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1 Charles Johnson  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 11:59:16am

Please note: before lending any credence at all to his opinions on the science of climate change, be aware that Dr. Roy Spencer is a creationist.

2 studentpatriot  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 12:48:00pm
be aware that Dr. Roy Spencer is a creationist.

It is a good thing that science articles don't have to undergo religious purity tests before being accepted - otherwise they would be articles of faith!

Dr. Spencer publishes regularly in Journal of Geophysical Letters, look it up, it is one of the top journals publishing on climate change. This journal matters, and what it publishes matters.

Ad hominems aside, this is what real science smells like - not partisan, just facts.

Thank you Charles for allowing opposing viewpoints.

3 Henchman 26  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 12:51:51pm

re: #2 studentpatriot

It is a good thing that science articles don't have to undergo religious purity tests before being accepted - otherwise they would be articles of faith!

Dr. Spencer publishes regularly in Journal of Geophysical Letters, look it up, it is one of the top journals publishing on climate change. This journal matters, and what it publishes matters.

Ad hominems aside, this is what real science smells like - not partisan, just facts.

Thank you Charles for allowing opposing viewpoints.

And Dr. Spencer is routinely shown to be wrong.

4 studentpatriot  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 12:57:36pm

re: #3 b_sharp

Dr. Spencer must have gotten something right to publish an anti-AGW article in a respected journal such as AGR. Maybe the climate models don't have the feedback mechanisms right, meaning extra C02 won't cause catastrophic global warming, just a slow simmer.

5 Henchman 26  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 1:21:27pm

Publishing in a journal is just the first step in peer review not the last. Publishing just gets the paper out into the open where other scientists in the same area can read and test it.

The review process at the journal is to make sure it isn't obviously a crock and that it adds something to the discussion.

6 lostlakehiker  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 6:53:17pm

This paper looks to me like it might be serious, earnestly meant scientific work. Creationists are not automatically wrong about the time of day.

There may well be difficulties to extracting the earth's overall climate sensitivity to increases in CO2 level, as an exercise in statistics. The whole scientific enterprise depends on people putting theories and conclusions through the wringer.

So long as our friend refrains from scientific fraud, and only raises objections that to his mind seem well founded, and so long as the referees think he has a point, I say, Lay On, MacDuff.

If we are right that AGW is real and urgent, then when the dust settles, we'll have a good enough answer. Consider, for comparison, the matter of whales with legs. Darwin caught some flak for maintaining that whales must have evolved from land animals, and his justification, from the example of bears, was not exactly on target.

Later authors had to concede that while the DNA and the internal bone structure of whales supported the evolution hypothesis, they'd sure like to have fossils of (proto)whales with legs, with reduced but functional, and then with vestigial, legs. Opponents of evolution, e.g. in Pandas and People, made hay by observing that such fossils had not been found.

This is the sort of attack that we who find evolution a compelling scientific conclusion must answer with more than derision. The absence of such intermediate fossils does not destroy our case, but we'd be in that much stronger a position if we had them.

Now we do.

This thrust and parry is part of science. Oh, and evolution wins, and AGW will win. It wins, though, by being right and by vigorous logic-and-evidence based answers to challenges that have enough logic and evidence to them that they are more than empty nonsense.

7 lostlakehiker  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 7:09:27pm

Oh, as to whether we won't have catastrophic consequences, this whole business of measuring the sensitivity misses a big point. There are thresholds. As the amount of open water in the Arctic at high summer expands, we can get into a positive feedback loop. Warmer summers mean thinner ice next winter, which then melts sooner next spring, leading to more heating as sunlight strikes open water (dark) rather than ice (reflective). Past some point, no further radiative forcing due to increased CO2 is needed; the system will proceed on its own to a new equilibrium with a lot of open water in the summer.

Once that happens, the Greenland ice cap loses the protection it had up til now, that air coming down from the pole came down across ice, winter or summer, and was thus always cold. Washed by less-cold waters and bathed in less-cold air, the icecap becomes vulnerable.

Again, there may well be a threshold. Past some point, the Greenland ice cap fails even if CO2 levels go no higher. And that makes the world that much less shiny, once again. And thus, that much warmer.

