Is Climate Science falsifiable?

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Guest post by Hans Custers. Nederlandse versie hier.

A very, ehhrmm… interesting piece on
Variable Variability, Victor Venema’s blog: Interesting what the interesting Judith Curry finds interesting. And I don’t mean interesting in a rhetoric, suggestive way; I mean it is a well-written and well-reasoned article, worth reading.

Victor writes about the meme regularly used by the anti climate science campaign, often supported by some straw man arguments, that the science of human impacts on climate would not be falsifiable. He shows it’s nonsense, by giving some examples of how it could be falsified. Or, more likely, already would have been falsified, if the science would be wrong. Victor’s post inspired me to think of more options to falsify generally accepted viewpoints in climate science. If there are any ‘climate change skeptics’ who want to contribute to real science, they might see this as a challenge. Maybe they can come up with a research proposal, based on one of the options for falsification. Like proper scientists would do.

First, a few more things about falsifiability in general. Bart wrote a concise post about the subject four years ago, explaining that a bird in the sky does not disprove gravity. What looks like a refutation at first, might on second thoughts be based on partial or total misunderstanding of the hypothesis. Natural climate forcings and variations do not exclude human impacts. Therefore, the existence of these natural factors in itself, cannot falsify anthropogenic climate change. A real skeptic is cautious about both scientific evidence and refutations. ‘Climate change skeptics’ like to mention the single black swan, that disproves the hypothesis that all swans are white. Of course that is true, unless that single black swan appears to be found near some oil spill.

Some of the falsifications that I mention later on might be somewhat cheap, or far-fetched. It is not very easy to find options to falsify the science of human impacts on climate. Not because climate scientists don’t respect philosophical principles of science, but simply because there’s such a huge amount of evidence. There are not a lot of findings that would disprove all the evidence at once. A scientific revolution of this magnitude only happens very rarely. Whoever thinks differently, doesn’t understand how science works.

popper3

Karl Popper

Even more, the claim ‘The AGW hypothesis is unfalsifiable’ demonstrates a lack of understanding of Popper’s ideas, in which falsifiability is so important. I don’t think Popper’s philosophy implies that some three word hypothesis – Anthropogenic Global Warming – can be rejected by nothing but a few simple claims. Popper would expect a more serious intellectual effort from a scientist. First, he will have to find an accurate wording for his hypothesis. The next step is some thorough thinking about the consequences. This will help him to design tests that can either support or falsify his idea. If, in the end, the result of the test appears to be worthwhile, the scientist will write a paper on this whole enterprise.

As a matter of fact, the ‘AGW-hypothesis’ is not a hypothesis in the Popperian sense. The human impact on climate is a theory, supported by many hypotheses, each of them tested according to widely accepted scientific standards. Just as Popper and his successors in the philosophy of science would have wanted.

One more thing. The philosophical principle of falsifiability and the feasibility of tests for it are two different subjects. Scientists are still busy testing some of the implications of Einsteins ideas, because the technology did not exist in Einstein’s days. And it is highly unlikely that the scientists that proposed the Higgs boson ever even dreamed of the Large Hadron Collider, because it was beyond anyone’s imagination at the time. Philosophy of science does not set a time frame for hypotheses testing. The issues involved in the testing of hypotheses are the story of almost every scientist’s life. They’re not sitting back, thinking of new and brilliant ideas, most of the time. Instead, they are busy digging for data, messing with measuring equipment, or evaluating errors in experiments. For climate scientists, one of the major issues is the pace at which they can get new information: one year of data every year. And one year of data is not a lot for climate research. There are no test tube planets for climate experiments. They will have to do with what is left: observations of (changes in) the climate in the present and the past and simulations of the relevant processes in the climate system in computer models. Most self-proclaimed skeptics seem to have objections to the latter as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if they, just for a change, would say how it should be done?

That’s it for falsifiability in general. Here are the 10 way to disprove the human impact on climate.

1. A drop in global temperatures for some period of time to the level of 50 years ago or longer, without a clear cause

The average global temperature is almost 1 °C higher now than it was in the early 20th century. The widget by Skeptical Science (which unfortunately does not work very well in a WordPress blog) adds some perspective to the amount of energy accumulating in the climate system. These huge amounts of energy do not simply stay in the climate system without a cause. It is what we expect to happen, based on the greenhouse theory. And there’s no other explanation that is supported by a reasonable amount of evidence. It would be very clear that science overlooked something important, if all the energy would suddenly escape without something extraordinary happening (like a huge volcanic eruption), or hide in some unknown place.
 

 
2. A drop in global sea level for some period of time

There are two major causes for sea level rise: thermal expansion of seawater and the melting of land ice. Water extraction from and (temporal) accumulation on land play a minor role. At this moment, thermal expansion is the main factor. This is evidence for warming of the oceans, which is important because the oceans can store much more heat than the atmosphere. Thus, the ocean level falling, would not only be evidence for cooling of the oceans; it would be strong evidence that the climate system as a whole would be losing energy. (Note: pure water has a strange property: the density decreases with an increase in temperature between 0 and 4 °C. This effect disappears with increasing salinity. For almost all sea water, the maximum density is at freezing point).

