Flattery and Fallacies

Read time: 8 mins

A DeSmog detractor has created two new webpages which are the most flattering and fallacious of anything I've seen in ages.

First, our intrepid critic has created a list of “Climate Fascists” in which he included my name with the likes of Al Gore, Arnie Schwarzenegger, Jim Hansen, James Lovelock, Michael Mann, Nicholas Stern and Tim Flannery. (I'm so proud, I have taken a screenshot to show my kids.)

Second, he has posed a list of 10 questions that he imagines we “climate fascists” cannot address.

The DeSmogBlog does not boast the academic horsepower for a serious debate about climate science (for that, you should try realclimate.org ). We're here to identify obvious public relations efforts to confuse the issue. But just because our critic has been so nice, here are the questions with a set of responses in italics.

1. When did the debate end? We have been told for some years now that the “debate is over”. When did this happen? Who determined it? If the “debate is over” then why are serious scientists arguing against CO2 as the cause of climate change? Are they ALL in the pocket of Big Oil?

I presume this is mostly rhetorical, but certainly the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said there is a 90+ per cent certainty that human activity is leading to problematic climate change. As to the “serious scientists” arguing against it: we can think of Dick Lindzen, but that short list doesn't justify the use of a plural.

2. How is the science settled? Leaving aside the arguments about the cause of global warming, if “the science is settled” then why are the predictions from the IPCC's First Assessment Report different to the Second Assessment report different to the Third Assessment Report and different to the Fourth Assessment Report?

Isn't that the whole point of DOING a second, third and fourth assessment: that you would update your work?

3. How do you explain this? The following graph plots temperature anomaly against CO2 Concentration and Sunspot Cycle Length. How do you explain the remarkable correlation with sunspots and why do you believe that CO2 is the main determinant of climate change?

Per this paper , the above graph is both out of date and factually inaccurate. Sunspot activity since the mid-'80s has actually been declining while temperature has continued to spike.

4. What the heck has happened to the Hockey stick? The IPCC Third Assessment Report introduced the world to the iconic Hockey Stick graph, which was used to underpin the arguments that 1) man made CO2 was the main factor in climate change since the start of the Industrial Revolution; and 2) the consequences of not addressing CO2 would be a huge rise in temperature of up to 5.8 degrees Celsius? Given all of the hype surrounding the Hockey Stick and the vigorous defence of its accuracy in spite of undeniable evidence of its statistical impossibility, why is it not prominent in the recently released Fourth Assessment Report?

Had you actually READ the most recent IPCC report, you would have found the hockey stick on Page 3. How much more prominent can it be? (IDIOT ALERT: PER ONE OF THE COMMENTS BELOW, WHEN WRITING THIS RESPONSE, I REACHED FOR THE WRONG IPCC REPORT. THE MOST RECENT IS ACTUALLY HERE AND THE DENIERS' BELOVED HOCKEY STICK IS MUCH LESS IN EVIDENCE. RL)

5. Why believe climate models? Climate models have an appalling predictive record and could only model 20th century climate by applying more modifications than a Swiss Army Knife has gadgets, an exercise in back-fitting that would cause any first year statistician to throw their hands up in disgust. Climate models don't factor in the effect of the sun, which seems a bit of an oversight given the graph above, or the greatest greenhouse gas, water vapour. Given that the two most major determinants of climate are missing from the models why do you believe their predictions?

This seems rhetorical again.Per the above-mentioned IPCC summary, the models are getting more accurate by the day - even if first-year statisticians find them vaguely complex. The question here is why people who say they want to study science also refuse to use the most up-to-date equipment to do so. Arguing climate change without computer models would be like arguing distance without a measuring tape or - imagine the riskiness of it all? - an odometer.

6. Why is symbolism more important than effectiveness? The Kyoto Protocol has been shown by both sides of the debate to be an initiative that would make no discernible difference to our climate (around 0.1 degrees Celsius by 2050) and cost trillions of dollars. Those in favour of it claim that it is a 'symbolic first step' while the other side rejects its lack of effectiveness. Australia is leading the world in the development of clean coal technologies that, when exported to China and India, will make more difference than ten Kyoto Protocols. Why is symbolism more important than effectiveness?

