So Skeptical Science Is "Correcting" Me

I really wasn't going to do much with this Skeptical Science post by Rob Honeycutt called "Correcting Warren Meyer on Forbes," but several readers have asked me about it and it's Friday and I am sort of bored in the office so here goes.  I may skip parts of his critique.  That does not necessarily mean I agree with it, but several sections of this article are just so trivial (let's defend Al Gore!) that it is hard to work up any energy about it.  As reference, my original article published back in 2012 is here.

Dammit Meyer, You Changed The Words to the Doxology!

The author begins his critique this way:

Mr. Meyer opens with a misleading attempt to frame the issue as a debate on "catastrophic man-man global warming theory." This approach conflates two very distinct elements of the science on anthropogenic climate change. Nowhere in the published scientific literature can you find the phrase he uses. When I did a search on this term in Google Scholar, what did I find? Mr. Meyer's Forbes article. Also searching "catastrophic man-made climate change" I get a smattering of non-research related materials coming from people who rejecting human influence on climate. Meyer has formed a completely irrelevant and fabricated framing of the issue for the basis of his discussion.

In Mr. Meyer's article he claims this is the "core theory" and states that he will use the IPCC as the primary source for this, even though there is no place where the IPCC frames climate change in this manner.

Hey, thanks for making my point!  I always start climate discussions by saying that supporters of climate action are frequently sloppy with the way they frame the debate.   They use phrases like "climate denier" for folks like me which make no sense, since I don't deny there is a climate.  Clearly "climate denier" is a shortcut term for my denying some other more complex proposition, but what proposition exactly?  Merely saying "global warming" as a proposition is sloppy because it could include both natural and manmade effects.  Climate change is even sloppier (I would argue purposely so) because it obscures the fact that deleterious effects from anthropogenic CO2 must be via the intermediate stage of warming (i.e. there is no theory that CO2 causes hurricanes directly).

With this in mind, I begin nearly every discussion of climate change by doing what many proponents of climate action fail to do  -- I am very precise about the proposition I am going to discuss.  It's not just global warming, it's man-made global warming.  And since the climate alarmists are urging immediate action, it is not just man-made global warming but it is catastrophic man-made global warming, ie man-made global warming with negative effects so severe it requires urgent and extensive actions to circumvent.  I think that is a very fair reading of what folks like James Hansen have in mind (if he does not think it will be catastrophic, why is he getting arrested in front of power plants?)  The fact that Google searches do not yield these precise terms but rather yield millions of hits for meaningless phrases like "climate denier" just go to support one of the themes of my original piece, that the climate debate is made much muddier by the sloppy framing of the issues in the media.

However, while Mr. Honeycutt criticizes my framing as non-canon, he offers no specific critiques of how the phrase "catastrophic man-made global warming" might be wrong and offers no alternative framing.  I really do try to pass Bryan Caplan's ideological Turing test on this stuff, so I am interested -- if advocates for climate action do not think "Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming" is a fair statement of their theory, what would they use instead?

So Is Feedback a Critical Assumption or Not?

I really don't want to repeat my article, but it is useful to understand my thesis:  Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Theory is actually a two-part theory, with two chained steps.  In the first, CO2 (and methane and other stuff) act as greenhouse gasses and incrementally warm the planet (about 1-1.2C per doubling of CO2 levels).  In the second step, via a second theory unrelated to greenhouse gas theory, the initial warming from greenhouse gasses is multiplied several times by positive feedbacks that dominate the Earth's climate system, up to the IPCC's estimate of 3-5 C per doubling.  Most of the projected warming in forecasts, such as those from the IPCC, are actually from this second step.  My position is that I largely agree with the first step, which is well understood, but believe there is little real understanding of the second, that feedbacks could be net positive or negative, and that scientists either over-estimate their certainty on feedbacks or, more commonly, bury the feedback assumptions and don't even talk about them in public.

As an aside, I have presented this in front of many climate scientists and no one has really disputed that my summary of the logic is correct (they have of course disputed my skepticism with the feedback number).  In fact Wikipedia, no climate denier, has this in their article about climate sensitivity:

CO2 climate sensitivity has a component directly due to radiative forcing by CO2, and a further contribution arising from climate feedbacks, both positive and negative. "Without any feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 (which amounts to a forcing of 3.7 W/m2) would result in 1 °C global warming, which is easy to calculate and is undisputed. The remaining uncertainty is due entirely to feedbacks in the system, namely, the water vapor feedback, the ice-albedo feedback, the cloud feedback, and the lapse rate feedback";[12] addition of these feedbacks leads to a value of the sensitivity to CO2 doubling of approximately 3 °C ± 1.5 °C, which corresponds to a value of λ of 0.8 K/(W/m2).

In a critique, I would expect someone to say, "your description of the theories is wrong because of X" or "I agree with your basic description of the theories but think there are good reasons why we expect feedbacks to be strongly positive".  But this is what we get instead from Mr. Honeycutt

New errors pop up when trying to describe this "theory" where he attempts to describe water vapor feedbacks. He states that the IPCC "assumed" a strong positive feedbackfrom water vapor. The IPCC doesn't assume anything. The IPCC is a collection of leading experts in their fields who ware painstakingly cataloguing the scientific research. Meyer also makes an error suggesting the IPCC "just add" 2-4°C onto the 1°C for CO2 warming. Such figures, again, are completely manufactured by Meyer. They don't jibe with climate sensitivity figures and he provides no reference to what he means with figures like these.

The IPCC actually produces graphs such as the following to quantify forcings on the climate system, which also very clearly indicate levels of scientific understanding and uncertainty ranges.

