I, Global Warming Skeptic

I am a global warming skeptic. Politically, I land somewhere in the libertarian/conservative camp. If liberal still meant what it did 60 years ago I’d probably be one of those. Whatever my label, I am not a progressive/socialist kind of guy. I wrote on my own blog a long time ago that I needed to be convinced that warming was happening at all, then that people were causing it, and then that it was actually a bad thing.

I have many good reasons to be skeptical about AGW (anthropogenic global warming).

  • I’m old enough to remember “Global Cooling,” the population bomb, the hole in the ozone, and any number of other tidings of doom. The Chicken Littles have a track record indistinguishable from that of Harold Camping.
  • The issue is massively politicized. The Left has seized on it as an opportunity to dismantle free markets and grow government. They have entangled it with their beliefs the way creationists entangle evolution with religion.
  • That amount of politicization brings corrupting quantities of money.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed by the United Nations. The UN is a systemically-corrupt, left-wing political organization. Any organization that coddles dictators and thugs should not be trusted, even if it claims the sky is blue.
  • Anybody who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck can see “cap and trade” and carbon credit markets for the bald-faced scams they are.
  • Climate science is very complicated, and there are any number of legitimate questions having to do with the accuracy of our models, the true effect of CO2 as a forcing agent, the reliability of temperature data, the effect of solar cycles, etc.

There is, in short, more heat than light in the AGW debate, and plenty of reason to be skeptical. It’s pointless to even begin to talk about policy until the science is solid and well-understood. Which is why I’m so grateful to a particular scientist by the name of Dr. Peter Gleick.

A skeptic isn’t someone who merely holds doubts. A skeptic, as my daughter points out, is the one with the truly open mind. A skeptic will believe anything as long as it is supported by data, sound science and a logically consistent argument.

When I heard Dr. Gleick speak at the recent SkeptiCal, I was all braced for the typical alarmist assault. I was about to be called a “denier,” and told why Kyoto must be signed.

Dr. Gleick at SkeptiCal. Image courtesy of Dean Baird.

Except that’s not what happened.

Dr. Gleick started by pointing out that good policy without good science is unlikely. I had to agree. He then carefully teased out the science from the politics and talked about the fallacies that commonly appear around the science of global warming. Especially illuminating was the part about cherry-picking data. It was refreshing.

Since his talk I have spent a lot of time on a site he recommended, skepticalscience.com. There they have taken each of the most common science questions, numbered them, and carefully addressed them with the current science. The answers are even presented in basic, intermediate, and advanced formats so that there’s likely to be one matching the reader’s level of scientific knowledge.

With the caveat that a few of the questions don’t belong on their list (42, 63, 105 and 165, at least) because they are economic and/or political rather than scientific, I highly recommend the site.

So, yes, I am now persuaded that anthropogenic global warming is real. That’s because I’m a skeptic.

To my friends on the Left: Do you want to convince more skeptics? I mean really? Is the truth more important than your politics? Great. I have some suggestions.

Stop calling people “deniers.” That’s very clearly a slap in the face, designed to link skeptics to Holocaust deniers. Maybe it plays well with the base, but you’ll make no friends nor influence people with that kind of disrespect. Don’t poison the well.

Stop calling it “climate change.” That’s a weasel-worded political phrase that dances around the real issue. It looks stupid. Of course the climate is changing. It always has! If the problem isn’t human-caused warming, there isn’t a problem. So call it what it is: anthropogenic global warming.

Stop blaming every unusual weather event on global warming. “We blame global warming” has become a joke on the Right, and for good reason. Scientists need to do a better job explaining why a global average temperature change so small that nobody could feel the difference (how about I warm your room up a half a degree and see if you can tell?) can change weather patterns in a way that some places might actually get colder and some weather may get more intense—sometimes. But blaming every heat wave, hurricane, tornado and earthquake on global warming only confuses the issue. It’s hard enough for most people to understand the difference between climate and weather.

Dump Al Gore. Even if you don’t think the man is a buffoon (I do, and I’m far from alone) you have to admit that he’s hyper-political. He’s clearly looking to ride global warming to greater wealth and power. A spokesman with his carbon footprint isn’t an ambassador, he’s a hypocritical liability.

Enough with the “green.” Linking AGW to the watermelons of the environmental movement is counterproductive. The environmentalist Left is so infected with woo and socialism that it taints your argument. CO2 could technically be called a “pollutant” but don’t try to equate what I exhale with toxic waste. This is a different problem than most “good for nature” issues. Besides, CO2 is the “greenest” gas I can think of. Plants love it, and a warmer world is going to get a lot greener. If anything, the campaign should be to un-green the world.

Hug a nuke. If you really follow the science, really believe that lowering CO2 is important, and truly follow safety statistics then you’ll become a nuclear energy booster. Technophobes who reflexively oppose nuclear power are every bit as fallacious as your friends who don’t buy global warming, if not more so. So far nuclear power has proven a lot safer than organic farming.

Stick with the science. Unlink it from your politics. The fact that human activity is raising the average temperature of the planet does not necessarily imply the “and therefore” that you want it to. Don’t conflate it with your political agenda. The politics comes later.

Scientists: Go Independent. How much do you mistrust a report funded, even in part, by Exxon? Multiply that by ten and that’s how much we mistrust the UN. If you’re a climate scientist with a talent for speaking or writing, follow Dr. Gleick’s example and provide politics-free, all-science talks and articles. The IPCC consensus may be correct but, as a body, its credibility is tainted. It looks too much like political consensus. You’ll be much more effective without them.

To my friends on the Right: Are you willing to follow the data? Good, because if nothing can convince you to change your mind, your mind is closed.

Look at the data. That skepticalscience.com site is a good resource. Forgive them for including four economic/political questions (which can’t be addressed by science) and look at the other 160 or so. What you’ll find is that there are multiple lines of data all converging on one conclusion: The net effect of our increased CO2 output is accelerated warming of the planet. It would be beyond the scope of this blog post to address every one of your very legitimate questions. Let them do it.

If it isn’t AGW, come up with a better theory. Remember, it will have to both fit and explain the data. Good luck with that. AGW has reached the status of scientific theory because of the converging lines of evidence, and because it not only fits the data but is able to make correct predictions. Stephen Jay Gould said, “Science is all those things which are confirmed to such a degree that it would be unreasonable to withhold one’s provisional consent.” Is AGW as solid a theory as, say, evolution, the germ theory of disease, and gravity? Not quite. But it’s getting really close.

Don’t confuse consensus with consensus. This one had me confused for a long time. Like the word theory, which has a drastically different meaning in science than it does in the vernacular, consensus can mean two very different things. In politics a consensus is an aggregate expression of opinion. It’s only as valid as the majority agrees it is. In science it is a description of where the science has led. As Dr. Gleick put it, the consensus is not what gives power to the conclusion, the science leads to the conclusion.

Just because AGW is real doesn’t mean you are wrong politically. We both know that freedom works, and socialism and other forms of totalitarianism don’t. Recognizing a scientific reality is not the same thing as handing a political victory to the Left. High taxes, giant government, and scams like cap and trade are extremely unlikely to actually help. What will? I don’t know. The whole point of a pro-market, pro-freedom agenda is that all of us are smarter than any of us. Thinking that government knows the answers requires kilotons of hubris and a near total ignorance of history.

Oh, and by the way, the United States Navy is counting on it. (update) Serious people charged with protecting the country have come to this same conclusion. For what it’s worth.

The bottom line for all of us: Get on the same page. Once enough of us agree on what the problem is, then we can talk about how to fix it. Until then, at least separate your proposals from the science. Science does not tell you that it’s time to raise taxes. The more people understand and agree on what the problem is the more likely an actual solution can be found.

I’ll get off my soap box now. I got political in this post for very specific reasons. My goal is not, however, to prompt a political discussion. (I predict that many commenters will not read the entire post, but will react to my bait at the top of the jump.) It’s to persuade people to just follow the science and save the politics for later. If you are, or know, a global warming skeptic I hope my conversion story proves useful.


I am gratified by the attention and thoughtful responses this post has attracted. I feel compelled to agree with many commenters and add that scientists need to be totally transparent with the data and extremely scrupulous. There should be no barriers to the raw data, and the very appearance of impropriety has to be avoided unless this is the desired sort of reaction.

Another Update:

This op-ed by Dr. Gleick is, in essence, a piece of the talk I heard him give. I found it the most persuasive part. It’s a must-read if you’ve heard claims about how global warming has stopped or reversed in recent years.

About Craig Good

Film maven. Foodie. Skeptic. Voice actor. Writer.
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122 Responses to I, Global Warming Skeptic

  1. This is a very nice post, Craig. You raise the bar for the rest of us bloggers!

    • Craig Good says:


      And let my fellow bloggers learn from my amateur mistake:

      If you accidentally publish a draft and then change the status to unpublished, it keeps the URL around. Fix the publication date *before* you finally publish it so that you don’t embarrass the boss on Twitter or something.

    • ianholmes says:

      Can’t say I much agree with the rosy praise for this post. The science hasn’t changed – it’s pretty much the same large body of literature it’s always been – so you’re blaming your stubborn reluctance to accept it on… The Left. While, I might add, simultaneously taking swipes at them for attempting to politicize the issue (this is really, really rich) and invoking Godwin’s Law because they called you a “denier” (almost as rich). Not to mention attacking the parts of the science you still don’t buy (such as ascribing individual events to global warming, which by the way is another emerging scientific consensus that will be waiting for you when you wake up from the half-sleep you’re still in), the labels you still don’t like (such as “climate change”), and the environmental advocates who still rub you the wrong way (Gore). And, the classic apex of your post, that the left should not attempt to make political hay out of this, because it puts people like you right off. This is all beautiful. It’s like an evolution denier (OOPS I said the word) who finally accepts the evidence, then blames their long ignorance on the fact that Richard Dawkins is really mean to religious types. Well, grow up. And stop calling yourself a “skeptic”. Nearly all scientists are skeptics. People who ignore scientific consensus because it means they’d have to change their worldview are NOT skeptics. They’re just pigheaded.

      • ajp says:

        @ianholmes-if I had spent the entire day formulating a reply to this blog entry, I would consider it a day well spent if it even came close to what you wrote, which happens to be a perfect summary of what I thought after reading the blog entry. There is absolutely nothing new here…I mean I’m glad an individual was able to re-package the information so another stubborn (read: not skeptical, but stubborn) fool believes AGW is real, but it’s almost becoming embarrassingly comical to hear personal reflections of becoming a “believer” in AGW. They may as well confess to finally believing subatomic particles exist or that germs cause illness. It almost hurts ones own ethos through this type of grandstanding.

      • misotonic says:

        As ajp so rightly says, your reply neatly nails my thoughts about this post. Great that this guy is finally taking a balanced look at the debate rather than adopting a knee-jerk right wing attitude to it, but all of the blaming going on which attempts to make those misguided left-wingers into the bad guys is just horribly unpleasant and partisan.

        In my view this is all about the contrast between short-termism (above everything else I must be allowed to do WHAT I WANT) and long-termism (being concerned about the impact of what we are doing now on the future for ourselves and our descendants).

        And finally the greatest irony of all, as you touch on, is that although these guys pride themselves on being “skeptics”, they are normally not at all skeptical about the people trying to prove that the science is wrong.

    • Katzy says:

      The bar must have been particularly low. This website get weighed down by taking seriously political ideas that are considered fringe outside of the USA.

  2. Chuck P. says:

    I have long thought that AGW denailism (as opposed to honest skepticism) is driven in part but anti-nuclear sentiment.
    As it turns out this study by the Cultural Cognition Project supports my hypothesis:

  3. KWombles says:

    Interesting post with good points. I’m all for ditching Gore, removing the politics and the ideology from matter that are primarily scientific in nature. With so much at stake, getting those who are already committed to an ideology to look with open eyes at the data is not going to be easy.

    • NikFromNYC says:

      “With so much at stake, getting those who are already committed to an ideology to look with open eyes at the data is not going to be easy.”

