Talk:Global warming/Archive 3

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This article talk page is now under dispute watch

See CZ:Dispute Watch. You're going to have to start using the {{prop}} template in the way that page describes, illustrated here: Talk:Oriental (word). We're testing out a dispute resolution idea, but I'm taking the test seriously. From now on, disputation on this page must be on-topic, and on-topic means (1) aimed at a specific proposition, (2) the proposition must concern the wording of the text, and (3) engaging in a dispute, as opposed to how to characterize the dispute, is off-topic. Call it the Anti-Bloviation Rule!  :-)

Note, for this topic in particular, that how much dispute there is about this topic is itself (pretty obviously) a matter of dispute. So we must not take a stand on that dispute, but must describe it. --Larry Sanger 07:17, 3 August 2007 (CDT)

So we must suggest a different and specific change in the article's text to dispute the content herein? Benjamin Seghers 09:20, 3 August 2007 (CDT)

Yep. But notice that the change can be: delete it. --Larry Sanger 09:22, 3 August 2007 (CDT)

Global warming and hurricanes

Proposition: I think we should expand on the role of global warming on hurricanes. I think this one area of higher amount of debate in the scientific community, with regards to how large an impact sea surface temperatures are having on intensity and frequency of hurricanes across the globe (as opposed to more natural factors, such as wind shear, for example). I don't know exactly what should be written, but there is much to say about the issue. Benjamin Seghers 12:43, 3 August 2007 (CDT)

Actually this is as good as any a place to suggest that CITIZENDIUM try to avoid becoming political. Tropical storm experts tend to state categorically that there is no anthropogenic connection to the increase in Atlantic hurricane activity but rather it was an expected development due to the known cycle of climate. Studies suggest that as the Earth warms (completely disregarding whether the warming is natural or anthropogenic), while increased sea surface temperatures will produce more favorable conditons for storms to form and develop, along with this will come stronger winds at higher altitudes which will rip developing storms apart and prevent them from organizing into hurricanes. After the active season that included Katrina many ill-advised claims were made that linked stronger and more frequent storms to alleged anthropogenic warming yet in the seasons since Katrina observation suggests such claims are completely unfounded. Otherwise we should have had a similar, if not worse season BUT WE DID NOT. If you are really interested in learning the facts about this issue, start with these papers:

Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900–2005 Roger A. Pielke Jr.; Joel Gratz; Christopher W. Landsea; Douglas Collins; Mark A. Saunders; and Rade Musulin

Counting Atlantic Tropical Cyclones Back to 1900 Christopher W. Landsea

Reply to “Hurricanes and Global Warming—Potential Linkages and Consequences” ROGER PIELKE JR.; CHRISTOPHER LANDSEA; MAX MAYFIELD; JIM LAVER; AND RICHARD PASCH

Can We Detect Trends in Extreme Tropical Cyclones? Christopher W. Landsea, Bruce A. Harper, Karl Hoarau, John A. Knaff

It is indeed unfortunate that, due in large part to sensationalistic journalism and poor science in the first place, erroneous beliefs such as those that suggest there's a clear anthropogenic signal in hurricane strength or intensity get started in the first place.

USER: GREG HARRIS ...said Greg Harris (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)

Who's discounting anything? Who's being political? Are you making this statement because of the existence of this article? --Robert W King 18:21, 30 January 2008 (CST)

Seems you're getting a bit ahead of yourself. To answer your last question first - of course not. Global warming is an important topic. We need to have an unbiased, reasonable presentation on the subject. However, since you brought it up, I see the same obvious extreme alarmist bias in this article that one finds in similar Wikipedia articles and a lack of any reference to the large body of more sensible literature giving alternate explanations (i.e. other than it's anthropogenic and we're doomed) and discussions regarding this topic.

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds of civility. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.)

My initial impulse was to simply "mercilessly" edit the existing article to resolve it's obvious major flaws but, since I am NOT prone to acting emotionally without thinking, I thought perhaps I would start by discussing matters here first and then, hopefully after we found some consensus, I might indeed proceed to make some edits to the existing article but not without first attempting to share my thoughts with others interested in it and to attempt to read theirs as well.

Given the response maybe just going ahead and doing edits without discussing them first would be the best way to go after all. ...said Greg Harris (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)

"Very likely" as opposed to 100%

Our intro reads, "The prevailing scientific view, as represented by the science academies of the major industrialized nations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is that most of the temperature increase since the mid-20th century has been caused by increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations produced by human activity." I wonder if it should say "is very likely caused by increases in atmospheric . . ." so as to mimic the IPCC language that suggest 90% certainty rather absolute certainty? Benjamin Seghers 14:02, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Ben (Benjamin?), I am still assembling research for the counter-point. I have already identified several peer-reviewed papers which do not support some of the claims of Global Warming alarmists. However, one of of the founding arguments I'm running across is that the IPCC is fundamentally biased due various reasons. How do we expect to address those claims? I'm trying to run through Larry's new dispute resolution formula on other pages, but I've not gotten a good enough handle on my argument to approach the article sentence by sentence. I'm not a "global warming scoffer", but rather an ardent neutrality proponent. Thus, I'd sure appreciate some help "writing for the enemy" as they say. Please let me know if you are interested in collaborating on that effort. If so, I'll start sharing some of my research. Will Nesbitt 14:30, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

Mr. Nesbitt, I don't get exactly what your counter-point is. Are you trying to negate everything in the article? There are many (scientific) papers that do indeed differ in conclusion with some of the IPCC's. I haven't really found any that in fact attack the IPCC as biased or fundamentally flawed. It's a body of scientists that synthesize a multitude of scientific papers into their Assessment Reports. I'm sure there are editorials or blog postings out there, but that's another thing. That said, I am sure there are genuine and bona fide critiques of the organization. But I think if we want to discuss the IPCC in that light, it should be done on the IPCC's own article. I'm for anything that will make this article neutral, but at the same time am opposed simply trying insert obviously flawed points or arguments in attempt to make it seem as if this were some 50:50 argument. Elsewhere, I've been labeled as one "writes for the enemy," whether correctly or not, simply through the introduction of scientific thoughts that do not mesh with the majority or some other. You and I are interested in the same objective, but we have to be careful to do so in the correct manner. For example, just above I'm suggesting we move from the absolutism currently in the sentence and go to the more appropriate and veracious language. I am also interested in exploring more in depth the roles of global warming and hurricanes, as pointed out above. It's just a matter of being neutral rather than countering each claim as false, because the latter is not neutral. Benjamin Seghers 15:37, 5 August 2007 (CDT)
Proposition: Our intro reads, "The prevailing scientific view, as represented by the science academies of the major industrialized nations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is that most of the temperature increase since the mid-20th century has been caused by increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations produced by human activity." I wonder if it should say "is very likely caused by increases in atmospheric . . ." so as to mimic the IPCC language that suggest 90% certainty rather absolute certainty? Benjamin Seghers 14:02, 5 August 2007 (CDT)

I'd like to see the math formula that led a precise percentage of certitude, mainly because I doubt it exists. *smile* However, I would prefer that we quote the IPCC rather than state this as a matter of fact. We know that this is the IPCC's position. We don't really know if they are correct or not. Will Nesbitt 09:39, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

