When Beliefs and Facts Collide

107

By Brendan Nyhan

Do Americans understand the scientific consensus about issues like climate change and evolution?

At least for a substantial portion of the public, it seems like the answer is no. The Pew Research Center, for instance, found that 33 percent of the public believes “Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” and 26 percent think there is not “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.” Unsurprisingly, beliefs on both topics are divided along religious and partisan lines. For instance, 46 percent of Republicans said there is not solid evidence of global warming, compared with 11 percent of Democrats.

As a result of surveys like these, scientists and advocates have concluded that many people are not aware of the evidence on these issues and need to be provided with correct information. That’s the impulse behind efforts like the campaign to publicize the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists believe human activities are causing global warming.

In a new study, a Yale Law School professor, Dan Kahan, finds that the divide over belief in evolution between more and less religious people iswider among people who otherwise show familiarity with math and science, which suggests that the problem isn’t a lack of information. When he instead tested whether respondents knew the theory of evolution, omitting mention of belief, there was virtually no difference between more and less religious people with high scientific familiarity. In other words, religious people knew the science; they just weren’t willing to say that they believed in it.

Mr. Kahan’s study suggests that more people know what scientists think about high-profile scientific controversies than polls suggest; they just aren’t willing to endorse the consensus when it contradicts their political or religious views. This finding helps us understand why my colleagues and I have found that factual and scientific evidence is often ineffective at reducing misperceptions and can even backfire on issues like weapons of mass destruction, health care reform and vaccines. With science as with politics, identity often trumps the facts.

107 COMMENTS

  1. Human imagination is such a complex matter… the mental frameworks against which all inputs are evaluated seem to differ so dramatically from individual to individual that it is virtually impossible to get any two people to ever imagine the same things when given the same input. The emphasis that the ‘modern’ western world has placed on non conformity and individualistic behaviour may have amplified this when compared with say Islamic societies where childhood indoctrination is so intense that the differences between reference frameworks of any two moslems are likely to be less than their ‘western’ counterparts. Perhaps the penalty for ‘civilization’ and freedom of thought is that imagination has run wild and interprets ‘facts’ in unpredictable ways. The answer may lie in ‘indoctrinating’ modern children with ‘scepticism’ so that while they are encouraged to be free thinkers, they do it with a sceptical mindset that questions all inputs and demands evidence for ‘facts’?

    • I’m not really even sure what you are saying but if you are saying that this phenomena is some inevitable result of civilization or western culture, etc. than I think that’s clearly wrong. The distrust of science is a fairly new developing in US culture. Even back to the 80′s there was still a respect for science. People used to raise all sorts of issues with the research that smoking causes cancer but no one ever said that we should just ignore the evidence because scientists are all corrupt and just promoting the idea for their own agenda as they do with climate change.

      As for “indoctrinating” children, I always think that’s a bad idea even if the indoctrination is for something I completely agree with such as a scientific world view. Children should be taught to think for themselves. In the climate change example, it’s not lack of indoctrination that is the problem on the contrary it’s too much indoctrination by the people who have agendas to want to discredit climate change for their own selfish and delusional reasons.

  2. This is fundamental to the problem of blind faith.

    I can bring myself to believe all manner of things, but something in me knows when I’ve entered the realms of fantasy.

    I don’t in any way shape or form consider myself to be a paragon of virtue, were that the case I wouldn’t harbour the kinds of thoughts I sometimes have, but I do know the difference between what is feasible and what is fancy; I won’t persue that line further other than to say that I have a healthy libido.

    For many decades now, when I first meet someone I’m on the look out for signs of the line that is sooner or later crossed by religious individuals when they’re engaged conversation; signs of the “back story” to their World view; but then, I am rather sad in that respect!

    Anyway, if or when I get a whiff of a suspect pronouncement I tend to react as if I’ve touched a burning hot surface or received an electric shock, and mentally, I shy away.

    I simply will not take the bate, and I use that word advisably, because I know that there’s high likelihood that they’ll be “fishing for men”, and it’ll end in my becoming annoyed, if I so much as attempt to argue with them.

    Life’s too short.

    I think perhaps that that’s why I come here to let off steam within a challenging yet safe forum. I can deal with this stuff at arms length but not up close and personal.

    In summation, I don’t think anything can be done about adults who have daft ideas, the best that can be done is to teach children how to think for themselves.

    Richard01.

    I’ve just clocked your post, and I agree with your take on the matter.

    • The burning question is what can be done to get the general public to be more sceptical and reliant on reason. The implications of widespread ignorance (in the true sense of rhe word ie ‘not knowing’) are potentially exremely serious for the future of humanity and those who can prove their findings with solid evidence need to be supported fully by the media. Civilized societies, particularly secular ones, have developed legal systems based on evidence but seem incapable of using the same systems for testing other matters of extreme importance like global warming.
      Perhaps the leaders of the major economies should be required to defend their environmental policies in the world court so that experts are called to give evidence which can be tested in recognised legal terms. The public may then accept the findings?

    • “This is fundamental to the problem of blind faith.”

      No. It’s not. There was plenty of “blind faith” in the US in the 1960′s (oddly enough I was just listening to a concert by Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton but of course that’s not the Blind Faith I had in mind..) and there was immense respect for science and scientists when I grew up then. This isn’t (at least primarily) problem with a fundamental defect in humanity, its the result of a very conscious propaganda effort on the part of climate change deniers to discredit science.

      • The article states that a certain percentage of Americans disbelieve the “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.” For there to be “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades”, there has to be actual real measurable warming “over the past few decades”. So, how much warming has there been over each of the past few decases?

        • Odo Jul 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

          For there to be “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades”, there has to be actual real measurable warming “over the past few decades”. So, how much warming has there been over each of the past few decases?

          There are 4 independently measured graphs from reputable expert sources linked in the OP.

          @OP – That’s the impulse behind efforts like the campaign to publicize the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ believe human activities are causing global warming.

          They are there for anyone to read.

          There are of course matters of expert interpretation – for example why temperatures are rising when according to the natural cycles without additional man-made effects, they should be dropping! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles
          There are also issues of human sulphate aerosol pollution causing local areas of cooling.

          • So how much actual measured warming has there been over the last decade and the decade before that?

            What are the simple facts that so many “Americans” deny?

  3. Odo:

    Twenty years is more or less irrelevant; a calibration of varying temperatures going back twenty thousand years is needed, exists and is available.

    The records, of course, show that there have been innumerable ice ages and tropical periods during the Earth’s life, but the incremental increases in temperature are now beyond any previous parameters known, and continuing to rise at an unprecedented rate.

    This data is accessible and falsifiable, which means that all that the deniers have to do is present counter evidence.

    But don’t hold your breath, because I submit that the people who poo poo the scientific evidence are among those who put beliefs before facts, and they don’t want to hear any of the latter.

      • Odo Jul 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

        Are you claiming that it is warmer now than any time over the last 20,000 years? Is that a “fact” that you are claiming to be 1. true

        The issue is not the absolute temperature. It is if the temperature is significantly higher than it ought to be at the present position in the natural cycles. – and as the graphs show, it is very much higher – with symptoms of the higher temperatures manifesting themselves all over the planet, as THOUSANDS of scientific studies have shown.
        http://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al-2013.html

          • Nitya Jul 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm

            I like the graph showing that of 14,000 peer-reviewed papers only 24 reject global warming. I suspect conspiracy theorists would claim that the overwhelming majority are in on the fraud!

            That and their “counter petition” from deniers who organised an on-line petition collecting signatures from 31,000 ignorant muppets who had a science qualification – usually in irrelevant subjects.
            No methodology or details of the “survey” have ever been revealed for scrutiny!
            This provided their media stooges with some misleading figures for pretending that the opinions of thousands of scientists who had published peer-reviewed studies, were equivalent to those of muppet “scientists” who were stupid enough to casually make foolish ignorant comments on-line, on subjects of which they had no qualifications and understanding.
            http://www.skepticalscience.com/OISM-Petition-Project.htm

            As with creationist pseudo-science, for every science team which presents researched conclusions based on years of work, there can be ten on-line muppet contradictions thrown together in 5 minutes.

        • The article does not make claims about what the temperature “ought to be”. The article claims that there exists “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.”

          What is the “solid evidence” that the temperature has warmed over the last decade and the previous decade? How much has the earth warmed in 20 years?

          • Odo Jul 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

            So how much actual measured warming has there been over the last decade and the decade before that?

            Decades of warming have been measured in weather stations by thousands of meteorologists all over the world, and by numerous weather satellites. Centuries and millennia of warming and cooling have been measured by glaciologists and geologists.
            Cycles of Sun-spots and cyclical changes to the Earth’s orbit and axis, are also accurately recorded, providing base-lines for natural changes in global temperatures.

