Ouch! Warming denialists’ claims blown away by Sandy

October 30, 2012

Over at Rabbett Run:

tonylearns said…
Could someone go over to Goddard’s blog for me ( I have been banned three times most recently for having the gall to suggest he was wrong in ridiculing the possibility of a new record minimum SIE this year. ) and ask for his apology to Hansen for ridiculing the possibility of the West Side Highway being underwater. I just saw a video showing the West Side Highway underwater.
29/10/12 7:46 PM

No! Someone whose comments don’t show up at Steve Goddard’s blog? Must be some massive disruption in the force of the Tubes of the Interweb thingy.

What is this guy Tony on about?

At Steve Goddard’s blog — this is the same guy who said the western drought was over because Lake Powell rose a few feet, though the drought raged on everywhere else — Goddard and his flying and limping monkeys have been poking fun at something James Hansen is alleged to have said:

According to NASA’s top scientist, Manhattan has been underwater for the past four years, and is experiencing a horrific drought.

While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

And so far, over the last 10 years, we’ve had 10 of the hottest years on record. [Quoting an article at Salon]

The West Side Highway under water?  Ha.

Goddard’s blog has used Hansen’s quote as a regular punchline, not noticing that Hansen said “in 20 to 30 years,” and assuming he was just awfully, comically wrong.  30 years from 1988 will be 2018.  This year is 2012, six years to go.  Goddard tried to ridicule Hansen a few times over the past couple of years, for example:

  1. Here on October 4, 2010;
  2. Here on October 10, 2010;
  3. Here on November 13, 2010;
  4. Here on December 19, 2010 (with a photo of Al Gore, Barack Obama and an unidentified guy, maybe Goddard himself?);
  5. Here on January 15, 2011;
  6. Again on March 14, 2011;
  7. A special St. Patrick’s Day posting, March 17, 2011;
  8. Here on April 9, 2011;
  9. Here on May 22, 2011;
  10. Here on May 30, 2011; and obviously running out of comedy material, Goddard went for two in one day,
  11. Here on May 30, 2011, and by this time it’s such a regular meme attempting to mock James Hansen with same old material, Goddard doesn’t refer to the actual quote from Hansen;
  12. Here on June 15, 2011;
  13. Here on July 20, 2011;
  14. Here on July 21, 2011;
  15. Here on August 25, 2011;
  16. Here on May 7, 2012;
  17. Here on May 8, 2012;
  18. Here on May 23, 2012;
  19. June 25, 2012;
  20. August 9, 2012;
  21. August 23, 2012;
  22. August 31, 2012;
  23. September 28, 2012.

AP may complain about this use, but this is an academic, learning exercise:

Photo showing West Side Highway underwater from Hurricane Sandy

Caption from Yahoo! News: This photo provided by Dylan Patrick shows flooding along the Westside Highway near the USS Intrepid as Sandy moves through the area Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 in New York. Much of New York was plunged into darkness Monday by a superstorm that overflowed the city’s historic waterfront, flooded the financial district and subway tunnels and cut power to nearly a million people. (AP Photo/Dylan Patrick) MANDATORY CREDIT: DYLAN PATRICK

Dylan Patrick got the photographic evidence that shows, once again, warming denialists really are a classless, fact-lacking bunch.  CNN has photos from Dylanphoto1 (the same guy, almost certainly), in a slide show, noting, “Most of the Westside Highway south of 49th street is flooded all the way down, and in front of the USS Intrepid.”  Across from Pier 88 and the USS Intrepid, the street is indeed underwater.

So we learn that, as a comedian, Steve Goddard has an extremely limited range and depends on a sympathetic room to get laughs; and as a climate scientist, he is even more limited, and wrong, with 6 years to go in the 20 to 30 year range James Hansen offered.  And we learn once again, sadly, that James Hansen was right back in 1988 when he hit the claxons to warn us of global warming.

23 times Goddard repeated the charge?  Do you get the idea that “climate skeptics” ran out of material years ago, and have been dancing a cover-up for a very, very long time?  Hurricane Sandy blew and floated his claim away.