      What a classic case of psychological projection! It is exactly skeptics who are open to looking at data. But that means actual hard physical data. You can’t call computer model outputs “data.” That is “theory.” Nor can you call vastly complex statistical manipulations “data.” Data is what instruments measure. Here I present both the human element and the basic data element of the AGW issue:

      The LA Times featured cold fusion in ’89 before its debunking. Environmentalists were aghast!
      “It’s like giving a machine gun to an idiot child.” – Paul Ehrlich (mentor of John Cook of the SkepticalScience blog, author of “Climate Change Denial”)
      “Clean-burning, non-polluting, hydrogen-using bulldozers still could knock down trees or build housing developments on farmland.” – Paul Ciotti (LA Times)
      “It gives some people the false hope that there are no limits to growth and no environmental price to be paid by having unlimited sources of energy.” – Jeremy Rifkin (NY Times)
      “Many people assume that cheaper, more abundant energy will mean that mankind is better off, but there is no evidence for that.” – Laura Nader (sister of Ralph)

      CLIMATEGATE 101: “For your eyes only…Don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone….Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that.” – Phil “Hide The Decline” Jones to Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann

      Here I present A Global Warming Digest:
      Denial: http://i.min.us/ibyADs.jpg
      Oceans: http://k.min.us/idAw6Y.gif
      NASA: http://k.min.us/idFxzI.jpg
      Thermometers: http://i.min.us/idAOoE.gif
      Earth: http://k.min.us/ibtB8G.gif
      Ice: http://k.min.us/ibtZec.jpg
      Authority: http://k.min.us/iby6xe.gif
      Prophecy: http://i.min.us/idEHdo.jpg
      Psychopathy: http://i.min.us/ibubmk.jpg
      Icon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmPzLzj-3XY
      Thinker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n92YenWfz0Y

      -=NikFromNYC=- Ph.D. in Carbon Chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

  4. Mike K. says:

    I’ve believed for a long time that humans have a role in current climate change because science told me so, but the what-to-do-about-it? question has been political for about as long as I can remember. Even the term anthropogenic GW will become political because a lot of people won’t be able to differentiate between “the liberal media” saying what means human-influenced climate change and human-caused climate change and the dictionary will confuse them further because it doesn’t clearly make that distinction. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anthropogenic

    I’m concerned that the argument about climate science is going to be a terrible quagmire right up until the effects are so drastic that we won’t be able to take any preventative or postponing measures.

    And I’m sticking with the term ‘climate change’ thanks. Of course the climate has always changed but relative to human civilization, it’s never a great thing (eg. drought that ended the ancient Egyptians). We’ve already been driven out of the tress to form civilizations now so we’re kind of riding on things not changing any more.

  5. hazza says:

    Your list of reasons why you don’t believe that global warming is happening at the top has nothing to do with the data, it’s all one logical fallacy that could be summed up as “argument from anti-authority”.

    Please name a single climate scientist that believes that global warming is not happening. To me you are using a tactic from the creationists playbook… ooohhh they can’t agree on the details so they are all wrong and it is not happening at all.

    • hazza says:

      Gaaaaa. .. it pays to read the entire thing before replying….stupid stupid stupid….

      • hazza says:

        In my own defence the sentence before your reasons started with:

        I have many good reasons ….

        It would have been better and less misleading to say:

        I had what I thought were many good reasons …

        I thought the rest of the article was just going to detail your reasons and responded accordingly.

  6. hazza says:

    To the moderator, just delete all the comments I made.

  7. paul w says:

    “I got political in this post for very specific reasons…save the politics for later. ”

    So, YOU get political, but I cannot?
    Riiiiight. Well, I too have a very specific reason for getting political – you did.
    As for calling it ‘anthropogenic global warming’, give me a break. ‘Climate change’ works, deal with it.
    Then again, following your lead, instead of calling a spade a spade, we should be call it an ‘implement of digging’.

    • Craig Good says:

      Let me try another example. Does it make more sense to protest “murder” or “mortality”? One is man-caused and voluntary, the other is natural and unavoidable. In either case someone ends up dead, but I do see a difference.

  8. paul w says:

    ‘we shou;ld call it…’

  9. paul w says:

    I’ll try again…
    ‘we will call it…’

  10. David says:

    Well written post Craig.

  11. dlewis says:

    i have struggled with this issue for a while. you are exactly channeling how I feel about this topic. a revelation. thank you for this post.

  12. Sundance says:

    I applaud you for trying to find common ground on such an emotional issue. I became interested in AGW because of family members who are involved in climate modeling. After a few conversations with these family members, I became a tad obsessed with the science over the last 4 years and did quite a bit of research. I consider myself a lukewarmer now and I have taken personal action to bring my family’s CO2 footprint down to 6 tons/year per person. I am very optimistic that breakthrough technology will provide the means to greatly reduce CO2 emissions. For example the cost to produce PV solar in 2011 is roughly $2.00/watt US. Systems are selling as low as $4.00/watt. I am in a Northern latitude so $4.00/watt is still not economically prudent but in lower latitudes it is. In five years I expect to be able to buy panels at $2.00/watt at which point the money I save by paying less to a utility company will pay off my solar panels. I would eventually like to be off the grid and will achieve this as I will likely build my own solar and wind systems (I am located in a high wind zone). The key to emissions reductions is to provide energy consumers with personal energy choices that will pay for themselves with lower energy costs. If it gets to the point (I think it will) where a person can install PV solar with a 10 year payback and then get free energy for the remaining 15 years of expected panel life, people would be stupid not to install solar.

    I have a question for you Craig. The UN climate framework committee met and produced a report informing the public that, “In terms of climate, the study finds, rapid action to curb black carbon deposition could significantly cut the risk of “amplified global climate change” linked with extensive loss of Arctic ice. It could also slow warming in the Arctic by two-thirds and reduce losses of mountain glaciers.”


    This has been known for quite awhile but the only person calling for a shift in strategy to address black carbon is Bill Clinton. My question is why? If we can stop ice melt in the Polar regions and mountain glaciers within 5 years with very little cost, why aren’t we doing it? TIA

  13. Lutz says:

    If you do appreciate a truly scientific comment on the whole thing, please listen to the talk that was given by Prof. Dr. Vincent Courtillot at the Climate Conference in Berlin last December.

    Being only an engineer, I have never understood the fascination with temperature readings. These vary wildly for innumerable reasons and cannot really be added together to give a coherent result. If one wants to determine a state change it must be done by using heat content, i.e. how much mass is at what temperature K in the whole system and then determine if it is stable or changing.

    • dalyplanet says:

      Surface based 19th century method for tenths of a degree measurement is unreliable and inaccurate. Joules are a true indicator of heat. What has more heat energy 80 degrees F and 70% humidity or 92 degrees and 15% humidity. The answer is of course the cooler humid air.

      How can an an extremely light molecule that is less than 15% opaque to long wave radiation at 100% concentrations be the driver of the climate at 380 ppm. I was a lukewarmer for a period of time but am convinced by science that the warming caused by CO2 is undetectable. The adherence to surface temp measurement is proof that agenda drives the debate rather than science.

      • velonaut says:

        The Ozone “layer” is only about 0.2-0.4ppm, before depletion, yet it manages to filter 98% of the UV that hits the atmosphere. Unless you don’t believe that the ozone layer really filters UV, you have to admit that your assumption that low concentrations of atmospheric gasses cannot have any effect must be incorrect.

        It’s really quite simple – yes, anything measured in ppm is a very small concentration, but when you need to pass through tens to hundreds of kilometers of such a medium, those few ppm begin to become very significant. Imagine there’s a single lane road which only sees one car every hour. If you were to cross this road without looking, the chances of being hit by a car would be extremely low. Now imagine that this road is a million lanes wide, and each lane receives one car per hour; the chances of being hit during the crossing of this enormous road would be much more real.

        • Lutz says:

          velonaut: I am becoming extremely tired of hearing this comparison with ozone. There is not even a remote comparison. When UV rays hit an ozone molecule it is split and the UV is completely absorbed. When an infrared wave hits a CO2 molecule it is briefly absorbed and then redirected. So at the extreme you could say that a miniscule amount of energy is retained a miniscule amount longer in the atmosphere, and this is indeed a greenhouse effect. But the absolute bulk of this is done by water vapour.

  14. Fanfaronade says:

    Very interesting blog, thank you. Congrats on swallowing the red pill and joining the rest of us in reality.

    I am on board 100% for your project of trying to depoliticise this issue; for putting the science before the politics. The problem is, I just don’t think it can be done.

    Your problem is this: what if there just aren’t any Conservative/Libertarian solutions to AGW? What if the only solutions are punitive carbon taxes, stringent regulation, and massive state subsidy for renewables?

    What if by conceding that you have to put the science before the politics, you’ve turned yourself into a socialist? And what if your fellow “skeptics” understand all of this perfectly well, which is why they pretend to skepticism?

    • Craig Good says:

      I suspect that many people have the same fear. I don’t think it’s rational, though. Nothing about this change of opinion brings me a whit closer to being a socialist. It’s a proven failure at pretty much everything it tries, so I have no evidence to suggest it would be successful at reversing AGW.

      • alistairc says:

        It’s a matter of correctly pricing externalities. Surely you agree that’s a good principle (unless you’re in favour of a plunder-based economy). The climate is one heck of a big externality, and we are dumping carbon into the atmosphere for free right now.

        Another tack : As you are no doubt aware, the world’s oceans are drastically over-fished. The few countries that have saved their fisheries and manage them sustainably do it through strong regulation, and techniques such as tradeable quotas. Check it out.
        Is this too “socialist” for you? Do you have a non-“socialist” alternative, or would you rather see the oceans die than submit to “socialist” solutions that actually work?

  15. omnologos says:

    Craig – the more I read your post the less sense it makes. What’s next, the story of somebody who, after reading the Bible, writes I am now persuaded that God exists. That’s because I’m a skeptic.?

    You’re not a skeptic on AGW. You’re a “skepticalscience True Believer.” You’ve been fooled by their scientific-looking presentation, the avalanche of references peppering the site making pages look like proper scientific articles. And don’t worry, you’re not alone in falling for them.

    You’re not a skeptic on AGW if you don’t (a) follow the links on skepticalscience and read at least some of the original (published, peer-reviewed, scientific) articles; (b) do the hard work of finding yourself all the published, etc etc articles that are not linked by skepticalscience; (c) think for yourself.

    If you do (a) you’ll discover how much of what one’s told on skepticalscience is a careful manipulation of the original caveat-full speculations into “facts”. It’s the usual “broken telephone” game, when a scientist’s hypothesis becomes a skepticalscience thesis.

    If you do (b) you’ll discover that skepticalscience is like a collection of Aristotelian commentaries. Self-consistent, and it has a huge literature to draw from: but what’s got to do with the complex, nuanced, mysterious world out there? Ask a Mr Galileo Galilei from Pisa, Italy for an answer.

    If you do (c) you’ll discover…well, you know perfectly well what you’ll discover. You’ll realize that skepticism is not something to switch on and off as politically and fashionably convenient. The old story of nobody believing the person at the cashier saying one’s rest has been taken away by the fairies, applies to skepticalscience and to everything else.

    You’ll also discover how asinine (politically, scientifically and otherwise) is to dump everybody into two categories, the “convinced by AGW” and the “unconvinced by AGW”. Say one is convinced by AGW but unconvinced it’s going to be bad, or in any case worse than global cooling or stasis?

    Think also about it…skepticalscience is a bunch of people hell-bent on showing how wrong all AGW doubters are (that is, people with all sorts of doubts, from the “it’s all a hoax” to “it won’t be bad” stances). What are the chances that (1) they are all correct about every single one of the 160 questions; (2) any doubter has actually asked those questions; (3) there aren’t more questions that simply skepticalscience can’t answer, so they are not listed; (4) the same bunch is better than the IPCC.

    If chiropractors, homeopaths and astrologists had known it before…all they had to do to get you on their side was to prepare a website that looked scientific: some kind of “brain titillation”, and skepticism goes down the drain.

    ps I won’t even start on Gleick. He fails on most of your suggestions to your “friend on the Left”

    pps “Dr. Gleick started by pointing out that good policy without good science is unlikely”…oh please!!! Policymaking for kindergarteners?

    • Craig Good says:

      Because the Bible is so full of science? I don’t think we’re using the same definition of “skeptic”.

      I remain a skeptic. At this point the data and the science convince me that AGW is real. Since I’m a skeptic, I’m open to data and science pointing the opposite direction. Your biblical homeopathy argument strikes me as a straw man.

      Skepticism is a process, not a conclusion. Like science.

      • omnologos says:

        But it wasn’t the data and the science that convinced you “that AGW is real”. It was skepticalscience. And Gleick.

        That’s why the homeopathy (and the Bible) arguments are not straw-men. By the look of it, you’ve been struck on the way to Damascus by Saint Peter Gleick, and found the Revelation in skepticalscience. I am not sure that’s they way of the skeptic.

        And if you can’t still tell the difference read this comment from Judith Curry’s blog, posted by her as a kind of reply to yours:

        SkepticalScience.com is a tour de force of pro-AGW argument. They present over 100 important skeptical arguments in such a way as to make skeptics look ignorant. The formula is simple. Present the skeptical argument in naive terms then answer it with a relatively sophisticated pro-AGW response, preferably citing a paper or two. They now even have three levels of response sophistication in some cases. As propaganda goes it is an impressive achievement.

        The glaring fallacy is that there are skeptical counter arguments of equal, or even superior, scientific merit, for every argument listed. There is no hint on SS.com that these even exist. But the denizens here know these counter arguments well so your 99% claim is not merely false, it is silly. There is a wealth of skeptical scientific knowledge on this blog, none of which is found on SS.com. […]

        • Craig Good says:

          You may be reading too much into my mention of Gleick. He merely presented science, absent politics. This is, as you’ll probably admit, pretty unusual.

          SkepticalScience appears to me to present the science accurately. They also present, as I mentioned, some non-scientific views. I wish they didn’t, as it does weaken their position. They may be wrong. I may be wrong. But rather than a road to Damascus moment, it was closer to a tipping point. It’s getting harder to find experts who disagree with the basic idea of CO2 contributing to global warming.

          The text you quote actually comes from David Wojick. He makes some assertions there, but appears to represent a group with at least as much of an agenda as SS.com. I don’t think the word fallacy means what he thinks it does.

          I’ve had friends point me to some counter arguments. None have been terribly persuasive yet, but I’m neither a climate scientist nor have I had time to read them all.

          Like I said, AGW isn’t the slam-dunk that, say, evolution is. But it sure seems to be getting there.

          When, and if, I find convincing arguments and data stating otherwise I’ll change my mind. I remain a skeptic, and encourage everyone to do likewise. Meanwhile, disentangling the science from politics would be nice.

          • omnologos says:

            thank you Craig. Perhaps one day you’ll explain what makes you write that “SkepticalScience appears to me to present the science accurately“. I mean, what exactly triggered your suspension of skepticism, in that case?

            Perhaps there is one of those 160 questions that covers a topic you’re familiar with. Will you find skepticalscience to cover that topic in a scientific way? Sadly, I did not have that experience.

            As for AGW, you should really open up your mind to the possibility that questioning the need for an economic revolution to prevent a climate catastrophe does not necessarily equate with “disagreeing with the basic idea of CO2 contributing to global warming”.

            It is possible to be convinced that CO2 is a greenhouse gas whilst be unconvinced that a doubling will cause more than 1C of warming.

            There are in fact many shades of thinking among the “convinced” and “unconvinced”, and those always aiming at the absolutes (eg Gleick) are an obvious impediment to the science, because it’s them the one dragging it into the politics.

      • dalyplanet says:

        Another place to look is Anthony Watts WUWT for a variety of links to all the science available both pro and con. The tiny mass of mans CO2 compared to the mass 0f all CO2 compared to the mass of atmospheric water compared to the mass of all water compared to the mass of the entire earth shows such a tiny fraction of influence as to be insignificant. Imagine dropping a 400 degree F BB into an Olympic sized pool and the measurable increase in temp and you can see the affect of mans CO2 in the atmosphere.

        • dalyplanet says:

          The last sentence should read effect not affect.

          One problem with skepticalscience is the use of circular reasoning. A top of my head example is the assertion that temps have been stable for 2000 years until man started with fossil fuel and then straight up with added CO2. Mann’s famous false hockey stick graph is the IPCC basis for their AGW claim and the number one hat hanger for intervention via cap and trade. If this point is false then the rest does not make sense Cook tries to argue temp stability with the settled science argument and studies have shown method, his reference, Mann’s hockey stick graph and paper. Cook proves a false premise by reference to the false premise.

          see C3 links posted on this thread and follow the many many links on his site. I esp love the blink temp charts.

    • Liam McGlinchey says:

      omnologosYou’re not a skeptic on AGW if you don’t (a) follow the links on skepticalscience and read at least some of the original (published, peer-reviewed, scientific) articles; (b) do the hard work of finding yourself all the published, etc etc articles that are not linked by skepticalscience; (c) think for yourself.

      Which is actually impossible unless you are a scientist working in the field. Most of the papers in scientific journals are not readily accessible to those outside academia. Even for those working in the field, no-one studies ALL of the areas pertaining to AGW. Temperature reconstruction from ice-cores is a full time job for many scientists, for example. Such scientists would not necessarily need to read anything about climate modelling or ocean acidification.

      How people with a full time job can be expected to read extensively about all of the relevant areas of AGW, without necessarily having any qualifications in the relevant subjects, when many of the papers are hidden behind pay Walls, is completely beyond me. And a totally ludicrous suggestion.

      The fact is that everyone, at some point, has to accept the opinions of experts as being superior to their own. You accept that your oncologist knows more about cancer than you. Etc.

    • RyanStarr says:

      “(3) there aren’t more questions that simply skepticalscience can’t answer, so they are not listed; ”

      Not entirely true, they are listed, and yes they are many.


      Of course if he wasn’t out to ‘prove’ AGW (exercised skepticism) they would all be listed and those that are counter to the AGW hypothesis would be reported thus.

  16. Les Johnson says:

    Craig: I am similar in my outlook as your self. In Canada I am closer to a Liberal. In the US, this would even be closer to “socialist”.

    While I generally agree with the thrust of your post, I think that having just one reference is biased, especially as Cook is an admittedly pro- AGW. I would add to Cook’s site, the following:

    Real Climate
    Collide-a-scape – Keith Kloor

    The above are pro-AGW


    Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.
    Judith Curry
    Lucia’s The Blackboard (especially if you like hard-core, neuron straining statistics.)

    The above blogger’s are “lukewarmers”.

    Finally, on the non-CAGW (non- catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) side:

    Climate Audit (Steve M is really a lukewarmer, but hey…)
    Whats Up With That
    Bishop Hill (for the Hockey Stick Illusion)

    I also invite you look at the blog roll on each site. On almost all the non-CAGW or Lukewarm sites, all the above links are there, and more.

    On the pro-AGW sites, you will find no reference at all to the non-CAGW or Lukewarm sites. Only to the pro CAGW sites.

    That is a telling factoid in itself.

    The other telling factoid, is the heavy censorship on the pro side, vs. the non-CAGW side. When Climate Audit snips me, I still have my name and date stamp, and an explanation of why I am snipped. (usually off topic). On Real Climate, the post is just ‘disappeared’. Same with Romm and many others. Greg Laden simply bans anyone that does not hold his opinion.

    Its hard to have a discussion when one side is not allowed to talk…..

    • dalyplanet says:

      Les Johnson says:

      “I also invite you look at the blog roll on each site. On almost all the non-CAGW or Lukewarm sites, all the above links are there, and more.

      On the pro-AGW sites, you will find no reference at all to the non-CAGW or Lukewarm sites. Only to the pro CAGW sites.

      That is a telling factoid in itself.”

      This is what clarifies the issue in no uncertain terms The pro AGW sites present one side only and skepticalscience is highly biased.

  17. Les Johnson says:

    As for Peter Gleick? I don’t have much respect for him.


    On the above site, I challenged some of his statements, which he replied to with more unsupported statements. I showed, with BBC and Congressional references, that he was indeed wrong, but he never replied, nor admitted error.

    I also offered, along with a donation to the charity of his choice, a chance to post on WUWT.


    • Craig Good says:

      I’m quite sure that if Gleick and I sat down to talk politics there would be fireworks. The article you linked to is a textbook example of what I’m arguing against. He blew it badly there. The talk he gave at SkeptiCal, in contrast, was an excellent example of how the debate should be framed.

      I hope he sticks to the high road I met him on. He may not. His behavior doesn’t change any facts, though.

  18. Orkneygal says:

    I’ve been banned from logging in at that Skeptical Nonsense site. No doubt the reason is that the site’s owner was embarrassed by my posting peer reviewed literature that debunked his non-sense. He particularly seemed to be affronted by the literature that demonstrates that the MWP was global, synchronous and at least as warm as today’s most gentle and hospitable warming.

    • curious says:

      Which literature? I have not seen any such literature anywhere so far, so I am really interested. By the way, SS censorship should not be a problem, there are other ways of getting attention there. Post the conclusions with references at WUWT – and SS will soon have a post debunking it – or “debunking” it…

  19. shub says:

    Hi Craig,
    I examined another aspect of the climate change debate with respect to the skeptical community. You might find some of the conclusions interesting.

    Climate change and the traditional skeptics: An opinion study

    The article is available here as well (pdf).

  20. Toby says:

    Ok, great! Congratulations on you open-mindedness & courage.

    My comments on your advice to those who accept the science on climate change.

    To my friends on the Left: Do you want to convince more skeptics? I mean really? Is the truth more important than your politics? Great. I have some suggestions.
    [Note: Your first mistake is to assume anyone who supports climate science is “on the left”.]

    Stop calling people “deniers”. A: Patience, my friend, when you are refuting the same old false argument for the nth time, while being called a fraud or a Communist, you might change your mind.

    Stop calling it “climate change”.So call it what it is: anthropogenic global warming. A: Sorry, but not all regions of the world will warm at the same pace, some may see colder winters – maybe like Europe. So “anthropogenic climate change (ACC)” it is.

    Stop blaming every unusual weather event on global warming. A: We hear you.

    Dump Al Gore. A: You don’t dump your friends for someone who’s just declared he is on your side 5 minutes ago. Have some respect.

    Enough with the “green”. A: See above, but ACC was never just a “green” issue.

    Hug a nuke. A: Maybe, but it is a waste of money that we cannot afford.

    Stick with the science. A: Bravo.

    Scientists: Go Independent. A. Bravo

  21. melk says:


    Good article but, as always, the details are critical. I don’t know any intelligent “skeptics” who are suggesting that there has been no (AGW or other) global warming, particularly since about 1976.
    Or that global warming has “stopped” since around 1998. As I look at the data, the 20 years of rapid warming from, say, 1978-1998, seemed grounds for alarm. No one predicted, or, indeed, has any explanation for, the slowdown of warming for the period since 1998. A period that is starting to approach the length of the previous one. And, yes, 1998 WAS a very warm year. Even Phil Jones has acknowledged this slowdown. The Hockey Stick curve of Mann et. al. has a pretty well-established flaw. It pieces together proxy and temperature data, with the really big problem that proxies and temperatures do not always correlate for the period over which we have both. See Trenberth, travesty. And those Climategate emails have a tone that really bothers me. I’ve read them all. So, how do we feel about warming predictions going forward from now? +3 degrees C by 2100. Or +0.5C by then? It makes a huge difference. And what theory of anthropogenic CO2 applies?

    • Toby says:

      There is only one theory of anthropogenic CO2. I am not aware of any other.

      I lost count of the enquiries that cleared the Climategate scientists … wasn’t it 8 in total?

      Hockey Stick has been validated by other means – sediments and boreholes for example.

      Trenbeth’s remark is quoted out of context … did you really read those e-mails? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz8Ve6KE-Us&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33

      2010 was warmer than 1998 in the GISS records, and equal in the UAH records. Temperature still has a rising trend if you make a valid measurement over a sufficient number of years. Arctic ice is still shrinking, glaciers still shrinking, sea level still rising …

      No intelligent “skeptics” who are suggesting that there has been no global warming? … what planet do you live on? … or maybe the skeptics I meet on blogs are not intelligent.

      • omnologos says:

        Toby – please discuss how AGW warming as estimated by the IPCC has varied between the FAR and the AR4, including the maxima and minima as published in each report.

        Then go back to explain how “there is only one theory of anthropogenic CO2. I am not aware of any other” is an answer to “the details are critical”.

        thanks in anticipation

  22. C3 says:

    If you and your readers are at all serious about following the data, I would encourage you to actually visit the data. instead of skepticalscience.com answers that

    Accelerating temperatures/warming? http://www.c3headlines.com/modern-temperatures-chartsgraphs.html

    Unprecedented global warming? http://www.c3headlines.com/temperature-charts-historical-proxies.html

    Modern unequivocal warming? http://www.c3headlines.com/fabricating-fake-temperatures.html

    Sea level increases are accelerating? http://www.c3headlines.com/sea-levels.html

    Look at all the charts and graphs, which put the terms “accelerating,” “unprecedented,” and “unequivocal” into context. The skepticalscience.com site tries to convince visitors that global warming is catastrophic, accelerating, unprecedented and unequivocal. Unfortunately for the gullible visitors to that site, when the data are put in the proper context AGW does not conform to that site’s assertions.


    • dalyplanet says:

      C3 has the hard data that proves the shifting moving altered “official” data claims are adjusted to confirm the ‘teams’ agenda. Look at these links, they opened my eyes.

      • toby says:

        C2, trends of shorter than 20 years are irrelevant to the climatic trends. The charts you referred to are littered with such errors.

  23. Thanks Craig for an article I could have written myself (albeit in a less polished manner). Like you I am a libertarian who used to be a AGW skeptic. But like you, I was a skeptic in the true sense of the word, and the science won me over.

    I think the take-away message from this is that liberals (“lib’rahls”) need to decouple politics from AGW. It has been my observation that the #1 reason cons oppose AGW is not the science but because they view it as a vehicle for socialist expansion and leftist, pro-gov’t, anti-market agendas. And the enviros, for their part, are playing right into this. I think if AGW could be de-poiticized (no small feat admittedly), there would be a lot less opposition to the science behind it. Cons’ opposition to science supporting AGW is itself mostly a knee-jerk reaction against liberalism.

    • omnologos says:

      Among the people I know, the #1 reason people instinctively oppose the catastrophic AGW propaganda constantly raining upon us (especially in the UK) is that they’ve seen too many scares evaporate in the past. This alone explains why all but one the computer and engineering graduates I know, they do not believe any catastrophe is in the making.

      The #2 reason is that when they dared to ask questions, they were shunned, insulted, bullied, etc etc. One might not find everything of one’s liking in some of the “climate skeptical” website, and yes they’re full of strange people…but at least they never try to perform remote pop psychology or character assassination.

  24. rokk says:

    Why every time you hear something about GW there’s politics involved. It’s not a political debate. It’s science. Let the scientists do their work.

  25. Mike Borgelt says:

    I had not heard of Gleick. So I checked and he appears to be making a living as an enviro bs artist.
    omnologos has John Cook’s skeptical science site about right. Pure, very well done propaganda that ignores the rebuttals to his points. I suspect Cook isn’t smart enough to have come up with all that himself. He’s a cartoonist.
    If you are convinced by a reading of his site, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Just the name of the site should tell you lots. It is deliberately misleading.
    I’m just a used to be operational meteorologist who also worked in atmospheric research for a couple of years, now instrument designer and engineer and I don’t buy the CAGW conjecture at all. The panic over CO2 is unbelievable when water vapor is by far the most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Co2 has gone up by 100ppm? Water vapor is 10,000 to 40,000ppm and highly variable. So an increase of 0.25 to 1% is cause for alarm? I don’t think so. I’d suggest that you can’t measure total GHGs that well on average(sure you can measure the CO2 alone).

  26. matthewsmar@gmail.com says:

    With all due respect Craig, congratulations on finally figuring out that AGW is a real thing, however …

    To my friends on the Left: Do you want to convince more skeptics

    There are millions of progressive, moderate people who accepted what the scientific experts had to say on this issue quite some time ago. We have sat there with our heads in our hands waiting for the shrill, hysterical and highly political cries from the “skeptics” to die down so we can get on with trying to do something about it.

    And now, what do we hear but – it was all someone else’s fault that you didn’t get it initially. The message was tainted apparently and any reasonable and pragmatic conservative such as yourself could never have accepted any theory from the socialist greeny left. Except, it wasn’t the left was it. It was NASA, the US Dept of Defence, Insurance companies, The Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO. Yep – those are the geeks, the super bright people from school that was attempting to send the message. That’s why people like me listened. It was never the left who was talking – it was the smart guys telling us we need to change (there’s a word you love no doubt – “change”)

    Now what do we do about it? We here’s a suggestion. Let’s use the market to force a migration from carbon intensive power generation to something a little more clever. I mean really – burn brown coal to boil water to produce steam to turn turbines??? Really??? It might be cheap, but is that the best we can do? And nuclear, well, that’s not likely to happen now is it. Look at Germany. They have accepted the fact that they have to take a financial hit to migrate to cleaner power.

    • dalyplanet says:

      There is fossil fuel, nuclear and hydro as reliable continuous industrial power presently. What is Germany or others doing. Your green is wind AND coal or solar AND coal. How many Terawatts do you need to replace coal with wind when it tales 3 to 4 times as many Terawatts of wind due to calm days.

  27. Richard Woods says:

    To clarify discussions about AGW, separate the topic into (at least) three parts:

    1. The scientific evidence — what has been measured up until today — and the AGW scientific theory to explain this evidence.

    2. Projections, predictions and scenarios of the future. This is based on the evidence and theory, but has not yet happened.

    3. Debate, proposals and decisions about what we will do about AGW. _This_ is the legitimately political part. It is, and will be, based on parts 1 and 2, but is distinct from them.

    The AGW discussions I’ve seen that get most confused are those where the moderator/initiator has not taken care to clearly make such a division and/or doesn’t try to persuade commenters to do the same.

  28. James Evans says:

    “Look at the data.”
    That’s a bit cheeky, isn’t it? What do you think people would be looking at?
    “It would be beyond the scope of this blog post to address every one of your very legitimate questions. Let them do it.” The nature of skepticalscience.com has already been commented on. It’s a highly selective source of information which is precisely designed to align people’s views with the consensus. Objective and neutral it isn’t.

    “If it isn’t AGW, come up with a better theory.”
    For one theory to be wrong doesn’t require the existence of another theory that is right. Isn’t it entirely possible that Homo sapiens simply doesn’t know enough yet to explain all the extraordinary ups and downs of the climate system?
    “AGW has reached the status of scientific theory because of the converging lines of evidence, and because it not only fits the data but is able to make correct predictions.” Could you mention one or two of those correct AGW predictions? (Of course, it’s the “A” of “AGW” that’s important here.)

    “Don’t confuse consensus with consensus.”
    I don’t think you make a valid distinction. A consensus in either context still relies on the opinions of people, be they scientists or politicians. Put it this way – suppose a very peculiar plague were to arrive and bring to an untimely demise most of the scientists who agree with the consensus, leaving “non-consensus” scientists in the majority. Suddenly the consensus has completely changed, as the majority now have a different view as to “where the science has led”.

    “Just because AGW is real doesn’t mean you are wrong politically.”
    Politically, I’m vaguely on the left. So I guess you’d say I was wrong on all counts.

    “Oh, and by the way, the United States Navy is counting on it.”
    As far as I can see, the US Navy is (perhaps sensibly) looking at what impact a change in climate might have on its operations. Climate does change, we all know this. I can’t see that the US Navy has uncovered any convincing new evidence of the role played by CO2.

  29. Pieter B says:

    “I’m old enough to remember ‘Global Cooling'”


    “the hole in the ozone”


    “Stop calling people “deniers”. That’s very clearly a slap in the face, designed to link skeptics to holocaust deniers. Maybe it plays well with the base, but you’ll make no friends nor influence people with that kind of disrespect. Don’t poison the well.”

    “Designed to?” Please. http://www.skepticalscience.com/Q-and-A-Haydn-Washington-co-author-Climate-Change-Denial.html

    “Stop calling it “climate change”. That’s a weasel-worded political phrase that dances around the real issue.”

    The change in terminology was suggested to the GOP by master manipulator Frank Luntz as a result of his focus-group research. http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-global-warming.htm


  30. Borepatch says:

    There are two glaring weaknesses in your advice to those on the “right” (which seems to include people like me, who aren’t on the right side of the spectrum at all):

    Look at the data. Actually, a lot of folks are trying to look at the data, but “scientists” keep refusing to release it – even under lawful Freedom of Information Act requests. You are correct that the situation is overly politicized, but by this point, any scientist who refuses to release all of his data and computer code should be presumed to be hiding something.

    Are most of them hiding something? Probably not. But given the very well documented evasions and covering up of statistical errors and data abuse (c.f. HARRY_READ_ME.TXT), that ship has well and truly sailed.

    Don’t confuse consensus with consensus. The Climategate emails show nothing if not the desperate attempt to subvert the peer-review process, especially at the IPCC level. Until this issue is resolved (it’s not, as the latest Greenpeace/IPCC fiasco so sadly shows), any appeal to the existing “consensus” is quite frankly laughable. Again, the lack of transparency shown here by the AGW crowd stands in great contrast with the skeptic community, who are forced to do science via blog.

    But so what? That harkens back to the Committees of Correspondence in the 17th Century. Somehow, the scientific community was able to advance without Science and Geophysical Research Letters. It is doing so again.

    Your other points are well taken, but these two simply cannot stand. Without a much more open and transparent approach than the AGW scientific community has shown a willingness to exhibit, we’re at an impasse. Trust the data? Show us the data.

    • Mikem says:

      The only raw data which hasn’t been released to my knowledge is that used by the CRU in the UK, and the reasons for this have been made clear 10 times over but many people still refuse to listen. They don’t own the rights to it. It is “owned” by the met services of the world from which it is collated, and they can’t just release it to any old Tom Dick or Harry without permission. However if you were to write to all the met services around the world, I’m sure that for a fee (cost recovery demanded by the general public for Government organisations) they might provide it to you. At least if they felt you were going to do anything useful with it.

      Nevertheless the raw data (and the software code) used by NASA and GISS has been publicly available on their website for many years, as it is required to be.

      I have brought several blog threads alleging that the data is being “hidden” to a grinding halt by simply providing all the links that the bloggers couldn’t be bothered to lookup themselves (it isn’t hard). But I still wonder why I had to do it in the first place. No, I’m not going to bother doing it here. It isn’t hard to find, but some “sceptics” seem to want it handed to them on a silver platter. Sheer laziness. Others just allege that it’s “hidden” because someone else said it was.

      The sceptic community are not “forced” to do science via blog. Genuine sceptical scientists who have relevant qualifications (like Spencer and Christy) do get articles published in peer reviewed journals. In fact, even some without any scientific credentials seem to have managed (Anthony Watts springs to mind)! It’s just that to get an article published in a reputable journal, well it generally has to be something that isn’t obviously total nonsense. Therein lies part of the problem. The other option is to go for journals like E&E which will generally publish any old thing.

  31. Ed Saunders says:

    Interesting blog. I enjoyed it.

    Reading your ‘update’ and after seeing some of the comments here, it seems that there is a bit of a myth that the data is some how hidden in some secret vault. This really isn’t the case. Most scientific articles now come with electronic appendices with full raw datasets. It has become necessary to include this to get people to believe your science.

    The internet is also a treasure trove of data sets for climate science. There is a huge amount of raw data that is archived at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/
    This includes most the data that has been used by the East Anglia scientists who seem to be forever getting FOIA requests.

    It is also pretty easy to see compelling data in graphical form at a number of websites:

    This is a pretty short list. There are dozens of reputable agencies that give their data in some form or another freely over the internet. This myth of ‘missing data’ mystifies me.

  32. Barry Woods says:

    I would unlikely to have got involved in this debate and started blogging, if Ihad not personally come across the issues that are pointed out here and become increasingly annoyed by them, especially these three:


    Stop calling people “deniers”. That’s very clearly a slap in the face, designed to link skeptics to holocaust deniers. Maybe it plays well with the base, but you’ll make no friends nor influence people with that kind of disrespect. Don’t poison the well.

    Stop calling it “climate change”. That’s a weasel-worded political phrase that dances around the real issue. It looks stupid. Of course the climate is changing. It always has! If the problem isn’t human-caused warming, there isn’t a problem. So call it what it is: anthropogenic global warming.

    Stop blaming every unusual weather event on global warming. “We blame global warming” has become a joke on the Right, and for good reason.

    You could add stop having – Deniers Halls of Shame to the list, and activists Astroturfing sceptical blogs like Bishop Hill.



    George Monbiot is associated with 2 Deniers Halls of Shame, against individuals (not organisations) which I think says rather more about George Monbiot, the Guardain where one appears, and the Campaign Against Climate Change where the other Hall of Shame apears (Who’s VP and board members include The Green Party leaders in the UK , Caroline Lucas MP, and Jean Lambert MEP. )

    This goes against ALL green party ethics and policies – Halls of Shame, by politicians and the national media – Guardian – What are they thinking! It might appeal to their little ‘tribe’ but it alienates very many people, this sort of language.

    I totally agree one of the MOST irritatingthings has been the words ‘climate change’ used to mean whatever an AGW acticvist wants it to.

    You don’t believe in climate change, then you are an anti-science, flatearther creationist, climate denier, or double denier, the line goes (and that was the UK’s Prime Minister, around the time of the Copenhagen conference!!)

    Yet, the word is almost used like newspeak: to the politicians the lobbyists it is used to mean one thing… The official UK political definition of ‘climate change’ (excludes anything natural)

    “Climate Change
    The process of changing weather patterns caused by the increased number of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere as a result of human activity since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

    from the glossary:
    ’A guide to carbon offsetting for the public sector’ – Department of Energy and Climate Change

    I wonder if the UK Government has another word defined anywhere, that describes how the Earth’s climate changes with respect to natural forcings, solar, cosmic radiation, orbital, clouds, aerosols, oceanic oscillations, volcanoes,etc, etc,etc

    Or maybe they think it doesn’t?

    I’m sure the general public think the words ‘climate change’ includes variations by natural climate change processes…. as well as man made potentially contributing

    So the public might not stop and listen to people labelled climate change deniers, because only a fool / crank / truther /denier would not believe in ‘climate change’ (natural) surely?

  33. gimpyestrada says:

    Very good post, I will definitely be sharing it with some of my family.

    Two points though:

    1. While I understand your dislike of the word “deniers,” I have to come back with the fact that there are quite a few people out there who are deniers. It is intentionally a derisive term that should be carefully aimed at those who are intentionally sticking their collective fingers in their ears and saying “na na na na I can’t hear you.” Maybe the term should not be so liberally applied, but in some circumstances it is warranted.

    2. Climage change is absolutely a more correct way of stating the issue. While everyone is worried about how warm it is going to get and what is going to happen to their beach front property. There are places in Europe that will see a drastic rise in deaths from a decrease in temperature during the winter months. Warming and cooling are all tied up in the same issue on this one. Plus scientists are bothered by something being called warming when it is getting colder in some places.

    Thank you.

    • Craig Good says:

      But those places will be getting colder, according to this theory, because the global average temperature is increasing. So it’s global warming that’s the problem. If humans packed up and left today and never produced another gram of CO2, the climate would keep changing. Change isn’t the point.

    • dalyplanet says:

      Global average warming cannot create cooling, that premise is junk science. It is a weak method to prove all weather events are related to CO2 and is unequivocally false. There has been cyclical warming and cooling through the ages absent mans paltry 3% contribution to natural CO2 outgassing. The oceans turn over and absorb much of the suns energy and move it around the earth. Where in any atmosphere models is the effect of undersea volcanoes heat transfer to the oceans and then to the radiative balance. Plate tectonics and movement of continents was not accepted theory until the late 20th century. Certainly a force that can move continents must release heat energy to the oceans.

      • Liam McGlinchey says:

        “Global average warming cannot create cooling, that premise is junk science. ”
        It can’t? Increasing the average global temperature CANNOT change local weather patterns, resulting in some places getting cooler? It is impossible, for example, that arctic warming would reduce the temperature differential that powers the North Atlantic Current, cooling the British Isles? Or alter the jet stream, exposing the British Isles to more Arctic weather?
        I am not saying these things have happened, or that they will happen. I’m asking how you know that they CAN’T happen.

      • Craig Good says:

        My understanding is that global average warming can create localized cooling. The mechanism explained by a scientist visiting here a while back was a change in ocean currents.

  34. lowcarbonkid says:

    You said “So far nuclear power has proven a lot safer than organic farming”. Do you have any peer-reviewed references to back this claim up?

  35. lowcarbonkid says:

    Firstly, if you are arguing that climate science needs to be peer reviewed you need to apply the same standard to all your claims.

    Secondly, deaths from e-coli can come from many sources, and are not attributable to organic farming techniques per se. Consider that intensive farming methods have high risks too and contributed to salmonella and foot-and-mouth outbreaks.

    Thirdly, in the interests of fairness you should also observe that renewable energy sources have far fewer risks than either fossil or nuclear power.

  36. daviddriscoll says:

    While I enjoyed the article – I’m a bit unsure about “Stop calling it “climate change””

    It has a relevant scientific definition and has been used for decades???


  37. dalyplanet says:

    I am wondering how a world political organization, the UN, through a sub organization, the IPCC, that hired a relative handful of scientists to prove their premise, has convinced so many seemingly intelligent people that a version of credit default swaps, ie. cap and trade, will save the planet when the proof of failure of this type of scheme is so readily apparent in the state of the western economy today.

    • Liam McGlinchey says:

      “I am wondering how a world political organization, the UN, through a sub organization, the IPCC, that hired a relative handful of scientists to prove their premise,”

      That is not the case. Research on AGW is decades older than the IPCC. The IPCC reports are compiled by mostly volunteers that summarise the research.
      has convinced so many seemingly intelligent people that a version of credit default swaps, ie. cap and trade, will save the planet

  38. Liam McGlinchey says:

    “has convinced so many seemingly intelligent people that a version of credit default swaps, ie. cap and trade, will save the planet”

    No-one has suggested the planet is in danger. Many of the most vocal ‘alarmists’ are anti cap and trade.

  39. Buffoon says:

    “If it isn’t AGW, come up with a better theory. Remember, it will have to both fit and explain the data. ”


    Supporters of AGW have to DISPROVE historic changes in temperature similar to the last couple decades. (Geology provides them.) If a thing can happen separated from what you deem the cause, then you cannot separate a cause without enumerating (and controlling, in this case by prediction) those factors that contribute to its effects.


    Don’t pretend science is something it isn’t. The burden of proof is always on the theory to overcome challenges. ALWAYS.

    AGW fails to stand up to history and proponents obstinately refuse to allow (and enumerate and control through demonstrable predictive capability) other factors to the system they seek to describe. That is NOT science.

    The intent, and skill in writing your post is to be lauded. However your placing the burden of proof on the skeptic and suggesting that more proof (converging lines of evidence) obviates the focus we should give to legitimate criticisms of the theory is patently wrong.

    • Liam McGlinchey says:

      “Supporters of AGW have to DISPROVE historic changes in temperature similar to the last couple decades. ”

      No. This assumes there can only ever be one cause of changes in temperature. Changes in the suns output, our orbit around the sun, the eruptions of volcanoes, have all changed the temperature of the earth in the past. But that doesn’t mean they are changing the global temperature NOW. In fact, the consensus among the scientists is that they are not.
      No-one has ever claimed that temperature has not changed in the past.
      Nor has anyone claimed that there had never been a release of GHG’s before. The PETM involved a massive release of GHG’s from the ocean, I believe.

  40. NewYorkJ says:

    Thank you for having an open mind, Craig, and it’s refreshing to see someone set aside (at least to a large degree) their strong political beliefs to examine the science independently, and I hope that continues. But I’m not here to heap on “attaboys”. What’s the point of that?

    “Stop calling people “deniers”.” – well, not everyone is a genuine true “skeptic”, which implies an open mind, so some of us use this alternate term. The vast majority (but not all) of those using it don’t have the Holocaust in mind, and I believe that is often used by some to demonize anyone using the term. Nonetheless, more often I use “contrarian”. Doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Terms like “alarmist”, “warmist”, etc. are rather derogatory too.

    “Stop calling it “climate change”” – I think others covered that here well. “Climate change” is indeed vague and wishy washy, as you note, and I think it gets people putting forth spin like “they changed the name because it’s not warming”, but the term “global warming” has weaknesses: it doesn’t encapsulate all that is happening, including ocean acidification.

    “Stop blaming every unusual weather event on global warming.” – This is good advice, but I don’t see a lot of this going on. There’s some overreach in some articles, but many have the proper context. We also see plenty of cold weather events illicit responses like “so much for global warming”, and there are blogs that like to highlight every cold weather event that happens, even erronesouly claiming heavy snow disputes global warming. I would also extend the advice to distinguish between different types of weather extremes. The link (if any) between global warming and tornadoes, for example, is tenuous at this point. RC had a nice recent post on this:


    “Dump Al Gore” – We weren’t dating him! But seriously, I understand your point. The 2000 election divided many people, and Gore was central to that. AIT was a pretty good documentary, though. There are better ones. Most of the criticisms of AIT, however, are much more flawed than the documentary itself.

    “and a warmer world is going to get a lot greener”

    Not exactly. Lots more droughts, strain on water supplies, and desertification in many areas.



    “Hug a nuke. ” – Removing nukes from the picture makes it that much harder to reduce emissions. I support nuclear power, but also the flexibility of the wedge approach.

    “Stick with the science.” – Agreed, but contrarians don’t seem to have any qualms over mixing the two. Everything’s a big political conspiracy to them.

    “Scientists: Go Independent.” – Agreed about Peter Gleick. His talk sets a good example with science communication. I like the idea of scientists spending some time engaging the public. Even the most distrusting contrarians sending death threates to climate scientists tend to soften when they realize the scientists are intelligent real people working hard to understand how climate works.

  41. peter_dtm says:

    If it isn’t AGW, come up with a better theory

    NO – that is not science
    Null hypothesis (that YOU have to disprove) – current changes to climate are mostly natural and can be explained in terms of natural varience. There is nothing abnormal abpit current weather or climate patterns that needs explaining.

    Those who promote the hypothesis of AGW have to PROVE their theroy is correct and is BETTER then the null hypothesis.

    Which has not been achieved.

    Note – predictions by models are NOT evidence of anything oither than the behaviour of the model. Climate is a chaotic system. We have no idea of how the input variables interact. We have no idea of what the input variables are.

    Make a falsifiable prediction using your hypothesis. MEASURE in the real world the results.
    eg : some road on Staten Island NY, NY will be 20 foot under water by 2010 ? Hasn’t happened. Tropospheric hot spot – amount of predicted warming has not occurred; arguable if any STATISTICALLY significant warming has occurred at all

    Warming will continue and accelerate with increasing CO2 – hasn’t happened.

    Now go and research what makes climate work. Research the input variables (cf CERN and the CLOUD experiment for how to do science).

    Those promoting AGW must PROVE using real world measurements – making all data and calculations available; accepting corrections to methodology and updating their theory with the results. Such things as dodgy statistical procedures (hockey stick) statistically insignificant number of samples (ONE bristle cone pine; TWO sea level points in the same state) are items that need to be RESOLVED – not ignored or become items of polemic.

    As an engineer I find the scientific case for acepting the AGW theory over the null hypothesis is not made.

    Climate changes. Man has some affect on climate. What the effect is – we don’t know; is it significant – almost certainly not. Does man’s CO2 emissions have any effect – none that is measurable. Is CO2 a primary driver of climate – only in falsified models (no hot spot; remember ?) – appears to lag temperature changes by some 800 years.

    Is there a problem – NO – does AGW need more research – of course. Does it need us to wreck our economies and threaten the well being of our children – don’t be silly; with no evidence of damage; there is no need to do anything to mitigate our impact.
    Think of our kids – don’t wreck their futures for a falsified theory that owes more to politics than science

  42. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    Falsifiable Predictions

    Since AGW was originally called the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect, initial prediction. The GH Effect is real and can be observed through a substantially different spectral distribution of the Earths Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) spectrum as seen from space compared to what is expected from basic Thermodynamics. Status – Observed

    Similarly existance and the spectral distribution of Downwelling or Back Radiation as measured from the surface. Status – Observed

    Also the detailed distribution of emissions in the OLR spectrum should match predictions based on the known properties and concentrations of all the GH gases and the temperature profile of the atmosphere. Status – Observed, in exquisite detail.

    Next, predictions based on increasing GH gases.
    Changes in the spectral distribution of the Earths Outgoing Longwave Radiation spectrum as seen from space due to GH Gases. Status – Observed

    Changes in the spectral distribution of Downwelling or Back Radiation as measured from the surface. Status – Observed

    Increasing water vapour content in the Troposphere as a consequence of increased temperatures. Status – Observed

    Increasing water vapour content specifically in the upper Troposphere. Status – Observed

    Rising Tropopause. Status – Observed

    Increased temperatures in the Tropical Upper Troposphere at equilibrium. Status – Observed indirectly.