Where this all ends is far from clear. What is clear is that there is the potential for step increases in equilibrium temperatures from small increases in CO2. If one of those steps takes us across the final threshold, in which sulfur-metabolizing bacteria win access to the sunlit layers of the ocean, we're in very big trouble.

Hydrogen sulfide emissions from the seas

Kump, Pavlov and Arthur (2005) have proposed that during the Permian-Triassic extinction event the warming also upset the oceanic balance between photosynthesising plankton and deep-water sulfate-reducing bacteria, causing massive emissions of hydrogen sulfide which poisoned life on both land and sea and severely weakened the ozone layer, exposing much of the life that still remained to fatal levels of UV radiation.[47][48][49]

From the Wikipedia article on extinction events

8 freetoken  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 7:23:58pm

re: #2 studentpatriot

Dr. Spencer publishes regularly in Journal of Geophysical Letters, look it up, it is one of the top journals publishing on climate change. This journal matters, and what it publishes matters.

And therefor he should stop whining about being persecuted by scientists, as I pointed out here:
[Link: littlegreenfootballs.com...]

One of the problems with Spencer is his two-faced-ness. He is forced by the professional expectations of scientists to maintain objectivity in his published papers, but when he goes outside of that he says what he wants (in order to represent his religious worldview, and the link I gave above points out.)

On the paper in question, I doubt you really understand it. Do you realize that assumed in that paper is the truth that AGW is real, that CO2 is the leading agent of human caused change, and that indeed there are feedback mechanisms? Yet all sorts of AGW science deniers seem to think otherwise.

What Spencer is doing in that paper, which he has tried to do before, is to raise doubts about the extent of short term and long term changes do to radiative processes.

The idea, from a meta-science view, is to try and counter the accepted amount of warming that comes from an x increase in CO2 (usually a doubling.)

Thus Spencer is trying to build a case that, while AGW is real, the problem isn't anywhere near as bad as usually portrayed in the science.

Downdinged for your silly assumptions.

9 freetoken  Fri, Aug 27, 2010 7:27:23pm

My Page specific link should be this:
[Link: littlegreenfootballs.com...]

10 studentpatriot  Sun, Aug 29, 2010 4:12:52pm

re: #8 freetoken

Roy W. Spencer publishes in JGR again! Science Friday on lgf...

[Link: [Link: www.drroyspencer.com...]...]

It is clear that the accurate diagnosis of short‐term
feedbacks (let alone long‐term climate sensitivity) from
observations of natural fluctuations in the climate system is
far from a solved problem. As we have seen, the presence
of nonfeedback, internally generated radiative forcing confounds
the identification of radiative feedback. Nevertheless,
it is hoped that the insights provided here, all explained within
the forcing‐feedback paradigm of climate variability, will
lead to new and more accurate methods of feedback and
climate sensitivity diagnosis from satellite observations, as
well as better metrics for the testing the climate sensitivity of
coupled climate models.

You know you want to understand what he thinks, even if it is to prove him WRONG!

11 studentpatriot  Mon, Aug 30, 2010 5:17:36am

re: #7 lostlakehiker

Thank you for taking this paper seriously and posting scientific questions with evidence to back your claims. Other comments were not as rigorous.

There are thresholds

There may well be thresholds, but where they are is unknown. There may be literature on ice core samples, etc but I am not familiar with them.

Past some point, no further radiative forcing due to increased CO2 is needed; the system will proceed on its own to a new equilibrium with a lot of open water in the summer.

A lot of qualifiers there, may be true, and probably papers to address these issues, but again unknown.

I am not disputing AGW, just the catastrophic predictions that stem from the IPCC reports of temperature increases of several degrees Celsius. Hasn't happened yet and may never happen, especially if forcing due to C02 concentrations isn't that strong.

12 Charles Johnson  Mon, Aug 30, 2010 10:56:48am

re: #6 lostlakehiker

Spencer has a perfect right to spread his denialist hooey. And I will continue to point out that as a creationist, his opinions on scientific matters should be considered extremely suspect.

