakanomics.

One of the chapters is How to Persuade People Who Don't Want to be Persuaded. Interestingly enough, they start out the chapter by discussing climate change. Though they never come out and say it, the Pro-AGW crowd is the antithesis of persuasion.

Here's their strategy:
1. Understand how hard it is to persuade
2. It's not me; it's you
3. Don't pretend your argument is perfect
4. Acknowledge the strengths of your opponents argument
5. Keep the insults to yourself
6. Tell stories (not anecdotes)

John said...

We hear a lot about how all this warming info is "peer reviewed!!!" as if this puts it several steps above Papal infallibility.

The Guardian article mentions it too. Yet the same Guardian, a few days before, had this to say about peer review:

An academic journal has retracted dozens of articles and apologised to readers after falling victim to what it described as a “peer review ring” that appears to have involved more than 100 bogus scholars.


http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/10/academic-journal-retracts-articles-peer-review-ring

I might also point out that Sage, the publisher, has an inherent conflict of interest in publishing peer reviewed articles. They get paid by the authors for publishing the articles.

How picky do you think they are going to be about turning down paying customers?

Sage makes very little money from selling subscriptions or ads. They make the vast bulk of their profits from authors paying for the privilege of publishing.

Here is a price list for publishing in a couple hundred of their peer reviewed journals. Sage prices range from $1500 to $3000. Other publishers charge $5000 or more.

http://www.uk.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdf/SAGE-Choice-Participating-Title-List.pdf

I think peer review is probably a good thing, generally. It is far from infallible, though. I would not use it as proof, or even evidence that a paper is valid.

John Henry

Original Mike said...

Charlie Martin's link is an interesting read.

"In the peer-reviewed learned journals, therefore, only 41 of 11,944 papers, or 0.3% – and not 97.1% – had endorsed the definition of the consensus proposition to which the IPCC, in its 2013 Fifth Assessment Report, had assigned 95-99% confidence."

SteveR said...

When looking at the Antarctic/southern hemisphere cold temps and sea ice issues, we learn that global warming is the cause. Turns out that it is complicated but they have assured us that its confirmation and all is proceeding as predicted.

Working from the answer backwards enough and it becomes hard to believe.

John said...

The article mentioned that farmers were less likely to believe in global warming and/or less likely to see it as a threat.

The reporter seemed puzzled as to why.

Don't most farmers live in red states? Obviously they are teabaggers in the pay of Exxon and big oil.

How could the reporter have missed this?

John Henry

John said...

William mentioned the Spanish Conquest and the rivers of gold.

There was also lots of silver.

So much gold and silver flowing back from the new world to the old that it caused a massive European inflation that lasted more than a century and trashed a number of economies.

There is probably an analogy with global warming but I am not sure what it might be. I think I need more coffee.

John Henry

jaed said...

"[Miami] will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on."

Makes me wonder whether there's some economic planning going on. If anyone were using "Global warming!!!" as a strategy to make people think coastlines were about to be drowned by oceans rising, and then buy up oceanfront property cheaply on the panic, they'd be very disconcerted when the panic failed to materialize and the price therefore didn't drop. A lot of money might be at stake in any such plan.

John said...

And, just because many people need constant reminding. Even here in Althouse:

Total claimed warming over the past century or so, up to 1998, is only 0.8 degrees (8/10s for the numerically challenged)

A good chunk of that 0.8 deg has gone away in the past 17 years.

So, over 100 years, temps have risen an average 0.008 degrees a year. WOW! We're all gonna die!

And while we are on numbers, CO2 concentration is about 385ppm.

For those who don't know what a ppm is, it is parts per million. 385ppm=.03850000% (See what I did there? The additional 0s make it look more precise)

By contrast, oxygen is about 208,000ppm and nitrogen a whopping 780,000ppm.

Even argon is 9,300ppm

Just to give some perspective.

John Henry

sojerofgod said...