Changes in sea level on a short term are not caused by thermal expansion or contraction, so they do not falsify anthropogenic climate change. The figure below, from the University of Colorado’s Sea Level Research Group, for instance, shows a substantial seasonal variation. This variation can be filtered out of that data, and that’s the graph that is usually shown.

sl_global
 
3. A strong rise or decline in the atmospheric CO2 level

Since the late 50′s, the Keeling Curve shows an ongoing rise in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. If there would be a sudden huge change in the CO2 level, without a clear, demonstrable cause, that would be proof that our knowledge of the carbon cycle falls short.

Climate change skeptics sometimes refer to a graph by Ernst-Georg Beck, in which thousands of megatons of CO2 mysteriously seem to appear in atmosphere within a few years, and then disappear again, causing wild fluctuations in CO2 levels. The fluctuations miraculously stop in 1958, exactly when Keeling started his measurements on Mauna Loa. Maybe we are being fooled for more than half a century by all CO2 molecules in the world. But it’s more likely that the graph below, from Cripps, father and son Keeling’s home base, displays the more accurate data.

co2_800k_zoom

4. The discovery that climate forcings in the past were much larger, or temperature changes much smaller, than science thinks

One of the ways to estimate climate sensitivity, is by looking at temperature changes in the past and the knowledge of their causes. It is very likely that the magnitude of a temperature change mostly depends on the magnitude of a change in the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere, rather than the exact cause of this change. In other words: a Watt per square meter is a Watt per square meter, no matter if it comes from the sun, from an increased greenhouse effect, or something else. So, smaller temperature changes in the past, of larger forcings causing them, would be evidence for a low climate sensitivity.

Climate change skeptics often claim that relatively small change in the radiations balance are responsible for a significant part of the warming that we’ve seen since the early 20th century, or for temperature changes in a more distant past. They don’t seem to realize that these claims imply a higher, rather than a lower climate sensitivity than is generally assumed by scientists.

5. Warming of the stratosphere

Many changes that are happening in the climate system are caused by warming itself. Observations of these changes cannot be used as evidence for the cause of warming. But there are some changes – fingerprints – that are specific for the increased greenhouse effect. Cooling of the stratosphere is one of these fingerprints. This cooling is confirmed by measurements, as is shown in the figure below, from ‘State of the Climate 2012‘ by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Stratostemp

Stratospheric warming is not the only human fingerprint that can be found. More detailed information on fingerprints can be found in last year’s paper: ‘Human and natural influences on the changing thermal structure of the atmosphere‘ by Santer et al.
 
6. Major errors in equipment in satellites, measuring outgoing longwave radiation

We can see the absorption of heat by greenhouse gases in satellite measurements of longwave radiation that leaves the earth’s atmosphere. The absorption bands of CO2, methane, ozone and water vapor are clearly visible in these measurements, as shown in the figure below. Whoever can demonstrate the measurements to be wrong, will make it into the history books. It would not only disprove the human impact on climate, it would wipe quite a lot of established physical science off the table.

lw_absorption

7. Evidence of a substantial fall of relative humidity with rising temperature

If specific humidity would not follow temperature, the relative humidity would be lower in a warmer world. Then, there would not be a positive water vapor feedback, or it would be very small. It is highly likely that this would make matters rather worse than better. Our greenhouse gas emissions would lead to a smaller rise in temperatures than expected, but the downside would probably be disastrous: world-wide drought. Unless Clausius and Clapeyron were wrong.

sat_vapor_pressure

8. A source of heat in the climate system that we do not know yet

All the evidence shows the heat in the climate system has been increasing for decades, and still is. Assuming even climate change skeptics do not dispute the law of conservation of energy, there has to be a source of heat somewhere. Who knows, one day, we might find some kind of mini-sun, hidden deep in the oceans. It would be a game changer for climate science.

9. A fundamental flaw in the scientific understanding of radiation physics or thermodynamics

This one is especially for the ‘slayers’, who deny that there is a greenhouse effect at all. Their ideas are either utter nonsense, or they are about to discover the very biggest mistake in the history of science. It would mean that we’d have to reevaluate fundamental physical science, that has been undisputed for decades to centuries, like the Stefan-Boltzman law or even the laws of thermodynamics. We would probably end up rewriting every single physics book in the world.

10. CO2 molecules appear to behave differently in the wild, than they do in a laboratory

I added this last one as a ‘tribute’ to one of the veterans of the war on climate science in The Netherlands. He, whose name I will not mention, does not dispute the greenhouse effect, but thinks it is relevant to mention that absorption of longwave radiation by CO2 has only been measured ‘in laboratory conditions’. He’s wrong, of course, because there are satellite measurements as well. But let’s forget about that. I think the idea of molecules behaving differently in the lab, compared to their behavior in the wild, is so creative that it deserves attention. I won’t go into the consequences of this revolutionary hypothesis. I will leave that, dear reader, to your imagination.

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57 Responses to “Is Climate Science falsifiable?”

  1. Windchasers Says:

    Well, we do have to wonder how CO2 molecules that have been bred in the laboratory, or even “domesticated”, so-to-speak, might behave differently than the wild-grown ones. It’s not appropriate to assume they act the same. Perhaps someone can do an experiment.

  2. danolner55347852 Says:

    Oh God, I’m surrounded by feral chemicals. p.s. brilliant post, a lot to work through, saved for posterity!