        • The stupid dumb “Americans” were not asked what the temperature “ought to be” they were asked if they believe that there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.”

          Is there “solid evidence” that the Earth has warmed over the last decade or the last 2 decades? How much has the Earth warmed over the last decade and the last 2 decades? With that “solid evidence” we can declare 26% of “Americans” deniers.

          What are the numbers?

          • Odo

            Is there “solid evidence” that the Earth has warmed over the last decade or the last 2 decades? How much has the Earth warmed over the last decade and the last 2 decades?

            Have you still not mastered reading links?

            With that “solid evidence” we can declare 26% of “Americans” deniers.
            YES! either deniers or just plain ignorant!

          • Odo Jul 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm

            The stupid dumb “Americans” were not asked what the temperature “ought to be” they were asked if they believe that there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.”

            The problem is, that some “stupid dumb Americans” won’t understand, that to measure how much EXTRA WARMING is being caused by humans burning billions of tons of carbon every year, they need to understand what the temperature OUGHT TO BE if only the natural cycles (explained on links), were operating WITHOUT the human additional pollution.

            It’s a bit like loading a vehicle to cross a bridge with a weight restriction.
            You have to know how heavy the vehicle is to start with, and the weight of any load already on it, before you know how much added on load makes it too heavy!

            The physics of greenhouse gas global warming, helps us calculate how much extra load of heat is being added as a result of the added carbon dioxide from burnt fuels.

      • Odo Jul 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm

        This is the number that is being denied by 26% of “Americans”.

        There are multitudes of denials and items of misleading cherry-picking, which have been propagated and spread by dishonest agencies and scientific illiterates, sponsored from the profits of carbonaceous Luddites using the disreputable tobacco strategy I linked earlier.

        The MOST USED climate myths of deniers, were available as further links on this link http://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al-2013.html I provided earlier!

        Odo Jul 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm

        The article does not make claims about what the temperature “ought to be”.

        No the OP article doesn’t give all the details. How could it?
        The astronomical cycles were provided on my earlier Wiki link. These have to be considered along with oceanic cycles, physics, and other climatic features, which is why expert climatologists are employed to do the calculations. If you want to understand “solid evidence” you have to read and understand the science which is used to interpret the measurements. – otherwise you just have to take the word of the 13,000+ scientists who have published climate studies in reputable scientific journals, and had them checked by other expert scientists.

        You could read ALL the reports, IF you understood the basic science behind them and had a vast amount of time.

        You could read the world leading summary: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spm.html

        IPCC honoured with the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

        • So, how much warming has there been over the last decade or the last 2 decades so we can quantify the extent of the denial of 26% of “Americans”?

          If you don’t like the question for some reason you can define “few” to mean any number you like.

          • Evidence is a bit like advice or medication!

            Odo Jul 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

            So, how much warming has there been over the last decade or the last 2 decades

            There is no point in giving more until the recipients have taken and use the previous doses!

            so we can quantify the extent of the denial of 26% of “Americans”?

            Ah! – the quantity of wrongness of those who just can’t get the answers right? Is such a measure possible? Why bother?
            The survey has identified those in need of scientific education, but assertive deniers maintain their ignorance by refusing to look at evidence and repeating irrelevant questions on topics they won’t look at or understand.

          • @Odo:

            Read Alan4′s post above yours, rinse, repeat. Stop wasting time playing the role of thoughtful skeptic. If you’re actually interested, read, read, and then read some more. Or, take the non leap of faith by doing as Alan suggested and trusting the 9.7 out of 10 scientists (that’s all but perhaps one skeptical limb of one scientist) that believe their fellow experts.

  4. For those who have an honest interest in global warming, rather than a hope to refute an entire scientific field by cherry-picking dates to compare, here are some important facts:

    Empirical temperatures are a product of a combination of natural cycles, trends (most prominently the post-industrial trend) and random noise. Natural cycles include day-night cycles with a 24-hour period, seasonal cycles with a year-long period, and (less famously) the 30-year ENSO cycle by which heat transfers from the atmosphere to the ocean or vice versa.
    Temperatures, like all empirical quantities, are measured to some finite level of accuracy. It is statistically illegitimate to study temperatures over periods shorter than the longest cyclical contributions with amplitudes that are large enough to be detectable. For example, the ENSO cycle causes sufficiently large temperature swings that all “has-warming-ended?” analyses should consider a period of at least 30 years, whereas orbital forcing causes a very long cycle which causes such slow temperature changes that it cannot be observed post-industrially.
    Another common statistical error by the warming-ended brigade is that of using methods for assessing statistical significance that are invalid when there is “autocorrelation”. Consecutive months, or months that are a year apart, are more likely to have similar temperatures than are months that are half a year apart. Every single “warming stopped in year X” claim, without fail, is based on using incorrect statistical techniques, a data period that’s too short, an unnecessarily small data set (see below) or improperly compiled date (e.g. if stations switch between daytime and night-time measurements and one forgets to account for that; this is why climatologists usually look at “temperature anomalies”, not raw temperatures). For instance, when the different year types of the ENSO cycle are placed on separate graphs to prevent apple-orange comparisons, their common trend is clear.
    “Statistically insignificant” does not mean “nonexistent”. The most informed estimate of the warming trend and our degree of uncertainty about it is based on using all available data, which shrinks the standard deviation and boosts the statistical significance. In any case, all the “but it’s not significant” analyses still show about the right level of warming; they just have unnecessarily large standard deviations. (Incidentally, if you want to combine data to reduce standard deviation, the variance-minimising average is weighted in an appropriate way.)
    Empirical data, properly understood, shows that warming has continued unabated, just as physics expects.

  5. A new study might be to take Kahan’s findings and cross correlate them with Dean Hamer’s theory of the ‘God gene’, VMAT2, the self-transcendence gene that seems to predispose the carrier to thoughts of oneness and connectedness etc.. VMAT2 aside, it is not difficult to imagine a genetic advantage hypothesis for religiosity.

    If it is true that superstition can’t be overcome with reason its rather bad news for the likes of RDF. Perhaps the religiously predisposed could one day embrace oneness with the scientific method or some approximation of reality; oneness with nature? Or it may be there is a need to feel that something is wrong with our senses and the only fix-it glue is religion?

    The worst case scenario might be that for many there is a genetic compunction to the act of invoking superstition into the unknown.

  6. Odo, repeating the same question on a forum doesn’t magically mean there isn’t a good answer to it if you’d just read the right things. I’m not even asking you to head to Google; it’s not as if people haven’t been helpful. You’ve literally been given pages that have the numbers you’re asking for on them!

    If you want to know how much warming there has been “in the past few decades”, you could also go here. (I recommend the HADCRUT 4 hybrid data for several technical reasons.) As I explained above, a period’s only worth looking at if it’s at least 30 years long’ warming over “the past few decades” doesn’t have to be noticeable in each individual decade on its own, just as “the past N years” wouldn’t mean each year is warmer than its predecessor.

    The period of 1983-2013 has seen a warming of 0.19 C per decade, with a standard deviation of 0.03 C per decade. (If you split that into two halves, you’ll notice a popular “stopped in” year, 1998, is in the middle. Each half has a warming trend shy of 2 standard deviations, but with more data the standard deviation shrinks. If you don’t believe any of this, you can literally check it.) There, happy?

      • You obviously don’t know what a standard deviation is. You got 0.48 by tripling 0.19-0.03. Why on Earth would a value definitely be exactly 1 standard deviation below its mean? Let me explain how it works. If something we estimate statistically has a mean of 0.19 and a standard deviation of 0.03, it has about a 68 % chance of being within 1 standard deviation of the mean (0.16 to 0.22), about a 95 % chance of being within 2 (0.13 to 0.25) and about a 99.5 % chance of being within 3 (0.10 to 0.28).

        As you can see, there’s basically no chance that there hasn’t been warming since 1983. And before you play the “it may be a lot less than the mean” card, just remember it’s exactly as likely to be just as far above, and we can’t afford to base policy on best-case scenarios for absolutely no reason. If anything, we should probably do the opposite.

        • Jos Gibbons – As you can see, there’s basically no chance that there hasn’t been warming since 1983.

          There are so many examples of this type of one-dimensional thinking, where the gullible have been told by some denial-muppet website, that there are simple (simplistic) “show-stopper” questions which “refute” the scientific evidence of global warming, and they then go around parroting nonsense!

          I recall one such denier who challenged me to say the temperature he had produced (including fractions of a degree), for some year around AD1300 was not accurate!