The question casts this as an either/or issue, which it clearly is not. Bravo to those Australians who are legitimately engaged in trying to clean up coal. That's an absolute necessity given current energy technology and demand. But why should it preclude a responsible effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by other methods while we wait for the techies to catch up? It's true that Kyoto is hopelessly inadequate; but how can that be taken as a legitimate reason to do - say - nothing as an alternative.

7. Why the IPCC censorship? The IPCC reports are the result of a large number of scientists providing input with each section being overseen by a lead author. Many scientists have claimed that their work was ignored because it disagreed with the basic tenets being promoted by the IPCC. If the “science is settled” then why does the IPCC have to actively censor contributing scientists?

I'd be interested to see a scrap of evidence to prove this claim ….

8. Why are all the predictions of only doom and gloom? From inundation of our coastal cities to increasing drought, famine and pestilence on a Biblical scale why are all of the predictions about a rise in temperature always bad when it's clear that life on earth has historically thrived when the climate has been warmer than today?

Okay, I'm all in favour of growing wine grapes in Liverpool, and I spent 20 years on the Canadian prairies HATING winter. But a quick cost/benefit analysis (cue Nicholas Stern ) if we don’t
act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least
5% of global GDP each year, now and forever.” That's why.

9. What caused the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age? The MWP (~850-1250) was a period of higher than average temperatures. It is no coincidence that life on the planet thrived at this time. Greenland and Iceland were settled, the Arctic sea ice retreated and they even grew wine grapes in England. The LIA (~1350-1850) was a period of especially cold temperatures and it is no coincidence that life on earth had a particularly difficult time. In the winter of 1780, New Yorkers could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island across a frozen New York Harbour. In England the river Thames froze over giving the opportunity for people to hold ice fairs. In the Netherlands rivers and canals also froze over allowing skating and frost fairs to be held. Al Gore's documentary clearly shows that there's a relationship between temperature and CO2 with the implication that the latter causes the former. If CO2 is the main determinant of climate then where did it come from to cause the MWP and where did it go to cause the LIA?

Oh, let's not talk about anthropogenic climate change. Let's talk about historical anomalies that have already been explained and factored into current scientific analysis a thousand times. CO2 is the main determinant of current warming. The physics of it are undeniable: more CO2, more warming. Lot's more CO2, lots more warming. The fact that humans have interfered in a way unprecedented in history does not mean that climate has not varied naturally in the past or that it will not also do so in the future. It only means that, right now, we have sullied our environment in a dangerous way. Given the lack of alternative environments in easy driving distance, it would, perhaps, be prudent to stop, no?

10. Why the hooey about sinking islands? It strikes me as suspicious that all of the so-called evidence for rising seas comes from places so out of the way that the average person has no way of verifying the claims. Such is the case with Tuvalu which, it is claimed, is the canary in the global warming coal mine. However, to geologists the whole notion is absurd. Tuvalu sits on the crest of two tectonic plates and has been rising and falling throughout its history. After selling their .tv Internet domain name for $40 million the small population has clearly worked out that they can scam more money from rich nations by jumping on the global warming bandwagon. In PNG it's the Takuu Islands and in India it's the Sunderbans. All are affected by tectonic activity. Why the hooey about sinking islands?

Islands go up, islands go down. Island dwellers get used to the risks. Sea level goes up and down, too, but when humans realize they are doing something to promote sea level rise - and that risk-tolerant island dwellers are suddenly at much greater risk as a result, well isn't that an appropriate time to say, “Hooey!” in the hopes of attracting some intelligent attention? Isn't it?

