Arguing about the greenhouse effect – again

There’s been a rather lengthy Twitter thread about the greenhouse effect. In particular, focusing on claims that there is no such thing. Of course, engaging in such discussions so as to actually change anyone’s minds is pointless. However, I think there is still merit in pointing out the errors in what some are suggesting (if only for the benefit of some onlookers) and it can be moderately enjoyable (in the sense that you’re forced to think about how to present your arguments, and that can be challenging).

There are, however, a couple of things that I found quite remarkable. One is how comfortable some are in being compared to great scientists of the past who have been instrumental in over-throwing paradigms. They certainly don’t let humility get in the way of progress. The other is how quickly it becomes clear that they’re really arguing against a simplistic caricature of the greenhouse effect. I’ve certainly encountered this on a number of occasions before.

There are many ways to explain the greenhouse effect, but in a simple sense it is simply that the atmosphere is mostly transparent to incoming solar radiation, while being opaque to the outgoing longwavelength radiation coming from the surface. This causes the surface to be warmer than it would otherwise be.

There are a number of basic consequences of the greenhouse effect. One, for example, is that thespectrum we would observe from space has various features associated with the absorption of outgoing radiation. Also, we would expect to see downwelling longwavelength flux at the surface.

What’s remarkable is that these all seem to be things that those who dispute the greenhouse effect accept. However, they don’t seem to regard these as indications of a greenhouse effect. The problem, though, is that if there is no atmospheric greenhouse effect, then the atmosphere should be radiatively inactive and we should not observe any atmospheric absorption in the outgoing spectrum, or any downwelling longwavelength flux. Accepting these observations, while disputing the greenhouse effect, is therefore rather inconsistent.

So, it seems that at least some who dispute the greenhouse effect accept most of the observations that would be regarded as confirming it. I would like to think that this is simply because they’re confused, but I suspect it is strongly influenced by what accepting the greenhouse effect would imply.

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76 Responses to Arguing about the greenhouse effect – again

  1. Magma says:

    Journalist: Are you seriously comparing yourself to… Einstein?
    Contrarian: No, of course not. That would be ridiculously arrogant.
    Journalist: Who, then?
    Contrarian: Galileo, maybe, or Feynman.

  2. Martin Vermeer says:

    You should distinguish between the greenhouse effect and the anomalous greenhouse effect. The former keeps the Earth habitable (+33C), the latter is what we’re talking about here. Remember the ‘saturation’ argument? It still comes up sometimes. I always found it a weird argument, as already the Langley/Arrhenius work on lunar thermal infrared shows that there is no effective saturation: when the Moon is low in the sky, more gets absorbed. Both by carbonic acid, and by aqueous vapour 🙂 The centre of the CO2 band is saturated of course, but the flanks are not.

  3. Martin,
    Well, I suspect that in some cases rejecting the greenhouse effect itself is partly motivated by a reluctance to consider the implications with respect to the anomalous (or enhanced) greenhouse effect.

  4. BBD says:

    As Martin says, maybe one should distinguish between the GHE and the enhanced GHE, although the saturation argument is thoroughly debunked and hyperthermal events like the PETM demonstrate that cranking up GHG forcing gets you Bit Hots.

  5. BBD says:

    Big Hots. Sorry. Wouldn’t want my crappy typing to cause unintended offense 😉

  6. Honing arguments, developing the explanation into a narrative, etc. is one of only reasons I can see to engage with folks who approach AGW with the attitude of alchemy. It’s too bad that certain folks won’t just keep their work and attention on turning lead into gold. That would keep these folks busy with a “science” project that is suitable when imagination exceeds judgment. I have said for years that ridiculing folks is the only thing that makes sense for folks who pose ridiculous arguments and can’t be swayed from their clearly ridiculous positions.

    The public leadership folks had a webinar last week about the hero narrative. I thought about signing in, but I have really stepped back from public/social/political engagement since the 2016 election results. I simply don’t want to waste my time with public policy issues that are crafted within this disastrously gamed system.

    http://publicleadershipinstitute.org/messaging-guide/ for those of you who have the time and energy for this stuff now.

    I think the hero narrative is the current buzzword/meme that is alive in the social activist circles. I do think that weaving important lessons and knowledge into a narrative is an important means to expand your reach. Pure science and data only reach a narrow slice of the population. The narrative of the rogue scientist or grad student who figure out something that changes everything is one of the mainstays of the contrarian and denialist community. It’s a compelling narrative. It’s too bad that these rogue science endeavors are not subject to peer review or a thesis degree process. That leads to the response that opens the ridicule which is: Hey, you sure have come up with an entertaining idea. Can you submit it for peer-review please?

    I think in the narrative sense, pushing back with the meme: “hey, that’s a very entertaining idea, can you submit it for publication and peer review? Will it stand up to scrutiny or is it just an entertaining idea for a sitcom?” might become like a pat on the head of the Dr. Wizard type scientists who are having a field day in the twittersphere.

  7. Magma says:

    “events like the PETM demonstrate that cranking up GHG forcing gets you Big Hots” — BBD

    And let’s not overlook Venus.

  8. BBD says:

    And let’s not overlook Venus.

    Oh no, no, no. The surface temp on Venus is high because of the weight of the atmosphere.

    /cobblers

  9. Magma says:

    @ BBD, I’d nearly forgotten that PV = nRT disproves the greenhouse gas effect as well as many other things that climate scientists, meteorologists and planetary scientists incorporate into their failed models. 😉

  10. Harry Twinotter says:

    “Remember the ‘saturation’ argument? It still comes up sometimes. I always found it a weird argument, ”

    I recall seeing a video where Dr Spencer ticks off one of the Heartland? groupies for suggesting such a thing.