Well, in the AR4 SPM, the footnote reads, "In this Summary for Policymakers, the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood, using expert judgement, of an outcome or a result: Virtually certain > 99% probability of occurrence, Extremely likely > 95%, Very likely > 90%, Likely > 66%, More likely than not > 50%, Unlikely < 33%, Very unlikely < 10%, Extremely unlikely < 5%. (See Box TS.1.1 for more details)." The box doesn't appear in the SPM, but I was able to find it in chapter 1 of the WGI contribution to the AR4. It states:
Box 1.1: Treatment of Uncertainties in the Working Group I Assessment
The importance of consistent and transparent treatment of uncertainties is clearly recognised by the IPCC in preparing its assessments of climate change. The increasing attention given to formal treatments of uncertainty in previous assessments is addressed in Section 1.6. To promote consistency in the general treatment of uncertainty across all three Working Groups, authors of the Fourth Assessment Report have been asked to follow a brief set of guidance notes on determining and describing uncertainties in the context of an assessment .1 This box summarises the way that Working Group I has applied those guidelines and covers some aspects of the treatment of uncertainty specific to material assessed here
Uncertainties can be classified in several different ways according to their origin. Two primary types are ‘value uncertainties’ and ‘structural uncertainties’. Value uncertainties arise from the incomplete determination of particular values or results, for example, when data are inaccurate or not fully representative of the phenomenon of interest. Structural uncertainties arise from an incomplete understanding of the processes that control particular values or results, for example, when the conceptual framework or model used for analysis does not include all the relevant processes or relationships. Value uncertainties are generally estimated using statistical techniques and expressed probabilistically. Structural uncertainties are generally described by giving the authors’ collective judgment of their confidence in the correctness of a result. In both cases, estimating uncertainties is intrinsically about describing the limits to knowledge and for this reason involves expert judgment about the state of that knowledge. A different type of uncertainty arises in systems that are either chaotic or not fully deterministic in nature and this also limits our ability to project all aspects of climate change.
The scientific literature assessed here uses a variety of other generic ways of categorising uncertainties. Uncertainties associated with ‘random errors’ have the characteristic of decreasing as additional measurements are accumulated, whereas those associated with ‘systematic errors’ do not. In dealing with climate records, considerable attention has been given to the identification of systematic errors or unintended biases arising from data sampling issues and methods of analysing and combining data. Specialised statistical methods based on quantitative analysis have been developed for the detection and attribution of climate change and for producing probabilistic projections of future climate parameters. These are summarised in the relevant chapters.
The uncertainty guidance provided for the Fourth Assessment Report draws, for the first time, a careful distinction between levels of confidence in scientific understanding and the likelihoods of specific results. This allows authors to express high confidence that an event is extremely unlikely (e.g., rolling a dice twice and getting a six both times), as well as high confidence that an event is about as likely as not (e.g., a tossed coin coming up heads). Confidence and likelihood as used here are distinct concepts but are often linked in practice.
The standard terms used to define levels of confidence in this report are as given in the IPCC Uncertainty Guidance Note, namely:
Confidence Terminology Degree of confidence in being correct
Very high confidence At least 9 out of 10 chance
High confidence About 8 out of 10 chance
Medium confidence About 5 out of 10 chance
Low confidence About 2 out of 10 chance
Very low confidence Less than 1 out of 10 chance
Note that ‘low confidence’ and ‘very low confidence’ are only used for areas of major concern and where a risk-based perspective is justified.
Chapter 2 of this report uses a related term ‘level of scientific understanding’ when describing uncertainties in different contributions to radiative forcing. This terminology is used for consistency with the Third Assessment Report, and the basis on which the authors have determined particular levels of scientific understanding uses a combination of approaches consistent with the uncertainty guidance note as explained in detail in Section 2.9.2 and Table 2.11.
The standard terms used in this report to define the likelihood of an outcome or result where this can be estimated probabilistically are:
Likelihood Terminology Likelihood of the occurrence/ outcome
Virtually certain > 99% probability
Extremely likely > 95% probability
Very likely > 90% probability
Likely > 66% probability
More likely than not > 50% probability
About as likely as not 33 to 66% probability
Unlikely < 33% probability
Very unlikely < 10% probability
Extremely unlikely < 5% probability
Exceptionally unlikely < 1% probability
The terms ‘extremely likely’, ‘extremely unlikely’ and ‘more likely than not’ as defined above have been added to those given in the IPCC Uncertainty Guidance Note in order to provide a more specific assessment of aspects including attribution and radiative forcing.
Unless noted otherwise, values given in this report are assessed best estimates and their uncertainty ranges are 90% confidence intervals (i.e., there is an estimated 5% likelihood of the value being below the lower end of the range or above the upper end of the range). Note that in some cases the nature of the constraints on a value, or other information available, may indicate an asymmetric distribution of the uncertainty range around a best estimate. Benjamin Seghers 11:32, 6 August 2007 (CDT)

Dispute Watch cancelled

The CZ:Dispute Watch experiment failed interestingly--so this article is back to usual. Just bear in mind we are still operating under CZ:Professionalism as well as CZ:Neutrality Policy. Among other things, this latter means that it is not CZ's official view that global warming is caused by human beings. We are officially agnostic (not skeptical--there's a difference!). We can, of course, report the facts about the proportions of the relevant experts who believe this, though--and the grounds on which they've issued their findings! --Larry Sanger 05:27, 10 August 2007 (CDT)

That's a curious statement, Dr. Sanger. Either way, I don't believe it ought to be the purpose of any encyclopedia to "take sides." We ought to simply report the facts as they are presented in the scientific literature, and let them speak for themselves. Benjamin Seghers 09:14, 10 August 2007 (CDT)

Perhaps you misunderstood me, Ben. I agree that encyclopedias should not take sides, and indeed that was my point. Moreover, I of course agree that we should report the facts as they are presented in the scientific literature. (How else?) To all this I am adding that it is our policy to attribute the view that global warming is caused by human beings to its adherents, instead of simply asserting it ourselves. Moreover, we will acknowledge and fairly, without asserting to be false, characterize views that are in disagreement with this. And we will also fairly characterize how the skeptics have been received by the larger scientific community. In short, we will fairly represent the entire dialectical situation--without, indeed, not take sides. This sort of thing is explained in painful detail in Neutrality Policy. --Larry Sanger 10:17, 10 August 2007 (CDT)

OK, thank you for your clarification. Benjamin Seghers 10:20, 10 August 2007 (CDT)


it is not CZ's official view that global warming is caused by human beings


Gee, the whole thrust of the article suggests otherwise. Why is that?

I try to answer to the comment above, made by Greg Harris.
The problem is, scientific literature is stating -almost all of it, I mean- that Global warming is anthropogenic. Thus, a fair explanation of facts must leave most of the space to the scientific "view" of Global warming, otherwise the article is badly biased. Citing Larry's post above:
we should report the facts as they are presented in the scientific literature.  (How else?)
Please sign your posts in talk page(s) with four tildes, e.g., using the botton on top of the sandbox.
Hope my answer was useful. --Nereo Preto 12:37, 31 January 2008 (CST)

Big changes

Raymond, those were some pretty big changes to the article; can you elaborate on some of them? --Robert W King 22:21, 21 September 2007 (CDT)

I've reviewed the edits, and they all look like good edits to me. Most of them appear to be changes in grammar that don't really affect the content, but rather create a better flow. Benjamin Seghers 22:42, 21 September 2007 (CDT)
I defer to this edit:
The following were removed:
  • Future CO<sub>2</sub> levels are expected to rise due to ongoing burning of fossil fuels and land-use change.
  • Although the net effect of clouds is one of the main uncertainties in present day climate models, cloud feedback is second only to water vapor feedback and is positive in all the models that contributed to the [[IPCC Fourth Assessment Report]].<ref name=soden1/>
  • A difference between this mechanism and greenhouse warming is that an increase in solar activity should produce a warming of the [[stratosphere]] while greenhouse warming should produce a cooling of the stratosphere. [[Ozone depletion|Reduction of stratospheric ozone]] also has a cooling influence but substantial ozone depletion did not occur until the late 1970s. Observations show that the lower stratosphere has been cooling since at least 1960, which is inconsistent with the solar variation hypothesis.<ref>{{cite web| title=Climate Change 2001:Working Group I: The Scientific Basis (Fig. 2.12) |url=| date=2001 |accessdate=2007-05-08}}</ref>
  • Also on this edit,, "species extinctions" was removed.
  • on, it was changed from "Some other hypotheses have been offered to explain most of the observed increase in global temperatures but are less broadly supported." to "Some other hypotheses have been offered to explain most of the observed increase in global temperatures but these are not broadly supported in the scientific community."
They seem pretty significant--I'm wondering why they were removed?
Hi Robert. The article started as a fork of Wikipedia's article on global warming. The Wikipedia article is excellent, amd it seemed best to start from a sound base. Previously the Citizendium was being built from scratch but that clearly wasn't working. I've been tweaking the article little by little to tighten the wording (verbosity is a near-universal problem at Wikipedia) and otherwise improve it. At least, I hope I'm improving it.
You seem to be focusing on isolated words that were removed and not on overall context. Most of the edits removed things that were redundant with what had been said before (or was detailed later). For example, in the bit about "ongoing burning of fossil fuels and land use", fossil fuels and land-use change already were mentioned. I didn't think it necessary to state fossil fuel use would continue as this seems obvious absent some geopolitical calamity or revolution in technology. By omitting this, the text that remained had a clearer focus on uncertainty in emissions, which was the main substantive point. Regarding "species extinctions", this is more controversial than the other effects in that sentence. Finally the bit about "other hypotheses" corrects an old Wikipedia edit war. "Less broadly supported" can imply a position held by a significant minority, but that's not the case for the any of the alternate hypotheses. The weight of the literature in the field shows a broadly-accepted dominant hypothesis (effects of increased greenhouse gases) and a range of tiny-minority hypotheses. Raymond Arritt 09:50, 22 September 2007 (CDT)