Even more, a bit later:

Creationism vs. Christianity (a reprise)

October 30, 2012

This is an encore post, a repeat post from about four years ago, back in 2008.  For some reason the post got a couple hundred hits one day this past week, probably from a reference at another blog that I could not track.  I reread it — still true, still good stuff.  In this campaign year of 2012, I am dismayed at how anti-science and the denial of reality haunts election discussions, especially on-line, but also in the newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, in diners and drugstore fountains, in churches and PTA meetings.  Denial of reality may or may not be a genuine ailment to humans.  When it becomes a core belief of a significant number of people, denial can cripple our nation, our states, cities and towns. We need to ask deep questions.  We need to have real answers, not fantasies nor dangerous delusions.

PhotonQ-Charles Darwin 's Office

Charles Darwin’s study, where he conducted experiments and made many of the observations he wrote about. Photo: National Endowment for the Humanities

Denying reality plagues us as an actual political response to several problems.  Denialists wander so far down paths of disreality, they argue that we should ignore serious problems, and that the problems will then go away.

Should we teach the science of evolution to our children, or should we pretend fairy tales will substitute?  This has deep meaning to those who understand that Charles Darwin’s greatest contribution to science probably was his strict methodology, which required observation of things in nature before writing about them as if authoritative. 

Early in his life Darwin recognized that the natural world he saw, in Brazil, in the Galapagos Islands, in Australia and Tasmania, in South Africa, bore little resemblance to the world portrayed as authoritative by the great William Paley in his Natural Theology.  Throughout his science career Darwin observed real things in real time.  For his monograph on coral atolls, Darwin extensively observed the volcanic island phenomena throughout the South Pacific.  To write about barnacles, Darwin raised them in tanks in his study.  Looking at the mystery of exactly how the ivy twines, Darwin put a plant before him, and watched it, unraveling the secrets of how tendrils “knew” what to latch onto for support of the vine.  To write about leaf moulds, Darwin observed worms at work, in his lab and in his gardens.  To show the variation existing in what we now call the genome of a species, Darwin made extensive interviews and correspondence with animal husbanders of pigs, sheep and cattle, and he raised pigeons for generations himself, demonstrating how variations can be expressed that drive populations of one species to split into two through natural, everyday processes familiar to anyone who observed nature, and accessible by anyone who made methodical notes.

This familiarity with reality made Darwin a great scientist.  The methodology proved extendable into other areas when he carefully observed the mediums to whom his brother had cast great credence.  Charles revealed to Erasmus that spirit knocking on the tables at the séances did not occur so long as they held the hands of the mediums, who were then unable to feign the knocking. 

Ultimately it provided some despair to Darwin, too:  In the face of criticism from William Thompson, Lord Kelvin, that the Earth was not old enough to allow for evolution as Darwin suggested it must have occurred, Darwin had no answer.  Lord Kelvin calculated the ages of the Earth and Sun to be no more than 200 million years.  This was shown by the present temperatures and color of the Earth and the Sun, and calculated by Lord Kelvin from how long it would take the Earth, known to be composed of much iron and nickel, to cool from white hot to current temperatures.  Lord Kelvin ventured deep into coal mines to measure the temperatures of the Earth deep underground, to confirm his calculations.  At his death, though he defended his own observations of fossils and breeding of live animals, Darwin had no response for those arguments.  Darwin thought there must be other forces at play.  Only some years later did Ernest Rutherford find the secret of the Earth’s heat:  Radioactive decay in the mantle and core of the planet keeps it warm.  Measures of heat loss for such a large body had not accounted for continuous heating from within.  A short while later astronomers and physicists discovered problems with Lord Kelvin’s calculations of the age of the Sun:  The Sun is not composed of iron, cooling from white hot temperatures, but instead is hydrogen, fusing into helium, and making its own heat.

Darwin’s calculations of the age of the Earth were more accurate than Lord Kelvin’s, based on Darwin’s crude calculations of how long it might take animals and plants to have evolved from much more primitive forms.  History demonstrated by easily observable things provided greater accuracy than history devised without benefit of grounding in reality.

