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Jacob

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phil.p":z104kpdk said:
... "Scientists are 95% certain" and "Scientist have proved" as any competent scientist will tell you, are not the same thing, ...
Well spotted. 95% probability and absolute proof are not the same thing. The question is how do we react to (authoritative) estimates of 95% probability? Are you saying we should ignore it?
I'm interested to know how people come up with the conclusion that they know better then a large world team of experts in the field.
 

Peter T

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Jacob":1fho5gs5 said:
phil.p":1fho5gs5 said:
... "Scientists are 95% certain" and "Scientist have proved" as any competent scientist will tell you, are not the same thing, ...
Well spotted. 95% probability and absolute proof are not the same thing. The question is how do we react to (authoritative) estimates of 95% probability? Are you saying we should ignore it?
I'm interested to know how people come up with the conclusion that they know better then a large world team of experts in the field.
"a large world team of experts in the field" - with a huge vested interested in the answer being what they say it is, or claim to be 95% sure it is!
 

MIGNAL

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Scientists with vested interests haven't done too bad. You know - the internal combustion engine, the washing machine, the computer, all manner of heating systems, life support . . . . I could go on. Pretty much everything that makes life a bit more pleasant and comfortable. You can kind of go with their 'beliefs' or with Peter T's.
Take your pick.
 

Cheshirechappie

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MIGNAL":293l49xc said:
Scientists with vested interests haven't done too bad. You know - the internal combustion engine, the washing machine, the computer, all manner of heating systems, life support . . . . I could go on. Pretty much everything that makes life a bit more pleasant and comfortable. You can kind of go with their 'beliefs' or with Peter T's.
Take your pick.
You're confusing 'science' with 'technology', here. The internal combustion engine came about because engineers (Brunel was one of them) fiddled about with means of using fuels directly in a cylinder to create power rather than have to use it in a boiler to generate steam - the 'science' that explained why it worked followed later.

With climate and how it works, a closer analogy would be the scientific 'discovery' of gravity, or the explanation of how rocks formed and were moulded into landscapes, or describing DNA.

Climate science is ongoing. We don't yet know how the climate works. Until we do, all the 'predictions' are fairly meaningless - at best, they're a guess. An informed - more or less, and we don't know how much more or less - guess, but still a guess.
 

MIGNAL

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Don't know about yours but the last time I looked my computer was full of electronics, as is my heating boiler and the car. I'm pretty sure they were designed with Ohms law in mind. Engineers or not, they were probably 'doing' science.
Anyway, I think I'd still rather take my chances with the experts 'best guess' than with the non experts 'best guess'. Kind of makes sense to me.
 

Jacob

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Cheshirechappie":3malb47w said:
...... An informed - more or less, and we don't know how much more or less - guess, but still a guess.
Substitute "estimate", "forecast" etc for "guess". Still the best information we have and obviously much more credible than the uninformed guess of the climate change sceptic.
What interests me about this whole topic is the obvious fact that a lot of people have absolutely no idea about what is going on around them and even less interest in filling in the gaps.
 

Jacob

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Cheshirechappie":1t6dbdl1 said:
Jacob":1t6dbdl1 said:
Cheshirechappie":1t6dbdl1 said:
......

Question - how does the climate work? What drives it's natural changes?
Good question. I suggest you start googling as the answer is long and complicated. The interesting bit is the physics of water and biosphere where life itself is part of the equation - it is both cause and effect.
Actually, the correct answer is, "I don't know".

There's a very simple reason for that - nobody knows. Not even the 'climate scientists'.

How any governmental or scientific body can come up with statements like those of the IPCC, when they don't know how the climate works, is somewhat baffling. Every piece of 'evidence' they put forward has been (scientifically) demonstrated to be flawed. The computer models on which they place so much emphasis are highly complex, and contain so many assumptions and 'fiddle factors' (as they are known in engineering circles) that they can be made to reach any conclusion those running them care to reach. They predicted accelerated warming - we've had a decade and a half of global cooling.

The problem is the word 'belief' is used too much in the climate debate. 'Belief' should not enter into it. By all means formulate theory - such as the theory that carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration increase will accelerate warming - but then test the theories objectively (that particular theory doesn't hold up - Antarctic ice core analysis has shown that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increases lag warming events, and have never immediately preceded them). That isn't happening - at least, not by the 'official' bodies. Their scientific credibility has not only been questioned, it's been fairly comprehensively demolished. However, careers, reputations and fortunes are at stake, so there's no backing down. Government funding of much climate science is dependent on proving 'man-made global warming' - so the scientists will please their paymasters, won't they? It's also very handy for some in several governments to have a useful tax-raising excuse - again, down to belief rather than demonstrable, unshakeable fact.