He follows with a IPCC chart that showing forcing number estimates for different atmospheric components and the range of IPCC climate sensitivity forecasts, then says

By comparison, the IPCC and research scientists take the uncertainties involved with climateforcings and feedbacks very seriously. They clearly quantify and document them. The net result of the research suggests that our climate's sensitivity to forcing centers around 3°C for doubling CO2 concentrations. The low end probability is ~1.5°C, and the IPCC clearly state that anything lower than this is highly improbable.

My first thought is a snarky one, that it is interesting to see someone from a site with the word "skeptical" in the title go in for such a full-bore appeal to authority.  But to the substance, I am certainly familiar with all the IPCC forcing charts, and what is more, that these charts include a self-assessment by the IPCC about how confident they are in their estimates.  Since that self-assessment never is supported by any methodology or analysis in the reports, or any neutral third-party review, I take it with a grain of salt.

But to the rest, if one wants to discuss climate change with a lay audience, it is not wildly useful to start spewing out forcing numbers that have little meaning to the reader, and which the reader has no ability to connect to what they really care about, ie how much temperatures may rise.

More tellingly, though, after I spend most of my article discussing how the media frequently merges the effects of greenhouse gasses acting alone with the effects of feedbacks in the system that multiply or reduce these direct effects, Mr. Honeycutt does just that, offering forcing numbers that, if I read them correctly, include both direct effects and feedback multipliers.

The reason why it is useful to separate the direct warming effect from CO2 from the follow-on effects of feedback multipliers is the level of certainty we have in assessing their values.  We can figure out pretty precisely the absorption and reradiation characteristics of CO2 in a laboratory.  We can't do anything similar with feedbacks -- they must be inferred using various (all to-date imperfect) approaches to isolating feedback effects from everything else in the climate.  An example from another field might be useful.  Let's say we want to know the economic effect of hosting the Superbowl in Phoenix.  It is pretty easy to measure the direct effects, like the money spent on tickets for the event.  But when we look at the total system, things get really hard.  Sure we had people come in spending money on the Superbowl, but maybe we had fewer tourists doing other things, or maybe increased spending at the Superbowl was offset by less spending at movies or amusement parks.  We might compare that day's revenues to other years, but other years might have had different weather, different population, and a million other small differences that affect the outcome.  Sorting through all these literally millions of changing variables to get the net effect of hosting the Superbowl is hard (and in fact for the last Superbowl hosted in Arizona, academic groups have come up with a huge array of numbers that range all the way from highly positive to negative for the net economic effect).  The one difference between this example and what scientists have to do to isolate effects of individual inputs to the climate system is that the climate problem is much harder.

In responding to Mr. Honeycutt, I cannot honestly tell if Mr. Honeycutt is refuting this formulation of the problem (ie incremental warming from greenhouse gas effects of CO2 is increased to much higher, catastrophic levels by a second theory that the earth is dominated by strong positive feedbacks) or merely disputing my assertion that the second half of this proposition is not well-proven.

Missing the Point on Past Temperatures

Mr. Honeycutt has a number of problems with my discussion of past temperatures.  First, he doesn't like my saying that warming from pre-industrial times was 0.7C.  Mea culpa, it was probably 0.8C when I wrote the article.  He also does not like the satellite temperature measurement, because it measures temperatures in the lower troposphere (a couple miles up in the atmosphere) rather than at the surface.  He is absolutely correct, but you know what?  I am skeptical of both land and space data sets.  They both have their flaws.  Land surface temperatures, especially near the poles and in places like Africa, are widely spaced requiring a lot of interpolation.  They are also subject to a number of biases, such as from changing land use and urbanization.  Satellite data tends to cover larger swaths of the Earth, but have to be corrected for orbital decay and other satellite aging factors.  And as the author mentioned, they measure temperatures in the lower troposphere rather than the surface.  However, since the IPCC says that the most warming from greenhouse gasses should be in the lower troposphere, even greater than the warming on the surface, satellites strike me as a useful tool to look for a global warming signal.   That is why I always use both.  (As an aside, Mr. Honeycutt departs from his appeals to IPCC authority by advocating two land surface data sets NOT chosen by the IPCC as their lead data set -- I use the Hadley CRUT4 because this is what the IPCC uses as their gold standard).

But all this misses the point of why I introduced past temperatures in the first place.  My thesis was that past warming was not consistent with high CO2 temperature sensitivity numbers.  I used charts in the article but I can repeat the logic simply here.  Sensitivity numbers in the IPCC are the warming expected per doubling of CO2 levels.  Since pre-industrial times we have increased global CO2 concentrations from about 270ppm  (or 0.0270%) to about 405 ppm.  This increase of 135pp from 270ppm is conveniently (for the math) about 50% of a doubling.  Because the ratio between concentration and temperature is logarithmic, at 50% of a doubling we should see 57% of the doubling effect.  So for an IPCC sensitivity of 3C per doubling, since pre-industrial times we should have seen a warming of .57 x 3 =  1.7C.  We are nowhere close to this, even if every tenth of degree of warming over the last 100 years was man-made (a proposition with which I would disagree).  At the high end of the IPCC range, around 5C, we would have had to see 2.85C of warming to date.  At the low end of 1.5C, which the author calls unlikely, we would have seen about 0.86C of historical warming.  If one argues that manmade warming is only about half the past warming, then the sensitivity would have to be less than 1C  (by the way, this disconnect only gets larger if one considers greenhouse gasses other than CO2).