In what other realms might grounding in reality produce answers different from what some expect, even producing better questions that many ask?  Should we consider the migratory pattern changes of birds, fish and mammals, as indicators of a warming climate, over rebuttals provided by untested claims that measuring stations might not be placed correctly?  Can we actually “cool” atoms with lasers, and use individual atoms to store information, no matter how counterintuitive that might sound?  Can it be true that teaching people about contraception, and about sex, actually prompts teenagers (and others) to reduce sexual activity and look for love, rather than just sex?  Does extending medical coverage to an entire population actually decrease total health care costs as observed in all other nations where that solution has been tried, or will it increase costs because the only way to reduce medical costs is to ration it, either with a bureaucracy, or by cutting off access by backdoor, death panel means testing (no money, no health care)?  Is there any place Arthur Laffer‘s “curve” of increasing tax revenues by cutting tax rates, actually does not work — or any place it actually works?  Has any society in history ever gotten rich by showering riches on the rich, and ignoring the poor, the merchants, and the working class?

In short, how does reality we know, inform us about reality yet to be?  Which is the more potent predictor, observed reality, or hoped-for results to the contrary?

Our future hangs on how we answer the question, probably more than what the answer actually is.

I believe Christians, the largest faith group in the U.S., have a duty to stand for reality, and truth discovered by observation.  That was the issue in 2008, too.

Here is my post of four years ago.  I noticed a few of the links no longer work; I’ll replace them with working links as I can.  If you find a bad link, please note it in comments; and if you have a better link, note that, too.

Several weeks ago [in 2008] I responded to a lengthy thread at Unreasonable FaithThe original post was Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” cartoon of the guy in a doctor’s office, just diagnosed with an infection.  The physician asks the guy if he’s a creationist, explaining that if he is, the doc will treat him with old antibiotics in honor of his belief that evolution of bacteria doesn’t occur.

Charles Darwin's Study, Down House. Photo by and copyright held by Bob Radlinski. Radlinski's description: Darwin regularly spent about 5 hours a day here for 40 years and kept a chamber pot behind the partition so that he wouldn't have to trek to the toilet. But he still had time for an active family life with his wife Emma and their 10 children. The low stool with casters was used to spin himself from one desk where he dissected in front of the window to another where he took notes or wrote up labels—the stool the children were allowed to use for their games, punting themselves around the living room with long poles. The sitting room at the back of the house has large windows that go to the floor so that on nice days, the children (and dogs) could roam back and forth from house to garden at will.

Charles Darwin’s Study, Down House, where Darwin wrote all of his publications after his marriage. Photo by and copyright held by Bob Radlinski. Radlinski’s description: Darwin regularly spent about 5 hours a day here for 40 years and kept a chamber pot behind the partition so that he wouldn’t have to trek to the toilet. But he still had time for an active family life with his wife Emma and their 10 children. The low stool with casters was used to spin himself from one desk where he dissected in front of the window to another where he took notes or wrote up labels—the stool the children were allowed to use for their games, punting themselves around the living room with long poles. The sitting room at the back of the house has large windows that go to the floor so that on nice days, the children (and dogs) could roam back and forth from house to garden at will.

Point being, of course, that evolution occurs in the real world.  Creationists rarely exhibit the faith of their claims when their life, or just nagging pain, is on the line.  They’ll choose the evolution-based medical treatment almost every time.  There are no creationists in the cancer or infectious disease wards.

At one point I responded to a comment loaded with typical creationist error.  It was a long post.  It covered some ground that I’ve not written about on this blog.  And partly because it took some time to assemble, I’m reposting my comments here.  Of course, without the Trudeau cartoon, it won’t get nearly the comments here.

I’ll add links here when I get a chance, which I lacked the time to do earlier.  See my post, below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

The melting away of climate denialism?

