Talking Points & Climate Change

English: Animated global map of monthly long t...

English: Animated global map of monthly long term mean surface air temperature (Mollweide projection). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While science and philosophy are supposed to be about determining the nature of reality, politics is often aimed at creating perceptions that are alleged to be reality. This is why it is generally wiser to accept claims supported by science and reason over claims “supported” by ideology and interest.

The matter of climate change is a matter of both science (since the climate is an objective feature of reality) and politics (since perception of reality can be shaped by rhetoric and ideology). Ideally, the facts of climate change would be left to science and sorting out how to address it via policy would fall, in part, to the politicians. Unfortunately, politicians and other non-scientists have taken it on themselves to make claims about the science, usually in the form of unsupported talking points.

On the conservative side, there has been a general shifting in the talking points. Originally, there was one main talking point: there is no climate change and the scientists are wrong. This point was often supported by alleging that the scientists were motivated by ideology to lie about the climate. In contrast, those whose profits could be impacted if climate change was real were taken as objective sources.

In the face of mounting evidence and shifting public opinion, this talking point became the claim that while climate change is occurring, it is not caused by humans. This then shifted to the claim that climate change is caused by humans, but there is nothing we can (or should) do now.

In response to the latest study, certain Republicans have embraced three talking points. These points do seem to concede that climate change is occurring and that humans are responsible. These points do have a foundation that can be regarded as rational and each will be considered in turn.

One talking point is that the scientists are exaggerating the impact of climate change and that it will not be as bad as they claim. This does rest on a reasonable concern about any prediction: how accurate is the prediction? In the case of a scientific prediction based on data and models, the reasonable inquiry would focus on the accuracy of the data and how well the models serve as models of the actual world. To use an analogy, the reliability of predictions about the impact of a crash on a vehicle based on a computer model would hinge on the accuracy of the data and the model and both could be reasonable points of inquiry.

Since the climate scientists have the data and models used to make the predications, to properly dispute the predictions would require showing problems with either the data or the models (or both). Simply saying they are wrong would not suffice—what is needed is clear evidence that the data or models (or both) are defective in ways that would show the predictions are excessive in terms of the predicted impact.

One indirect way to do this would be to find clear evidence that the scientists are intentionally exaggerating. However, if the scientists are exaggerating, then this would be provable by examining the data and plugging it into an accurate model. That is, the scientific method should be able to be employed to show the scientists are wrong.

In some cases people attempt to argue that the scientists are exaggerating because of some nefarious motivation—a liberal agenda, a hatred of oil companies, a desire for fame or some other wickedness. However, even if it could be shown that the scientists have a nefarious motivation, it does not follow that the predictions are wrong. After all, to dismiss a claim because of an alleged defect in the person making the claim is a fallacy. Being suspicious because of a possible nefarious motive can be reasonable, though. So, for example, the fact that the fossil fuel companies have a great deal at stake here does not prove that their claims about climate change are wrong. But the fact that they have considerable incentive to deny certain claims does provide grounds for suspicion regarding their objectivity (and hence credibility).  Naturally, if one is willing to suspect that there is a global conspiracy of scientists, then one should surely be willing to consider that fossil fuel companies and their fellows might be influenced by their financial interests.

One could, of course, hold that the scientists are exaggerating for noble reasons—that is, they are claiming it is worse than it will be in order to get people to take action. To use an analogy, parents sometimes exaggerate the possible harms of something to try to persuade their children not to try it. While this is nicer than ascribing nefarious motives to scientists, it is still not evidence against their claims. Also, even if the scientists are exaggerating, there is still the question about how bad things really would be—they might still be quite bad.

Naturally, if an objective and properly conducted study can be presented that shows the predictions are in error, then that is the study that I would accept. However, I am still waiting for such a study.

The second talking point is that the laws being proposed will not solve the problems. Interestingly, this certainly seems to concede that climate change will cause problems. This point does have a reasonable foundation in that it would be unreasonable to pass laws aimed at climate change that are ineffective in addressing the problems.

While crafting the laws is a matter of politics, sorting out whether such proposals would be effective does seem to fall in the domain of science. For example, if a law proposes to cut carbon emissions, there is a legitimate question as to whether or not that would have a meaningful impact on the problem of climate change. Showing this would require having data, models and so on—merely saying that the laws will not work is obviously not enough.