There are plenty of potential arguments one could counter with.  One could argue that time delays are really long or that man-made aerosols are masking past warming -- and we could have a nice back and forth on the topic.  Instead we just get printouts from models.  Seriously, is that how skeptical folks approach science, accepting black box model output that embodies hundreds or even thousands of potential GIGO assumptions and inputs?  I would love someone to show me in a sort of waterfall chart how one gets from 1.7C of expected warming from 270-405ppm to Hadley CRUT4 actual warming around 0.8C.  Doesn't anyone feel the need to reconcile their forecasts to actual observations?

There are really good reasons to distrust models.  If Donald Trump wanted to invest $100 million in building new military bases, and said that he had a computer model from experts with graphs that show the plan will grow GNP by a trillion dollars, would you automatically accept the model?  If GNP only grew by $200 million instead of by a trillion, would you want a reconciliation and explanation?

There are also good reasons to distrust climate models and forecasts.  James Hansen's models he used in his famous testimony in front of Congress in 1988 over-predicted warming rates by quite a bit (full explanation here).  Since people argue endlessly over this chart about how to center and zero the graphs, it is much easier just to look at implied warming rates:

Even the IPCC finds itself questioning its past warming forecasts:

These forecast failures are not meant as proof the theory is wrong, merely that there is good reason to be skeptical of computer model output as somehow the last word in a debate.

Actually, Missing the Whole Point of the Article

I had naively thought that the title of the article "Understanding the Global Warming Debate" (rather than, say, "Climate Alarmists Are Big Fat Liars") might be a clue I was trying outline the terms of the debate and the skeptic position in it rather than put a detailed dagger through the heart of, say, climate models.

I wrote this article based on my extreme frustration in the climate debate.  I have no problem with folks disagreeing with me  - in enjoy it.  But I was frustrated that the skeptic argument was being mis-portrayed and folks were arguing about the wrong things.  Specifically, I was frustrated with both of these two arguments that were frequently thrown in my face:

  • "Climate deniers are anti-science morons and liars because they deny the obvious truth of warming from greenhouse gasses like CO2"

In fact, if you read the article, most of the prominent climate skeptics (plus me, as a non-prominent one) totally accept greenhouse gas theory and that CO2, acting alone, would warm the Earth by 1-1.2C.  What we are skeptical of is the very net high positive feedbacks (and believe me, for those of you not familiar with dynamic systems analysis, these numbers are very large for stable natural systems) assumed to multiply this initial warming many-fold.  Of all the folks I have talked to in the past, perhaps less than 1% were familiar with the fact that warming forecasts were a chain of not one but two theories, both greenhouse gas theory and the theory that the Earth's atmosphere is dominated by strong net positive feedbacks.  Even if the audience does not choose to agree with my skepticism over feedback levels, isn't this education of the public about the basic theory useful?  The author accuses me of purposeful obfuscation, but for those of us who are skeptical, it is odd that alarmists seem to resist discussing the second part of the theory.  Could it be that the evidence for strong positive feedbacks dominating the Earth's long-term-stable greenhouse gas theory is not as strong as that for greenhouse gas theory?  Evidence for high atmospheric positive feedbacks simply HAS to be weaker than that for greenhouse gas theory, not only because they have been studied less time but more importantly because it is orders of magnitude harder to parse out values of feedbacks in a complex system than it is to measure the absorption and emission spectrum of a gas in a laboratory.

  • "Climate deniers are anti-science morons and liars because there is a 97% consensus behind global warming theory.

Well, studies have shown a 97% agreement on .. something.  This comes back to the first part of this post.  If one is sloppy about the proposition being tested, then it is easier to get widespread agreement.  The original study that arrived at the 97% number asked two questions -- "do you think the world has warmed in the last century" and "do you think a significant part of this warming has been due to man".  97% of scientists said yes.  But I, called a climate denier, would have said yes to both as well.  Alarmists attempt to shut off debate with skeptics by siting 97% agreement with propositions that have little or nothing to do with skeptics' arguments.  Try asking a large group of scientists if they think that the world will warm 3C per doubling of CO2 levels, the proposition with which I disagree, and I guarantee you are not going to get anywhere near 97%.  This is simply a bait and switch.

I will conclude with his conclusion:

Meyer ends with an unjustifiable conclusion, stating:

So this is the real problem at the heart of the climate debate — the two sides are debating different propositions!  In our chart, proponents of global warming action are vigorously defending the propositions on the left side, propositions with which serious skeptics generally already agree.   When skeptics raise issues about climate models, natural sources of warming, and climate feedbacks, advocates of global warming action run back to the left side of the chart and respond that the world is warming and greenhouse gastheory is correct.    At best, this is a function of the laziness and scientific illiteracy of the media that allows folks to talk past one another;  at worst, it is a purposeful bait-and-switch to avoid debate on the tough issues.

The positions he's put forth in this article are the epitome of lazy analysis and scientific illiteracy. He's bizarrely framed his entire discussion attempting to attack the positions of the IPCC, a body composed of the world's leading researchers, as being scientifically illiterate. One has to ask, from where does his own "literacy" if not from leading climateresearchers? It's certainly not based in the available published research which the IPCC reports are based on.

In this, perhaps he's inadvertently answering his own questions in a manner that he would prefer to reject. What are "skeptics" denying? Answer: The scientific research.

Well, first, I would advise him to work on his reading comprehension scores.  I called the media scientifically illiterate, not the IPCC and researchers.  The basic framework of greenhouse gas incremental warming multiplied many times by assumed positive net feedbacks is in the scientific literature and the IPCC -- my frustration is that the feedback theory seldom enters the public debate and media articles, despite the fact that the feedback theory is the source of the majority of projected warming and is the heart of many climate skeptic's criticisms of the theory.