  11. Ragnaar says:

    smallbluemike:

    Lorenzo’s Oil:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo%27s_Oil

    A compelling story. And more than a description of science. Other institutions as well see the same approach. Take on a big corporation or most corporations. The financial industry. Big agriculture. This part of us, hasn’t gone away. When you’ve been fighting the Federal government for your whole adult life, a small group of scientists in a Musk Oxen defensive ring is nothing.

  12. angech says:

    “the spectrum we would observe from space has various features associated with the absorption of outgoing radiation.”

    Tried to get an answer at SOD about this.
    If CO2 both absorbs and emits at the same frequency why is there an absorption spectrum for CO2 at all?
    The answer may be that the the CO2 has moved/ changed in temp, emitted at another temp but I do not understand it yet.
    Just puzzled.
    I know the spectral lines are there so I am just missing something in the concept.

  13. Brad Schrag says:

    Every time I glance through his paper linking pressure to surface temp I see another mention of the impact of GHG on surface temps. Yet he continually denies their existence and impact to temperature. It’s utter madness.

  14. Brad,
    Indeed. This was the tweet that got me. It’s not quite right, but it’s basically describing the greenhouse effect. If the energy radiated to space comes from within the atmosphere, then there must be a height within the atmosphere that has an effective temperature equivalent to the non-Greenhouse temperature (255K). Given that convection sets a temperature gradient (lapse rate) that has to be negative (i.e., temperature decreases with altitude) the surface has to be warmer than this. That is – in a nutshell – the greenhouse effect.

  15. verytallguy says:

    If CO2 both absorbs and emits at the same frequency why is there an absorption spectrum for CO2 at all?

    It’s the height and therefore temperature of emission.

    At higher temperature, a substance radiates more intensively (more w/m2)

    At higher altitude, temperature is lower, so radiation intensity is lower.

    Where GHGs do not absorb, the radiation emitted to space is at an intensity defined by the surface temperature

    Where GHGs do absorb, radiation is at a lower intensity, defined by the temperature at the altitude at which their concentration is no longer significant.

    When looking down at the earth this results in bands of lower intensity where GHGs absorb. Here helpfully the corresponding temperatures are also plotted.

  16. I think one way to think of it is that the source of the radiation is at the surface which is radiated outwards. This radiation is then absorbed by CO2 molecules, which re-radiates in all directions, including back down to the surface. Therefore, we see a reduced flux when looking from space towards the surface of the planet.

  17. angech says:

    Thanks,both.
    My comprehension spectrum is still not up to the task.
    VTG graph very helpful.
    Does the IR from space or the atmosphere above have the same emission spectrum with the IR going the other way?

  18. Brad Schrag says:

    Angech,
    Are you asking why there is a wide valley associated with co2, rather than a narrow, single wavelength band?

    If that is what you are asking, co2, as an example, absorbs well at 15um wavelength. This doesn’t mean that wavelength has to be exactly 15um. Wavelengths near can be absorbed, but have a reduced probability. By adding co2, it increases the total probability for the system to absorb the fringe wavelengths.

  19. angech,
    I don’t understand what you’re asking. Are you asking if what you would observe from below would be the equivalent emission, rather than absorption, spectrum? If so, then essentially yes. The envelope of the spectrum that vtg shows is essentially the spectrum of the radiation coming from the surface. Some is blocked by the atmosphere, and hence what you observe from space would be a spectrum with some regions showing absorption. However, energy does need to be conserved, so the surface does essentially receive that energy back via emission from the atmosphere down to the ground.

  20. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    ATTP:

    What’s remarkable is that these all seem to be things that those who dispute the greenhouse effect accept. However, they don’t seem to regard these as indications of a greenhouse effect.

    That’s nothing. I known contrarians who believe six impossible things before breakfast.

    Natural variability is larger than we thought – And climate sensitivity is smaller!

    Consilience ain’t no contrarian virtue.

  21. Does the IR from space … have the same emission spectrum with the IR going the other way?

    No.

    Remember Penzias and Wilson?

    The echoes of the Big Bang look like:

  22. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Another way of looking at it is to think of the height in the atmospher at which IR in the CO2 band can escape. If you look in that band from space, you will see the thermal emission from that layer. If you look at a band with no absorption, you will be looking at thermal emission from the surface. The amount radiated drops with temperature, and the upper atmosphere is cold, so you see a reduction of IR in the CO2 band, but it doesn’t drop to zero because the cold air still emits in that band, just less than the surface.

  23. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Doh, first can should be a can’t, and I messed up the tags. I give up! ;o)

  24. Dikran Marsupial says:

    No, right first time.

  25. Brad Schrag says:

    Angech,
    This chart shows wavelengths and intensity that the sun emits compared to what the surface of the earth emits. The reason for the difference in the red on this chart and the chat vtg shared is due to absorption of co2 in the atmosphere

    https://goo.gl/images/fqkrBz

  26. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Brad:

    The reason for the difference in the red on this chart and the chat vtg shared is due to absorption of co2 in the atmosphere.

    The reason for the difference is the temperature of the emitting body.
    The plot you link to shows black-body curves for ~ 6000 K and ~ 300 K.

    This plot shows the absorption of sunlight at certain wavelengths due to H20 and C02.

    Here is an emission spectrum for the Earth.

  27. Brad Schrag says:

    Yes, you are correct. My explanation wasn’t very clear apparently, it’s a gift of mine. Angech was asking about spectrum as seen from space going one way or another. I was trying to demonstrate the difference in spectrum of what we receive vs what we emit from the surface.

