Friday, February 26, 2016

David McGruer Exposed

Preface

This is a long posting - more than 8500 words. I have broken it into clearly marked sections to allow the reader to scroll to the part desired. There is a conclusion at the end of the discussion an before the inclusion of comments from Mr. McGruer.

Introduction



One of upsides in being in science is working with public. I teach and do a number of public outreach events and volunteer as a speaker. This is great and it is a very pleasurable experience to help people understand science. But, one of the downsides of being in science is working with the public. There are, in any crowd, the science-haters, waiting for their opportunity to show the world they are smarter than all of history’s scientists combined. They will produce some silly comment as if it’s a big ‘got-cha’ moment and beam as if they just won a TV game show. When you show them the flaw in their argument they will typically hurl and insult and stalk away. Once you’ve talked to a number of these people you realize they are a group of people who are in desperate need of psychiatric counseling and I’m not exaggerating.

Of course, I have no one to blame but myself. After all, I accept pay to teach, I volunteer to do public out-reach, I volunteer as a guest speaker, I volunteer to do interviews, and I do this blog for no other reason than I like doing it (there is no money involved). Add to that list the facts that I have published non-fiction books debunking anti-science myths and offered my Global Warming Skeptic Challenge. You could say I’ve stuck my chin out asked science haters to punch it.

Still, it gets old and I am increasingly avoiding all efforts by the fringe element to engage me. If they want to believe the Moon landings were faked, they’re welcome to it. If they want to believe in creationism, be my guest. If they want to insist the Holocaust didn’t happen, I won’t argue with them. If they believe we get all of our technology from captured aliens, I won’t say a thing.

But, I’m still in the business of debunking climate change deniers. I try very hard not to engage these people in my private life, but I still have to deal with them in my professional life. I do get comments from deniers that are simple and I address them. But, every now and someone shows up and wants to take over the blog with what they view as clever arguments. If they are routine, run-of-the-mill deniers, I deal with them and forget them. But, if they are professional deniers things are different. One of those people surfaced this week – David McGruer.

David McGruer

Mr. McGruer is a teacher and financial advisor. He ran as a candidate for the Freedom Party of Ontario in the 2007 Ontario, Canada provincial election. Among other anti-government positions, he is quoted saying, “The taxation of property if (sic) a direct violation of rights and should be abolished as quickly as possible.” He has taken to appearing in the media forum and making comments attacking climate change supporters and providing anti-science arguments. It is this activity has brought him to this blog. Because of the close association of his comments with Russell Cook - a known hatchet-man for the Heartland Institute - and the similarities of his attacks, it is my belief he is likewise associated with Heartland.

Analysis of McGruer's Comments
 


Mr. McGruer made a series of comments and I pretty much blew him off. Even from the first comment I could see he was a lobbyist by the way he posted a long comment with multiple claims. This is a tactic used by the lobbyists (paid and unpaid). They write these up as a file and then do a copy and paste into various blogs. They think this makes them sound credible and causes the blogger to waste a bunch of time on responses.

What I want to do is to examine Mr. McGruer’s statements and post them here for anyone to see. This becomes a reference that can be pointed to by anyone who has to suffer from Mr. McGruer’s comments in other places. For the sake of completeness, I have copies all of his comments, and my replies, at the end of this posting. This is done so he cannot claim I quoted him out of context.

Let’s begin with this quote:
  

“For anyone who still believes man's activities are causing a dangerous rise in global temperature that warrants a dismantling of civilization, please do some reading. The IPCC reports are highly biased due to the very mandate of the IPCC, which is to to focus on man-made changes and almost ignores powerful, nay, dominant natural cycles, and is politically driven and politically funded. The IPCC Summary For Policymakers (SPM) documents are patently ridiculous and contradict the Technical Summaries (TS) on which they are supposed to be based. The policy wonks who have their minds made up before they start writing the SPM documents massively distort the already distorted IPCC technical work.”

Sounds like some pretty strong statements, right? Wrong. Where is there any logic or evidence in this statement. What Mr. McGruer stated here is strictly his opinion, and a highly distorted one at that. He sets the foundation by insinuating that anyone who accepts the science of climate change want to “dismantle civilization.” Since we don’t want to dismantle civilization, we must be in agreement with him and anyone that disagrees is out to destroy the world. Clever, but false.

He goes on to make claims that are not supported by any kind of evidence. They are merely his opinions. My opinion is they are quite twisted. But, he expects people to accept them on face value. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people that do just that. They want to believe the IPCC is highly biased, so when someone like Mr. McGruer says they are, he is successfully reinforcing their beliefs. It’s a great way to win minds, but it fails any logical argument test.

Let’s continue. He then says (this is a long quote, bear with me),

“To have a chance of understanding what the IPCC science report itself is saying, you have to read the technical documents and then go to the "key Uncertainties" section - see page 114-115 in the 2013 Fifth Assessment Report, Technical Summary. There, you will read statements such as:

"There is only medium to low confidence in the rate of change of tropospheric warming and its vertical structure. Estimates of tropospheric warming rates encompass surface temperature warming rate estimates. There is low confidence in the rate and vertical structure of the stratospheric cooling."

"Substantial ambiguity and therefore low confidence remains in the observations of global-scale cloud variability and trends."

"There is low confidence in an observed global-scale trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall), due to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and choice and geographical inconsistencies in the trends."

"There is low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone characteristics are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities."

"Robust conclusions on long-term changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation are presently not possible because of large variability on interannual to decadal time scales and remaining differences between data sets."

"Different global estimates of sub-surface ocean temperatures have variations at different times and for different periods, suggesting that sub-decadal variability in the temperature and upper heat content (0 to to 700 m) is still poorly characterized in the historical record."