By the way - there's another theory. The planet's population is increasing, and they'll all have to eat. The increase in carbon dioxide concentration may even be a good thing - plants need it to grow. A commercial technique used in large glass-houses to vastly accelerate plant growth is to slightly increase the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in the glasshouse (not so much as to be noticable to humans working in them); the same might help to increase plant growth globally. Is the theory correct? Haven't a clue - but it has been put forward as a serious scientific proposition.

Until we have worked out how the climate works (which may take some time as it's clearly a very complex interaction of many factors), we can't say for sure what the climate will or won't do in the future. However, we know that it has changed constantly for several billion years, and will in all probability continue to do so. It's by no means proven that mankind's activities have a substantial modifying effect on natural climate change, despite what the IPCC might like us to 'believe'.
Complete nonsense. Climate has been studied in minute detail for many years. It's not about proof its about probability based on evidence and rational analysis. We do not "know" but we can make very informed forecasts.

PS and what is all this nonsense about vested interest. What is the advantage in being wrong?
If it's all faked then it would be very much in the personal interest of anyone who could show this.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Well - I don't mean this in any way offensively - there's still a confusion here between scientific research and applied science - technology.

In the end, you're perfectly entitled to 'believe' anything you like - but it may or may not turn out to be true. After all, for many centuries, the scientific concensus was that the earth was flat. Not many people believe that now.

I repeat - nobody knows how the climate works, yet. Until they do, predicting what the climate will do in the future is just guesswork. The IPCC stated 15 years (or so) ago that the climate would warm, and that warming would accelerate. It didn't - it cooled. They can't explain why - indeed, some of the 'experts' wanted to just ignore the fact that the climate had cooled.

Whatever is going on within the IPCC, it isn't based on rigorous science. Why that should be, I don't know - but there are a lot of political and commercial vested interests riding on what the IPCC says, and nature is making rather a mockery of their past predictions. Make of all that what you will.

Is the climate changing? Yes, and it'll carry on changing. Are the activities of mankind affecting the climate? I don't know, and there is no scientific concensus on that question. Until we know how the climate works, it'll be impossible to answer the question one way or another.

Edit to add - this is a reply to MIGNAL.

A reply to Jacob - you say that climate has been studied in minute detail for many years. So it has. But - we still don't know how it works. How can we therefore make accurate predictions about what it may do in the future? All we can do is guess. The IPCC predictions made about 15 years ago turned out to be wrong - they said climate would warm at an increasing rate, but it cooled instead.

As for 'sceptic' - yes, I'm sceptical about the IPCC's statements, because they've been shown to be wrong in the past. As for the premise that man is changing the climate by his activities, I'm agnostic - I don't know. It seems that the evidence is somewhat thin for this theory, but let's wait and see.
 

Jacob

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Cheshirechappie":firw07qm said:
....... Are the activities of mankind affecting the climate? I don't know, and there is no scientific concensus on that question. Until we know how the climate works, it'll be impossible to answer the question one way or another.
There definitely is consensus, we do "know" in the sense of being able to make very informed forecasts and we are seeing these forecasts confirmed as time goes by.

After all, for many centuries, the scientific concensus was that the earth was flat. No science involved there at all. Just a simplistic guess, not held by everybody either. It was science which revealed the truth.
Read "The Sleepwalkers" Arthur Koestler - very readable and interesting.

Again - what is all this nonsense about vested interest? Where is the advantage in being wrong?
 

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.....
BB says ..

Again - what is all this nonsense about vested interest? Where is the advantage in being wrong?

Well, if you were a scientist/lobbyist/advocate/whatever and you had nailed your colours to the mast and said 'climate change is down to man' or 'climate change is doing this'...something on which your reputation was at stake...something on which the salary you were paid to feed your family was based...then when your computer models on which you had done this turn out to have been wrong.......the advantage is keeping shtumm and ridiculing or ignoring the fact that your computer models got it wrong.
 

Jacob

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RogerS":367djg0u said:
.....
BB says ..

Again - what is all this nonsense about vested interest? Where is the advantage in being wrong?

Well, if you were a scientist/lobbyist/advocate/whatever and you had nailed your colours to the mast and said 'climate change is down to man' or 'climate change is doing this'...something on which your reputation was at stake...something on which the salary you were paid to feed your family was based...then when your computer models on which you had done this turn out to have been wrong.......the advantage is keeping shtumm and ridiculing or ignoring the fact that your computer models got it wrong.
If the whole thing is nonsense and you felt your reputation was at stake surely you would unnail your colours from the mast as quickly as possible? This notion of deliberate misinformation by most of the world's scientists is very weird and illogical. Makes no sense at all.
Re probability rather than proof. There is no proof that you will definitely lose a finger if you don't employ safety techniques on your TS. But there is plenty of evidence of it being more likely. If you did a survey of a large enough number of woodworkers you could put a figure on it and say there was a something % risk if certain procedures aren't followed. Personally I've no idea what this figure would be - but if it was 95% I would take this as close enough to dead certain!

climate has been studied in minute detail for many years. So it has. But - we still don't know how it works. is simply wrong. We do know how it works and the knowledge base is being expanded all the time.
 