  28. JCH says:

    If CO2 both absorbs and emits at the same frequency why is there an absorption spectrum for CO2 at all?

    is this what is being asked?

    Think of it as though every photon is tagged with a red identifying patch when it’s absorbed and emitted by the surface. Where they make it to space, that area, from space, is red.

    Some of them are absorbed by a CO2 molecule. Assume the red patch is removed and replaced by a yellow patch and then emitted. The yellow patches go in all directions. The ones that go straight to space are cool yellow. From space, this area is yellow.

    His question is, when a yellow patch that goes back to the surface finally goes to space, why doesn’t it still have its yellow identifying patch? As in, why don’t they all would look alike?

    To simplify, the rest of the yellow patches are absorbed by the surface, where their yellow patch is ripped off and replaced with a red patch.

  29. Windchaser says:

    Yeah, JCH, that’s how I read his question, too.

    Say you’ve got parcel of air at 280K, with a perfectly smooth blackbody spectra corresponding to 300K, coming in from below.

    CO2 and water and absorbs some of the light according to their absorption/emission spectra. Most of this energy is thermalized. Then the CO2 and H2O re-emit (according to their own spectra), for the temperature they’re radiating at. Because their 280K temp is cooler than the “300K” spectra, they’ll end up emitting at relatively lower frequencies than they absorbed at, leaving divots at higher frequencies and peaks at lower ones.

    This process occurs again for the next parcel of air above, which is at a lower temperature still, and which has its own concentration of greenhouse gases. Rinse, wash, repeat.

    It’s a simplification, but that’s the gist of it. And for this reason, yeah, I’d expect that if you shone a given emission spectra through the atmosphere from either the top or the bottom, you’d see a different result looking up than looking down. The resulting spectra comes from the combinations of each layer’s effects.

  30. It’s a simplification, but that’s the gist of it. And for this reason, yeah, I’d expect that if you shone a given emission spectra through the atmosphere from either the top or the bottom, you’d see a different result looking up than looking down. The resulting spectra comes from the combinations of each layer’s effects.

    Yes, I think this is right. Of course, it is highly idealised, but since the atmosphere has a temperature profile, if you shone the same spectrum from above, as below, you would see a different spectrum c

  31. Eli Rabett says:

    In an isothermal atmosphere you don’t see greenhouse gas emission or absorption in space. The most interesting thing about the spectra up above is the sharp spike in the middle of the CO2 band which tells you something important about the saturation argument.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2009/12/answer-to-puzzler-couple-of-days-ago.html

  32. izen says:

    T.E’s flyby contribution of the S-B spectrum of the cosmic background radiation is a nice reminder that none of the science discussed in this thread about the GHG effect derives from climate research.

    The S-B spectrum and undestanding of emission-absorbtion spectra comes from the resolution of the ultraviolet catastrophe with quantum mechanics. Astronomers then developed the methods to detect the surface temperature of an object, and the abundence and temperature of materials in any gas surrounding that object. None of this scientific competence was developed by climate research.

    It was only when the methods developed in astronomy and a desire to know how to spot the heat trails of jet/rocket engines were combined that the implications of the GHE became quantitatively understood.

    I suspect that any attempt to dismiss the calculable magnitude of the GHE would have implications for the other fields of science, (especially astronomy!) from which the ‘tools’ used by climate science derive.

    Certainly the naive idea that a cooler object cannot ‘heat’ a warmer one by back-radiation, or that the ideal gas laws can account for surface temperature, are errors that would ‘refute’ a lot of what we understand about extra-terrestrial objects, and scuba diving, along with mainstream climate science.

  33. Eli Rabett says:

    Ah yes, the green plate wars appear to have calmed down

  34. Brad Schrag says:

    But pressure drives temperature..will see if tall bloke answers this one.

    2 spheres equidistant from a star as their source of heat.
    Same radius 6E8m
    Starts for gas on the interior shells are:
    P1 = 101325pascals, n1=3.9043E30 mol
    P2 = 100 pascals, n2=3.8533E27 mol
    What is t1 and t2?

    Let the pvnrt wars begin.

  35. angech says:

    on November 5, 2017 SOD comment fits in with above comments
    “You can see this explained in the derivation of the equation of radiative transfer – Understanding Atmospheric Radiation and the “Greenhouse” Effect – Part Six – The Equations.
    If you read through you see that the emission of radiation at a given wavelength is only dependent on the temperature of the local gas and the emissivity at that wavelength.
    Usually we get visitors who haven’t read textbooks showing up and claiming the opposite – that when a CO2 or water vapor molecule absorbs a photon it re-emits it. And that the energy absorbed is not absorbed into the average temperature of the local gas by collision. Then we have to explain the average time for collision in gas at a given pressure is 1000x shorter than the time to re-emission of a photon for this gas molecule in an excited state,I’m fine with people being confused. Atmospheric physics requires study. I’m constantly amazed at the huge confidence of people claiming “climate science says..” completely the opposite of what is actually in books and papers.”

    May take me another 3 months to get it.
    Bottom line GHG effect real, only a few skeptics dispute that
    Thanks all for the good scientific explanation and helpfulness.
    Wish it could be like this all the time.
    Happy Xmas anyway to all and back to the contest next year, no holds barred.

  36. Joshua says:

    … only a few skeptics dispute that.

    I call bullshit.

    Why do so many “skeptics” so confidently repeat this dubious statement so often?

    It’s a matter of faith for so many – even though they provide no evidence in support, even when asked.

