back to article Big Climate's strange 'science'

I had to chuckle to myself reading a letter here at The Register, recently. "David Whitehouse - although a respected scientist - is still only one voice and his speciality is astrophysics not climate," wrote a reader. This is one of my greatest concerns about so called climate science. Climate science is a very, very new field …


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  1. Chris Morrison
    Black Helicopters

    Here Here

    That's the best climate change report I have ever read. This global hysteria has to stop. The science is the ropiest stuff I have ever hear.

    As for the economy - carbon trading is the biggest joke ever.

    Denying climate change makes you more of a vilain now than evolution.

    This world is crazy!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank God.

    John Atkinson - although a respected IT professional - is still only one voice and his speciality is IT not climate.

  3. zedee
    Paris Hilton

    Gotta have optimism

    Wishing problems away a bit, assuming we'll always be able to 'fix' things that don't suit us, but I agree with your points about vested interests amongst the greens.

    The question I've never had answered is - what is the total non-anthropogenic carbon dioxide output for all systems on the planet, and what is the total anthropogenic output?

    Miniscule, I suspect.

    PH because it's far far too much to think about for her pretty little head

  4. Paul Smith

    Assume they are wrong.

    Lets assume for a minute that all the theories linking man's activites to climate change are wrong, and therefore their advice to reduce the CO2 we put into the atmosphere is also wrong. So what? Where is the harm? Mankind is encouraged to use less fossil fuel, and to use it more efficiently. And also to 'think' about energy use in all activities. This is all good. In fact, the only people who would appear to suffer are the shareholders of industries that would have to spend money in the short-term cleaning up their act, which of course reduces their profit.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Climate science is not new

    "Climate science is a very, very new field. So new, in fact, that it has had little chance for its assertions to be tested."

    Nah, it's field in meteorology, and it's an old science. The temperature is going up in correlation to our atmospheric CO2, (which is a pisser since our atmospheric CO2 continues to rise). The greenhouse mechanism is well understood and explained, and you have not suggested it is in anyway wrong.

    "For the Earth to have survived as long as it has with a stable climate, through major events like ice-ages or volcanic eruptions, there is little doubt that a degree of negative climate feedback is essential."

    Nah, it can flip to extremes, nothing says it has to tend towards a balance that happens to suit us. Surely an ice age *is* an extreme. Why do you assume it tends to balance, when history suggests it flips from extreme to extreme causing mass extinctions along the way.

    "Of course, astrophysicists and astronomers will happily tell us about global warming on other planets in the solar system, a period of extensive solar activity and the like. But they get poo-pooed just like all the other "real scientists" who have a view."

    Yet they do not find a correlation between that activity and the warming, and you do not suggest that there is.

    "At the moment, I don't see that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is strong enough to wreck our economies to try to change it."

    False dichotomy, we're planning on building nuclear power stations, renewable technologies, etc. Who said we were shutting up shop and going to live on a Kibbutz? We're not going to wreck our economies, we're going to switch away from expensive depleting, co2 producing, fossil fuels to something different. UK is now a net importer of oil so it makes sense economically too.

  6. Paul Fleetwood
    Paris Hilton

    Phew, that's set my mind at rest.

    It's OK everyone, we can continue to pollute the air and the seas as much as we like, it won't have any effect on the climate at all.

    I know because a man on the internet with impeccable scientific credentials told me

  7. Ferry Boat

    Add your own comment

    Not sure that the dinosaurs are a notable exception. There have been at least 5 major extinction events in the last 500 million years or so. Agreed, life does carry on, often with previous bit-players getting to take centre stage. We do need more data to be able to make predictions. However, that does not stop the media making predictions almost every day. Earlier this week, the BBC had 'climate change to save lives', the Guardian has 'climate change to kill lots more'. That speaks volumes about both the media and what we know about climate change.

    Shouldn't we all be worrying about replacing fossil fuels anyway? After all they'll run out soon enough.

  8. 1fortheroad
    Thumb Up

    Natural fix and Technichal correction possible

    I agree that Global Warming is less scary than lots of other things.

    The production of dust, and CO2, will probably decline with the increase in the price of oil. And there is a quick-fix possible - using a space-based "something" to reduce the sunlight reaching earth by a smidgen... I just home that its not Bush in control of which country does or doesn't get the light!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I don't trust this article

    This article is heavy on assertion and remarkably light on evidence.

    People who write mathematical models of complex systems for a living tend to find the climate models very unconvincing - name them.

    Geologists find the arguments very unconvincing - name them.

    Engineers find the arguments unconvincing - name them.

    And astrophysicists find the arguments unconvincing - name them.

    and while we're naming them blokes you met down the pub don't count. I'd like to see people publishing peer reviewed criticism and putting their reputations on the line; which is what is supposed to happen every time a scientist puts forward a theory.

    After all, when a climate model is put up for peer review the reviews include mathematicians, physicists, geologists, engineers and astrophysicists as applicable. If you want to advance a conspiracy that peer review forces out science that people find uncomfortable then that should be easy enough to prove and evidence of it should be plentiful.

    Incidentally David Whitehouse is not as far as I can see an Astrophysicist. He has a doctorate in Astrophysics, but has been a practicing full time journalist for 20 years. I'd say that makes him - a journalist.

    The real question seems to be not would you trust a software engineer to build a bridge, but would you trust an IT professional to review science?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I wuz a climate modeller

    I can only say that I agree with the overall concept of limited data, limited prediction.

    My experience has been writing a number of computer models of climate. In my experience at least we used relatively small data sets and the metric for the model quality was how well it matched observations.

    The problem of course was that most observations were 'now' and relatively recent earlier observations. If my model didn't match now (and my source data set) it was rejected. My models worked well for now (and then), but as every day passed, not so good for future.

    The applies to present day global climate models. If a model matches what happens right now it is good. If not it is obviously deficient. The problem is that many models are developed and all are tweaked to produce results that match 'now'. The effect is that we have a very large set of models that appear good but only today (or in past time if they are working hard). We have no metric as to how well they work in the future.

    As an analogy, I could produce a model of financial market and economic behavior (in fact I have done just that for a range of governments - it seems computer modeling of climates is a good way to get into financial/economic modeling. Or at least it pays more.) The effect is the same. I can hindcast just about any financial or economic data. What I can't do is forecast what will happen in any reasonable time scale. This is not through want of data. It is through total lack of ability to determine what are the true underlying factors in a seemingly random progression.

    In both cases, financial and climate, there are a lot of first principles models. In all cases these are

    1. Wrong on any future time scale.

    2. Continuously revised to match ground truth.

    3. Effectively useless.


  11. Anonymous Coward

    Why is the reg letting people who have not had their opinions peer reviewed spout ****

    Really, what are this guy's credentials? Where are his numbers, his maths, his falsifiable testable hypothesis? His published papers? Who does he work for? Who funded his research? Or is he just another opinionated Muppet spouting about things of which he know little?

  12. breakfast Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    Nice to see someone whose specialism is climate science covering the topic.

    I was anxious about the effects of our actions on the climate, but hearing from an IT Professional that there is no imaginable way there could be any possible problem and that things will work out because they usually do has set my mind at ease.

    If you want articles on climate science how about getting some climate scientists to write them? And if you can't find any climate scientists who want to support your growing denial-industry agenda ( I liked the Reg better when it took a sceptical but balanced approach ) how about not posting any articles on the matter?

  13. Chris
    Thumb Up

    Nice article

    Global warming is inevitable, whether or not we are speeding it up, it will happen, maybe just sooner than later.

    Every one always talks about there having been multiple ice ages, but at the same time seem to forget that it is global warming that brings the planet out of its ice age!!!! WE ARE COMING OUT OF AN ICE AGE.

    Great to see a bit of sense written about this topic for a change.

  14. Mark

    New science?

    Arrhenius first postulated Greenhouse Gasses affecting temperature.

    That's 19th century.

    And Chris, the reason is that denying evolution isn't really believed (else why would people worry about Bird Flu? We're not birds!) and in any case rarely affects other people.

    If AGW is correct, is still possible to stop or reverse and people don't do it because of numbnuts going "ecofacist!!!" then that DOES affect people.