Now, if the laws will not work, then the people who confidently make that claim should be equally confident in providing evidence for their claim. It seems reasonable to expect that such evidence be provided and that it be suitable in nature (that is, based in properly gathered data, examined by impartial scientists and so on).

The third talking point is that the proposals to address climate change will wreck the American economy. As with the other points, this does have a rational basis—after all, it is sensible to consider the impact on the economy.

One way to approach this is on utilitarian grounds: that we can accept X environmental harms (such as coastal flooding) in return for Y (jobs and profits generated by fossil fuels). Assuming that one is a utilitarian of the proper sort and that one accepts this value calculation, then one can accept that enduring such harms could be worth the advantages. However, it is well worth noting that as usual, the costs will seem to fall heavily on those who are not profiting. For example, the flooding of Miami and New York will not have a huge impact on fossil fuel company profits (although they will lose some customers).

Making the decisions about this should involve openly considering the nature of the costs and benefits as well as who will be hurt and who will benefit. Vague claims about damaging the economy do not allow us to make a proper moral and practical assessment of whether the approach will be correct or not. It might turn out that staying the course is the better option—but this needs to be determined with an open and honest assessment. However, there is a long history of this not occurring—so I am not optimistic about this occurring.

It is also worth considering that addressing climate change could be good for the economy. After all, preparing coastal towns and cities for the (allegedly) rising waters could be a huge and profitable industry creating many jobs. Developing alternative energy sources could also be profitable as could developing new crops able to handle the new conditions. There could be a whole new economy created, perhaps one that might rival more traditional economic sectors and newer ones, such as the internet economy. If companies with well-funded armies of lobbyists got into the climate change countering business, I suspect that a different tune would be playing.

To close, the three talking points do raise questions that need to be answered:

  • Is climate change going to be as bad as it is claimed?
  • What laws (if any) could effectively and properly address climate change?
  • What would be the cost of addressing climate change and who would bear the cost?

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25 Comments.

  1. This link is perhaps the best explanation of the ‘educated sceptics’ viewpoint, where the case is made that in fact, discussion has been (deliberately) steered away from the really controversial point.

    The arguments that there are people who think climate doesn’t change is an utter straw man.

    The last ice age disproves that and no one has ever advanced it as a statement of their own position, only the position of someone else. So they could ridicule it.

    Similarly the academically arguable point that ‘CO2 doesn’t cause any serious climate change’ was also morphed into ‘CO2 doesn’t cause climate change’ by those who once again, wanted to create a further distraction and straw man to shut down the counter arguments.

    Finally the point that ‘we can’t do anything about it’ is probably true, and in terms of not actually knowing where the climate is headings, spending what can be shown to be thousands times more tax dollars to (not?) stop it than are necessary to deal with it, is valid.

    It is presented because people with little or no scientific education dont understand why climate change is not being reliably predicted, and it gives them something they do understand to help formulate policy.

    Finally the null hypothesis has not been fully explored: that is is climate sufficiently complex in terms of feedback and time delay that it doesn’t need any driver to account for climate change? It does that ‘all by itself’?

    Philosophically and scientifically climate change dominated by CO2 is dead. The jury came back in and pronounced a not guilty verdict.

    Politically and economically and socially it isn’t dead, although it’s beginning to smell that way.

    However, there are so many careers riding on it – I mean imagine being a philosopher specialising in the ‘moral aspects of climate change’ and a green party candidate for the European Government, and discovering that actually climate change isn’t a moral issue, since it’s nothing to do with human activity after all, and the party you represent is now running an agenda to solve a problem that actually never existed?

    Quelle Horreuere!! :roll:

  2. Hmm..

    Is climate change going to be as bad as it is claimed?

    Yes/no/maybe/probably not. Going over the history if the last million years or so statistically it’s likely we could see the onset of an ice age with massive impact on global economics. A couple of degrees warmer would be in fact exceptionally favourable for humanity. As it has been in the past when civilisations flowered.

    What laws (if any) could effectively and properly address climate change?

    Well one banning people from spreading false science could be useful, and making lying about data a dismissable offence for so called ‘scientists’. But really repealing all ‘climate change legislation ‘ and starting again would be the best option.

    What would be the cost of addressing climate change and who would bear the cost?
    A heck of a lot cheaper than trying to stop it, which is all policy makers need to know.

