Excuse #15: Volcanoes Emit More CO₂ Than Humans
“That one little burp by Mt Etna has already put more than 10,000 times the CO2 into the atmosphere than mankind has in our ENTIRE time on earth...”I’m fairly certain these people just invent these numbers out of thin air. In real life, scientists have a difficult time estimating how much carbon dioxide volcanoes pump into the atmosphere:
“The most vexing problem we have encountered in modeling the global carbon cycle is to calculate the rate of degassing of carbon dioxide due to igneous and metamorphic activity.”But they do estimate it, at anywhere from 65 to 319 million tons of CO₂ per year. I could find zero scientific papers countering these estimates or supporting the wild claim that the number is actually far larger. On the other hand, it’s much easier to calculate humanity’s carbon dioxide input — and that is currently at 40 billion tons per year. That’s 615 times the low estimate for volcanoes, and 125 times the high estimate for volcanoes.
Excuse #14: Scientists Have Something To Gain
“Global warming negotiations [are] ‘an elaborate conspiracy in which hundreds of climate scientists have twisted their results to support the climate change theory in order to protect their research funding’. Sounds plausible to us.” (emphasis mine)It is true that funding is increasingly scarce. Many scientists in the world have trouble getting the funding they need to continue their work.
“Seasoned scientists say they are spending more than a quarter to nearly all their time applying for research grants, writing many more proposals than they had in the past for far less money.”Funding for science comes from three major sources: government grants, corporate R&D departments, and non-profit foundations. Governments sponsor research because they can govern better with more information. Corporations sponsor inquiry in hopes of increased future revenues — think drug companies researching new pills, or Boeing paying for studies on new wing designs. Non-profit organizations sponsor science for their pet causes — curing/preventing cancer, for example.
“Quite the contrary, I would see it as a path to certain fame! Scientists always strive to find something radically new and different — just reconfirming what is already quite well-known is boring, and certainly will not get you the Nobel Prize.”A letter (.pdf, 345 kb) published in Science magazine and signed by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences (the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organization) noted:
“This process [the scientific process] is inherently adversarial — scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation...What there is evidence for is bias among the skeptics — though few of them are scientists. They're conservative elected officials (example), editorialists at business media companies like the Wall Street Journal (example), or businesspersons (example).
When some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of ‘well-established theories’ and are often spoken of as ‘facts’... Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.”
Excuse #13: ‘I’m Not A Scientist’
“Gov. Rick Scott of Florida... was asked by The Miami Herald if he believes climate change is significantly affecting the weather. ‘Well, I’m not a scientist,’ he said.Some have theorized that it’s just a way of avoiding the question, knowing that climate change isn’t a big issue with U.S. voters this election cycle. It’s a way of avoiding the label “denier” while still getting funds from some of their biggest donors and sticking to the party’s approved talking points.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky... was asked this month by The Cincinnati Enquirer if he believes that climate change is a problem. ‘I’m not a scientist,’ he said.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, when asked by reporters if climate change will play a role in the Republican agenda, came up with a now-familiar formulation. ‘I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change,’ he said.”
“Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything. Most politicians aren’t scientists, but they vote on science policy. They have opinions on Ebola, but they’re not epidemiologists. They shape highway and infrastructure laws, but they’re not engineers.”Indeed. Many of them aren’t military veterans either, but vote on funding and structuring the military. Few of them are economists, but they have to dabble in that too. None of them are statisticians, but all of them use and spew statistics.
Excuse #12: Scientists ‘Hid The Decline’
“From 2010-2012, Berkeley Earth systematically addressed the five major concerns that global warming skeptics had identified, and did so in a systematic and objective manner. The first four were potential biases from data selection, data adjustment, poor station quality, and the urban heat island effect. Our analysis showed that these issues did not unduly bias the record. The fifth concern related to the over reliance on large and complex global climate models by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the attribution of the recent temperature increase to anthropogenic forcings. We obtained a long and accurate record, spanning 250 years and showed that it could be well-fit with a simple model that included a volcanic term and, as an anthropogenic proxy, CO₂ concentration. We concluded that the record could be reproduced by just these two contributions, and that inclusion of direct variations in solar intensity did not contribute to the fit.”Muller went further, calling himself a “converted skeptic”. Remember, this is after being skeptical of global warming data, and then setting up a nonprofit group to study it for himself.