And with that, the "skeptical science" article ends with an appeal to authority.

Postscript:  Thinking about it more, at some level I find this article weirdly totalitarian, particularly the last paragraph where I am described as doing nothing but polluting the climate discussion.  Here he writes:

Forbes is a very high profile publication and thus someone there, at Forbes, decided that it was fine and well to give this person an internet soapbox to promote a position rejecting the climate science which he has absolutely no expertise. He is not genuinely adding to the discussion on climate change but is being placed into a position as someone to listen to. Meyer is polluting the discussion with misinformation and poor analysis which has no bearing on the actual issue of climate change. And thanks to Google, these types of discussions, lacking in any substance, are given equal weight to actual science due to the traffic they generate.

This seems an oddly extreme response to someone who:

  • agrees in the linked article that the world has warmed over the last century
  • agrees in the linked article that a good chunk of that warming is due to manmade CO2
  • agrees in the linked article that CO2 acting as a greenhouse gas will increase temperatures, acting alone, by about 1-1.2C per doubling
  • argues for a form of carbon tax (in a different article)
  • but disagrees on the magnitude of added warming from net feedback effects.

It seems that we have moved beyond "you are either with us or against us" and entered the realm of "you are either entirely with us on every single detail or you are against us".

Postscript #2:  Something else has been bothering me about this critique and I think I can finally put it into words  -- the critique is sort of science without thought, a regurgitation of the canon whenever I diverge from orthodoxy without actually considering the arguments presented.

Look, there are tens of thousands of people talking past each other on climate issues.  One of the things I try to do, if nothing else to bring something new to the discussion, is try to reframe the discussion in more useful and accesible terms, often with different sorts of graphs.  Sometimes these are useful reframings, and sometimes not, but I do know that in general I am a heck of a lot better at creating charts to communicate with a lay audience than is the IPCC or most of the prominent folks on either side of the climate debate.  This is why getting feedback (as in this critique) that I use different words to summarize the issue or that I do not use the standard charts everyone else xeroxes out of the IPCC reports (as did Mr. Honeycutt) is not very helpful.


  1. greg61:

    I would just start with the name of their site "Skeptical Science", the only function of which is to push the consensus and never express any skepticism. When you choose Orwell as a guide rather than a warning don't expect to be taken seriously.

  2. Jason Calley:

    "It's not just global warming, it's man-made global warming. And since
    the climate alarmists are urging immediate action, it is not just
    man-made global warming but it is catastrophic man-made global warming,
    ie man-made global warming with negative effects so severe it requires
    urgent and extensive actions to circumvent."

    Exactly! For some years I have referred to the alarmist theory as CAGW, "catastrophic anthropogenic global warming". In any discussion, my first step is to get the alarmist to understand that what I am arguing against is an ideology with four legs. It must be catastrophic, it must be man made, it must be global in scale, and it must be from the warming effects of CO2. If any one of those factors goes away, then the theory collapses.

    Great article! I doubt that Mr. Honeycutt will respond to it.

  3. Fred_Z:

    I went over to the Skeptical Science blog and found neither skepticism nor science but there sure seemed to be a lots of smugly expressed logical fallacies. I didn't read much - I couldn't get past the nasty tone.

    Perhaps they should read Scott Adams' blog post on how to convince people.

  4. Bart_R:

    ..if advocates for climate action do not think "Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming" is a fair statement of their theory, what would they use instead?

    Some of us call it Capitalism.

    Scarce weathering and sequestering of fossil by private property are economic goods. These goods are rivalrous -- no two amounts dumped by different people can be so disposed of by the same fraction of the same property at the same time. These goods are excludable -- the fossil resources you burn to create airborne fossil wastes are excludable, so by commutativity are weathering and sequestering of fossil. This is the subject of Elinor Ostrom's Nobel Prize winning work in Economics.

    Unless your private property sequesters or weathers at least as much fossil out of the air as you dump into the air, you're taking fruits of the land that do not belong to you from your neighbors. You owe them Market rent at a price set by the Law of Supply and Demand.

    Are you paying this Market rent?


    Then you can't call yourself a Capitalist, and you aren't facing your fossil debts.

    Now, will that lead to a catastrophe?

    Ostrom's work proves perverse rewards accumulate when governments fail to privatize such scarcity. Up to now, your government has de facto nationalized your land's weathering and sequestering goods out from under you.

    I call any time the government takes what's mine a catastrophe.

    Why don't you?

  5. Jerryskids:

    You're daring to argue with Rob Honeycutt? The man is a former bike messenger who made a fortune with a messenger-bag company! If anybody's an expert on the global warming issue it's a bike messenger and you're just obviously out of your league with that kind of intellect.

  6. J_W_W:

    I like how you spout Marxist collectivist babble to claim that the CO2 someone emits while burning fossil fuels is such a burden for my neighbor who would rather I not burn it.

    All the of course is predicated on the fact that the large positive temperature forcing feedback that Warren talks about is real, because if its not, then I am providing no real (at the very least no catastrophic) harm to my neighbor.

    The climate forcing number is a lie, plus it and its confidence level has been going down in each consecutive IPCC report.

  7. JOe - the non scientist:

    "Mr. Meyer opens with a misleading attempt to frame the issue as a debate on "catastrophic man-man global warming theory." This approach conflates two very distinct elements of the science on anthropogenic climate change. Nowhere in the published scientific literature can you find the phrase he uses. When I did a search on this term in Google Scholar, what did I find? Mr. Meyer's Forbes article. Also searching "catastrophic man-made climate change" I get a smattering of non-research related materials coming from people who rejecting human influence on climate. Meyer has formed a completely irrelevant and fabricated framing of the issue for the basis of his discussion."