    Stratospheric Cooling. Since the changes are being driven by variations in the radiative behaviour of the atmosphere, this is one of the predictions. Changes due to the Sun, Clouds etc would not cause this. This is GH gas specific. Status – Observed

    Since AGW due to changes in GH gas concentrations will result in a net accumulation of energy in the ENTIRE climate system as a result of changing the Earths external energy balance we should observe that occuring. Observed. Atmospheric warming, what most people think of as ‘climate’ is 3% of that, Cryosphere 3%, Land 4%, Oceans 90%. Since the total climate has warmed, this cannot be due to internal climate variability, just sloshing heat around between different internal part of the climate. It would be expected to affect the entire climate systems external energy balance. Just looking at surface air temperatures is an example of what Craig was talking about. Status – Observed

    Nights warming as much or more than Days, reducing Daytime Temperature Range. Since changes in incoming Solar would only affect daytime temperatures whilst the GH Effect operates 24 hours a day, Nights should change as well. Status – Observed

    Winter warming as much or more than Summer. For similar reasons to the Day/Night test. Status – Observed. During the period from the 1950’s to 1970’s when overall temps stopped climbing, believed to be caused by increased aerosols providing daytime cooling (the equivalent of less Sun) before the introduction of Clean Air Acts in various countries, Night time temps didn’t drop. Status – Observed

    Ice Core Records will show GH gases rising and falling roughly in line with temperatures but with a lag due to ocean circulation overturning time. This was predicted in 1990, before the detailed Ice Core data revealed the lag. Status – Observed

    That enough to get started with Peter.

    Oh, and as an Engineer as well – Mechanical Eng, University of Melbourne, 1978, I find the case for AGW quite strong. Remember when we did our degree’s. Did your lecturers stress to you as strongly as mine did the importance of getting your system boundaries right in performing any system analysis. Just looking at atmospheric temps is a totally invalid system boundary.

    Also the need to account for all the evidence? Like if CO2 and other GH Gases DON’T have the properties expected then there are all sorts of conseuences. Entire databases of the spectroscopic properties of these gases are wrong. Which means our understanding of the vibrational modes of those molecules is all wrong. At that point a hell of a lot of our understanding of basic chemistry flies out the window, along with a reasonable chunk of Quantum Mechanics. Then there is the small problem of how IR Air-to-Air missiles actually manage to hit anything, how we avoided WWIII because the early warning satellites thought a lightning storm over Siberia was a Soviet missile launch. Oh, and how your Microwave Oven works.

    And thats before we start exploring Oceaqn Stratification and Ocean Chemistry, Carbon Cycle Chemistry, Isotopic signatures for fossil carbon, Observed climate change from deep climate studies, The Faint Young Sun Problem, Stellar Physics, I could go on.

    Do you really think all of this interlocking science is wrong?

  43. Glenn Tamblyn says:


    Great Post. As an occasional contributing author at SkepticalScience we appreciate the reaction.

    Some observations, and these are my own personal feelings.

    The word Denier is used by advocates of AGW in a very specific sense. And it definitely is unrelated to the Holocaust or any such thing. It refers to individuals who profess to being skeptics but never actually debate anything or show any willingness to consider counter arguments. They in turn make the same claims against those arguing for AGW. However in my experience I have seen few if any claims made by what might be called Lay skeptics that hold any water and are not based on misconceptions, cherrypicked data, logical inconsistancies etc. For me the test is if you point out the fallacy in a criticism that a skeptic makes, do they take this on board. Does their view changes as a result. Or will they be back tomorrow repeating the same thing?

    Ultimately a lot of this appears to be either contrarianism or true denial in the psychological sense. If an idea conflicts with someones mental map of how the world works, of what is meaningful about their reality, then the idea may be rejected.

    And my observation in life is that for many people their ‘mental map’ actually takes priority over the actual nature of the physical world around them. That ultimately the external universe is seen as conforming to their internal world. And if there is a conflict between the two, tent the internal world will win out and suggestions about the external world will be rejected. Quite literally as unthinkable. Something they cannot afford to think because the defense of their sense of Self depends on it. The Mountain will be made to come to Mohammed.

    So we see Creationism and Intelligent Design. We see AGW as having to be a scam or false because it is ‘unthinkable’ to consider it real. We saw a certain President Dubya talking about ‘Faith Based Reality’

    Notice how often skeptic/denier discourse is along the lines of: A. The Science is Wrong->B. The Science has been Faked->C. If we did the things ‘they’ say we need to do then our way of life will be changed/Destroyed-> D. They are Faking it to rip us off, destroy our society, institute World Government (insert favorite bogeyman here)

    Now consider this. A certain personality type encounters E. The Science is Right->F. The Science has not been Faked->G. We need to do these things to avoid terrible consequences->H. The things we need to do will transform our societies and how we live and why.

    For some people conclusion H is psychologically unaceptable. It can not be countenanced. It must be rejected otherwise it represents a form of death of the Self. So they must substitute H with D. But then to be consistent G must be substituted by C. Thus F MUST be substituted by B. And therefore E ABSOLUTELY MUST be substituted by A.

    Denial is the absolute need to reject H by whatever unconscious psychological gymnastics are required. And part of these gymnastics means that the fact of the gymnastics themselves CAN NEVER BE ADMITTED. So to someone engaged in psychological denial, rejection of the label DENIER is an essential part of the gymnastics.

    So, AGW advocates will never ‘debate’ the skeptics.And they never have any valid points Because a few courageous skeptics have revealed the house of cards. So the points an AGW advocate may make are all part of the scam. Or they are the deluded followers of a ‘faith’ (love those religious metaphors). But it is all going to collapse soon as the handful of scientists who have corrupted true science (yes, there really are only a handfull of them) get their comeuppance. And the virtuous few will have won the day.

    Was that the sound of a trembling sigh of relief I just heard? The death of the Self avoided. They are safe now.

    In my observation, among those actively engaged with the AGW debate there are very few skeptics. But a lot of D*****s who can’t handle the word. Among the broader public that are not actively engaged with the debate there are probably many true skeptics. But not among the vociferous few.

  44. tubagooba says:

    It’s pleasing that you’ve found the science presented in such a way that you find yourself able to accept it.

    The science has been there all along, completely available, clearly explained. You seem to imply that it’s been hidden behind a wall of lefty propaganda, but it hasn’t, really, has it?

    It’s been hidden, yes, but it’s been hidden behind a wall of deliberate obfuscation, undertaken for partisan political reasons.

    It might seem to you that the left embraced AGW theory just because it seemed to constitute a stick with which to bash the right. But shouldn’t you, at this time, acknowledge the fact that the same science that you’ve now grown to trust is the same science on which the left built its own understanding? Instead of seeming to blame the left for the fact that you let politics get in the way of the truth, maybe it’s worth examining your own politics. Your advice to the right, it seems to me, should include something along the lines of “What other empirical truths have we blinded ourselves to because we can’t tolerate the idea of agreeing with our ideological foes? What does it say about our politics that we’re so ready to ignore the facts when they threaten our beliefs?”

  45. JimB says:

    Exceptionally clever stuff.

    Mr. Good wants us to know he is a skeptic. He does so by throwing numerous progressive/liberal sacred cows under the bus to prove it. Just wants to know if global warming man caused or not? No agenda. Completely objective. And he seems so reasonable and rational; who can doubt his sincerity?

    Then he recommends a website: http://www.skepticalscience.com/ as being very influential in causing his conversion to AGW, but he’s still skeptical mind you.

    The website is devoted to debunking every counter argument opponents of AGW have ever made. Assuming the skeptic’s are on average no more morally and intellectually deficient than climate alarmists, you would think they would be right at least once. That is, unless your site and your 165 answers have more to do with propaganda than science.

    And Mr. Good entirely leaves out any mention of http://wattsupwiththat.com/ which is simply the most trafficked climate site in the world and is very technical, tolerant and proudly skeptical. Odd.

    In Good’s recommended website at the upper left are three button’s one can click on to reveal “Christy’s Crocks”, “Lindzen’s Illusions” and “Monckton Myths”. Dr. John Christy is a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dr. Richard Lindsen is an atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and Lord Monckton’s bio can be read on Wiki. They are three of the more well known and effective skeptics out there.

    You don’t refer to your opponents collective statements with the following titles unless you are engaged in propaganda. And Mr. Good, if he was sincere, should never have linked to any alarmist website that would.

    In the end, according to Mr. Good, if you come to believe in AGW, something must be done no matter what your political views are. What can that be? How about grow a more oppressive world government, specifically the UN, control carbon dioxide production and tax the life out of individuals and corporations and give it to underdeveloped nations.

    Funny, that’s exactly what Al Gore, the UN and the rest of the progressive crew he threw under the bus in the beginning of his blog want.

  46. petersalonius says:

    Good writes “If it isn’t AGW come up with a better theory”

    I offer Peter Ziegler’s recently revised and publicly available slide deck presentation entitled

    “Climate Change during Geologic and Recent Times” at:



    IPCC postulates on anthropogenic Global Warming are not only scientifically suspect and politically motivated, but are economically dangerous.

    There is social pressure to accept IPCC postulates. Alarmist messages are uncritically promulgated, blaming industrial nations for Global Warming.

    On the base of scientifically not substantiated concepts, governments, politicians, economists and businessmen are now concerned with climate control and ruinous emission mitigation and trading schemes.

    Received wisdom from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and projections of climate models regarding catastrophic climate warming during the next century
    are guiding legislators regarding economically important energy policy and expensive subsidies for technologies designed to decrease atmospheric loading with carbon containing greenhouse gases. Ziegler’s presentation shows that efforts, to stage manage NATURAL global climate change are a waste of taxpayer’s money.

    Peter Salonius (recently retired after ~45 years as a Canadian Forest Service Research Scientist)

    email petersalonius@hotmail.com

  47. peter_dtm says:

    Glenn Tamblyn says:
    June 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    The troubkle is; that none (apart from the tropo increase) can be isolated from natural warming. Not one of those indicators is unexpected IF the base hypothesis is in fact correct. There is NO differentiation with the observed phenomena between the two hypothesis. Occam’s razor applies in this case.

    The tropo increase was quite specific in the amount of expect increase. That predicted increase was more than sufficient to have been seen by the existing measurement systems. Indeed there is apparently ‘some’ indications there may be ‘some’ heating occurring. But – by orders of magnitude – not the amount predicted. Since this was one of the few unique signatures for CO2 driven warming (never mind from what source) the fact that it is missing indicates there is something wrong with the basis of the prediction.

    There are very few people who deny climate change. There are even less people who deny that the overall temperature appears to have risen from 1970s to 1990s.

    So we expect to see all the predictions about the effects of a warming climate come true. They do not differentiate the CAUSE.

    The proof required – by those claiming AGW exists; AND is a threat AND is caused by CO2 emitted by man’s activities – needs to be made unequivocally specific to CO2 driven climate change; then we need proof that the small percentage of additional human caused CO2 is sufficient to change that driver.. So far the nearest prediction that would nail CO2 as a prime cause of climate change is the tropo hot spot. So far it fails to identify CO2 as the (or even a) prime variable.

    Science isn’t just the results – it is also about what the experiment tests.

    As you would also have been taught : when testing hypothesis – check that your experiment makes a unique prediction that is predicated on your hypothesis; and can not be potentially caused by other variables.

    This is why the use of poor models as part of the ‘evidence’ of AGW is also wrong. Models make predictions. If the real world measurements disagree with the model predictions it is the models that are wrong.

    Climate – a chaotic system about which we know little and understand less – we don’t even know all the primary inputs; we don’t understand how those variables we do know about interact. Is it surprising the models fail to make true predictions ?

  48. lukesci says:

    The first of the points that initially persuaded you against MMGW, that scientists previously predicted global cooling, is discussed well in this video:


    Generally, the data for the cooling was tiny compared to what is available now for global warming, there were a very small number of publications and they qualified that by citing many uncertainties. What the media did with it is a different thing.

    For the origins of the term “climate change” as opposed to “global warming” see here:

  49. John Mashey says:

    Nice writeup, but it leads to a question or two.
    [I don’t think we’ve ever met, back in the 1990s I worked at SGI, in various roles including Chief Scientist, so sometimes interacted with Pixar folks. I also write occasionally for Skeptical Inquirer.]

    I am curious about skepticism of AGW by reasonable skeptics. I am quite familiar with the machinery and funding of climate anti-science. That machinery inherited the techniques and organization of the tobacco guys, which often employed all sorts of motivations to (successfully) obfuscate science and it sometimes uses specific techniques to mislead skeptics. it also uses political knee-jerk reactions to get people to ignore sophomore physics. With enough ideological motivation, even PhD physicists do that, I know off about of the 45,000+ members of the American Physical Society in that state.