“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”It’s also worth noting that the alleged perpetrators in the scandal were exonerated by every body that investigated them, including the House of Commons (UK) Science and Technology Committee, the Science Assessment Panel, Pennsylvania State University (for some reason), U.S. EPA, The U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Science Foundation.
Excuse #11: NASA / NOAA Altered Historic Temperature Record
“In that same 1999 report, he showed that US temperatures peaked in 1934, and declined through the rest of the century... But in the year 2000, NASA and NOAA altered the historical US temperature record, which now shows that there was about one degree centigrade US warming during the century before 1989.”Example source: Fox News’ Steve Doocy, via PolitiFact
“Fox News host Steve Doocy gave the doubters some ammunition on June 24, 2014. In a segment on Fox and Friends called ‘News by the Numbers’, Doocy drew viewers’ attention to the year 1934.(The PolitiFact story also references Tony Heller’s blog, where he writes under the name Steven Goddard.)
‘That’s the hottest year on record in the United States,’ Doocy said. ‘At least until NASA scientists fudged the numbers to make 1998 the hottest year to overstate the extent of global warming. The 1930s were by far the hottest decade in the United States.’ ”
“Before 1940, most followed Weather Service guidelines and recorded the temperature at sundown. Through the second half of the century, there was a gradual shift to recording morning temperatures. This change produced the appearance of a cooling trend when none existed.”There is still a problem with some of the data, as PolitiFact notes. Some of the current methods “infill” for missing stations:
“As part of its adjustment process, USHCN infills missing stations based on a spatially-weighted average of surrounding station anomalies (plus the long-term climatology of that location) to generate absolute temperatures... Regardless, it has relatively little effect on the results.”However, even after correcting for this infilling (correction done by Berkeley Earth), the numbers are still close:
Excuse #10: The Economy Will Suffer If We Act On Climate Change
“Last spring the Environmental Protection Agency proposed emissions standards that virtually prohibit new coal-fired power plants. As we await implementation of these strict new rules, additional regulations that will affect existing power plants, refineries and other manufactures are sure to follow. Analyses of these measures by the American Council for Capital Formation, which studies economic and environmental policy, show that they will raise both electricity rates and gas prices — costing jobs and hurting the economy...Representatives from oil-rich states like Texas and Oklahoma (almost all of them Republicans, coincidentally) regularly warn of the dire economic consequences if we enact any legislation, rules, or treaties designed to reign in greenhouse gas emissions. Jobs will be lost, they say. Profits will be cut. Your power bill will rise.
Instead of pursuing heavy-handed regulations that imperil U.S. jobs and send jobs (and their emissions) overseas, we should take a step back from the unfounded claims of impending catastrophe and think critically about the challenge before us.”
Excuse #9: I Saw A Website That Said It Was A Hoax
Excuse #8: It’s Not Hot Here, Right Now
“For the week of December 15, 2008 alone, HAM Weather Service reports 1,537 record low temperatures in the United States and 1,110 record snowfalls — not exactly what one would expect while on the way to climate catastrophe owing to global warming.”Note the key words: “in the United States”. The author goes on to list several specific places that we think of as warm: Southern Louisiana, Las Vegas, etc. These locations are all cold right now, so global warming must be over.