Moving away from Wikipedia

Currently, this article reflects the Wikipedia article with a few changes. The changes are not substantial, however. If we ever want this article to be recognized as a fine piece of work--the result of Citizendium's vision and contributors--we need to make it our own. We cannot ever achieve "approved" status with a Wikipedia duplicate. This page outlines a way we can begin this process. Benjamin Seghers 21:19, 24 October 2007 (CDT)

The Wikipedia article is very good and while it can of course be improved, I'm not convinced of the value of being different for the sake of being different. As for my own involvement I'm willing to steer things along and provide advice where needed but do not want it to be "my" article. Raymond Arritt 23:27, 10 November 2007 (CST)
But who says Citizendium users can't make a better article? To ever be considered a good article on Citizendium, or "approved," it has to be written by its users. Obviously, yes, we need more contributors. There will also be a lot of same information and surely it will take time. But I feel with a little bit of effort and motivation we can make a pretty decent global warming article independent of the Wikipedia article with similar or superior quality. We have a lot of great authors and editors here, so I think we can make it happen. Benjamin Seghers 00:28, 11 November 2007 (CST)

Let me put it in a different way.

  1. Is there any part of the WP article that might be improoved significantly? E.g., past climate change may be less developed than other parts...
  2. Is there any part of the WP article which may be rephrased to be more understandable from the non-specialist, or which literary style might be improoved?

Instead of starting from scratch, we may add to such parts, and make a significant difference while remaining in the frame of the very good WP article. Raymond, I think you know the contents in WP better than all of us. Any ideas? --Nereo Preto 05:46, 11 November 2007 (CST)

revert 31/01/08: explanation

I reverted all changes by Greg Harris, made 31/01/08. Sorry for this drastic choice. I'll try to explain.

Greg Harris Made several changes all at once in this article, which is about an extremely sensible topic. I believe changes to this kind of articles must be discussed and introduced gradually, and must be supported by valid references.

I surfed all edits I reverted, and I found them supported only by web links rather than peer reviewed literature. Some of the statements are false. Some of the statements use a non-appropriate language, in the sense it is not scientific nor it is cool, which is instead important in the context of this article. Most of the sentences are aimed at allowing space to a minoritarian and ill-informed component of the scientific community, a space which is not proportional to the real balance of positions. Many of the sentences discuss the politics, of the public understanding, of Global Warming, instead of Global Warming itself. Overall, the result of edits was a biased article (in my view of course, but I remark my view is supported by the overwhelming majority of to-date peer-reviewed scientific literature).

As a concluding summary, I have no objections in discussing all proposed changes, but I ask, for technical reasons, they are introduced one at a time, and are supported by peer-reviewed scientific literature.

--Nereo Preto 12:15, 31 January 2008 (CST)

Constable note

Hello Nereo. To make sure everyone is on the same page, I wanted to make sure you were aware that User:Greg Harris had made some comments further up this page under the hurricane section before making his edits, but he had not signed his discussion. As he is a new user, I assume he will get the mechanics down in no time. Meanwhile, you are the editor on this page and have editorial control at this point and as far as I can tell everyone else holds author status. I will not comment on content and remain constable. Everyone, please keep your posts concerning article content and work hard not to characterize other contributers or their work in a negative light. I will leave it to you. --D. Matt Innis 12:24, 31 January 2008 (CST)

I returned the article to the version just prior to Greg's edits so that everyone may start their discussion clean. --D. Matt Innis 12:55, 31 January 2008 (CST)

migration of disease-causing insects, etc

To the authors, this is a really great piece of work so far. Kudos. I would like to suggest a section regarding the migration changes in insects and animals, and the earlier spring time in many regions. Of particular note are the disease-causing insects, such as mosquitos, that spread Dengue fever, etc. Italy just saw the first occurance/outbreak of Chikakunga (spelling may not be quite correct). Seems the climate warmed up enough a few years ago enough to make the climate habitable for the mosquitos carrying that disease. I have no plans to work on such a section myself right now, but I may attack it later if none of the current authors get around it. David E. Volk 13:33, 31 January 2008 (CST)

Is there any evidence to suggest that the trash buildup in Sicily is a contributing factor? --Robert W King 13:37, 31 January 2008 (CST)
I reckon we already discuss vector ranges, though not thoroughly. Perhaps having sub articles (e.g. Effects of global warming) like Wikipedia does would be helpful. Benjamin Seghers 16:35, 31 January 2008 (CST)
It has nothing to do with the trash buildup. Formerly, temperatures were too low to sustain the mosquitos (one particular type). We are seeing a similar thing in northern Mexico and southern Texas with more cases of Dengue fever. For comparison, the West Nile virus in the US was simply an importation issue, not a temperature change issue, and hence it raced across the US in a few years. David E. Volk 17:39, 31 January 2008 (CST)


Recently Mr. King moved the table of contents to right side of the article, putting it under the picture. In my opinion, I think this looks awkward—more so than the whitespace that was removed. The problem, I think, is that it cuts down into the sections just below the introduction. I guess it just doesn't take my fancy; I wonder what you guys think. Benjamin Seghers 16:42, 31 January 2008 (CST)

You can change it back, it's not like the article is locked :). I just wanted to see what people thought. I think it's better because it provides better visual flow after the lede, that's all. --Robert W King 17:24, 31 January 2008 (CST)

Wired/nature article for evaluation

Here's the nature/wired link:

Unfortunately I don't have access to Nature, but there's some quote in the Wired blog post.

--Robert W King 17:53, 31 January 2008 (CST)

I think this relates to my earlier proposal to discuss global warming's role in hurricane frequency and intensity a bit more thoroughly than it currently is. I don't think using Wired, even as a summary, would be a good idea though. Benjamin Seghers 18:11, 31 January 2008 (CST)
I didn't imply that you should; I just wanted to provide places where to find the original source. --Robert W King 18:25, 31 January 2008 (CST)
I do have access to Nature. May I help? --Nereo Preto 01:48, 1 February 2008 (CST)
If you can somehow acquire the text to the above article linked as an abstract and disseminate it to those who are interested in receiving it, that would be great. --Robert W King 08:40, 1 February 2008 (CST)
There's a synthesis of the same article, but I don't know if referencing discovery is ok? I don't know how discovery is judged as a source. --Robert W King 10:41, 1 February 2008 (CST)
What I can do is to personally send the article to collegues for study purposes, that is, by e-mail. That's a copyright issue. If one of you collegues ask for it... --Nereo Preto 12:01, 1 February 2008 (CST)
Unfortunately I don't know enough about this subject to be able to digest the information. The washington post today also mentions another article published in Science that looks at global warming vs. draught conditions in the western United States. The only reason I'm pointing these articles out is because I think they may be relevant, and hoping someone will go in there and evaluate them. --Robert W King 12:42, 1 February 2008 (CST)
Well, articles about Global warming are published weekly perhaps, though not always in Nature and Science. Global warming is a hot topic (eh eh...). It might be impossible at the moment to keep up with the literature. I might take care of reading the most relevant articles, and mark those which are worth a line here. But I wonder if this is actually a priority. Anyways, just in case, remember I have a subscription to Nature (about Science, I have to check). --Nereo Preto 03:54, 2 February 2008 (CST)
I have access to Science through our library. I do not think that popular media (such as Wired) should ever be used as a source for this topic. I've seen climate change articles in the mainstream press make mistakes as basic as confusing "latitude" with "altitude." (Only the order of the first two letters is different, so they must mean basically the same thing, right?) Raymond Arritt 00:03, 3 February 2008 (CST)
(Luckily, now anyone visiting our articles, latitude and altitude, will perhaps know the difference.) Benjamin Seghers 02:20, 3 February 2008 (CST)

Why no mention of the eminent scientists who have disputed the IPCC report?

Let me first say that I have an open mind on the subject of Global Warming and have not yet been convinced by the arguements pro or con the subject. However, I do wonder why this article makes no mention whatsoever of the scientists who dispute the findings of the IPCC:

  • For example, Frederick Seitz, past president, of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and President Emeritus of Rockefeller University who has helped to sponsor a petition signed by approximately 19,000 signers. Qualification to be a signatory to the petition requires that the individual have a university degree in physical science, either BS, MS, or PhD. The petition sponsors have publically stated that the costs of the petition project have been paid entirely by private donations. No industrial funding or money from sources within the coal, oil, natural gas or related industries has been utilized.
  • Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been quite outspoken in disputing the global warming theory.
  • "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" by Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, 2007; 12(3), 79 is avilable online here and presents extensive data that dispute the IPCC findings.