    Also, most of the explicable reasons for denying AGW are basically selfish: some don't want to have to risk being "poorer". Especially if it's

    a) not them

    b) not their family

    c) someone else's family

    d) in the future

    Which isn't really thinking like a human. It's more thinking like an animal. Our range of perception into possible futures and our strong abilities to empathise and place ourselves in the position of another is why this skinny, weak and unarmed ape has managed to become the dominant species on the planet.

    And throw that away because you like your air fare to Mallorca to be cheap???

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A new science"??

    "Climate science is a very, very new field."

    That'd be news to Arrhenius (, who first predicted that fossil fuel-induced CO2 would cause a warming of the climate in 1896.

    As the author has made such an enormous blunder in the first couple of lines, I decline to waste my time reading more of this nonsense. Please, please, dear Register, stick to subjects you know something about rather than making fools of yourselves peddling this third-rate tripe.

  16. Alastair McKinstry

    This is from a physicist ? bull.

    "Somehow we survive".

    Nope. we've been around 10,000 -- 1 million years or so. _Life_ survives.

    In some of the climate catastrophies you've mentioned 3/4 of all species were

    wiped out.

    Models have their weaknesses - they always have, and they are well known. But Global warming does not depend on the models, but observations.

    We know how greenhouse gases work, you can do it in the lab. We know they're rising, and we see the temperature rising.

    We've millions of years of climate data, of differing quality, in lots of proxies: isotopic analysis, gas histories in ice, etc.

  17. PhilF


    The geologists are right -there are negative feedback elements to the climate cycle. In a few million years carbon released now will be trapped and stored again. The oceans may be highly acidic and the surface temperature may have raised/lowered markedly, but so what? Life will go on as it has for millions of years.

    This is only an issue if you have an interest in the future of the human race and more specifically the maintenance and improvement of the western way of life.

  18. Mark

    "Finally, why can't we trust human ingenuity?"

    Human ingenuity will only be placed where it is thought to be needed.

    If AGW is denied generally, there will be no ingenuity placed in combating it.

    And the IPCC reports depend on human ingenuity. The major assumption is that we can do something to reverse it. It may be too late and all we can do is slow the rate at which we will be kicked back by resource limitations into the stone age, but we assume that if we start now, we will be able to avoid that.

    Or was that just a euphemism for "let's not do anything about it because we're always going to be able to be smart enough to change it"?

  19. Francis Fish

    The problem

    If John and others are right, the climate change folks look like tools, if they are wrong we might be in deep trouble.

    That's the problem.

    That said, I agree that we can overcome difficulties with technology and ingenuity, and the Green fascist types (who want at least 60% of the human race dead and the rest living on cardboard) tend to see the world as static and unchanging don't get this. But then the whole racist Malthusian project always becomes fashionable when the economy's in trouble. It's quite likely that global warming will become another one of their arguments for sterilising people who happen to have a skin colour they don't like.

    I was sent a "reasons to go veggie" leaflet by someone who seemed to think that forcing subsistence farmers to grow and eat what vegetarians think is a good idea is ok. Another complacent fat westerner telling people what to do and what they can and can't eat. It was sickening, and the author of the pamphlet didn't even realise how racist it was. I think the global warming thing is going the same way - there's a lot of anti-Chinese and Indian sub currents when you read the articles. Interesting, eh?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would you trust a software engineer to build a bridge?


    My grandfather was a civil engineer/draftsman, I'm a software engineer, although confident enough to build a bridge after his excellent tuition...

    Here's a question though, would you trust a civil engineer from london to build a bridge on time that doesn't make people feel sick, being a geordie I'm quite proud of the fact we've not built failures of bridges :)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feedback systems, and stability.

    Anyone who considers there might possibly be any worthwhile content in the feedback-related sections of this article might want to go read about Daisyworld, either in James Lovelock's books, or some of the subsequent analyses (some of which are on t'Internerd).

    Unlike pseudo-science like economics (and IT?), climate change has sound maths and physics behind it. Economics is the one which tries to justify itself based on correlation without actual evidence of causation. (Economist-class example of correlation without causation: AIDS has increased since satellite TV was introduced, therefore satellite TV causes AIDS).

  22. Richard Gadsden
    Thumb Down


    "Ice ages and volcanic eruptions are all things that will unarguably change the climate. Yet, with the notable exception of the extinction of the dinosaurs, it seems life has happily trundled along through it all. We're the living proof."

    Um, no. Permian extinctions?

  23. Chris Whiteley

    The answer to life the universe and carbon footprints

    John Anderson may have unwittingly highlighted the answer.

    He mentioned the proportion of carbon in limestones dwarfing that in the atmospher and locke up in fossil fuels. Well does he understand how the carbon got into the limestone? The answer in the most part is as the remains of some form of life. In the case of one of the better known limestone, chalk, the responosible organism is a coccolith, a single celled algae with calcite shell.

    All we have to do is go down to Beach Head, scrape out a bit DNA from our mineral clad seaweed from the Cretaceous period, and grow them in the worlds warm shallow seas.

    If it works in Jurassic Park it could work here!

  24. Jonathan McCulloch

    Climate change is a myth

    Climate change is a big money-spinner for the vested interests... and it's balls.

    All the evidence is against global warming - not least because I ran out of heating oil in January and the house got really cold before the man arrived with the tanker.

    -- Jon

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Nice critique of scientific analysis...

    from an IT professional

    No climate change scientists dispute that geology has an influence on climate change or that the earth has been through cycles of climate before. The Issue we are facing is that the cycle we are in at the moment is completly out of the norm.

    Even if you can't stand Al Gore (or All Bored as my dad calls him) there are plenty of other commentators out there making very compelling arguements about the very interesting correlations between development and expansion of human activities and CC.

    BTW science is built upon the premise of guessing and then looking at how to prove it, that scientists are guessing 50 years into the future is not a fundamental issue; it's whether or not we get the info in years to come to prove if the guess was a good one or not

  26. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    We don't have to speculate

    There used to be a standard retort against anyone doing computer modelling along the lines of "I'll consider your predictions for the next century once you've shown me your predictions for the last one."

    To be specific, you feed in the available data for global climate in 1900. If this isn't known terribly accurately, that doesn't matter because you just get larger error bars on the final predictions. You add in your assumptions about solar behaviour. As the model evolves, you add in your data on the actual growth of industrial activity, but you *don't* add in any new climate data. (That would be cheating.) After your model has run, you review the envelope of predictions that it produced. Does what actually happened lie within the envelope?

    If it does, then we look at the size of the envelope. If it is so large as to be useless, then we just can't tell what will happen in the next century. We need to keep working on the model. Other research activity is, frankly, pointless.

    If the envelope is small, you can use the model as a tool, and see which of the data you added in later (solar model and industrial activity) really mattered. If it's mainly down to the solar model, there's nothing we can do in the next century. If it's mainly down to industrial activity, then we're in the land of anthropogenic warming.

    This test is simple enough that you don't need a PhD in climate science to evaluate whether it has been passed or not. Indeed, questions of the form "does my model fit my data" are the stock in trade of experimental science and there are widely practised and understood mathematical tests for quantifying the level of agreement.

    Twenty years ago, the models failed the test. That means that twenty years ago, talk of global warming *was* just unsupportable scare-mongering, whether it was true or not. (That's perhaps too subtle for many, but a sensible government *shouldn't* commit trillions of dollars to your pet project if you can't prove there is anything happening.)

    In the last few years, I've heard claims that the models now pass the test, so their predictions are worth the paper they're printed on. This being science, presumably the evidence for those claims has been peer-reviewed and is in the public domain somewhere. Unless you know otherwise, I think the default position of the lay audience should be that there *has* been significant progress in climate science in recent years, and that the sceptics in other disciplines simply haven't paid attention to recent improvements in modelling.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    To paraphrase...

    At the moment, I don't see that the evidence for [the bloke I picked up in the bar having a lethal sexually transmitted infection] is strong enough to wreck [my night out]. But if, over the next 10 or 20 years, [if I show the symptoms of a lethal sexually transmitted disease], then I have faith in our ability to solve the problem. Just like we have successfully dealt with smog in London, rivers flooding, or acid rain. We always have.

    Thus spake Freddie Mercury.