  3. Bob Brand Says:

    Windchasers, you are seriously assuming that ‘domesticated’ CO2 molecules might behave differently than those floating about in the wild blue yonder? Do you think their behaviour changes when they are brought from the outside into the domestic environment or into the lab… any lab?

    I hope it is appropriate to assume you are kidding. :)

    Anyway, the experiment has been done. Figure 7 shows the absorption spectra of CO2, O3, CH4 etc. as measured in the free atmosphere. Earth observation satellites but also CO2 probes in the open air use these absorption spectra to measure concentrations.

    Of course, in astrophysics the CO2 absorption lines (among others), are used to measure concentrations, temperatures (line broadening) and velocities (Doppler shifts) in planetary and cometary atmospheres as well as in stellar nebulae and other objects. The Zeeman effect is used to measure the strength of magnetic fields etc.

    The absorption lines are not just an empirical find, but from quantum mechanics we can calculate these spectra and the intensity of each of these lines. This works equally well for any molecular or atomic spectrum, so it is consistent across the whole field of IR spectroscopy.

  4. Victor Venema Says:

    If there are any ‘climate change skeptics’ who want to contribute to real science, they might see this as a challenge. Maybe they can come up with a research proposal, based on one of the options for falsification. Like proper scientists would do.

    If someone at an oil company only had the slightest doubt such a challenge might be possible, he had already funded this research. If every visitor to WUWT would pay one cent, they could hire a good scientist. That they rather fund PR firms and write daily erroneous posts shows that even they know the AGW is solid.

  5. Windchasers Says:

    Sorry, Bob – I’d added a [/ tongue-in-cheek ] tag, but I think the HTML editor ate it. :-p

  6. Victor Venema Says:

    On of the problems of the climate “debate” is that sarcasm and nonsense is often indistinguishable.

  7. citizenschallenge Says:

    Victor Venema Says:
    February 18, 2014 at 19:30
    On of the problems of the climate “debate” is that sarcasm and nonsense is often indistinguishable.
    ~ ~ ~

    . . . and too often accepted as fact by too many. ;- |

  8. KnockJohn Says:

    Point 8 made me laugh; wilst it is very true that we do like to blog and tweet about it; I believe that your “law of conversation of energy” should rather have been the law of CONSERVATION of energy.

    An interesting post which has given me some areas for thougt.

    [thnkx: typo fixed - JH]

  9. Eli Rabett Says:

    Oh yes, and the Crip(p)s are an LA gang. The Keelings nest at Scripps.

    That being said, there have been at least one major instrumental error discovered in the sun observing satellites, but, sad to say, it made everything fit a lot better with the climate model.

  10. Eli Rabett Says:

    Let us not forget the serial errors of Christy, Spencer and McNider on measuring global temperature. Somehow always in the same direction.

  11. Heather Says:

    I would pose a challenge to this author. Write us a narrative, even if make believe, which would describe falsification of global climate change…..

    Seems to me anything and everything observable has been declared proof of global warming……. rain, no rain, snow, no snow, too hot, too cold……..

    It seems problematic to have a theory were anything and everything is considered proof to support it!

    I also find statements made by global climate change supporters to be contradictory. When we have a huge snow storm or a very cold span of weather they declare that “no single storm is proof against global climate change…….”

    But then we have a storm like Sandy or weeks of hot weather in summer and we are told these ARE PROOF of global climate change………

    How can they say one weather event does not disprove the theory, but one weather event seems to prove it!

  12. Bart Verheggen Says:

    Heather,

    Your challenge has been more than met with this post I’d wager. It offers 10 such narratives that you ask for.

    For a truly contradictory statement, check out John Christy’s comments about the hotspot: It is not specific to the greenhouse effect on one day, and the next day it is a fundamental sign of a greenhouse effect. Want more? Here you go.

  13. heathergirl1234 Says:

    You posted statements from climate change deniers that were then attacked by climate change supporters. I did not ask for the idea’s of people who deny climate change. I asked what experimental outcomes, what data, would be accepted by those who support the theory…. to lead them to decide the theory is wrong.

    To be a valid theory it has to have the possibility of being proven wrong, what would fulfill that possibility? Would it have to be CO2 levels at X value with no warming seen? Would it need to be 100 years of decreasing temperatures with CO2 levels still rising? Something observable would need to qualify – I am not saying it would ever be observed, I am merely asking what that something would be.

    In other words, when scientist conducted an experiment to prove global warming, what would have been considered valid proof for their null hypothesis? If their hypothesis is that man-caused CO2 was causing global warming…. then surely they had a null hypothesis that man-caused CO2 has no effect at all……..

    So what would they have accepted as proof that man-caused CO2 has no effect? I am not suggesting they got this result, I am asking what would that result have had to have been for it to have been accepted? I am not asking this question of the climate change deniers, I am asking it to the supporters.

    My issue is that it seems we are told that anything and everything is proof of global warming and I just do not see how you have a valid theory if absolutely nothing could ever disprove it. It seems your response was just to cite the opinions of those who deny climate change and that was not my question.

    If a week of warm weather proves global warming and a week of cold weather proves global warming then how can the theory be disproven – it is going to either be warm or cold – all possible events become proof in favor. If anything that will happen is proof for a theory, then how does it meet the criteria of falsifiable?