Excuse #7: I Thought Of Something The Scientists Haven’t Thought Of
“I went to Maryland and asked repeatedly two things which I’ve never been able to get answers on. One was, I said: ‘What ended the Ice Age?’ And the lead scientist at NASA said this, he said that what ended the Ice Age was ‘global wobbling’. That’s what I was told. This is the lead scientist down at Maryland; you’re welcome to go down there and ask him the same thing. So and my second question, which I thought was an intuitive question that should be followed up: ‘Is the wobbling of the Earth included in any of your [climate] models?’ And the answer was no.”Just like the something you thought of that “proves” global warming isn’t happening or that man didn’t cause it, you can trust that scientists have already thought of it. In this case, despite Stockman insisting that he couldn’t get answers, he then related a story in which a NASA scientist answered him. In the same committee meeting, immediately after his story, scientist John P. Holdren explained to Stockman that wobbling happens over thousands of years, 22,000, 44,000, and a hundred thousand year cycles.
“In fact, Holdren says because of previous wobbling, we should be in a cooling period as we speak. ‘But the warming inflicted by human activities has overwhelmed the effect of global wobbling,’ he said.”Every day, someone who’s not a scientist and in many cases not even a fan or supporter of science, will blog or comment about something the scientists have forgotten to take into consideration. “They forgot to account for the Sun!” I saw recently. Really? The thing that’s most responsible for all life and all climate and energy on the Earth? You think they forgot about that? No. They didn’t. They’ve taken the sun into account. As well as the Earth’s orbit, the Earth’s axial tilt, and the wobble. They actually have thought about all those things, over the course of many decades of study, that you just now thought of off the top of your head.
Excuse #6: Global Warming Has Stopped / Paused / Is On Hiatus
“The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.”Well, it’s just not true. Like many who’ve been ignorance-mongering with the “pause/hiatus”, this writer either failed to understand — or deliberately misled his readers. As climate scientists have made clear for years, global warming has slowed to a rate less than previous predictions. It has not stopped.
“For average climate records, 30 years is like one data point,” said Loeb, reiterating that while the Earth is warming more slowly, it is still warming. “It’s really forcing us to look at our models and observations and ask questions.”
Excuse #5: The Earth Hasn’t Warmed in 15/16/17 Years
“There is no statistically significant warming trend since November of 1996 in monthly surface temperature records...”This is almost the same as the pause/hiatus reason; it’s just a different way of saying it. It’s still not true. Despite author Patrick Michaels including graphs of 1998-2010 temperatures, he handily ignores how small a time period 12 years is, and further made the mistake of not noticing that the Earth is steadily warming.
“Climate scientists note that while the underlying long-term trend is unmistakable, it can be masked by short-term natural variations.”Choosing 1998 as a starting point for these graphs is disingenuous at best, since 1998 was — at that time — the hottest year on record. Not every year reaches that bar. However, 2005 beat 1998, and then 2010 did it too. 2014 was the warmest year on record, and then 2015 surpassed it. In fact, 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have been in the 21st Century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one. Even the coolest year of the 21st Century was warmer than the 1950-2000 average.
Excuse #4: CO₂ Is GOOD For Plants
“Putting aside for the moment the question of whether human industrial CO₂ emissions are having an effect on climate, it is quite clear that they are raising atmospheric CO₂ levels. As a result, they are having a strong and markedly positive effect on plant growth worldwide. There is no doubt about this. NASA satellite observations taken from orbit since 1958 show that, concurrent with the 19 percent increase in atmospheric CO₂ over the past half century, the rate of plant growth in the continental United States has increased by 14 percent. Studies done at Oak Ridge National Lab on forest trees have shown that increasing the carbon dioxide level 50 percent, to the 550 parts per million level projected to prevail at the end of the 21 century, will likely increase photosynthetic productivity by a further 24 percent. This is readily reproducible laboratory science. If CO₂ levels are increased, the rate of plant growth will accelerate.”This particular author went on to say that global warming would “increase the rate of evaporation from the oceans”, thereby increasing worldwide precipitation, and lengthen the growing season, “thereby increasing still further the bounty of both agriculture and nature”.