"In Antarctica, available data are inadequate to assess the status of change of many characteristics of sea ice (e.g., thickness and volume)."

"On a global scale the mass loss from melting at calving fronts and iceberg calving are not yet comprehensively assessed. The largest uncertainty in estimated mass loss from glaciers comes from the Antarctic, and the observational record of ice–ocean interactions around both ice sheets remains poor."

"In some aspects of the climate system, including changes in drought, changes in tropical cyclone activity, Antarctic warming, Antarctic sea ice extent, and Antarctic mass balance, confidence in attribution to human influence remains low due to modelling uncertainties and low agreement between scientific studies."

"Based on model results there is limited confidence in the predictability of yearly to decadal averages of temperature both for the global average and for some geographical regions. Multi-model results for precipitation indicate a generally low predictability. Short-term climate projection is also limited by the uncertainty in projections of natural forcing."

"There is low confidence in projections of many aspects of climate phenomena that influence regional climate change, including changes in amplitude and spatial pattern of modes of climate variability."

To summarize:
Low confidence in atmospheric temperature change
Low confidence in the understanding of clouds
Low confidence in drought cycle trends
Low confidence in storm cycle changes
Low confidence in atmospheric circulation modeling
Poor characterization of ocean temperature cycles
Inadequate data to assess Antarctic ice changes
Low confidence in attribution of climate change to human activities
Low confidence in predictive value of models.
Surely you can see that even the IPCC itself has no basis to claim there is an urgent need for massive government force of any kind, never mind the many scientists whose work contradicts much of what the IPCC claims as factual.”

Wow! Let’s go look for ourselves (always a good idea). If you’re paying attention, you can already see where this is going. He stated to go to pages 114-155 of the Technical Summary.

Stop the train! Pages 114 and 115? He is basing his entire argument on selected quotes from only two pages in a document thousands of pages long. Add to that the scientific, peer-reviewed papers that are referenced which make up many thousands pages more. Without going any further we can already see Mr. McGruer is engaged in cherry-picking, one the denier’s favorite tactics. Cherry picking, for those of you not familiar with it, is the act of sifting through the data or literature to find the single quote to support your claims while ignoring the rest. Taking a handful of quotes from what amounts to tens of thousands of pages is an extreme example of this. I’m surprised Mr. McGruer would even attempt this. But, he doesn’t stop there. Take a look at the comments included below. When I told him he had engaged in cherry picking, he replied with,

I did not cherry pick. I went to the IPCC report, looked up the stated uncertainties, and then cataloged a list of several that I believe shine much needed light on the terribly written SPM documents and the claims made by AGW alarmists. I quoted full sentences and referenced the context in which they were made. This is the opposite of cherry picking.

Amazing! He not insists he did not cherry pick, but at the same time, he admitted he did – “…then catalogued a list of several that I believe shine much needed light…” Sorry, but that is the very definition of cherry picking. You don’t get to select the data you want, you have to take all of the data. Scientists take all of the data. Science-haters select the data. Read from the Technical Summary, page 35:

An integral element of this report is the use of uncertainty language that permits a traceable account of the assessment (Box TS.1). The degree of certainty in key findings in this assessment is based on the author teams’ evaluations of underlying scientific understanding and is expressed as a level of confidence that results from the type, amount, quality and consistency of evidence and the degree of agreement in the scientific studies considered. Confidence is expressed qualitatively. Quantified measures of uncertainty in a finding are expressed probabilistically and are based on a combination of statistical analyses of observations or model results, or both, and expert judgement. Where appropriate, findings are also formulated as statements of fact without using uncertainty qualifiers (see Chapter 1 and Box TS.1 for more details).

What is almost laughable about all of this is Mr. McGruer said there is no global warming because the IPCC can’t be trusted, but then uses their own report to argue they can be trusted. You can’t have it both ways. You cannot argue global warming is not real because the IPCC report is invalid (a false argument), then turn around and claim global warming isn't real because the IPCC report is valid (another false argument). The very fact they are engaged in listing the areas that need more work is proof of the validity of the report, not the reverse.

But, let’s continue with his quote from above about the Technical Summary. Mr. McGruer, as we saw, selected choice statements. What he did was to go to the section on uncertainties and used that as his entire argument.  The basis for this claim is the idea that if there are uncertainties, then everything must be false. The only thing false is Mr. McGruers argument. There will always be uncertainties in science. That is why we have scientists and why we continue to do research. That does not mean, or even imply, that we don’t know anything. Why did Mr. McGruer not address the things we do know? Take a look at the Technical Summary, again on page 35 and you’ll read:
  
The primary purpose of this Technical Summary (TS) is to provide the link between the complete assessment of the multiple lines of independent evidence presented in the 14 chapters of the main report and the highly condensed summary prepared as the WGI Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The Technical Summary thus serves as a starting point for those readers who seek the full information on more specific topics covered by this assessment. This purpose is facilitated by including pointers to the chapters and sections where the full assessment can be found.

Wow! You mean to say there was more than what Mr. McGruer told us? Why didn’t he mention that? In other words, there’s more here than what Mr. McGruer wants people to know. There is more to the tune of tens of thousands of pages. Even a casual reading will reveal things like this:

The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) considers new evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models. It builds upon the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), and incorporates subsequent new findings of research. As a component of the fifth assessment cycle, the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) is an important basis for information on changing weather and climate extremes.
 