August 2, 2012

Ben Sargent, on 2012 heat wave and views of global warming, Austin American-Statesman, July 24, 2012

Ben Sargent, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, July 24, 2012

If only it were true that heat, weather, or any other data or information, could cause global warming denialism to melt away . . .

Why we worry about global warming: It ain’t the climate, it’s the people

January 9, 2012

Alun Salt gave great advice about not bothering to engage idiots, pigs, denialists or trolls (here, among other places).  He said I should avoid lengthy answers to blogs that have little audience.

This is probably one of those occasions.

But in a running attempt to stimulate serious thought at a denialist blog, I got a question that has been rather common, and a question which indicates the deep serious misunderstanding denialists and even some well-meaning, overly-skeptical sensible people have:

Why worry about  climate change, since the climate is changing all the time?  Especially, why are people like Al Gore urging that we stop climate change, when CO2 has no great direct effect on human health?  Shouldn’t environmentalists be cheering climate change on, since it’s a “natural process?”

The answer is lost on the other blog, as Mr. Salt predicted it would be.  But since I’ve gotten some version of the question repeatedly in the last month, I may as well repeat the answer here, for the record.

The short answer to why we worry about climate change is that, as with almost all environmental protection, we are worried first about the quality of life of humans, and ultimately about the ability of human life to survive at all.

Here’s the question put to me there:

Ed I’m a little confused. I thought we were talking about the effect of co2 on the climate not the effect of co2 on human health. Co2 is not a toxic gas and would have no effect on human health. The fact that humans weren’t around when co2 was 10-20 times higher has absolutely nothing to do with its effect on climate.
Ed there was no runaway greenhouse effect or climate catastrophe. The planet was fine during the phanerazoic. There is actually a lack of co2 in the atmopshere comapred to that time.

Here’s my answer, with a few more links than their format would allow:

No, you’re not a little confused.  You’re a lot confused, greatly misinformed, and not thinking hard.

We worry about CO2’s effects on climate only because we worry about the future of humanity.  Many of us who have children and wish them the same blessings of having children and grandchildren, have thought through the truth of the matter that we don’t possess and rule the Earth for ourselves, but instead act only as stewards for future generations.

No Earth, no humans; but at the same time, no habitable Earth, no humans.  In the long run, Earth doesn’t care.  It’ll do fine — without humans.

We can’t damage the planet.  We can only damage its habitability for humans.

I don’t know what sort of dystopian Randian future you and other Do Nothings hope for, but it’s a future contrary to human life, American values, and all known religions.

We’re talking about the future of humans.  I tell “skeptics,” “If you don’t care, butt out.  You’ll be dead in the short run anyway, but that’s no reason to stand in the way of action not to ensure a livable planet for our grandchildren.”

You also fail to understand chemistry, pollution, and how the world works.  CO2 is indeed a toxic gas.  For about a century now we’ve had indoor air standards that require air circulation to keep CO2 down below concentrations of about 500 ppm, because at that level it starts to have dramatic effects on humans working.  It clouds their thinking and causes drowsiness.  CO2 is a conundrum, in that it is also necessary to trigger mammalian breathing.  If CO2 drops too low, we don’t take in enough oxygen and may pass out.  Too much oxygen in place of CO2 is a problem in that regard.  A substance can be both essential and a  pollutant, at the same time. (This has vexed food safety experts for years, especially after the 1958 Delaney Clause; substances we know to be essential nutrients can be carcinogenic, in the same concentrations, or in the same concentrations with a slight twist in chemical formula — how do we regulate that stuff?)

CO2 is toxic in much greater proportions — it was a CO2 cloud that killed thousands in Cameroon 30 years ago or so, if you know history.

Clearly you did not know that we’ve regulated indoor CO2 for decades.  Clearly you haven’t looked at the medical journals‘ discussion on CO2 — and I’ll wager you’d forgotten the Cameroon incident, if you ever knew about it.

CO2 is a toxic gas (the dose is the poison); CO2 has dramatic effects on human health — too little and we die, too much and we die.

