Response from a Creationist

This is being reposted from Skeptical Analysis.

I post on a number of topics, and sometimes I obtain feedback in the form of comments posted by readers. Some of the responses are helpful—they fill in where I failed to provide adequate coverage, and sometimes a comment will set me straight on an error I have made.

Many of the comments I receive are from people who reject completely the point I am attempting to make, and on rare occasions these comments are thought out and well put. It’s the “rare” aspect that worries me. Too often the person so terribly offended is:

  • Completely fact-deprived and indicates no knowledge of the topic under discussion.
  • Knowledgeable, but nonetheless skilled in making his point.
  • Comes off as completely unhinged.

It is this last case I want to discuss. The example for today relates to a post from last July. The original post carries the title 44 Reasons Why Evolution Is Just A Fairy Tale For Adults. My post does not provide 44 reasons evolution is a fairy tale. The title is from an item posted by Michael Snyder on a site called D.C. Clothesline and subtitled “Airing Out America’s Dirty Laundry.” How this site came to be a vehicle for a creationism-oriented rant is a guess for somebody else. I felt it worth a response.

Snyder did list 44 reasons, and I (read the original post) took each of the 44 and penned a short response. Many of my responses reduced to stating that Snyder had not provided any evidence to support his point. He had quoted somebody else, and following  which he went on to his next point. My response to such attempts was to point out this fact and to note that repeating what somebody said in the past does not count for evidence in science. An example is Snyder’s point number 3. My reply is the bold text following Snyder’s point:

#3 Even some of the most famous evolutionists in the world acknowledge the complete absence of transitional fossils in the fossil record. For example, Dr. Colin Patterson, former senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History and author of “Evolution” once wrote the following

“I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them …. I will lay it on the line – there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.”

Again, it’s interesting to note that Colin Patterson said this, but again speech is not scientific evidence.

Anyhow, that has been out there for several  months, receiving one helpful comment almost immediately, and finally another one today. Here it is, exactly as posted:

idiot..i have one thing ti say…al the hearsay and lack of evidence you attack the writers of the article you were going after, you did as well. i can quote several times you didn’t explain..give examples…evidence…but guess what..just spoken or “written” words in your case. you did nothing and achieved nothing for most of this long article. use circle reasoning thru-out, of which im sure you will use again to rebuttal this. asking some one to use evolution based world view foundation to disprove evolution or else anything said is wrong by inherent basis is like me requiring you to use creation based world view ” as the science is the same, just different world views direction how evidence is interpreted or rationalized”, to completely disprove creation. neither theory can be proven or disproved via the scientific method of observable and repeatable”,and neither are fact. where we get pissed of is your blind faith and enforcement of your theory as fact…when only reason you do so is cause the only other option besides everything made it self is some one else made everything.

In the past I have refuted people’s arguments and have been accused, in turn, of using condescending language. Here is an excerpt from a previous post. I had previously obtained a copy of Ben Shapiro’s small book How to Debate Leftist and to Destroy Them. Shapiro considers the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to be a leftist (his term) agenda, and he frets that leftists attack by calling their opponents stupid, mean, corrupt, and maybe all of the preceding. Here’s how the discussion unfolded earlier this year:

Shapiro’s response to fiery criticisms of his stance on AGW and also his stance on a number of other issues is to note the quality of his attackers. Continuing the section quoted from the book above:

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. Sarah Palin is supposedly stupid; Mitt Romney is supposedly mean; Dick Cheney is supposedly corrupt. Take away those lines of attack and watch the discomfort set in.

[Page 24]

Yes, it really is bad form to start calling names and making wild accusations in response to a philosophical affront. In a debate, in a dispute over a point of fact, the person who throws an insult is revealing he has no facts. However…

Shapiro says, “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.” The last two are way out of line, but number 1 is a valid argument. If you are arguing with a person who says the Earth is flat, then, “You’re stupid” might be an appropriate response. I run into into this at times:

Daniel G. Kuttner You have no idea of my qualifications. You throw your ample supply of tomatoes at me, rather than my assertions, which are backed BY science (e.g. that engineering reference link). Thus, you were replying ad hominem, literally.
I could be a bum on the street and still report correct – or incorrect – science. My lack of a white lab coat has no import.
If you are so full of science, where is your scientific refutation of my numbers? All I see from you is condescension and sarcasm.
Saying something is “clearly wrong” is not refutation, it’s disagreement; an opinion. You are, of course free to have those.

I have highlighted the operative text. Because Dan’s information was ridiculously false, and I pointed this out, I was being condescending and sarcastic. Bad form? When is being honest and forthright being condescending and sarcastic?

It’s that latter part that is critical. I found Dan taking the same stance Shapiro does. In point, Dan makes a completely ludicrous statement, one that galls the intellect. Then when somebody responds by pointing out the obvious, Dan comes back by chiding the other party for being condescending. And other terms. That’s what we are about to have here.

Snyder, in responding to my argument, appears to  have gone completely off the rails, beginning with a typographical monstrosity before settling down to a face-deficient rant. It’s usually at this point that I begin to become condescending.

I am not going to call Snyder a creationist nut case, partly because the phrase contains an obvious redundancy. My object is to approve his comment as posted and then allow it to hang out there as evidence of whatever anybody wants to conclude about Snyder.

After approving Snyder’s comment I sent him an email asking him if he would care to elaborate, hopefully to improve, on his comment. If ever I hear back from Snyder I will revisit the matter in another post.

There may be more to come. Keep reading.

And may Jesus have mercy on my soul.

The National Center For Science Education

The NCSE is the premier organization in this country promoting legitimate science in public schools and in the public forum. They are a 501 (c) (3) organization, deserving of your contributions. I give money to the NCSE. You should, too.

Following is a recent notice from the NCSE:

1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612-2922

510.601.7203 •

With the unprecedented 2016 election finally behind us, we can all turn our attention back to issues that haven’t been in the spotlight lately. Like science education. As you’ll read below, there’s plenty to be concerned about. But NCSE has not taken its eye off the ball, and our new programs are really starting to pay off. I hope that you’ll consider joining our effort to help teachers cover evolution and climate change confidently and completely.

When you consider the state of science education today, it’s easy to be disappointed, disturbed, and dismayed. Consider the following recent incidents.

  • In Alabama, the state board of education voted to continue to mandate a disclaimer about evolution in the state’s textbooks. Such disclaimers date back to 1996. But even after Alabama adopted a new set of state science standards in 2005, that described evolution as “substantiated with much direct and indirect evidence,” the board disappointingly voted to retain the scientifically unwarranted and pedagogically irresponsible message.
  • A national survey conducted by NCSE with researchers at Pennsylvania State University, which asked 1500 science teachers in public middle and high schools about their attitudes toward and practice in teaching climate change, found disturbing gaps in their knowledge. For example, less than half of the teachers realized that more than 80% of climate scientists agree that recent global warming is caused primarily by human activities.
  • In Kentucky, a young-earth creationist ministry opened a Noah’s-ark-themed amusement park. The truly  dismaying aspect of Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter was its invitation to local public schools to flout the principle of church/state separation by bringing students there on field trips, at a special discounted rate. Judging from reports received by NCSE over the years, public school excursions to creationist attractions are dismayingly common.

Dealing, and helping people to deal, with such assaults on science education is all in a day’s work for us at NCSE.

But as you know, that’s not all that we’re doing. A suite of innovative new programs is aimed at reinforcing the confidence of teachers, recruiting scientists to help, and rallying communities to support science education locally:

  • NCSEteach (, NCSE’s network to support climate change and evolution educators, now includes nearly 6,000 teachers, each of whom receive regular advice and resources from NCSE aimed at improving their scientific knowledge and pedagogical confidence. And they now know that NCSE will have their backs when they encounter challenges to the teaching of evolution or climate change!
  • NCSEteach’s “Scientists in the Classroom” program is bringing eager and energetic early career research scientists into middle and high school classrooms across the country to enrich students’ climate change and evolution learning experiences. Over one hundred teacher—scientist partnerships have already been formed, to the great and continuing benefit of all involved. More are in the works.
  • NCSE’s Science Booster Club project, piloting in Iowa, has provided fun, hands-on, and accurate educational activities on evolution and climate change to over 50,000 participants at local events in the last year, and raised funds to purchase science equipment for the benefit of over 3,000 local students. In 2016, the project not only exhibited at county and state fairs but also hosted a free summer science camp to provide rural low-income students with evolution education.