And, you have to wonder why he ignored the big one:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

Take special note of the first line – Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Pretty decisive. Both of those statements come from page 4 of the Summary for Policy Makers. They are not hard to find. So, why didn’t Mr. McGruer not include them? Could it be they don’t support his predetermined conclusion? Put that ‘unequivocal’ statement next to Mr. McGruer’s next statement:

Surely you can see that even the IPCC itself has no basis to claim there is an urgent need for massive government force of any kind, never mind the many scientists whose work contradicts much of what the IPCC claims as factual.

No, Mr. McGruer. We can clearly see there is a very sound scientific basis to claim we are in an urgent situation.

Funny how cherry-picking makes you sound credible, but actually looking it up reveals the fraud.

He then finishes that comment with the statement:

Rats, now that we see their true nature, we will have to label the IPCC and all its supporters as an evil climate denier organization, attack their spokespersons, attack them for refusing to conform to the consensus of the so-called smart people, vilify their professional work, prevent them from achieving tenure, prevent them from receiving research grants, try to keep them from being able to publish in scientific journals, refuse to debate them in public and suppress their right to free speech. Oh wait, those are the tools of the alarmists and reasonable people do not stoop to such anti-mind tactics.

This is a form of ad hominem attack and is known as the poisoning the well logical fallacy. What he is doing here is painting the IPCC, climate scientists, and climate science supporters as villains. Therefore, if you agree with them, you’re a bad person and good people will agree with the deniers. Effective, but it’s a false argument and he never has to produce anything to support it. He simply puts it out there and let’s the reader assume it’s truthful. Buyer beware!

Continuing to the next comment he submitted, he states,

Even your bible of climate change has enough residual integrity to point out what its authors don't yet know.

Again, he uses personal attacks in an attempt to justify his false arguments. Calling the IPCC report a ‘bible’ implies it’s a religion and, therefore, invalid. Sorry, go look up the definition of science. It is something that adheres to the scientific method. Then, look up the definition of religion. It is something that people believe in on faith without any evidence. Climate science is the one that follows the scientific method. Remember those papers that can’t get into the peer-reviewed journals? That’s because they fail to adhere to the scientific method. And, since deniers continue to reject any science that doesn’t conform to their beliefs, it would be accurate to describe it as a type of religious belief. Tell me, when was the last time you heard someone say they ‘believed’ in gravity? You don’t believe in science. You accept it or you reject it. But, you ‘believe’ in climate change denialism.

Listing all of his false claims and arguments is getting tiresome. That’s because that describes every statement he makes. But, let’s continue. His next statement is another example of trying to make his position sound valid by attacking his opponents. He says,

Ending CO2 production is equivalent to the dismantling of present civilization
Wait a minute! The only one talking about ending civilization is him and deniers like him. I don't know a single climate scientist that is advocating the end of civilization as we know it. Exactly opposite, in fact. It is the scientists that are trying to preserve humanity. It is the deniers who don't seem to care what happens to the climate and the people of the world, especially the poor people.

Here’s the reality. The production of energy from coal has been dropping dramatically for over a century. It’s on its way out. It is a terrible polluter and is affordable only if we don’t make the users pay for the damage done. It’s easy to make a profit when someone else has to pay for the mercury poisoning or the acid rain. Don’t forget the asthma caused my particulate soot in the air. And, that’s just the start.

Today, there are over five times as many people working in the solar industry as in the entire coal industry. That number is about 69,000. Transferring 69,000 jobs from coal to something else is not going to end civilization.

He continues by stating the solar panels will die and end up in landfills in 15 to 20 years. The actual figures are over 30 years. And, speaking of toxic waste, why didn’t he mention all of the toxic waste from the fossil fuel industry? Where is his concern of the toxic waste that is building up due to burning coal and has to be stored on-site? How about the pollution that is getting in the ground and ground water wherever they do fracking for oil and natural gas? Mr. McGruer’s concern is very limited in scope. It’s a shame to put ‘toxic’ solar cells in the land fill, but he apparently thinks it’s okay to put toxic waste in the air, ground and water from the fossil fuels.

Wow! How many false arguments can one person make?

Continuing: 

Jobs in the solar industry almost all exist thanks to taxpayer subsidies and not because rational entrepreneurs spotted a big opportunity. Solar companies are dying out, countries are building reliable coal generators faster than unreliable solar panel farms.
   
Does he really believe that? More importantly, does he expect any rationale person to believe that? The solar power industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Mr. McGruer championed the free market the creation of jobs in his political campaign. Why isn't he in favor of creating jobs in the solar power sector? Oh, you have to wonder why he doesn't mention government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. These subsidies are estimated to be over $37 billion per year. This is several times bigger than the amount of subsidies going to renewable energy. Why isn't Mr. McGruer complaining about those subsidies? To Mr. McGruer, any government intervention is bad. So, why isn't he advocating for the elimination of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry? 

There's a pattern of double standards here. If it goes to renewables, it's bad. But, if it goes to the fossil fuels, it's good.

Next, something to keep the record straight. He makes the comment, 

Regarding Tom Harris, I suggest you ask an objective and disinterested person to read the posts here and see if he does not agree that character attack instead of reasoned discussion is de rigueur.
Tom Harris is a paid shill for the fossil fuel industry with close ties to the Heartland Institute and a long history of ties to the fossil fuel and tobacco industries. He is paid to publish anti-science articles in any media that will accept him. He denies this, but the trail on the Internet is undeniable. You can read more about him here and here and here and here and here. This is not a personal attack, it is an attack on his motives and credibility. What is interesting is how Mr. McGruer uses this same argument in attacking climate scientists and the IPCC, but he doesn't have any problem with it when he does it.