The fact that humans were not around when CO2 was much higher is exactly the point.  That was presented here, as it is in most venues, as support for a claim that we don’t need to worry about CO2 pollution.  Well, that’s right — if we don’t care about a habitable Earth.  But when CO2 was higher, life for humans was impossible.

I think it’s reckless to run an experiment on what would happen with higher CO2 levels, using the entire planet as a testing place, and testing the hypotheses on just how much CO2 will kill us all off, and how.

How about a control group, at least?

In the past, massive CO2 created massive greenhouse effects that would devastate us today — not as a toxic gas, but as a result of the warming that greenhouse gases do.

Let us understand the physical conundrum of CO2 here:  Without the greenhouse effect from the human-historic levels of CO2, this would be an ice planet.  Our lives today depend on the greenhouse effects of CO2.

Consequently, anyone who claims there is no greenhouse effect fails to understand physics, chemistry, biology and history.  (Heck, throw in geology, too.)  Life would be impossible but for the greenhouse effect.  Life is impossible without water, too, but you can’t live totally surrounded by water.

Can it be true that there can never be too much of a good effect, with regard to greenhouse gases?  Ancient Greek ideas of “all things in moderation” applies here.  We need a Goldilocks amount of CO2 in our atmosphere — not to much, not too little; not too hot, not too cold.

To the extent that higher CO2 levels didn’t produce a total runaway greenhouse effect, as some hypothesize exists on Venus, we know that was due to other feedbacks.  Early on, for example, CO2 began to be reduced by photosynthesizing life.  Animal life today would be impossible but for that occurrence.  Few if any modern chordates could breathe the very-low oxygen atmosphere of the early Earth, and live.  Those feedbacks and limiting situations do not exist today.

So now we face a double or triple whammy.  The reduction in CO2 in the air was accomplished through a couple billion years of carbon sequestration through plants.  In fact, a lot of carbon was sequestered in carbon-rich fossils, stuff we now call coal and oil.  Oxygen replenishment was accomplished with massive forests, and healthy oceans, with a great deal of photosynthesis.  This created a rough CO2 equilibrium (with fluctuations, sure) that existed we know for at least the last 50,000 years, we’re pretty sure for the last 100,000 years (we know that from carbon-dating calibration exercises).

Today we have removed fully 30% of the forests that used to replenish oxygen and lock up a lot of CO2 (some estimates say 50% of the forests are gone); modern plant communities cannot pluck CO2 out fast enough.  Plus, we’re releasing a lot of that old, sequestered carbon in coal and oil — at rates unprecedented in human history.

Will more CO2 warm the planet?  We know from the fact that the planet is warm enough for life, that more CO2 will warm the planet more.  Anyone who says differently does not know physics and chemistry, nor history.

Is there anything that can stop that effect?  Sure — healthy, massive forests, and healthy oceans.  Reducing carbon emissions could help a lot, too.  But we’re committed for about a century.  CO2 in the atmosphere doesn’t fall to the ground like particulate pollution.  it drifts until it is incorporated into something else, either through photosynthesis or other chemical reactions.  It takes a mole of CO2 a couple of centuries to come out of the air.  We’re stuck with elevated and elevating CO2 regardless our actions, for a century or two, even if we are wildly successful in reining in emissions and creating sequestration paths.

What happens when CO2 levels get higher than 350 ppm?  History, physics and chemistry tells us glaciers will melt, rainfall patterns will alter dramatically, sea levels will rise, carbon will be absorbed by the seas in increasing amounts (causing acidification — simple chemistry).

It’s a very exciting experiment.  The entire human race is at stake. How much CO2 will it take to produce the effects that kill us all?  It’s likely that changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels will produce wars over resources, long before CO2 itself starts being physically toxic.  That’s what the Pentagon’s big thinkers say.  That’s what the Chinese big thinkers say, which is why they are working to reduce emissions even without an enforceable treaty.

As experiments go, I think it’s immoral to use humans in experimentation without getting their consent, and without passing the entire experiment through the Institutional Review Board to make sure the experiment is useful, necessary, and done ethically.