    I read the article at Skeptical science a few weeks ago and was immediately struck the the authors comment that nowhere in the scientific literature is the term or phrase "catastrophic man made warming". Meyer was making that sh__ up.

    "Positive feedbacks" and all other catastrophic terms are extremely prominent through out the scientific literature. Do the alarmists not bother to understand their own theories

  8. Bart_R:

    Why all the snarl?

    Especially, why the backwards argument by abuse?

    It isn't Marxist to expect someone to pay Market prices when they take what isn't theirs from a supplier. It's straight out of Adam Smith's 1776 Wealth of Nations.

    Get your head screwed on right way around, sir.

    There's no predication in Wealth of Nations on any temperature anything. That is a question for science, not business and economics.

    There's no need to harm your neighbor to owe him for his goods. Eating an apple from your neighbor's orchard doesn't injure him; failing to pay for the fruits of his land does, and in the long run if enough people do it harms the economy overall.

    Your knowledge of IPCC reports appears shaky. No doubt it is founded on secondhand reports from people you trust, or some other form of mental laziness.

    Empirically, Charney ECS is 5.0 +/- 0.3 C/doubling CO2, based on observed TCR 2.22 and known aerosol figures. That you don't like it doesn't make science wrong.

    It just makes you biased by emotion.

    But I somehow doubt in your case that

  9. Bart_R:

    You seem to have fallen into the trap of shooting the bicycle messenger.

  10. Bart_R:

    Is "positive feedback" a catastrophic term?

    You must be fun when it comes to performance ratings. You wouldn't want to get positive feedback; that'd be catastrophic. ;)

  11. Bart_R:

    If getting past nasty tone is an impediment for you, one imagines you to have a bushy beard and unkempt hair, for want of access to a mirror.

    Did you wish to brave the tone long enough to cite and identify three or four SkS logical fallacies?

  12. Bart_R:

    Why do you need four legs? Are you from Animal Farm?

    And why "ideology"?

    The ideology of science is, "Hold exact fit inferred from all observation with fewest assumptions, exceptions or omissions possible, but no further than possible, until new observation lead to amended or new fit."

    Your ideology seems nothing like that. More arbitrary edicts and foregone conclusions for an ulterior motive.

    GHGs warm by the GHE. Global is the scale of climate, as climate is the probability distribution function of a modal weather pattern, and the timescale of such a PDF is 17 years, enough for GHGs to become globally well-mixed. Isotope ratios reveal that the dominant source of the principle non-saturating, non-condensing GHG by volume in the atmosphere is human fossil waste dumping. As for catastrophic -- while it obviously is catastrophic, why does it have to be catastrophic for you?

    Oh, and what the heck is 'great' about the article? It seems hurried, kneejerk and triggered, by my reading.

  13. Bart_R:

    You appear to have confused SkS with Frank Luntz, who finds Orwell to be the guiding light of his work as a Republican policy advisor.

    "To be 'Orwellian' is to speak with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening… and to do so without any pejorative whatsoever."

  14. Fred_Z:

    Excellent response. Elucidating.

  15. Bart_R:

    And yet, I have no examples from you of the logical fallacies of your complaint.

    This leaves me with no evidence you know what a logical fallacy is. If that is the case, I commend the excellent Duke University, "Think Again: How To Reason and Argue."

    If a refresher is all you need, might I suggest as a primer?

    I've read Scott Adams' Dilbert version of how to convince people, and remain unconvinced.

    For what it's worth, my working definition of skepticism appears to differ from yours, in that I am more skeptical of your claims than you are of Scott Adams'; I go with suspension of judgement of ultimate truths, and reliance rather on Regulae Philosophandi: Hold exact fit inferred from all observation with fewest assumptions, exceptions or omissions possible, but no further than possible, until new observation lead to amended or new fit.

    Redundantly, that's also my working definition of science.

    Did you have any? Work, in science, that I may have read, that is?

  16. J_W_W:

    There is still one hole in your point. You have to prove the cost to my neighbor of my burning fossil fuels. Now, today, not 30 years from now. Do you have that evidence, a concrete measure of that harm?

    I know, I know you'll point to hurricanes and storms to prove you damage, but the studies about AGW causing those is inconclusive.

    So you propose the state taxing and controlling your neighbor because of your perceived (not actual measured) cost of their actions.

    Saying that's Marxist may be exaggeration, but it sure as hell ain't capitalism.

  17. CB:

    " You have to prove the cost to my neighbor of my burning fossil fuels."


    The information is out there.

    Why haven't you availed yourself of it?

    Google fingers broken?

    "Cost of not acting on climate change $44 trillion"

  18. J_W_W:

    In stable systems, the threashold for positive feedback is low. Most stable systems have negative feedback mechanisms that keep them stable.

  19. J_W_W:

    Warren, your article is as like honey to flies. Bart_R is a true believer, unconvinced by your post and fully supportive of Mr. Honeycut. Or maybe his name really isn't Bart......

  20. J_W_W:

    Proposed future cost. For damages you need to prove a cost now.

    Oh and btw between now and the 2060 stated in the article, the US will pay out about $100 Trillion dollars toward mandatory spending on Medicare and Social Security. Money the US does not have. She lets solve the big problems first, ok.

  21. Bart_R:

    Indeed, I need prove no such thing further.

    You eat your neighbor's apples, the cost to your neighbor is no concern of yours and slim concern of your neighbor's, but only the price the Market will bear matters in fixing what you owe.

    Damage functions, harms, injuries? Those are not Market concepts, and have zero to do with Capitalism. Those words are the stuff of tort, concepts of civil courts.