    It’s almost as if they formulate opinions based merely on what they want to believe, due to ideological group affiliation.

    But that can’t be true, because they self-described as skeptics.

  37. Marco says:

    Joshua, some don’t deny the GHE, they just deny any significant increased warming due to increasing GHGs. And that’s simple to do by handwaving. For example, just declare “it is already saturated”. There. You didn’t deny the GHE, you only denied there will be any further warming due to CO2 emissions.
    Option 2: just claim it’s primary water vapor, other GHGs hardly do anything. There. You didn’t deny the GHE, you only denied there will be any further warming due to anthropogenic GHG emissions.

  38. Joshua says:

    Marco –

    Joshua, some don’t deny the GHE, they just deny any significant increased warming due to increasing GHGs.

    Sure – and there are endless ways for them to do that. Another two popular ways, in addition to the ones that you offered, are the “trace gas” gambit and the “humans aren’t increasing CO2 in the atmosphere” gambit.

    But in addition, there’s a couple of other points. First, the vast majority of people who self-identify as “skeptics” actually have practically no understanding of the GHE at all. Not that they should be expected to – it is a rather complicated matter of physics, and they haven’t taken the time (or developed the skills) to study it in any in-depth manner. So what does it mean to say that they “accept” the GHE? And even among those who have the skills and have taken the time for study, there are many who do not “accept” the GHE. I see it all the time in the online comments in the “skept-o-sphere.” So how does someone like angech quantify his assertion, one made with total certainty (and how many times have we seen that claim made with total certainty and no support in evidence?)

    But I get tired of the disingenuous rhetorical gamesmanship. What “skeptics” do or don’t accept is actually completely irrelevant to angech’s questions about the GHE. So what does it mean that he would interject an irrelevant and completely unproven assertion into his exchanges about the technical details of the GHE? Why does he interject that seeming irrelevancy? Why does angech engage in that kind of rhetorical gamesmanship?

  39. JCH says:

    This is the one:

    I’m constantly amazed at the huge confidence of people claiming “climate science says..” completely the opposite of what is actually in books and papers.”

    Completely the opposite? Lol.

  40. Windchaser says:

    Completely the opposite? Lol.

    Ohhhhh, yeah, completely the opposite.

    About a month ago, SOD had a post about the basic foundations of the GHE and the radiative transfer of energy. One of the normal Cottony types (“lifeisthermal”) showed up and sniped a little, and me and a couple others followed him back to his blog where he purportedly took apart SOD’s post.

    We argued about basic thermodynamics for a few dozen comments, and then eventually got into even more basic physics. Among other claims (oh there were so many others), LifeIsThermal said that if you add more mass to a system with a constant energy input, the temperature must fall, because of E=mc^2. (‘c is constant and E is constant, so more m means less E per mass’). So adding CO2 can’t be causing the system to warm, you see!

    For other claims and equations, his units didn’t line up, and he responded that you can convert any type of unit into any other. I mean, it really was a clusterf***.

    So, yeah, I think there are plenty of deniers out there who have basically no knowledge of physics whatsoever, or who have just enough knowledge of equations to get into trouble, but don’t really understand the concepts. Curry, Watts, Salby, and Pat Frank all play into this.

    (1) https://scienceofdoom.com/2017/11/05/two-basic-foundations/
    (2) https://lifeisthermal.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/two-flawed-foundations/

  41. David Hodge says:

    Wind chaser,

    I followed your second link and my brain exploded after the first couple of paragraphs. Thanks for the entertainment

  42. Magma says:

    Why does angech engage in that kind of rhetorical gamesmanship? — Joshua

    I imagine he’s bored and enjoys getting a rise out of people.

  43. Brad Schrag says:

    On LIT’s blog, hit ctrl-f and do a search for gravity in there. You’ll find a lot of back and forth of me trying to convince him gravity produces a constant acceleration 2 objects of different mass, not a constant force. There will be plenty of back and forth about whether or not the quantity of mass an object has on earth is the same as the quantity of mass on the moon.

    Windchaser, who are you on his blog?

  44. I had a few interesting discussions with lifeisthermal, but I somewhat object to his most recent post, so mostly now ignore.

  45. angech says:

    Joshua says
    “… only a few skeptics dispute that. I call bullshit.”
    What “skeptics” do or don’t accept is actually completely irrelevant to angech’s questions about the GHE. So what does it mean that he would interject an irrelevant and completely unproven assertion into his exchanges about the technical details of the GHE? Why does he interject that seeming irrelevancy? Why does angech engage in that kind of rhetorical gamesmanship?”

    I am trying to be nice.
    I am trying to be factual.
    I also did not understand the depth of passion the comment caused.

    In regard to skeptics in general.
    There are a lot of people who are skeptical of others trying to sell them things full stop.
    Even when those people are genuinely trying to help or just inform.
    Trying to give good advice is a very thankless task as ATTP and others have noted in the past,
    My better half, green, passionate, worked in the health field trying to get people to stop smoking and lose weight and very upset when they would, at times, not listen to common sense.
    I take a more laissez faire attitude.
    Give the advice and let them do what they want unless their actions really hurt me.
    Skeptics of this ilk do not have to know the reasons to know that they are being sold something that someone else wants them to do to reject it.