  28. Keith Oborn

    Oscillations are dangerous

    The only difference between the oscillations of the climate and those of climate change debate is that the latter occur much faster. What is needed is negative feedback to damp the latter.

    Here's a small attempt:

    There are indeed feedback mechanisms, positive and negative, some known, some to be discovered. An obvious positive one is the effect of temparature on albedo. Anyone who's seen the effect of exposed dark rocks on melting snow will know this. The reverse effect (cold = more snow = more reflection = more snow) is also a simple one.

    However, there are also "destabilising events" that push the system. It is strongly speculated that the rise of the Himalyan plateau, with attendant jetsream disturbance and limestone weathering (which sequesters CO2) may be at least partially responsible for the Ice Ages. The Chixulub meterorite (or the Deccan Traps eruptions) may well have disturbed the climate sufficiently to do the dinosaurs in.

    Eventually a new equilibrium is acheived.

    But notice the timescales. If faced with storm, flood, and heatwave I, for one, am not inclined to say "oh well. it'll settle down in a couple of million years".

    The Ephesus harbour was no doubt isolated from the sea by a long (centuries?) reduction in sea level. But what happened to the people who relied on the harbour? Did they wait??

    In reverse, a rise in sea levels of a metre or two would have little effect on us over a period of centuries, but over a shorter period the human and economic cost of readjusting (IE moving and rebuilding all those shoreline cities) would be immense. Our civilisation is not equipped to plan over multi-century timescales.

    It is undeniable that there has been recent warming (IE iover the last few decades). I can see it and feel it myself. It is likely, but not 100% proven, that this is due to human activity. But the effects over the coming decades are likely to be so severe (and expensive) that we have no alternative but to act on the partial information we have, and change what we can. When faced with a huge and immediate threat, you cannot afford to wait until you know exactly what the cause is, because by the time you do know, it'll be too late. "Oh shit, that's an angry grizzly heading for me. Now, what exactly is the current state of Ursine behavioural research, and should I call for further investigations?"

  29. JimC

    > We always have

    mmm, but sometimes a lot of people die or have very unpleasant lives whilst its being sorted...

    There does seem to be an awful lot of very speculative bad science about this whole issue, but at the same time if there is a problem something needs to happen... But one needs to know what the problem is! Maybe [flippant joke] the right solution would be to paint every roof and road between the tropics of capricorn and cancer white in order to reflect more solar radiation.

    On the other hand reducing the amount of coal and oil being burnt - especially oil - burning such a useful chemical feedstock is just stupidity - and increasing efficiency can surely only be a good thing. Things like that, switching to Nuclear power and also researching fusion are good things to do whether or not they affect global warming, so lets do them...

    As far alternative energy - most forms of it seem to me to be gross ecological vandalism - tidal barrages, wind turbines - arrrghhhh. A tidal barrage in the Severn would destroy more ecology than sinking a fully ladn supertanker off Avonmouth... And biofuel doesn't seem much better. The world needs less land used for agriculture rather than more...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flat-out wrong, as usual

    Someone seems to be on Inhofe's mailing list. "Ignoring the biggest effect on global warming - water vapour" - utterly untrue. "The small sample set - at most 30 years of accurate data" - is going to surprise a lot of people who are separately inferring prehistoric data which correlate with each other just fine. "Positive feedback in engineering invariably results in unstable systems" - there are positive feedbacks in the climate system - would you rather they were ignored? "But they get poo-pooed just like all the other "real scientists" who have a view" - again nonsense. Nobody's disputing temperature changes on other planets. Just the ludicrous argument that other planets warming (and other planets are also cooling) proves that our warming can't porribly be anthropic. "Climate scientists have to disagree with real scientists or they would lose their funding" - another classic lie that completely misrepresents the funding process. Climate scientists have to produce original research with data that anyone can pick over and disprove, or they don't get funding. As for "wreck our economies" - clearly the Stern Report is the misguided scribblings of unqualified hippies. Thank goodness the experienced scientists and economists of El Reg are here to set us straight.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The importance of the city as a commercial centre declined as the harbour slowly filled with silt from the river (today, Küçük Menderes) despite repeated dredges during the city's history.[16] (Today, the harbor is 5 kilometers inland)."

    I am quoting wikipedia here, as I'm not directly familiar with ephesus.

    Silting up isn't a sea level change.

  32. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Dumb Animals ..... and SMARTer Virtual Machines.

    If we looked after and Nurtured Natural Resources rather than Exploiting them for Gain, I wonder what sort of a World we would then being Living In/Creating.

    This seems a Real Weird Idea ..... ... ..... and for all the Wrong Reasons?

    "This world is crazy!" In Sane, Chris. Managed Full Psychosis though Permits Perceptions Mentoring in a Novel Innovative Therapy/Treatment/Regimen/Role Play.

    AIdDeadhead WhiteGum Tangent for those who would Dare 42 Win Win..

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I luv climate change...

    ....why? Because it is the only thing I can see that will see the western world weened off the oil addiciton it has.

    The most unstable thing that is happening on the planet today is this massive pouring of money into some of the most vile, unstable regimes in the world.

    Climate change will ensure that in 20 years we will not need a drop of oil ever again (if we do we can get it from our own reserves) and so the nasty dicators can all go hang!



  34. Sean Aaron

    Umm, life doesn't go on "happily"

    I mean unless you consider 95%+ of life on earth getting wiped out during the Permian extinction as a happy thing. Life barely made it; odds are good that we would be a casualty of such an event, so there may be a vested interest in getting to the bottom of things and trying to minimise our own impact. I mean the biggest issue here seems to be money and convenience. I don't see what the problem is with erring on the side of caution until we can confirm the sums...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course you're right...

    ...But the door swings both ways. The arguments against anthropogenic climate change are based on the same narrow view of a climate system we barely understand and in place of rising seas and melting ice caps the shock imagery the opposition employ are crumbling societies and impoverished millions strangled by privileged political correctness. Then theres the whole plummet to oblivion versus "if it breaks we'll just fix it".

    Both sides are terrifying in their capability to evoke a whirlwind of invective and polarise any debate into paralysis.

    As an IT professional I will entertain the idea that I dont know all there is to know about climate change and avoid pontificating, but straw men and stalking horses arent going to do anyone any good. Somewhere between the alarmists and the deniers is the place where risks are mitigated - not overreacted to, and not completely ignored. The place where we start thinking about the TCO of some of our current behaviours. "Cheap" and "Convenient" have not-so-hidden costs that we should stop ignoring, and addressing some of our more frivolous behaviours may well reveal benefits beyond the climate.

    Alternatively we could just do what we usually do - line up, either side of the schoolyard, and cuss the air blue trying to shout each other down and rail and recoil at any idea or opinion that isnt already ours, and a privileged few will scribble their mental meanderings, weakly justified by "the reliable people wot fink like wot I do" and "the ludicrous freaks wot fink different" and those barely thought thoughts will find themselves on the appropriate pile - yay or nay, armageddon or apathy and the battle will go on to no-ones benefit except, maybe, the IT Professionals - whose opinions on climate change have, up until now, been noticeably underrepresented...

  36. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    There have been other mass extinctions

    Though I agree that climate science has some shaky foundations, and astronomers have rightly suggested that solar variability has a strong influence, but the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous is not the only one (the Permian mass extinction was evidently no picnic for life on earth). I doubt that anyone blames that on CO2 though. CLimate may well be changing (it is never stable in a mathematical sense). Reducing our use of fossil fuels does however make economic sense, oil has so many uses beyond burning it. However, we must do the science right before declaring anything the perfect solution to our problems.

  37. Stephen Bradley

    People only listen to Armageddon

    John Atkinson is perhaps right to point to faults in the science of the longer term predictions in climate science. But the shorter term observed trends (not predictions reliant on some energy intensive super-computer) should make us worried because they will have an effect on the lives of the poorest and least powerful in our world, as coastlines and eco-systems change.

    There is also the never to be forgotten fact that we cannot rely on fossil fuels because they are running out and all over the world extractive industries are finding it more and more difficult to retrieve the reserves there are.

    The problem is that these very real dangers do not make the public sit up and listen to messianic politicians as much as images of boiling seas. We are all programmed by millenia of religions to listen to shouts of Armageddon and not to listen to predictions of increasing economic crisis and resulting conflict and suffering.