    A perfect example is global cooling. It was once the mainstream theory held by climate scientist. At the time man was also dumping CO2 into the air, but the mainstream theory scientist came up with was not global warming…… but global cooling…..

    Something, some data, some experimental outcome, something led to them falsifying global cooling…. and led them to global warming.

    I am merely asking what something would need to be seen to do the same for global warming. ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  14. citizenschallenge Says:

    Heather,

    From your statement is seems that you don’t have an appreciation for what our global climate system is all about. Might I recommend an excellent video tour:

    Earth From Space HD 1080p / Nova

    ~ ~ ~

    Beyond that the first thing about global warming you need to learn about is our atmosphere and how greenhouse gases behave within that atmosphere. Everything else following on that awareness.

    Here’s one good short description:

    “Scott Denning of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University gives a stripped-down explanation of the structure of greenhouse gas molecules like CO2 and how they trap heat in our atmosphere: “Why Greenhouse Gases Make the Planet Warmer” ” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIBk0pGV_BQ

    Happy learning,
    Cheers

  15. heathergirl1234 Says:

    I am not asking about climate specifically. I am asking about the scientific method as they are applying it to global warming theory.

    I am not debating climate. I am debating procedure.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  16. heathergirl1234 Says:

    What I am saying is that a theory, any theory, that we are told everything and anything is proof of, does not seem to follow the scientific method.

    If anything and everything proves a theory and no data of any form is a possible disproof of it, is it a valid theory?

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  17. citizenschallenge Says:

    Heather,
    about that global cooling canard, here you can hear an objective review of the “global cooling” claim (check out 4:10)

    “In the 70s, They said there’d be an Ice Age”

    ~ ~ ~

    You say: “If anything that will happen is proof for a theory, then how does it meet the criteria of falsifiable?” but, that’s simply not a realistic description of what’s happening within climatology !

    You need to do some good-faith research and learning on your own. Might I suggest becoming familiar with the information in the following pages, since they directly relate to your claim that everything proves global warming, so nothing can disprove it.

    NOAA – TEN SIGNS OF A WARMING WORLD
    http://cpo.noaa.gov/warmingworld/
    ~ ~ ~
    NASA – Climate change: How do we know?
    http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence
    ~ ~ ~
    Ten Charts That Make Clear The Planet Just Keeps Warming
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/15/1014151/ten-charts-that-make-clear-the-planet-just-keeps-warming/

    Happy learning,
    Cheers

  18. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Your very fixated on ‘climate’, when as I said my question was not about climate. My question was about how the scientific method is applied to the theory.

    I am not asking about atmospheric chemistry. I am asking about the process of applying the scientific method to this particular theory; falsifiability is an aspect of a proper theory. All I am saying is that a theory were everything proves it and nothing can disprove it, does not follow the scientific method.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  19. citizenschallenge Says:

    heathergirl1234 Says:
    March 27, 2014 at 16:28
    “I am not asking about climate specifically. I am asking about the scientific method as they are applying it to global warming theory.”
    ~ ~ ~

    Are you claiming “they” are applying the scientific method differently for climatology than they do in other Earth Sciences?

    Can you explain that claim in any detail?
    ~ ~ ~

    Incidentally, to understand why this past winter was so severe for parts of the country, {while my part has been experiencing spring since the end of January… not good at all!}
    you simply need to learn about climate specifics, such as the increasingly weird Jet Stream behavior effecting weather.

  20. Victor Venema Says:

    heathergirl1234, I am afraid I have to agree with Bart Verheggen that what you are asking is exactly the topic of this post.

    Maybe you could clarify using one of the 10 falsification examples mentioned, why you disagree that this is a falsification example. Maybe a more concrete discussion would help us understand each other.

  21. citizenschallenge Says:

    heathergirl1234 Says:
    March 27, 2014 at 16:55:
    “All I am saying is that a theory were everything proves it and nothing can disprove it, does not follow the scientific method.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    But, when you start out with a false statement it leaves us with nothing to discuss. You claim, everything “proves” global warming, so nothing can disprove it. But, that’s simply not true – unless you do some serious cherry picking, which equals ignoring all you don’t like.

    ~ ~ ~

    As for “falsifiability of climate science” this entire article is about explaining that. Why not pick something specific in this article you disagree with, or that you find lacking.

  22. heathergirl1234 Says:

    What was my false statement? Are you tell me that we are not told that all observable weather, that all events are proof of global warming?

    So let’s try, tell me which of the following is NOT proof of global warming?

    A lot of snow….. No snow…… a lot of rain….. no rain….. a hot summer……. a cool summer……

    From what I see and hear all of these events have been attributed to global warming! So what event is left that isn’t proof? A theory can not have everything as proof it otherwise as I said it lakes the scientific method requirement of falsifiability!

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  23. Hans Custers Says:

    Heather,

    As Bart said, I presented 10 ways to falsify global warming. They are not rebuttals of “skeptic” ideas, as you seem to think, but they are the narratives you ask for. Or else, I don’t understand your question.

    A single weather event can never either prove or disprove any theory on climate. And I’m quite sure you can’t find a serious cimate scientist who says it can. What they do say now and then is that observations of extreme weather or “weather weirding” are in line with what they expect to see in a warming world. Because, well, that’s how it is. But they will not claim it as proof or evidence.