          Of course I simply pointed out, that I was reasonably certain that at some time of day, at some time of year, somewhere on the planet, that temperature would be correct – but it had no indication of a method of calculating it, or relevance to modern climate measurements.

        • So you refuse to put a number on the amount of warming over the last 2 decades which is being denied by 26% of “Americans”. Then you claim that 2 years is irrelevant and the relevant number is 20,000 years. When asked if it was ever any warmer during that period you again run away. You clearly are not used to your religious convictions being questioned. But most alarmingly, when asked if the 0.19 C/decade trend you claim to exist between 1983 and 2013 translates to an actual temperature difference you start bleating about standard deviations! Well I’ve got some reassurance for you. While there has been no warming whatsoever over the last 2 decades, there has definitely been warming since 1983 and by some measures it is close to 0.48C!

          However, in 1998 there was a super-El-Nino. Based on satellite measurements, we are about 0.3C cooler than 1998. Obviously the trend from 1998 onwards is negative, but it also negative from 2002 onwards according to RSS. I pick 2002 not like a cherry, but because it is the soonest point after the El Nino when temperatures seem to flatten after that event.

          Also, the fact that there has been no warming over the last 2 decades even has a name in climate science. It is called either “The Pause” or “The Hiatus”. There have been several papers dealing with this “mystery”, some from the most prominent scientists in the field.

          So, lets answer the question in the article: Is there “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades”?

          • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 4:53 am

            However, in 1998 there was a super-El-Nino. Based on satellite measurements, we are about 0.3C cooler than 1998. Obviously the trend from 1998 onwards is negative, but it also negative from 2002 onwards according to RSS. I pick 2002 not like a cherry, but because it is the soonest point after the El Nino when temperatures seem to flatten after that event.

            Also, the fact that there has been no warming over the last 2 decades even has a name in climate science. It is called either “The Pause” or “The Hiatus”. There have been several papers dealing with this “mystery”, some from the most prominent scientists in the field.

            “The mystery” is about where and how the heat is being distributed on the planet. NOT if it is arriving and building up.

            Parroting “NO WARMING” is not evidence of anything other than your inability to read or understand the stuff you are claiming to quote!

            So, lets answer the question in the article: Is there “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades”?

            YES!!!!! I have given links to it where the EXPERT OPINION OF THOUSANDS OF CLIMATE SCIENTISTS RECOGNISE IT!!

      • Odo, how dare you use the name of my favorite DS9 character! HE wouldn’t be trying to force a (false) pedantic premise.
        That IS all you’re doing, by the way.
        Nothing in any of your comments shows any real interest in AGW. All you are doing is showing how one sentence in an article may be wrong in a glorified pedantic (yes, I do love that word) way.
        Repeating your question (ad nauseum) serves no real purpose other than to stroke your inflated ego. I’ll bet you feel a little powerful though. having all of us paying so much attention to you, huh? :)

  7. The article states “46 percent of Republicans said there is not solid evidence of global warming.” I would like to see what the other 54 percent think. That being said it appears that not all Republicans blindly follow the party line. So I suppose there is some room for hope.

    • I guess that’s a little hopeful. But I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that most of the 11% of Democrats were southern Democrats (Dixiecrats). This group is moderately Democrat on economic/financial issues, but to the right of center on all social (ahem,…religious) issues.

  8. I think some of the issues with communication are exemplified by Odo’s comments/apparent stance. People often want a single number some simple answer to what is a complex situation. The idea that there is a single number, or even a set of numbers, that represents the issue of climate change, is fallacious. However, those attempting to have policy changed in relation to issues of climate change potentially have themselves to blame somewhat. There is often commentary that implies there is simple numbers. Experts do talk about specific warming by fractions of degrees or a few degrees over longer periods of time. Given the complexity of the situation i.e. basic confusion between concepts of weather and climate, the need to take natural cycles into account etc. while reducing things to this level of simplicity to help people understand the situation, it has potentially been counterproductive… and results in people like Odo asking the questions he/she is asking.

    Simplifying things too much is probably also the fault of political soundbites, and even journalists attempting to distill the essence of what is happening to a potentially less then scientific/statistically literate audience.

    I can’t say that I have a simple answer as to how to solve this. Potentially more emphasis on the results of climate change might cut through… e.g. politicians and people seem to have already responded more to the idea that the climate change occurring will result in an increase in the number of severe weather events… especially as these extreme weather events hit people personally and politically… they are a very concrete manifestation of taking our world’s climate for granted. There could also be more emphasis on issues surrounding food security and biodiversity i.e. the measurable impact the climate change will have on crop production and increasing CO2 levels in the ocean (which potentially slightly mitigate rising atmospheric levels) damaging the ecosystems of the ocean and again affecting food security and biodiversity (which impacts on all sorts of aspects of our lives e.g. the discovery of new drugs).

    The emphasis on end results was potentially what lead to the success of banning CFC’s i.e. I think a lot of people saw themselves catching cancer or being burnt to a crisp under the glare of unfiltered UV radiation. Though, also, in that case, there was a simpler way of communicating the damage that was done e.g. a single “number” i.e. the size of the Ozone hole – it is unsurprising, perhaps, that people are looking for a single number that represents climate change (effectively Odo’s question). It is unfortunate that such things are not as simple to understand as Odo would wish.

    • Theo H Jul 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      I think some of the issues with communication are exemplified by Odo’s comments/apparent stance. People often want a single number some simple answer to what is a complex situation.

      That is a view actively encouraged by the denialist scientifically illiterate and dishonest media posers.

      The idea that there is a single number, or even a set of numbers, that represents the issue of climate change, is fallacious.

      It certainly it is, but is regularly quoted as a basis for valid views by the media, when trying to mislead the ignorant. This can be seen in the denial arguments (It’s the Sun, What about the medieval warm-period, What about the little ice-age, It’s been hotter in the past) which pretend that the causes of such changes are “unknowable” and then flatter the ignorant in the style of creationists – telling ignorant people their opinions copied from propagandists, are just as valid as those of expert scientists who have spent years studying the subject. – Well knowing the the ignorant will be unable to access or understand the scientific papers.

      However, those attempting to have policy changed in relation to issues of climate change potentially have themselves to blame somewhat.

      I would disagree. The fallacy of single figure answers, is the result of media disinformation and simplistic deceptions which have been funded by vested interests promoting denial and stooge politicians regularly presenting denial views!

      There is often commentary that implies there is simple numbers. Experts do talk about specific warming by fractions of degrees or a few degrees over longer periods of time.

      These are global or area averages, where the uneducated are very unlikely to understand the data collection and processes of calculation.
      The doubt-mongers have taken full advantage of this, setting up well funded pseudo-scientific bodies, to posture as rival fake “authorities” to gratuitously challenge data from peer-reviewing scientific organisations – and like creationists, or tobacco companies denying links to cancer, – invent pseudo-controversies!

    • I could simplify Odo’s (and people like his) stance/tactic: “the argument from ignorance”.
      What these deniers are saying is, if you can’t make it real simple and totally logical, then I will stick with my conservative beliefs. This group never seems to admit that we now know that things that “appear logical” and things that are proven to be true can be separate things. OR, they try (unscrupulously) to present logical fallacies as serious arguments. – still out there, Odo?…. -

      • What these deniers are saying is, if you can’t make it real simple and totally logical, then I will stick with my conservative beliefs.

        I remember one very blatant example of exactly that attitude. Whether it’s well-understood by the experts is a very different issue from whether it’s easy for normal people to follow. In fact, if a field hasn’t discovered any truths that are difficult for normal people to swallow it probably hasn’t discovered much yet.

    • Perhaps those “Americans” who think there is not “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades” hold that view because they have read this paper in Nature:

      http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525

      There are plenty of other papers – just Google “the pause” or “the hiatus”.

  9. Odo, you naughty person you, making fun of the evidence!

    You know about dendrochronology, the periodic table, radioactive clocks, the strata of the Earth, igneous rock etc, etc, etc, don’t you; of course you do.

    And of course, I’m sure you’re aware that the fundamental difference between science and religion is, that one discovers things and the other invents them; indeed, what is religion other than a human construct?

    Here’s a facetious suggestion; instead of questioning the evidence, piecemeal, why don’t you compile and present counter-evidence? Shouldn’t take long.

  10. Odo is obviously a troll. There was an expression once used to describe people who ignored facts that stared them in the face: militant ignorance. Militant ignorance is the willful ignoring of facts for whatever reason, usually to further some agenda. I think it would be useful to resurrect this expression to describe today’s deniers of scientific fact.

      • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 5:40 am

        Is the esteemed scientific journal Nature a troll too?