    We should act as more responsible environmental citizens not because of predictions coming out of computers but because of observable environmental effects and the human suffering it causes.

  38. IndianaJ


    Climate science? Could this possibly be the same as meteorology? Which, judging by Bill Giles, has been around for a while. The climate models used in this field have been developed over a a number of decades. The reason for their inaccuracies are mainly down to the sheer amount of data needed and those ruddy butterflies in the Brazilian rain forest.

    Either way, I agree with your point that climate change bandwagoning is simply a self interest situation and the statistics being produced are merely fear oriented. Fingers crossed someone will try and silence the idiots at the helm... oh, did someone already try that?

  39. Marvin the Martian

    Drink someone else's medicine.

    The first 90% of the article is common sense, so good to hear though hardly fresh. The valid point that the researchers financial survival depends on *interest* in the topic (not as the article claims on *one type of results* --- the more contradictory results, the more funding for "further research is needed" type clarification) holds for all research --- you cannot get a grant if it's not sufficiently sexy as a topic, regardless of the outcome.

    Actually, there are far more incestuous funder/researcher relationships; the cigarette-safety researcher you mentioned is one, and clinical trials companies are another (basically, if your company, hired for "independent testing", shows that the new pharmaceutical hope doesn't really work, you will not be rehired). Note that most climate research is funded by governments, who prefer a "we're innocent and can't do anything anyways" answer, as that's cheaper. And doesn't force them to interfere with the lives of the whining public. [Actually, being too clear on the man-made factor has been a bad career choice, as Bush has insisted on crushing a few for just doing that.]

    The first few commenters take the suggested suspicious motives as a "phew, I nearly had to think about how I spend my life, but here I have a blanket excuse to do f*ck all! I just think what I want to think!", not as what it is --- a factor to be taken into the account. I think a weak factor, an always-present-in-any-science factor, but nonetheless a factor.

    But then, at the last paragraph why would I take the opinion of an IT specialist on the relation between economics, ingenuity, science and climate change? Because you're NOT paid for the results? Also your career will not suffer from stupid conclusions like a scientist's would?


  40. Phil Bennett

    *Life* will continue

    ...but not necessarily humanity. While I agree that the solution to global warming can only come from improved technology and not from somehow persuading everyone to huddle in caves eating locally-grown lentils, I'm a bit wary over the author's optimism.

    Its a classic game theory square - Global Warming Catastrophe True / False versus Prepared True / False. The four cases are True / True, in which case we've got a chance of fixing the problems before they become too severe, False / True, in which case we've wasted a good amount of money, True / False, in which case we have to do panic research and implementation in a very short time (which is usually ruinously expensive and not very good) and False / False, in which case most people are happy. For me, the risk of massive numbers of lives lost in the True / False situation (eg coastal cities flooding) outweighs the concern about money possibly spent needlessly.

    Of course, the long term solution of getting into space via elevator / active structures like fountains / bolas) and performing most of the really nasty industries (metal refining and smelting, energy generation, some forms of manufacturing) helpfully above the atmosphere would be nice. A man can dream!

  41. Chad H.

    let's look at the four possibilites.

    there are four logical possibilites here: man made climate change is real, and we do something; man made climate change is not real, but we do something; man made climate change is real, and we do nothing, and man made climate change is not real, and we do nothing:

    Possibility 1: the world is saved

    Possibility 2: there is a boom in the tech sector as new energy sources are developed, hardly a wrecked economy.

    Possibility 3: not just a wrecked economy, a wrecked planet

    Possibility 4: we run out of oil.

    Seems pretty clear which way to up.

  42. cphi
    Dead Vulture

    this is in the Reg?

    This article is just wrong on so many levels that it's disappointing to find it in the Reg.

    You seem to start from the belief that we shouldn't control carbon emmissions then work back from that to find any argument no matter how tenuous that could conceivably fit this.

    To address just a few

    - given the tectonic activity of Turkey I'd be surprised if the movement of the coastline near Ephesus (orTroy for that matter) isn't due to local geological uplift - in much the same way as Alexandria has sunk and south-east england is slowly dipping. This is utterly different to a general sea level change.

    - I really struggle to think of an engineering profession other than CFD remotely similar to climate modelling - certainly control systems engineering is nothing like it (I'm not a CFD engineer but interestingly those I've worked with are quite 'comfortable' with the climate change predictions).

    - there have been many mass extinctions, of which the K-T event was only the most recent (and not the worst).

    - the idea of a global conspiracy of climate changes scientists to defraud us by manipulating their models is frankly stupid. There will always be those who're willing to be unethical but by and large scientists work for the satisfaction of extending human (and their own) knowledge. To put it bluntly, they don't do it for the money...

    You're right that climate change is a new field and that given the importance of its results it needs to be subject to extreme close review. But this isn't achieved by deluding ourselves that the whole field is fabricated simply because we don't like the alternative.

  43. Mark


    The answer to your question is loaded by that question.

    Total CO2 production is HUGE. Mostly natural. Like, say, rotting leaves in autumn.

    But you never asked what NET contribution there is, and the answer to that is very different.

    You see, each leaf that falls in autumn and decays releasing CO2 is countered by another leaf growing in the summer, taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

    Net difference: nil

    Human production: ~19Gt a year.

    Volcanoes: ~0.6Gt a year.

    and so on.

    It's mostly in the IPCC (where there's missing, we don't know whether the item is a net contributor, e.g. permafrost melt).

  44. Mark

    Re: Nice article

    So how long does it take to get out of an ice age? 100.000 years?

    Since the average time before a flip is less than the time since the end of the last ice age (though there's a large variability, IIRC, 50,000 - 200,000 years), aren't we about to go back in to one?

    Oh, and if someone says "see! we should be grateful!" please tell Chris he's dead wrong too first.

  45. Pat Ar

    risk of extrodinary danger = zero?

    A good rational article, thank you. But i do question the evaluation of down side risk. There are no guarantees that the downside will be manageable. The system which may be most sensitive to any climate change is the human economy, the impact on which will be complex with many possible scary scenarios and with the population predicted to be over 10 thousand million by mid century, economic impact could be devastating and beyond control. In other words, the possibility of sever damage to large numbers of people (e.g., wars of dwindling resources) is, even if a low probability, worrisome enough to make us attend to climate change risk now.

    One more word, it is in some ways irrelevant whether climate change is anthropogenic. Even if global heating is actually caused by nature, the risk of negative consequences still remains and the question becomes, can humans initiate any planet cooling technology?

    In 1798 the dismal economist, Thomas Malthus, ask how long humankind could keep expanding. The answer he arrived at was proved wrong by developing technology. The question remains, will he be wrong forever?

  46. Teh_Vermicious_Knid

    climate change is natural, and there ain't shit you can do.

    As someone else said, we are just coming to the end of an ice age *right now*.

    Yes, a lot of people/animals/other are likely to die, and much upheaval/chaos shall ensue. may I be permitted to introduce..Mother Nature- the gnarliest old bitch you ever had the misfortune to tangle with. Deal with it.

  47. The Badger

    Big Denial

    "Yet, with the notable exception of the extinction of the dinosaurs, it seems life has happily trundled along through it all. We're the living proof."

    The chimpanzees would probably be telling each other exactly the same thing if humankind had already taken the opportunity to do away with itself. They'd probably have their own neo-creationist movements, too, but that's a different part of the anti-science peanut gallery.

    "At the moment, I don't see that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is strong enough to wreck our economies to try to change it. But if, over the next 10 or 20 years, the evidence really does come out in favour of these theories, then I have faith in our ability to solve the problem."

    Ah yes, we must have "faith" in someone or something - this would presumably be the Bush administration's response to climate change if it were allowed to continue in power for another 10 or 20 years - and while we're procrastinating, let's not stand in the way of that time-honoured City tradition of vibrant trading with ourselves and everyone looking really busy (and making money!), regarding the whole climate vs. economy thing like the zero-sum game it isn't.

    "Just like we have successfully dealt with smog in London, rivers flooding, or acid rain."