And I disagree that belief in creationism can be compartmentalized away from other scientific work. If you're a kook about creationism, your other purportedly scientific opinions are less than credible too, because you've demonstrated that you'll let religious ideology influence your scientific work.

13 studentpatriot  Mon, Aug 30, 2010 1:11:45pm

re: #12 Charles

What is the definition of religious persecution? What if Spencer was Buddhist?

Do you know that the head of the National Institutes of Health (Francis Collins) is an evangelical Christian that has written two books on his faith and his science? Collins argues that faith enhances his scientific work, and he is not alone.

Thanks for allowing opposing viewpoints, but religion has nothing to do with this post - there is no religious purity test for science.

14 freetoken  Mon, Aug 30, 2010 2:17:35pm

re: #13 studentpatriot

What is the definition of religious persecution? What if Spencer was Buddhist?

Do you know that the head of the National Institutes of Health (Francis Collins) is an evangelical Christian that has written two books on his faith and his science? Collins argues that faith enhances his scientific work, and he is not alone.


There is a very big difference between Collin's faith and Spencer's creationism! Collin's faith is a moral motivator for him, not an element of science. OTOH, Spencer's creationism is just an obfuscation, a way of avoiding scientific truths.

re: #11 studentpatriot


I am not disputing AGW, just the catastrophic predictions that stem from the IPCC reports of temperature increases of several degrees Celsius. Hasn't happened yet and may never happen, especially if forcing due to C02 concentrations isn't that strong.

First thing, your attempt to assign the origin and scientific work on AGW to the IPCC is an attempt to pigeon-hole the science within an organization (the UN) which many of your friends then will attack by various means.

Guess what - IPCC reports what scientists discover when the IPCC discusses science, and the IPCC does this reporting quite explicitly for the purpose of compiling as much work into a readable report for policy makers.

And what have been those discoveries that scientists have made over the past century? On the topic of CO2 and what changes in CO2 mean for global temperature there have been various methods used to determine sensitivity. That a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere results in a near term (within a few decades) change of around 2.7K has been derived at by using paleoclimate, atmospheric physics, and simulations. All three point in the same general vicinity.

And yes, changes of a few degrees celsius will be quite catastrophic for many species, including humans.

For you to think that Spencer's claim:

It is clear that the accurate diagnosis of short‐term
feedbacks (let alone long‐term climate sensitivity) from
observations of natural fluctuations in the climate system is
far from a solved problem.

is something damningly important is telling. Spencer's approach here is very, very similar to the creationists' attack on evolution. For example, a creationist might say "It is clear that the origin of cells (let alone of self-replicating DNA) from observations of the fossil record is far from a solved problem" in a presentation to convince their audience that evolution is wrong.

IOW, the claim boils down to this - because you don't have answers for everything then I must be right in rejecting everything you claim. This is what you (led on by Spencer) do, just as the creationists do to the science of evolution.

As I wrote before, Spencer has been at this for some time. When he got egg on his face before (when trumpeting satellite data as rejecting AGW claims ) one would have thought that would have made him question the worth of his whole mission. Yet it didn't - because he is indeed on a mission, for the science is painting a picture that his religious eschatology can't accept.

15 studentpatriot  Mon, Aug 30, 2010 2:48:33pm

re: #14 freetoken

That a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere results in a near term (within a few decades) change of around 2.7K has been derived at by using paleoclimate, atmospheric physics, and simulations. All three point in the same general vicinity.

I think that Spencer's paper challenges this point precisely - that a certain amount of C02 causes a fixed amount of warming - is unknown at this point.

While IPCC is aggregating model simulations that point to a 6 degree change in temperature, Spencer's work points to something along the lines of 0.6 degrees.

There is a very big difference between Collin's faith and Spencer's creationism! Collin's faith is a moral motivator for him, not an element of science. OTOH, Spencer's creationism is just an obfuscation, a way of avoiding scientific truths.

What if Collins made some choice remarks about "directed" evolution of proteins? Would that invalidate his scientific work?

I don't think refuting a paper published in JGR with ad hominem religious attacks is a strong argument. Scientifically, I would not want to have to attack someone's character to prove my point.


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