Are these programs working? Judging from the heartfelt expressions of thanks from teachers who have participated in NCSEteach, from teacher/scientist partners who have participated in Scientists in the Classroom, and from thousands of Iowans involved with a Science Booster Club, yes!

But to science fans like you and me, what’s even more convincing than testimonials is data. The Science Booster Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, administered a twenty-four-question science literacy survey at its public events throughout the year. And voilà:

That’s significant—literally (p = 0.03) and figuratively. Working with a low budget but a high degree of enthusiasm, the science boosters in Cedar Rapids—and elsewhere in Iowa—are making a measurable difference.

I’m excited about these efforts, and I hope that you are, too. We want to extend these programs to communities across the country. To do so, we need your support. Your gift to NCSE will help us help teachers to present science properly.

You can donate on-line at A gift of only $500 will allow us to provide a new booster club with all the materials needed to provide hands-on evolution or climate change activities to 10,000 participants! Or consider a recurring gift of $10 or $20 per month; such donations help make our budget more predictable so we can start new projects with confidence. A gift of any size will go directly to improving science education.

By reinforcing the confidence of teachers, recruiting scientists to help, and rallying communities to support science education locally, NCSE is helping to ensure that science will be taught honestly, accurately, and confidently. Please help us to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Reid

Executive Director, NCSE

The Age Of Embarrassment

The following is being cross-posted from Skeptical Analysis, with slight modifications:

Seventh of a series

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:

  1. Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.
  2. Satellite temperature data does not support the assumption that temperatures are rising rapidly:
  3. 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:
  4. The world experienced a significant cooling trend between 1940 and 1980:
  5. Urban heat island effect skews the temperature data of a significant number of weather stations:
  6. There is a natural inverse relationship between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2levels:
  7. The CO2 cannot, from a scientific perspective, be the cause of significant global temperature changes:
  8. There have been many periods during our recent history that a warmer climate was prevalent long before the industrial revolution:
  9. Glaciers have been melting for more than 150 years
  10. “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.”

Number 5.

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.

Number 6.

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.

[Page 24]

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.

Vindicated Science

A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. Russian scientists are close to drilling in to the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. Russian scientists are close to drilling in to the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

This is something that’s been going around for over 20 years, and it’s been an issue at The North Texas Skeptics. The NTS is neither a liberal-leaning organization nor a politically conservative organization. We have always hosted a political spectrum, and some of that is apparent.

A former member is unabashedly conservative and early on announced his opposition to environmentalism, which term I will not define further. This member is an excellent writer and during his tenure supplied our newsletter with a wealth of professional quality material. Often enough, a tilt to the right was glaringly apparent:

Since my last column was run, we have finally gotten some reputable scientists weighing in on the “pro” side of global warming. A group of meteorologists brought together by the U.N. agreed (not unanimously, but in a majority, anyway) that man-made pollutants have altered the Earth’s temperature (I’m assuming here that the U.N. picks meteorologists more carefully than they pick military strategists). It’s not quite the Apocalypse that many environmental alarmists would like: the consensus was that the Earth’s temperature has risen, on the average, one degree Fahrenheit since 1900 … but what the heck, it’s something!

Of course, this could be connected to changing rainfall patterns, etc., but it seems a stretch to blame Chicago’s killer heat wave on that one degree uptick. Having lived for awhile in the northeast, I think I have an idea of why so many people died from the heat in Chicago, and the concerned citizens in the environmental movement have it in their power right now to prevent it from happening again. They don’t even have to lobby Congress or drive one of those dorky electric cars.
Most of the victims of the Chicago heat wave were elderly people in poor health, living alone, without air conditioners or the money to buy them. They weren’t acclimated to the heat, they weren’t able to overcome it, and they had nobody to look in and help them (many of the victims were buried by the city because nobody claimed the bodies). It wasn’t so much ozone breakdown that killed them as it was societal breakdown.

I do not recall whether at the time I called Pat’s attention to an odious misunderstanding of basic science on display, but here it is now:

  • While Pat is on the mark regarding the measured rise in global temperatures, he passes over the consequences of such a small increase. My guess is he never went much farther in his reading.
  • Pat correctly recognizes that a degree rise is not the basis for the deaths “environmental alarmists” hoped for. However, he incorrectly, through lack of diligence or else deliberately, absolves the notorious heat wave. The fact is, these victims would have been in the same situation regardless of the heat wave, but the heat wave made the difference between life and death.
  • The reference to ozone cannot be explained. Whether Pat is being facetious or whether he was at the time unaware there is no connection between ozone layer depletion and anthropogenic global warming is something I never explored.

Anyhow, during the time Pat contributed to the newsletter I looked forward each month to reading his column. Good writing is always a pleasure. Eventually, Pat lost interest in bashing the issue of ozone layer depletion. This was about the time some real scientist won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in studying the problem:

Press Release

11 October 1995

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to

Professor Paul Crutzen, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (Dutch citizen),

Professor Mario Molina, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and Department of Chemistry, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA and

Professor F. Sherwood Rowland, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.

The ozone layer – The Achilles heel of the biosphere

The atmosphere surrounding the earth contains small quantities of ozone – a gas with molecules consisting of three oxygen atoms (O3). If all the ozone in the atmosphere were compressed to a pressure corresponding to that at the earth’s surface, the layer would be only 3 mm thick. But even though ozone occurs in such small quantities, it plays an exceptionally fundamental part in life on earth. This is because ozone, together with ordinary molecular oxygen (O2), is able to absorb the major part of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and therefore prevent this dangerous radiation from reaching the surface. Without a protective ozone layer in the atmosphere, animals and plants could not exist, at least upon land. It is therefore of the greatest importance to understand the processes that regulate the atmosphere’s ozone content.

My observation over the past decades has been that political conservatives have not so much been troubled by science as they have been troubled by the consequences of scientific discoveries. When scientist observe a problem that can be addressed by government action, conservatives look toward discrediting the science rather than toward implementing a solution that will require government involvement. In the case of AGW, the government solution would be to impose measures to curb the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In the case of ozone layer depletion government action was to ban the production and sale of certain fluorinated hydrocarbons. This amounted to direct interference into people’s private lives and into the conduct of profitable business practices. In the case of ozone layer depletion, the scientist prevailed, governments worldwide stepped in, and the problem started to be resolved:

Bright spot: Antarctica’s ozone hole is starting to heal

I learned about it early this morning when my electronic issue of Science magazine arrived by the magic of the Internet, another intrusion of government into private industry:

Ozone layer on the mend, thanks to chemical ban

Since it was discovered in 1985, the Antarctic ozone hole has been a potent symbol of humankind’s ability to cause unintended environmental harm. But now comes a glimmer of good news: The void in the ozone layer is shrinking. “It’s a big surprise,” says Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “I didn’t think it would be this early.”

Although the hole will not close completely until midcentury at the earliest, the healing is reassuring to scientists who pushed for the Montreal Protocol. The 1987 international agreement phased out the industrial production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): chlorine-containing chemicals that help trigger the destruction of stratospheric ozone, which screens out cancer-causing ultraviolet light. “You want to be sure that the actions we’ve taken have had the intended effect,” says Solomon, who led the study published online by Science this week.

When I mentioned previously that the NTS is a cross section of the political spectrum, I failed to mention that liberals predominate in this science-oriented group. This is not to say that science always comes down on the left-wing side of matters, as evidenced by the truth about genetically-modified organisms and the vaccination controversy. A requirement of the NTS is that we are always going to take the direction pointed by the evidence. It is tragic that a sizable block of elected officials consistently put politics over fact. It may be no coincidence that conservatives largely make up this block.

[This writer is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science magazine.]

The Comical Conservative

This is a repost from Skeptical Analysis. For the complete history follow the links, search for the title to see additional postings.

Don’t get too excited about the title. I’m reusing it to maintain continuity. This is going to be about the Comical Environmentalist.

Sometime back I reposted a Rick McKee cartoon from Facebook and used that as a starting point for a discussion about anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Here’s the cartoon:


I have referred to this cartoon in multiple posts. After the most recent post Rick posted a lengthy comment, and I initiated an email dialog with him. And I agree with him on one point. From his comment:

So, I have a question for you: Can you not see how a reasonable person, having been bombarded with all of this contradictory, false and alarmist information for all these years, could be skeptical of anything to do with the topic of climate change, which, in fact, was the point of the cartoon?