    But here’s what I don’t quite understand. It doesn’t seem too hard to discover that the {National Academy of Sciences, AAAS, APS, AGU, GSA, Royal Society, etc, etc} is on one side of this, and one has to disprove things like Conservations of Energy and quantum mechanics to make AGW go away.

    Does a skeptic have strong opinions and not go seek data?

    Was Peter Gleick (a member of the National Academy for his research water over the years), the first relevant scientist you heard live on this?

    The SF Bay Area has frequent events that host real climate scientists, where one can hear someone talk, ask questions, see how they respond, ask for suggestions on books to read, etc. In some areas, it is hard, but here? With Stanford and Berkeley around?

    Here is what I find a little hard to understand. If a topic seems important, and one’s skepticism runs counter to {NAS, AAAS, etc, etc}, and one is not an expert, what does one do?

    A: try to get educated, ideally by looking at, say, half a dozen books across the spectrum, and attending a few live events. Maybe it’s easier here (next to Stanford, or because guys like Jim Hansen or Burt Richter give lectures like Gambling with the Future in our little town. When deciding whether or not it’s a good idea if your kids smoke, would you listen to UCSF researchers, or random people, at least some of whose funding tracks back to tobacco companies.

    Skeptical Science is a great resource, but there’s nothing like reading a well-written book, such as David Archer’s The Long Thaw, well-written for a general-audience, by an expert, or try the online version of the US Global Climate Research Program’s Global Climate Change Impacts in the US.

    Skeptics are justifiably proud of not taking things on faith, but it is really not hard to acquire solid information, and in some locations, it is easy enough to find world-class experts to hear and talk to directly.

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  53. Sheri says:

    So sad that even the alledged scientists are so easily duped. I dropped Skeptoid over the AGW statements. I cannot in any way find any justification for the belief, and certainly not on skepticalscience, which I would place on the list of very unscientific sites. There is no winning this–AGW is a religion, even if it has no “God” and religion and science generally are mutually exclusive. I truly mourn the death of science. I do……

    • Mike says:

      Simply out of curiosity, what specifically do you find “unscientific” about the SkepticalScience site?

    • Terry Fide says:

      And I have also dropped Skeptoid for the same reason. I have posted a full explanation beneath the show notes on Brian’s site. It’s a shame. It was the same at SGU (Sceptics Guide to the Universe). A great show, years of hard work and good science thrown away. I cannot bear to listen to either now.

      • You don’t support my view on ONE thing, therefore I shall reject everything you ever say. This is a pretty fair definition of an ideologue.

        • Mud says:

          I should be doubting myself right?

          I’ll now go check on that speed of light malarkey as well..

          That’s the problem with looking at overviews and specifics in a a set of conditional changes that we have observed over the past 50 years confrming what “stupid” scientists predicted a century ago.

          The fact is, there are a number of conditions that have led to the current.

          I think I covered that in one of Brian’s skeptoids during a debate.

          Maybe we get a better coverage of the Journal literature down here in the antipodes.

          My usual question is, list the paper and tell me what you think it means. I can usually get a copy of the article (old codger rights).

          But please, verify if the paper is worth reading. I’d hate to bug someone for a mere technical report.

          Personally, I see a lot of anthropogenic change. Thats the thing about published measurements.

          It was a real pity that one of Brian’s posters listed some really good papers in his statements and then didnt explain what he thought it meant. He did post what a crusading site said about them.

          Sadly, the issue is in the hands of folk who believe in things.

          I’d ask you all to re read the literature of folk who believe in things. Polemic does not clarify the issue.

          As Much as I loved the Hitch, I would never use him as a foundation for any article I wrote.

          Its easy enough for the general readers to misquote Richard Dawkins let alone interpret the many millions of Daily measurements and the subsequent trends those measurements indicate.

          I think the next tee shirts that are worn to a skeptics conference should read, yeah things have changed, science predicted that too.

          Organic salt with that anyone?

          You do realise that folk quite often infer that they deny measurement standard during their “polemic”.

          it happens far too often for any of you to be comfortable with.

  54. Mike says:

    I’m curious for your opinion of this piece I found online last night which basically reduces all arguments in favor of AGW to “intellectual dishonesty”. I’ve always been a bit on-the-fence on the issue myself, when I first found your article here last year I was swayed a bit, but now I’m not as sure, I guess. I still haven’t seen a good visualization of the numbers.

    • Craig Good says:

      That site makes a number of errors, all of which are addressed by the links in my original post.

      For one, he conflates politics with the science. It’s quite true that the Al Gores of the world are trying to leverage AGW for their own gain and policy goals. That’s a separate issue. I agree with Dr. Glick that we can’t talk policy until we agree on the science. So when Reed says:

      The earth is rapidly getting catastrophically warmer because of increased burning of fossil fuels by humans and emergency laws must be passed to reduce that burning of fossil fuels to Nineteenth Century levels.

      We would have to perform some edits to remove the politics and get it down to just the science:

      The earth is rapidly getting catastrophically warmer in part because of increased burning of fossil fuels by humans and emergency laws must be passed to reduce that burning of fossil fuels to Nineteenth Century levels.

      To be fair, he’s quite correct to claim that people are saying that.

      He also cherry picks the years in the temperature data to avoid the warm recent ones. The error that’s the howler, though, is about the sea level. Very cleverly he points out that melting the entire North Pole ice cap would not raise the sea level a bit. This is true. Unfortunately not all of the earth’s polar ice is floating in the ocean. All that ice resting on Antarctica would indeed raise the sea level if it melted.

      • Mike says:

        To be fair, he does admit that the Antarctic ice would raise sea level. I liked how he gave it about 3/4 of a sentence then moved on, after spending a few dozen paragraphs illustrating how the Arctic ice wouldn’t raise sea level.

        I do find it a bit funny that the article by which I found his website was a seemingly astute list of “intellectually dishonest arguments”, wherein he links the AGW article I linked you above, but then this article itself seems to be laced with strawman arguments.

  55. Stew Green says:

    – Of course it’s the quality of the science that counts not necessarily quality of the source, but it’s good not to take things at face-value & do some background checking first. You would have seen Peter Gleick is infamous for giving a disfavorable review to a book he hadn’t read.
    – And he is well known on internet forum for constantly making global warming posts as if he was an activist rather than water scientist. It seems his posts were quite easily refuted. Unlike Brian D who is the type of guy who can say “I’ve had a fresh look at the arguments & changed my opinion” PG is more stubborn & would show his irritation with that in his tweets.
    – That was all before the recent Gleick/Heartland “event” , where he showed by his own confession he was willing “to lie for the cause”. His scientific arguments maybe well stand-up to analysis, but apply time & your own critical thinking and don’t accept things at face value.

    • Craig Good says:

      Yes, it’s the science that counts. I didn’t know Gleick before that day and simply reported the effect his presentation had on me. I’ve been putting off a followup about his mind-numbingly stupid move with Heartland, but hope to get to it one of these days soon. I figure I need to because he figures so prominently in this post. For now, suffice it to say, I still find the science he talked about that day persuasive, but I won’t be singing the praises of Peter Gleick.

  56. Stew Green says:

    – BTW people quite correctly mention the importance of peer reviewed papers, but don’t think they are infallible . I suggest checking the iconic paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” by John P. A. Ioannidis .

  57. Allan Brodribb says:

    I agree with you almost 100% on the political side of the argument, but am confused about what you read that made you change your mind. You only have a nebulous admiration for the blog SkS (as they demand to be called because they don’t want to be linked to the SS… hrrmm so it’s only bad when skeptics have a problem then?) but don’t state what qualms they were able to address. If all you did was read that site to answer your questions then I don’t feel that you have done your due dilligence. You freely admit that they have political leanings yet you are happy to have them and Gleick as your only trusted sources? This seems naive to me. Have you read any other climate blogs? What are they?

    Also, I struggle to find any of the arguments contained within the SkS site to be very convincing. As has been stated above, they leave many questions only half answered. If you look at their answer to the claim that their is no consensus, you will notice that they still reference the infamous 97% study. I can’t help but feel that any person who would still reference this horribly misleading piece of subjective work is going to be misleading and subjective themselves.

    My biggest problem and cause for concern is that the pro-AGW scientists freely advocate their “cause”, smear their opponents with the denier label, persue or threaten frivolous lawsuits to silence critics (look at Tim ball and also the RC site where several lawsuit threats are made), use environmental advocates as references in IPCC documents and launch constant ad hominem attacks at people they disagree with.

    People can talk all they like about consensus and what the “experts” think that we have to agree with. Personally I have massive problems with someone calling themselves a “climate expert” this is less compareable to heart surgeon as they try to claim, and more compareable to “medicine expert”. Climate is the field, not the specialty.

    I think there are still massive problems with this science, and I don’t think you can consider yourself much of a skeptic if all it took to convince you otherwise was Peter Gleick and SkS. If you have done further reading that contributed to your knowledge, please share it with us.

  58. Henk v..without a need for his prescription spectacles..yet! says:

    I’d suggest the differenentiation between a science and a practitioner..

    Sorry, climate scientists come in many different disciplines.. Its fine if you don’t like scientists and their observations, discoveries, postulates, laws and theories. Nobody denies climate change unless they are practicing folk lore. Not even the skeptics deny climate change is real and present. The skeptics only deny anthropogenic climate change.

    Just practice your religion in the privacy of your homes..just like many heart surgeons do..

  59. R. Craigen says:

    Hi Craig. Most of your post resonates well with me. I’m a scientist myself — or more precisely a professor in a faculty of science, with three degrees in Mathematics, whose professional work and qualifications have nothing to do with climate. I only assert that I am scientifically literate, I understand what shoddy science is and how it can taint these discussions, and that I am not at all impressed with the credentials of most who put themselves forward as “authorities” (Al Gore comes to mind but is by far not the only offender). On the matter of credentials I prefer to look at a person’s life, work and words than at the paper hung on his office wall. And I agree that a skeptic’s perspective is needed on this and all matters of science — particularly so when science and policy collide as with AGW.

    …I am a skeptic, though I’m pretty sensitive about one might deem us skeptics to be skeptical about — it’s almost always wrong. Most “skeptics” don’t disagree that climate is changing (kudos to you for pointing that out). But most of us also don’t disagree that there is an anthropogenic component (which, as a skeptic, I think you should know … I wonder why you don’t seem to). We just don’t think that component is particularly large, and we believe that someone’s thumb is on the scale throughout much of the discussion, particularly over at skepticalscience.com . And you don’t seem to be aware that many of us are already quite frequent visitors there and elsewhere — we believe in engaging openly with people on all sides of the issue. We are shocked at the failure of AGW proponents to reciprocate. I’m happy to report that most of those actively engaged on the skeptics side already take most of your advice for “the Right”.

    For what it matters to you, I agree wholeheartedly with most of your suggestions to both “the Left” and “the Right”, notwithstanding that this is an unfortunate category error. Yes, those who identify with “the Left” tend to be unskeptical proponents of the AGW/IPCC narrative and those who identify with “the Right” tend to be “skeptic/deniers” and all that. But neither position is NECESSARILY politically aligned, and there are enough exceptions to both identifications to make them bad characterizations.

    Regardless of your helpful evenhanded tone and pretty good coverage of the issue at a coarse scale, there are clear signs that you either don’t know what you’re talking about above a superficial level or you are masking your intentions by using that tone in this piece.

    Chief among these: you do not point to “skeptic” resources to balance the “AGW” site you recommend, and you provide no evidence of familiarity with any of the very respectable scientists on the “skeptic” side or what they say, and how it comports with those at skepticalscience.com and folks like Dr. Gleick.

    At the very minimum I would have expected you put forth some reasonable resources on the skeptical side to compare side-by-side with those at skepticalscience.org , whose entire purpose is to change minds — not to provide disinterested coverage of the issues. How about some balance? I recommend wattsupwiththat.com , http://www.co2science.org/ , and, for those with the stomach to dive into real inquiry concerning the relevant technical detail about temperature records and proxies and the politics of the issue, http://climateaudit.org/ . There are dozens of other sites run by folks who are neither loons nor shills for your favourite bogeyman, and who really do speak with authority.

    There are so many sub-issues to discuss in the context of climate change, it’s hard to have a rational discussion. When issues get artificially complexified like this I like to look for some single game-changing fact: One that puts the whole thing into a context for which the appropriate response is “Ah … sanity at last. Now we know what we’re dealing with”. I have found three such facts, all of which weigh against your professed “conversion”. Have you really considered them?