    If climate would change the same way and at the same rate at any time and any place in the world, it would be much easier to understand. Unfortunately, science cannot create a climate that’s easy to understand. They have to deal with the world as it is. Accumlation of energy in the real world doesn’t just mean it’s getting warmer, it also affects air flows, ocean currents and evaporation. Because of that, it can cause more extreme droughts and more extreme precipitation, more heat waves and maybe even cooler temperatures at some places. The climate system is quite complicated and you can’t blame climate science for that.

    There’s one single and simple reason why it’s so hard to disprove climate change: because it’s real. You cannot disprove what is really happening!

  24. Marco Says:

    Heather, both a lot of snow and no snow can indeed both be linked to global warming. You see, global warming can mean that a region becomes, on average, too warm to have significant snowfall (meaning that there is less snow than some decades ago). At the same time, global warming increases the amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere, meaning that if any snow falls, it can be more than ever seen before. What you get is weather weirding.

    Other example: if it rains it pours more than ever, and at the same time you get drought in the same region because the rain is less frequent, and those deluges are not very good in replenishing water supplies.

    A simple falsifiable part of the theory is that in the absence of strong negative forcings (e.g. large volcanic eruptions) but with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, no further heat accumulation is observed, neither in the ocean or the atmosphere.

  25. heathergirl1234 Says:

    But then didn’t we see exactly that, no further heat accumulation for the past decade, but an increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations.

    Oh I forgot. Just in time to save the day they decided the missing heat was in the deep ocean. So if the deep ocean absorbed X amount of heat over that decade, shouldn’t have also absorbed the same amount of the decade before that and the one before that?

    Seems if you want to say this mechanism absorbs the heat then you have to add its effect to the total span of time the model covers and not just to the span of time you need to explain away missing heat! ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  26. Hans Custers Says:

    Heather,

    Nonsense, nobody “decided that the missing heat was in de deep ocean”. All the evidence simply shows that this is happening. There have always been natural variations in surface temperature, caused by variations in heat exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans. Climate change does not switch the internal variablility off.

  27. heathergirl1234 Says:

    But they decided this only when they suddenly needed to account for the past decade. If they didn’t do so, then how do they explain the past decade of no significant warming?

    Your response is also odd. How does heat trapped in the deep ocean, have anything to do with variations in surface temperature?

    Articles such as these only popped up after the IPCC had to explain away the lack of warming seen over the past decade! If they knew of this all along then shouldn’t it already be accounted for in the models…. and therefore not an explanation of the lack of warming seen over the past decade?

    https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/5364/deep-oceans-can-mask-global-warming-decade-long-periods

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  28. Bob Brand Says:

    Heather,

    .. if you want to say this mechanism absorbs the heat then you have to add its effect to the total span of time the model covers and not just to the span of time you need to explain away missing heat!

    Certainly, here it is across the total span of time:

    http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/figures/WGI_AR5_FigBox3.1-1.jpg

    It shows the observed change in total heat content of all compartments of the climate system. This increase is not completely homogenous, since:

    1. the ‘dips’ you see follow volcanic eruptions, which temporarily decrease radiative forcing;

    2. the radiative forcing does not increase linearly. It increases somewhat faster since the nineties.

    Of course there are uncertainties because the heat content of the oceans has only been crudely sampled since about 1957. However, the uncertainties are denoted in the graph.

    The partitioning of these extra zetajoules between atmosphere and ocean varies in time, because of fluctuations in e.g. wind direction and strength across the largest body of open water on Earth, the Pacific Ocean. This is part and parcel of ‘internal variability’.

  29. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Interesting chart. That sure seems a lot of uncertainty! That amount of uncertainty does not disturb you? ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  30. Bob Brand Says:

    And why would that disturb me? Whether you follow the highest or the lowest curve in the graph — it shows the same phenomenon, including the effect of volcanic eruptions on the total heat content.

    Considering that the ocean has only been sampled since 1957, and more comprehensively since the eighties, a large uncertainty in earlier decades is to be expected.

    I would have been disturbed… if no uncertainties were shown.

  31. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Interesting. I have a hard time with so much uncertainty in ‘settled science’.

    Well it was nice talking to you.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  32. Bart Verheggen Says:

    Heather,

    if you’re interested in how climate science stacks up to the scientific methods, I can recommend this book chapter on that exact question or slides on the same.

    However, I’m a little puzzled by you throwing in things like global cooling or ‘settled science’; these are typical buzz words in “skeptical” circles (and not remotely true, see e.g. the global cooling link). You may want to be a bit more critical towards the sources you get your information from.

    Re the recent “pause” in global temperature: Doesn’t it make sense that if observations are slightly different from expected that you look for reasons why that may be the case? (in response to your “just in time” comments). That is how science works.

  33. heathergirl1234 Says:

    I guess I am skeptical. Odd I thought on average scientist were!

    What I meant by ‘just in time’ is that you would think these things would have been mentioned ongoingly and not just when needed when something confronts the theory.

    If they have been measuring this deep ocean heat accumulation since 1957, why wouldn’t they have been aware that it would cause pauses in observable global warming before now?

    But they tell us this only when the theory was confronted with such a pause!

    So yes, I guess I am a skeptic!