DrPhill

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I have hesitated to post here, but I feel strongly about the topic we have drifted to.

There have been so many heated opinions which is good. The topic needs discussing, on BBs, in cafes, in bars, on the bus. If climate change continues as it seems it might, then it will have a huge impact on the earth and humankind. There are all sorts of vested interest - from the sellers of petroleum products to the sellers of wind turbines, from the urban 4x4 user who does not want to relinquish his gas-guzzler to the hippy who wants to justify his basic lifestyle. We all have an angle. For the record, my interest is in bequeathing a world fit to live in - to both the humans and animals that live in the world.

So I thought that I would point out some misconceptions. First, the belief that global warming has stopped, and even reversed in the last fifteen years. That is a very biased view of a dataset that extends for a far longer period. The signal is very noisy - with large ups and downs. If you choose to start measuring at a peak you are molu re likely to see a drop, if you start measuring at a trough you are more likely to see a rise. What we need is a 'winding stick' to allow uus to find the real slope. One such windiing stick is the average of each decade's temperatures. If there was truly a drop in the last fifteen years, then the last decade would be lower than the previous decade. Well here is a decadal average compared with the raw data:

That does not seem to support the assertion that climate change is slowing down.

The other assertion that I would wish to contest is 'there is no scientific consensus'. First, what do we mean by consensus? Would you poll plumbers about chisel sharpening? No you would ask chisel sharpeners, and not just anyone who called tthemselves a tool sharpener, but ones with a succesful record. When talking about climate science you really need to take a concensus of climate scientists (not surgeons, not biochemists). And you would choose those that are recognised by the community for their publiications in peer-reviewed.

Studies of consensus have been done. The results are pretty convincing. Just one example, published in the leading journal Science:
Science 3 December 2004:
Vol. 306 no. 5702 p. 1686
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103618


Essays on Science and Society

BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER
The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change

Naomi Oreskes*

The author is in the Department of History and Science Studies Program, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. E-mail: noreskes{at}ucsd.edu

Policy-makers and the public who are not members of the relevant research community have had to form opinions about the reality of global climate change on the basis of often conflicting descriptions provided by the media regarding the level of scientific certainty attached to studies of climate. In this Essay, Oreskes analyzes the existing scientific literature to show that there is a robust consensus that anthropogenic global climate change is occurring. Thus, despite claims sometimes made by some groups that there is not good evidence that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities, the scientific community is in overwhelming agreement that such evidence is clear and persuasive
I hope that those points help to steer us towars an informed debate.
 

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DrPhil, your argument is well made but you don't do yourself any favours by using the pejorative term 4x4 gas guzzlers. For many of us living in rural areas a 4x4 is an essential tool to go about our daily activities. If you had said a Chelsea based 4x4 gas guzzler then I'd been all in favour!
 

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RogerS":2ffiqljx said:
DrPhil, your argument is well made but you don't do yourself any favours by using the pejorative term 4x4 gas guzzlers. For many of us living in rural areas a 4x4 is an essential tool to go about our daily activities. If you had said a Chelsea based 4x4 gas guzzler then I'd been all in favour!
Edited.
 

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Last year we spent holiday time in Iceland, on one of our numerous probes into the less accessible areas open to tourists (access to the interior is limited for safety reasons) we got talking to a local farmer about the climate and if there were any changes he had noted, (it happened to be one of their hottest summers for some time, warmer than the UK as it happened)

He pointed to the River we were by and said that the flow levels were increasing in the summer and continuing longer into the winter, so much so that he had been worried a couple of years at the amount of open water being held back by the ice dams forming on the rapids just above his farm.

He also went on to say that due to lack of forestation on the island there was a push to increase the area of woodland as it was now possible to plant species that 10 years ago stood no chance of realistic survival.

I raised the point that it must be difficult to determine which were climate variations and natural volcanic influences in such a volatile country, he said that they looked at Greenland as the marker as to cause, seeing the whole of the Greenland icecap covered in melt water last year was a pretty good indication that something was changing.
 

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Cheshirechappie":1r9ndubp said:
In the end, you're perfectly entitled to 'believe' anything you like - but it may or may not turn out to be true. After all, for many centuries, the scientific concensus was that the earth was flat. Not many people believe that now.
Not since 300BC...Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth to within 20%. He was a Scientist.

