The following is being cross-posted from Skeptical Analysis, with slight modifications:
The above political cartoon illustrates what a certain faction considers to be legitimate rebuttal to the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW). I title this series The Age Of Embarrassment to reflect on our divergence from a different era, which historians now call The Age Of Enlightenment. I mainly concentrate on foolish arguments against anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but I am not required to.
Recently I did an overview of a book (pamphlet) by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. The short title is How to Debate Leftists, and it deals with what the title indicates. In my review I bore down on some of Shapiro’s comments on AGW. He’s opposed. Which brings him into focus for this discussion.
From Wikipedia, “On September 21, 2015, Shapiro founded The Daily Wire and started serving as its editor-in-chief.” The result was that The Daily Wire appears to be a likely source to mine for Shapiro’s thinking on AGW. A rich vein it turns out to be:
The Most Comprehensive Assault On ‘Global Warming’ Ever
It made sense. Knowing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that our industrialized world is adding a large amount of it to the atmosphere on a yearly basis, I accepted the premise that this would cause global temperatures to rise. But one day about 7 years ago, I looked at the ubiquitous graph showing the “global” temperature of the last 150 years and noticed something odd. It was subtle, and as I found out later, disguised so that it would be overlooked. There appeared to be a period of about 40 years between 1940 and 1980 where the global temperatures actually declined a bit. As a data analysis expert, I could not ignore that subtle hint and began to look into it a little more. Forty years is a long time, and while carbon dioxide concentrations were increasing exponentially over the same period, I could not overlook that this showed an unexpected shift in the correlation between global temperatures and CO2concentrations. Thus I began to look into it a little further and here are some of the results 7 years later.
The author is an adjunct professor of physics and more. From the article:
Mike van Biezen is adjunct professor at Compton College, Santa Monica College, El Camino College, and Loyola Marymount University teaching Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Earth Science.
That should be impressive enough. Let’s see what Mr. Biezen has to say about AGW. There are ten points:
- Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.
- Satellite temperature data does not support the assumption that temperatures are rising rapidly:
- Current temperatures are always compared to the temperatures of the 1980’s, but for many parts of the world the 1980’s was the coldest decade of the last 100+ years:
- The world experienced a significant cooling trend between 1940 and 1980:
- Urban heat island effect skews the temperature data of a significant number of weather stations:
- There is a natural inverse relationship between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2levels:
- The CO2 cannot, from a scientific perspective, be the cause of significant global temperature changes:
- There have been many periods during our recent history that a warmer climate was prevalent long before the industrial revolution:
- Glaciers have been melting for more than 150 years
- “Data adjustment” is used to continue the perception of global warming:
I will go though these in turn, but the reader will need to go to the original article to get the complete wording. Start by noting that Mike van Biezen does not have a Ph.D. in any of the topics mentioned in his connection with his teaching at Loyola Marymount University. In fact, he does not appear to have a Ph.D. in any academic field. His current position is program manager for Raytheon Corporation, a company he has worked for since 1984. He is not a full time professor at Loyola. Not having a Ph.D. is not exclusionary. It is not required that Biezen have a Ph.D. for us to take his arguments seriously. All that is necessary is that he be right. He is not. Start with number 1.
Number 1. Contradictory to what Biezen says, temperature records from around the world support the conclusion that today’s temperatures are unusual, higher than in recent history.
The plot and the following are from NASA’s climate site:
This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2015 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Mr. Biezen provides his readers with misleading information:
The all-time high temperature record for the world was set in 1913, while the all-time cold temperature record was set in 1983. By continent, all but one set their all-time high temperature record more recently than their all-time cold temperature records.
Start with the all-time high record:
On 13 September 2012 the World Meteorological Organisation disqualified the record for the highest recorded temperature, exactly 90 years after it had been established at El Azizia, Libya, with a measurement of 58°C. The official highest recorded temperature is now 56.7°C (134°F), which was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA.
So, Biezen’s record high was recently eclipsed by a new record, which he failed to notice, but which does not matter in this discussion. Biezen’s all-time low record is still valid:
The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K), which was at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. Analysis of satellite data indicated a probable temperature of around −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F; 180.0 K), in East Antarctica, on August 10, 2010; however, this reading was not confirmed by ground measurements.
After all that has been said, this turns out to be irrelevant. What matters to the global climate is the average taken over the entire planet. Individual highs and lows can occur in contrast to record high and low global averages.
Mr. Biezen has deliberately misled his readers, and Ben Shapiro, as editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, has facilitated this subterfuge by promoting Biezen’s scam.
Number 2. I’m not too sure I want to follow up on Biezen’s number 2. He uses the weasel word “rapidly,” as in “temperatures are rising rapidly” However, assuming “rapidly” means “rising,” here is a plot showing the rise, seemingly in contradiction to Biezen’s assertions:
Number 3. Here’s what Biezen has to say:
If the current temperatures are compared to those of the 1930’s one would find nothing remarkable. For many places around the world, the 1930’s were the warmest decade of the last 100 years, including those found in Greenland. Comparing today’s temperatures to the 1980’s is like comparing our summer temperatures to those in April, rather than those of last summer. It is obvious why the global warming community does this, and very misleading (or deceiving).