I believe that, in all fairness, this CZ article should include some discussion of the above scientists (and others) that dispute the IPCC findings. - Milton Beychok 14:22, 28 March 2008 (CDT)

Alas, this is such a hyper-politicized issue that I almost feel like there's nobody who could produce a truly dispassionate survey of the situation. There are papers on all sides; people saying the models are flawed (and reminiscent of Aristolean epicycles) because they don't take into account e.g. variations in cloud formation in the upper atmosphere caused by varying solar particle output (think cloud chambers), yadda-yadda-yadda. Like you, I'm not convinced by either side - which is in itself a 'side', I guess. Sigh, dumping all that CO2 in the atmosphere has to be having an effect - but the atmosphere (and associated systems which are influencing it, like the oceans, but also the physical layout of the planet) is such a complex system that I'm dubious we can sort out its natural variability (which was, prior to the arrival of large numbers of humans, very substantial) from human impacts. J. Noel Chiappa 15:16, 28 March 2008 (CDT)
Well, Milton Beychok, this article is pretty much a copy-and-paste of what Wikipedia has--minus any edits since it was copied here. This is one reason I have vouched for Citizendium to have its own, independent article written by members of this Web site. On Wikipedia, they do have a hyperlink within their global warming article that directs to an article on individual scientists who differ with the IPCC, including the people you mentioned above. Citizendium does not. That is fine though. This article is about global warming itself and not any particular individual. In that respect, I invite you to write a biographical and encyclopedic article for Citizendium on whoever you feel merits one. However, I do not think this article in particular should be overly-focused on a minority--a few individuals--but rather the the current scientific understanding of what is global warming. If you would like to contribute information in this regard from any of the particular people you listed, please feel free. But I must advise, or at least ask, that you use information from only appropriate and reliable sources, such as peer-reviewed journals that pertain to this subject (i.e. not a journal for physicians and surgeons). Benjamin Seghers 15:41, 28 March 2008 (CDT)
Benjamin, in my comment above, I did not say the CZ article should be overly-focused on the scientists that dispute the IPCC findings. What I did say was that the article should include some discussion of the scientists who dispute the IPCC finding.
Perhaps, I am being too sensitive, but you seem to have disparaged the "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons". Tell me, in all honesty, have you taken the time to read and study that article thoroughly before disparaging it? Also, those 19,000 signers of the petition sponsored by Frederick Seitz surely must constitute more than "a few individuals" as you described them. Regards, - Milton Beychok 16:23, 28 March 2008 (CDT)
Okay, let me rephrase. This article should not focus on the opinions of a minority, but rather the current scientific understanding of what is global warming. This article should not focus on any one particular individual. As you see, there is discussion on our current understanding of the interaction the Sun plays with our current warming, and that is all that is necessary, in my opinion.
Further, my goal was not to disparage the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. You may review its various publications and determine its merit on your own basis. I was, however, was trying to point out that the relevance of a journal for physicians and surgeons is far removed from this topic.
I am aware of Dr. N. Robinson and am familiar with Dr. A. Robinson and Dr. Soon. I am also familiar with the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, as well as their supposed collection of signatures. However, I must point out some obvious flaws in the petition. Ignoring obviously questionable names, Scientific America reckons about 1,400 Ph.D.s comprise the list. Likewise, Scientific America deduces about 200 of the legitimate doctorates support the petition. While fairly notable, the number is hardly significant in relation to the total number of climate researchers. Ultimately, however, this petition lacks any scientific backing, process, verification, or publishing, so I will remain suspect until that is remedied. Benjamin Seghers 17:42, 28 March 2008 (CDT)
Benjamin, is Scientic American making a distinction between "legitimate" and "illegimate" doctorates or is that your wording? You have the right to remain suspect of anything you wish. However, your suspicions aside, this CZ article should in all fairness include some discussion of the fact that some eminent scientists dispute the findings of the IPCC. That is my last word on this subject and I don't intend to continue debating with you. Good luck on your university majors in international business and economics. Regards, - Milton Beychok 00:51, 29 March 2008 (CDT)
Thank you. I would just like to point out that we do mention in the introduction that there are dissenting scientists. Benjamin Seghers 13:33, 29 March 2008 (CDT)
No, there isn't any mention of that. It states what the prevailing view is, and mentions that there is political and public debate about what actions should be taken. I personally believe what Milton is suggesting is right on target with CZ:Neutrality_Policy. Whether or not you are suspect of the criticism, does not change the fact that it is there and it bears mentioning. --Todd Coles 13:51, 29 March 2008 (CDT)
I am sorry. I must correct myself. As noted above, most of this article is copied from Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article does mention there are individual dissenters, which is what I was referring to. I was under the impression that was also copied here, but it was not. I apologize. Benjamin Seghers 14:37, 29 March 2008 (CDT)
The only one in your list who has published meaningful commentary is Lindzen. Seitz was a solid-state physicist who never published a single peer-reviewed article on global warming (or atmospheric science in general, to my knowledge). "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons" sounds impressive but in reality is the house organ of a political group that takes the view that HIV doesn't cause AIDS; the Food and Drug Administration is unconstitutional; etc etc. And even if it was a mainstream journal, ask yourself why a journal of "physicians and surgeons" publishes articles on the physics of climate. Raymond Arritt 04:48, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Decisionmaking and Dispute Resolution regarding Articles

Hello gentlemen. Thanks for working together on this article. Obviously, it can be a contentious article, but it doesn't need to be. I hope you find this to be of help to you in your continued effort to build a quality article in a professional manner. --D. Matt Innis 07:32, 29 March 2008 (CDT), acting as constable.

IPCC Projections

I was wondering if it was possible to post the variance (it might be too much to also include the level of confidence) in the IPCC report for future climate change? Statistics is a very touchy subject, and I feel it's misleading when an exact value is reported. Trevor J. Norris 21:47, 31 March 2008 (CDT)

In the IPCC, you will find the projections of 1.1 to 6.4 centigrade for the decade 2090-2099 relative to the two decades 1980-1999. The IPCC says this is the likely range, meaning the likelihood is >66% based on "expert judgment." Because the IPCC uses "likely" for this likelihood, so too does the article, though "between 1990 to 2100," is not necessarily correct. Benjamin Seghers 13:52, 1 April 2008 (CDT)
The 1990-2100 is where I was getting confused. When you say that the total average will be between 1.1 to 6.4 higher by the year 2090-2099, to me that makes a lot more sense. Maybe we could pose exactly what you wrote, "'...the projections of 1.1 to 6.4 centigrade for the decade 2090-2099 relative to the two decades 1980-1999." or something like that. I think it removes any type of ambiguity. Trevor J. Norris 15:15, 1 April 2008 (CDT)
Nevermind it. I went back and reread the article. It made sense now that you explained it. Trevor J. Norris 15:18, 1 April 2008 (CDT)
I've edited the article to reflect our source, the SPM. Benjamin Seghers 19:40, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Two points of concern about this article

As a CZ Editor, I have two points of concern about this article as it now stands:

  • It was ported here from Wikipedia over a year ago (May 2007) and it is still an "external article" which means that it has not had any significant editing for over a year.
  • It does not include even one sentence that many well-credentialed scientists are skeptical of the global warming theory.

I do not intend to make any revisions or to engage in debates with any devout believers of the global warming theory. I simply want to go on record that it completely ignores the fact that many well-credentialed scientists are skeptical of the global warming theory ... and that deeply bothers me. Milton Beychok 23:47, 9 August 2008 (CDT)

I took up Milton's challenge and added a piece about possible doubts. While writing this I found out that the climate discussion, which after all is about the future, has gotten very ugly aspects. Some journalists go as far as to compare science skeptics with holocaust deniers. Incredible. Let me just say: the holocaust was in the past and climate change is in the future. Was it not Mark Twain who said "predicting is difficult especially when it concerns the future"? In other words, while no sane person denies documented horrors of the past, the future is full of uncertainties. --Paul Wormer 04:28, 23 August 2008 (CDT)
Paul, you have done a superb job of summarizing the points made by the scientists who are skeptical of the IPCC report on so-called global warming. Thanks, Milton Beychok 10:40, 23 August 2008 (CDT)

I have been comparing the Wikipedi article with this one and this one pretty much reads as the imported article.