    The problem isn’t that climate is changing. It always has and it almost certainly always will. The problem is that the perception that humanity is causing it, is the greatest danger. It’s a meme – an emotional narrative that slots right into a certain sort of fascistic bigotry, that wants to accumulate power and wealth to itself by dictating for faux moral reasons, what people will do.

    It is, in short, a terribly convenient Big Lie. That has made a LOT of money and power for a lot of people.

  3. Dennis Sceviour

    “Is climate change going to be as bad as it is claimed?” The question might better be stated – Is climate change going to be as large as it is claimed? Evolutionary life has the ability to adapt to the environment so there is no need to discuss goodness or badness. So far, the variation in climate change is insignificant compared to the natural phenomena of the ice ages.

  4. It is very rare that above 90% of scientists in a field agree on a scientific issue. When they do, it implies that the current evidence for a community that dedicates its life to study an specific subject, is overwhelming. It is surprising and incredible to me that people with no experience in a field, and no credible knowledge can make so conclusive remarks. Scientists in general are more cautious.

    Politicians and its adepts are not. There is a lot of money if not more, denying the role of humanity in climate change.

    You know, there are still people that do not believe in vaccines. If you pool the expert scientific community, more than 90% will support vaccination. But you pay attention to those who not,and not vaccinate your child.

  5. s. wallerstein

    Dennis Sceviour:

    Climate change is probably going to be bad for concrete living human beings and animals, who may starve to death if their fields or habitats are flooded by rising seas, etc. For evolutionary life in general it may well be indifferent, as you claim, but then again the Holocaust and World War 2 in general were probably great for the vultures and not so good for lots of people.

  6. Dennis Sceviour

    s. wallerstein,
    The Holocaust is something to remember, and please keep reminding people of the dangers of political interference. Human beings and animals are made of living flexible tissue, not concrete. :smile:

  7. Dennis Sceviour

    “What would be the cost of addressing climate change and who would bear the cost?” The cost will be decided based on supply-demand economics. However, that may not give financial planners enough information to budget future concerns.

    The problem is that technology exists to level the planet with equal resource. It appears legislators are using climate change as an excuse to address these continuing problems. From the point of view of Federal political interference, should one State with drought have more or less funding than another State prone to flooding? Should the government drain the rivers of one State to water the deserts of a neighboring State? Should the government flatten the mountains for coal, to pollute the new cities arising with coal generating power plants? If the concept of State independency were better observed, these perhaps would not be a problem. Alternatively, perhaps that might be re-phrased they would not be a Federal problem.

    An increase in population results in better farming technology, and more farming technology results in increase in population. The cause is reciprocal and the buck has to stop somewhere. Compulsory population control is unconscionable when there is so much to do for the exercise of free will. Freedom to have as few children as parents want, freedom to be educated to birth control, and freedom to choose to abort unwanted children are desirable. But legislated population control is out of the question.

    http://www.archdaily.com/390959/china-plans-to-move-250-million-into-cities-by-2025/

  8. Hmm. Those concerned about moral issues might care to see whether they think this is moral or profoundly immoral.

  9. John M “It is surprising and incredible to me that people with no experience in a field, and no credible knowledge can make so conclusive remarks. Scientists in general are more cautious.

    AS they were in this case. The >90% is a gross misrepresentation.

    And many of the scientists quoted in it wrote to express their disquiet.

    But the ‘no pressure’ bandwagon rolls on.

    click here for amusing little video about climate change for schoolchildren

  10. Leo
    Would you please let us know who and how express their disquiet?

    Which no pressure bandwagon are you taking about the climate change or the vaccination one?

  11. Dennis Sceviour

    Leo Smith,
    The Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case video was very interesting. In particular was David M.W. Evans emphasis on the importance of the feedback debate. About twenty-five years ago, I wrote a private paper that included the following future prediction on feedback resonance:

    at time t, r <– mL/f

    "The earth(m) is finite but complex as any environmental scientist can find out when trying to determine such things as food chains. The excess load is human overpopulation. Law as a restrictive force(f) keeps resonance(r) in balance. The actual equation is far too complex to calculate here, since the variables constantly change over time. The important point is there is reciprocal causation.
    Without going into the development of equations, the conclusion is if a population(L) exceeds an allowable capacity for an environmental area, or technology does not increase the usable earth(m), the system undergoes a phenomenon called resonance(r) — the vibrations on the system can literally rattle the thing into pieces."