I think you'll find the consensus that the Earth was flat was between the uninformed...NOT Scientists.

Maybe there is something to learn from the Flat Earth analogy after all?
 

nev

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according to scientists the planet is millions of years old.
in this time it has warmed up and it has cooled down.
repeatedly.
for the majority of this time there has been no mankind/ industrialisation so logic says that this is a 'natural' and therefore unavoidable cycle. it will happen regardless of what mankind does.
Does what mankind does accelerate this process?
probably.
If the entire planet ceased all pollution would this stop the cycle?
no.
if the answer was yes, is the entire planet capable of or willing to cease all pollution?
no.
will the planet continue to warm and cool?
yes.
can we stop it?
no.
can we slow it?
no.
can we cease to accelerate it?
possibly.
but its still going to happen.
Until a cap is put on the unabated world population explosion which will more rapidly overwhelm the planets finite resources, climate change and its effects and reasons are the least of our worries!
Still, it does give people a reason to argue pointlessly and the governments of the world to put the price of fuel up, so that the less well off can cease to use the finite resources that the rich can continue to burn for a little longer.
 

DrPhill

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nev":280kty3q said:
according to scientists the planet is millions of years old.
in this time it has warmed up and it has cooled down.
repeatedly.
for the majority of this time there has been no mankind/ industrialisation so logic says that this is a 'natural' and therefore unavoidable cycle. it will happen regardless of what mankind does.
Does what mankind does accelerate this process?
probably.
If the entire planet ceased all pollution would this stop the cycle?
no.
if the answer was yes, is the entire planet capable of or willing to cease all pollution?
no.
will the planet continue to warm and cool?
yes.
can we stop it?
no.
can we slow it?
no.
can we cease to accelerate it?
possibly.
but its still going to happen.
Until a cap is put on the unabated world population explosion which will more rapidly overwhelm the planets finite resources, climate change and its effects and reasons are the least of our worries!
Still, it does give people a reason to argue pointlessly and the governments of the world to put the price of fuel up, so that the less well off can cease to use the finite resources that the rich can continue to burn for a little longer.
We are getting some good points here, and an excellent opportunity to clear away some of the fog of confusion that is often brought to the argument.

There have been many swings in the climate of the planet, some far more extreme than even the climate doom-sayers are predicting. Unfortunately society as we know it would not be able to survive in some of those extremes. What we need to contemplate is whether we are likely to change the climate sufficiently to make life difficult for ourselves, our grandchildren and the animals that share this planet. The fact that the earth was once much hotter, or colder, or once had higher or lower CO2 concentratiions is not the point if those extremes would not support human life.

If I read the science right, then we are actually due fo another ice age in a few tens of thousands of years, and so global warming might seem a good thing in some ways. If we had just enough of it to keep temperatures stable and delay the ice age you would probably find fewer worried people. Unfortunately, mankind is not engaged in some carefully controlled climate management scheme to delay an ice age. We are engaged in activities that could have a massive effect on our climate. Our activities have (95% certainty in the scientific community) already had a significant and worrying effect.

Climate has changed on all time scales throughout Earth’s history. Some aspects of the current climate change are not unusual, but others are. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached a record high relative to more than the past half-million years, and has done so at an exceptionally fast rate. Current global temperatures are warmer than they have ever been during at least the past five centuries, probably even for more than a millennium. If warming continues unabated, the resulting climate change within this century would be extremely unusual in geological terms. Another unusual aspect of recent climate change is its cause: past climate changes were natural in origin (see FAQ 6.1), whereas most of the warming of the past 50 years is attributable to human activities.
The main reason for the current concern about climate change is the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration (and some other greenhouse gases), which is very unusual for the Quaternary (about the last two million years). The concentration of CO2 is now known accurately for the past 650,000 years from antarctic ice cores. During this time, CO2 concentration varied between a low of 180 ppm during cold glacial times and a high of 300 ppm during warm interglacials. Over the past century, it rapidly increased well out of this range, and is now 379 ppm (see Chapter 2). For comparison, the approximately 80-ppm rise in CO2 concentration at the end of the past ice ages generally took over 5,000 years. Higher values than at present have only occurred many millions of years ago
https://www.ipcc.unibe.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/faq/wg1_faq-6.2.html

Population growth is a popular but misleading argument. Yes the population is growing in parts of the world. But if those extra people produce no greenhouse gasses then they cannot be blamed for our current predicament. China, the USA and the EU together account for over half of global CO2 emissions.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions. I am afraid that most of the responsibility for control and restraint lies with the populations of these three countries.
 
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