Neutrality is a problem. Look at these two statements

The prevailing scientific view, as represented by the science academies of the major industrialized nations[1] . . . (Citizendium)

While individual scientists have voiced disagreement with some findings of the IPCC,[8] the overwhelming majority of scientists working on climate change agree with the IPCC's main conclusions.[9][10] (Wikipedia)

Neither are neutral. At this point someone needs to ascertain just how much has been substantively changed. If there is an insufficient amount, we will need to seriously consider deletion and start all over.Thomas Simmons 01:15, 2 September 2008 (CDT)

Thomas, I don't believe that it is practically possible to achieve complete neutrality when discussing global warming. If you read all of the many articles in Wikipedia on global warming (both those "for" and those "against"), it becomes quite evident how very, very difficult it would be to come up with a neutral discussion that satisfies everyone. (There are 73 articles listed in Wikipedia's category devoted to global warming and about 20-30% of them discuss some aspect of the "for" and "against" controversy).
As far as I am concerned, with the additional material added by Paul Wormer, the article here in CZ at least now provides readers with both sides of the controversy ... and perhaps that is the best we can hope for. Milton Beychok 02:28, 2 September 2008 (CDT)

What happened?

This article used to be a fairly straightforward port of the Wikipedia article. It needed some cleanup and expansion here and there, but it was basically OK in terms of accurately reflecting scientific thought.

I've not looked at the article in a couple of months and was appalled to see the state it has fallen into. The last part of the article is little more than a personal essay that is wildly divergent from the scientific literature. Citizendium is supposed to be more reliable and academically based than Wikipedia -- not less! The long, long, long riff on Monckton's non-peer-reviewed commentary is almost surrealistic.

Good grief. Raymond Arritt 00:00, 9 September 2008 (CDT)

  • Raymond Arritt rightly removed a sentence of mine, in which I, inadvertently, identified the views of Senator Gore with those of the IPCC. Thank you, this improved the neutrality of the article.
  • Of course, I don't agree with Arritt's comment just above here. First, nothing has changed in the first part, if it was "basically OK", it still is. My purpose on writing the second part was two-fold,
  1. To signal that climate dissidents do exist, and that not all of them are members of the Flat Earth Society and/or Holocaust Deniers. (Maybe this signaling in itself is already so hurtful that it deserves the cri de coeur "Good grief"?)
  2. To go somewhat more deeply into the science of climate change models. In my opinion the first part of the article is very narrative, climate sensitivity is mentioned, but not explained. It is not even mentioned that radiation absorbance depends logarithmically on CO2 concentration.

I searched for some science-based criticism and soon found out that the US is very polarized on the issue, it has become much of a political left/right issue, so I was glad to find an article that was (1) written by somebody from outside the US and (2) was published by the APS (I'm an APS member since 1977 and have never, ever, noticed any political color in the organization). I hoped to exemplify by point/counterpoint (I would use "dialectic" if that hadn't too much of a Marxist ring) the sort of models and their associated parameters that the IPCC is using.

Further I tried to give encyclopedic explanation of: radiative forcing, climate sensitivity, dependence on carbon dioxide, the fact that the Earth is a radiator of "black body" (heat) radiation, and how one can account for this in climate models, and more. It is clear to me now that this encyclopedic character of the discussion needs more emphasis.

I'm definitely not a disciple of Monckton (a month ago I didn't know of his existence), I only used his article as a handle to unveil some of the science. I'm surprised that Arritt sees this as "surrealistic" , this is the last adjective I had expected. However, it is not a very constructive adjective, how can we improve the article now that we know that part of it is "surrealistic"?

Finally, my personal point of view cannot stay hidden from a discussion such as this: I agree with the IPCC that our generation is much too wasteful with fossil fuels, especially with oil and natural gas, and I'm agnostic about their predictions on climate change. --Paul Wormer 07:25, 9 September 2008 (CDT)

Let's look at just one bit: "Monckton begins with presenting data plots showing that the globally averaged land and sea surface absolute temperature (TS) has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001, in contrast to the prediction of further rapid warming by the IPCC. After having made this introductory point, he directs his criticism at the value of climate sensitivity found by the IPCC."
We know that 1998 was anomalously warm because of the strongest El Nino in the historical record. So if one chooses an extreme warm anomaly as the starting point then sure, the temperature is more likely to have fallen. Starting from 1997, or 1999, then you come to a different conclusion. What Monckton did is called "cherry picking" -- using data selectively to support a preconceived conclusion.
But the larger issue is that a decade is too short a period to evaluate climate change. Much less the few years since 2001! By comparison the WMO standard for climate normals is a rolling 30 year mean. There's a good reason for that: there are plenty of natural fluctuations in climate (mostly linked to ocean time scales) that occur on periods of a few years to a decade or two, such as the aforementioned El Nino. Anything shorter than a couple of decades is year-to-year noise instead of climate.
This is just one example, from near the beginning of the new material. The rest of the material is shot through with misconceptions like this. Sorry to be so critical -- the idea of explaining climate sensitivity is great, but it's not well executed here. Better to start over with a more concise explanation that is well grounded in established science. And please, please, please base your discussion on the peer-reviewed literature. Raymond Arritt 09:16, 9 September 2008 (CDT)
Raymond, your statement that:
This article used to be a fairly straightforward port of the Wikipedia article. It needed some cleanup and expansion here and there, but it was basically OK in terms of accurately reflecting scientific thought.
is not always a "plus" for the article. In fact, some of us might consider that a "minus". Do you believe that a straightforward port of a Wikipedia article is peer-reviewed literature? Milton Beychok 10:54, 9 September 2008 (CDT)
It's the "accurately reflecting scientific thought" bit that's important and that's where the new material falls down. Being different from Wikipedia just for the sake of being different from Wikipedia isn't a great idea if it means that our article is inaccurate and based on personal essays instead of the scientific literature. Raymond Arritt 11:08, 9 September 2008 (CDT)
Raymond, with all due respect, that bit about "accurately reflecting scientific thought" is simply your own personal belief. There are many well-credentialled scientists who do not agree with the IPCC. And what Paul Wormer did with his addition to this article was to simply point out there were those who did not agree with the IPCC. In essence, he improved the neutrality of the article by presenting some of the opposing viewpoints which the original Wikipedia article did not do. Is that not a good thing? Milton Beychok 12:28, 9 September 2008 (CDT)
It's obviously "my own personal belief," or I wouldn't have said it. But it's a view that just happens to be shared by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the European Geosciences Union, the American Physical Society, and lots of other folks. If "neutrality" means overemphasizing small-minority views using non-peer-reviewed opinion pieces that include blatant factual errors, I guess we have different definitions of "neutrality." Raymond Arritt 14:16, 9 September 2008 (CDT)
I had said much earlier (see above) that I had no intention of getting involved in debating this subject ... and it is quite clear that we don't see eye-to-eye as to what constitutes "overemphasizing" or what constitutes a "small-minority". So I guess we shall have to agree to disagree and let it go at that. Regards, Milton Beychok 15:01, 9 September 2008 (CDT)

I get the sense that this discussion isn't really moving toward anything like a mutually agreeable resolution. Can we discuss how to change the article so that everyone is happy, while it remains neutral according to the CZ Neutrality Policy? Raymond, precisely how do you think the article should be changed so that it is more neutral and generally more acceptable to you?

I would like to observe that insofar as the amount of space spent in an article on a view should reflect the extent of representation of that view among experts, the current article spends too much space on "Skepticism about global climate change and its anthropogenic origin," as the section is called. It's about half of the article! I'm afraid that in terms of proportion, that is too much. So I would personally ask either that the sections demonstrating global warming (i.e., the mainstream view) be expanded or that the sections about skepticism be reduced.

Then the question is, how should we do the reduction? Paul, Milton, I am afraid I don't see why there is so much space devoted to explaining the views contained in one article by Christopher Monckton in this article. Especially if the Monckton article is, as Raymond says, not peer reviewed, it is hard for me as Editor-in-Chief to justify so much space devoted to it. Surely we can easily find better sources? I'm sure Raymond knows of some, and he'd be doing us all a favor by pointing out the most credible sources from "the other side." Paul, if you are adamant against simply cutting much text about Monckton from CZ (I always hate to see wholesale deletion myself, although it is sometimes necessary), perhaps it could be moved to an article about global warming skepticism.