Again Biezen is being intentionally misleading. If his deception is not intentional, then it is a result of gross incompetence. Had he been reading this blog he would have been better informed and not fallen victim to such false and misleading information. I wrote:
This is interesting. Government agencies, NASA (National Aviation and Space Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), have been tweaking scientific measurements to give the false impression that global temperatures are rising. That would be scientific misconduct at best and criminal misuse of governmental authority at worst. If only it were true.
Besides already knowing the background, I picked up on an obvious clue in the last paragraph above. “[T]he hottest decade in the US was in the 1930s.” Taking first that the statement is true, how does this bear on average global temperatures over the past hundred years or more? The world wonders.
From that point forward this item from Breitbart needs additional scrutiny. The facts may not be as interesting as Breitbart, but they have the advantage of being facts. The NOAA has posted an explanation of the process so recently assailed by that reputable scientific source, Breitbart. Here is an excerpt:
Monitoring Global and U.S. Temperatures at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information
There are several factors that are important in monitoring global or U.S. temperature: quality of raw observations, length of record of observations, and the analysis methods used to transform raw data into reliable climate data records by removing existing biases from the data. An additional process takes the multiple climate data records and creates U.S. or global average temperatures.
Yes, this is the same Breitbart news outlet previously involved with Ben Shapiro. Here is a graphic from the previous posting:
Number 4. Biezen writes:
Many places around the world experienced a quite significant and persistent cooling trend to the point where scientists began to wonder if the world was beginning to slide into a new ice age period.
And more. Again, Biezen wants to point to regional trends, ignoring that the G in AGW stands for “global.”
It has been shown that nighttime temperatures recorded by many weather stations have been artificially raised by the expulsion of radiant heat collected and stored during the daytime by concrete and brick structures such as houses, buildings, roads, and also cars. Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.
For the fifth time, what Biezen says flies in the face of known fact:
Many global warming skeptics have long claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has skewed temperature measurements indicating that global warming is happening. The skeptics argue that efforts to curb global warming pollution are therefore unnecessary, citing their pet theory that surface temperature stations were swallowed by, or moved closer to, cities, thus skewing surface temperature records on the whole.
The BEST papers – which still must go through rigorous peer review – confirm what climate scientists have correctly stated previously, demonstrating without doubt that “very rural” temperature stations miles from any new “UHI” towns or cities have also recorded warming at 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last century.
Contrary to what would be assumed when listening to global warming banter or while watching An Inconvenient Truth, higher temperatures increase atmospheric CO2 levels and lower temperatures decrease atmospheric CO2 levels, not the other way around. Any college freshman chemistry student knows that the solubility of CO2 decreases with increasing temperatures and thus Earth’s oceans will release large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere when the water is warmer and will absorb more CO2 when the water is colder.
And more. Really? Consider the Keeling Curve:
In 1958 Charles David Keeling started keeping a record of CO2 measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is about 11,000 feet above sea level, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That annual cycle in CO2 levels in the atmosphere is due to the greening of deciduous plants in the Northern Hemisphere on a yearly cycle. The Northern Hemisphere land mass is larger than the Southern Hemisphere mass, and has more plant growth. When trees in the north put out leaves in the spring and begin to take CO2 from the atmosphere, the level goes down. When the leaves fall a few months later the CO2 extraction slows down, and the natural introduction (decaying leaves and dead plants) of CO2 into the atmosphere continues. At no point does the Keeling Curve support Mr. Biezen’s number 6.
Number 7. He says:
The CO2 molecule is a linear molecule and thus only has limited natural vibrational frequencies, which in turn give this molecule only limited capability of absorbing radiation that is radiated from the Earth’s surface. The three main wavelengths that can be absorbed by CO2 are 4.26 micrometers, 7.2 micrometers, and 15.0 micrometers. Of those 3, only the 15-micrometer is significant because it falls right in range of the infrared frequencies emitted by Earth. However, the H2O molecule which is much more prevalent in the Earth’s atmosphere, and which is a bend molecule, thus having many more vibrational modes, absorbs many more frequencies emitted by the Earth, including to some extent the radiation absorbed by CO2.
Which is true, but again misleading. Water in the atmosphere accounts for much more of the greenhouse effect than CO2. This planet’s surface (oceans and atmosphere) would be many degrees cooler without the greenhouse effect of water vapor. As a student in college I was once required to compute the difference,, and I recall it was in the order of 40 C—other sources have 60 C. See the Wikipedia article on the greenhouse effect.
The problem with Biezen’s explanation is that it ignores that water vapor in the atmosphere has been a more or less constant factor for millions of years, and certainly throughout human history on this planet. The natural mechanism of rain removes water vapor from the atmosphere as fast as it is introduced, and the atmosphere is in steady-state with respect to water. This is not so for CO2, which does not have such a mechanism for removing it. Human activity is upsetting the natural level of CO2 by removing carbon from the surface (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) and introducing it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane. The greenhouse effect of these gases is added on top of the existing effect of water, and that’s what the concern is all about.