    While feedback resonance is a possible failure of resource and social model planning, it seems to be too much to apply it to climate change data according to the video.

  12. “•Is climate change going to be as bad as it is claimed?”

    This really depends on whose claims you are listening to. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is considered to be the most legitimate source of projections.

    What are they predicting.

    They’re predicting sea levels will rise between now and the end of the century by 0.44 metres at the most, and 0.22 metres at the least – with a 15 mm difference at different locations. Given the worst case scenario; 0.44 metres, it will take several hundred years before coastal cities have major problems. A city like Venice, a lot sooner, but maybe not the wisest place to build a city in the first place. But in the worst case, it will take more than 300 years for the lowest points in Manhattan to be at sea level. Best; over 600 years. Get an average, and it’s about 450 years, by which time it’s unlikely it can get worse as the soccer moms of America will have burned through every last drop of carbon dioxide producing fuel.

    The IPCC reports are online, anyone can read them. Peculiarly, campaigners on both sides, prefer to generate their own facts. But maybe the plucky outsiders are right, and the scientists who complied the IPCC reports wrong.

    “•What laws (if any) could effectively and properly address climate change?”

    A global problem requires a global solution. Only a global institution can institute global laws – and the world has only one such institution. Faced with an imminent ecological disaster, we will have no other choice but to transfer all national governmental powers to the United Nations. A UN committee will elect Nicholas Carpathia, as the president of the world. There will be a one world currency, and socialised healthcare for all.

    “•What would be the cost of addressing climate change and who would bear the cost?”

    Well, if the IPCC report is to be trusted, then we may have to abandon some buildings in Manhattan, in about 450 years. But as the average height above sea level for Manhattan is 29 metres, and the projected rise is at most half a metre per century, we really need to be out of there by 6,000 years at the very latest.

    The IPCC predictions are here http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-5-1.html

    They do not state the case for Manhattan, but they give sea level predictions, and you can do your own calculations based on the elevation of your favourite coastal city.

  13. Without the “Greenhouse” gases, mainly CO2, Methane, (and water vapour), we would have a frozen planet. With the above items, heat is prevented from escaping. Obviously, by the same logic,an increase beyond a certain point, in the concentration of these gases will lead to a situation where most live will extinguish itself, as it will be too hot for most organism to exist. Anything that reduces this level of gases (and water vapour) will help to avoid this terminal situation. As for sea levels rising, this will be a side line, for as the heat intensifies under the ever thickening blanket the oceans will evaporate. Losing sight of these issues,by concerning ourselves with how much rising will we experience, whether it will be runaway, the economic expense, the cultural /industrial change, etc.,is at, one level a refusal to see the overall picture. Question – is it right for present generation to oversee the extinction of most life in the future? – sometime.

  14. Dennis Sceviour,

    True-life will adjust to the changing conditions, as per the usual natural selection process. As you note, this is not the most extreme change that the earth has seen and will clearly not be a major extinction event.

    However, this is somewhat like telling a person who has cancer that it is not a big deal because other people have had it worse and even if they get really sick or die, other people will live on.

  15. “My decision,” I said. I heard the truck start forward and turn into the road. I stepped off the curb and held up my hand when it appeared.

  16. WHICH claims?

    There are many, and most are mutually contradictory. The most basic unknown in the debate – the number that drives everything else – is the sensitivity[*]. The upper and lower ranges of sensitivity given by papers cited in IPCC AR5 are 0.6 degrees and 9.2 degrees, but they can’t both be true.

    0.6 degrees is not a problem. 9.2 degrees could well mean a major extinction event.

    These are the outliers, but if we take the Assessment Reports as mainstream scientific thinking, these are then defined as the bounds of the mainstream thinking.

    0.6 to 9… that’s a factor of 15. To put it in the perspective of another science, imagine modern physicists cited papers putting the speed of light at somewhere between 250,000 km/s and 3,750,000 km/s, instead of 299,792,458 m/s.

    The Summary for Policy Makers says “Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence)”

    Well, that’s a factor of 6, or a factor of 3, which is at least better than a a factor of 15.

    Is 1° a claim? Is “likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C” a claim? jonathan above says “the oceans will evaporate”. Is that a claim?