    The skeptics I was referring to are those who are interested in Climate change and who consequently have some knowledge that GHG are proposed as one of the levers.
    Contrary to what you state the skeptic position here is yes GHG exist and have an effect.
    Only a few would deny that.
    Why do you have to get upset about that and dispute it?
    The only reason I can see is that you are upset that intelligent people can have the same understanding as you and yet come to the opposite conclusion.
    Tough.
    Judith Curry would be the prime example.
    Because, though she classes herself as a lukewarmer, she is regarded here as a skeptic.
    Intelligent yes.
    GHG believer yes.
    Climate scientist yes.
    Problems maybe, hence skeptical.

    “I imagine he’s bored and enjoys getting a rise out of people.”
    If only,
    I think I am one of those people who sees things out of line and tries to straighten them. On both sides, though I am glued to the wrong side as far as commenting here is concerned.

    I put the comment in to agree with the concept of GHG as being discussed and to emphasis that most (definitely not all) skeptics who understand the science are in the same boat as you.

  46. Windchaser says:

    There will be plenty of back and forth about whether or not the quantity of mass an object has on earth is the same as the quantity of mass on the moon.

    Yeah. It was just plain painful. He was messing up literally the most basic concepts of physics, including units. I remember him saying that work and force are the same thing.

    This kind of thing makes me sad for the future of our species. =(

    Windchaser, who are you on his blog?

    Shouldn’t be hard to figure out in that thread. “Windchaser” is a pun on my last name. 😉

  47. Brad Schrag says:

    Ha, should looked before I asked. Scrolling through and looking at some of these conversations, reminiscing the old days of complete confusion as I read what he wrote:

    “The squared unit of time, s^2, is only there to tell you that the acceleration caused by the work done in the last second, is added to the acceleration caused in the next second. Which means, time adds nothing, because adding time dilutes the energy density. But adding energy or force, concentrates the power per unit time.”

    I mean what??????

  48. Willard says:

    > time adds nothing, because adding time dilutes the energy density

    I agree. The less time I spend with ClimateBall, the more energized I am.

  49. Willard says:

    Or perhaps not:

    Eq. (10a) accurately describes RATEs of planetary bodies with tangible atmospheres over a wide range of conditions without explicitly accounting for the observed large differences in albedos (i.e. from 0.235 to 0.90) while assuming constant values of αe and ηe for the airless equivalent of these bodies. One possible explanation for this counterintuitive empirical result is that atmospheric pressure alters the planetary albedo and heat storage properties of the surface in a way that transforms these parameters from independent controllers of the global temperature in airless bodies to intrinsic byproducts of the climate system itself in worlds with appreciable atmospheres.

    Ned can make his equation work, with or without albedo. It’s that good.

  50. Joshua says:

    angech –

    I am trying to be nice.
    I am trying to be factual.

    More on that later.

    I also did not understand the depth of passion the comment caused.

    How perfect that you used a cheap gambit to defend the use of a cheap gambit. This one reminds me of the “If you’re getting flack you must be over the target” gambit, or the “Oooh, I must have struck a nerve” gambit. You’re drawing a false conclusion that your comment “caused” deep passion. It didn’t. I found it annoying – because I find it annoying when people engage in cheap gambits in online exchanges.

    In regard to skeptics in general.
    There are a lot of people who are skeptical of others trying to sell them things full stop.

    What does that have to do with anything? My point is that it isn’t coincidence that the vast majority of “skeptics” (1) have no sophisticated understanding of the science behind the GHE and (2) have formulated a confident opinion about the GHE despite that lack of understanding and, (3) are almost all associated with a particular ideological orientation (in the US, at least).

    Even when those people are genuinely trying to help or just inform.

    Except most “skeptics” pick and choose their goto experts on the basis of ideological alignment, and rationalize their choices by choosing to attribute motivations to those experts that they don’t align with ideologically; they reject the notion of genuinely trying to help or inform.

    Trying to give good advice is a very thankless task as ATTP and others have noted in the past,
    My better half, green, passionate, worked in the health field trying to get people to stop smoking and lose weight and very upset when they would, at times, not listen to common sense.
    I take a more laissez faire attitude.

    Ah yes, the concern troll gambit. angech, do you realize that I have read your many comments insulting the trustworthiness and impugning the genuineness of climate scientists, as a group, who disagree with your views about the risk of impact from GHE emissions?

    Give the advice and let them do what they want unless their actions really hurt me.

    I call bullshit. I think that you well know that no one here is going to listen to your “advice,” as if it were given in good faith.

    Skeptics of this ilk do not have to know the reasons to know that they are being sold something that someone else wants them to do to reject it.

    I reject this gambit. IMO, although it is a convenient excuse to blame the “skeptic” viewpoint as a natural rejection of being sold a bill of goods, that fails to explain the overriding and overwhelming association with political ideology. IMO, the mechanism isn’t likely to be”

    I see someone who looks like they’re selling me a bill of goods regarding climate change ==>> therefore I formulate a particular ideological orientation ==>> therefore I am a “skeptic.”

    Nope. I think it is more likely something like:

    I have a particular political orientation ==>> I see experts expressing opposing views on climate change, and I don’t trust those who disagree with me ideologically and I think they are trying to sell me a bill of goods ==>> I look for experts who agree with me ideologically ==>> I am a “skeptic” just like them.

    The skeptics I was referring to are those who are interested in Climate change and who consequently have some knowledge that GHG are proposed as one of the levers.

    So you’re saying that when you were referring to “skeptics,” you mean a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the “skeptics” that exist in the world, but used the general term without specifying that you were talking about a completely unrepresentative sample. I call bullshit. I think that you were doing what I have seen “skeptics” do over and over again (1) try to generalize from an unrepresentative sample so as to protect a group that you align with by trying to make the argument that they aren’t a bunch of cranks and (2) project his/her own beliefs onto a group for which he/she is actually not representative

    Contrary to what you state the skeptic position here is yes GHG exist and have an effect.
    Only a few would deny that.