    Yes, we're dealing really well with rivers flooding: consider the relatively minor (on a global scale) mess in various parts of England last summer and the infrastructure issues that brought up. Still, everyone gets their insurance claims in, the floorboards get dried out, and the new kitchens get put in. Problem solved!

    And that's only the developed world, but I imagine that Sky News was too busy beaming you live pictures of nothing happening in some flooded housing estate in small town Britain for you to notice that whether or not human activity causes climate change (I'd take the scientific consensus over your conspiracy theories any day), there's plenty of scope for minimising its impact.

  48. Michael

    This article is nonsense

    The basic physics underlying the creation of the climate we enjoy on Earth is actually fairly well understood. Making predictions based on that understanding is very very hard, and climate models that attempt to do this are of necessity imperfect. But imperfect as they are they represent our best guess at what is going to happen. And they represent our best guess at the likely effects of various actions we might choose to take. What alternative method do you suggest for evaluiating alternative strategies?

    It is true that there has been climate change in the past and that life and humans have survived. I also have no doubt that humans will survive any climate change even in a worst conceivable scenario. But that doesn't mean that we should just continue to act as we have. The consequences of Climate change >could< be genuinely catastrophic.

    Incidentally, David Whitehouse's recent statements about there being no rising trend in Global Temperature are just balderdash, plain and simple. And I cannot imagine what kind of impairment woul dlead him to make such statements.

  49. tegan

    The science is irrelevant

    I remain unconvinced by the science but I also think it is irrelevant.

    So what if the climate changes? The climate has always changed and always will. How do the climate change zealots know what the 'right' temperature of the earth is? How do you know climate change would be bad and not good? During human history it has been both hotter and colder than now and we managed because we did what human beings always do - adapt.

    The climate change advocates are proposing something that is utterly crazy - to wage an unwinnable war against nature and somehow stabilize the temperature of the earth itself. Al Gore and his lot are insane. Whether it is man made or not, the earth's climate will change and there's only one thing we can do about it - adapt.

    And that means making life better for poor people around the world who are forced to live in environmentally hazardous locations. The one true fact in this whole debate is that climate change will not effect rich people. This is a story of poverty and exploitation not science. And the climate change aristocracy have a lot to answer for on that.

  50. oxo

    @Paul Fleetwood

    CO2 is not a pollutant. In fact, life on this planet depends on it.

  51. Paul Kinsler

    @anon cow (jerry) "I wuz a climate modeller"

    OK then -- cite where, when, publications, qualifications, etc. Otherwise, how can I judge your claims?

  52. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    @Paul Smith et al

    What's the harm in telling a lie to get people to change their ways?

    That's the essence of what a few people have said here, asking what the harm would be if the AGW hypothesis is false, if it gets people to be more efficient. It's an issue of trust; if or when AGW is falsified, all these people who you convinced to tighten their belts in its name will decide that you were lying to their faces, and will in future be much less likely to listen when the call goes out. You do not, not ever, try to convince people with lies because they will cease to trust you.

    Let me put it another way. So what if the dodgy dossier was a load of bollocks? It got Saddam out of the way, didn't it?

    See the point now? You can't tell people lies to get them to do the right thing; when the lie is exposed they will assume that your right thing is wrong because they no longer trust you.

    The world-wide agreements on AGW might well cause the west to take a hit in its standard of living but the biggest losers are, as always, the third world nations. They will be forced to stay in a state of poverty in order to preserve the current level of atmospheric CO2 whilst the big green proponents are still swanning around in their private jets. This position has been stated repeatedly and is proven by the reaction of various environmental groups to Indian's new teeny tiny and highly efficient car - which, incidentally, woud be winning all sorts of plaudits and awards if it had been manufactured in California. This whole scam ultimately results in making poor people poorer and preventing them from improving their lives. In the case of India it actually endangers lives; the car is aimed at people who would otherwise be teetering around on mopeds and getting squished. That's people who *will* die if Greenpeace get their way, as opposed to people who *might* die if they don't.

  53. Drunken



    the article is someone having a rant but there are so many things wrong with it I can't help but respond.

    First is the common non sequitur that as climate scientists are paid to study the climate then somehow they can't be trusted. When you need a plumber do you find an electrician? I mean surely the plumber is going to lie and get as much money as they can!

    Is climatology really that new, it seems to be older than electronics but I guess Mr Atkinson would buy his computer (made from wood) from a carpenter as those sold state physicists must be liars.

    Then rambling on about feedback systems and the extinction of the dinosaurs, but there are five known big extinction events all related to huge changes in climate. The Cretaceous–Tertiary event is the only known extinction caused by an impact and probably having the least to do with climate. So don't these show that climate is not always stable as do ice ages? 99% of species that have ever lived are extinct not just the dinosaurs, many of these were caused by wild climatic swings in Earth’s oh so stable climate. A climate that in the last 10,000 years has been unusually stable, till now.

    This is a gem, "Ignoring the biggest effect on global warming - water vapour". So is Mr Atkinson truly saying that the scientists just totally forgot about water vapour? Ok ok I realise now that the article is a joke or some troll so I won't continue further.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A guide told me...

    "Sea levels go up and down for many reasons - carbon dioxide not being one of them. "

    Where is your evidence that CO2 doesn't affect sea levels? That the presumably low CO2 emissions of the Romans didn't stop sea level change doesn't logically lead to the conclusion that high CO2 emissions won't change sea level variation patterns (for good or bad). Especially when, as you make such an important point of it, you don't know the function of sea level variation and the place of CO2 within it.

    BTW anybody who is saying "if our emissions only raise the total a small percentage then where's the harm" have maybe never heard of discontinuities in maths?

    <Rant>How do people with such little grounding in maths and logic get into IT in the first place?</Rant><AwaitFlames>...

  55. Andy
    Thumb Up

    @Paul Smith

    "Lets assume for a minute that all the theories linking man's activites to climate change are wrong, and therefore their advice to reduce the CO2 we put into the atmosphere is also wrong. So what? Where is the harm?"

    Wheres the harm? I'll tell you were the harm is: its the fact that this latest panic attack by the self loathing green masses (before GW it was the Ozone layer, before that Acid Rain - remember those?), is causing us to seriously consider ruining our coastine and country side with wind turbines; it is causing us to consider crazy and potentially dangeourous 'climate engineering' schemes to remove vast quantities of the evil 'pollutant' (sic) CO2 from the air when we don't really understand what effect interferance like this will have; it is causing us all to pay more 'green' taxes; and most insideously of all it is being used as a justification for holding back the development of the third world and telling them that they can not now enjoy the things that we have had for decades like cars, unlimited energy use etc. and the economic,social and quality of life benefits that come with it. All because of some dodgy computer models! (and yes they are dodgy because there is no way that they can take into account all the variables involved to the the degree of accuracy needed - apart from anything else we don't even know all the variables involved!).

    Can someone tell me if these models even take into account that that more CO2 = more plant/tree growth = excess CO2 converted into plant matter = plant matter becomes oil again (in millions of years time)? I'm sure they do but I've never heard it mentioned.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    Not a geologist are you John?

    So many errors, such a short article:

    Firstly Ephesus lost its access to the sea because of the silting up of the Menderes River. Nothing to do with sea level change. It's actually one of the few places in the Eastern Med and Aegean where sea levels *aren't* a major factor - over much of Greece, recent massive changes in observed sea level are down to tectonic movements. Yet remove the tectonic movements and sea levels still change, so there is a climatic effect

    You wrote: 'Yet, with the notable exception of the extinction of the dinosaurs, it seems life has happily trundled along through it all.'

    You mean it's trundled happily along - APART from the repeated mass extinctions observed in the geological record; the biggest of which are: end Ordovician, late Devonian, end Permian, end Triassic, and end Cretaceous, some of which were much more serious than the one which killed off T-Rex and friends. There are also the PreCambrian Snowball Earth in the Proterozoic and the Oxygen Catastrophe in the PalaeoProterozoic.

    Increased greenhouse gases the best explanation for the Palaeocene - Eocene Maximum; a relatively minor, recent mass extinction which did huge damage to oceanic diversity. It has also been proposed as the driver for the end Triassic extinction which saw something like 20 - 25% of species go to the wall.