Just to be clear, I absolutely insist that the views of scientific climate skeptics be summarized in this article, as well; that is clearly required by our neutrality policy, and by the way if Wikipedia does not have any such summary in its global warming article, it is not following its own "NPOV." We should represent their views fairly and sympathetically, just as we fairly and sympathetically represent the views of mainstream climate scientists. From CZ:Neutrality Policy:

We should clarify the precise relationship between expert knowledge and the requirements of neutrality.
A few general remarks are in order. First, the Citizendium is committed to credibility, and to this end it solicits the leadership of bona fide experts. But, second, we are also committed to a broad-based neutrality, so we do not assume that the true view of a topic can be found among only experts; we do not endorse a "scholarly mainstream point of view," because we do not endorse any from among competing points of view. So, third, partly in order to broaden our perspective, we are and will remain open to contributions from the general public. Clearly, there is a tension between expert guidance, which might have us dismiss certain opinions held mainly by nonexperts as ignorant nonsense, and the requirements of neutrality, which would have us include that "ignorant nonsense."
We resolve the tension between expert knowledge and neutrality pragmatically. Expert knowledge and opinion receives top billing and the most extensive exposition. But, where it is or would be contradicted by some significant portion of the populace (not just a tiny percentage), the contrary popular view, as well as its grounds, should be noted as well. In this case, the attitudes of experts toward the popular views should be fully explored, because that is, after all, a very important part of the whole dialectic about the topic.

Bearing that in mind, let me say (as I said here - please read), it is best if we directly focus our discussion on how to edit the article. I've made one proposal about how the article should be edited; others are very welcome to make other proposals. --Larry Sanger 10:20, 10 September 2008 (CDT)

Larry, thank you for your comments. I would just like to say that creating a separate article named Global warming skepticism would not be a good move ... it would be an admission that the main article is not neutral and that discussion about skepticism of the global warming theories must be kept "separate and segregated". That is what Wikipedia has done. In fact, as I said above, the "Category:Global warming" in Wikipedia now has over 70 articles and about 20 to 30 percent of those articles discuss some aspect of the "for" and "against" controversy. That simply Balkanizes the issue. Milton Beychok 11:07, 10 September 2008 (CDT)
Well, let's think a little more about this. Is global warming skepticism a large aspect of the topic of global warming (and global climate change) that cannot be fully canvassed in the main article? Of course it is. Limiting ourselves to, say, 30% of the words in the current global warming article to say everything there is to say about global warming skepticism would seem to be a very strange and artificial constraint. I see no reason there cannot be several or many articles about various aspects of the controversy. What's wrong with that? I can see elaborating aspects of the anthropogenic global warming theory in separate articles; I can even see an article discussing the whole vexed issue of the extent to which there is a consensus.
The claim that a global warming skepticism article "simply Balkanizes the issue" (or the discussion of the issue) is not necessarily the case. Let me reiterate that I think the global warming article must also have information about global warming skepticism, albeit probably not as much as there is explaining the science behind anthropogenic global warming--again, since the latter is (at least) the majority scientific view. Therefore, whether a global warming skepticism page exists does not determine how much coverage there will be of that topic on the global warming page. --Larry Sanger 12:48, 10 September 2008 (CDT)
I agree that a separate global warming skepticism article may not necessarily Balkanize the issue ... but it is exactly what happened in Wikipedia. All of the 70 or so articles that contained any discussion of skepticism were separated and segregated to the extent that the main WP article had no significant discussion of skepticism. It was that main article (with very little, if any, significant discussion of skepticism) that was ported here to Citizendium. I would not like to see that Balkanizing happen here in CZ.
I am not a climatology expert of any extent at all. I am merely concerned that the viewpoints expressed by well-credentialled scientists were not acknowledeged and Paul's attempt to add such acknowledgement was referred to as small-minority views using non-peer-reviewed opinion pieces and What happened? Good grief. I fully agree that Paul's contribution could benefit from being shortened ... in fact, I suggested that to him some time ago when he asked me to review his contribution.
I join you in hoping that agreement can be reached on how best to include acknowledgement of the skeptic viewpoint. Milton Beychok 15:37, 10 September 2008 (CDT)
Hi Milton--well, we agree. I hope we can hear from Paul before we start hacking away at the part of the article he contributed. --Larry Sanger 23:31, 10 September 2008 (CDT)
Sad to say, but the additions have already caused moaning in the Blogosphere. --Larry Sanger 23:33, 10 September 2008 (CDT)
Larry, as you probably know, William M. Connolley (author of that blog comment) is a Wikipedia Administrator. He is also one of the major contributors of the Global warming article on Wikipedia which was ported to CZ as the current global warming article under consideration here. Surely, his obscenity-ridden comments come as no surprise to you. I would not let his opinions bother me for one moment. Milton Beychok 01:08, 11 September 2008 (CDT)
Larry, as for hearing from Paul, I am sure that will happen. Since he lives in the Netherlands, there will always be a time lag between his comments and ours. Although, I did suggest to Paul that his contribution could benefit from being shortened, I did not mean that to be interpreted as hacking away at his contribution. I believe he did a superb job of presenting the case for skepticism about global warming although I felt it could and should be shortened somewhat if at all possible. Milton Beychok 01:24, 11 September 2008 (CDT)
  • It would, indeed, be good if somebody else than myself goes through it and shortens it. I made two big mistakes (i) I underestimated grossly how taboo the subject is and (ii) I put some scientific info (originating from the IPCC) in the "Monckton" section. Since people count number of words -- rather than read, it looks now as if skepticism has much more weight than it actually has. It took space to explain: radiative forcing, climate sensitivity, dependence on carbon dioxide, the fact that the Earth is a radiator of "black body" (heat) radiation, and how one can account for this in climate models, etc., all these concepts are due to the IPCC and not to climate dissidents. It seemed to me useful to have those in CZ. Now I'm sorry that I even bothered, my present view is that it was "Paarlen voor de zwijnen" --Paul Wormer 05:54, 11 September 2008 (CDT)


Yesterday I saw a life talk show on Dutch TV with a paleontologist as guest. The scientist had found a missing link (in Auvergne, France) of a line of mammoths that started in Africa and went all the way to the ice-covered Siberian steppes. He showed 3D-models of three or four quite differently looking species and explained that they all died out millions of years ago because of climate changes. The host was hardly interested and asked him what the use was of this sort of esoteric, money costing, research. Then the paleontologist gave the typical answer of the climate skeptic, he said something like: "Al Gore makes a big song and dance out of something that, as we showed, has happened all the time in the past and will keep on happening in the future."

The reason I relate this story is because of the reaction of the talk show host; he was as shocked as when his guest would have started all of the sudden some antisemitic blabbering denying the Holocaust. He blushed, cut his guest short, hardly thanked him for coming, and moved as quickly as he could to his next guest. The host showed a form of "climate shame" that I didn't know existed. Could it be that the opposition against the second part of this article comes forth out of the same feeling of subconscious uneasiness with criticism against the IPCC and Senator Gore? --Paul Wormer 03:49, 10 September 2008 (CDT)

Interesting, Paul--I agree with you that when scientific theories become verboten in polite discourse, that's disturbing. I hope CZ will always stand for neutrality and intellectual tolerance.
That said and admitted, I hope you will admit in turn that your report doesn't really directly advance the discussion of how the article should read! --Larry Sanger 10:23, 10 September 2008 (CDT)
Yes, you're right I got carried away, sorry.--Paul Wormer 13:30, 10 September 2008 (CDT)

Skepticism section still not edited

Hi Paul, I'm sorry to take any dramatic step, but...several of us have made it clear that we feel the current skepticism section is simply far too long, and the section about the Monckton article is also too long. You never explained why we ought to spend so much time presenting the contents of one article. Do you think this article makes a scientific argument against anthropomorphic global warming stronger than any other peer-reviewed skeptic publication?

Personally, and I suspect unlike some other people here, I do appreciate the attempt to represent the (shall we say) minority view here. This is not because I am a skeptic, but because I really do take our neutrality policy--and intellectual tolerance--seriously. Can you please either (1) pare down the section, or (2) move it to another page (such as global warming skepticism), and write a new, much shorter section about skepticism here for this page?

Moreover, of course, I would like to make it clear that anybody can do this paring-down and re-inserting, not just Paul...