    The first, I’m happy to report, is one you appear to be familiar with: CO2 is very good for the environment, in practically every way, up to levels far beyond any reasonable participant in this discussion is predicting. You can find enormous amounts of supporting data for this over at co2science.org . Did you know this, though: Most plants’ photosynthesis shuts down altogether around 200 PPM (yes there are exceptions for which lower levels are tolerable). If you compare the pre-industrial CO2 levels to the global levels during earth’s history on a geological timescale, as plants evolved, you will find it hard to escape the impression that, at around 280 PPM CO2, for the last few thousand years the world has teetered on the brink of ecological disaster, in which much of the biosphere was close to shutting down out of starvation from this essential nutrient.

    From this perspective, the anthropogenic influx of CO2 into the environment in the last 100 years has been a boon and may have averted a looming catastrophe. Those who study food production, for example, see our “Carbon Footprint” as a very good thing, and it’s signal is quite evident in the increase in agricultural productivity over the latter part of the 20th Century. It is hard to find a downside to this, which is what is so amazing about the global AGW movement; the unbelievably dogmatic adherence to the notion that CO2 is some environmental toxin and that the 0.6 C warming that, at the highest reasonable estimates can be attributed to CO2 over that period somehow means CO2 is, on balance, harmful.

    My second game changer is the ice core data (it has many facets — temperature proxies, CO2 correlation, etc etc, all worth looking at). It is fully analyzed and largely noncontroversial. And it is publicly available. Check out both the Greenland and the South polar data for a complete story. Let us start any conversation about climate change with this data. Here’s a lovely presentation that makes all the necessary points, posted ages ago at wattsupwiththat.com : http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/09/hockey-stick-observed-in-noaa-ice-core-data/ . If you don’t want their spin … fine, just look at the graphs, which are taken straight from NOAA data. Make sure you understand what each one is showing, and how each is related to the one before it. Then come back and tell me that you still think the current warming trend is something to get worked up about. Nothing like reality to kill a lovely scary story. Sorry to do so just as we’re getting ready for Halloween.

    The third is less widely known but should be front-and-center: It is well-known among people who study such things that, human civilization has seen several warm periods and several cold periods all within the span of recorded history and the archeological record timeframe, so we have a pretty good understanding of what each kind of climate change bodes for mankind.

    Long story short, history is unequivocal on the matter: Warm periods, on balance, are VERY good for civilization (fewer wars, less extreme weather, better crops, lower frequency of plagues, more stability to cultures, advancements in civic and technological sophistication etc.). And cold periods, on balance, are very BAD for civilization (the opposite of the above parenthetic comment). A good source is this book: http://books.google.ca/books?id=tzjomalYtNgC&pg=PA13&lpg=PA13&dq=medieval+warming+period+1300+event&source=bl&ots=OZOc_2P_fY&sig=fxKPSVOj1HIP2etCM1UEmr4xn2s&hl=en&sa=X&ei=fphsUJWgKo3jigLixoHADA&ved=0CGIQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=medieval%20warming%20period%201300%20event&f=false — written, by the way, by a scholar (Pat Nunn) who is in no way skeptical about the reality of AGW. He’s just writing the facts in a most scholarly fashion. No discussion about climate change and public policy is worth engaging in without this information as a backdrop.

  60. garhighway says:

    Thought experiment: what would the Earth be like if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere at all?

    • Craig Good says:

      My guess is cold and lifeless.

      • R. Craigen says:

        As I mention in my comment — ecological disaster. Earth could not sustain a biosphere as we know it at any level below (and I’m guessing anywhere near) 200 PPM CO2. Since for centuries we apparently hovered under 300 PPM and since increasing this concentration there has been a marked greening of the globe it is easy enough to see that this is not a dry piece of academic guesswork: It’s simple extrapolation from observational evidence, both in the wild and in the laboratory.

        In early geological time, early in the development of plants, the concentration of CO2 was an order of magnitude higher — in the THOUSANDS of parts per million. And the earth neither went into meltdown phase (it remained comfortably temperate, even maintaining ice caps at times) nor did animal life suffer. All life depends on plant life. When the plants do well, so do the animals and diversity of life is fostered. While I would not advocate deliberate attempts to massively flood the atmosphere with megadoses of CO2, I must say that there is no evidence that doubling or even quadrupling the current levels (which goes much further than any reasonable extrapolation of current trends) would do any noticable harm. And it would certainly do much good, particularly insofar as increasing world food production.

  61. cphoenix says:

    You ask that global warming not be politicized. In most of the world, it is not as politicized as it is in the U.S. The right wing political infrastructure has promoted skepticism about AGW, and one of their tactics is selling the story that it’s all a left-wing (thus, politicized) issue. So, belief tends to run along party lines. And solutions tend to run along party lines.

    I agree it should be de-politicized. But I’m not sure the left can undo the damage by itself, as long as the right is still pushing the anti-AGW story. (Along with the anti-evolution story, but that’s another story.)

  62. John Harrington says:

    “I am a global warming skeptic. Politically, I land somewhere in the libertarian/conservative camp.”

    That second sentence is unnecessary. Of course you are.

    • Lex Loeb says:

      Science should have nothing to do with any politics what so ever . That is a sure sign that global warming/ climate change is not science but an art of pure politics.

      • Craig Good says:

        It does not follow from “science should have nothing to do with politics” that “global warming is not science”.

        I approved both of Mr. Loeb’s comments as they’re at least sort of on topic. This does not imply endorsement of his views, nor his expertise on atmospheric science. Checking his quiz may be a good exercise.

        • R. Craigen says:

          I had difficulty parsing what was intended by about half the questions. Could use some re-wording. I recommend someone more familiar with the science. The basic idea of of the quiz isn’t particularly bad, though it’s got a clear agenda — what “quizzes” on this subject don’t? They’re just an interesting way to make a case in point form.

          I didn’t realise you’re still monitoring this thread, Craig? Curious about whether the events of the last year, release of the latest IPCC report or the continuing global temperature average doldrums, have had any effect on your perspective on this issue?

          I have read Gliek, and do not find him persuasive at all (see my list of game-changers). I wonder if you have considered my list of three above, and whether you can point to something (say in Gleik’s piece or elsewhere) that you consider a game-changer on the AGW side of things? Seems I’m still on the notify list so if you reply here I’ll get a note.

  63. Lex Loeb says:

    Arguing for or against green house gas carbon theory? Take the quiz to find out what you really know about atmospheric co2:

  64. giantslor says:

    It’s disheartening seeing a political ideology cloud the judgement of someone who otherwise accepts scientific consensus. I’m glad the author finally came around.

  65. Smokey says:

    [I don’t understand why my polite and well documented comment did not appear. Maybe it was just a glitch, so I’ll try again]:

    Skepticism depends upon testability, which is another term for falsification (see Prof. I. Langmuir for a thorough explanation).

    At bottom, skeptics are saying to the climate alarmist group: Show us. Provide testable, measurable scientific evidence quantifying man-made global warming (MMGW, AKA: AGW).

    In science, DATA IS EVERYTHING. Measurements are data.

    But so far, there are no measurements quantifying MMGW. None at all. If there were measurements quantifying AGW, then for one thing, the question of the climate sensitivity number would be answered definitively (climate sensitivity is the degree of global warming resulting from a doubling of atmospheric CO2). As it currently stands, depending on whom you ask, guesstimates for climate sensitivity range from more than 6ºC, down to 0.0º (Miskolczi et al). And everything in between.

    So we have a situation in which the proposed remedy is the radical restructuring of Western industrial society — based upon a conjecture (MMGW) that has never been quantified! Skeptics have been asking: What is the fraction of MMGW, out of total global warming?

    Is it 50%? (or preposterously, 100% as some claim)?

    Answer: No one knows.

    Is it 5%?

    Answer: No one knows.

    Is it 0.03%?

    No one knows!

    Skeptics are simply saying: ‘Show us. Quantify MMGW.’ That requires testable measurements. The conjecture states that dangerous MMGW is happening. But no one has ever been able to measure the fraction of MMGW, out of total global warming from all sources. (Furthermore, global warming stopped many years ago).

    So far, every alarming prediction made by those promoting the “dangerous MMGW” conjecture has failed to take place, from disappearing Arctic ice, to more extreme weather events, to accelerating sea level rise, to ocean ‘acidification’ — to the original scare that started it: man-made runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. Every alarming prediction has failed. No exceptions.

    When every prediction made by one side of a debate turns out to be flat wrong, rational folks will raise the bar. They will begin to insist that those making frightening predictions need to produce supporting measurements. But there are no measurements, despite spending $billions of tax dollars searching for evidence quantifying MMGW, and investigation by thousands of highly educated scientists using the most advanced instruments. Lately, the alarmist argument has morphed into: “But there can’t be measurements like that! It’s impossible.”

    Nonsense. Just about everything in science is measured. Billions of dollars are spent measuring subatomic particles like the Higgs boson. Atmospheric CO2 is measured to six decimal places. Anthropogenic emissions are precisely quantified. The only things that can’t be currently measured are signals that are swamped by background noise (ie: the signal is too small), or some things affected by the Uncertainty Principle.

    Everything else can be measured — if it’s there, and if it is not too small to measure with current instruments. By claiming that MMGW cannot be measured, what they are really saying is: “Trust us when we warn you about dangerous MMGW. We can’t show you. Just take our word for it.” The real reason they can’t show us is because MMGW is simply too minuscule to measure.

    If MMGW was the cause of all global warming, it could easily be measured, as global T would rise in lock step with human CO2 emissions. But the opposite seems to be the case: despite the steady rise in CO2, global T has remained in stasis for many years now. (I think AGW exists. But it is simply too minuscule to measure, except for local UHI effects.)

    Every honest scientist is a skeptic. Otherwise, we would be back in witch doctor territory: no one questioned the witch doctor. Skeptics are right to ask for evidence quantifying MMGW. That is an entirely reasonable request, particularly since the proposed remedy amounts to dismantling of our technological society, while most other countries will continue to use fossil fuels.

    Non-skeptics constantly avoid the question of quantifying MMGW. Because if they admitted that there is no measurable evidence for what they claim is happening, their opinion begins and ends at the conjecture stage. It is no different in principle than claiming there is a black cat hiding under the bed in a dark bedroom — but no one will turn on the light and look under the bed, because they know there may well be no cat there. A conjecture is merely an opinion. To advance MMGW to a testable hypothesis requires verifiable measurements.

    The public is constantly bombarded with assertions contending that the global temperature is rising, and that the rise is accelerating, and that Arctic ice is disappearing fast, and so on. But there is never any cost/benefit analysis. There is almost no discussion of verifiable *measurable* evidence showing that agricultural productivity is rising due to the rise in atmospheric CO2. There has never been any global harm identified due to rising CO2 (which remains a tiny trace gas). In fact, all the available evidence shows that more CO2 is beneficial to the biosphere, with no observed downside. More CO2 is harmless, and beneficial. But try to find any non-skeptics pointing out those facts.

    If someone wants to be a true scientific skeptic, this is a great opportunity. A ‘dangerous MMGW’ conjecture has been put forth (in science, the hierarchy is: Conjecture, Hypothesis, Theory, Law). That conjecture is an opinion (MMGW is not a ‘hypothesis’, which among other things must be able to make repeated, accurate predictions. But no one was able to predict the current stasis in global T). Genuine skeptics point out that those supporting the MMGW conjecture must produce verifiable supporting measurements, quantifying the fraction of MMGW out of total global warming from all sources. No measurements means no data. Thus, the “dangerous MMGW” conjecture is no more than a conjecture; an opinion.

    In science, we need measurements to make rational decisions. Climate science is no exception.

  66. Pingback: Climate Change: A Scientific Phenomenon | Kate Rauner

  67. Our solar system is located within a structure called the Local Bubble, a low-density region of the galactic interstellar medium.Within this region is the Local Interstellar Cloud. The ‘Local Fluff’ it is nicknamed, is a vast, wispy cloud of hot hydrogen and helium stretching 30 light-years across. Our solar system is powering its way right through the Local Fluff as we speak. It is thought to have entered the region at some point between 44,000 and 150,000 years ago and is expected to remain within it for another 10,000 to 20,000 years. The cloud has a temperature of about 7,000 K (6,730 °C; 12,140 °F), about the same temperature as the surface of the Sun. Let us enjoy the heat while it lasts my dear brother / sister :)

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