And my answer is yes, I can see how environmental activists are sometimes their own worst enemy. You can have a noble cause. You can have a just cause. Your cause can be right. That is, it can be factually correct. And all of that can be undone by extremism in the name of conviction.

In a previous post I took the cartoon to task for oversimplifying a complex issue. A problem with the cartoon is it makes use of—as required by the cartoon medium—hyperbole and shallow presentation. I figure it’s no good to find fault without remedy. And I propose to provide remedy by doing better. I can do the cartoon one better. I can provide substance and detail. Where to start?

Let’s start with something Rick mentioned:

Ecologist Kenneth Watt stated, “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

All right, I tried to run that one down. The references I found could not confirm that Watt actually spoke those words. Neither did he say anything like that:

Best Answer:  I’m not sure. Each and every single website I see, as you found too, merely gives the quote and no link to the transcript of the speech, or any further context besides “He once said in a speech at Swarthmore…” Of course, we all know how easily stories are taken and repeated without any sort of analysis at their validity.

I had graphed temperature data from NASA’s GISS, NOAA, and HadCRUT3v together a little while ago. I’m not sure what data Watt presumedly [sic] looked at, but there was no discernible trend during the “twenty years” he allegedly referred to. Temperatures actually began their descent in 1940, and leveled out after 1945 until they began to rise again in the seventies. Why would he claim that that trend would produce 4˚C cooling in 20 years? And 11 in 30?…

Nobody’s saying Kenneth Watt never said it. It appears to be completely apocryphal, with no contemporaneous account of such a speech. The Wikipedia entry for Earth Day includes the quote, but there is no associated link. However, it is the kind of thing Watt might have said, taking into account some of his other proclamations:

Watt also stated, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil.”

Neither does that one have a home, and readers are invited to help me find a link.

A problem with Internet research is the fluidity of the information. Often the provenance of sources is incomplete, and this is particularly true of sources that date from before the time everything started getting put on the Internet. More particularly, this applies to sources from deep history. An example, one of the references Rick cites, is this:

The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot…. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone… Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. – Washington Post 11/2/1922

Yes, we’ve seen this one before, and it was on this blog:

Second, Tom neglected to put the Post article into perspective. The article is based on an item inMonthly Weather Review, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. Here is the original article from the AMS:

And readers can go to the previous post and read the full context. It’s a context that is typically left out when enthusiasm gets the better of rigorous scholarship. The full context shows this was not some alarmist prediction from 1922 but was a report on a local climate anomaly observed in the vicinity of “Spitzbergen and Bear islands under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania.”

What a serious writer will do is obtain access to contemporaneous sources—newspaper clippings, journal reports, correspondence.

Especially, newspaper reports are beyond value—they are next to impossible to forge. Somebody can print up a fake news clipping, but it can be exposed by matching it with any number of other copies of the same issue. Also of worth is the time value of a clipping. A news item published immediately after an event has credibility over something that finds print days, weeks, or years later. Additionally, corroboration can be obtained by comparing clippings from separate publications.

Journalistic sources published on the Internet are equally valuable, provided they are contemporaneous. Although Internet publications can be altered by a few keystrokes, the reputation of the source will preclude attempts at fraud. Absence of fraud is in no small part due to the thousands of readers who keep tabs on Internet news and place pages into archival storage.

The case of the 1922 Washington Post item is an example of obvious fraud. What happened is somebody scanned the clipping, did not follow up and obtain the complete context, and then posted the item on the Internet (or somewhere else) to highlight an argument against AGW. Subsequent users forwarded the fraudulent story without realizing the fraud, or caring. This is often the case when a story tells somebody what they want to believe. And it’s done by both sides of any divisive issue.

Rick McKee responded to my previous post with 124 years of Failed Climate and Environmental Predictions. I count 92 separate references in Rick’s comment, including the one relating to the 1922Washington Post item.

Some others of the 92 are worth mentioning. I have made slight edits to Rick’s list, adding item numbers and such, and have produced a PDF. Readers can refer to the enumerated list, which I have posted on-line.

Take number 1:

Is our climate changing? The succession of temperate summers and open winters through several years, culminating last winter in the almost total failure of the ice crop throughout the valley of the Hudson, makes the question pertinent. The older inhabitants tell us that the Winters are not as cold now as when they were young, and we have all observed a marked diminution of the average cold even in this last decade. – New York Times June 23, 1890

What’s this all about? It appears to be a news report about weather changes of interest. If you’re like me, you’re going to have difficulty reconciling this with “124 years of Failed Climate and Environmental Predictions.”

Items 2 and 3 appear to discuss a coming ice age. Here is number 2:

The question is again being discussed whether recent and long-continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period, when the countries now basking in the fostering warmth of a tropical sun will ultimately give way to the perennial frost and snow of the polar regions – New York Times – February 24, 1895

The word “failed” has no apparent relationship with these two items. These are newspaper articles discussing the projected repeat of the previous ice age. Although AGW may turn out to forestall the next ice age, nobody 100 years ago was thinking about this. For your viewing, here is a chart of historical global temperatures relating to previous ice ages:


Here’s number 5:

Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada, Professor Gregory of Yale University stated that “another world ice-epoch is due.” He was the American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress and warned that North America would disappear as far south as the Great Lakes, and huge parts of Asia and Europe would be “wiped out.” – Chicago Tribune August 9, 1923

“North America would disappear as far south as the Great Lakes.” Yes. Just as in the previous ice age.

Number 8:

“Gaffers who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right…weather men have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer.” – Time Magazine Jan. 2 1939

As with a number of the others, it’s difficult to see how this is an argument for or against the current science related to AGW.

Here are numbers 76 and 77:

“Globally, 2002 is likely to be warmer than 2001 – it may even break the record set in 1998. – Daily Mirror August 2, 2002

Next year(2003)may be warmest recorded: Global temperatures in 2003 are expected to exceed those in 1998 – the hottest year to date – Telegraph UK- December 30, 2002


Would you believe these two predictions turned out to be pure bullshit. Actually not. They were only partially bullshit. An analysis of the top ten warmest years on record include 2002 and 2003. Both were warmer than 2001, which means the first prediction was true. But 2002 and 2003 tied for hottest years on record, meaning 2003 average temperatures were the same, not greater than, 2002. It might be interesting for readers to go to the NOAA site and check out the numbers.

Number 78 is a problem for climate scientists as well:

(The) extra energy, together with a weak El Nino, is expected to make 2005 warmer than 2003 and 2004 and perhaps even warmer than 1998 – Reuters February 11, 2005

Oops! Check with the NOAA page. 2005 turned out to be warmer than 1998, 2003, and 2004.

And I’m getting tired of playing this game. While I suspect there are some other clinkers among the 92, I’m going to spot Rick this, and agree that many of his references are accurate and pertinent. That allows me to avoid having to diagnose each of the 92 and to get back to the topic of this post. Sidestepping matters of AGW, here are some major fubars related to environmental issues:

By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth’s population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people. – Paul Ehrlich

Yeah, you have to wonder what Ehrlich was thinking, if he was thinking, at all. It is comments like this and others that should have cost Ehrlich dearly in the marketplace of ideas. To give you an idea of how little effect this kind of silliness can have, I subsequently heard reference to “respected scientist Paul Ehrlich.”

Here are some additional silly comments by people who should know better:

“[Inaction will cause]… by the turn of the century [2000], an ecological catastrophe which will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust.” Mustafa Tolba, 1982, former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program

“We’ve got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?” Lee Iacocca, CEO/Chairman, Chrysler Corporation, 1979-1992

It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. Dan Quayle

Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources. Ronald Reagan

Rick McKee is right. We should be skeptical of what gets pushed into the nightly news or posted on the Internet.

In real science, as in real life, it’s not what what people say that matters, it’s what is that matters. In the end, facts trump opinion. People may, if they choose, post “124 years of Failed Climate and Environmental Predictions,” but that does not make an argument. What makes an argument is a statement of fact.  I’m going to restate something from previous posts:

I have been following the topic of AGW for over 20 years, and a recurrent observation is that people opposed to the science rely on quotes and opinions, some from real scientists, and not so much on the basic science. What any opponent to the science needs to do to refute AGW is to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not absorb infra red radiation.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are not increasing dramatically.
  • Increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are not due to human activities.
  • There are natural sources to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that supersede the human contribution.

I have put this out before, and nobody has come back at me on it. Keep reading.


The Age Of Embarrassment

Cross posted from Skeptical Analysis


We haven’t had one of these in a while. So, what’s new?