Sorry, but I just didn't know what else to do at this point. --Larry Sanger 14:58, 15 September 2008 (CDT)

Section to be pared down

Skepticism about global climate change and its anthropogenic origin

As pointed out above, future man-made change of climate is accepted as likely by the national science academies of the eleven largest countries;[1] they follow in this the conclusions of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). On the other hand, there is a vocal minority of skeptics who believe that the present climate change, if it exists at all, is not man-made and hence is unavoidable. Many of these skeptics deny the immediate danger and do not see the need for a large reduction in the use of fossil fuels and change of consumption patterns. The dispute will continue for some time in the future, because of the difficulty of the underlying science and the uncertainty in the climate data. The latter is fully recognized by the IPCC and is accounted for by them as much as possible.

There is a growing tendency to measure the credibility of IPCC's conclusions by the number of scientists that question IPCC's conclusions; consequently the alleged number of dissenting scientists has become a sensitive issue too. For instance, when an FPS (Forum on Physics & Society) Editor of the APS (American Physical Society) wrote the following comment: "There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution"[2], the FPS Executive Committee hastened to declare that this statement does not represent their views[3]. Clearly, the suggestion that there is a "considerable presence" of scientists disagreeing with the IPCC is already politically laden. Yet, the US Senate recently was able to quote more than 400 scientists—with areas of expertise in climate matters— who dispute man-made global warming[4].

Earlier in this article the point of view[5] of the IPCC was outlined and some scattered attention was paid to the arguments of IPCC's dissidents. Some of the arguments against the IPCC conclusions, carried forward by skeptical scientists, will now be reviewed.

Difficulties in climate change science

All participants in the dispute agree on one fact, namely that climate change science is a field full of difficult problems. Some skeptics state that many of its problems are too difficult to be solvable at all. Climate science itself is already a very hard area of study. In the first place it is an observational science (like astronomy), meaning that one cannot perform experiments to falsify or verify certain hypotheses.

In the second place its object of study, the Earth, is an extremely complex system, much more complex than natural scientists usually dare to tackle. Most of the physical sciences is based on a reductionistic approach, that is, systems of study are reduced to smaller ones that are easier to understand, but still possess their essential characteristics. In climate science, such an approach is impossible, the atmosphere, the oceans, and the landmasses are tightly coupled subsystems and consequently the energy and mass exchanges between the three major subsystems of the Earth must be included simultaneously. Further, it goes without saying that the radiation balance, i.e., insolation (solar irradiation), energy absorption and back radiation by the Earth, plays a crucial role and cannot be omitted, which means that even the Earth itself is not a closed system.

Third, there exists no encompassing theory, like Newton's equations in classical mechanics, that predicts the characteristics of the climate and of which the truth is accepted by all climatologists. Theories are ad-hoc and taken from many different—and not the simplest—areas of applied physics: turbulent and dissipative systems, convective and radiative transport phenomena, non-linear (chaotic) systems and their inherent sensitivity to initial conditions (discovered by by Edward Norton Lorenz), and so on. Further, there is a paucity of reliable data to gauge the existing models. Hence, by necessity even models that try to explain the present world climate are based on choices that are subjective and open to criticism. The problems are compounded for predictions of world-wide changes in climate. So, it is no surprise that many workers in the field do not have much faith in climate models' ability to predict the future.[6]

It is also no wonder that global warming, and its possible anthropogenic origin, has been disputed—although, again, to what extent it is disputed is itself a matter of dispute. Some scientists are skeptical about the interpretation of proxy data—indirect data giving information about past temperatures around the world (such as year rings of trees and isotopic composition of arctic and antarctic ice). Proxy data are used to construct historical mean temperature profiles, yielding, for instance, the widely discussed hockey stick shaped graph.[7] The same people questioning the reliability of the past temperature profiles usually have doubts about the uniqueness of the present global warming; they argue that the world has seen warm periods before, even without human intervention. They often refer to the discovery of Greenland by the Vikings around the year 1000, when Greenland was green, and the time before the dinosaurs became extinct.

Others question the validity of the computer models predicting the climate a few decades ahead, referring to the unreliability of computer models in general. One of their arguments is the inability of current computer models to predict the weather for more than 10 days in advance. Also the failure of computer models to forecast the formation of tropical cyclones is pointed to.

From reading the dissenting literature, one gathers the impression that the great majority of skeptical scientists admit a definite increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, due to the growing use of fossil fuels, but question that this increase in CO2 concentration will lead to a world-wide catastrophe. The dissidents reject the warnings by the former US vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore as unscientific and needlessly alarmist.

Open letter to Ban Ki-Moon from skeptical scientists

During the United Nations Climate Conference on the Indonesian island Bali in December 2007, more than a 100 skeptical scientists (climatologists, physicists, biologists, meteorologists, statisticians, and others) took the initiative to write an open letter to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.[8] In this letter they express their opinion that "the 2007 UN climate conference [is] taking the World in entirely the wrong direction".

They recognize that a climate change is going on but they state that it is a natural phenomenon that is impossible to stop and they express their doubts that "it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions."

People expressing fears of catastrophic climate change invariably refer to the IPCC Assessment Reports of 2001 and 2007. In the open letter to the UN Secretary-General the skeptical scientists cast doubt on the the procedures leading to these reports. They write that "the reports are prepared by a relatively small core writing team with the final drafts approved line-by-line by ­government ­representatives". Further they write: "the great ­majority of IPCC contributors and ­reviewers, and the tens of thousands of other scientists who are qualified to comment on these matters, are not involved in the preparation of these documents. The summaries therefore cannot properly be represented as a consensus view among experts".

Climate sensitivity

In a contribution to the APS Forum on Physics & Society of July 2008,[9] Christopher Monckton, a known critic of anthropogenic causes of global warming, takes issue with the 2007 IPCC report. Moncktons' contribution will now be given some attention, because it follows closely the arguments of the IPCC report and yet comes to different conclusions. A review of Monckton's criticism, which is mainly directed at climate sensitivity, gives us a chance to delve deeper into IPCC's scientific reasonings and to give a discussion that is more quantitative than presented earlier in this article. The main purpose of this section is to illustrate that, even when the very same physical effects are accounted for, different estimates of the same parameters lead to different conclusions. Of course, the IPCC is very much aware of this and discusses likelihoods of parameter values wherever possible, but still it is of interest to see how different parameter choices work out in practice. We present Monckton's and IPCC's values vis-à-vis, but we do not phrase opinions about which of the opposing parties is likely to be correct.

Monckton begins with presenting data plots showing that the globally averaged land and sea surface absolute temperature (TS) has not risen since 1998[10] and may have fallen since late 2001, in contrast to the prediction of further rapid warming by the IPCC.

After having made this introductory point, he directs his criticism at the value of climate sensitivity found by the IPCC. The concept of climate sensitivity arose when the IPCC members asked themselves the question how much the temperature on Earth would change by an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. To give a quantitative answer, it is necessary to define a reference concentration and a quantitative amount of increase of CO2. The IPCC accepted the following formal definition: Climate sensitivity is the equilibrium temperature change, , in the surface temperature, TS, caused by the doubling of the pre-industrial CO2 concentration. That is, as the reference increase in CO2 they take a doubling with respect to the concentration at the start of the Industrial Revolution (1750).

The IPCC gives an estimate of 3.26 °C for climate sensitivity, the Earth's temperature response to a possible CO2 concentration doubling since 1750. In contrast, Monckton gives detailed arguments that 0.58 °C is the more reliable value.

The concept of radiative forcing plays an important role in the discussion of climate sensitivity. Basically, this is the gross amount of solar radiation absorbed by CO2 in the atmosphere. As for the climate sensitivity, it is more expedient to give a relative value, ΔF, i.e., an increase or decrease in absorption, rather than the absolute value F of the absorption itself. The IPCC assumes a logarithmic dependence on concentration and relates the concentration C of CO2 in the atmosphere to radiative forcing, ΔF, by several formulas, the following being the simplest,

where C0 is the CO2 concentration before the Industrial Revolution. The factor 5.35 has dimension W/m2 (solar energy absorbed per second per square meter by carbondioxide) and plays a pivotal role in the discussion. Note that ΔFCO2 represents a gross absorption: back radiation of the Earth into space and feedback effects (evaporation of water, etc., see earlier in this article) are not yet included.

By means of equation (1) changes in CO2 concentration can be expressed in the unit of ΔFCO2 (W/m2). At this point Monckton remarks that at 1990 the total ΔFCO2 was ~27 W/m2 and that from 1995-2005, the CO2 concentration rose from 360 to 378 W/m2, with a consequent increase in radiative forcing of 0.26 W/m2, which is less than 1% of the 1990 value of ~27 W/m2. The 2007 IPCC report states: "The CO2 radiative forcing increased by 20% in the last 10 years (1995-2005)". Monckton, noticing that the true value is one-twentieth of the value given by the IPCC, states:

The absence of any definition of radiative forcing in the 2007 IPCC Summary, led many to believe that the effect of CO2 on TS had increased by 20% in 10 years. The IPCC – despite requests for correction – retained this confusing statement in its report.