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Comments

I’m glad you’re proud to be listed amongst a veritable who’s who of truth distorters! I’m not surprised that your 10 answers above are so weak given the science of global warming. 1. The IPCC decided very likely (90% probability, which is below any policy making threshold, I should point out; I assume the ‘+’ in your ‘90+ per cent’ is a slip) and the debate is over is it? It is certainly amusing to see extremists attack the IPCC for not being alarmist enough. 2. Not when the science changes so little and the predictions do. 3. Go and find a real paper to refer to, please. That one is not statistically robust. 4. Of course I read it! Whereas in TAR the Hockey Stick was plastered all over the place as the definitive proof of climate change it’s position has now been significantly derogated. The science has hardly changed between TAR and 4AR so what’s the go? 5. Climate models are a killer for those that claim this is all based on science. The Scientific Method says observe, hypothesise, predict and test. The climate models fall down on every prediction including when they’re run over historical climates! 6. Not a bad answer, as it’s in broad agreement with my point. The ‘do nothing’ option is better when the cure is worse than the disease, which Kyoto certainly is. 7. Just Google the phrase and away you’ll go. You may not understand how the UN Committees work but given that my father was a regular representative to the UN I’m going to suggest that it happens all the time and in every committee. 8. Man, oh, man. Using Stern! A laughable document in its underestimation of the cost and overestimation of the science. It’s no wonder he’s been attacked by other left wing economists so savagely. When he was at the World Bank he was well known for pushing his climate agenda. Everyone there thought that he was a real pain in the backside. 9. Lots more CO2 does not equal lots more warming. That’s why the climate models go wrong. CO2 should definitely cause a little warming but it’s clearly not the main player in climate change. Furthermore, the effect of CO2 is exponential so we could pump ten times as much into the atmosphere and only get a degree or two rise. No big deal. 10. No. There is never a time to tell lies with science. Never. Crichton correctly pointed out the similarity of climate science with eugenics. It’s interesting that you note your lack of scientific credentials. That’s refreshingly honest for people in this debate! It would be good, though, if people took just a teensy weensy amount of time to at least try and understand the basics rather than rely on the truth distorters at realclimate. It’s not that hard. Thanks for the response. Have a great day. Cheers Jack

“… which is below any policy making threshold”?

Jack, if that's an adequate reflection of your grasp of probability, I regret that you don't live close enough to join the Friday night card game.

If Crichton says it, it must be true. Nothing like getting your facts from a fiction writer.

Re: Number 9 - are you seriously going to rip into Richard and then make a massive statement like “the effect of CO2 is exponential so we could pump ten times as much into the atmosphere and only get a degree or two rise.”, not offer or even link to any scientific data to back up your ridiculously simplistic argument, finish it off with “no big deal” and expect us to take your criticisms seriously?

I just wanted to point out you have some serious errors with point number 3 and that particular graph. Long day teaching university students to debunk the rest of the points. See the EOS article

http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/DamonLaut2004.pdf

EOS btw, is listed under wikipedia as

Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, is a weekly newspaper of geophysics that carries refereed articles on current research and on the relationship of geophysics to social and political questions, news, book reviews, AGU journal and meeting abstracts, meeting programs and reports, a comprehensive meetings calendar, and announcements of grants, fellowships, and employment opportunities.

In otherwords its quality publication. Pay particular attention to Figure 1.(c)…..you are currently displaying inccorect information.

1) If you read the SPM, on page 4 it defines “very likely” as >90% 2) The predictions have been predominently strengthened (dynamic sea ice melt being a major exception), with tighter ranges of uncertainty. 3) Laughable. The problem for skeptics who hold select papers dear to their heart, is that science is self correcting through the process of peer reviewed journals. That fact just kills them. 4) You clearly didn’t read it (see #1), the SPM increases the range to 1300 years (page 10), which goes further back in time than the “Hockey Stick” 5) Models are the “predictions” (scenarios, more precisely) of climate scientits. We have about 20 years of climate models with varying levels of GHG emmissions and their predictions are remarkably accurate. 6) Kyoto was the first step (which ends in 2012) of many larger future steps. It wasn’t going to solve the problem alone and it wasn’t supposed to. 7) Why don’t you Google it for us. I’m sure you’ll turn up many quality sources. 8) Economic Alarmism. The new head of the World Bank is “left wing Economist” Paul Wolfowitz. Yesterday, he said, “A low carbon economy doesn’t mean an end to growth, jobs, and opportunity for the world’s poor. It does mean diversifying our energy sources so that we are less dependent on supplies from unstable parts of the world. It does mean diversifying our expenditures on energy so that we are putting more of that money into the hands of sugar farmers in Brazil, or supporting new crops like jatropha in Africa.” Read more, weep more http://tinyurl.com/2ksyra 9) Gibberish. Current warming due to CO2 increases is far from insignificant, and worse yet, it leads to feedbacks which lead to more warming. 10) Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns will bring about massive destruction in the third world. If skeptics actually cared about these issues, they’d look a little further than a science fiction author.