And, more:

Regarding the "scientists" argument, one does not have to be a climate scientist to spot an error in reasoning, measurement, analysis, statistical treatment or inference. These are accessible to anyone with a good knowledge of reasoning and scientific method. Professors in a range of subjects, including various aspects of climatology (paleoclimatology, astrophysics, economics, statistical modeling among others), have poked gaping holes in every aspect of the AGW hypothesis and the scientific literature is there for the reading if you will open your eyes and mind.

This is interesting for it's lack of any supporting documentation. Just where is this scientific literature that supports his claims? How are all of these professors he speaks of? Are any of them not supported by the fossil fuel industry? By the way, speaking of the fossil fuel industry, can Mr. McGruer explain why ExxonMobil is stating manmade climate change is real, its scientists confirmed it long ago, and it has never claimed otherwise? As for the reality of the science, Mr. McGruer is right about one thing - there is plenty of scientific literature on the subject. I suggest he start with RealClimate.org where real scientists discuss the subject.  

And, more:

Rather than make a feeble assertion that "the science is settled" which really means to stop thinking about any other possible facts, I don't ask anyone to take my word for it, just to read a wide variety of research literature and see the strong and convincing disagreement with AGW orthodoxy, then make up their own minds. For goodness sake, even the IPCC science authors admits how little is certain in the field. Just read the science report key uncertainties section. Maybe they will censor and delete this section the next time around, but it is still there today.

Yes, the science is settled and there is a consensus of over 99% (even greater than the 97% frequently quoted) of climate scientists who agree that AGW is real. Consensus is not proof. But, it shows the people who are most familiar with the subject are in agreement. That is a very strong argument. Until the deniers can produce science refuting AGW and provide an alternative explanation for the measured data, then they don't have any credibility in their claims.

He continues with more false claims about solar power:

Solar is generally 10 to 20 times more expensive than conventional energy
You have to wonder why he would say something when it is so easy to prove it wrong. The real truth is, on a world-wide basis, solar is about twice as expensive as fossil fuels. This is far from the "10 to 2 times" figure he provided. It is well-known the cost of solar power has been dropping dramatically and is approaching parity in many places. But, there is much more to the story. The fossil fuels, as stated above, receive huge government subsidies - much more than the solar industry. Also, the fossil fuel industry received indirect subsidies by not being held responsible for the damage caused by their pollution. Additionally, you can put solar cells on homes and buildings without building a power grid. This is a great advantage to many of the poorer places in the world where there is no grid.

Mr. McGruer continues with some comments about my Global Warming Skeptic Challenge. These consist of the standard denier objections. Since he cannot produce any science to refute the conclusions of the scientists, the challenge is invalid. The invitation is there. If he wants to produce something, he can submit it as a guest post. Of course, I get to rebut it and comment.


Conclusion

Mr. McGuer claims to have read the scientific literature and presents himself as someone who is qualified to discuss the subject. Then, one has to ask the question - Why didn't he produce any science to support his claims?

Mr. McGruer's arguments consisted almost entirely of poisoned well ad hominem attacks. Essentially, he makes the argument the IPCC, climate scientists, and anyone who accepts the science is a bad person. Anyone who rejects these findings is a good person. So, do you want to be a bad person or a good one?

Simply put, if Mr. McGruer's position is so valid, why can't he produce anything to support it? Where is the science? Where are the data? Where are the valid logical arguments? Mr. McGruer's arguments are so bad that even if his claims were correct, he still would not be able to prove it.

After reading his comments and engaging with him, I have reached the conclusion Mr. McGruer has no valid arguments to support his assertion anthropogenic global warming is not real.



Referenced Comments

The gang involved in this discussion appears as a bunch of self-congratulatory character assassins whose best reasoning tool amounts to "He's an ass paid by someone I don't like, so everything he and the hundreds of scientists who support his positions are to be ignored." It's pathetic really. If you ever met the man you would see he is patient, kind, studious and well spoken, lacking a mean bone in his body. In the face of ridiculous claims he maintains his composure and speaks clearly and rationally. A thinking person does not have to go far to discern the difference in the quality of reasoning between Tom Harris and many of his attackers.
For anyone who cares to read a little of the science on this subject, I refer you to a starting point at the following link and my comments below.
http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/...
For anyone who still believes man's activities are causing a dangerous rise in global temperature that warrants a dismantling of civilization, please do some reading. The IPCC reports are highly biased due to the very mandate of the IPCC, which is to to focus on man-made changes and almost ignores powerful, nay, dominant natural cycles, and is politically driven and politically funded. The IPCC Summary For Policymakers (SPM) documents are patently ridiculous and contradict the Technical Summaries (TS) on which they are supposed to be based. The policy wonks who have their minds made up before they start writing the SPM documents massively distort the already distorted IPCC technical work. To have a chance of understanding what the IPCC science report itself is saying, you have to read the technical documents and then go to the "key Uncertainties" section - see page 114-115 in the 2013 Fifth Assessment Report, Technical Summary. There, you will read statements such as:
"There is only medium to low confidence in the rate of change of tropospheric warming and its vertical structure. Estimates of tropospheric warming rates encompass surface temperature warming rate estimates. There is low confidence in the rate and vertical structure of the stratospheric cooling."
"Substantial ambiguity and therefore low confidence remains in the observations of global-scale cloud variability and trends."
"There is low confidence in an observed global-scale trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall), due to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and choice and geographical inconsistencies in the trends."
"There is low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone characteristics are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities."
"Robust conclusions on long-term changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation are presently not possible because of large variability on interannual to decadal time scales and remaining differences between data sets."
"Different global estimates of sub-surface ocean temperatures have variations at different times and for different periods, suggesting that sub-decadal variability in the temperature and upper heat content (0 to to 700 m) is still poorly characterized in the historical record."
"In Antarctica, available data are inadequate to assess the status of change of many characteristics of sea ice (e.g., thickness and volume)."
"On a global scale the mass loss from melting at calving fronts and iceberg calving are not yet comprehensively assessed. The largest uncertainty in estimated mass loss from glaciers comes from the Antarctic, and the observational record of ice–ocean interactions around both ice sheets remains poor."
"In some aspects of the climate system, including changes in drought, changes in tropical cyclone activity, Antarctic warming, Antarctic sea ice extent, and Antarctic mass balance, confidence in attribution to human influence remains low due to modelling uncertainties and low agreement between scientific studies."
"Based on model results there is limited confidence in the predictability of yearly to decadal averages of temperature both for the global average and for some geographical regions. Multi-model results for precipitation indicate a generally low predictability. Short-term climate projection is also limited by the uncertainty in projections of natural forcing."
"There is low confidence in projections of many aspects of climate phenomena that influence regional climate change, including changes in amplitude and spatial pattern of modes of climate variability."
To summarize:
Low confidence in atmospheric temperature change
Low confidence in the understanding of clouds
Low confidence in drought cycle trends
Low confidence in storm cycle changes
Low confidence in atmospheric circulation modeling
Poor characterization of ocean temperature cycles
Inadequate data to assess Antarctic ice changes
Low confidence in attribution of climate change to human activities
Low confidence in predictive value of models.
Surely you can see that even the IPCC itself has no basis to claim there is an urgent need for massive government force of any kind, never mind the many scientists whose work contradicts much of what the IPCC claims as factual.
Rats, now that we see their true nature, we will have to label the IPCC and all its supporters as an evil climate denier organization, attack their spokespersons, attack them for refusing to conform to the consensus of the so-called smart people, vilify their professional work, prevent them from achieving tenure, prevent them from receiving research grants, try to keep them from being able to publish in scientific journals, refuse to debate them in public and suppress their right to free speech. Oh wait, those are the tools of the alarmists and reasonable people do not stoop to such anti-mind tactics.