    James Hansen, a very capable scientist, famously said in a 1988 interview that the ocean would cover the road in front of his office in 20 years. He never made that statement, or anything like it, in his published work. Was that a claim? (The road outside his office is fine, BTW, and seems in no danger from the sea for the next 5-15 centuries.)

    The effects of greenhouse gases we’re adding to the atmosphere are a genuine concern, and may be a genuine danger to human civilisation, but the debate is not served either by the wild, catastrophist claims or the glib talking points generated in response.

    Philosophers could help the debate by teasing out the reasoning for the various lines of evidence and presenting them clearly to help dampen the unwarranted claims. Perhaps the IPCC should create a Working Group 4 of philosophers to do just that!

    One other thing: “However, if the scientists are exaggerating, then this would be provable by examining the data and plugging it into an accurate model.”

    There are no accurate models. If we’re using adjectives rather than quantities, we can say that there are “informative” models, and we might even say we have “indicative” models, but when we know that we don’t know even the most important parameter within a factor of 15, or 3, or 6, we cannot say we have accurate models.

    [*] Yes, sensitivity is more complex than a simple number. See IPCC AR5 WG1 Glossary for a starting point.

  17. Dennis Sceviour:

    That is a small straw man..

    ..depending on the type of feedback paths, the non linearity in them and the delays, you can see any sort of behaviour from a complex dynamic system between ‘more or less stable around a mean’ to ‘wild chaotic fluctuations around one or more attractors’ to ‘unstable behaviour that effectively reduces system coherence to zero.’

    There are two key points made in that video. And I will restate them as clearly as I can.
    The first is that the assumed feedback inherent in the AGW climate models is feedback, not directly to CO2 variation but to the temperature changes caused by that. THAT is HUGELY important. What that means is that any minor variation in temperature caused by any effect – e.g. solar variation, should be amplified in a similar way.

    The fact that this doesn’t appear to happen, is strong evidence that the AGW amplification does not actually exist.

    The second is the examination of the historical record does in fact suggest a more or less bistable pair of ‘strange attractors’ whereby the climate flips from approximately current conditions into and out of ice ages.. IN fact that feedback, due to ice albedo, is far far more likely a culprit here. One bad summer due perhaps to upper atmosphere volcanic dust and a massive widespread snowfall on land masses and you have all the conditions for a nasty flip into an ice age. Reflective ice and snow and bang. There is your ice age. Especially if continental drift has blocked the normal ocean current circulations ..

    That’s what geological analysis seems to show – ice age and interglacial. At least for the period of time in which the continents have been in their current approximate positions.

    WE simply do NOT know what the feedbacks really are and all we can do is analyse the broad behaviour of the system and look at how it has responded to warming events in the past. Bearing in mind that we know> that ex of feedback, the response to CO2 will be very small.

    And that is that first point again. The sceptic case is not to in anyway dismiss the direct contribution of CO2, it is to question the validity of feedback which will amplify the temperature change that it is accepted CO2 will cause, into something that is large and alarming.

    If the amplification were to exist, the effects of e.g. volcanic eruptions that definitely and demonstrably cool the earth would be far far greater than they actually have been in recent recorded history. If the amplification were anywhere near what is is claimed to be then the chances of the earth climate arriving at any sort of stability at all are approximately zero.

    So we can discard the complex system feedbacks that are so unstable that the thing goes into a car crash mode. It cannot be that bad or we wouldn’t be here now.

    And that brings me to the final point. I think the actual ice age data shows that it can’t be broadly a single attractor either. Turning low albedo ground into snow covered ground is a very non linear thing. At or around freezing point we have a potentially sudden nasty positive feedback effect such that once ground is covered in snow, ex of winds/ocean currents bringing warmer air/water in, it tends to stay that way. WE did have a snowball earth once. Possibly. :mrgreen:

    And one can think of ways out of that too – deposits of ash and soot from volcanoes.

    Anyway that’s all highly speculative but the record seems to show that we have a two attractor system by and large, between ice age and interglacial. Nowhere is there an attractor at a higher temperature.

    The greater risk is a new ice age. Not global warming. and there is nothing we could do to stop it either.

    Hover ice ages take centuries to establish: The very last pointy I want to make is that given there is strong evidence that the earth’s climate is broadly chaotic in the mathematical sense, is there anything particularly unique about late 20th century warming that cannot be explained (once we strip out CO2 as being largely unamplifed) by the natural fluctuations in a chaotic model: That is do we actually NEED to have ‘something causing it’ And here I am of the string, but not entirely convinced opinion that we dont.