Hold on! That CO2 steadily rose was already disproved. Don’t people know that atmospheric CO2 took a dive in 1992? It stopped increasing. Before that there was only the pre-industrial measure and the current steady one. Dr. Ball explained this in his only journal article on climate change, quoted here. See for yourself here.

This could be why Bob Carter proved that global warming stopped in 1998. That article is preserved here. He even got other publications out of this discovery. See for yourself here.

Well debunked, however, I wouldn’t use the word publication to describe their newspaper/online blog articles. It somewhat confuses the issue because a true publications of science stand the review process and are produced with a journal. Opinion pieces or non refereed publications, is likely the better name to call their pieces, as there’s no scientific scrutiny at all.

The charts on page 3 cover increases in GHG, not temperature change. The Hockey Stick-like description of mounting temperatures is on page 10.

Richard, your link in point 4 takes me to the IPCC third IPCC assessment report summary. It does indeed have the hockey stick graph in place. But wasn’t the one released about six weeks ago the Fourth Assessment Report Summary? I don’t see the hockey stick anywhere in it. The hockey stick’s absence was noted by several people who wrote commentaries about that February IPCC release. As for the IPCC’s 90 per cent certainty assessment of AGW, that remining 10 per cent is a hole any climate scientist worth his salt could drive a truck through.

No, it was an 18-page report called “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers”. Stayed tuned for the IPCC report next month.

You raise an interesting point, Anon. Isn’t it strange that the summary for policy-makers was issued before the document upon which the summary is supposedly based? That’s not a normal process and leads to all kinds of speculation that the UN spin-meisters are now reworking the main report to make it conform to the summary, which is written by bureaucrats and NGO operatives, not by scientists. This type of shennanigan is why a growing number of climate scientists express disenchantment with the IPCC and say they want nothing more to do with it.

No, the opposite. It is amazing that a science project this large managed to get all the parts out within a few months.

I think they had other reasons. Besides, many scientist, some of whom were rather remotely qualified, could join and contribute in some way. So few stepped out - that is really rare, as you know if you follow science projects, especially “Big science”. See physics, medicine, etc.

“”One prominent climatologist, Canadian Tim Ball recently wrote that influential people in science and politics leaped to the conclusion that humans were behind global warming before there was any research done to support such a belief.””

Thats almost amusing, Tim Ball continues to be prominent, despite claims like CO2 decreased, as a post above mentions. Where does he manufacture his research, ohh right he doesnt conduct any.

Prominent: conspicuous – Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Isn’t one of Desmog’s quarrels with Tim Ball that he is too conspicuous and should not be?

No the point is in scientific circles he isnt at all. The only people who think he is an expert, an authority, or in any way pominent are the climate change deniers. Who continue to post here about using his comments, where as it is also suggested that “no one attempts to descredit his science instead attacking him”. Of course there is no metion that he doesnt conduct science and just meanders his comments from only who knows where with CO2 is descreasing. If you think he is pominent then you are failing to grasp why he lacks any authority on the issue at all. Switch to Lindzen please, he at least is an active scientist with some credibility.

Sure thing, Carl: Here’s the most recent article I could find by Lindzen. It bore the heading: Global Warming: The bogus religion of our time”. Lindzen quote: “Genuine science is about gathering evidence and testing the veracity of theories, not cheerleading for a particular ideology. That is what is so disturbing about the current debate on global warming. Healthy scepticism, which should be at the heart of all scientific inquiry, is treated with contempt.” Another quote from the same article: “Like a religion, environmentalism is suffused with hatred for the material world and again, like religion, it requires devotion rather than intellectual rigour from its adherents. It is intolerant of dissent; those who question the message of doom are regarded as heretics, or ‘climate change deniers’, to use green parlance. And, just as in many religions, the route to personal salvation lies in the performance of superstitious rituals, such as changing a lightbulb or arranging for a tree to be planted after every plane journey.” And this: “Politicians love the green agenda, of course, because it means more control, more regulation, more taxes, more summits, and more opportunities for displays of self-important zeal.” Reading these quotes tells me that Tim Ball’s views are not much different than Richard Lindzen’s. In fact, in my Ottawa Citizen letter I mistakenly attributed to Ball a statement that I have since learned was first made by Lindzen. That’s the one about leaping to conclusions about AGW before there was any research done to see if the belief was true or not. Ball was just repeating something said by Lindzen.