        No! It explains for those who are capable of reading with understanding, that the heat is only missing from the SURFACE and atmosphere of the Earth. Some has gone into the deep oceans, and some has been reflected back into space by atmospheric sulphate pollution. http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/642270-noaa-study-suggests-aerosols-might-be-inhibiting-global-warming

        There has also been less heat input from the Sun than normal for this time.

        http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525

        Researchers have followed various leads in recent years, focusing mainly on a trio of factors: the Sun1, atmospheric aerosol particles2 and the oceans3. The output of energy from the Sun tends to wax and wane on an 11-year cycle, but the Sun entered a prolonged lull around the turn of the millennium. The natural 11-year cycle is currently approaching its peak, but thus far it has been the weakest solar maximum in a century. This could help to explain both the hiatus and the discrepancy in the model simulations, which include a higher solar output than Earth has experienced since 2000.

        An unexpected increase in the number of stratospheric aerosol particles could be another factor keeping Earth cooler than predicted. These particles reflect sunlight back into space, and scientists suspect that small volcanoes — and perhaps even industrialization in China — could have pumped extra aerosols into the stratosphere during the past 16 years, depressing global temperatures.

        Some have argued that these two factors could be primary drivers of the hiatus, but studies published in the past few years suggest that their effects are likely to be relatively small4, 5. Trenberth, for example, analysed their impacts on the basis of satellite measurements of energy entering and exiting the planet, and estimated that aerosols and solar activity account for just 20% of the hiatus. That leaves the bulk of the hiatus to the oceans, which serve as giant sponges for heat. And here, the spotlight falls on the equatorial Pacific.

        As I explained earlier here – http://richarddawkins.net/2014/07/when-beliefs-and-facts-collide/#li-comment-147284 and here:- http://richarddawkins.net/2014/07/when-beliefs-and-facts-collide/#li-comment-147210, the warming is about the increasing heat input which is retained by the planet. This is measured by comparing a multitude of actual global temperatures including effects man-made pollution, with the expected temperatures arising from natural causes. This is explained in the Nature Article you quote – and probably copied from some denial site where it had been cherry-picked by scientific illiterates.

        @ Odo – The whole point is that there has been no warming for 2 decades and exactly why that is the case is not understood.

        This is nonsense. The heat input has continued as shown on the linked graphs you seem unable to read, and checked and endorsed by all the world’s leading scientific bodies you choose to ignore.

        Climate calculations are about long-term trends based on thousands of measurements, not about simplistic one item-focus on cherry-picked, one time temperatures, which some denier has misread and mis-quoted, without any understanding of the underlying climate mechanisms (which have been provided on links from this discussion).

        Far from being the pro-denial show-stopper, linking this simply shows that you have not understood the Nature article or ANY of the underlying climate cycles it refers to.

  11. I actually think TV and movies (and pop culture, in general) have part of the blame here. Hear me out!

    Every TV show and movie misuses the term “theory” when they should be saying is “hypothesis”. When TV and movies misuse the term theory, it teaches people from an early age that theory means “an idea I have, that may be crazy, and could be right or wrong, but we don’t know yet”. Long before they get into a science classroom, people think theory means something far different than what it actually means, and then they hear about “the theory of evolution” and believe it’s an ongoing debate, like a hypothesis, instead of something that has been vigorously tested by vast numbers of scientific experts (like a theory).

    It may seem trivial, but I think it would make a big difference if people simply knew how to properly differentiate the terms theory and hypothesis, and if pop culture mediums adopted the correct terminology as well.

  12. Children are indoctrinated religion at home first in their formative years, where reason loses the first and perhaps most important battle. Religion is reinforced daily and weekly their entire lives, including the idea that their belief is unquestionable or only at the threat of eternal damnation, complete with graphic representations of what that entails. Growing up, they’re surrounded only by believers who ignore the existence of a greater world. They’re steered toward religious sources for scant and spurious scientific information, and subjected to relentless attacks on science as the enemy to their religion. Living in this bubble, with multiple, powerful emotional blockades, is it any wonder they refuse to open their minds?

  13. What fascinates me about this, and it is not so much about global warming in particular, is why it is so important to the “Odo’s” of this world to not accept evidence, and to continue, accelerating even, into the the inevitable mental train wreck that is ahead of them.

    So, Odo, how come? What is so desperately important to someone at least intelligent enough to use a computer, to deny and grope blindly in that denial, at that which is undeniable.

    Can you answer questions as well as ask them?

    • It’s exactly the opposite of what you claim.

      A very important problem in climate science at the moment is the problem of “the missing heat”, “the pause” or “the hiatus”. Why there has been no warming over the last 2 decades remains an open scientific question. One hypothesis is that the missing heat is being sequestered in deep oceans. Here’s what a prominent climate scientist has to say on the matter:

      http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/21/ocean-heat-content-uncertainties/

      • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 6:05 am

        It’s exactly the opposite of what you claim.
        >

        A very important problem in climate science at the moment is the problem of “the missing heat”, “the pause” or “the hiatus”.

        The important question is “where the heat went?” not “If it arrived?”

        Why there has been no warming over the last 2 decades remains an open scientific question.

        You persist in parroting this asserted nonsense, illustrating a total lack of understanding of the subject that:-
        - A) the heat retained by Earth has continued to increase,
        and
        - B) That you have no understanding whatever, of how planetary heat-sinks or the planetary radiant energy inputs and outputs work.

        One hypothesis is that the missing heat is being sequestered in deep oceans. Here’s what a prominent climate scientist has to say on the matter:

        http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/21/ocean-heat-content-uncertainties

        You have latched onto the word “UNCERTAINTIES* in the title, but have failed to understand anything the actual article says!

        The different methods of calculation it discusses, were explained in the video linked by Ernest here:- http://richarddawkins.net/2014/07/when-beliefs-and-facts-collide/#li-comment-147169

        It has been becoming increasing obvious from measurements, that the heat “missing from the tropics and temperate lands” has gone into the deep oceans, and into melting vast tonnages of ice-sheets and ice-caps.

        You are simply throwing in links which someone who cannot read science, has incorrectly told you refute the work of thousands of world leading scientists.
        You really need to read some of the links here, and some basic geography and astronomy text books.

      • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 6:05 am

        http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/21/ocean-heat-content-uncertainties/

        13,000+ climate scientists recognise man-made global warming. 24 dispute it, so as someone who shows no understanding of any of them, you choose to cherry-pick a link to this one casting doubt on meticulously calculated IPCC graphs!

        Climate Heretic: Judith Curry – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-heretic/

        As you have demonstrated no ability to understand climate issues, would you like to tell us which denial site or publication, is putting you up to these misconceptions?

    • An important open question in climate science is known as “the Missing Heat” or “the Pause” or “the Hiatus”. It is not understood why there has been no warming for 2 decades. One idea is that the missing heat is being sequestered where we have no thermometers – i.e. the deep oceans.

      Here is one prominent climate scientist’s view of that explanation:
      http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/21/ocean-heat-content-uncertainties/

      Here is a recent paper on the missing heat published in Nature:
      http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525

      So, the fact that there has been no warming for 2 decades is both true and a problem. From this moment on, if you claim there is strongevidence for warming over the last 2 decades, your claim is a religious statement!

      • Actually, this is incorrect. The “authoritative” nature article alone is bad reporting. It is in error. I had a look at the ten sources given in the original Nature article, and of these, only the ones from other Nature articles claim that there has been no global temperature increase in the 21st century (the 3rd source and the 8th one). They both give this source as support for this claim, yet if you check that source, its concluding paragraph (scroll down to the eleventh paragraph) says this:

        What does this say about the variability of the climate system? Climate models are often criticized for producing a more or less monotonic-type response to anthropogenic forcing in 21st century simulations. Part of this may be due to the lack of volcanic and solar forcing in the SRES scenarios of anthropogenic forcing increase for the 21st century and part could be due to the fact that large-scale oscillatory climate features, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation are not well simulated. However, even considering these criticisms, it is clear that the models can and do produce sustained multi-year periods of “cooling” embedded within the longer-term warming produced in the 21st century simulations. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the natural variability of the real climate system can and likely will produce multi-year periods of sustained “cooling” or at least periods with no real trend even in the presence of long-term anthropogenic forced warming. Claims that global warming is not occurring that are derived from a cooling observed over such short time periods ignore this natural variability and are misleading.