A Real Climate Scientist Demolishes Bill Nye’s Global Warming Alarmism

All right, this one is a bit old—from last year even. That aside, I want to thank whoever posted this on Facebook for me to pick up. The truth be known, Facebook is a prime source of story ideas for this blog.

And this is refreshing. For once I’m not having to explain some fact-deprived meme from The Comical Conservative. This time we have Dr. Roy Spencer, an actual climate researcher, weighing in. And he has much to say about the evidence. Actually, he doesn’t. At least in the YouTube clip he doesn’t. Additionally, the item posted by Austin Peterson on The Libertarian Republic presents little in the way of evidence, either for or against the case for anthropogenic global warming (AGW). But Spencer is a real scientists working in the field, and it is worth knowing what he had to say in the interview.

Global warming alarmist talking heads like Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Al Gore are constantly paraded around as experts on climate.

I hope not. Because none of the three do research related to climate, and nobody would seriously refer to them as experts. What they happen to be are public defenders of the science behind AGW—speakers, if you like. In fact, you can discount Vice President Al Gore right off the bat, because his expertise is politics, and his training in serious science is close to vacant.

On the other hand, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have taken some college courses—Tyson more so—in physics, and the science of physics lies at the base of the study of AGW. In full disclosure, I have had college courses in physics, including four in the critical field of thermodynamics, and it is from this background that I come to agree with the argument for AGW.

To be sure, Dr. Roy Spencer has had these courses, and beyond that he has degrees in atmospheric science, including a Ph.D. in  meteorology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Wikipedia entry for Roy Spencer lists a number of peer-reviewed papers critical of AGW, such as this one:

In 2007, Spencer and others published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters regarding negative cloud feedback in the tropics that potentially supports Richard Lindzen‘s Iris hypothesis, which proposes that as the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease, allowing infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space. Spencer stated, “To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent. […] Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I’m betting that if the climate models’ ‘clouds’ were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades.

This paper is available on-line from the American Geophysical Union, and I have retained a copy for your viewing:

Spencer’s objections to AGW, based on publication topics, appear to be related to the effects of clouds on solar energy loss. Some of his publications have received major push-back from other scientists. Of note is a recent work published in 2011 with William Braswell:

In 2011, Spencer and Braswell published a paper in Remote Sensing concluding that more energy is radiated back to space and released earlier than previously thought. Spencer stated, “The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show. There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

The paper was criticized by numerous climate scientists. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, said this work was cautious and limited mostly to pointing out problems with forecasting heat feedback.

The editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing, Wolfgang Wagner, later resigned over publication of Spencer and Braswell (2011), stating, “From a purely formal point of view, there were no errors with the review process. […] the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view …but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.” Wagner added he, “would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements”.

Spencer responded that Wagner’s assertion was wholly inaccurate, “But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.”

Andrew Dessler later published a paper opposing the claims of Spencer and Braswell (2011) inGeophysical Research Letters. He stated, among other things:

First, [they] analyzed 14 models, but they plotted only six models and the particular observational data set that provided maximum support for their hypothesis. Plotting all of the models and all of the data provide a much different conclusion.

At the very least, Spencer’s methods indicate a lack of scientific rigor. I went into this with the possibility of finding an additional factor, that factor being denial of AGW is strongly linked with political alignment and to a lesser degree with religiosity. Spencer’s Wikipedia contains two notes pointing toward religious influence:

Spencer is a signatory to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.”. He believes that most climate change is natural in origin, the result of long-term changes in the Earth’s albedo and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused some warming, but that its warming influence is small compared to natural, internal, chaotic fluctuations in global average cloud cover. This view contradicts the scientific consensus that “most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities”.


In TCS Daily, Spencer wrote, “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied theevolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.” In the book The Evolution Crisis, Spencer wrote, “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world. […] Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer.”

Climatologist Patrick Michaels has defended Spencer, arguing that his religious beliefs have nothing to do with his climate change research.

Dr. Michaels holds a “Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison” and is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank whose agenda includes opposition to AGW. He is correct in arguing that Spencer’s religious beliefs have nothing to do with whether he is correct in his conclusions. Most likely, there are many researchers supporting AGW who are also deeply religious.

What bears on religion and science is the matter of demonstrable science as opposed to personal opinion. Spencer has published his research, some of it valid, some not so much. Base on his research and that of others he voices the opinion that AGW is without merit. It’s here the value of his opinion comes into play.

When a person says in one breath that AGW is invalid science, and in the next breath he expresses belief in a mythical person who created the universe in six days and has power over our daily lives, then you can begin to doubt his conclusions regarding AGW. My observation from many years is that if a person’s thinking is horribly screwed up in one part of his brain, it’s time to closely examine everything else he says.

The Age of Embarrassment is still upon us, and there will be more on this. Keep reading


The Age Of Embarrassment

Second in a series

This is cross-posted from Skeptical Analysis

I got started on this topic (see above) through a note that was passed to me by a former classmate from high school. If you have not already, take some time to read through the initial post. It’s about a local climate report from 1922 telling of exceptionally warm weather around Spitzbergen Island, Norway. The gist is we were expected to conclude from reading this 93-year-old report that warming climate has been with us since before the consumption of fossil fuels kicked into high gear. Therefore, there is no basis for claiming that current human activities are contributing to unwarranted global warming.

I posted a link on Facebook and was pleased to get some response. I reconstruct the conversation below. I stated:

Thanks to an old school chum for sending me this:

And I posted a link (see above) to the original post. The remainder of the dialog continues:

Dan Haha!

Don’t forget the 60s – 70s scare about Global Cooling, and the Population Bomb.

John Blanton How can I forget. Unfortunately, anthropogenic global warming is no scare. Some are beginning to be impacted already. Check your friends who live in the Marshall Islands.

USGS Pacific Islands Projects: Impact of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on U.S.…

Dan What’s the proof this is man-caused?

CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air, so it can’t be that.

John Blanton Excuse me. Is that your argument?

Dan That is 1/12 of it.

Is that your answer to my question?

John Blanton Maybe we need to start over. Do you have an argument/statement to make? If so, let’s see it. We will go from there.

Dan Your statement was that Anthropogenic Global Warming  is no scare. I reacted to that.

John Blanton I will elaborate. As opposed to a scare, AGW is a for real thing. Hopefully that clears things up.

Dan It clears up your beliefs.

Thank you.

John Blanton Dan, Thank you for thanking me. But back to the topic. The post on Skeptical Analysis was about the failed assault on climate science, and my position is that climate science comes down in favor of the fact that human activity is causing global warming, along with many of the consequences discussed elsewhere.

Your position is either 1) you agree with my position, or 2) you disagree, and you are about to give me the reasons why. You mentioned “CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air,” which is not strictly true, but it does get across the idea that CO2 is denser than air. Then you continue, “…so it can’t be that..”

My background on the density of CO2 is not relevant to the discussion. The number 1.4 is not correct, but Dan’s point is pertinent. CO2 is denser than air. The problem is that Dan never connected this to any argument about the validity of AGW. Given the opportunity, I am sure he will make his point in the future. I continued my response:

If you have evidence that human activity is not responsible for global warming, now is the time to lay it out. You can also post your response as a comment to the blog post.

Remember, my post on Skeptical Analysis pointed out that there is a crowd of people who object to the conclusions of the climate scientists, but they never give any evidence that human activity is not responsible.

Dan You call yourself (or associate yourself with) a skeptic. However, your response appears mostly emotional:

1. The burden is on one positing an assertion to support it. Proving a negative is not required, if it’s even possible (e.g. prove there is no God).

2. When you say “the climate scientists,” it implies those are the only ones, or the only ones that matter. That is not the case. There is a huge and growing group of climatologists who see huge flaws in “Global Warming.”

3. You did not refute the evidence I did give. Why should I supply more?

4. On which other Earth-like planet is CO2 a “greenhouse gas?”

5. If “Global Warming” (meaning anthropogenic) is happening, why have the key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers? How many times were they NOT caught (not asking for a number).

6. If GW is true, why have they again changed the name? Now, it’s “Climate Change?”

7. On that note, what exact change are they denoting, or (as we’ve seen) do they squeal loudly at any supposed anomaly? Obama recently blamed ISIS attacks on “Climate Change” with ZERO scientific support.

8. If GW is true, what is the proper average temperature that we should be experiencing now, and on what basis is that number calculated?

9. The current “deviation” of temperature is statistically insignificant. That is, it’s well within the plus/minus 3% of a GOOD (that is, not cooked) statistical sample of temperatures. As we’ve seen, we DO have a cooked study, so the margin of error is higher.

10. If GW is true, why won’t the IPCC release details of its model so other climatologists can examine its validity?

11. How, exactly, will paying a tax to Al Gore’s “Carbon Exchange” in England save the planet? The exchange was moved from Chicago after that exchange’s political connections were exposed.

I have more, but how’s that for a start?

Blood And Gore: Making A Killing On Anti-Carbon Investment Hype

As can be seen, the conversation initially took an erratic path. A bit of back and forth got it back on track, resulting in an excellent response from Dan. I will diagnose pertinent parts of the conversation in turn.

1. Dan posted a short chuckle and a comment concerning some history, likely not relevant: “Don’t forget the 60s – 70s scare about Global Cooling, and the Population Bomb.”

I responded and attempted to get the discussion back on line: “Unfortunately, anthropogenic global warming is no scare. Some are beginning to be impacted already. Check your friends who live in the Marshall Islands.” And I posted a link to the problem in the Marshall Islands.

2. Dan asked, “What’s the proof this is man-caused? CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air, so it can’t be that.”

I was confused about what Dan was referring to. I was unable to find the antecedent to “this” as in “this is man-caused.” I was also confused about the statement that CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air. It is not.

I asked Dan if that was his argument. He replied that was 1/12 of it. At that point I put in some ground work to restart the dialog, and Dan responded with his 11 points. I will go over those points, each in turn.

The first point is unnumbered:

You call yourself (or associate yourself with) a skeptic. However, your response appears mostly emotional:

Yes, I do call myself a skeptic. To do otherwise would be disingenuous. I will leave it to readers to determine whether my response is mostly emotional.

1. The burden is on one positing an assertion to support it. Proving a negative is not required, if it’s even possible (e.g. prove there is no God).

Dan’s point is well made. Proving the absence of AGW is proving a negative. A couple of points in response:

The original Skeptical Analysis post is not about proving the absence of AGW. It is about people who claim AGW does not exist and the methods they employ. Emphatically, the post is about the methods they employ.

My position is that AGW is real, and I am prepared to demonstrate good evidence it is.

2. When you say “the climate scientists,” it implies those are the only ones, or the only ones that matter. That is not the case. There is a huge and growing group of climatologists who see huge flaws in “Global Warming.”

When I say “the climate scientists” I do intend to imply these are the scientists who count. My observation is that there are relatively few actual scientists who doubt the reality of AGW, while the vast majority of climate scientist agree with the reality of AGW.

Dan asserts, “There is a huge and growing group of climatologists who see huge flaws in ‘Global Warming.’” He needs to justify that statement in a manner that does not require redefinition of the word “huge” and maybe even the word “growing.”

Here is a (possibly incomplete) list of scientific organizations taking the position the AGW is real:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Medical Association
  • American Meteorological Society
  • American Physical Society
  • The Geological Society of America

Discount the AMA if you want, but the remaining on this list involve studies directly related to AGW. Add to that the United States National Academy of Sciences, some others, and 197 other organizations listed at this link.

Anticipating that Dan will respond to the foregoing that science is not a democracy, and scientific fact is not determined by majority vote, I will remind him that he is the one who introduced the argument incorporating the words “huge and growing group of climatologists.”

3. You did not refute the evidence I did give. Why should I supply more?

I did not refute the evidence that Dan gave, because I was unable to locate said evidence in Dan’s comments. At this point I ask Dan to remind me what evidence he posted.

4. On which other Earth-like planet is CO2 a “greenhouse gas?”

Dan has me there. I am unable to answer that question. Neither am I able to answer the question, “What’s the average weight of the American bald eagle.?Both are equally relevant. I will be permitted to bypass this point of Dan’s.

5. If “Global Warming” (meaning anthropogenic) is happening, why have the key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers? How many times were they NOT caught (not asking for a number).

Two points in response to this:

  • Dan needs to demonstrate the factuality of his premise that “key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers.”
  • This is not a statement, rather a question. Dan needs to employ a statement of fact, supposed or otherwise, rather than ask a question. For example: “Key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers.” Then there will be something to debate. What Dan is doing is what I discussed in the original post. People who deny AGW are not presenting factual arguments. Instead, they are putting forward peripheral issues, many of which do not bear on the validity of AGW.

Regarding that last, if opponents of the science behind AGW want to prove their case, they have ample opportunity to do so. All they need to do is to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, and other such gases do not trap heat from solar radiation in the atmosphere.
  • The concentration of these gases is not increasing and has not been steadily increasing for the past 50 years (and more).
  • Human activity is not contributing significantly to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Events beyond human control are alone responsible for the warming.
  • The temperature of the combination atmosphere and hydrosphere is not increasing and has not been increasing for the past 50 years and more.
  • The increase in global temperatures has had little or no impact on human well-being.

That last point may be superfluous to my argument. My argument is that the AGW is real. It’s impact on human well-being is another matter.

6. If GW is true, why have they again changed the name? Now, it’s “Climate Change?”

See above. This is a question and not an argument. Also, were it posed as a statement of some kind, it would still not be relevant.

7. On that note, what exact change are they denoting, or (as we’ve seen) do they squeal loudly at any supposed anomaly? Obama recently blamed ISIS attacks on “Climate Change” with ZERO scientific support.

A statement this time, but again one that is not pertinent. Dan needs to elaborate on the statement before I can attempt to address it. How about some actual quotes?

8. If GW is true, what is the proper average temperature that we should be experiencing now, and on what basis is that number calculated?

Again a question and not a statement. Dan needs to argue his point. That aside, these two questions will be addressed later in this post.

9. The current “deviation” of temperature is statistically insignificant. That is, it’s well within the plus/minus 3% of a GOOD (that is, not cooked) statistical sample of temperatures. As we’ve seen, we DO have a cooked study, so the margin of error is higher.

Point number 9 and finally a statement of fact. If Dan will be so kind as to supply some references I will check them out.

10. If GW is true, why won’t the IPCC release details of its model so other climatologists can examine its validity?

Again a question. If I may be permitted to offer assistance, I recommend this point be posed as a statement. For example: “The IPCC refuses to release details of its model. This does not allow other climatologists to assess the validity of the model.”

As it is, Dan’s point 10 is a classic example of “begging the question.” The question is posed in such a manner as to state a conclusion, the conclusion being that the IPCC refuses to release details of its model. It could be the IPCC has refused to release these details, but Dan does not state that, and, further, he does not cite any references to support this in the event it is factual.

11. Dan’s point 11 is again an irrelevant question. The fact is that Al Gore is a politician and does not remotely resemble a scientist. His views on the matter have no bearing on the validity of AGW. The absurdity of associating Al Gore and the validity of AGW is exemplified in a collection of memes I posted a few months ago. Here is one.

Leo blog : The Heartland Institute conference billboard in Chicago

Leo blog : The Heartland Institute conference billboard in Chicago

The summary of Dan’s excellently-composed comments is that he has followed the example of those I sought to pillory in my original post. Tom Vittrup wanted to portray AGW as baseless, and his means was to post an irrelevant story from The Washington Post in 1922. Breitbart News Network wanted to portray AGW as baseless, and their means was to post a fact-deficient item about scientists cooking data.  The Washington Times wanted to portray AGW as baseless and their means was to imply NASA was hiding data. None of the sources I presented in my previous post made any effort to disqualify AGW using scientific data. This despite the excellent opportunity to do so by demonstrating any of the cases I mentioned previously (disprove carbon dioxide traps solar energy, etc.).

That dead horse now well beaten, I do need to address a very legitimate point made by Dan. That is, I should not only charge others to disprove the validity of AGW, I need to demonstrate its factual basis. This cannot be done exhaustively in just a few paragraphs, so I will, instead, demonstrate some points bearing on the basis of AGW. I have previously posted on this matter, and I will refer back to that post rather than completely rehash the issue. I said this:

What is it about otherwise intelligent people that bubbles the stupid to the top the moment they get the hots for public office. Do they feel the need to plumb the depths of the electorate gene pool? Possibly.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush was commenting on the science behind AGW:

“Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said.

“It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality,” he said.

At that point I started a discussion of the science behind AGW. I will go over a few points that post touched. First, is carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere rising? The answer is yes. The data plot below is called the Keeling Curve.