    And I call bullshit. First, even if you go to a place like WUWT, I think that it isn’t “only a few” that would “deny” the “consensus” argument about the physics of the GHE. Second, if you go to a place like WUWT, you will find a self-selecting group; those “skeptics” who overtly reject the physics of the GHE don’t hang out there because they get harassed if they do – because they are inconvenient to the politically expedient arguments of “skeptics” such as yourself who (ironically, relying on an argument from authority) tell them to go away.

    And of course, that is outside of the bevy of “skeptics” who claim to accept the GHE but then promote arguments that are logically incoherent with such a stated belief.

    But even more, and most interestingly, IMO – you have formulated that belief purely on the basis of an anecdotal approach to assessment – in a situation where clearly, you have an ideological “motivation” to formulate a particular view. Maybe I’m wrong with my assessment – so come to the table with some evidence.

    Why do you have to get upset about that and dispute it?

    I’m not “upset.” I’m kind of annoyed. Just like I get kind of annoyed when people employ stupid and cheap gambits such as “why are you so upset about what I said. Gee, there must be a reason why you’re so upset. Could it be because you know that I’m right? Maybe that’s it, huh? You’re so upset because I’m right and you can’t face it. That could be it, huh? Huh? Huh?

    Kind of like this:

    The only reason I can see is that you are upset that intelligent people can have the same understanding as you and yet come to the opposite conclusion.
    Tough.

    There we go. Argument from incredulity. Ironic, but annoying.

    Judith Curry would be the prime example.,

    So your prime example is an outlier among outliers. Beautiful.

  51. angech says:

    Excuse me ATTP or move us to a Joshua and angech thread?
    But there is some serious miscommunication going on here.
    I am me, argumentative, contrary, annoying and occasionally less informed than the scientists and others commentating here.
    When I express concern I believe I am expressing actual concern, not concern trolling.
    If one is so sensitive and so attuned to concern trolling, that one picks it up when it is not there or meant then it might be time to use my new bridge (card game) advice to myself.
    Breathe, relax, concentrate, play.
    Try it Joshua.
    It did not help me this time reading your reply but it might help you.

    Some comments
    Judith Curry is not an outlier. You have your problems with her, we know, OK.
    Perhaps you should try being nice to her.
    It helps.
    You like Kramer, there is some hope yet.
    You changed the italics from my comments to your comments halfway through, saying
    “So you’re saying that when you were referring to “skeptics,” you mean a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the “skeptics” that exist in the world, but used the general term without specifying that you were talking about a completely unrepresentative sample.”
    No,
    You can play with words all you want.
    When we are talking about skeptics on a climate blog we are not talking about all the skeptics on everything in the world. We are talking about people who are skeptics of climate change, and, I would like to think, of those people who have thought about the issue. Just as when we talk about believers we are talking about those who have thought about the issue as well.
    If you need that explained to you, fine, I have explained it to you.

    I like this blog.
    I like you when you are not over the top.
    Arggh , I am so angry at the moment that you used these arguments.
    Happy, through gritted teeth, Christmas.

  52. Okay, I haven’t been following this thread very closely. Apologies if something happened that I should have caught. Maybe we can try to tone things down, if so.

  53. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Judith Curry is not an outlier.”

    I would disagree. Her views on the proportion of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 that is anthropogenic (essentially all of it) are clearly different from the mainstream view. Her views on reasoning under uncertainty (e.g. Itallian Flag, uncertainty monster) are also, err… “interesting” (note her inability to understand the IPCC’s method of reporting uncertainty using probabilistic statements about bounds).

  54. Harry Twinotter says:

    In my opinion Dr Curry is an “outlier” in the sense that she has an agenda. What she posts in her blog is telling. The existence of her blog is telling. Looking at her and Dr Spencer’s blogs I am reminded of the “doubt is our product” meme.

  55. verytallguy says:

    Judith Curry is not an outlier.

    Judith Curry has argued that the IPCC does not regard all of the CO2 rise as anthropogenic.

    Dominant does not mean all or 100%. Seems like 70-80 anthro is perfectly consistent with ‘dominant’

    https://judithcurry.com/2015/05/06/quantifying-the-anthropogenic-contribution-to-atmospheric-co2/#comment-703613

    Judith Curry has said that her opponents are “the equivalent of racists and anti-semites”

    In the climate wars, those that use pejorative names for people that they disagree with are the equivalents of racists and anti-semites, and deserve opprobrium and disrespect. It is very sad, not to mention bad for science, to see scientists engaging in this behavior.

    https://judithcurry.com/2015/01/11/charlie-challenging-free-speech/

    I’d say “outlier” is a fair description.

  56. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof. Curry was apparently unable to see the obvious flaws in Prof. Salby’s arguments about atmospheric CO2, even after they had been pointed out on her blog (promulgating his arguments more than once). I’d say that makes her an outlier

  57. dikranmarsupial says:

    Note this is not an attack on Prof. Curry. All scientific communities have outliers, and very very rarely they are Gallileos or Einsteins than overturn the existing paradigm. Science actually encourages “outliers” to some extent as we are encouraged (e.g. by funding bodies) to pursue high-impact, rather than incremental research. The point is that Prof. Curry clearly is somewhat of an outlier in the climate science community (although less so than, say Prof Salby), so angech’s claim
    otherwise is clearly incorrect.

  58. izen says:

    In any scientific field of dispute there are contributing scientists that are defined more by their audience than by their published research.