    So whatever your opinion about conclusivity or inconclusivity of studies about harms AGW cause (and your views appear wildly out of step with actual courts in the real world using actual tests of admissibility of scientific testimony), you have not addressed the conversation at hand.

    Saying it's Marxist is exaggeration in the same sense as calling an apple a turd is exaggeration. As such, I'll take Adam Smith's view of what is or isn't Capitalism over yours.

    Why are you seeking to change the conversation?

    Is paying what you owe not to your liking?

  22. Bart_R:

    You present a simplification that does not clarify.

    A complex system may achieve stability near an attractor through a series of simultaneous dynamic equilibrium states that are not necessarily feedbacks, or that are positive feedbacks in some ways and negative feedbacks in others.

    Earth goes through Milankovitch Cycles at roughly 100,000, 46,000 and 22,000 years that tend to move the temperature up and down globally but are not themselves feedbacks. Over long enough periods -- for example the last 1.2 million years -- we might measure an essentially 'stable' system with regular rhythms of glacial and interstadial phases with temperature differences about 4-5 degrees C from top to bottom.

    However, the total change in energy budget to the Earth that can be accounted for from all three of those Milankovitch forcings combined is only about 10% of the observed temperature difference. 90% of the temperature rise and fall is from positive feedback.

    Is there a negative feedback that squelches that interstadial difference? No. It's that the power of the feedbacks does not exceed the threshold for a tipping point, and Earth is as such generally Intransient beyond that temperature difference, so far.

    Some long-term simulations do show a second 'White Earth' attractor, where over 70% of the surface becomes glacial under present conditions of solar output -- a state Earth has not visited since at least the Gaskiers Glaciation over half a billion years ago when the sun was much fainter.

    Measurements in no way suggest strong negative feedbacks dominate the relationship of CO2 to temperature; the opposite is likely.

  23. J_W_W:

    That's what I'm trying to say. "What I owe" is a made up imaginary number based on future costs not yet realized.

    Your trying to act like there are actual economically measurable things involved here.

    What is the cost of a ton of CO2 in numbers that are not based on future predictions that are the same as past predictions that never came true.

    Personally, I think you prove all the points being made in the article about climate change alarmists.

  24. mckyj57:

    You are inventing "goods", that's why it is leftist doublespeak. "Weathering and sequestering of fossil" assumes property owned by others is owned by "the world". It's gobbledygook, though I will grant you spout it well.

  25. Bart_R:

    You appear to be changing your story, or purposely misunderstanding.

    What you owe is a number the government, by its de facto nationalization of the private property of Americans, is hiding the amount you owe -- and if you own land, the amount you are owed -- for fossil waste dumping.

    There are actual economically measurable things involved here. You're trying to act like there aren't.

    And while I appreciate your frank assessment of my comity, I'm not the one calling advocates for Capitalism Marxists.

    Not having been a guest for long, can you tell me is that his expected standard of conduct for his guests?

    If it is, you can be sure I won't be a guest long.

  26. mckyj57:

    More leftist gobbledygook. While it is "obviously catastrophic" to you, as a true believer in the religion of global warming, the rest of us require some evidence. So far rates of warming align more closely with little to no positive secondary feedback, which translates to "obviously not catastrophic".

    I know it is hard to be a communist in today's world. Everyone knows communism doesn't work, and no one would buy it on the merits. Therefore you must invent a disaster to give you power. It's a daft and essentially hopeless plan, but I know it is all you've got.

  27. Bart_R:

    READ HARDER. You got it not only wrong, but backwards, inventing and asserting assumptions where there are none.

    Specifically, I recommend you read Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, 1776.

    Weathering of fossil back to mineral form is a well-understood geochemical process whereby CO2 reacts with calcium through a series of steps to become limestone. Sequestration of biogenic carbon is the process whereby bodies of plants and animals fall below the threshold of exposure to oxygen, and become sealed up as peat or other petrochemical precursors.

    An honest man finds a stranger's wallet in the road, he tries to find the man who owns the wallet and restore it to him. A thief, a deadbeat, a man without scrupples realizes he's taken something that doesn't belong to him, he does as you do and complains of 'gobbledygook'.

    Pay what you owe.

  28. Bart_R:

    I'm to the right of you. More conservative. More protective of private property rights. While some may cry out, "Make America Great Again," I say, "Make Americans Great Again".

    Your government has taken too much from you already. When did you hand over your integrity to it?

  29. J_W_W:

    Give me real numbers. You've got nothing on actual, already occurred costs of "fossil waste dumping" (that's actually some pretty good newspeak there).

    That is the problem with catastrophic man-made global warming. The bill always come due in 15-20 years, and then when the predictions don't pan out you just set the goalposts out another 15-20 years. Go back and look at the circa 1998-2000 predictions for climate. Some of them are laughably wrong. And yet you act like there is a definitive "number" that can be charged to me regarding my use of fossil fuels??!!!

    Carbon taxes are a sham and everyone knows it. A recent post here was about realizing that advocates for a carbon tax don't want the tax to get money to fix the environment or even to handle your vaunted "cost of carbon". Warren realized that Progressive like you REJECT carbon tax plans that don't add a net intrease to the government coffers.

    I predict if we ever get a carbon tax, the money will go to funding programs to the environment in the same proportions that money received from tobacco companies went to health care funding. That is to say a majority of the funds collected will go to whatever new spending the government wants, not what they really told you it was for.

    Re: commenting on this blog. As far as I've seen Warren is open and gracious to all comers. BUT that doesn't mean your not being collassaly obnoxious and rude here.