The Keeling Curve is a graph which plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. It is based on continuous measurements taken at theMauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii that began under the supervision of Charles David Keeling. Keeling’s measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Many scientists credit Keeling’s graph with first bringing the world’s attention to the current increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Charles David Keeling, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, was the first person to make frequent regular measurements of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, taking readings at the South Pole and in Hawaii from 1958 onwards.

Examine this data plot. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising since Keeling started making measurements in 1958. The wiggles in the curve reflect fluctuations in CO2 concentration due to the greening of foliage in the Northern Hemisphere. This planet’s northern hemisphere holds the abundance of green plants, and during the spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere these plants suck up a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The drop in the concentration of CO2 is plainly visible in the plot. In the Northern Hemisphere’s cold season deciduous plants drop their leaves, and CO2  absorption decreases (evergreens keep sucking up CO2). Also, the leaves that have dropped during the current season and in previous seasons continue to return their carbon content back to the atmosphere as CO2.

If there were no decades long increase in CO2 concentration, this curve would be nearly horizontal except for the yearly fluctuation shown. This is called a steady state condition. The continual rise demonstrates the atmosphere is not in steady state.

Further, observe the scale of the rise. It starts at 320 parts per million (ppm) in 1958 and approaches 400 ppm in the current decade. The concentration in October 2014 was 396.21 ppm, and in October 2015 it was 398.70 ppm. This was last updated 7 December of this year. This is a more than 50-year trend. Were it to be extrapolated back in a naive manner, then a few centuries ago there would have been no CO2 in the atmosphere. This is obviously not the fact, so at some point in the past the CO2 began its inexorable rise. Here is a plot obtained from ice core data:


Data source: Reconstruction from ice cores. Credit: NOAA

The same source notes the November 2015 concentration was 402.23 ppm. The CO2 concentration has fluctuated wildly the past 400,000 years, but since about 1960 it has remained higher than it ever was before during that period.

So much for CO2 concentrations. What about the average yearly temperatures? Here is a plot of these temperatures for the past 135 years. The Earth has been growing warmer during the time the CO2 has been making its sharp rise.


What about the argument that other factors besides human activity are to blame? What could these be?

  • Variations in Earth’s orbit
  • Volcanic activity
  • Fluctuations in solar activity

The following plots are from a Bloomberg site titled “What’s Really Warming the World.”




In all three of these the heavy black line is global temperature, and the relatively horizontal, wiggly line is the phenomenon against which the temperature is tracked. In all cases it is obvious Earth’s temperature is tracking none of these. Readers are encouraged to visit the Bloomberg link and get a better view of the plots.

Besides these, I have data and scientific principles to demonstrate the relationship between human activity and the recent rise in average global temperatures. Many of these have been pulled into a presentation from earlier this year for The North Texas Skeptics. I am always happy to explain and to expand on any of the points. I will attempt to do so by means of a follow-up post in order to give the matter as thorough a treatment as I can make it.

Keep reading.

The Age Of Embarrassment

This was previously posted on the Skeptical Analysis blog. It is being reposted here to generate interest and some conversation on the topic. A follow-up post will appear tomorrow.

I have neither the time nor the energy to scout out all the topics discussed on this blog. I rely on a network of friends, and some not so friendly, to remind me which way the earth rotates. Much thanks to all.

Here is something forwarded by a classmate from high school:

From: Tom Vittrup

Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:27 AM

The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulate, at Bergen , Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.

* * * * * * * * *

I must apologize.

I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922, as reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post – 93 years ago.

This must have been caused by the Model T Ford’s emissions or possibly from horse and cattle flatulence?

I don’t know who Tom Vittrup is, but I suspect his motive for forwarding this. It’s a dig at anybody who accepts the science behind anthropogenic global warming. Tom Vittrup believes, and he wants others to believe, that the science is flawed. The reasoning goes like this:

  • Scientists have been sounding the alarm over global warming for only the past 50 years.
  • Although the Industrial revolution of the 19th century kicked off use of fossil fuels on a grand scale, their use did not shift into high gear until the advent of the automobile, little more than 100 years ago.
  • Symptoms of global warming were beginning to be manifest as far back as 1922, well before Saudi Arabia tapped into its vast oil reserves.
  • Conclusion: If global warming is happening now, it must be due to something that has been going on for more than 100 years.

Setting aside for the moment whether this argument has a leg to stand on, it’s interesting to note a number of other things.

First, there was such a news item in The Washington Post. Here is a clipping.


Second, Tom neglected to put the Post article into perspective. The article is based on an item in Monthly Weather Review, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. Here is the original article from the AMS:



[Under date of October 10 1922, the American consul at Bergan Norway, submitted the following report to the State Department, Washington, D.C.]

The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface.

In August, 1922, the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. Its purpose was to survey and chart the lands adjacent to the Norwegian mines on those islands, take soundings of the adjacent waters, and make other oceanographic investigations.

Dr. Hoel, who has just returned, reports the location of hitherto unknown coal deposits on the eastern shores of Advent Bay—deposits of vast extent and superior quality. This is regarded as of first importance, as so far most of the coal mined by the Norwegian companies on those islands has not been of the best quality.

The oceanographic observations have, however, been even more interesting. Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81° 29′ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.

the character of the waters of the great polar basin has heretofore been practically unknown. Dr. Hoel reports that he made a section of the Gulf Stream at 81° north latitude and took soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters. These show the Gulf Stream very warm, and it could be traced as a surface current till beyond the 81st parallel. The warmth of the waters makes it probable that the favorable ice conditions will continue for some time.

Later a section was taken of the Gulf Stream off Bear Island and off the Isfjord, as well as a section of the cold current that comes down along the west coast of Spitzbergen off the south cape.

In connection with Dr. Hoel’s report, it is of interest to note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and the observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen, who has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He says he first noted warmer conditions in 1918, that since that time it has steadily gotten warmer, and to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.

Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognizable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.

The change in temperature, says Captain Ingebrigtsen, has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. This summer he sought for white fish in Spitzbergen waters. Formerly great shoals of them were found there. This year he saw none, although he visited all the old fishing grounds.

There were few seal in Spitzbergen waters this year, the catch being far under the average. This, however, did not surprise the captain. He pointed out that formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3° Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15°, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbergen.

With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast of Spitzbergen, all the way from the fry to the veritable great herring. Shoals of smelt were also met with.

The Snopes site provides additional information.

As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documented elsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

The link is to an article by Tom Goreau from 8 January 2010 titled Long Term Arctic Ice Trends and Global Warming:

Those who seek to deny global warming constantly use transparently obvious tricks, selecting data from a single time, a single place, or both, to deny the larger long-term global patterns. This is easily done as climate is constantly fluctuating, so picking out the mean patterns and trends requires that one integrates the data over the largest time and space scales possible. So if one dishonestly wants to misrepresent the larger patterns, one can always find a particular place at a particular time that does not agree with the all the rest averaged together. This is sometimes referred to as the “It’s a cold day in Wagga Wagga” approach, and is repeatedly used by the climate change deniers to fool people who haven’t looked at the data themselves. The changes in Arctic Ice are no exception!

Good data mapping the entire Arctic Ice Cap from space satellites is fairly recent, only since 1979, but the trends are absolutely clear:

Tom Goreau provides the following chart:


He further states:

But note that there are year to year fluctuations of about 1 million square kilometers, due to annual weather variations. These spatial variations have been used by deniers who simply look at changes since 2007, an exceptionally warm year in the Arctic, to suggest that the Arctic is cooling down! In other words they are simply picking ONE point that falls a bit off the trend of ALL the data to deny the long-term trend.

Another good example of this is a recent posting of the newspaper version of a report made in 1922, that there was much less sea ice than normal at a few places in that year:

And he cites the example of the 1922 MWR report. Tom Goreau’s report contains additional data charts, and I have retained a copy in case the original ever gets moved. Readers are encouraged to read the report and to do their own fact checking.

Snopes concludes:

As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documentedelsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

All of this is fairly recent. Trying to run this story to its source I came across a reference in theWashington Times from 2007:

Inside the Beltway

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Before Gore

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.”

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention “great masses of
ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones,” and “at many points
well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

“This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the
1920s and 1930s,” says Mr. Lockwood. “I had read of the just-released NASA estimates,
that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the
hottest of all.”

