Over on Learning from Dogs this week, Paul Handover has (i.e. across Monday and Tuesday) re-posted a lengthy juxtaposition of arguments for (Oakwood) rejecting and (me) accepting the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) – along with (today) his response to it all. Since all 3 posts are in danger of feeding the myth that it is still reasonable to question the reality of ACD, this is my response to Paul (also posted as a comment [awaiting moderation] on Learning from Dogs): ——- Your acceptance of people with all kinds of weird and wonderful beliefs is indeed admirable, Paul. Furthermore, since you are entirely capable of reaching an informed decision of your own, I would not be so stupid as to thank you for agreeing with me on any of this. However, for the record: With regard to the NYT article, Justin Gillis is quite simply wrong. The current hiatus in surface warming is not a mystery. This is because scientists have quantified the radiative energy imbalance caused by so-called greenhouse gases trapped in our atmosphere – 0.6 Watts per square metre (i.e. equivalent to the detonation of 400 thousand Hiroshima bombs per day). Sadly, we do not have the technology to measure the ‘missing’ heat that must, since we cannot find it anywhere else, therefore be collecting in the deep ocean. With regard to [Paul’s old friend] Dan Gomez, I am fairly certain that he is no climate scientist and claiming that global warming is a new religion is just another ‘zombie argument’ (i.e. one that refuses to die no matter how many times it is refuted). Indeed, a quick Google search reveals that it is one favoured by the right-wing media (e.g. Fox News and Forbes magazine). This is also just another way of saying ‘Sceptics are like Galileo’, which is one of many illogical arguments put forward by people who appear unwilling to accept the nature of reality. For example, on theScholars and Rogues website, Brian Angliss has started a good series of posts on this subject here. In a nutshell, climate sceptics are like the medieval Catholic Church – they are the ones rejecting all the evidence that conflicts with their beliefs. With regard to Oakwood’s assertion (yesterday) that the label ‘climate change denier’ is offensive because it suggests equivalence with Holocaust denial… Upon reflection, I think this too is an illegitimate line of argument. This is because, as the tagline for my blog “on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems” suggests, the only point being made is that such denial is not consistent with all the available evidence. Prof. Michael E. Mann puts it this way (emphasis mine):
The trouble is that the hockey stick graph become [sic] an icon and deniers reckoned if they could smash the icon, the whole concept of global warming would be destroyed with it. Bring down Mike Mann and we can bring down the IPCC, they reckoned. It is a classic technique for the deniers’ movement, I have discovered, and I don’t mean only those who reject the idea of global warming but those who insist that smoking doesn’t cause cancer or that industrial pollution isn’t linked to acid rain. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/03/michael-mann-climate-change-deniers
Personally-speaking, I wish the Earth were at the centre of the Universe and that everything (including our Sun) revolved around it. Sadly, such fanciful beliefs belong only to childhood or back in the Dark Ages. Therefore, although you may choose to insist that ACD is not a certainty, I can only respond by saying: (1) it is as near to being a certainty as anything in science ever is; and (2) those with a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo have turned residual uncertainty into unreasonable doubt. Therefore – since it is almost certainly unreasonable to believe that ACD is a scientific hoax, a political scam, or a false alarm – I hope that anyone who is still undecided will at least read this excellent summary (on the Guardian website) of Chapter 4 of Michael Mann’s book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. For the benefit of those who will not, here is the bit I like the most:
A little more than a year after we had published our millennial hockey stick reconstruction, paleoclimatologist Thomas Crowley of Texas A&M University (and coauthor of the Crowley and Lowery reconstruction discussed earlier) published findings based on the use of a theoretical climate model simulation designed to investigate causes of past temperature change. Crowley subjected the model to estimated changes in natural factors over the past thousand years, using indirect measures of changes in solar output and explosive volcanic activity, information on both of which can be recovered from atmospheric deposits in polar ice cores. These simulations revealed that the natural factors could explain the extent of medieval warmth in our reconstruction; in the model, this warmth arose from a relative lack of cooling volcanic eruptions combined with relatively high levels of solar output. The natural factors could also explain the cooler conditions of the ensuing Little Ice Age, which resulted from relatively low levels of solar output and more frequent explosive volcanic eruptions. Fed the natural factors only, the model could not, however, reproduce the abrupt twentieth century warming. In fact, the model predicted that the climate should have cooled in recent decades, rather than warmed, if only natural factors had been at play. It was only when Crowley added the modern human influences – increasing greenhouse gas concentrations primarily from fossil fuel burning and the regional cooling effect of industrial sulphate aerosols emissions – to the model simulation, that it was able to track the hockey stick all the way through to the present. The conclusion was clear: Natural factors could explain the temperature changes of the past millennium through the dawn of the industrial revolution, but only human influences could explain the unusual recent warming.