That's an interesting reply and you obviously spent a lot of time writing it. Unfortunately, you're wrong on nearly every point.
I am not aware of any climate scientist not supported by the fossil fuel industry that says anything other than global warming is real and caused by manmade emissions. The only 'scientists' supporting Harris' claims are not climate scientists and, frequently, not scientists at all. So much for that claim.
The science is conclusive concerning AGW. Yes, it really is settled, but I'm sure you are rejecting that fact (yes, it's a fact).
Now, how about this 'dismantling of civilization' claim? I am not aware of even one scientist who is making any such claim. In fact, the number of jobs in the solar power industry is five times the total number of jobs in the coal industry and growing. By the way, the number in the coal industry is about 69,000 total. Stopping CO2 emissions is hardly a threat to civilization.
And, you continue. Basically, your entire statement is merely a rehash of the disinformation, false arguments and outright lies of the anti-science lobby. No one is saying anything about Tom Harris personally. That is not the issue. What we are discussing is his claims and his stand on the most important issue of our time.
Avatar
Maybe you did not read what I posted. Most of the content is copied straight out of the IPCC report and I did not make any of it up. Even your bible of climate change has enough residual integrity to point out what its authors don't yet know.
Ending CO2 production is equivalent to the dismantling of present civilization as almost all our energy comes from hydrocarbons. Solar power is dilute, unreliable, multiples more expensive and requires reliable backup power sources such as hydrocarbons for it to even work a little bit. This is not to mention the massive mining operations needed to extract, transport, refine and manufacture the hard equipment needed to collect solar power. What happens when a panel loses its already minute efficiency and dies in 15 or 20 years? Do you think all the landfills will want to accept the toxic materials panels are made from?
Jobs in the solar industry almost all exist thanks to taxpayer subsidies and not because rational entrepreneurs spotted a big opportunity. Solar companies are dying out, countries are building reliable coal generators faster than unreliable solar panel farms.
Regarding Tom Harris, I suggest you ask an objective and disinterested person to read the posts here and see if he does not agree that character attack instead of reasoned discussion is de rigueur.
Regarding the "scientists" argument, one does not have to be a climate scientist to spot an error in reasoning, measurement, analysis, statistical treatment or inference. These are accessible to anyone with a good knowledge of reasoning and scientific method. Professors in a range of subjects, including various aspects of climatology (paleoclimatology, astrophysics, economics, statistical modeling among others), have poked gaping holes in every aspect of the AGW hypothesis and the scientific literature is there for the reading if you will open your eyes and mind.
Rather than make a feeble assertion that "the science is settled" which really means to stop thinking about any other possible facts, I don't ask anyone to take my word for it, just to read a wide variety of research literature and see the strong and convincing disagreement with AGW orthodoxy, then make up their own minds. For goodness sake, even the IPCC science authors admits how little is certain in the field. Just read the science report key uncertainties section. Maybe they will censor and delete this section the next time around, but it is still there today.
Unfortunately for you, I not only read what you posted, but I also read the original IPCC reports and many peered-review papers. What you have done, as is common with ant-science people, is to cherry pick statements out of context to support your preconceived conclusions.
This issue isn't what we don't know. There is always more to science that we don't know. What is important is what we do know. The science of global warming is conclusive with centuries of experimentation by thousands of scientists to support it. There is nothing that has not been discovered that will refute what has been discovered. All we can do is to add to the body of knowledge.
And, you claims about solar power are not valid. Solar power is a highly reliable source of power and is cheaper than coal in most places. Plus, if you add in the costs of coal burning that are passed on to others (such as health effects, etc.) the cost of coal is nearly prohibitive.
Your argument that we would dismantle civilization by ceasing burning of coal is a false one. In 1900, coal produced 80% of the world's power. Today, it produces about 20%. And yet, civilization actually flourished during that period. Clearly, civilization can do quite well without coal.
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I believe fossil fuels provide about 80% of world energy and solar less than 5%. I believe the numbers show coal powered generation is growing faster than solar - that is how billions of lives are being saved and improved in China and India.
Solar is generally 10 to 20 times more expensive than conventional energy and only provides power when the sun is shining and only when a cloud does not block the sun, which is only a fraction of the day and obviously is subject to power fluctuations every second of the day. When solar is (mostly) producing nothing, a grid requires 100% reliable backup and gets almost all of this from hydrocarbons, nuclear and hydro, all of which are inexpensive and reliable. Whereas reliable energy sources can be turned up, down or off according to demand and thus a grid can be balanced properly, solar produces erratic bursts of energy that can die off when a cloud passes by and certainly dies off when the sun sets, which is a truly settled science I believe.
I have had solar panels at my off-grid cottage for 20 years and assure you, it is an unreliable energy source requiring lots of expensive heavy metal batteries (that require massive mining, refining and transportation) that typically last about ten years and then must be replaced. My solar power provides me with enough to run a few LED and CF light bulbs, a radio, charge my electric drill, recharge a few cell phones and that's about it. If I need real power for a power tool or anything more than 1000 watts for a short time I run a reliable and safe gasoline powered Hyundai generator. To pump water uphill from the lake I use a reliable gasoline powered Honda water pump. To cross the lake I use a reliable gasoline powered Johnson outboard engine. To cut brush I use a reliable Husqvarna gasoline powered chainsaw. To cut grass I use a reliable Briggs & Stratton gasoline powered lawn mower. To cook food, heat water and run my fridge I use reliable propane powered appliances. To run these things on solar would be prohibitively expensive even if I was rich, and what would I do when the day or week is cloudy, or when days get short in the winter and I need even more power?
Unfortunately for you, I not only read what you posted, but I also read the original IPCC reports and many peered-review papers. What you have done, as is common with ant-science people, is to cherry pick statements out of context to support your preconceived conclusions.
This issue isn't what we don't know. There is always more to science that we don't know. What is important is what we do know. The science of global warming is conclusive with centuries of experimentation by thousands of scientists to support it. There is nothing that has not been discovered that will refute what has been discovered. All we can do is to add to the body of knowledge.
And, you claims about solar power are not valid. Solar power is a highly reliable source of power and is cheaper than coal in most places. Plus, if you add in the costs of coal burning that are passed on to others (such as health effects, etc.) the cost of coal is nearly prohibitive.
Your argument that we would dismantle civilization by ceasing burning of coal is a false one. In 1900, coal produced 80% of the world's power. Today, it produces about 20%. And yet, civilization actually flourished during that period. Clearly, civilization can do quite well without coal.
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I did not cherry pick. I went to the IPCC report, looked up the stated uncertainties, and then cataloged a list of several that I believe shine much needed light on the terribly written SPM documents and the claims made by AGW alarmists. I quoted full sentences and referenced the context in which they were made. This is the opposite of cherry picking.
To ignore not only a large and growing body of evidence but important statements of uncertainty and/or lack of knowledge from the very documents that you claim prove your point and are not to be doubted is to display a closed mind that cannot be reached by fact and reasoning. I once accepted the AGW hypothesis as plausible because I had not studied a broad sample of research in the field, but once I started studying it, the errors, omissions, distortions and even outright falsehoods that riddle the statements of people such as Gore, Suzuki, Hansen, Mann and the IPCC authors showed me that the entire idea should be tossed in the dustbin of mass delusions. Should civilization survive that long, people will one day look back in amazement that so many were so deluded about this issue.