    Finally, you'll be glad to know, climate models DO include factors such as water vapour and they include climatic information from deep ocean oozes, O16/18 isotope ratios in shells, ice cores, lake sediments, tree rings... to help establish climate records going back hundreds of thousands of years.

    It's also worth noting that climate scientists have been desperately trying to tighten up their models. Last year the Open University released a PC client to let everyday users help resolve some issues with the parameters in existing climate models. Users could download a model then their computer would change some of the parameters, run the model and transmit information back to the central server where it could be compared against historical records to see if the model became more accurate or less accurate. More information and download links here:

    With so many mistakes, it kind of makes me wonder why you wrote the article?

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Typical "bad science" view

    This is the view taken by the same chaps in the USA who doubt the human influence in climate change. The name they have for any studies which purport to show that the global climate is being affected by man, is "bad science". They call it "bad science" not because they're wrong, but because the extent of these effects is not known.

    You've been conned by this point of view. Very, very few real scientists doubt man-made climate change, it's just that no accurate models exist to determine how bad or good it is! In reality, things *could* turn out to be much worse than the models predict, or maybe not nearly as bad. But the global scientific consensus is that the change is definitely occurring and that man has an undeniable impact on this.

    Just because hard facts and figures have not been shown, tested, and proved, should not be an excuse to doubt the problem or ignore it entirely. Scientists only ever truly begin to understand any phenomenon *after* it has happened. What you are suggesting is that people ignore the problem until this understanding has been achieved. Do you not see the idiocy of this view?

  58. Britt Johnston

    limestone ?!

    The extinction events are presumed to be caused by major volcanic activity or comets, with climate as intermediary.

    The aside about limestone is interesting, in that it appears to have been precipitated intermittently at the end of a period of warming climate, and as you point out, the binding effect is huge - which would be useful in our situation.

    Has anyone an explanation for what triggers limestone precipitation, more plausible than Gaia or a quicklime comet?

  59. Mark

    "To put it bluntly, they don't do it for the money"

    Or more generally, if they were doing it for the money, they'd be doing something else.

    Like IT.


  60. Wade Burchette
    IT Angle

    Climate change advocates hate facts

    Have you noticed that as people get better informed and more skeptical that climate change advocates are getting more alarmists? There is a reason for that. In fact, $40 Billion reasons. And who would watch a news program if they said "there is nothing dramatic today"? And who would vote for a politician if he said "the whole system is fine the way it is now"?

    Facts are Al Gore's worst nightmare. Why is that the Antarctic had more sea ice last year than it ever did on record? Why is that Johannesburg, South Africa had 50+ days of below normal temperature last year? Why did it snow in Baghdad for the first time since people can recall? And why did it snow with some accumulation in Jerusalem too? Why is that parts of the western US have had their coldest January on record?

    And why does no one look at history? If you look at the history of the weather since we have accurate records, you can clearly see that our weather now is neither unusual nor unique. It happened before.

    When you stop looking at hockey-stick charts which were proven to always produce a hockey stick no matter what numbers you put in, when you stop listening to people with a vested interest in getting money, ratings, or votes, when you stop being blind sheep, then you will see that climate change is the biggest money pit there is. Ask yourself this question: why do meteorologists, whose income is not dependent on finding or solving a problem, not believe in climate change?

  61. SPiT
    Thumb Down

    Mass Extinctions are common

    "Geologists will quite happily explain how major climate changes in the Earth are a result of geological changes. Remember that more carbon is trapped in limestone than in either plant life or fossil fuels (or both put together for that matter). Ice ages and volcanic eruptions are all things that will unarguably change the climate. Yet, with the notable exception of the extinction of the dinosaurs, it seems life has happily trundled along through it all. We're the living proof."

    There have been numerous mass extinctions and currently the favoured view is that the dinosaurs may be the only one that wasn't due to catastrophic sudden climate change.

    Personally I don't walk across the road with my eyes shut because nobody can quantify the risk. I take safety measures because I can tell it isn't minimal. Climate change deserves the same approach.

  62. Saint Ignatius

    I agree.

    Yes anonymous coward is bang on the nail with his most learned comments. Having just read this report and the cause of exactly why this creature is now missing presumed extinct we should all be worried, very worried.

    I used to be a man-made global warming denier but by seeing this article I have seen the error of my ways, Lord forgive me. To all those natural-global warming deniers out there I say repent, repent.

    Oh sod that! It's all nonsense. Come on anonymous coward you drone on and on sucking up on the drip feed of media scare stories and pseudo scientific data like the first year schoolboy who does what the big boys tell him to do. You yourself are not a climatologist (the media studies of weather forecasting) but insist that what those scientists are saying is true. Then you pontificate from the luxury of a stale air room in front of your computer probably doing nothing to "save the world" anyway. Such hypocrisy.

    Take five minutes out of your busy gaming schedule and find out some real facts. In fact I'll help you on your way.

  63. Michael LaBonte
    Dead Vulture

    Extremely wrong.

    This entire article makes me chuckle.

    It is full of assumptions, misconceptions and ignorance. I sincerely hope it was written as a sarcastic jest.

    Most major climate events in the earth's history have caused mass extinctions. Sometimes over 80% of all life died out due to a change as small as 5 degrees (Celsius). The average temperature of earth has risen 0.5 degrees (Celsius) since 1961.

    In past climate-related extinctions the dominant forms of life are the first to go. Humans might survive a global climate event, but society as we know it will be destroyed.

    Please don't post ill-informed misinformation. Mass media influences how people react to world issues. One "optimistic" story such as this can cause thousands of people to believe that there is no issue, without even researching the issue further.

  64. Ian Michael Gumby

    Would you trust a software engineer to build a bridge?

    The answer is emphatically yes! Of course I just happen to be a software engineer and I just happened to have built a bridge that could hold the weight if a tractor or more as it crossed an irrigation ditch line.

    If you would have asked the question about "designing" of a bridge, maybe, maybe not. All Software Engineers should have taken a strengths and materials class as part of their core engineering curriculum. So they should know the basics.

    And to another point... You trust non-software engineers to develop software, so why start complaining now about computer models made by engineers? ;-)

    As to the article, the author does have a basic point. Why we can see that there is a climate change, how do we know that its man made? Monitoring has shown that there are shifts in the magnetic poles of the earth and that this has occurred before. This too could have a major influence on the weather patterns and global warming.

    But that's not going to grab headlines and there's not a whole lot we could do to slow it or stop it from happening. (Unless you can pitch a theory that its man's fault that there is a shift....)

    I think we all agree that spewing CO2 in to the air is not a good thing and if it takes a computer stimulated panic to force change, its not a bad thing.

  65. Dr Stephen Jones
    Thumb Up

    The Priesthood is getting nervous

    Predictably, the comments here are divided into two categories: people who want to debate the subject, and people who want to attack the commenter (and/or El Reg) for airing a point of view they don't like. Eg,

    "Really, what are this guy's credentials?"

    "Nice to see someone whose specialism is climate science"

    "Please, please, dear Register, stick to subjects you know something about"

    "it's disappointing to find it in the Reg."

    "the article is a joke or some troll so I won't continue further."

    All of these avoid the subject discussed, and seek to close down discussion. To sum up the writer's conclusion: we have endured and survived climate change before (including one major ice age) and flourished – we are in a better position now to deal with change than ever before.

    All of which is plain to anyone. No qualifications whatsoever are needed to reach such a conclusion, just a modicum of rationality.

    I conclude that the Climate Priesthood is getting nervous, because their shock tactics don't work any more.

  66. Joel
    Dead Vulture

    We already trust software engineers...

    to build much more than bridges. Think about that the next time you climb aboard a plane.

    Just goes to show that an "IT Professional" is an oxymoron.

  67. Steve

    @ Wade Burchette

    "Why is that the Antarctic had more sea ice last year than it ever did on record? Why is that Johannesburg, South Africa had 50+ days of below normal temperature last year? Why did it snow in Baghdad for the first time since people can recall? And why did it snow with some accumulation in Jerusalem too? Why is that parts of the western US have had their coldest January on record?

    And why does no one look at history? If you look at the history of the weather since we have accurate records, you can clearly see that our weather now is neither unusual nor unique. It happened before."

    You realise that those two paragraphs directly contradict each other, right?