        The 8th one also gives a second source to its claim that there has been no global temperature increase in the 21st century. That one doesn’t even justify the claim:

        We analyze five prominent time series of global temperature (over land and ocean) for their common time interval since 1979: three surface temperature records (from NASA/GISS, NOAA/NCDC and HadCRU) and two lower-troposphere (LT) temperature records based on satellite microwave sensors (from RSS and UAH). All five series show consistent global warming trends ranging from 0.014 to 0.018 K yr−1. When the data are adjusted to remove the estimated impact of known factors on short-term temperature variations (El Niño/southern oscillation, volcanic aerosols and solar variability), the global warming signal becomes even more evident as noise is reduced. Lower-troposphere temperature responds more strongly to El Niño/southern oscillation and to volcanic forcing than surface temperature data. The adjusted data show warming at very similar rates to the unadjusted data, with smaller probable errors, and the warming rate is steady over the whole time interval. In all adjusted series, the two hottest years are 2009 and 2010.

        The original Nature article’s remaining eight sources discuss how different factors tug and push at global temperatures, but it can basically be summed up by this one source, which also said that “increases in global mean surface temperatures have stalled in the 2000s”:

        More than 90% of the heat goes into the oceans and, with melting land ice, causes sea level to rise. For the past decade, more than 30% of the heat has apparently penetrated below 700 m depth that is traceable to changes in surface winds mainly over the Pacific in association with a switch to a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in 1999. Surface warming was much more in evidence during the 1976–1998 positive phase of the PDO, suggesting that natural decadal variability modulates the rate of change of global surface temperatures while sea-level rise is more relentless. Global warming has not stopped; it is merely manifested in different ways.

        Anyone else curious can look at the remaining seven sources here and see for yourselves what they have to say:

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2009GL038932/abstract

        http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/11/13421/2011/acp-11-13421-2011.html

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2010GL042710/abstract

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50382/abstract

        http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00548.1

        http://www.agu.org/books/gm/v147/147GM06/147GM06.shtml (N.B. This one didn’t work for me, but maybe someone else can see it?)

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2010EO160001/abstract

        The notion that there has been no global warming in recent years is an old Climate Change Denial trope:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling-january-2007-to-january-2008-basic.htm

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/Phil-Jones-says-no-global-warming-since-1995.htm

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=12 (Based on data from http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch5s5-2-2-3.html)

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Comment_on_DK12.pdf

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-Oceans-Warmed-up-Sharply-in-2013-We-are-Going-to-Need-a-Bigger-Graph.html

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/global_warming_still_happening.html

        To finish, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on The Physical Science Basis has this to say (page 3):

        • In addition to robust multi-decadal warming, global mean surface
        temperature exhibits substantial decadal and interannual variability
        (see Figure SPM.1). Due to natural variability, trends based on short
        records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not
        in general reflect long-term climate trends. As one example, the rate
        of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012; 0.05 [–0.05 to 0.15] °C
        per decade), which begins with a strong El Niño, is smaller than the
        rate calculated since 1951 (1951–2012; 0.12 [0.08 to 0.14] °C per
        decade)5 . {2.4}

        Note that this is a smaller rate of warming, not a complete stop of warming or a temperature decrease or cooling. It gives no comfort to those who think this means global warming is not happening. The report is pretty much one long refutation of climate change denialism, and says the same thing on page 13 as it did on page 3 (press CTRL+F and search for 1998). Moreover, the other factors in climate have already been accounted for by the other sources, so it hardly counts as a mysterious phenomenon.

        To conclude, the “global warming hiatus” is an invention of Nature, based on a misinterpretation of sources that don’t justify such claims. It gets no passes for being a popular science publication. It’s not even as if this is the first time science reporting has been distorted.

        Long story short, 26% of Americans are still incorrect about the climate science.

        N.B. To Mods: I tried posting this earlier, but nothing showed. What gives?

        • Hi Zeuglodon

          Comments with links in them are generally treated by the website technology as spam and are held separately until they’ve been approved by a moderator. Sorry about that. Scientific links are very useful, so please go on posting them, but please bear with us: we’re not online all the time, but your comment will always be approved as soon as we see it.

          The mods

        • Zeuglodon Jul 8, 2014 at 8:33 am

          Those climate change denial blinker filters can even misinterpret Nature articles and Google denial topics for confirmation biases.

          Even in quoting scientist deniers, who deny with a bit more credibility, Odo’s reinterpretation bias is quite comical!

          @Odo – Here is one prominent climate scientist’s view of that explanation:
          http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/21/ocean-heat-content-uncertainties/

          While this is just a speculative blog from a maverick scientist and not a peer-reviewed article, you have to laugh at someone posting a link discussing the causes of sea-level rises – the thermal expansion of oceans, the melting of glaciers and ice-caps, and the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets, as evidence the Earth is NOT warming!!!

  14. The above discussion between Odo and everyone else reminds me of a quote by a local politician. He said that people want simple solutions to complex problems and the simple solutions are always wrong. The provider of such simple solutions was Pauline Hanson, a xenophobic, right winger who featured on our political landscape for a short while.

    I’m afraid Odo is simplifying a complex problem in the hope that there’s a simple solution or perhaps no solution necessary.

    • Yes. It is a problem that while politicians can take part of the blame for over simplifying things often they are simply pandering to what they think will get them elected… and to some extent, they seem to be correct. Often simplifications e.g. the three word slogans related to Tony Abbot’s recent election win in Oz, do seem to be somewhat effective. However, I would argue that it is not as simple as that e.g. Tony A claims he has a mandate to do various things like scrapping the Carbon Tax. However:

      First, his party had a whole platform of things they wanted to do… unfortunately voters have no way in the voting process of stating that “while on average we want you in, we specifically are supporting these particular policies, but not these ones”. So for Tony A to say he has a specific mandate for every policy, that his party took to the polls, is disingenuous, to say the least… and

      Second, the voters were voting out a dysfunctional Labour party more than voting for everything Tony A was peddling.

    • So if you were asked:

      Do you believe there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades”?

      How would you answer? And if you do not base your answer on satellite measurements why not?

      • Odo, why do you think 97% of scientists are in agreement about this issue? You’ve been presented with facts, graphs and videos, offering explanations for the complex reasoning behind this consensus. Why do you think this is the case? To what do you attribute retreating glaciers and the melting ice-shelves in Greenland and Antarctica?

        • So, according to you 97% of climate scientists believe that there is strong evidence that the Earth has been warming for the last 2 decades? If that is so, then why are they writing papers about why the Earth has not been warming over the last 2 decades?

          http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525

          You mention Antarctica. Qre you aware that Antarctic sea ice has been at record high for some time?

          http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.recent.antarctic.png

          • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 7:15 am

            So, according to you 97% of climate scientists believe that there is strong evidence that the Earth has been warming for the last 2 decades? If that is so, then why are they writing papers about why the Earth has not been warming over the last 2 decades?

            Apart from the odd maverick they aren’t!

            You mention Antarctica. Qre you aware that Antarctic sea ice has been at record high for some time?

            http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.recent.antarctic.png

            You have already shown that you can Google cherry-picked bits of misleading data and made-up nonsense.

            Anyone who knows about increasing melting ice knows that the largest melting is in the Arctic and Greenland.

            The Antarctic is however losing less than Greenland, but still loses vast quantities of ice.

            Esa’s Cryosat mission sees Antarctic ice losses doublehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27465050
            >

            Antarctica is now losing about 160 billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean – twice as much as when the continent was last surveyed.

            The new assessment comes from Europe’s Cryosat spacecraft, which has a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet.

            The melt loss from the White Continent is sufficient to push up global sea levels by around 0.43mm per year.

            Scientists report the data in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

            The new study incorporates three years of measurements from 2010 to 2013, and updates a synthesis of observations made by other satellites over the period 2005 to 2010.

            Cryosat has been using its altimeter to trace changes in the height of the ice sheet – as it gains mass through snowfall, and loses mass through melting.

            I remind you that RDFS a is a science site where there are scientists commenting, who are fully capable of spotting rubbish science, misleading cherry-picking, and false claims from dodgy sources.

          • “You mention Antarctica. Qre you aware that Antarctic sea ice has been at record high for some time?”