    As far as we can tell, neither the amplitude nor the rate or rise seem unmatched in the deeper historical records. The rate of rise of CO2 certainly is unmatched, and that is of course largely anthropogenic, but temperature? Nope. It seems to be something we have experienced before.

    The null hypothesis, that climate is sufficiently complex and chaotic to be doing this all by itself, is definitely plausible.

    I won’t say more than that.

    Remember the educated skeptic is just that, educated and skeptical. Trying to examine and test the implications of the AGW theory and see if they match experience and the data. The honest conclusion is that they do not.

    Sceptics don’t have an alternative theory, although there is a lot of work going on in terms of cloud and albedo variations to see if that is relevant, and I am pretty sure it will be. But maybe there is no need for an alternative explanation at all. Maybe, just maybe that’s what ‘climate does’ all by itself..

  18. John M

    use this search

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/?s=97%25

    and suspend disbelief ling enough to read ALL the material.

  19. Dennis Sceviour

    Leo Smith,
    Decades ago, it was common for urban planners to try abstract formulae for social planning predictions. The chaotic formulae were not very successful at predicting. It has been so long ago that I have forgotten more than I can remember on feedback systems. Anyway, there are two points I see in the video:

    (1) the feedback system described is a chaotic term, not predictable.
    (2) the video says the amplification numbers do not indicate an unpredictable climate change, and so far, I agree. There is no reason to assume that climate change will bring about an ice age or planet burn up.

    Considering all the other “what ifs” from volcanoes to meteors, the concerns of CO2 seems small. For example, the public seems to be blaming climate change for rising sea levels. However, most of the recently flooded areas are already in sinking continental plates. The Thames River recently overflowed its banks, but the Thames river basin already exists is a known sinking land area. If people want to continue to live in the Thames river basin then they will have to reclaim the land as has been done in the Netherlands. The connection with climate change due to CO2 is a marginal variable.

    So when you write “The null hypothesis, that climate is sufficiently complex and chaotic to be doing this all by itself, is definitely plausible” you might be right, and you might be wrong. One might as well look into a crystal ball.

  20. Arguments that evolution will prevail ignore several pertinent facts:

    Evolution takes time. Periods of rapid evolution are characterized by very high extinction rates. Humans are liberating CO2 well over 100X faster than the primary geological source, volcanism. CO2 concentration is rising well over 100X faster than at any time in the 840,000 yr ice core record (and almost certainly for many millions of years prior). 7+ billion people are dependent upon a global Web of agriculture and trade that evolved over thousands of years.

    Any significant and rapid deviation from the prevailing conditions will be catastrophic and we’re seeing the beginning of it now.

    Also, the projections of climatology have been nearly all conservative. Actual results have routinely met or exceeded worst case scenarios.

  21. Dennis Sceviour

    Kyle Towers,
    I disagree. Most of the planets extinctions in the last century (and there are myriads) have been from deforestation and pollution, not climate change. I assume the definition of climate change is agreed upon – that is, changes in global temperature, rainfall, winds and sea level. The wiki definition is:

    Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years.

    “Any significant and rapid deviation from the prevailing conditions will be catastrophic and we’re seeing the beginning of it now.” Can you give examples, besides the arctic polar bears?

    “Also, the projections of climatology have been nearly all conservative. Actual results have routinely met or exceeded worst case scenarios.” Not according to the Evans video posted above.

  22. Most deniers simply lie or repeat lies; your arguments, like those of the Evans video, are more sophisticated propaganda targeting more educated science deniers.

    Your point about recent extinctions is trivially true and a straw man. I referred to future extinctions. This is akin to the ubiquitous “Climate changed before” fallacy.