The difference btween Ball and Lindzen is huge, the above post is not science though, what you posted is based on politics, conjecture, and opinion. So Ball and Lindzen are equal authorities on such issues, as are people from the opposite side of the fence that get moaned about with high frequency. There is no science contained in any of those quotes you used. However when it comes to science you reach the point of diversion between a person like Ball and Lindzen

The difference is Lindzen doesnt say listen to me because iam distinguished, or invents distinctions, awards, or qualifications. Lindzen is at least a climate scientist who has a history of climate related publications and is an active researcher. Ball says listen to me I am distinguished, and makes up his credentials or miss represents them to say the least, is unactive and has made no significant contribution to climate science in a very long time. My point is if you are going to use someone to argue science, Ball is not a credible source at all. Lindzen is at least an active scientist, just one I disagree with, and many others do, there are a number of things he has yet to explain alternatives to. Lindzen is a skeptic, but is at least some authority on climate science.

Furthremore no one around here condems him, least not from experience.

What do you mean there is no science, Carl? Lindzen was writing in the popular press, evaluating the current state of climate science through his expertise as a scientist. Is he not allowed to do write and speak in lay terms?

So why do you think he has to write in the popular press John? Scientists publish in science journals which they back up with data.

Give your BS meter another kick.

To quote those carefully read words

“But few listen, despite the fact that I was the first Canadian Ph.D. in Climatology and I have an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition. Few listen, even though I have a Ph.D, (Doctor of Science) from the University of London, England and that for 32 years I was a Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg. For some reason (actually for many), the World is not listening.””

Perhaps its as you mentioned 0 papers on climate change, not the first Climatology PhD in Canada, only 1 reconstruction of a regional climate event, no Doctor of Science, and did not possess the title Professor of Climitology, I duno maybe I am just fishing here….or perhaps there are other reasons the world isnt listening.

Yes, NRSP did reprint a letter of mine that was originally published in the Ottawa Citizen in reply to some outlandish statements by AGW evangelist David Suzuki. And yes, that is the mysterious and scary NRSP that refuses to divulge its list of donors to Richard Littlemore. Well, I will give Richard a head start on his quest. I am an NRSP donor. I think there is serious need of an antidote to the eco-hysteria mongers over the issue of climate change and NRSP provides it. In fact, they seem to be having great success getting their message out, pariticualry on talk radio. It is a simple message really: climate change is a complex topic; we don’t know what makes it happen; and there is no consensus among scientists over global warming and its causes. That’s pretty dangerous, radical stuff.

I just wanted to point that since the 2001 report was released in a similar way you are attempting to discredit a large number of people. I hope you realize you are suggesting that the IPCC and its lead authors, people such as Lindzen who worked as the lead author in the 2001 report in one of the working groups, have reworked their reports to conform to the summary.

Its quite striking, that a very vocal fellow in the climate debate who himself is a researcher, and quite critical of the policy maker summary would fix corrupt or in any other way do what you are suggesting and actually I think you just accused Lindzen of doing just that. The IPCC working groups are designed to take the best experts in climate regardless of their side, like Lindzen and come up with the best scientific report possible. You will also find, that Lindzen never critical of the IPCC report, I mean he helped author it as well, he is critical of the poliy guide not the science itself.

Thankfully people like Ball, who many people seem to think is a serious authority on issue will never be part of a IPCC working group, or even make it into the report, as we all know he conducts no research, publishes no scientific papers in relation to climate change, and has a rather undistinguished history.

I just wanted to continue with Lidzen, despite his views, is not overly criticized here, due to his actually conduction of research instead of Tim Ball type meanderings or listen to me because I am so distinguished yet is unable to prove he is.

Ahh mispoke, and wanted to say, Lindzen has been critical of the IPCC report from time to time. Though his focus is on the policy most often.

The science of AR4 is done. The body of AR4 is some 1600 pages long, and is currently being formatted and proofread. Each chapter has a “Summary for Policymakers” written by the lead authors of that chapter. The SPM is a collaboration between the scientists and politicians. The politicians can request edits for clarity and, at the most, can effect nuance, but they cannot contradict the science of the report. The conspiracy theory that the SPM changed the science to fit a pro AGW agenda is contradicted by the fact that it is a consensus document that includes countries such as Saudi Arabia and the US. The 90%+ confidence level means that everyone represented was at least 90% confident that the current warming is being caused by human influences. Put another way, the most skeptical party was no less than 90% convinced. The first SPM released in February covered the “scientific basis” of global warming. Future chapters will cover the effects and mitigation.