            Nitya was talking about retreating glaciers and melting ice shelves, which are land ice, not sea ice. There is a difference, which you weren’t aware of when you published your comment. Regardless, contrary to what you are implying, the Southern Ocean where this occurs is actually warming despite the increasing sea ice mass per year:

            Estimates of sea ice extent based on satellite observations show an
            increasing Antarctic sea ice cover from 1979 to 2004 even though in
            situ observations show a prevailing warming trend in both the
            atmosphere and the ocean.
            This riddle is explored here using a global
            multicategory thickness and enthalpy distribution sea ice model
            coupled to an ocean model. Forced by the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis data,
            the model simulates an increase of 0.20  1012m3 yr1 (1.0% yr1 ) in
            total Antarctic sea ice volume and 0.084  1012m2 yr1 (0.6% yr1 ) in
            sea ice extent from 1979 to 2004 when the satellite observations show
            an increase of 0.027  1012 m2 yr1 (0.2% yr1 ) in sea ice extent
            during the same period. The model shows that an increase in surface
            air temperature and downward longwave radiation results in an increase
            in the upper-ocean temperature and a decrease in sea ice growth,
            leading to a decrease in salt rejection from ice, in the upper-ocean
            salinity, and in the upper-ocean density. The reduced salt rejection
            and upper-ocean density and the enhanced thermohaline stratification
            tend to suppress convective overturning, leading to a decrease in the
            upward ocean heat transport and the ocean heat flux available to melt
            sea ice. The ice melting from ocean heat flux decreases faster than
            the ice growth does in the weakly stratified Southern Ocean, leading
            to an increase in the net ice production and hence an increase in ice
            mass. This mechanism is the main reason why the Antarctic sea ice has
            increased in spite of warming conditions both above and below during
            the period 1979–2004 and the extended period 1948–2004.

            Also, there has been a net loss of ice when you look at the global ice mass as a whole, as this study shows:

            We combined an ensemble of satellite altimetry, interferometry, and gravimetry data sets using common geographical regions, time intervals, and models of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment to estimate the mass balance of Earth’s polar ice sheets. We find that there is good agreement between different satellite methods—especially in Greenland and West Antarctica—and that combining satellite data sets leads to greater certainty. Between 1992 and 2011, the ice sheets of Greenland, East Antarctica, West Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula changed in mass by –142 ± 49, +14 ± 43, –65 ± 26, and –20 ± 14 gigatonnes year−1, respectively. Since 1992, the polar ice sheets have contributed, on average, 0.59 ± 0.20 millimeter year−1 to the rate of global sea-level rise.

            Even the site you reference shows that global sea ice areas in recent decades have been decreasing, though only slightly.

            As for the increase in sea ice, there are local conditions that mean a warming trend can paradoxically trigger sea ice formation. The two most obvious are: the increased disparity between ocean layers’ temperatures and salinities (ironically caused by melting ice from the continent), which weakens the inter-layer circulation that would ordinarily warm the surface waters; and the ozone hole, which amplifies circumpolar westerlies, which in turn spreads the cooler surface layer further, and this wind-induced drift exposes more water at the surface to cooling, like a conveyor belt shifting ice out of the way and making way for more freezing.

            If you wish to show that the average global temperature on Earth (which does not simplistically correlate with global sea ice levels in any case) has flatlined or decreased over the past few decades, you’ll need more robust evidence than this cherry-picked/naive example.

          • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 7:33 am

            So you think that 97% of climate scientists ignore the temperature data?

            Why don’t you read the links and learn something?

            Unlike you, 97% of climate scientists understand the temperature data AND the Radiant heat data!

          • Hi Odo

            Welcome to RDFS. The site where some of the best science brains are on hand to address all kinds of difficult topical subjects.

            You have received a generous crop of well-weighed and considered data and expert opinion in answers to your valid questions. Hope you appreciate the time and effort these experts put in.

            You may want to hit the ‘donate’ button at top of the home page!

          • . You may want to hit the ‘donate’ button at top of the home page!

            Like! ;)It’s possible to get an up-to-date science education by simply following the links.

          • @Odo July 8

            I neglected to add the fact that people commenting on this site come from from diverse areas of expertise. The topic gets ‘fleshed out’ by those contributing from different angles. By the time you’ve finished reading the comments you’ve been given a multifaceted view by computer experts, science educators, physicists, a naval engineer for heaven’s sake, mathematicians, various technical experts…the list goes on.

            I’m just grateful that I have enough science subjects ( though woefully few, considering the depth of my interest), to be able to understand the issues and methodology. What I don’t know I look up, or make a point of asking for help.

      • Odo Jul 8, 2014 at 5:08 am

        How would you answer? And if you do not base your answer on satellite measurements why not?

        Do you have any idea how many satellites have been monitoring Earth for decades, how many different countries built them, how many science teams have managed them, how many ground based studies have been coordinted with them, what they measure, or how they measure?
        There is nothing in your posts to suggest you do!

  15. Tom.

    I agree with you.

    I’m not someone who can afford to be patronizing, but the word theory is bandied about to such a degree that it becomes meaningless, because, and I’m sticking my neck out now, most people think it means something like a hunch, or a whim, or an inkling, or an intuit, and so dismiss something as only being a theory; as some scientist’s “pet project” as the fragrant Sarah Palin would put it.

    When in fact, scientific theories unite and explain facts about matter, but, only after exhaustively rigorous processes have been carried out, involving double-blind testing, peer review and World wide publication, and even then a theory is only as good as it was yesterday, because today, someone might develop it further, find fault with it, or disprove it altogether.

    A theory’s lot is not an easy one.

    Some have suggested that certain theories, our Heliocentric Galaxy for instance, should be termed theorems, because there’s little or no likelihood that they’ll ever be found at fault, and I think that they deserve nothing less!

    Anyway, journalists should know better than to perpetuate the misunderstanding.

  16. Odo, since you have asked the same questions several times over in response to different people, I’ll answer them in a separate comment rather than a reply to any of your countless “well what about X then?” renditions. Hopefully you’ll spot this.

    You complain about standard deviations being mentioned in answer to your how-big-is-it questions, but they’re important to understand statistical significance. For example, just as the 1983-2013 period I mentioned before has a trend of 0.190 (standard deviation 0.031) degrees C per decade, the 1998-2013 period has a trend of 0.118 (standard deviation 0.083). Anything we measure has error bars on it, but we can say what probability there is that the number is positive. A Normal-distributed variable with mean 0.118, standard deviation 0.083 has a 92.2 % probability of being positive. A probability below 95 % is often referred to as “not statistically significant”, and this 92.2 vs 95 distinction is the entire spurious reason anyone says “there’s been no warming”. Oh, there’s been no warming, huh? How sure is someone who said that? Apparently, they’re not even 8 % sure, let alone, say, 80. If you change the start date to 1993, or 2002, as you have suggested, that 92.2 becomes 99.996 or 59.9. See here in case you think I’m making up these numbers.

    A small number of scientists and papers do claim that this pause is a big deal, but the vast majority do not, and even the sources you tout admit that the causes of the pause are not “warming magically stopped”.

    Antarctica does not mean what you think it means, for several reasons. It’s interesting, incidentally, that the not-warming brigade love discussing the Antarctic ice situation with the hope that implies Antarctica is cooling, rather than discussing the brute fact that we know it’s in fact warming.

  17. The reason why even so called moderate intellectual people reject science for their beliefs, is because they have been brought up brainwashed with confusing philisophical stances. For example, subjectivity has bled into the realm of facts, and without the acceptance of absolutes, everything is questionable, and anything is possible to exist in reality. That’s why people say things like “science can’t answer everything’ or “science is one way to find the answer”. It just shows the intellectual confusion from blurring fact from personal revelations. And it stems from the education system promoting irrational philosophy as the rational way of thinking. Metaphysics…cmon…

  18. It’s almost laughably ironic, if it wasnt so determental society, that people rejecting climate change because they don’t respect science are clamoring for more data and easier to understand data which means that somewhere inside their heads they understand that science is the standard bearer of truth, and is the only reliable authority on truth.

  19. For ODO’s sake, and maybe general clarification, a few notes about ice. BTW, I am a naval architect with considerable experience in the design and construction of icebreakers, and I have spent a year in the Arctic.

    Sea pack ice N and S polar regions, is frozen sea water, and forms and melts annually. That which does not melt, having been moved by currents to the highest latitudes, or rafted up on other ice slabs by pressure, slowly leaches out its salt content and becomes frozen fresh water. The apparent expansion of sea ice in the Antarctic has more to do with melting at the inner, thicker boundaries of the pack, and the increase in glacial calving, pushing the outer boundaries further out to sea, than it does with increased freezing, as the deniers would prefer to believe. The change, in either direction, of the surface area of sea ice visible to satellites does not necessarily mean a decrease in temperature. It can also be caused by an increase. Area and temperature are two very different properties, and cannot be glibly linked, again, in either direction, without the inclusion of other mechanisms.

    When sea ice melts, it does not materially affect ocean levels any more than the ice in a drink affects the level in your glass when it melts. There is a small and measurable increase in volume, but basically, it is already in the ocean. Since the Arctic is almost entirely pack ice, it’s melting would not have a huge effect on ocean levels. The Antarctic, and Greenland however, are a different issue entirely, and involve land ice caps.

    Land ice is frozen fresh water from compacted snow, and when it is moved by glaciers into the ocean, it most certainly does affect ocean levels. Drop another ice cube into your drink, and now check the level.