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  34. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Also, I only mentioned global cooling because at one time they seemed just as sure of that theory. And as for ‘settled science’…. isn’t this the term that is used? That people should not be skeptical because it is settled science?

    I think it is those who support the theory who call it settled science!

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  35. citizenschallenge Says:

    No Heather I’m afraid you are not honestly “skeptical”
    I say this because I know that the information is out there.

    Why not visit http://scholar.google.com and plug in “ocean warming” then look through pages worth of papers you’ll find. Just because the news media doesn’t report on it doesn’t mean scientists aren’t studying it !

    As in your claim about “global cooling” there again you grab a label, wave it around, but never investigate to find out what that was all about. If you did you wouldn’t be so flippant about serious scientific work and how knowledge evolves.

    Throughout your comments here, there seems to be a deep underlying conviction that climate scientists ‘must’ be lying to you if they “advocate” global warming. I can’t answer that for you, but I hope your intellectual integrity will force you to be a little skeptical about your own biases – question your own assumptions a little… that’s the sign of a true rational skeptic.

  36. heathergirl1234 Says:

    I would think the last thing we want in science is for everyone to agree on consensus. It seems to me a good things if some question it.

    The idea that the earth was the center of universe was once consensus! Those who held this consensus did not get us to the truth, the skeptics did.

    Were would we be without skeptics? ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  37. citizenschallenge Says:

    Have an open mind,
    but not so open,
    that your brains fall out.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    As for skepticism,
    you are right,
    we need it,
    but we need to use it towards ourselves also !

  38. Victor Venema Says:

    Heather, do you think it is a bad thing that physicists have a consensus that apples fall from trees due to gravity? Do you think that this indicates that physicists are not thinking critically? If not, why are your norms for climatology different?

    A scientific consensus indeed does not mean that an idea is true, but it does give an idea credibility. If you are a scientist you should try to disprove any idea and the main price is disproving a consensus idea. That shows that you are smarter than all the others in the field.

    If you are not an expert on a topic on which there is a strong consensus after a significant amount of study, it is a reasonable strategy to trust the consensus. The alternative is to make yourself an expert, which is unfortunately not possible for every topic.

    Let me add that there is only a consensus on the basics of climate science, on details there is still much discussion. For example, when it comes to extreme weather.

    The reason why it is communicated that there is a consensus is because the public has the wrong impression that scientists are not sure yet whether climate change is a problem.

  39. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Well, I find that those who are skeptical read the works of those who are in the consensus, but I have to wonder how much time those who are in the consensus read the work of the skeptics!

    An open mind goes both ways!

    I was just reading various materials on the issues of skeptics and consensus. It always seems they employ a demeaning term to refer to anyone who dissents – skeptic, denier, contrarian. It seems if they rely on such ‘nicknames’ then their bias is readily visible!

    It would be the same as my referring to you as an “alarmist” but then implying I am being open minded! Language betrays us!

    It has been interesting talking too you!

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  40. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Maybe you can answer a question I have, educate a skeptic!

    I read once on the UN website that raising livestock was the largest contributor to human generated greenhouse gases…….

    So why would we focus all the climate change talk on fossil fuel use, instead of maybe passing a law mandating vegan-ism? Why is it you have to stable across the idea that the large greenhouse gas source is livestock, everything in media suggests its my car and not my cheeseburger!

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  41. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Oops. “Stumble”….. not stable. I speak fluent typo.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  42. citizenschallenge Says:

    Don’t try to misunderstand…

    It is the repetition of known lies that’s contemptible and insult inspiring.

    Add to that… it seems like your average “science skeptic” type accepts these repetitions of known lies as a fair part of the “debate” or something. (you yourself bring up the nonsense about ‘global cooling’ among others)

    Can you explain that part?

  43. Marco Says:

    You “read once on the UN website that raising livestock was the largest contributor to human generated greenhouse gases”

    Well, go ahead, find us the reference. You will not, because you did not read that on “the UN website”.

    What you might have read is the press release about a FAO report, which put the full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions related to raising livestock at 18% of all greenhouse has emissions. That’s everything included, from deforestation to transport.

    It should also be noted that reducing meat intake has already been mentioned a few times as one of many ways to mitigate climate change – apart from quite a few other advantages.

  44. heathergirl1234 Says:

    I tried to find the article but I can’t. It is not the one your referring too since the one I read was many years ago. But I am very sure it was on the UN’s site.

    If I have more time later I will look some more. This was maybe later then like 2005.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  45. heathergirl1234 Says:

    The idea that we have seen a decade of no warming, while the CO2 emissions have continued unchecked seems at least a hint of falsifiability. The infamous “pause”.

    This obviously was an issue, didn’t the IPPC report need to comment on the “pause” in global warming? The lack of measured temperature increase over the past decade?

    But we are now told this ‘missing heat” is being absorbed by the deep ocean and most likely it is. Bart even produced a nice graph of this data and said they have been measuring this since 1957.

    So doesn’t this mean they were aware of this deep ocean heat absorbing effect? Shouldn’t the models have been adjusted to account for it, to include it? Maybe that data was not that good in 1957, but according to Bart’s chart the ‘uncertainty’ has been decreasing since 1957 and definitely by 1970.

    If the models were adjusted to include this deep ocean heat absorbing mechanism, shouldn’t they have PREDICTED the pause and not been surprised by it…..?