A contest described as this one is an impossibility. It is like saying "prove to me, using the scientific method, that person X is not reincarnated." If a person truly believes dangerous man-made global warming is real, he could get rich on this special knowledge and use the riches to fund his pet causes. He should just:
a) find some financiers willing to accept a huge bet that the Earth's troposphere will warm 2 degrees C or some such number as projected by the climate models in the next twenty years;
b) agree on an objective measurement to assess the outcome, such as satellite data;
c) and then be willing to bet a significant part of his family wealth on it.
Likely there are plenty of long term investors who would take the other side of the bet and be willing to take the fool's money away from him. The models all predicted warming 20 years ago and nothing significant has happened according to actual measurements by satellite and weather balloons. 100% of the big models have failed to correspond to reality. Not 97%, all of them. Makes you wonder if maybe, just maybe there's something fishy with the underlying assumptions and contorted mathematics, hmm?

Typically, as with all of the anti-science crowd, you make several false statements. First, are foremost, you obviously didn't even bother to learn what the challenge was about. You made up your mind and that was the end of it. The challenge was a 'put up or shut up' challenge to people who claim AGW is not real and they can prove it. Fine, if you say you can prove it - do so. I would have paid anyone that could follow through on their claims. Not surprisingly, there was no one that came even close.
And, it AGW isn't real it would most certainly be possible to prove it via the scientific method. Some of the most damning evidence the anti-science crowd has no validity to their claims is the fact they cannot produce any valid science to support it. Where is the consensus? Where is the alternative theories? Where are the alternative models? Why can't climate change deniers agree?
Of course, your claims are merely a rehash of statements made on
anti-science bloggers. Take you claim about models about how 100% of the
models have failed. This is simply not true and they actually have a
very good response. You would know that if you bothered to do any real
homework instead of being another mouthpiece for the deniers.
And,
if you think there has been no warming for 20 years and 'nothing
significant has happened,' then you have been living in a cave.
Finally, if there is no AGW, why is ExxonMobil publicly claiming there is and that they have been saying so all along?
If there was any scientific validity to their claims, the science would show it. And, it doesn't.