    In another thread, lost in the website change, I explained the accelerating effect of the intrusion of ocean water under the glaciers, which bottom out below sea level in the depressions that result from the sheer weight of ice, and the lifting of the glacier by consequent hydrostatic pressure, increasing the gradient, and therefore the rate at which land ice enters the ocean. Since it is grounded pack ice that acts as a plug, preventing this, the melting and removal of this plug, as is happening in the Ross and Weddell sea packs, will dramatically increase glacial outflow, and accelerate ocean level rise.

    The other major cause of ocean levels rising is simply that water expands with temperature, and, interestingly when it cools to the point of phase change to ice, which is why pipes burst in winter if not drained. If as it appears, heat is being sequestered in the deep ocean, which may make it less apparent at surface temperatures, it is still heat, and the deep ocean affected will be increasing in volume in direct proportion to the amount of heat involved.

    I am pleased I do not have to run the numbers, there are a lot of them and the calculations are pretty complex. But when I see a toffee nosed English Lordling (ad hominem attack, I know) explaining, or better, trivializing, climate change by an illustration of 500 years of progressively smaller women’s undies on a clothes line, and his audience, which has included our deeply unloved Prime Minister, sniggering and applauding, I realize that there is no appreciable intellect involved, just “head in the sand” denial for denial’s sake.

  20. I am concerned with the use of the term scientific consensus It is true that there is a scientific consensus on AGW it is also true that this consensus is well founded and justified. However I hear time and again from AGW deniers I meet that this scientific consensus or that was pulled down by one lone descenting scientist. This is true but every example they have provided me so far has happened when there has been no, little or poor evidence for the belief overturned dogma in the first place.

    An example in Australia that has been given to me was the discovery that stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria. The scientist in question had a very hard time convincing the medical establishment that this was the case and he eventually overturned the consensus by infecting himself. However there was little evidence that the stomach could not host bacteria.

    I would rather we talked about the confluence of data. In the case of AGW it is the fact that all the evidence from a multitude of sources, across a multitude of different otherwise unconnected fields of science is all pointing in the same direction that has led to the scientific consensus. This is very different to old poorly documented dogmas that different fields of science may hold in different areas. We should I think be emphasising the confluence of data in this case.

    I’d be interested to know of examples where a theory as well founded and supported by such a confluence of data in its favour as AGW has ever been brought down by a lone gun scientist.

    • I’d be interested to know of examples where a theory as well founded and supported by such a confluence of data in its favour as AGW has ever been brought down by a lone gun scientist.

      The closest I can think of was when the empirically very successful model of physics Newton gave us was realised to be a bit too simple. The universe is subject to special and general relativistic and quantum effects as well. But even there, what happened was that the old model turned out to be correct in an appropriate limited context (speeds much smaller than c, gravitational potentials much smaller than c squared, angular momenta much larger than h-bar). This is called the correspondence principle. I don’t see, for example, how “humans are warming Earth” will be seen to be true in a limited context in a later theory that says “no they’re not”. (Creationism would have the same problem.)

  21. Congratulations to Odo for keeping going and I must say I’m probably on his side. I’m not a climate change denier (and I’m not sure Odo is – come on Odo, out of the closet, please), but since I’m not a scientist and don’t have any science in my background, I’m afraid I have to take the current scientific view about climate change … here we go … on faith. Yes, I’m sorry, it is that old chestnut from the religious – we believe our religions on faith and you believe science on faith. Of course, the difference is that unlike the elders of the church who also took their religions on faith, scientists working on their chosen questions, don’t – they look at the evidence.

    But what this thread has shown (let alone the wider scientific literature) is that the evidence is anything but obvious or accessible to an untrained or ill-educated mind. Put this together with the daily scaremongering and messianic zeal of the climate change community plus the cost in terms of money and lifestyle, plus all that guilt being heaped upon us and well, some people are going to react and challenge this received wisdom.

    Given all that, and going back to Odo’s original point, it isn’t, therefore, entirely unreasonable that so many people are skeptical.

    Anyway – I blame the internet and all that confirmation bias going on – I’m at it all day long and for the first time in my life, I’m absolutely 100% certain about loads of stuff I didn’t know anything about just a few years ago.

    • GPWC Jul 9, 2014 at 2:40 am

      But what this thread has shown (let alone the wider scientific literature) is that the evidence is anything but obvious or accessible to an untrained or ill-educated mind.

      That is true of any advanced science and technology. The uneducated in science do not even understand the methodology or the language these specialisms require.

      It is the same when some people look at my links on plasma electric rocket engines, or sintered metal 3D printing. They have to be able to recognise reputable sources of information (at least based on peer-review) where they can trust that various scientists have checked the claims of the original science team, and distinguish them from some pet fantasy which has been made up and put on the internet.

      Put this together with the daily scaremongering

      That is correct. People are being bombarded and manipulated with wilfully misleading anti-science propaganda from well funded, fake organisations, posing as authoritative scientific bodies – and regularly being reported by stooge journalists. http://richarddawkins.net/2014/07/bbc-staff-told-to-stop-inviting-cranks-on-to-science-programmes/

      and messianic zeal of the climate change community

      The “zeal of the scientists” is like the zeal of the authorities who told the population to evacuate New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina was calculated to arrive shortly. Many sat in denial, left it to the last minute, or paid the price for their denial of “slightly uncertain” scientific predictions.

      plus the cost in terms of money and lifestyle,

      This is largely wilfully misleading propaganda, put about to con those who are unaware of the massive tax subsidies and grants, paid to the polluting carbon industries.
      As with New Orleans, the cost of making no preparations, or making shoddy preparations, will cost vastly more than making a well informed plan and changing to clean technologies and changed land-use in good time.

      plus all that guilt being heaped upon us and well, some people are going to react and challenge this received wisdom.

      The guilty parties – Especially those living the high-life on ill-gotten executive bonuses, ARE guilty – and very resentful of of being identified as the lying exploitative pariahs they are. Those manipulated by them, should only have the guilt of being foolishly conned, and should place the bulk of the guilt where it belongs – on the well paid lying propagandists.

      Given all that, and going back to Odo’s original point, it isn’t, therefore, entirely unreasonable that so many people are skeptical.

      This is an abuse of the hi-jacked word sceptic!
      Someone who cannot read the figures off an OP linked graph for himself, and persistenly asks others to read them for him, is in no position to sceptically evaluate the data measured for decades in thousands of meteorological station records, decades of satellite information, or the complex calculations based on these.

      It combines the inability to distinguish reputable from disreputable sources of information, with the inability to even recognise the extent or methodology of gathering and processing the information. It is not possible to “sceptical” of something which you don’t even know exists! That is simply ignorant denial!

      It is the simple fallacious argument, “This information is wrong because I can’t (or have made no effort), to understand it, so I will sit in denial and pretend the results are TOTALLY uncertain.”

      The cherry picking and the asserted defence of the untenable position, then leads to the psychological mental contortions which try to justify this stance – commonly seem in anti-vaxers, creationists, IDiots, homoeopathy, and climate-science deniers.

    • GPWC Jul 9, 2014 at 2:40 am

      plus the cost in terms of money and lifestyle, plus all that guilt being heaped upon us and well, some people are going to react and challenge this received wisdom.

      The problem is that many react too slowly, or in the wrong direction.
      On the subject of cost and lifestyle, this link should be informative.

      England ‘exposed’ to climate risks – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28214685

      Buildings are still being designed with past climate in mind, the advisers say

      England is still not doing enough to tackle the risks from climate change, government advisers say.

      The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says three-quarters of existing flood defences are inadequately maintained because of a cash shortage.

      Rules to avoid floods affecting new developments have also been delayed.

      The government says it has offered an extra £270m to repair storm-damaged defences and is committed to adapting infrastructure to extreme weather.

      But the CCC says that at current rates of investment in flood defences, flood risks for people in England will increase.

      The chair of its adaptation sub-committee, Lord Krebs, told BBC News: “The £270m announced by government is a one-off payment to repair damage – not to invest in the future.

      “The Environment Agency shows unless that increased investment is sustained until the 2020s, the risk of flood damage will actually increase.

      “If you don’t maintain defences properly you will just stack up problems. We are calling on the government to be transparent and explain the rationale behind their policy.”

      The CCC estimates that a fifth of homes are already at risk of overheating, even in a cool summer, and mentions forthcoming research from Cambridge University which concludes that 90% of hospital wards are already prone to overheat.

      “We’re saying: don’t wait and rely on air-con. Install shutters or blinds or tinted windows – or external insulation. And we think new-build properties need new building standards to prevent overheating.”