Worth pondering

Reacting yesterday to word that certain European governments and officials are
suddenly trying to abandon their costly “global warming” policies, Royal Astronomical
Society fellow Benny Peiser, of the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University
in Great Britain, recalls the teachings of Marcus Aurelius: “The object of life is not to be
on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

The Washington Times is not to be confused with The Washington Post. The Post publishes Pulitzer-winning journalism, while the Times is an organ of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon:

The Washington Times is a daily broadsheet published at 3600 New York Avenue NE,Washington, D.C., United States. It was founded in 1982 by the founder of the Unification Church, Sun Myung Moon and was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the church, until 2010 when it was purchased directly by a group led by Moon.

The paper is noted for supporting conservative causes, including creationism and denial of climate science.

What, then, to make of this thinly-disguised gem of propaganda? A bigger question is why does a considerable element in American society put forward items like this in opposition to some basic science? My answer is this means of persuasion is all there is. If a legitimate argument opposed to global warming were available, then that would be put forward. To date, none has—a compelling indication that none exists.

Andrew Breitbart (1969 – 2012) was a writer for The Washington Times. He founded the conservative Breitbart News Network,, which carries on Breitbart’s cause. One such cause is opposition to climate science. The conversation is concerted and strident:

Global Warming ‘Fabricated’ by NASA and NOAA


Scientists at two of the world’s leading climate centres – NASA and NOAA – have been caught out manipulating temperature data to overstate the extent of the 20th century “global warming”.

The evidence of their tinkering can clearly be seen at Real Science, where blogger Steven Goddard has posted a series of graphs which show “climate change” before and after the adjustments.

When the raw data is used, there is little if any evidence of global warming and some evidence of global cooling. However, once the data has been adjusted – ie fabricated by computer models –  20th century ‘global warming’ suddenly looks much more dramatic.

This is especially noticeable on the US temperature records. Before 2000, it was generally accepted – even by climate activists like NASA’s James Hansen – that the hottest decade in the US was the 1930s.

As Hansen himself said in a 1989 report:

In the U.S. there has been little temperature change in the past 50 years, the time of rapidly increasing greenhouse gases — in fact, there was a slight cooling throughout much of the country.

However, Hansen subsequently changed his tune when, sometime after 2000, the temperatures were adjusted to accord with the climate alarmists’ fashionable “global warming” narrative. By cooling the record-breaking year of 1934, and promoting 1998 as the hottest year in US history, the scientists who made the adjustments were able suddenly to show 20th century temperatures shooting up – where before they looked either flat or declining.

But as Goddard notes, the Environmental Protection Agency’s heatwave record makes a mockery of these adjustments. It quite clearly shows that the US heat waves of the 1930s were of an order of magnitude greater than anything experienced at any other time during the century – far more severe than those in the 1980s or 1990s which were no worse than those in the 1950s.

For some reason this headline-shattering news from Breitbart failed to clear the fold in such publications as The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. It could be these front-line news sources are part of the global conspiracy of scientists promoting global warming for the sake of sucking up grant money. Or it could be these publications are concerned with printing what is true rather than what is sensational. One publication that is not holding back is The Washington Times. The headline reads:

And there is more.

The preceding excerpts depict an ongoing campaign to mine fringes of the global warming story and to paint a picture at odds with the facts. A coarse reading of various such references finds little in substance of fact. The adversaries of climate science bring to mind the creationist movement of the past 90 years. Lacking any valid supporting research, the creationists manufacture controversies without basis and generate more thunder than lightning. And they wage a constant war of fanciful pleadings and anecdotal irrelevancies.

It’s a world foreign to real science. It’s a world of purported intrigue and imagined motives. It’s a world of pronouncing baldly what is obviously untrue. And—like schoolboys kept after class—passing amusing stories around the Internet.

The Heat Of Darkness

This is being reposted from the Skeptical Analysis blog in conjunction with our planned discussion of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

The Heat Of Darkness

I will try to keep the introduction brief. It’s a little bit of physics that I was supposed to have learned a long time ago but retained only a little.

The planet Earth reflects about 30% of the light it gets from the sun. One way of saying this is the albedo of the Earth is 30%. Wikipedia says 30% to 35%, but I was only guessing. The remaining 65% to 70% the Earth gets to keep, and this warms the Earth.

Keep this in mind. The Earth does not keep this energy forever. If it did, then the Earth would keep getting hotter and hotter until it melted, and we know that has not happened recently. When the surface of the Earth is warm it radiates invisible infra-red energy out into space. The hotter the surface becomes the more intensely it radiates energy. After a time the Earth’s surface reaches a temperature at which the combined reflected and radiated energy exactly equal the energy received from the sun. This is a system in equilibrium.

OK, that’s not strictly true. One problem we poor students had to solve was to calculate this average surface temperature. The solution was about 20 degrees F cooler than what we actually measure. What was wrong? What was wrong, and we knew this going in, is that the sun is not the sole source of heating for the Earth. The Earth contains within it a vast nuclear reactor, large quantities of uranium and thorium undergoing radioactive decay and releasing heat. Enough heat to keep the Earth’s average surface temperature where it is now. Which some would say is just about right.

Electromagnetic energy (including visible light and infra-red) must pass through the Earth’s atmosphere coming in and going out. The atmosphere intercepts some of that energy passing through in both directions. To get to the point, the Earth’s surface reflects some visible light and some infra-red, but it (mostly) only emits energy in the form of infra-red radiation. Without consulting any charts I am going to say a large amount of infra-red energy passes through the atmosphere on the way out into infinite space, never to return again. But some of this infra-red making the trip out gets absorbed by the atmosphere.

This illustration from Wikipedia shows what goes on with energy and radiation in this circumstance. The plots for an idealized absorber/emitter show that as surface temperature increases, the body emits more energy and preferentially in the short wavelengths (for example, visible light). When the surface temperature is lower the total emission is less, and the distribution is concentrated in the longer wavelengths (infra-red). At ordinary surface temperatures on Earth (especially not the glowing lava from a volcano) the emission is entirely in the infra-red and longer wavelengths.

So, what would happen if the amount of energy getting absorbed on the way out were to increase? To answer my own question, more energy would be retained by the Earth as a whole (atmosphere plus ground plus water). The temperature of the Earth’s surface would rise until it reached a point that the amount of energy starting the trip out would be enough so that enough would make it out, and the inward and outward flows would balance again.

What would cause the atmosphere to increase its infra-red absorption rate (absorb a greater fraction of the infra-red passing through)? The answer is “some change in the nature of the atmosphere.”

The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen and oxygen gas. Water vapor makes up some, and argon gas and carbon dioxide make up even less. Due to some well-known principles of quantum mechanics, water molecules interact readily with photons in the infra-red part of the spectrum. Water molecules have a number of energy levels at which to store energy, and certain wavelengths of infra-red have just the right energy to raise the energy of a water molecule by the amount of the difference of two of the molecule’s well-defined energy levels. A water molecule readily interacts with a photon of the proper wavelength and absorbs all of its energy. This kind of interaction likes to be all or nothing. That’s why they call it quantum mechanics.

So, water vapor in the atmosphere is an excellent absorber of infra-red energy and contributes greatly to keeping the Earth’s surface warm. What about carbon dioxide? The same is true with carbon dioxide, but not so much, because, for one thing, there is much less of it. Water accounts for 36% to 72% of the I-R absorption, and CO2 accounts for 9% to 26%. CO2 makes up 0.039% of the atmosphere, while water makes up about 0.4%. It’s apparent that of the two major “greenhouse” gasses in the air, CO2 is pound for pound more absorbent of infra-red than water.

People who doubt the effect that something like water has on heat retention need to visit a desert climate. In Tucson, Arizona, the relative humidity may linger around 10%, and in the day time the temperature regularly exceeds 110F. When the sun goes down you look up, and you see nothing between you and the cold void of outer space but a layer of dry air. The temperature rapidly drops as energy radiates into space. The sky “feels” cold. A demonstration with CO2 uses an IR imaging system and a CO2 fire extinguisher. On the imaging view screen you can see all manner of objects in a completely dark room, because they emit IR. Spray a cloud of CO2 in front of these objects, and they disappear, because the CO2 has absorbed the IR.

Even so, water has a greater over-all effect on heat retention in the atmosphere, so what’s all the fuss about CO2? We regularly put a lot of water in the air and never give it a thought. The difference is that water has a transport mechanism called “rain” that removes it from the atmosphere as fast on average as it goes in. CO2 has no such mechanism. CO2 is removed mainly by the process of photosynthesis by plants, and it takes a long time to remove a large slug of CO2 from the air. The average life of a water molecule in the air is about 9 days. The average life of a CO2 molecule in the air is 20 years. That large slug of CO2 will show effects for about 200 years.