    Often they retain plausible deniability by explicitly affirming agreement with the mainstream view. Their published research has little direct relevance or causative impact on the field that they may criticise. But their willingness to promoted sciency doubt about the core issues makes them popular sources for those who reject the underlying basis for an established scientific understanding.

    In the Evolution -v- Creation(ID) ‘wars’ Micheal Behe played that role. He acknowledged that humans (micro?)evolved from a common ape ancestor with chimps, but still provided copious ammunition for hardliner YECs who would quote his statistical arguments against evolutionary processes as valid examples of the ‘problems’ with evolutionary theory.

    There is a common pattern to these scientific ‘outliers’. They may work in a scientific field that is not directly involved with the theory in question, but can legitimately comment on the impacts of that theory. Protein structure chemists on selection and probability. Economists on AGW impacts, or geneticists on polar warming.
    Ocean dynamacists on CO2 levels and probability functions.

    The common theme for such scientific figures is NOT their influence on the field of science in which they work, but the enthusiastic adoption of any critque they make of the associated field that is in dispute.

    Why Behe, and all his parallels in climate science, are prepared to offer the negative commentary on aspects of the wider field outside their own is only determinable by telepathy.
    But the result is a highly motivated audience that will widely disseminate any negative views you may have of aspects of mainstream science. Advisory post with think tanks, invitations to speak and even a book or two may be the ‘reward’ for catering to the clique who are happy to use your negative assessment of mainstream science, and would go far beyond the position of common human ancestry, or anthropogenic CO2 causes AGW, that such outliars retain.

  59. JCH says:

    Scheming to use the US Congress to undo sound scientific work for purely political reasons is out there. Sorry, it’s also monumentally sinister. Every once in awhile I would ask “where are the NOAA whistleblowers”, and once in awhile it would be “stay tuned”. I think the subject was all in on it from the start. So now all these months later. Where are the NOAA whistleblowers?

    Salby’s daffiness could be a game changer. Yes, daffiness would always be a game changer if it just weren’t so darn daffy. And then there is the Stadium Wave. Good gawd, the product/message is complete garbage. Chewed up and fed to the outraged covey. Gotta go check CNN to see if abrupt climate change happened last night. Garbage.

    Meanwhile, the cloud stuff is coming in fast and furious. Interesting.

  60. JCH says:

    Don’t know what is behind this:

  61. Joshua says:

    angech –

    When I express concern I believe I am expressing actual concern, not concern trolling.
    If one is so sensitive and so attuned to concern trolling, that one picks it up when it is not there or meant then it might be time to use my new bridge (card game) advice to myself.

    I apologize. I was making an argument from incredulity. I have read your comments (mostly on other blogs) impugning the integrity of climate scientists who disagree with you. I have read your exchanges here where people seem to me to clearly identify a problematic pattern in your reasoning process (as, at least sometimes, being motivated by influences other than seeking the “truth”). Thus, when I read you explaining that you were coming here and offering “advice,” it seemed completely implausible to me. Why would you offer advice about how to reach “skeptics” to people who are aligned with (or who actually are) scientists you suggest are scientifically fraudulent? Why would you offer advice to people who, I think rather clearly don’t look to you for advice and who have stated in a manner that I would think that you have to realize that they don’t look to you for advice (at least on issues such as how to effectively message “skeptics”)? Why would you be taking the time to inform people who read what “skeptics” say all the time, about what “skeptics” believe as if they haven’t already read countless “skeptics” talking about what they believe?

    So all of that led me to conclude that you were concern trolling. But relying on my own credulousness when assessing other people’s intent is fallacious. I learn, every day, in real life as well as on the Internet, that the set of possiblities that exist in my head is far short of the set of possibilities that exist outside my head. Of course you could be honestly acting out of concern, and engaging in a good faith offer of advice, even if it doesn’t seem very plausible to me. So I apologize for thinking I could judge your intent. Bad Joshua.

    Breathe, relax, concentrate, play.

    Always fine advice. Again, your belief (also fallaciously) that I wasn’t breathing, relaxed, and concentrating is false – but these aren’t binary conditions, and yes, I could have been more relaxed, breathing more deeply, and concentrating better – in which case I may well have not made an argument from incredulity.

    Judith Curry is not an outlier.

    I disagree. Not in the sense, actually, that others have argued. My point is that Judith is an outlier among activist, online “skeptics.” She’s an outlier in terms of her level of expertise. She’s an outlier in terms of her path towards “skepticism.”

    You have your problems with her, we know, OK.

    My problem isn’t with her so much as it is with people who engage in the climate wars in patterns of fallacious reasoning, and who avoid, to any meaningful degree, accountability for that pattern. She happens to be a prominent example. And I will point out, we all engage in fallacious reasoning. I just did earlier. IMO, what is more important is whether people are willing to be accountable.

    Perhaps you should try being nice to her.

    Perhaps I should. But perhaps she should put on her big boy pants. Maybe a combination of both would be good But the bottom line there is that I’m just an Internet troll, and she’s a very influential person in the public engagement with the impact of ACO2 emissions. My niceness, or lack thereof, amounts to nothing in the real world. Judith’s accountability, or lack thereof, has real impact.

    No,
    You can play with words all you want.
    When we are talking about skeptics on a climate blog we are not talking about all the skeptics on everything in the world. We are talking about people who are skeptics of climate change, and, I would like to think, of those people who have thought about the issue.