  68. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Can I write rubbish for your magazine too?

    The guy knows absolutely nothing so I'll stick to three points that demonstrate why he is ill-informed.

    The author is aware of "positive feedbacks" but thinks water vapour is ignored. In fact, half to two-thirds of projected warming is related to positive feedbacks associated with water vapour.

    If he is worried about the stability of systems with positive feedbacks he should note there is also a huge "negative feedback" in the system called black body radiation. The rate of energy loss by the earth is proportional to the 4th power of the temperature which keeps the climate relatively stable. This is basic physics.

    No models predict "doomsday" scenarios - ie. runaway venus-like climate change, at least for the next half billion years. In the long run, life will survive and thrive with even the direst predictions of 6 degrees warming. Human civilisation and many current species will not cope so well.

    Finally, many geologists, astrophysicists and engineers work in climate science.

  69. Chris Cartledge

    Some facts

    Carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been for 500,000 years or so, since when there has been a succession of human extinctions in Britain.

    The highest highest value of about 300 parts per million by volume (ppmv) dates from about 323,000 year ago, with around 280 ppmv being found during all interglacial periods.

    Measurements at Mauna Loa show a 19.4% increase in the mean annual concentration, from 315.98ppmv of dry air in 1959 to 377.38 ppmv in 2004.


  70. Nano nano

    Chad H, you forgot:

    Bush's Possibility 5: Jesus teleports believers to paradise.

    Otherwise, hear hear !!

  71. Matt Caldwell


    This kind of thing really drives me nuts. There are about 10 guys worldwide who are [i]scientists[/i] that don't accept man-induced climate change. There is an overwhelming body of evidence to show that there is. Current climate change is nothing like previous cycles of warming and cooling, it is off the charts.

    People here are (mostly) smart, you guys can look up the info yourselves, but the scariest thing about climate change is that it is so complex that it is hard to model, and it is definitely non-linear. Like every other non-linear system known to science (there are a lot of them, and they are not new), climate change has a critical point on the curve. Once we cross that point there is no going back. At least not by simply reversing the mechanism that took us that far. Thats right, what I'm saying is that once the atmosphere warms enough, enough ice melts, etcetera than if we could sequester every molecule of CO2 it won't make a damn bit of difference, we couldn't get things to go backward.

    Screw the coat, I'm headed for the bunker anyway....

  72. Anonymous Coward

    5 extinction events

    I would like to point out a simple fact to those who talk about the "5 extinction events". They all occurred without human involvement. Fact. Even if those events involved a large change in the climate, actually over geological time the climate has shown a stable, mean reverting nature, as would be expected by negative feedback systems. Just because the climate spiked over a period of say a few thousand or 10s of thousands of years doesn't mean the climate overall hasn't been stable. If positive feedback genuinely existed in the climate system, any of those major events would probably have been enough to turn the earth into a Venus. They didn't.

  73. David Beeston

    @ Chad H.

    Finally someone who gets it. You are spot on. Regardless of whether climate change is actually happening or not (or somewhere in between here and doomsday), it doesn't matter.

    The thought of climate change is starting to result in actions which are positive for mankind, such as investment into renewable energy sources etc. If doomsday does or doesn't happen, at least we are doing something positive about it.

    That said, I remember reading somewhere that every time mankind tries to keep a complex and volatile system static, they end up messing things up*. My worry is that our actions now trying to prevent climate change may knock it into the alternative direction that could ultimately lead to our demise (ice age anyone?).

    For me, if out of all this we can create a safe renewable energy source, then I don't care about the media, the government, scientists or whoever profiting from the hysteria.

    *I think it was to do with trees in an area of the states that native americans used to manage where "management" ended up doing more harm than good, but I can't for the life of me remember the whole story in enough detail to make it meaningful.

    Linux Penguin - what are the odds of them being the dominant species on earth?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Assume they are wrong/Paul Smith

    Total/anthropo co2 I don't know but from memory and approximately (how you measure co2 & how you reckon its effect can give different figures) but just before the industrial revolution started CO2 was at 280 ppm (parts per million), it now stands around 380 ppm. It was commonly reported at 360 ppm when I first heard the figure, about 10 years ago roughly.

    CO2 levels are rising but the #rate# of co2 rise is increasing.

    I work in IT but I tend to keep my opinions to things I know about, like databases and development.

  75. Stuart

    Dead Wrong

    One major extinction event? Ephesus harbour marooned by drop in water level in last 1800 years?

    Is this guy crazy? Did he bother to check out these two assertions with anybody qualified in the field? Or just read a primer or even google?

    There have been many extinctions. Water levels may rise and fall - but so does land in one of the most gelogical active areas (Google Ephesus & earthquake). Or was the usual explanation of silting by the local river also totally discounted.

    Come on Reg you can do better than this. Modelling future climatic effects is at the limits (or maybe just beyond) our capabilities with current data. All the more reason to address the problem based on facts rather than fantasy.

  76. Rob Sutherland

    @ S Jones et al

    take a few minutes and check this out:

  77. Maurice Shakeshaft

    two points

    I'd suggest that politicians are a more self-interested bunch that climate scientists. Witness the desire for yet more dosh from the taxpayer to fund the self serving election process.

    That climate change is occurring is indisputable. It has been changing for the last 4.5 Billion years. What we need to consider is: Do we want (or need?) to do anything about it to "protect" our "civilisations"? We don't know what will happen if the postulated rates of climate change continue in th near term but interpretations of historical data point to a range of, potentially, catastrophic consequences for our planet and thus "civilisations". If we - our politicians (Oh dear!) - want to "protect" prioritised aspects then we'd better start a bit of real root cause analysis and plan for brutal economic change. I could say "blx to that, I'll have another beer" - like a drunk in a bar - but that would be irresponsible. I'm not saying climateers are right or wrong but they would be a component of the analysis - if we want to execute it.

  78. WhatWasThat?
    IT Angle

    Climate change model

    In case anyone was wondering what the IT angle might be...

    There are several (sic) climate change models around, but what does it take to create one? Is it just a mathematical approximation of environmental conditions of the globe, or attempts to have a subjective "quality" of weather?

    In the case of any digital representation of an analog system (ie. computer model of the earth), you will need to determine the "resolution" of the digital representation. In the case of the earth, it has 510,072,000 km² surface area (wiki). If we wanted to take our resolution as "nodes" of triangles (sorry - graphics oriented here), we end up with 144270148.279 areas of triangles 3535.5339 m² in size. This was based off of the arbitrary decision of having equilatoral triangles 50m per side as a "node".

    IMHO, each node would be a separate software "class", with properties for environmental conditions, and each side having an interface of methods for environmental effects of surrounding nodes (one for each "side") affecting the environment of the node. There would then be an interface for "energy pumping", which would be from the sun. While this could get complex very quickly, but focusing on the node itself and creating a generalized class that correctly conforms to meteorological data and effects, it should be fairly straightforward to create this software class "node".

    Notice, I said "straightforward", I did not say "simple". I would expect that it could take several talented people a few months to design and develop such a piece of software, and then spend a like amount of time creating the surrounding framework that would erect and create the nodes for individual representations of the sections of the globe (initial values, etc). This framework would then throw in the energy constantly being applied to the system (sunlight) and let it run for a set simulated amount of time.

    Again, this is a huge oversimplification, but should give everyone an idea of what is involved in simulating this. And, for those you playing at home thinking this is easy, you may have noticed that even this is only two dimensional.... :)

  79. Antony Riley
    Thumb Up

    Spot On

    Everything in this letter is spot on.

    Of course just because everything the climate scientists are saying is not very accurate doesn't mean we should burn through the earth's resources at an astounding rate (and nearly all of the astrophysists and geologists who have spoken out against climate science do add this addendum to what they are saying) ;)

  80. Anonymous Coward

    @limestone ?!

    Limestone comes in a variety of forms. The finest grained stuff is micrite which precipitates directly out as a mud which then gets solidified, although micrite is usually a cement in other rocks.

    Then there’s oolitic limestone – ooids are little round bits that normally precipitate out onto grains and grow.

    Chalk is technically bioclast – the remains of loads for bits from dead animals, but the plates are _really_ small, and chank is rather uniform so it gets a name to itself.