That was my brief introduction, and I now get down to the business of what has come to be called global warming. The CO2 concentration in the air has gone up 35% since the advent of the industrial revolution, and it appears that much of this has been due to the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests.

Carbon dioxide is just carbon and oxygen joined into a molecule. The atmosphere contains a lot of oxygen (about 21%) but no carbon except in carbon dioxide, methane and some other minor gasses. If you can manage the carbon, you can keep the CO2 out of the atmosphere. Fossil fuels (coal-almost pure carbon and hydrocarbons-petroleum and natural gas) transport carbon, that has been sequestered underground for millions of years, back to the atmosphere. Trees store a lot of carbon, as well, and removing them without growing new ones to replace them returns their carbon content of the atmosphere.

None of that would matter if there were not detrimental effects of global warming. Nobody has yet projected more than a two to five degrees rise in atmospheric temperature in the next 100 years. However, even that small amount will have a very noticeable effect. If the oceans warm by that amount they will expand, and the sea level will rise. If the water locked in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melts and flows into the oceans, the sea level will rise by several feet. There are some places that cannot tolerate such a rise in sea level. The Republic of Maldives is a collection of islands in the Indian Ocean on average less than five feet above sea level. The state of Florida is not much better, and the city of New Orleans is right at sea level with some parts lower than the surface of the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles away.

Also, there is concern with runaway warming. If warming melts the northern snow belts, then the darkened landscape will absorb more heat from the sun, and warming will increase, causing more snow and ice to melt. It’s called positive feedback.

Again, none of this would be controversial, except that some people do not want to take responsibility for what we are all doing to contribute to global warming. People do not want to stop burning gasoline in their cars. They do not want to stop burning coal in their power plants. They want to cut down forests to plant annual crops. And so on.

So, what do people do? They do what people always do. They shoot the messenger who brings the bad news. It’s as though if the message goes away then the problem will go away. As with all problems there is a profit to be made solving the problem. Which brings us to the matter of Heartland Institute.

A quick trip to their home page reveals their message in a circulating marquee:


Left-wing groups commit fraud, but we’re fighting back! Join our legal defense fund and remove false and defamatory materials and prosecute the true criminals.

The site also mentions a number of these “left-wing” groups:

NCSE (National Center for Science Education)
Huffington Post
Pacific Institute

Some of these groups I am familiar with, others not so much. The Huffington Post I read often, and I can swear to you it has a liberal slant. Also, let’s call Greenpeace a given, although I am not sure why. When did protecting the environment become a liberal idea? How come conservatives have not picked up on this and marched with it? This is what I sometimes wonder when I consider the original meaning of the word conservative.

The NCSE promotes the teaching of science-based concepts in public schools. What conservative organization would be against this idea? It’s possible that because creationism has become the foster child of conservative politicians the NCSE is now on Heartland’s radar. The NCSE has been for the past 30 years a champion of teaching the science of biological evolution, and this science is now targeted by conservative groups. The NCSE strongly opposes teaching creationism, including the story of Genesis and the modern Intelligent Design form, in public science classes. Let’s make matters even worse. Recently the NCSE put “global warming” denial alongside creationism as one of the pseudo sciences it will oppose.

A little reading of Thinkprogress gives the impression of a liberal attitude, and Desmogblog is obviously liberal due to its stance against climate science denial. That brings us to Pacific Institute.

Pacific Institute was founded by Peter Gleick, an American scientist specializing in environmental issues. More recently he stepped down as head of the organization after revealing he had obtained confidential documents from Heartland using a faked identity. He created a bogus Gmail account and sent e-mails to Heartland claiming they were from a named board member and asking that duplicate notices from Heartland be sent to the new address, as well. He received confidential documents from Heartland and released these documents to various outlets, including Desmogblog, which has posted them on the Internet.

Gleick has clearly stepped beyond the bounds of legitimate science and into the realm of advocacy. In addition to his disconnection from the Pacific Institute, the San Francisco Chronicle has dropped his on-line blog.

Gleick was apparently motivated to tap into Heartland materials by an anonymous correspondence he received containing a memo that Heartland now says was forged. Heartland acknowledges the other published documents obtained by Gleick but contends the forged document has harmed its reputation. They are threatening legal action.

It is impossible to reconcile Gleick’s actions as those of a serious scientist. Particularly his release of unsubstantiated evidence is outside accepted practice. Regarding the materials Gleick obtained from Heartland, it was not his job to do this kind of thing. This is best left up to others, such as Desmogblog and this blog. The Skeptical Analysis blog makes no claim for political neutrality, but there will always be an advocacy for real science and for doing the right thing.

I have reviewed the purloined materials, and I am happy to report they confirm what everybody knew all along. It brings me to wonder why Gleick went to all the trouble to expose the obvious. Did anybody think for a moment that Heartland has a legitimate agenda that caters to the public interest? Any difference between Heartland and a for-profit propaganda mill is difficult to discern. Here is part of an item posted on Desmogblog regarding the materials from Gleick:

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.

Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. [Update: Apparently even the Koch brothers think the Heartland Institute’s climate denial program is too toxic to fund. On Wednesday, Koch confirmed that it did not cut a check for the $200K mentioned in the strategy memo after all. A statement released on and the states that “…the Charles Koch Foundation provided $25,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2011 for research in healthcare, not climate change, and this was the first and only donation the Foundation made to the institute in more than a decade. The Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland.”]

The allusion is apparently to an item in Heartland’s 2012 fundraising plan. It shows an anticipated $25,000 expected for this year from Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. For those who do not watch the news, the Koch (coke) brothers are politically conservative billionaires whose family fortune originated with the petroleum industry.

Particularly telling is a Heartland memo titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” and dated January 2012. The contents appear to be no longer confidential, so a bit of disclosure is in order.

One paragraph speaks of the development of a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms.” This is being developed by David Wojick, who has a long history of working for industrial organizations opposed to climate science. According to Sourcewatch, “He has a Ph.D. in philosophy of science and mathematical logic from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BS in civil engineering from Carnegie Tech. He has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon and the staffs of the US Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Lab.” Also “Wojick has been described as a journalist and policy analyst. According to a search of 22,000 academic journals, Wojick has not published any research in a peer-reviewed journal on the subject of climate change.” The Heartland memo states that Wojick will be paid $100,000 to develop 20 educational modules with the funds coming from “The Anonymous Donor.”

The memo also states that Heartland funds “high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message.” These include Craig Idso at $11,600 per month, Fred Singer at $5000 per month (plus expenses) and Robert Carter, at $1667 per month.

About Idso, Sourcewatch has this to say:

Craig D. Idso is Chairman, founder and former President of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a contrarian Arizona-based group funded in part by ExxonMobil. He is the son of its president, Sherwood B. Idso[1], and the brother of its vice president, Keith E. Idso.

According to Sourcewatch, Fred Singer “runs the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP).., which publicizes his own views on various topics, primarily climate change, ozone depletion, risks of chemical pollution (from DDT and others), nuclear power, and space policy.” He has a long history of advocacy for concerns who have behaved badly in the public arena. Again from Sourcewatch:

In 1993, Singer collaborated with Tom Hockaday of Apco Associates to draft an article on “junk science” intended for publication. Apco Associates was the PR firm hired to organize and direct The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition for Philip Morris. Hockaday reported on his work with Singer to Ellen Merlo, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Philip Morris.

Sourcewatch has this to say about Robert Carter:

According to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, Carter was “on the research committee at the Institute of Public Affairs, a think tank that has received funding from oil and tobacco companies, and whose directors sit on the boards of companies in the fossil fuel sector” and believed, SMH said, that “the role of peer review in scientific literature was overstressed.”

If you have been reading along with me you have noticed one peculiar consistency. None of the people just mentioned are serious scientists working in the field of atmospheric science, environmental issues or any of the topics they are being paid to speak on. The word propaganda has a long history of various implications, but this case best illustrates the modern English usage.

When a dedicated cadre of serious scientists develops an idea that many in our society find objectionable, the only recourse for those who oppose this idea is to out-talk the scientists and call them liars and fools. The irony of this approach is that the accuser must take on the role of a liar or a fool. Another course of action would be to do real scientific research and develop opposing conclusions. The various industrial and political groups could take that route if they chose. Obviously they have not, and the reason they have not is because they cannot. If they could, they would. But they cannot, and they do not.