Number 8. Biezen says:
Even in the 1990 IPCC report a chart appeared that showed the medieval warm period as having had warmer temperatures than those currently being experienced. But it is hard to convince people about global warming with that information, so five years later a new graph was presented, now known as the famous hockey stick graph, which did away with the medieval warm period.
For the record, here are two plots of Earth temperature records:
The first of the above shows temperatures going back millions of years. The second is an enlargement of the right-hand part of the first, and it shows temperatures going back a million years (and beyond). Note the spikes, representing the temperature fluctuations concurrent with the history of the ice ages. Note the more recent period, following the previous ice age. There are fluctuations over a 10,000-year period, terminating in a recent up-tic. The spike at the right margin is a projection due to the effects of AGW. The second plot fairly well covers the Medieval Period.
This one, the so-called hockey stick plot, also covers the Medieval Period.
Regardless of any report from 1990, the best information available shows the up-tic in global temperatures due to human activity. Mr. Biezen continues to be dishonest in his presentation of the argument. He is lying.
Number 9. Biezen says:
The notion of melting glaciers as prove positive that global warming is real has no real scientific basis. Glaciers have been melting for over 150 years. It is no secret that glaciers advanced to unprecedented levels in recent human history during the period known as the Little Ice Age.
Let’s assume without verification that the above statement regarding glacier activity is true. Whenever has Biezen lied to us before? Glaciers are melting, but their melting is not necessary to demonstrate AGW. Biezen’s post is advertised as “The Most Comprehensive Assault On ‘Global Warming’ Ever.” His 9th argument hardly fills the bill, and I will stop here without additional comment.
Number 10. Biezen complains:
After years of painstaking gathering of data, and relentless graphing of that data, I discovered that I was not looking at the originally gathered data, but data that had been “adjusted” for what was deemed “scientific reasons.”
And more. Again, this is another issues that has already been addressed in a prior post, and Biezen completely ignores the facts of the matter. Here is what I had to say before:
Oceans make up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, and NOAA is increasing its attention to sea surface temperatures. In years past temperatures were measured by pulling a bucket of water from the sea and measuring its temperature. Sea surface temperatures are now routinely obtained by measuring water at ships’ engine coolant intake. What was found when the two measurements were compared was that the bucket method produces lower temperatures than the intake method. In years past temperatures had been measured with a bias toward cooler rather than warmer. The plots show what happened when the measurement bias was removed. The heavy-line plot, showing a greater temperature rise, was replaced by the lighter-line plot, showing less warming with time. The plots are linked to a paper published by Smith and Reynolds, for those interested in reading the complete background.
If Breitbart is to believed, the NOAA has been caught fixing the data to make a warming trend apparent. In this case, the opposite has occurred. None of this is mentioned in the Breitbart news item. We can imagine Breitbart felt it unwieldy to burden its unsophisticated readers with a load of fact.
If these were the only data corrections, the evidence for global warming would be undercut. There is more. The NOAA also adjusted for bias caused by a shift from measuring temperatures in the afternoon to measuring temperatures in the morning. Obviously, temperature measurements are going to be higher in the afternoon than in the morning. The plots show a shift in the percentage of stations from afternoon to morning. See the following plots.
An associated plot, repeated from above, was included:
In his book, How to Debate Leftists, Ben Shapiro complains about how liberals (scientists?) put down people like Biezen (and Shapiro), who dispute AGW:
This is a more useful question, and it also avoids the left’s preferred line of argument on global warming, which is a variation on their preferred line on gun control: “Global warming is man-made. Don’t agree? That’s because you’re stupid and hateful.” As a general matter, the left’s favorite three lines of attack are (1) you’re stupid; (2) you’re mean; (3) you’re corrupt.
Forget about his numbers 1 and 2. Biezen is corrupt. He is lying. By implication, so is Shapiro. With his stewardships of Breitbart and The Daily Wire, Shapiro has abetted the promulgation of lies against legitimate science and the people who support it.
People ask me (maybe they do not) why I am a liberal. My response has to be that one reason, and one only, is that being liberal gets me as far away as possible with what has become a political philosophy underpinned by corrupt thinking. In my younger years I became disgusted with conservative politics, because every time I saw a politician standing in the school house door blocking the entry of a black child, that politician was avowedly conservative. Ever time I learned the identity of racists who killed four black children in an Alabama church or murdered civil rights advocates, those people were avowed conservatives. More recently whenever I have seen a politician promoting the use of tax money and government authority to proselytize for religion, that politician has been an avowed conservative. My personal study of opposition to the modern science of biological evolution has revealed that conservative politicians and those who profess themselves to be politically conservative are the most inclusive of this movement. More recently the conservative contingent in this country has elected a politician who has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar, and conservatives find no problem with this, even denying he has lied.
What was in the past a political ideal of limited government, individual freedom, and fiscal responsibility, has taken on the baggage of of the lowest levels of American society. Opposition to the science behind anthropological global warming is just the tip of the iceberg.