Do you have those consent statements?  All seven billion of them?  Have you got approval from the research overseers of the institution?

If you don’t have permission to proceed with this progeny-killing experiment, why do you propose to proceed?  Many people believe that, if the courts on Earth don’t get us, a higher court will.

How will you plead wherever the call to justice is delivered?

Stephen Schneider explains global warming so even a “skeptic” can get it

December 12, 2011

Impressive.  Schneider explains, to Australian “skeptics,” how CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, why that’s bad, what the urban heat island effect is and why it does not negate temperature measures that show global warming.  He savages the argument about CO2’s “logarithmic” absorption characteristics negating scientists’ findings.

Sadly, Dr. Schneider died a few weeks after this was taped in 2010.

This is, I see, part 2 of a 4 part series.  Hmmm.  WhHere are the other parts?.

Stupid-Boy-Cries- “Wolf” Department: Thieves release more e-mails stolen from climate scientists

November 23, 2011

In his clear style, Tim Lambert at Deltoid lays out the basic facts:

Some more of the emails stolen from the Climate Research Centre in 2009 have been released. This time they are accompanied by a readme with out-of-context quotes that asserts the purpose of the release is information transparency, but that’s an obvious lie, since they’ve sat on them for two years and released them just before Durban conference. The timing suggests that the people behind the theft and release have a financial interest in preventing mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. It is most unlikely that there is anything incriminating in these emails — if there was, it would have been released two years ago.

Gavin Schmidt is providing context for the emails, Brendan DeMelle has an extensive roundup and Stephan Lewandowsky writes about the real scandal.

I remind readers that the last round revealed wrong-doing only by accomplices and friends of the thieves, and revealed no wrong-doing on the part of climate scientists.

Especially, the last round revealed no data to show warming is not happening, nor any data to show anything but righteous and noble concern to mitigate or stop the human contribution to the pollution that causes unnatural global warming.  This round of releases will do the same, I predict.

Joe Romm illustrated his post on the issue (which you will want to read) with this cartoon from Drew Sheneman of the Newark Star-Ledger:

Drew Sheneman, Newark Star-Ledger, on politics around findings of global warming

Drew Sheneman, Newark Star-Ledger, on politics around findings of global warming; polar bears won't read the stolen e-mails, refuse to be convinced findings of warming comprise a hoax

(Does anyone have the date on that cartoon?  Is it, like this one from Tom Toles, so old it indicates denialists do nothing new under the sun?)

In the two years since the last release of stolen e-mails, a few hundred studies on global warming have been published confirming the fact that warming occurs, and confirming the links to human activity as a cause of unnatural warming.  Even Anthony Watts’s work was published, but when analyzed, it also showed global warming and not miscalculations of data or misreadings of data  (Watts denies the results from his data).

So, in two years, climate change denialists have been unable to find any significant chunk of data to support any of their claims, while the planet continues to warm at an increasingly alarming rate. 

How many times do we allow the miscreant to call “wolf” falsely?  Why would we believe him on any other issue?

More, Resources: 

Transplanting the futile arguments of the old AOL boards

November 2, 2011

Two strings of correspondents in my e-mail date back more than a decade.  We met on the old AOL discussion boards, on evolution, and on religious freedom.  Occasionally someone in one of those groups will lament the passing of the innocence of those days, and the heated discussions with trolls and reality deniers, and the grand, irreplaceable characters who made last stands denying science to the end, or claiming that Dwight Eisenhower really was Satan in disguise and that America was ruined when he failed to insist Congress open every meeting with prayers, or some other silly folderol.

Amazon.com has opened discussion boards.  Excuse me, but I believe all of those nuts from the past have rolled out from their various closets, couches and corners, to join or frustrate discussion.  It makes one nostalgic, and it makes one reach for the “delete” key.

Black holes sucking in intelligence and time on evolution, global warming, and other silly questions that bring out the hard-core denialists and contrary marys.

Were I you, I wouldn’t go there.  Surely those “discussions” are part of Amazon’s plan to take over the world.

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