    Among the examples of the beginnings of catastrophic change I might give, polar bears would never make the list. Off the cuff:

    Western US record breaking drought. Recent record breaking Texas heat (100+ days of 100+degF). The devastation of Western NA forests by pine beetles. The pending collapse of moose herds from tick infestations. The frequent and prolonged breakdown of the jet stream and the “stuck” weather patterns that result such as record warmth in Alaska (almost no snow for the Iditarod) while the lower 48 states had severe winters. Humboldt squid moving far to the north where they are attacking migrating salmon. Record heat in Australia, along with drought, leading to massive fires, salty top soil, and abandonment of farm land. Drought in the ME contributing to unrest as in Syria and several other countries. Record heat in Brazil. Record flooding events all over the world. Animals and plants that can do so, shifting their ranges poleward at the rate of 3-6 miles/decade. Also shifting upward in altitude 100’s of feet. Doubling of the volume of calving by Greenland’s primary glacier as record surface melting lubricates the base. The utter collapse of multiyear Arctic sea ice and the annual minimum ice volume. Western Antarctic ice shelf shrinking by 160 billion tons/yr and headed towards a gradual collapse. The release of ever larger amounts of CO2 and methane from Arctic soils and permafrost, including the literal collapse of large areas of the boreal forest in Russia.

    Yes, the Evans video is a masterpiece of using facts to lie. That said, like any piece of denial industry propaganda, it’s loose with facts as well.

    It’s loose with facts on the political and public debate front. It claims that all “skeptics”, which is what deniers incorrectly use to refer to themselves, accept the existence and magnitude of CO2’s direct warming effect. Nothing could be further from the truth. One will routinely read or hear every stage of denial. Evans’ claim that “you never hear about feedbacks” is similar poppycock.

    It’s loose with the facts on science. Usually deniers home in on the mid-tropical hot spot and claim it falsifies current GHE warming. Evans claims it falsifies positive water vapor feedback. No justification for the claim; he just asserts it and moves on. The mid-tropical hot spot is a model feature that’s independent of the forcing that causes warming, refuting the usual denier claim; however, it is related to water vapor feedback. That said, atmospheric water vapor is up 4% due to recent warming. This effect is greatest at higher latitudes due to polar amplification, a sure and present signal of GHG warming.

    Evans then again simply asserts that increased water vapor leads to increased clouds, which lead to cooling! A cloud can have a net cooling, net warming, or neutral effect depending upon its characteristics (most importantly, altitude). This bare assertion may impress deniers but I’ll go with the science.

    I’m beginning to forget all the nonsense in the video, but certain common denier memes were there. For example, discussing recent warming in terms of surface temps only even though they represent only 2.3% of the relevant heat and ignoring the known cyclic increase in heat flow into the oceans. He did mention ARGO but neglected more recent analyses that refute his conclusion.

    There’s not enough time to debunk it all. You’ll find a way to deny it anyway.

  23. Dennis Sceviour

    Kyle Towers,
    There is no need to criticize Evans with psychoanalysis or accusations of deliberate lies. That is the fallacy of ad hominem.

    “Western US record breaking drought.” What about the dustbowls in the depression years?
    “The devastation of Western NA forests by pine beetles.” What does that have to do with climate change?
    “The pending collapse of moose herds from tick infestations.” What does that have to do with climate change?
    “The frequent and prolonged breakdown of the jet stream and the “stuck” weather patterns that result such as record warmth in Alaska (almost no snow for the Iditarod) while the lower 48 states had severe winters.” So what?
    “Humboldt squid moving far to the north where they are attacking migrating salmon.” What does that have to do with climate change?
    “Record heat in Australia, along with drought, leading to massive fires, salty top soil, and abandonment of farm land.” What do mean by “record”? Science has only been collecting data for a short period. Of course, records are going to be broken. That is misguided sensationalism, not scientific proof.

    I could go on but we are not on the same page.

  24. No, Dennis, we aren’t on the same page.

    As a scientist, Evans can’t help but know better than to make many of these errors. That he is willfully lying is all but a certainty. You object only because you believe them.

    You ignored most of my points, even though I was directly answering your comment. The fraction of the fraction that you did address was cherry picked, and yet you still could only ask me what someone with such strong opinions on the matter should already know – “What does that have to do with climate change?” If I answer, you’ll deny somehow, for the same reason that you didn’t choose to address others. That reason is because you are far more interested in maintaining your position than getting to the truth.

    This is a science matter but your conclusions are based on ideology and group identity. You then pick and choose what science tells us and dismiss and trivialize as needed to bend reality to your predetermined conclusion.

  25. Dennis,

    Skeptical Science has a page devotes to Evans, the electrical engineer, that has tabs for his quotes, articles, blogs, and most especially, his arguments. Not surprisingly, they’re long refuted denier staples. Each of them hot links to the science.

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