      The report calls on local councils to publish statutory flood risk management plans and take any actions agreed. A minority of councils, it says, are so strapped for cash that they have diverted flood investments into other spending priorities.

      The committee members also complain that intensive farming is still being supported in areas where the ground needs natural vegetation to soak up rainfall.

      A shortage of funds in the Environment Agency also means that small developments on flood plains cannot be scrutinised for their impact on flooding.

      “There may be reasons for building on flood plains,” Lord Krebs said. “But there could be up to 12,000 homes going on flood plains with no advice – and that’s just stacking up problems again as sea levels rise and extreme weather events are expected.”

    • I’ve probably missed the boat on this thread – been camping. But I can’t resist commenting, so apologies GPWC if you don’t get to respond because you’ve moved on. Of course if you are reading this apology you can.

      Para 1 – You think you need to accept AGW on faith because you have no science in your background.

      No you don’t – you can do like I have, take a uni course, or read some of the peer reviewed literature on the issue and you’ll find you don’t have to take anything on faith or read something like Tim Flanneries The Weather Makers. There is plenty out there that is well written and easy for the lay person to understand that can be fact checked in the peer review literature.

      As someone who has taken the time to learn a little about it when you say this about an issue in which the confluence of data all points in one direction it comes across as a little like ‘denial lite’. I don’t really understand this, I can’t be bothered to confirm the predictions of the peer reviewed literature so I’ll agree that something is probably happening but I’m still going to suggest in a public forum that it’s exaggerated.

      You cannot go back to test if Jesus walked on water, you cannot go back and check if Moses really did here God talking to him through a burning bush, you can try to turn water into wine if you like but your failure to do so could be attributed to the fact that you are not your own father and son who impregnated your own mother. These things you must take on faith.

      You can however test most of the basic physics on which AGW is based in your kitchen, for example you can get a soda stream bottle put a thermometer inside it give it a blast of C02 and watch the temp rise higher than similar bottle without a blast of c02, you can convert an old web camera into an IR camera and you could use this to test the how well IR light passes through a soda stream bottle full of C02 compared to a similar bottle with no C02 (haven’t tried this myself yet but you can have a go), You put salt water with dyed fresh water and see what happens, you can heat it and see what happens and so on. At it’s heart AGW is all about physics as basic as this. It just happens to be happening in an extremely complicated system that takes some data n analysis and modelling, but you can check data from one university against similar data from others even in different countries so it is hardly requires faith, just reason and reading and a bit of experimentation.

      Para 2 – I don’t like being told my actions may impact on our future. Those that tell me this belong to a community who are messianic.

      Again the religious slur. To whom are you referring? Sure I have toured the anti-whaling vessel the Sea Sheppard and spoken to people I felt most uncomfortable with being anti-whaling as I am but seeing sharp implements bolted onto the side designed to cut through the hull (poorly I might add) and pictures of 4 sunken Japanese whale ships (painted like markings on a fighter aircraft) and had a significant trouble reconciling this as something I could support in-spite of thinking whaling is barbaric, and then to be told when I asked the question ‘did anyone on these ships drown or get killed as a result?’ – to which the answer was a proud ‘no, no one has been killed’ – to which I thought well that is just dumb luck on your part. I know environmentalists that consider logging an evil industry them telling me this in their wood house cut out of the bush, in front of a wood burning stove made of metal dug out of the ground (which they also oppose without qualification). So I’m sure there are Zelots sprouting nonsense but frankly you don’t see much of it unless you go looking specifically for it. But it would appear you are wanting to lump the climate scientists and those who faithfully report on it (eg. the likes of Tim Flanery) as belonging to such extremes. Who are you claiming is exaggerating the truth? How would you know, in Para 1 one you claimed to have no specialist knowledge in the field, to have to take it on faith. So how then can you tell the extremists from those with a good understanding of the facts?

      If you just read the peer reviewed articles and look at the least dire predictions on what is going to happen (which have consistently been conservatively understated – the facts latter turn out to confirm the higher predictions) the results are dire. Very, very bad for almost everyone, there is nothing good for example going to come out of ocean acidification to take just one factor that alone should stop us in our tracks.

      Para 3&4 – Given that people are telling me things I don’t want to hear about subjects no wonder people are not listening – and the internet is bad.

      You have failed to support the given bits above other than your ignorance, and that it is too hard for a non-scientist to learn about what is a critical issue. You have implied that those who do as being motivated by some religious force. All those poorly paid scientists begging for grant money so they can drop buoys off boats in sometimes freezing and dangerous conditions, or drilling out Antarctic ice cores at well below zero or spending decades studying data to make sense of our climate are telling you they all (with a tiny percentage of carbon industry supported deniers) think there is a really big problem for decades! But because of the internet (which wasn’t invented when scientists started bringing this up as a serious threat) we cannot trust what they say. The internet like all recorded documentation is only as good as the authors and the discernment of the readers, do yourself a favour and use the following google search tool for your future research if worried Google Scholar

  22. The well funded UK denial brigade are having to reorganise their Pseudo-educational propaganda!

    Lawson’s climate-sceptic group hit by charity status row – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28321641

    The climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation is to relaunch in September, after a complaint about its charitable status.

    The Charity Commission has forced it to divide into a charitable educational arm and a separately funded political arm.

    The Charity Commission will issue a formal statement on the changes in the coming weeks, but a spokesman told BBC News: “Some of the the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s activities breached what is expected of an educational charity, namely that the material lacked balance and promoted a particular line of opinion.

    “An organisation will not be charitable if its purposes are political.”

    The Global Warming Policy Foundation’s director Benny Peiser denied that the body had been politically campaigning.

    The Charity Commission investigated the Global Warming Policy Foundation following a complaint by Bob Ward, a science communicator who works with Lord Stern’s climate change team at the LSE.

    He also complained that the foundation breaches charity rules by “continually disseminating inaccurate and misleading information”.

  23. Just in case anyone is interested, here’s some reliable sources discussing the fact that there isno strong evidence for warming over the last 2 decades:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/recent-pause-in-warming

    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21598610-slowdown-rising-temperatures-over-past-15-years-goes-being

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_hiatus

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jun/13/pause-global-warming-data-sea-level-rises

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/climate-scientists-face-crisis-over-global-warming-pause-a-923937.html

    And of course there are many hundreds more including many papers published by prominent scientists.

    So, what is the problem? Well it appears that is one appears to deviate from the doctrinal imperitive that the facts don’t matter, one attracts the attention of the zealots.

    • Odo Jul 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Just in case anyone is interested, here’s some reliable sources discussing the fact that there is no strong evidence for warming over the last 2 decades:

      STILL MAKING UP YOU OWN “FACTS”??
      It has already been explained that the long term warming trend is not uniform but varies with interactions with natural cycles and feed-back loops.

      Taking the first link you have given, and competently reading it, provides strong evidence that you have no capability to read OR understand the science you are linking, as ALL THREE QUOTED PAPERS DEBUNK THE CLAIM YOU SAY THEY SUPPORT, and restate the global warming you deny!

      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/recent-pause-in-warming

      The Met Office Hadley Centre has written three reports that address the recent pause in global warming and seek to answer the following questions:

      1. What have been the recent trends in other indicators of climate over
      this period?

      What are the potential drivers of the current pause?
      How does the recent pause affect our projections of future climate? -

      It has already been explained the “The Pause” is a slowing of surface warming NOT a cessation of heat input. Heat was still going into the oceans and ice-caps!

      The first paper shows that a wide range of observed climate indicators continue to show changes that are consistent with a globally warming world, and our understanding of how the climate system works.

      So! From your link:- – First a direct contradiction of your assertion and your denial of global warming!

      The second suggests that it is not possible to explain the recent lack of surface warming solely by reductions in the total energy received by the planet, i.e. the balance between the total solar energy entering the system and the thermal energy leaving it. Changes in the exchange of heat between the upper and deep ocean appear to have caused at least part of the pause in surface warming, and observations suggest that the Pacific Ocean may play a key role.

      The second paper shows a SLOWING of surface warming and explains where else on the planet the heat is going.

      The final paper shows that the recent pause in global surface temperature rise does not materially alter the risks of substantial warming of the Earth by the end of this century. Nor does it invalidate the fundamental physics of global warming, the scientific basis of climate models and their estimates of climate sensitivity.

      As 13,000+ scientific papers report, the planet is warming, and will continue to warm for centuries, regardless of if you make up your own “facts” or if you acquire any ability to understand reports, or if you gain understanding of the climatic processes or not!

      There seems little point in trying to discuss scientific papers with those who cannot, or will not, read them in the first place!
      Others with a depth of understanding, have already discussed these issues earlier on this thread.

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