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I didn't just randomly make up my mind. I read the challenge and determined the question was inconsistent with the rules of logic because it asks for the proof of a negative. In logic, the burden of proof rests with he who makes an assertion. Otherwise, the question is properly treated as arbitrary and of no rational status. If you care to make a clear statement of what you believe is factual, carefully defining your terms, I would have a chance of providing evidence of its falsehood or accepting it as true. This might require a few back and forth comments in order to establish rules of evidence and proper definitions. Ready to engage?
Consensus is not a rational argument, but the resort of those who lack facts. A fact speaks for itself and the proof is in the form of its ability to be integrated into all other knowledge without contradiction. One million assertions can be cast aside by a single fact. When someone provides proof of something like the Pythagorean Theorem, it can be tested and found correct every time, without exception. When someone asserts that a statement is factual because there is a consensus, you can be sure the statement is not established as a fact and the greater the appeal to consensus, the more likely it is to be false. Note that the scientists and many others like Tom Harris you label as deniers do not appeal to consensus.
Note: Most energy and oil companies are not principled defenders of even their own moral status and rational self-interest and any comments they make about global warming have little or no meaning. Like most business leaders, they have poor philosophical skills and present inconsistent moral positions based on what they think others will think of them, often in a vain effort to avoid political attacks. Your statement about ExxonMobil deconstructs into "whatever ExxonMobil says must be true." By your reasoning method, if they said AGW was false then it would be accurate.

Every time I see comments like this I know right away I'm dealing with someone who rejects science and logic. The reason I can say this is because your objections are total logic failures. If this is an example of your thought processes, then they are critically flawed.
First, you clearly did not bother reading about the challenge. I did not require anyone to prove AGW is not real. I merely provided a venue for people to do what they have been claiming they could do all along. So, no the burden is not on me. These people made claims. I'm allowing them to demonstrate they can perform as they claim.
Second, the idea that you can't prove a negative is a total falsehood. Every experiment proves a negative. It's called the null hypotheses and is a critical element of any valid experiment. But, it is easy to see you can prove a negative. If I tell you the door is locked, you can go over and test it. If the door is unlocked, you proved the negative.
Consensus is not proof and no one in the scientific community is claiming it is. Again, you are demonstrating your lack of understanding of science and your rejection of science by not bothering the get the facts straight. What it means to have a consensus is that th scientific community, those people who are most knowledgeable on the subject, have reviewed the science, data and evidence and have all reached the same conclusion. Instead of being the 'resort of those who lack facts,' it is actually the result of a massive amount of facts and evidence. The science speaks for itself. Clearly, you are one of those people who don't want to listen.
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I'm glad you mentioned the null hypothesis as it has great bearing here. As to the question of the existence of global warming that is all of the below:
a) actually measurable, given a notoriously poor historical record of land based measurements;
b) statistically significantly outside of natural cycles;
c) large enough to create a major disruption in human civilization;
d) proven to cause greater harm than benefit to mankind;
one must conclude that the null hypothesis shall stand - that there is no validity to the claim, since the hypothesis can be shown to fail on all four counts.
I have been actively studying the science for over a decade now - all the science and not just the one-sided approach of the politically funded IPCC, which clearly goes against the core principles of scientific inquiry and cleverly veils this in duplicitous documents riddled with political biases. An objective observer of their work has little trouble in detecting the flaws in their work, never mind the publicly exposed scandals surrounding their processes, communications, and chief supporters.
You can bluster and make assertions all day long but I say again, an objective observer will quickly see through the fog and one day historians will write about the mass delusion of this period's AGW proponents. Stick around a couple of decades more.

In one fell swoop, you have demonstrated you reject science, facts, evidence, and logic, not to mention how you have not even bothered to examine the evidence beyond some anti-science blog and cherry picking statements to confirm your predetermined beliefs.
You obviously have not studied the science and it takes much more than a decade of reading denier blogs to understand it. This is demonstrated in your statements about the IPCC. The IPCC is a panel that examines the science. The reports are filled with references to the science that has been peer-reviewed. If you are saying you reject the peer-reviewed science then you are saying your reject science. Good work.
The real problem people like you have is there is no 'fog' and this simply infuriates you. The science is crystal clear and anyone with an open mind has no choice but to come to the same conclusion as over 99% of the people working in the field. But, that isn't what you want to do. You want to push a political agenda. I read your fringe political statements and they reveal you don't have a very good grasp of reality.
You are the epitome of a denier. Congratulations. I'll hold you up as an example of someone who is so convinced he is smarter than all of the world's scientists combined that he doesn't even need to bother learning about the science.











Tuesday, February 23, 2016

AGU Petitioned to Sever Ties With ExxonMobil

The professional union I belong to, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), has received a letter signed by over 100 scientists calling on the union to sever all ties with ExxonMobil because of its efforts to deceive the public concerning manmade global warming. What is interesting is Exxon's insistence that it has always said AGW is real. Really? Then, why did they fund all of those lobbyists?

AGU has now responded, which I reproduce below. For the record, I believe AGU should sever ties. I believe it compromises their integrity by allowing ExxonMobil to provide any kind of support.

Click here for a web version of the response.