“However, while experiments on natural ecosystems have also found initial elevations in the rate of plant growth, these have tended to level off within a few years… The regional climate changes that higher CO₂ will bring, and their effect on these limiting factors on plant growth, such as water, also have to be taken into account. These indirect effects are likely to have a much larger impact than CO₂ fertilisation. For instance, while higher temperatures will boost plant growth in cooler regions, in the tropics they may actually impede growth. A two-decade study of rainforest plots in Panama and Malaysia recently concluded that local temperature rises of more than 1°C have reduced tree growth by 50 per cent… Studies of past climate changes suggest the land and oceans start releasing more CO₂ than they absorb as the planet warms. The latest IPCC report concludes that the terrestrial biosphere will become a source rather than a sink of carbon before the end of the century.”There are several other sources on this subject, and most are far too complicated to discuss here. But the short answer is: no, it’s not as simple as “more CO₂, healthier plant life”.
Excuse #3: The Climate Has Always Changed Naturally; Our Actions Don’t Matter
“I don’t know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable. Climate is always evolving and natural disasters have always existed... I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it… I have never denied the climate is changing. That shouldn’t surprise us. The climate is always changing.”Everyone (except Young Earthers, that is) accepts that the Earth’s climate has shifted radically over the eons, from the Ice Ages to the very warm years. There are three problems with using this as a reason to deny the importance of today’s anthropogenic climate change.
“The closest match to present-day climate change in the geological past is an episode known as the Palaeo-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), around 55 million years ago. During the PETM the average global temperature rose by between 5 and 8°C in just a few thousand years — but even this relatively rapid change is slower than the current rate of global warming.”2) The few times that the climate did shift quickly, whether due to massive volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes, or other catastrophic events, there were mass extinctions of life on Earth, and it’s already happening again.
“It’s pretty widely accepted now that we’re living through the sixth massive extinction. The fifth one was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs vanished. Today we’re losing biodiversity at a similar rate. And this is, of course, an anthropogenic mass extinction. The primary cause is human communities.”3) Logic: past climate shifts having natural causes does not negate the possibility of the current climate shift having unnatural (manmade) causes.
“It is obviously true that past climate change was caused by natural forc[es]. However, to argue that this means we can’t cause climate change is like arguing that humans can’t start bush fires because in the past they’ve happened naturally.”
Excuse #2: There Is No Scientific Consensus
“Since 1998, more than 31,000 American scientists from diverse climate-related disciplines, including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s, have signed a public petition announcing their belief that ‘...there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.’ ”This isn’t true either, according to NASA:
“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” (emphasis mine)The following organizations are just some of those who are sure about this: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Medical Association, American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, The Geological Society of America, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Global Change Research Program, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society”, “Comprehensive scientific assessments... clearly indicate... largely attributable to emissions from human activities”, “Human-induced climate change requires urgent action... Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change”, “concurs with the scientific consensus that... anthropogenic contributions are significant”, “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced”, “The evidence is incontrovertible... We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now”, “...human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s”, “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”, “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”, “The global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases”, “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”Further, the “Oregon petition” (here) with an alleged “31,000 scientists” denying global warming has been debunked as a farce. To scientists, this is a settled matter: “To them, climate change is no longer a debate over science.”
“[It] is the work of S. Fred Singer, who was also loudly wrong about the stratospheric ozone problem. [It is claimed] that Mr. Singer’s declaration was signed by more than 100 climate scientists; but it, too, dissolves under scrutiny. The list contains 80 signatures, mostly an odd assortment of television weather persons, dentists, lab assistants, civil engineers and others who, despite their names’ appearing on the list, say they have never heard of it.”
Excuse #1: ‘Only God Can Change The Climate’
“Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) recently  appeared on the radio program... to discuss his new book... Inhofe maintained that only God can change the climate, and for us to believe that our actions can alter the seasons is pure ‘arrogance’. He said: ‘...The Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.”Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this is that no climate scientist ever has said there would cease to be seasons, or cold, or nighttime. Ever. Not once.
My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.’ ”
I first posted about this on my blog in November 2012. I posted a much newer edition in September 2014. I then decided to make it an updatable page on my website instead of blog entries. Following are some of the comments from that original blog entry: