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clear thinking

Posted on Scott Adams' Blog

Scott Adams is trying to figure out which side of politics is less rational. But he assumes the answer to his question before he even gets started when he wrote:

Climate Change Claim 1: Human activity plus natural factors are changing the climate in ways that could be calamitous.

Verdict: True. The overwhelming majority of credible scientists agree.

Scott needs a lesson in science. I replied:

Your climate change claim 1 verdict assumes that one side is right and the other wrong, and it does so on the basis of popular consensus, which plays no part in science (so I won't mention the 30,000 scientists who signed a letter saying otherwise). Science is built, not on consensus but on evidence, hypotheses, and testing. Let me illustrate by summarising the entire global warming debate in a few sentences..

The global warming theory is that doubling CO2 will cause something "around" a degree C warming. A bit more, a bit less, but something thereabouts.

Everyone agrees. Everyone sane, that is, both alarmists and skeptics alike.

But the alarmist theory goes on as follows: Yes, but that ~1C will cause more evaporation from the oceans, and H2O is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, so the 1C gets multiplied 2,3, 4, 6, you name it, times, causing catastrophic warming of 4C, 6C, whatever hairy scary figure you care to pick.

That's it. The difference is between skeptics who say CO2 causes 1C warming and alarmists who say it causes a multiplied amount limited only by how frightened they want you to be today.

So, how to test it?

That dishonest term "climate change" again

People are still being hoodwinked by the dishonest term "climate change", which I previously discussed at . Here's a comment I added to an article at Wattsupwiththat to inform yet another misled innocent:

Kip Hansen says:

"It’s not as bad as it seems. They would just like to shut down the obvious nonsensical ” ‘debate’ over whether climate change is real or a hoax, however, should be confined to conspiracy websites and political blogs where truth takes a backseat to ideology.”

Sorry Kip, you've been tricked by your friends good and proper. "Climate change" is 100% caused by humans, and it is a real question whether there is lots of it or only a minuscule irrelevant amount.

Confused? I don't blame you. But here's the official definition:

Is the Global Warming Theory Scientific?

A long article has been released with many quotes from the core group of global warming alarmist 'scientists'. Why do I quote that word? - because so far none of them have told us, the intelligent public, a full, proper, scientifically argued case giving evidence of four things:

  1. dangerous,
  2. human-emitted,
  3. carbon-dioxide-caused,
  4. global warming is taking place.

In other words, there are four propositions that must all be substantiated with credible evidence before a scientific theory exists that there is anything to fear from carbon dioxide. My take on the status of these four is: (1) is certainly false, (2) uncertain, (3) most likely largely false, and (4) most likely true, but not as large as it has been represented. But this post is not about the correctness of the theory, but the more basic question whether it is a scientific theory at all.

I think most people know of the concept that scientific theories must be falsifiable. There are a lot of subtleties around that idea that need not concern us now, but we can use it as a rough test for good science. Remember, good science doesn't have to be correct - a theory proposed, tested properly, and rejected for making incorrect predictions is still an exercise in good science, even if it failed to come up with an advance. And contrariwise, a wild guess shoved down people's throats by force without any attempt to test against reality is bad science, even if by some chance the guess happened to be correct.

So we see that the question of whether this is good science is not the same as the question whether it is correct (although the two are obviously related).

So how does the CAGW theory stack up?

Worth repeating: Gas against wind

From Matt Ridley at

Which would you rather have in the view from your house? A thing about the size of a domestic garage, or eight towers twice the height of Nelson’s column with blades noisily thrumming the air. The energy they can produce over ten years is similar: eight wind turbines of 2.5-megawatts (working at roughly 25% capacity) roughly equal the output of an average Pennsylvania shale gas well (converted to electricity at 50% efficiency) in its first ten years.

Difficult choice? Let’s make it easier. The gas well can be hidden in a hollow, behind a hedge. The eight wind turbines must be on top of hills, because that is where the wind blows, visible for up to 40 miles. And they require the construction of new pylons marching to the towns; the gas well is connected by an underground pipe.

Unpersuaded? Wind turbines slice thousands of birds of prey in half every year, including white-tailed eagles in Norway, golden eagles in California, wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania. There’s a video on Youtube of one winging a griffon vulture in Crete. According to a study in Pennsylvania, a wind farm with eight turbines would kill about a 200 bats a year. The pressure wave from the passing blade just implodes the little creatures’ lungs. You and I can go to jail for harming bats or eagles; wind companies are immune.

He goes on:

Does Melting Sea Ice Raise Sea Levels?

Up until now I have unthinkingly assumed that melting sea ice doesn't change sea levels. The reason is a basic principle of physics: Archimedes' Principle, which says that a floating object displaces its own weight of liquid. The idea is that when the ice melts, it will exactly fill in the 'space' that the ice block made in the water, thus leaving the water level unchanged.

But there's a fly in the ointment: when sea ice freezes, it preferentially expels salt, in the process becoming purer than the sea water it is floating in. Pure water is less dense than salty water, so when the ice melts it will overflow the 'hole in the water' that the ice had occupied, and when it overflows, it raises the water level.

That's true, and that's a very interesting application of physics and a lesson to think precisely about the physics of any situation. In other words, as physics, it is fun and interesting.

But let's see how this is being used. At the alarmist site Skeptical Science, which purports to 'expose' the fallacies of skeptical views on global warming, they start out:

A Request for the Science of AGW Alarmism

An incisive comment posted by peter_dtm in answer to a typically naive GW piece at the Telegraph:

Comment by peter_dtm:

Another ecofascist telling us what they know we believe

and as wrong as they always are.

how to put this in a way you can understand - bearing in mind that there are MILLIONS of people (including scientists; engineers; financiers and even some politicians) who do not BELIEVE in CAGW. If you trouble yourself to read the blogs like WUWT and other assorted 'denialist' sites you would discover a vast range of thoughts - and very little belief. And lots of demands for being shown the SCIENCE behind the hypothesis.

I believe that most people consider the ecofacists to be the ones in denial.

  1. The climate changes
  2. It always has
  3. Man affects the climate
  4. CO2 and other gases stop the earth freezing
  5. CO2 and other gases stop the earth overheating
  6. The atmosphere (and therefore the climate) is a complex system.
  7. If you build a model with parameter x as a key variable; than varying parameter x will change the model as this is what the model is designed to do.
  8. The climate is so complex we do not have even a first order approximation of how it works.

Steve McIntyre recognised as a thought leader

Steve McIntyre, one of the two researchers who exposed the faulty statistics behind the infamous "hockey stick" temperature curve which attempted to write the medieval warm period and the little ice age from the pages of history, has been recognised by New Statesman as one of the top 50 "People Who Matter 2010".

Congratulations Steve. Those who, like me, came late to the global warming question, owe a great debt to you and Ross McKitrick for your tireless work in the face of astonishing and tenacious obstructionism in getting the raw data needed to do a detailed analysis. Steve runs his own blog on climate science at

But we can't have an honour going with grace and good humour to someone who opposes the consensus, can we? New Statesman just had to find a way to spoil it somehow. Here's their "acknowledgement" of Steve's invaluable work:

Australian Academy of Science Reveals Its Ignorance

From The Australian August 18:

THE Australian Academy of Science has pitted its expertise against the greenhouse sceptics in a report stating that humans are changing our climate. ...

Kurt Lambeck, immediate past president of the academy and a professor at the Australian National University's research school of earth sciences, initiated work on the document to clear up common misconceptions. ...

He said the fundamental principles of climatology, such as the role of carbon dioxide in global warming, were beyond dispute. But scientists were still arguing about the complex Earth systems feedback mechanisms, such as the possible cooling effect of clouds.

"If temperatures go up, there is going to be more evaporation, and that will produce more clouds," Professor Lambeck said. "That could produce a negative feedback, but to quantify that is a very difficult thing.

"How do we put that cloud cover into the models? That's where uncertainty comes in, but that's not going to change the basic outcomes."


A change of just 1% in cloud cover would account for all of twentieth century warming (Plimer's Heaven and Earth p 112). (And that's the claimed warming, including the uncheckable 'adjustments' made by people who have now lost the raw data - but that's another question.)

How society gets locked in to obscurantism

Postgraduate Diploma in Energy and Environment (Global Warming & Climate Science)

Contribute Towards the Demise of Learning and Scholarship

Reading my favourite websites today, I stumbled upon an ad. for this educational experience at Murdoch University:

Advert for course in global warming

What's wrong with this picture?

Reflective Thinking

[This article is by guest author Karen Hannay. Karen is an artist and art teacher who is deeply committed to helping her students and others to explore their hidden capacities for creativity and imagination. - RH]

Never before has the world so desperately needed creative, critical thinking to solve the problems we face today and in the future. At first glance it may seem that of course people know how to think. After all, we live in an advanced society where we reap a multitude of benefits of human thinking. The problem is that the results of thinking do not always have ethical outcomes. Some or many may benefit at the expense of others.

The problem is that generally humans do not think about things in a reflective manner. Problems are often given cursory attention and solutions are arrived at without deep analysis. Humans are often swayed by one side or other of an argument and accept what they are told without critically examining the situation. Decisions are often made on emotional grounds. Creative and less obvious solutions that may have far superior outcomes are often not given consideration. If we are to aim to improve the outcomes of decisions for everyone it requires a new level of thinking, one that moves away from the obvious polarities of thought that humans fall victim to. We need to become reflective thinkers.

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