    BTW, setting you to ignore now. At least Discus is used for the comments and _I_ can block seeing your posts....

  30. Bart_R:

    What sweet things to whisper about a stranger.

    Indeed, his name isn't really Bart. There is no Bart.

    It's Bayesian Additive Regression Trees in R, a suite of software tools for understanding large datasets mathematically.

    Or are you suggesting backhandedly that honey isn't the only thing that attracts flies, a swipe at our host?

  31. Bart_R:

    Class act. Demanding 'real numbers' be handed to you, then flagging ignore.

    And calling me a Progressive into the bargain.

    You must deal with many flies, with your honeypot mouth.

  32. johnmoore:

    I see this sort of pedantry from academics all the time. The author is emotionally invested in a couple of ideas: that high levels of warming are scientifically proven; and, that anyone not an "expert" should never believe anything except what the experts say, and should absolutely keep their mouths shut unless they are mouthing the expert's "consensus."

    After all, academics have one thing to sell, and on which they base their self worth: their unique expertise. You are threatening that.

    They also believe that as certified super-smart people (credentialism again), they can't possibly be subject to mob mentality or confirmation bias - only the rubes are subject to that.

  33. me:

    That article had way more ad hominem attacks thrown in than appropriate for any reasoned discourse... sorry you had to wade through that. Poor writing, too.

    That said, I would agree with all participants that the debate around global warming is mishandled by almost all involved.

    To start off, I'd be interested in an answer to "Is there global warming" (I couldn't care less if it's manmade or not) and "How much is there", followed by "what are the consequences and mechanisms".

    IMHO, people are far too excited about charging other people for partial carbon balance trading at this point, and that's putting the cart before the horse by a large margin.

  34. Bart_R:

    Or your feelings are hurt, and you will say anything to avoid facing your debts?

  35. Bart_R:

    Debate and science are opposites.

    Debate is the primitive Greek political class exercise of using rhetoric to make the worse case seem the better by use of Credos, Logos and Pathos -- Argument from Authority, Logical Fallacy and Appeal to Emotion.

    Science holds exact fit inferred from all observation with fewest assumptions, exceptions or omissions possible, though no further than possible, until new observation lead to amended or new fit.

    As such, while science has answers for your red herring questions, and you can lotus-eatingly debate them all you like without result, what you're interested in doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

    The Market determines the value of trade goods; so long as government continues to de facto nationalize your private property fossil balancing good, you're being robbed of an amount unrelated to damage function.

    Pay what you owe.

  36. marque2:

    We are actually helping our neighbors. It is estimated the increased CO2 has increased crop yields 30% I should ask all of you who eat to provide me compensation for providing you with fertilizer. Also you must be aware that more CO2 in the air allows most plants to thrive in dryer climates, actuator going the third world solve food problems.

  37. Bart_R:

    If your neighbors want you to dump your wastes on them, they'll ask. And whatever consenting adults do in private is none of my business.

    In economics, nothing is a benefit no one willingly pays for on the Market.

    Adding CO2 to crops without compensating for the CO2 plant hormone stimulation by applying extra nitrate and phosphate fertilizer will create larger crop yields, this is true (until soil fertility is depleted within five to ten years), but the crop nutrient density plummets. You go from having nutritious vegetables and fruit to mere empty calories.

    Feel free to ask compensation for dumping fertilizer on people. I understand there are Ayn Rand impersonators in Moscow who are well paid for it. But stop pretending it's anything but an unhealthy perversion.

    Your wildly overstated claims about benefits of CO2 to 'third world' (no one's called it that since the 1980's; we call them developing markets) are just exaggerations meant to change the conversation from the one where you pay what you owe to the one where you slither away from your debts.

  38. Mr. Generic:

    So, how much do you think you owe me?

  39. marque2:

    You might want to start by example. Please stop breathing, your CO2 is getting all over me.

  40. marque2:

    Bart R is apparently one of those people paid by left wing groups to troll right wing blogs and spew nonsense. Well at least he is earning a living.

  41. TheDudeofVoo:

    ❝…very net high positive feedbacks…❞

    The primary one is the supposed "water vapour amplification" which they count on some 2X to 3X of the rise supposedly due to CO2. We've already seen some planetary-sized 'experiments' on this ...

  42. Bart_R:

    Biogenic CO2 plays no roll in the spike in CO2 level that demonstrates the scarcity of weathering and sequestering, as demonstrated by isotope levels.

    Your argument reveals no understanding of the fundamentals of Capitalism, and actual hostility toward it.

    Why do you hate Capitalism?

    Pay what you owe.

  43. Bart_R:


    My own land covers my modest fossil waste disposal needs, of much less than a ton of CO2e/year.

    The average American, however, is responsible for 19.2 tons (and rising) CO2e directly, and half again as much from imported goods.

    Economists believe based on empirical observation that the Market would be relatively inelastic to about $200/ton, (or a revenue stream to the average American of $6,000/year) and revenues would likely peak over $300/ton (close to $7,500/year lost income due government de facto nationalization of your weathering and sequestering, a pure gift to the fossil industry that already sees over $5.3 Trillion global subsidy a year, one fourth of that in the form of US entitlements to businesses).

    Someone owes you $7,500 a year. How much of that you owe back depends how much you buy imported CO2e-based goods and dump fossil wastes.

    Me? I take care of my debts.

    Why do you care so little about addressing yours?

  44. Bart_R:

    Why the snarl?

    I'm to the right of you. More conservative. More protective of private property rights.

    I find a den of misinformed troglodytes and am kindly enough to explain how Capitalism works so you can stop living in the dark and step into the Market, and you heap abuse on me for it?