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  46. Heathergirl1234 Says:

    I did not see any way to respond to a single post here so I will post the one I am responding too…….

    heathergirl1234 Says:
    March 27, 2014 at 16:55:
    “All I am saying is that a theory were everything proves it and nothing can disprove it, does not follow the scientific method.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    But, when you start out with a false statement it leaves us with nothing to discuss. You claim, everything “proves” global warming, so nothing can disprove it. But, that’s simply not true – unless you do some serious cherry picking, which equals ignoring all you don’t like.

    ~ ~ ~

    As for “falsifiability of climate science” this entire article is about explaining that. Why not pick something specific in this article you disagree with, or that you find lacking.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I think you miss read what I meant by ‘everything proves it”. I did not mean literally everything, as in seeing a flock of ducks proves it.

    The winter is either going to be cold or it is going to be warm. Those are the options, one of those options will occur. So if we are told that both confirm global warming theory, then what is left to not confirm global warming theory?

    The summer is going to be hot or mild. If a hot summer and a mild summer are both considered the results of global warming, what option remains to be considered disproof of global warming?

    If we have a rainy summer we are told this is also due to global warming, if we have a dry summer that too is proof of global warming, so again the summer has to be one or the other! What remains as disproof of global warming if all the weather events prove it.

    This is my original question, what becomes disproof of global warming? It seems we are told that all possible weather events are proof.

    I think what I am more reacting too is what seems an odd double standard. When we had a massive snow storm global climate change suppoerters were lined up on TV to tell us how “no sinlge snow storm is proof against global warming…… its just weather”.

    OK, got it, no single storm is proof against global warming…… so no sinlge storm would be proof of global warming either, right?

    But along comes hurricane Sandy…. and these same TV stations have an endless line of global climate change supporters telling us how Sandy is OBVIOUSLY proof of global warming…….

    So what happened to the idea that no single storm is proof….. I thought it was “just weather”.

    It seems the criteria changes based on if your trying to proof global warming or disprove it!

  47. Bob Brand Says:

    Heather,

    You do throw out a lot of questions, isn’t it?

    And as soon as someone puts in any effort to try to answer your ‘question’, you immediately jump to an unrelated one. Never ever exploring one particular issue in depth, just demanding answers to some other random talking point.

    As soon as you get an answer… you jump to another ‘question’:

    ocean –> the nature of scientific consensus
    consensus –> random imagined statement about raising livestock
    livestock –> models

    Then you state the following: “If I have more time later I will look some more.

    Great, you do seem to have quite some time now. How about you answer Marco’s question first? Or acknowledge you were misguided about:

    I read once on the UN website that raising livestock was the largest contributor to human generated greenhouse gases…….

    Before we invest more of our precious time, maybe you might dedicate some of yours to answer Marco’s question?

  48. heathergirl1234 Says:

    I think I have been responded to statements made in the emails I was sent. I referenced deep ocean heat capture as a response.

    I also believe I did respond to the question on the UN paper. I know what I read, but as I said I can not find it and I said so. I was asked to post it and I said I could not find it. Isn’t that an answer?

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  49. heathergirl1234 Says:

    I am responding to the emails I receive. I am a lay person on this so I am responding with the knowledge I have.

    Or do you think this issue will be resolved only by climatologist, with the consent of the masses? Seems to me sooner or later you got to answer the questions of the masses…… who are not all going to have read every peer reviewed climatology paper!

    Don’t you have to get this all past someone like me…… Jane and Joe Citizen?

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  50. citizenschallenge Says:

    Bob Brand good post, well said and worth saying.
    ~ ~ ~

    Incidentally Heather,
    it seems to me we’ve gotten to the point that if you aren’t feeling “alarmist” about the whole situation you aren’t paying attention.

    After all when a fire starts in a theater, you really want someone(s) to become alarmed in a hurry. No, but instead you play silly word games and act for all intents like that proverbial turtle in the warming pot of water that’s going to turn it into dinner.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Beyond that, honestly understanding what is happening upon our planet requires an attitude of interested curiosity and a willingness to allow new information to soak it.

    Skepticism towards the pros and experts means nothing when it’s coming from an absolutist hostile mentality and that I’m afraid is what you sound like.

    The Republican approach, which you parrot quite well, is a non-stop hostile barrage of insincere questioning and doubting every conceivable detail, then they’re never interested in listening to explanations. It’s contrarianism and has nothing to do with gaining a personal understanding and appreciation for what’s happening to (as I like to call it) our global heat distribution engine.

    PS
    Fabricating Climate Doom: Checking Up on Jim Steele’s Science
    Friday, March 28, 2014
    http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/2014/03/fabricatingclimatedoom-steeles-science.html

  51. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Odd and that was what I thought I was doing. Asking questions, from a lay persons perspective – there are more people like me in the world then there are people with piles of climatology peer review journals. Not everyone who has questions is going to ask them with a deep understanding of climatology.

    If I was hostile I would be calling you an alarmist. I think you used that term once and only to refer to others who use that term. I have not called anyone an alarmist.

    But yes, my knowledge of all this is based mostly on TV news. How many of us do you think there are out there? Aren’t we the people who vote in elections to decide who will go and decide issues such as this? Isn’t people with the knowledge level I have the people who you need on your side?