Sorry Charlie;

I don't think "the contention that anthropogenic warming is occurring is completely non-controversial"
Because I don't agree with it. Therefore SOME controversy does exist. But all seriousness aside, There are two contentions that I believe are far more important.
1. The climate of the earth is always changing. Nature (which includes humans!) alters the climate in many ways, some geologic and some biologic. Humans aren't the scourge of nature that many AWG fanatics contend.
2. Additional carbon in the atmosphere is a GOOD thing. CO2 in the Jurassic period is estimated to be 1900PPM or about 7 times the amount of the pre-industrial era. This likely accounts for why the dinosaurs got so damn big. Our era is a relative carbon desert. If someone cloned a dinosaur in the manner of the book Jurassic Park, it is likely the poor beast would die immediately on birth; the atmosphere now likely would not sustain it. Should it survive that, it would have no food that had the nutrient value of the plants it naturally fed on.
This leads to the hypothesis that Nature, as embodied by Us, is causing the burning of fossil fuels to combat the carbon sequestration that has naturally occurred over the last 6 million years.
Man cannot see G-d's ends or the actions that further His purposes.
Sunday Brunch for thought.


P.S. I don't mean disrespect with the salutation. I just couldn't help myself. Got to get the jollies where you can.

richard mcenroe said...

You'd think the genius professor would have noticed that Miami is built on swamp and sandspits.

sojerofgod said...

Oh, and speaking to the linked article, What do you think about that little bit of group dynamics? they got the climate deniers together and asked for a show of hands? That's the old, "hey, who can we make look like a fool first" game.
Peer pressure is just as powerful in the Forecastle as it is on the Quarterdeck!

Ann Althouse said...

"You'd think the genius professor would have noticed that Miami is built on swamp and sandpits."

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Swamp to swamp.

If we are to decry human arrogance, should we proceed to purport to fight the rising seas?

Darrell said...

1° by the data IPCC uses (over the last 150 years)--the same data non-zealots use. That's 1/150°/year, for those at home keeping score. Why are we even wasting time and $Trillions talking about it. We are between Ice Ages afterall. You should expect that and more. We survive seasonal climate variations of 120°F in the North quite nicely, don't we? Quit the "sky is falling" bullshit.

James Pawlak said...

But, do human efforts have an appreciable impact on any such warming (As compared with volcanic eruptions, sun-spot incidence and solar output, changes in the Earth's orbit, Etc.)?

What caused the (On a geologically basis) fast end to the last great Ice Age when there were only a few tens-of-thousands of humans on our World?

hawkeyedjb said...

None of the alarmists, as they jet about the world hectoring us, gives a shit about climate or global warming. They care about the human economy, and their ability to control and ultimately wreck it. Misery and poverty are their goals, and there's not a bit of evidence to the contrary.

And we can be 95% certain of this. If you were 95% sure there were barbarians out to ruin your civilization, wouldn't you put them on a spit?

Original Mike said...

"And while we are on numbers, CO2 concentration is about 385ppm ...

By contrast, oxygen is about 208,000ppm and nitrogen a whopping 780,000ppm.

Even argon is 9,300ppm

Just to give some perspective."


I'm as big a AGW skeptic as the next man, but I do not understand why intelligent people continue to make this argument.

YoungHegelian said...

I read these articles on "rising sea levels", and the first question I ask myself is "Is the ocean rising or is the tectonic plate sinking?" This is never even discussed as a possibility by most of these articles.

Imagine a tectonic plate as being like a couch cushion. If you sit on one end, the other end rises up. There are lots of rising plates, especially in the northern hemisphere, because the plates are still rising after the weight of the last ice age glaciers has been removed. The August 2011 northern Virginia earthquake, a rare "intra-plate" quake, was thought to be caused by a plate rising from the release of glacial weight.

You hear about Bangladesh sinking. Well, of course it is. It's the seaward edge of the Indo-Australian plate which is crashing into the Eurasian plate, thrusting up the Himalayas as it goes. Is Florida also on the "sinking" edge of a plate?

Fernandinande said...

Miami ... is drowning ... will be swallowed

I love phony headlines (Drudge is a master), especially the way they change tenses from "is happening" to "will happen". Anyone who can predict the future should be spending more time at the dog track.

And will the alligators have to move back to Ellesmere Island?

Anyway, Ben Kirtman works at The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, which almost literally on the beach.

How much smaller has their beach gotten?

sojerofgod said...

@ YoungHegelian: And we can be 95% certain of this. If you were 95% sure there were barbarians out to ruin your civilization, wouldn't you put them on a spit?

I prefer my barbarian baked.

"You can live on packaged rations forever if you have enough Rosemary"
-Shepherd Book

Owen said...

Great topic. Three thoughts:
(1) Young Hegelian asks a good question: is the sea rising or is the land falling? Subsidence is a big issue in some parts of the coast (e.g. around Norfolk, where some alarmist studies claim there's a scary rise in sea level).

(2) I also like this point by "Hawkeye" (at 11:25 AM on 7/13/14)

"None of the alarmists, as they jet about the world hectoring us, gives a shit about climate or global warming. They care about the human economy, and their ability to control and ultimately wreck it. Misery and poverty are their goals, and there's not a bit of evidence to the contrary."

I suggest that the alarmists are not intent upon producing misery or poverty; they just want power. Grants, tenure, peer approbation, lecture circuit, political clout, donations, etc. Only in comic books do they cackle and rub their hands in glee at the prospect of immiserating humanity.

(3) I have a lot of trouble equating a statement about a single sample (is my house burning or not) into a probability distribution (95% or whatever). That's where I think the "analogy" fails. Ann Althouse rightly critiques the rhetorical attempt to equate a "felt story" about one's house or airplane flight, with a (crappy) survey of (self-proclaimed) experts about a (crappy) prediction about a (very poorly-understood) system.

Michael K said...

"Two thousand years ago, the Mediterranean Sea was 2 to 3 meters lower, as evidenced by the best preserved ruins"

Alexandria is beneath the sea level off the modern city, probably with Alexander's tomb.

The Med is not a good model for ocean levels. Ocean levels have changed, that's how the Indians got to north America, but the ocean levels have not changed that much in 2000 years.

Michael K said...

"If there was a 95% chance that in 500 years a glacier will cover the spot you are standing on, wouldn't you move?"

No, would you ?

Michael K said...

"If someone cloned a dinosaur in the manner of the book Jurassic Park, it is likely the poor beast would die immediately on birth;"

Or Stephen Spielberg would shoot it.

Bruce Hayden said...

The article starts off with:

Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise.

And, that was when I knew that the guy was a propagandist and not really all that scientifically literate (despite being an alleged "science editor").

Here is my problem - the theory was that the sea levels were rising because of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). And, that was because all the glaciers, esp. in Antarctica, and also in Greenland, were melting. But, of course, the ice has been increasing in Antarctica as a whole, where most of the planet's permanent ice resides. And, the models predicting global temperature increases have been spectacularly wrong over the last maybe decade and 3/4. And, the NOAA data now appears to have been more fudged that we thought...

So, the climate alarmists switched from the now mostly falsified theory of AGW to the unfalsifiable claim (and therefore not theory) of AGCC (Climate Change). But, they have continued to use the AGW theory about glaciers melting due to the heat to justify the claim of sea levels rising. Why then would the seas be rising as a result of anthropogenic causes, if the ice isn't melting, and the planet isn't warming up?

The more I see of this slight of hand, from AGW to/from AGCC, the more I question the basic theory. What must be remembered here is that almost all of those AGW papers are now irrelevant when it comes to predicting AGCC. Ditto with surveys about "scientists" agreeing about AGW, etc. And, yes, the "research" (which was apparently mostly just relying on older IPCC reports) used to justify the EPA rules on CO2.

chickelit said...

Original Mike said...

I'm as big a AGW skeptic as the next man, but I do not understand why intelligent people continue to make this argument.

It sounds good until you consider whether an atom or molecule is IR active or inactive. Those components of air aren't active.

I'm always more concerned about the omission of the white elephant: clouds and water vapor -- by far the biggest "greenhouse gas."

Christy said...

We learned with the leaked emails from East Anglia that those prominent climate scientists did not treat their data with the respect we expect of real scientists. NASA climate scientists have in the past refused to share data. None of this gives me confidence in the conclusions based on their data.

Just how much grant money would these soi distant scientist pull in for projects trying to disprove alarming AGE?

Eustace Chilke said...

Really estate doesn't go up in value because of the"problem" presented by "deniers" running things in the state of Florida. This guy does show us a problem though, which is that in the minds of too many stuff only happens, or not, because someone is running things. Or else chaos and ruin I suppose.

The"problem" he finds most disagreeable I suspect is that not enough people believe him. Those stubborn real estate values are like a thumb in the eye.

Bruce Hayden said...

I read these articles on "rising sea levels", and the first question I ask myself is "Is the ocean rising or is the tectonic plate sinking?" This is never even discussed as a possibility by most of these articles.

And, yes, the reality that the land is rising in some places, and dropping in others, with the alarmists only looking at the rising places.

I should add that I am a bit blase about inches of sea levels, living right now in Colorado. Yesterday, I responded to a text from my kid to pick them up from a hiking trip by essentially driving up (and down) some 20,000 feet. (it went like this - 9k to 11k to 7k to 12k to 6k to 14k to 6k to 11k back to 9k). And, I do almost 6k up every time I drive here from Denver. A couple of inches is some 1/100,000 of the altitude I gained and lost yesterday.

In contrast to panicking about Miami sinking a couple inches, one of the topics yesterday was the intent by one of the young ladies I picked up to summit the 52 official 14ers (14,000 ft. peaks) in the state. I think my next brother has done so, and know a number of others who have too. I think for them, the bigger worry is that plate tectonics, and the like, will cause them to either lose marginal peaks, or to miss some.

Paco Wové said...

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

RSMAS (or "razzmuss", as it was known to the cognoscenti) had a bitchin' happy hour back in my Miami days (the 1980's). Two-dollar pitchers and 3 hot dogs for a buck.

Paco Wové said...

Or maybe it was three-dollar pitchers and two hot dogs for a buck. Either way, a fine way to round out the week as you watched the sun go down across Biscayne Bay.

Bruce Hayden said...

Continuing on with plate tectonics - one of the big problems, all along, with the AGC/AGW/AGCC debate has been that it has been driven by certain types of scientists - most notably tree ring counters. The now essentially debunked 97% survey was self-selecting, but maybe more importantly, included "earth" type scientists, but excluded "space" type scientists (physicists, astrophysicists, etc.) who more typically understand the actual energy inputs to our global climate, are more likely to look at variations in solar energy before CO2 build up. And, yes, statisticians, who were able to disprove much of the AGW theories (esp. Mann's Hockey Stick), by showing that the results were often the result of sloppy statistics.

The Godfather said...

South Florida "will be swalowed as sea levels rise"? No, the correct way to say this is that south Florida will be swallowed if sea levels rise by more than X. What's X? In the case of Miami, the highest point is 42 feet above sea level, so sea level would have to rise 42 feet to swallow Miami.

OK, let's not be too literal about "swallow". The average height of Miami is only 12 feet above sea level. So if sea level rises by that much, it would be a big deal.

So why are people still developing homes and businesses in south Florida? Well, maybe they figure that something will happen in the several centuries it would take for sea levels to rise 12 feet. Like, for example, all of us wil be dead, as will our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. Most of us don't use a multicentury planning horizon.

Something else that might happen over several centuries, if sea levels do rise that much, is the application of technology. Ever hear of The Netherlands? A lot of that country is below sea level, and yet the Dutch manage to cope -- and they did so even in the Middle Ages with much more primative technology than we are likely to have available several centuries from now.

Or another thing that could happen is that the climate will stop warming and start cooling, in which case sea levels will fall, and refugees from the northern glaciers will be scrambling for homes on the widening beach fronts of south Florida. I've got friends in the real estate business in south Florida that I can put you in touch with, if you want in on the ground floor.

Douglas said...

At a Heartland conference on climate change, all 600 attendees agreed that manmade CO2 has caused some amount of warming. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/11/the-climate-consensus-is-not-97-its-100/. So I guess you could say that there's a 100% consensus! Except that there is a wide variation among scientists about the likelihood, magnitude and consequences of additional CO2 generation.

CharlesVegas said...

They both have quills.

Ray Stickler said...

No global warming for the past 17 years 10 months. But, but....WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!! Al Gore said so...

http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/07/03/global-temperature-standstill-lengthens-no-global-warming-for-17-years-10-months-since-sept-1996-214-months/

Jupiter said...

"The scientists are strongly united on the issue. Why don't those who are 95% plus sure they are wrong try to study and understand the scientific analysis and experiments so they can explain the errors?"

Since I have a PhD in Physics, I decided some time back to do exactly that. I went in assuming that the AGW science would consist of clear models using well-established mathematical and physical techniques to arrive at firm conclusions. I fully expected to be convinced, just as I was convinced by, say, quantum mechanics. Here's the theory, here are the experiments, here the conclusions. QED. And what I discovered is that even the very simplest models of "greenhouse warming" (which is not, BTW, what warms greenhouses) are insanely complicated, and still manage to leave out many extremely important factors (like rain and clouds, for instance). And the vaunted "computer models" (I make my living working with computer models) are really just collections of adjustable fudge-factors, which make no pretense of actually embodying the physical principles supposedly at work.

Furthermore, it turns out that there is no consensus as to what has caused, or ended, previous massive glaciations (no, it wasn't that Milankutovich nonsense, the Fourier analysis is all wrong), nor any reason to suppose that we are not headed into another one, a prospect vastly more daunting than warming. Canada, Russia and northern Europe under ice is quite a bit scarier than Miami under water.

And then there is the fact, that the people who claim to believe that we are in the process of destroying the Earth with CO2 emissions, propose "solutions" that would hardly affect the rate of CO2 emission at all (since that mostly takes place in other countries that do not follow our laws), but would certainly wreak havoc on our economy.

I have concluded that AGW is about 10% conscious wreckers, 30% academic greed and PC, and 60% trusting fools. I would say my conclusion is a good deal more scientific than theirs.

Tom said...

You're missing the more obvious logical and scientific problem with the article: water seeks its own level, so why would the oceans rise more in one area than another? Miami might be prone to flooding, but it has nothing to do with rising seas and is more likely attributable to sinking land.

eddie willers said...

And while we are on numbers, CO2 concentration is about 385ppm.

For those who don't know what a ppm is, it is parts per million. 385ppm=.03850000% (See what I did there? The additional 0s make it look more precise)


For visualization purposes, I like to state it this way:

99.96% of our atmosphere is something other than CO2.

Imaging having 4 grains of sugar in your coffee. Will the 5th grain make it unbearably sweet?

Revenant said...

If I knew with 95% certainty that my house would burn down a hundred years from now, my response would be to keep living in the house and leave a note for my descendants to stock up on fire extinguishers.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The fact of the matter is someone criticized.
Whether a "critic" or not is dumbly redundant.

Original Mike said...

"I'm always more concerned about the omission of the white elephant: clouds and water vapor -- by far the biggest "greenhouse gas.""

My understanding that absorption by water is already saturated, so you can add more with impunity. But yeah, modeling clouds is a big issue.

Original Mike said...

"Imaging having 4 grains of sugar in your coffee. Will the 5th grain make it unbearably sweet?"

It makes it 20% sweeter.

Original Mike said...

Oops. 25% sweeter.

Jupiter said...

"rhhardin said,

People tend to forget that temperature is just what things come to same of if you leave them alone long enough."

Well, not necessarily. A system with a negative temperature would give up heat to a system with positive temperature. Granted, we don't know of any such systems, but that is an observational fact, not a theoretical necessity.

Jupiter said...

"My understanding that absorption by water is already saturated, so you can add more with impunity. But yeah, modeling clouds is a big issue."

If you try to tell a warmist that absorption by CO2 is already saturated, they will assure you that there is no such thing as obsorption saturation. Which is sort of true, if you use the usual Beer's law definition of absorption. But that hasn't got much to do with what goes on in an atmosphere.

More importantly, water moving in the atmosphere moves huge amounts of heat, vastly more than could possibly be "trapped" by CO2. So any such trapping will likely simply ramp up the evaporation rate, and the amount of rainfall. But of course, more clouds increase the Earth's albedo, and therefore will cause cooling. How does it all work out in the end? In truth, I'm about 95% uncertain.

Michael said...

This dips hit lives in the very town that is going underwater. He is 95% positive but he is sticking around there at the University. Brave guy.

Original Mike said...

"If you try to tell a warmist that absorption by CO2 is already saturated, they will assure you that there is no such thing as obsorption saturation. Which is sort of true, if you use the usual Beer's law definition of absorption. But that hasn't got much to do with what goes on in an atmosphere."

This is my understanding of the model:

The surface of the Earth does not cool primarily by thermal radiation. Because of the main greenhouse gas, water vapor, there is so much greenhouse opacity immediately above the ground that the surface cannot effectively cool by the emission of thermal radiation. Instead, heat is carried away from the surface by fluid motions. These motions carry the heat upward and poleward to the “characteristic emission level” one optical depth into the atmosphere. From here emitted thermal radiation can escape to space. Crudely speaking, the emitted thermal radiation is proportional to the fourth power of the temperature at the characteristic emission level. The characteristic emission level is typically 7-8km at the tropics and lower at higher latitude.

Consider that the atmosphere is at equilibrium. Now, additional greenhouses gases are added. As a result, the characteristic emission level moves higher, where it is colder. Now, less heat escapes than before and the system is not balanced. To re-establish balance, the temperature at the new characteristic emission altitude must increase to the temperature that had existed at the old level.

Danno said...

Great thoughts on interpreting the statistics. Also, the only solution the left advocates is to create a carbon tax and place our trust in government. I think people should analyze what might result if warming is real and anticipate responses, but work to adapt to the future. Raising the cost of fossil energy will only harm the middle class as the rich can afford higher costs and the poor don't pay this by themselves. We can't all live in caves.

John said...

Original asked why I continue to point out that 400ppm is only 0.04% and that N2 is 780,000ppm


I do it because so many people are so inumerate. 400 to them looks like a big number but they have no idea what it means. Ask them the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere and you will get answers up to 10% or more.


In reality, it is not even a drop in a bucket.


Especially not compared to water vapor and clouds (more or less the same thing) that get left out of most discussions of warming. Perhaps because one can become a billionaire from a carbon exchange and trading carbon credits. And perhaps because a cloud exchange and cloud credits would be impossible.


I also point out that the total claimed rise is 0.8 degrees because most people seem to think that warming has been more in the range of 8-12 degrees over the period.


John Henry

John said...

Original Mike you are mathematically correct that adding an additional grain of sugar will make the coffee 20% sweeter.

BNut you still only have 5 grains of sugar and even though you have bumped sweetness up 20%, you did it on such a low baseline that it is meaningless.

Nobody is going to detect the difference between 4 and 5 grains. Probably nobody will detect the difference between 5 grains and zero.

It is like the headlines that cigarette smoking doubles one's risk of lung cancer. Well, it does. It doubles it from about 4.5% to about 9%. A risk, sure, but still a pretty low one. Yet most people think that cigarette smokking causes lung cancer. If you asked them what percent of smokers get lung cancer, most people will give answers 75-90%. That was what most of my students used to say when I taught a case on tobacco companies.

Words matter and numbers matter even more. People use numbers to lie all the time and it is important to call them out on it.

That is not directed at you, OM. It is directed at journalists, scientists, politicians and others.

John Henry



This is a similar argument

John said...

Original Mike,


When the atmosphere gets saturated, we get rain, snow, hail and other precipitation.


At 100 degrees air will hold considerably more water vapor than at 90 or 30. If the air is saturated or close to it at 100 degrees, cooling it to 90 will cause it to be oversaturated and precipitation will occur.


It is the meaning of relative humidity. The ratio of moisture in the air to the maximum amount it can hold at a given temperature.


(Yes, a bit more complicated but that is the basic idea)

John Henry

Paul said...

Just what is a 'climate scientists".. exactly?

Are we talking about anyone who studies the climate? Or government funded groups, or just what?

Is there a PhD in 'climate science'?

See you can say 95 percent of 'rocket scientist', and actually include kids who fly Estes Rockets from the back yard.

You can talk about 95 percent of the aeronautical scientist and include model airplane designers.

So who is a 'climate scientist' and who is not?

Anonymous said...

A better analogy, where AGW alarmism is concerned is: If you smelled smoke, would you immediately jump out a window. Or might you first look into what floor you are on and whether the smoke is the house burning or crumbs stuck in the toaster?

Bruce Hayden said...

Ever wonder why most of the AGC/AGW/AGCC papers somehow and somewhat support those theories? Here is part of the answer from Powerline: On Global Warming, Follow the Money

Lonetown said...

Global warming fanatics are basically mindless frightbats.

Human drones sent to disperse us.

Original Mike said...

John Henry - My back of the envelope calculation gives me 4x10^16 CO2 molecules per cm^3. Just for some perspective.

There are legitimate arguments to be raised against the AGW hypothesis. Stop using a poor one.

Peter said...


Climate predictions fall into the category of "unknown unknowns," not the "known unknowns" category.

Calculating this probability is not like calculating the probability of throwing snake eyes with a pair of honest dice; it's more like predicting the probability that a nuclear war will happen in the next decade: the only certainty is that it's greater than zero and less than certainty.

Which is to say, the probability is not something that can be calculated, as the only way to do so is to make so many assumptions as to beg the question.

Which makes the "95%" a lie, as the author surely knows there's no way to actually calculate an interval of confidence regarding the predictive value of these modelling systems that are intended to predict climate.



damikesc said...

No, the contention that anthropogenic warming is occurring is completely non-controversial. (See eg the recent -- see Monckton's recent post http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/11/the-climate-consensus-is-not-97-its-100/#more-112798.

It's been 15 years with no warming. There is doubt about the warming part at this point.

John said...

Original Mike said:

John Henry - My back of the envelope calculation gives me 4x10^16 CO2 molecules per cm^3. Just for some perspective..

Is that a real calculation or something you made up to make a point?

BTW: How much is that in freedom units? (inches)

Kind of cool if it is real and I'll keep it in my back pocket for future arguments. The problem will be trying to explain it to people who have no concept of PPM.

And that is why I use the 0.04% CO2 argument. Because they throw that ppm number around having no idea what it means.

However, you have told me to stop. No reason given, just "stop doing it"

Yeah, I am going to take instructions from an anonymous commenter. Perhaps if you were someone with credentials I respected, I might pay attention to a request to stop with no reason given. In this case I have know idea who you are or what your background is so I can't do that.

In this case? Not gonna happen. I'll keep using the argument.

John Henry

Anonymous said...

From the 50s to the 70s, the temperature dropped significantly, despite the great increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. From the 70s to 1996, the temp went up. From then through now, the temp has been flat.

Anyone who claims you can explain this with a single variable is a fantasizing idiot. Anyone who wants to claim that CO2 emissions are a significant part of this, has to provide an explanation that accounts for the other ups and downs, and they don't have one.

Original Mike said...

John Henry - I have a PhD in physics, if it matters. It's a real number. Trivial calculation. If CO2 is 0.0004 of the molecules in the atmosphere and there are 1x10^20 molecules in a cc at sea level, then there are one hell of a lot of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere. The fact that their percentage is small is completely immaterial. I don't understand why people think it is.

I "told" you to stop because I care about the science, I care about the debate and, with respect (really), the "CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere so it can't have an effect" argument is just wrong. When people use it, they discredit the skeptics "side".

But, obviously, you're free to do what you want.

PeterJ said...

There's "95% sure", and then those "97% of climate scientists". On the latter: a recent paper in Envir. Research Letter has this abstract:
---
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.
------------
See http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article
(I found the link at Powerline Blog)

PeterJ said...

There's "95% sure", and then those "97% of climate scientists". On the latter: a recent paper in Envir. Research Letter has this abstract:
---
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.
------------
See http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article
(I found the link at Powerline Blog)