By equation (1) a doubling of CO2 concentration gives a radiative forcing of = 5.35 ln2 = 3.71 W/m2. When this value is corrected for aerosols etc., it becomes slightly smaller = 3.405 W/m2 [see Table 1 in Monckton (2008)].

In his explanation of the origin of the factor 5.35 in equation (1), Monckton shows plots of different models considered by the IPCC for relative warming rates of the atmosphere as a function of altitude and latitude. All these plots show a strong dependence of warming rate on altitude and in particular they exhibit a tropical mid-troposphere "hot-spot". Monckton argues that observations from satellites and by radiosondes do not show this hot-spot: they show that not only absolute temperatures but also warming rates decline with altitude. Therefore he concludes: "Since the great majority of the incoming solar radiation incident upon the Earth strikes the tropics, any reduction in tropical radiative forcing has a disproportionate effect on mean global forcings. On the basis of Lindzen (2007),[11] the anthropogenic radiative forcing as established is divided by 3 to take account of the observed failure of the tropical mid-troposphere to warm as projected by the models". Accepting the corrected value of 3.405 he arrives at a readjusted value of radiative forcing: = 1.135 W/m2. Hence, the allegedly observed absence of hot-spots in the troposphere gives a diminishing of IPCC's climate sensitivity (predicted temperature change) by a factor 3.

Obviously a certain amount of radiation is transmitted back: the Earth is a source of blackbody radiation. Deviating in a non-essential way from the IPCC report, Monckton introduces a parameter κ that gives the fraction of the absorbed solar radiation that is re-emitted by the Earth in the form of blackbody (infra-red) radiation. The parameter κ is referred to as climate sensitivity parameter and is introduced as a multiplying factor. If, e.g., κ = 0.3, it means that effectively 70% of the insolation is radiated back into space. Some basic laws of physics state that the energy content of black-body radiation depends on absolute temperature, meaning that κ is a function of absolute temperature [see equation (21) of Monckton].

To give an estimate of the value of κ one may note that at the Earth’s surface, TS ≈ 288 K (kelvin) ≈ 15 °C, implying the surface value κS = 0.185 K·m2/W. At the characteristic altitude at which incoming and outgoing radiative fluxes balance, the temperature TC ≈ 254 K ≈ −19 °C, giving κC = 0.269 K·m2/W. Monckton then writes: "The IPCC’s value for κ is dependent upon temperature at the surface and radiant-energy flux at the tropopause, so that its implicit value κ ≈ 0.313 K·m2/W is considerably higher than either κS or κC". Then some papers quoted by the IPCC are mentioned by Monckton and he continues: "None of these papers provides any theoretical or empirical justification for a value as high as the κ ≈ 0.313 K·m2/W chosen by the IPCC".

Monckton then proceeds to give an alternative estimate of κ, but since he needs the feedback factor f for this, we digress and consider feedback first.

The effect of solar absorption is strengthened by feedback mechanisms, such as water evaporation, etc., see earlier in this article. To account for these effects the radiative forcing is multiplied by a dimensionless feedback factor f > 1. Typical values of f are 2.095 or 3.077 (roughly doubling or tripling the effect of the solar absorption, as estimated by Monckton and the IPCC, respectively).

The following equation for f is presented in the IPCC report:

where b is the sum of all climate-relevant temperature feedbacks. Equation (2) is taken from linear feedbacks for electronic circuits.[12] Obviously, the value of f is as important as the values of and κ. Monckton observes that equation (2) is of "questionable utility because it was not designed to model feedbacks in non-linear objects such as the climate".

Equation (2) gives a singularity (infinite value) for f and a corresponding blow up for the climate sensitivity , when b = 1/κ = 1/0.313 = 3.19 W/(m2·K). (Note that 0.313 is IPCC's implicit value for κ.) The IPCC estimates an upper limit bmax = 3.38 W/(m2·K), which is close to the singularity. Monckton argues that it is very unlikely that b will exceed the value 3.19 W/(m2·K), because of its runaway temperature effect that even not has occurred in the Cambrian atmosphere. During that period the CO2 concentration approached 20 times today’s, with an inferred mean global surface temperature no more than 7 °C higher than today’s. He adds that "a runaway greenhouse effect would occur even in today’s climate when b ≥ 3.2 W/(m2·K), but has not occurred" and: "The IPCC’s high-end estimates of the magnitude of individual temperature feedbacks are very likely to be excessive, implying that its central estimates are also likely to be excessive". After a few more critical comments Monckton concludes that it is "prudent and conservative" to restore f to the 50 % lower value f ≈ 2.08 that is implicit in the 2001 IPCC report. He adjusts its value a little to maintain consistency with his earlier equations and proposes the value f = 2.095.

After this digression to the feedback, we return to the climate sensitivity parameter. The value of κ cannot be directly observed. In order to obtain an empirical estimate, Monckton rewrites κ as

by means of equation (2). Now, κ can be computed by equation (3), provided the three parameters, appearing in its right hand side, over a given period are known. Monckton compares the years 1980 and 2005 giving a spread of a quarter of a century. After discussing his choices for these parameters, Monckton arrives at κ = 0.242 K·m2/W. This value is bracketed by the values deduced from atmospheric temperatures: κS = 0.185 and κC = 0.269 K·m2/W, which adds to its credibility.

Conclusion about climate sensitivity

Following Monckton and slightly deviating from the IPCC, we wrote implicitly the climate sensitivity as a product

The climate sensitivity, from the 2007 IPCC parameters that were discussed above, is:


The IPCC (2007) reports[13] a likely range of of 2.0 to 4.5 ºC, with a best estimate of about 3 °C, demonstrating that Monckton has faithfully replicated IPCC’s method with IPCC's parameters. The IPCC report adds that a value of less than 1.5 ºC is very unlikely (probability less than 10%).

Using his own revised values, Monckton gives the following final estimate for the climate sensitivity

which is in the range considered to be very unlikely by the IPCC. Monckton concludes:

If this equation is correct, the IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no "climate crisis" at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.

Since Monckton includes faithfully the very same physical effects as the IPCC, but differs in well-argued choices of parameters, this discussion of climate sensitivity illustrates that serious workers can have different interpretations of the same observations on climate.

Discussion continued

As per Larry Sanger's posting just above, I have re-written the section on skepticism contributed by Paul Wormer and reduced it in length by about 60 percent.

My re-write can be read at User:Milton_Beychok/Scratchpad. Please leave any comments on the re-write on the Talk page of the re-write at User_talk:Milton_Beychok/Scratchpad.

I will wait for comments for a few days. Then I will make any needed changes and upload it into this Global warming article.

Milton Beychok 11:20, 29 September 2008 (CDT)

Having received comments only from Larry Sanger and from Paul Wormer (neither of whom felt any further re-writing was needed), I have added the re-written section on skepticism to the article. The length of the section has been reduced by about 60 percent. Milton Beychok 01:06, 1 October 2008 (CDT)
  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named academies
  2. Editor's Comment, Forum on Physics & Society of the American Physical Society, July 2008
  3. Forum on Physics & Society of the American Physical Society, July 2008
  4. U. S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named grida7
  6. Interviews among 558 scientists working in the field of climate change—mainly climatologist and meteorologists—by Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch[1]
  7. A famous plot of mean temperature over the last 1 000 years. The plot is flat on average from the years 1000 to 1900. The flat part forms the hockey stick's "shaft." After 1900, and especiallly after 1980, temperatures appear to shoot up, forming the hockey stick's "blade." M. E. Mann et al. Nature, vol. 392, pp. 779-787 (1998)
  8. Letter to Ban Ki-Moon
  9. Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, Forum on Physics & Society of the American Physical Society, July 2008
  10. Opponents of Monckton point out that 1998 is not a good reference year because it was unusually warm with the strongest El Nino on record.
  11. R.S. Lindzen, Taking greenhouse warming seriously. Energy & Environment vol. 18 pp. 937-950 (2007)
  12. Hendrick W. Bode (1945). Network analysis and feedback amplifier design, 1st Edition. D. Van Nostrand Inc.. OCLC No. 1692825. 
  13. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report (p. 38; pdf-page 16)