Thanks for the explanation, Anon. I hope you are right and there is no funny stuff going on. It is very easy to suspect the UN and its pro-AGW agenda. Wouldn’t the document released in February, being the “scientific basis”, have included the hockey stick graph if the IPCC still had any faith in it? Afterall it was heralded as the smoking gun evidence of human impact on climate.

Look for the multiple smoking guns this time around. I mean heck if you can convince the US to say greater than 90% certainty you gota have some good evidence.

The “hockey stick” has been reviewed and supported, but it hardly matters anyway, given all the other research on past climate, weather data, etc.

The SPM states that the current temperature is likely higher than at any time in the last 1300 years. That is the verbal description of the Hockey Stick, which only went back 1000 years (with decreasing certainty). I’m sure that the more recent temperature reconstructions will be included in the body of the report.

Likely higher than at any time in 1,300 years? Certainly lots of wiggle room, there, Anon.

Not really. Conversely, this means that temperatures today are not likely lower than they were at any point in the last 1300 years. A scientist saying “likely” is really at least 80-90% sure of their conclusion. The word “likely” is really a formality, just to say they aren’t 100% sure, but are very sure of something.

As usual, the aim of this blog seems to be to shut down and muzzle anyone who questions any aspect of the global warming debate. Isn’t science all about questioning? I know, someone will jump on that comment and claim all the so-called deniers are funded by evil, nasty big oil companies. Yes, Virginia, conspiracy theories are alive and well on the left. On March 13, the New York Times ran an article questioning a number of Al Gore’s comments in his Inconvenient Truth movie (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13gore.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all) The consensus (dare I use that word?)seems to be that it’s time to stop all the doom and gloom and exaggerations of the Gore disciples. Of course, we probably shouldn’t trust the NY Times since I’m sure they took advertising dollars from Exxon at some point in time.

“As usual, the aim of this blog seems to be to shut down and muzzle anyone who questions any aspect of the global warming debate” with facts.

>Isn’t that the whole point of DOING a second, third and fourth assessment: that you would update your work?

This rebuttal rebuts nothing and uses the word ‘update’ to hide the real word: improve. That the IPCC keeps changing their predictions is absolute proof that the (earlier) predictions were not very good. But anyone who remembers the Rio conference from 92 should remember the strident message - the science is clear; now is the time to act.

I just watched Tim Ball’s video and it’s as informative and entertaining as Al Gore’s movie. Neither are global warming scientists (altough at least Ball is a climate scientist). Who cares – they are effective presenters at laying out their case. Both sides need popularizers.

Ball’s message is basically that climate is always changing. Even in the last millenium people used to farm in Greenland, and people used to skate on the Thames in London. Neither of those things are happening now, and it wasn’t humans that changed the climate between 1000 and 1700 AD.

People still farm in Greenland and have since people Eurpeans first settled there and just because the climate naturally changes doesnt mean humans can change it either. Humans can accomlish quite impressive feats as an entire group, like causing species extinctions (eg dodo, plains bisons) contaminating entire ground water supplies, complete destruction of the prairie ecosystem leaving less than 1% of the tall grass prairie. From a purely logical standpoint, ignoring all else, the concept of humans not being able to modify climate does’nt seem so impossible to me.

Thanks for the response. Humans can certainly screw up and wreck entire eco-systems. But they can also adapt very well. Ball’s point is that people dealt with climate changes even in the recent past. The predicted temperature rise from GW is a couple of degrees, which is not out of line from the two scenarios above. GW is not the end of civilization. Other issues such as water supplies will be much more important problems in the 21st century.

As for farming in Greenland, here are two links: http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/end_of_vikings_greenland.html and
http://www.expressnews.ualberta.ca/article.cfm?id=776 Both indicate that the climate was milder when Vikings moved there, and the Vikings left when the climate changed.

No argument that Ball is a capable presenter. But at least Al Gore admits that he lost the election for president.

There are two issues. One is Ball's credibility, which is in shreds. He lies about his academic record and misrepresents his accomplishments. He calls himself “the first climatology PhD in Canada” and a “Doctor of Science” - when he is no such thing - and he works for a front group that was set up by an energy industry lobby firm (The High Park Group). Now, I clearly have nothing against PR people (some of my best friends … blah, blah), but the ones I like best actually ADMIT that they're in PR. They don't lie. That's a test that Ball fails with bewildering regularity.

The second issue is what Ball actually says about climate. He says there was a Mideival Warming, which is true. He says there was a Little Ice Age, which is also true. Then he says that these two facts somehow prove that increasing the concentration of CO2 by more than one-third in 200 years has had no effect, which is silly. It's like saying there were thousands of car accidents in Vancouver before I got my driver's licence, so the one I caused yesterday couldn't possibly have been my fault.

The physics is straightforward. By burning fossil fuels, humans have increased CO2 in the atmosphere to a degree unknown in more than 600,000 years. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which helps to keep the earth warm. The increase in CO2 corresponds with an unprecedented increase in temperature, and the best scientists in the world - people who have actually published in the field - say there is a 90+ per cent chance that our CO2 bolus is responsible.

Some people were convinced of that in 1992. Almost everyone is convinced today. But Ball the PR guy is holding out. That's his right, I just think people should be warned against taking him seriously.

Yes Ball has puffed his credentials. But given Gore’s house , credibility is “in shreds” for both presenters. Unless you’re willing to disown Gore you can hardly expect the other side to disown someone like Ball. In the video (http://www.nrsp.com/people-timothy-ball.html) I watched, Ball didn’t claim C02 “had no effect”. He is saying it is smaller than other effects, which is clear to anyone looking at the graphs – temperature went steeply down from the 1940s till the 60s. I am still on the fence with GW. Can’t really believe thousands of climate scientists are wrong. But the shrill cries of end-of-life-as-we-know-it don’t help. Ball’s contribution, as someone who studied weather patterns in Western Canada over several hundred years, is to note that global climate change is the norm. Now you’re going to probably say that the *rate* of change now is unusual. But that rate only started around 1980 (see http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Reco...) . 25 years is the blink of an eye in climate. It’s not *proof* of anything. The opportunity costs here are huge. Given all the other global problems (deforestation, water supplies, pollution, over-fishing, AIDs, etc), we must choose. Any focus on one takes away from others.

The temperature change from the 40s to 70s was not a huge drop. It is believed to be a combination of increasing manmade aerosols and natural variability. Since then, air has been cleaned up due to environmental regulations. Even though the last few decades have been relatively active with volcanic activity (a cooling effect), manmade greenhouse gases have overwhelmed all other natural and manmade factors. 25 years is the blink of an eye in climate, yet the temperature change since the mid 20th century (even including the cooling period) is very rapid as many temperature reconstructions have shown.

“Yes Ball has puffed his credentials. But given Gore’s house , credibility is “in shreds” for both presenters. Unless you’re willing to disown Gore you can hardly expect the other side to disown someone like Ball.”

Al Gore has never lied about his credentials. At least, Gore is honest, especially his humourous take saying he “used to be the next President of the United States.”

Also, unlike Ball, Gore never claims to be an expert on climate science. However, like Ball, Gore has no peer-reviewed studies published on the science of climate change. (Ball’s studies which have passed peer-review have all been on climate history taken from Hudson Bay Company records and other historical sources.) Therefore, Ball is no more an expert on the actual science of climate change than Gore.

Richard, your focus on Ball borders on the obsessive. Tim Ball is far from alone in what he says. Your long and growing list of deniers is proof of that. As a scientist, Ball has the ability to understand what is going on in climate science and he also has the ability to popularize it for the lay audience. Did you think your buddy Suzuki is the only one who can speak plainly on scientific matters? The CO2 greenhouse effect is no where near as simple as you say it is. According to Richard Lindzen, everyone jumped to the conclusion that more CO2 automatically means more warming before there was any research done to see if it was true or not. Research done since the early 1990s suggests there is a diminishing greenhouse effect from rising CO2 levels. It also suggests (ice core samples) that CO2 increases follow planetary warming so cannot be the cause of it. Damn those inconvenient facts.

“alone at the top”, if you read and listen

Richard - well done on having a popular blog, even if it is completely misguided! If you missed the recent pro- vs anti-AGW debate through the week (which you shouldn’t have if you link to rc) then you’ll be able to read my take at http://tinyurl.com/27j83h

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