    Bayesian Additive Regression Trees in R is an openware suite of mathematical tools for understanding large datasets. You don't have to pay for openware.

    Pay what you owe.

  45. Bart_R:

    We've been over the problems with your graph before, how the same graph you still use is the concatenation of some very different satellite measurement regimes with jump discontinuities between them, how when you snip out the transition you find separate rising trends with strong correlation to CO2 level.

    Those 'large spikes' coincided with huge temperature spikes, but because water vapor is condensing and the world is not homogeneous, but a complex interconnected system, the positive feedbacks are constrained to the long term rise of water vapor effect, at about 1.14%/decade.

    Why do you keep spreading bad information?

    You might have honestly been mistaken before you were shown the problem with your interpretation; now, months later, you're just lying.

  46. J.l. Melcher:

    Bart_R's digressions into what Karl Marx says about Adam Smith and what the U.S. economic system mislabeled "Capitalism" may or may not contribute to a problem which may, or may not be either real or catastrophic seem to be a distraction from the simple physics.

    Labels matter. And from the time the problem was identified until now, and without actually reaching agreement about the scope of or solution to the problem, we have largely abandoned the label "global warming" and begun using "climate change".


    I propose that the original label had two problems.

    One, the problem was not, in fact, global. Some regions would see problems, and some would see benefits. Some would see BIG problems, and some would see SMALL problems. This is the case with most problems, by the way, and (to risk a response from Bart) trades exist to allocate problems and solutions in most of the world's history. Some such trades are free market trades, and some are imposed by government. The latter are usually trades of the form: "Gimme stuff in exchange for me allowing you to not be killed right away." If the problem of global "warming" (or climate change) is not greater than the problem of, for instance, thermonuclear war between clean-power nations like the U.S. and Australia versus dirty carbon-dioxide (and soot) emitting nations like China, then the treat of killing opponents right away is not valid at the global level. I am skeptical that global warming poses a greater risk of catastrophe to our culture, and species, and bio-sphere, than full scale nuclear war. Who here disagrees?

    Two, the original label "global warming" explicitly called the problem: "WARMING". Which on a winter's day in Alaska or Siberia is hardly considered a problem at all. It also is confronted with the data of expanding sea ice in south polar regions when the theory of "global" --see part one-- "warming" would suggest BOTH ice caps would warm and disappear. And warming is less easily visualized in popular movies and TV shows and info-graphics than, for example, rising sea-levels threatening coastal cities. So a more serious label than "warming" has been required.

    So we wind up with a label called "Climate Change". Implicitly, local rather than global. Some places and climates will be wetter than we remember, and some dryer. Some hotter and some too much cooler. Some icier, and some ice-free. Some with higher tides and perhaps eroding beaches, and some ports and harbors silted full and economically unsuited to modern shipping. Local CHANGE -- any and all of which is bad for the current power structures and economic interests that depend on having things-as-they-are-at-the-moment continue and continue to be regarded and respected "as it was in the beginning, now, and ever shall be, without end, amen". Change is implicitly bad. Progress, too, is bad. Increasing wealth, therefore, is bad. Allowing competition among various powers, nations, businesses and interests causes evolution among our social institutions and THAT is bad. The existing climate,and the existing powers that have evolved IN that climate, must be preserved intact, as if fossilized in amber.

    I'm sure 97% of the tyrants, despots, dictators, and central committee chairman agree that changes must be stopped. And raising taxes on free market competitors will be seen by groups of such gifted and talented individuals as a clever mechanism for stopping this, and related, changes.

  47. marque2:

    Very false, when you look at seasonal weather in the Northern Hemisphere, CO2 levels go up in summer when plant and animal activity is highest and drops in winter as the CO2 gets locked up in the cold earth. In fact much of the CO2 rise in the last 150 years is a natural consequence of coming out of the mini ice age which has naturally unlocked CO2 stores buried in former permafrost. This is why CO2 is a lagging indicator of temperature increases, the temperature drives the CO2 not the other way.

    Anyway, I am even dubious of any CO2 warming effect at all. CO2 maybe a greenhouse gas, but you can only trap the radiation once, and if something else is already trapping it, adding more of some other agent will not increase heat retention. In most of the world H2O in the atmosphere has already trapped that heat, in similar frequencies to CO2 and therefore the CO2 doesn't have the opportunity to trap photons of those frequencies again.

    Also almost all CO2 is biogenic. Where do you think oil and coal came from? And the atmosphere really can't tell the origin of every CO2 molecule anyway.

    So yes stop breathing.

    You will have to better than that.

  48. marque2:

    Did David Brock tell you to say that? You seem pretty good at following instructions. Hope you get a bonus for that.

  49. Bart_R:

    I've never read Marx; the little exposure I have to that oeuvre shows it to be founded on logical fallacy. I have read Adam Smith.

    I have read Lin Ostrom.

    Your premises share Marx' problem: founded on red herring and impossible expectation fallacy, there's nothing valid that can come out of them.

    While I don't dispute that the entirety of the US economic system could not be called Capitalism, how is that a good thing? Capitalism isn't an attainable pure form, but an aspirational goal; the closer the economy gets to pure Market efficiencies, the better off the economy overall. Don't drape your failure to read with understanding on me.

    Instead, perhaps READ HARDER.

    And possibly nitpick over terminology misleadingly and to no good ends less.

    Pay what you owe.

  50. Bart_R:

    Someday I may develop an interest in random names that pop up from the mouths of deadbeats.

    As it stands, I have no clue who this Brock person is.

    Lean on the Nanny State to clean up the messes you leave less.

    Pay what you owe for the fossil waste dumping you do.