AGU logo

Dear AGU member,
 
As you may have seen in recent news articles, this morning, a letter signed by 100 scientists, both members and non-members, was delivered to AGU. The letter calls on AGU to sever ties with ExxonMobil. First and foremost, we welcome these questions and requests from our members and others in the scientific community and look forward to engaging with them on these issues. AGU is an organization that strives to make well considered decisions based on facts and data, and we encourage the open exchange of ideas and views on important issues such as this one. The AGU Board of Directors will take up the questions raised in this letter at their upcoming meeting in April, and prior to that will carefully review the information that has been provided, and any additional information that becomes available in the meantime.
 
We will consult with our various member constituencies as well other stakeholders prior to the Board meeting. In addition, the Board will look more deeply into the question of what constitutes verifiable information about current activities. In the meantime, we welcome your comments, which can be sent directly to me at President@agu.org.

In the summer of 2015, AGU released its new organizational support policy. This policy was designed to help ensure that AGU's relationships with the corporate sector are in keeping with our values of unselfish collaboration in research and the highest standards of scientific integrity. One of the core principles of that policy is that it mandates that any potential partner not be engaged in the public promotion of misinformation about science. Prior to approving a new partner, AGU checks publicly available sources of information, such as websites and corporate media releases and public statements, to assess whether our partner/sponsor statements are in conflict with our position statements and accepted scientific consensus.
 
Since the policy's approval, we have received inquiries about AGU's relationship with our partners, in particular, the one we have with ExxonMobil. The concerns brought to us stem from reports about ExxonMobil's past actions that have appeared in the press and elsewhere, and the assertion that the company is today engaging in the promotion of misinformation about climate change, climate science and the role of human activity in climate change, or actively supporting organizations that do.
 
One of these inquiries came in the form of a letter from a representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists AGU received last year. Because we take such concerns seriously, the Board conducted its own research and discussed the issue at great length during the September 2015 meeting. At that time, we decided that ExxonMobil's current public statements and activities were not inconsistent with AGU's positions and the scientific consensus.
 
It cannot be said that Exxon's past positions and actions regarding climate change were in keeping with our policy or with the company's current public positions, and we will be monitoring the results of the investigations by the Attorneys General of New York and California into those past actions. Yet our research did not find any information that demonstrates that they are currently involved in such activities.
 
We recognize that companies can, and often do, modify their positions and actions on various issues over time. This can come about for a variety of reasons, and is something that should be encouraged. But, if a company is excluded from the community based on its past actions, in spite of corrections or improvements that have been made over time, what are the implications? Does the rejection – or the inclusion – of such a company in our scientific community best serve the continuation of the progress we seek? We believe that inclusion is the best option.   
 
As the leaders of AGU, we welcome questions and requests from our members and others in the scientific community, and we assure you that if verifiable information becomes available that proves ExxonMobil is currently engaging in the promotion of misinformation about science or adopting positions that are in conflict with AGU's own, or supporting groups that do, we will end the relationship, as dictated by our policy – at least until the company is able to demonstrate that such actions have ceased. We encourage our members to share with us any information about current activities that may contradict ExxonMobil's public statements about their position and actions.
 
Sincerely,
Margaret Leinen

*A copy of this statement is also posted on AGU's leadership blog, From the Prow .

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Want to Know Why the Sea Ice is Melting?

There are all sorts of technical reports about why the Arctic sea ice is melting and why we are probably looking at an all-time low for the maximum extent. But, it really comes down to one thing - the temperature. If there is more heat in the Arctic region, ice won't form and the ice that does form will melt more quickly. So, take a look and see for yourself.

       
Source: CCI



This plot shows the temperature anomalies. The red areas are warmer than normal while the blue areas are cooler. The center of Greenland and parts of Canada are below the average temperature. But, most of the Arctic Region is not only hotter than normal, but even much hotter. The large area to the northeast of Greenland is about 20 degrees Celsius above normal.

Too much heat = not enough ice.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Closing In On A Record Low Arctic Ice Maximum

The Arctic sea ice extent this winter has been very low. The January sea ice extent was the lowest ever recorded and was 90,000 square kilometers below the previous low. The sea ice extent for every January since 2005 has been below 14.25 million square kilometers while every January before that year was above it. NSIDC reported the temperature for January was more than 6 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. 

I've been paying close attention to the Arctic sea ice level recently and the forecast for this year has not been looking very good. All winter, the sea ice extent has tracked close to the two standard deviation line. But, in recent weeks it has been going well below that level and may even be approaching three standard deviations. Here is a plot of the 2016 sea ice extent (red), along with the 2015 (blue) and average (grey) extents. The shaded area is plus or minus two standard deviations.

Source: NSIDC
 
For the point of clarity, one standard deviation (sigma) means about 65% of the measurements will fall within that plus-or-minus range. Two sigmas means about 95% of the measurements will fall in the plus-or-minus range. Three sigmas takes us all the way to 99.7% of the data. That means the likelihood of the current sea ice extent happening within the long-term average is between 3 and 50 chances out of a thousand. And yet, the winter sea ice extent has been near the two sigma line for most of the past decade.  

There is quite a bit of winter remaining, but we can begin to reach some conclusions. First, the level is so low it is highly unlikely to recover. Last year (2015) was not only the lowest maximum, but also the earliest. In comparison, the ice extent for February 18th was 275,000 square kilometers lower than last year and 1,095,000 square kilometers below the long-term average. Based on the data, I think it is safe to predict at this time that 2016 will rank as the lowest maximum sea ice extent ever recorded.

But, that's not all. Looking at the ice extent I am beginning to wonder - have we already seen the maximum ice extent for the year? Ten years from now, this level might be viewed as a good thing. But, if it happens this year it will be viewed as a collapse of the sea ice.

Stay tuned.
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