    For whatever reason my knowledge of climate change is most likely the level of knowledge of the majority, we do not subscribe to ‘Global warming is us’ journal, we do not attend IPPC meetings, we watch the news. That is where we see and hear what we know of climate change.

    That is why I asked the original question I asked. I am common citizen, I sit and watch the news during the sever snow storm we had in my area in 2013 and I see the “global climate change expert” declare that a huge blizzard “is not proof against climate change, one storm is just weather……” OK GOT IT…..

    Then I sit and watch my TV again, for coverage of Hurricane Sandy. There is the “global climate change expert” again… declaring the hurricane is obviously proof of global warming……

    So I sit there and ask “odd, I thought no single storm was proof of global warming, so why is hurricane Sandy proof and the feet of snow I shoveled last year isn’t………”

    And I hear this almost constantly from TV News. As I have said repeatedly, if there is a lot of rain someone on the news blames it on global warming, if there is no rain someone blames it on global warming…. so I asked the question how can all the potential weather events all prove global warming, to my thinking this left nothing as disproof – so I asked a question from a lay persons perspective.

    And I am willing to bet a lot of people just like me are sitting and watching the news and asking exactly the same question.

    And it seems to me that we are who you need to make this all make sense too. It’s not going to be room of climatologist who picks the next Congress, or the next Senate, it’s not going to be the UN IPPC….. it’s going to me people like me. People with the same level of climate change knowledge I have.

    But from your response I am not likely to ask any of my questions here!

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  52. Bob Brand Says:

    Heather,

    You say:

    I know what I read, but as I said I can not find it …

    Do you think that is a satisfactory answer? How about if we would answer to you: “We know we have read it somewhere, but we can not find it … You’ll just have to believe it.”

    And then you mention “the UN paper” while initially it was “the UN website”. In reality, if the UN (probably it would have been the FAO, but no matter) puts out a statement or a report, it is always heavily scrutinized by scientists as well as officials in many countries.

    You can bet on it that the livestock industry reads every single syllable in such a report, many times over. If the UN would have claimed that: “raising livestock was the largest contributor to human generated greenhouse gases” it would have been all over the Internet. Not least of all at the International Energy Agency etc.

    The 18% of all GHG’s which Marco quoted is about correct, at least it was in 2006:

    LIVESTOCK’S LONG SHADOW – Environmental issues and options

    What you *may* have been confused about, is that this 18% is larger than the contribution by cars and planes combined. It is NOT, however, the largest contributor. That is the energy sector.

  53. Bob Brand Says:

    There has been a lot of additional research done on that contribution since 2006, and livestock practices have been changing in many countries, like in Holland. Also, other sectors have been growing.

    The latest FAO report on this issue is from 2013. In that report the latest research has been combined and updated figures have been used. It is now (2013) at about 14,5% of all GHG’s:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/world-on-a-plate/2013/sep/27/environment-food-ipcc-emissions-greenhouse-gas-livestock-vegetarian-meat

    Livestock production mainly produces CH4 (but also CO2 and NOx). Many measures are being initiated by the industry to gradually reduce the CH4 emissions from livestock.

  54. heathergirl1234 Says:

    What was wrong with my reply? “I know what I read, but I can not find it”. I did not say anyone had to believe it. I referenced a paper I saw and since I could not find it I did not pursue the subject.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  55. Bob Brand Says:

    Heather,

    How about concentrating on the subject? On one subject?

    You were curious about livestock emissions, and I provided you with the original 2006 FAO report. If you had been seriously curious you would probably have googled it yourself — it took me about 12 seconds to find it.

    Also, I gave you the link to a very fine and very readable piece by Emma Bryce about the updated 2013 FAO figures. Did you read it?

    So, livestock is currently about 14,5% of all GHG emissions, which is just a bit more than the 13% by cars and planes. The energy sector produces a considerably bigger slice of the total emissions, however.

    On another matter: would you agree it is common decency to thank other people if they happen to do your research for you — and if they provide you with the requested information on a silver platter?

  56. heathergirl1234 Says:

    Oh boy. Actually I wasn’t. I was curious about falsifiability. The livestock emissions was a question I asked when I thought the falsifiability question was exhausted.

    I also had no idea all my emails were going to a blog. I thought I was simply exchanging emails with Bart. Which may be way it appeared I was ignoring questions.

    I saw the small paragraphs at the tops of the emails but had no idea I could read the rest of it. I was not even sure why it was there.

    I think also my questions are being miss read. I was not asking about the data on livestock emissions. My question was more why just the idea of those emissions being so significant never makes it to the news……

    So in fact data on % of emissions really had nothing to do with my question. Like I said I am viewing this from the perspective of a person who gets information on TV.

    So my question is and never was the actual percentage of CO2 cattle produce. My question was why we never hear about livestock as a second or third most significant source – we only hear about one source. As a lay person I am curious why one source seems to be a focus, when I then hear there is a second source that is also significant.

    How many people in the general public are aware of livestock’s role in global warming? I am sure if you ask most people they will blame it all on oil.

    And yes thank you for the link. Sadly I did not realize how this email/blog works and I never saw it. ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

  57. heathergirl1234 Says:

    OK I am done. Really thanks for so much time. But seriously, spend more time worrying about Joe and Jane.

    ____________________________ Heather Sarah Adams heathergreeneyes@comcast.net

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