    I call bullshit. Go over to WuWT or Climate Etc. Make an assessment of who “skeptics” are referring to when they talk of “alarmists.” Are they only talking only about informed people who have studied climate science? Of course not. When they say that Obama is an “alarmist,” they mean to imply that Obama has studied climate science and who have thought (meaningfully) about the issue? Of course not. When people use these terms they are being extremely ambiguous, by definition. What does being “skeptic” even mean? No one knows, and no one bothers to define their terms. Is Muller a “skeptic?” Read the many comment threads on both halves of the great blogospheric climate divide and see people arguing with certainty that he both is and isnt’ a “skeptic”.

    My point is that people hide behind the ambiguity of these terms in order to advance their (mostly fallacious) arguments.

    Please note that you still have not provided any actual evidence to support your certain claim about how all but a tiny few of “skeptics” doubt the GHE. You havent’ actually addressed any of the issues I’ve raised (using a convenience sampling from a place like WUWT which clearly has a party line about what “skeptics” are supposed to believe, ignoring the many comments at a place like WUWT which diretly dispute the basic physics of the GHE, etc.)

    Just as when we talk about believers we are talking about those who have thought about the issue as well.

    I call bullshit. See my comment above.

    If you need that explained to you, fine, I have explained it to you.

    Yeah, I need to have it ‘splained to me what people mean when they use ambiguous terms. Again, my point is that many “skeptics” game this situation to create a cloak of respectability to cover over the details of the climate wars. See izen’s comment above about this phenomenon more generally, where people throw out a meaningless characterization to gain plausible deniability and to distance themselves from crankhood. That is just a reality (IMO) of the climate wars. I think it is an issue that should be addressed by serious “skeptics” rather than one that is gamed for political expediency.

    Happy, through gritted teeth, Christmas.

    Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas (I’m Jewish). I happen to think that it’s a rather obnoxious time of year, actually. All those dumb colored lights and rampant consumerism and traffic problems and god-awful songs playing over and over. I’m especially annoyed by the season this year, as people promoting the holiday are playing an obnoxious game of leveraging a “war on Christmas” even as they pass policies that will make health insurance unaffordable to millions more Americans. But I’ll take that as a sign of good faith Not a sign of accountability, but a sign of good faith and a reminder that I should avoid being incredulous (and thus thinking that it is a phony passive-agresssive gesture). 🙂

  62. Joshua says:

    Just curious…

    Any reason why, sometimes, when comments are lifted out of moderation, the name of the commenter doesn’t appear in the recent comments list? It doesn’t seem to happen all the time….

  63. Joshua,
    It might be that you simply need to refresh your browser.

  64. Joshua says:

    Yeah. Thanks. I didn’t see my name in the recent comments, but found the comment in the thread. I think it may have just been a case of timing.

  65. Windchaser says:

    I’d agree that most people tend to filter their “facts” by whether they come from their tribe or ideology. There’s an emotional overlay that causes people to be more skeptical of claims that they don’t like, or claims that they haven’t heard before.

    OK, so, say you get past that and analyze things coolly, rationally, and with an open mind. There’s still an additional bias possible, from not purposefully stepping out of your bubble to seek out alternate viewpoints.

    I appreciate Angech coming here and challenging himself for that reason, even if I usually disagree with him. Though I’d encourage Angech to step past the blogosphere and really get into what the scientists are saying, in their classrooms, the scientific literature, and conferences. That will give you an entirely different perspective on climate change, hugely different from the conservative blogosphere.

    And yeah, in that world, among the people actually doing climate science research, Curry is very solidly an outlier.

  66. Willard says:

    > Any reason why, sometimes, when comments are lifted out of moderation, the name of the commenter doesn’t appear in the recent comments list? It doesn’t seem to happen all the time…

    The list of the most recent comments is created by date. The released comments keep their original timestamps. Comment turnout, I’d say.

  67. BBD says:

    I appreciate Angech coming here and challenging himself

    That’s not how I would describe what he does.

  68. angech says:

    Thanks Joshua, feeling a lot better about the communication.
    JCH, I feel the same way about the “investigation”
    Where did it go? Why did it die?
    Sometimes if tied up in legalities things can be glacial but this is not right.
    Judith Curry is an outlier as a Climate scientist in her views on the problems attributed to GHG.
    As a skeptic (the consensus here I see, though she self describes as an agnostic. I consider her a lukewarmer) she fitted the bill of someone skeptical who understands and believes in the GHG effect.
    To me that is typical of the majority of climate change skeptics.
    I totally understand this is not the experience of all others on this site.

  69. Joshua says:

    angech –

    cheers.

    she fitted the bill of someone skeptical who understands and believes in the GHG effect.

    In that aspect, I would agree. But as I said, IMO she is an outlier among outliers (i.e., she is an uncommon “skeptic”).

    As it happens, however, I think that she is one of the chief “skeptic” activists who games the definition of “skeptics” and what “skeptics” believe.

    She said something on the order of “no one here listens to people who doubt the physics of the GHE” even as she flat out ignores the many arguments presented at her site that are inconsistent with such a belief, incorrectly (IMO, but definitely without presenting evidence) characterizes the prevalence of such “skeptics,” deletes comments from “skeptics” who directly voice disbelief in the GHE, and uses an “appeal to authority” to discredit “skeptics” who flatly disbelieve the GHE,

  70. JCH says:

    The “investigation” was a ghastly outrage. Where did it go? I heard the awful dreadful snake is retiring from congress.

  71. Eli Rabett says:

    implausible deniability

    luckwarmers

    Please use the correct terms.

  72. angech says:

    Happy Xmas ATTP et al, leaves the official greetings skeptic free up blog.

  73. Pingback: 2017: A year in review | …and Then There's Physics

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