    And then there’s general bioclast limestone which is made up of bigger bits of animals.

    So some comes from corpses, and some from dissolved CO2 in the water.

    The skull and crossbones, as they count as bioclasts.

    Anonymous as big brother is now watching us here at "messy beast".

  81. Anonymous Coward

    [Citation Needed]

    If that applies to any 'facts' you're going to spout, please shut up. No exceptions.

  82. RW
    Paris Hilton

    @ Jonathan McCulloch

    "Climate change is a big money-spinner for the vested interests... and it's balls."

    Uh . . . no. The big money involved is in areas like automobile manufacturing, the oil industry, and such. The climate change folks are very small minnows in a lake containing some very large—and voracious—fish.

    Yes, absolutely right about vested interests, but just follow the money and you'll see which vested interests have theirs knickers in knots about climate change: those self-satisfied ones perfectly happy to assume life will always be just as it is now and damn the consequences of believing so. George Bush and his buddies in the oil industry exemplify this outlook.

    Paris because...well, because it's nearly spring and I'm thinking of Paris in the springtime.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dr Stephen Jones

    Since you don't want me to attack the author of the aritcle, I'll attack your views.

    Your selective quoting might impress the simpletons who believe in conspiracy theories amongst climate scientists, but it won't stand up to actual reading comprehension. The targets of your oh-so-clever out of context quotes all posted up facts which tend to refute the article's relevance and accuracy, and then pointed out that generally, in a *scientific* discussion, there's some requirement to actually deal with facts based on evidence rather than assertion of selected half-truths and fallacies.

    So your refusal to address those facts as presented acts more surely to "close down discussion" than anyone who has presented arguments lethal to the case presented by Atkinson.

    Your summing up is also facile beyond words and seeks to "close down discussion" on your own terms.

    "...we have endured and survived climate change before (including one major ice age) and flourished – we are in a better position now to deal with change than ever before.

    All of which is plain to anyone. No qualifications whatsoever are needed to reach such a conclusion, just a modicum of rationality."

    We may have more technical capacity, but we (or at least our "civilisations") are orders of magnitude more vulnerable, perched as they are in at-risk areas and tied to resources, yet divorced from subsistence in a way that paleolithic hunter-gatherers were not... And you seem to forget that one species of human did die out in the last ice age maximum: Neanderthals.

    Your conclusion:

    "I conclude that the Climate Priesthood is getting nervous, because their shock tactics don't work any more."

    shows your irrational underwear.

    Anthropogenic CO2 19GT/yr

    Volcanoes belch 0.6 GT/yr.

    Most of the rest of the earth's production of CO2 is part of a cycle, so doesn't contribute to increasing levels in the atmosphere. Deep ice cores and mud cores seem to show that there has never been the rate of increase in CO2 we curerntly see in recent figures. This is a new thing.

    Get your head out of the sand and stop magnifying the places where errors have been made (and later largely corrected) inot more significant slips on the road of knowledge than they are.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh and...

    ...will you please give over using 10 year old cavails about the science of golbal warming that have since been considered and included as factors in the models?

    No, you won't.

  85. Anonymous Coward


    Seems to be alot of Anonymous Cowards out there trying to poke holes, so I'll post anonymously to patch them up.

    Alot of folks seem to be missing the point RE previous climate change... The point John Atkinson was making is that life still goes on during these events, perhaps not human, dinosaur or wearwolf, but life still goes on. Aside from this, the previous climate changes happened - and we weren't even there to blame! Damn those dinosaurs and their 4x4s!!!

    Looking at the small data set is on par with climate chance since 9am... Its got steadily hotter since then - we're doomed!! But if you look at yesterdays results, it goes back down again. Much like Ice Ages.

    The romans grew vinyards in the south of England.

  86. andy
    Thumb Down

    Dont get it twisted

    What I and many others object to is paying through the nose to be carbon neutral purely because of this hype from 'eco-fascists' (to quote an eco-fascist above)

    I am all for saving the earths resources and being economical but I refuse to be ripped-off and told to change my lifestyle due to some crappy junk science.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Dr Stephen Jones

    <<To sum up the writer's conclusion: we have endured and survived climate change before (including one major ice age) and flourished – we are in a better position now to deal with change than ever before.

    All of which is plain to anyone. No qualifications whatsoever are needed to reach such a conclusion, just a modicum of rationality.

    I conclude that the Climate Priesthood is getting nervous, because their shock tactics don't work any more.>>

    It’s not about human “survival” stupid, it’s about human suffering. There weren’t 5 or 6 billion human souls on the planet during the last ice age. Now, any significant sea level change means mass displacement of huge populations. Any significant temperature change means famine on a scale that couldn’t have even been contemplated in biblical times.

    The “deniers” are so effing smug. The people who will suffer least are those that are best able to buy their way out of the sh*t. Most readers of the Reg will still be immune to the effects of climate change when 100s of millions are already suffering.

    Sure, the science is not ironclad. Anyone who knows anything about Chaos knows how difficult it is to predict the specific behaviour of complex systems. We’re talking about the balance of probabilities on the best available evidence.

    I’ll tell you what should be plain to anyone: a socio-economic model predicated on infinite economic growth in a closed system with limited resources is doomed to fail, eventually. That is, of course, unless, we go forth and find new worlds to burn down. In which case, pray to the deity of your choice that you aren’t one of the ones left behind.

  88. Jeremiah Steidl
    Thumb Up

    New Mexico

    John Atkinson, next time you're in New Mexico, let me buy ya a beer!

  89. S

    Climate modelling vs. economy modelling

    ``At the moment, I don't see that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is strong enough to wreck our economies to try to change it.''

    I am far from being a specialist in either area, but my impression is that economic models have a worse track record than climate models (a quick web search turns up, with the summarizing sentence ``Economic models are much less advanced [than climate models]''). It seems that one should take the uncertainty on both sides into account when weighting the possible outcomes.


  90. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Blatant Bias

    Take a look a this graph: Anyone can see that the model is exaggerating its predictions relative to the recent recorded temperatures. Yet, its results are taken at face value and we are expected to take scientists' fatwas with a knee-jerk... It's a sorry decade for science.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Man-Made Global Warming is BAD Science

    Last year the resolution of the analysis of ice cores increased and it proved that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 LAGS warmer climates by 800 years (see!!! Yet, scientists, the media and politicos are merrily hush-hush about it while with much less evidence they quickly hopped in the gravy train of grants, hysteria and posing.

  92. Anonymous Coward

    Agree to a point.

    I agree with the writer that the Global Warming(i am not using climate change because that is pure counter-spin word made to further confuse the issue)

    Is one of the few things that is sensationalized and hyped to the ignorant masses way too much and with obvious and not so obvious agendas.

    The only other topic that had so much BS published around it would be terrorism.


    The climate is changing and you have to only look at the number of Hurricanes and tropical storms hitting different areas and their impact.

    We should not use the climate change as a driving factor to further research into renewable and sustainable energy sources. This should be done for long term benefits of cutting down fossil fuel use. If you live in a large city and have to spend half your summer wearing a face mask to prevent smog you understand the benefit of this.

    Nuclear and solar being my favorites and the ones with the most promises i would hope get a good look as alternatives to fossil fuels.

    If all the unused rooftops had solar panels even if they generated 1W per day it would be 1W less that we needed from the power plants. There should be more research done in energy storage this would help make many different renewable sources viable.

    Governments should invest more into public transportation, Better infrastructure and road planing for big cities would cut down traffic congestion and it turn increase everyone fuel efficiency.

    There is no magic button that is going to solve the energy problem pretty much every industrial country faces. There need to be lots of small changes targeting different areas to make an impact on the whole.

    If this doesn't work we can always strap all the people going to gym's to dynamos and the problem should be solved. I mean they are working out anyway who would complain if they made some energy while doing it...

    I'll crawl back under my rock now.

  93. An Inquirer

    When does a skeptic become a denier?

    After studying global climate issues for hundreds of hours, I have come to two major conclusions:

    1. The issue is treated by most as a lot more like religion than like science. People are very reluctant to look at evidence and instead cling to faith.

    2. Even in matters of faith, there are few people who make the switch, and I am one of the few -- from accepter of AGW to skeptic.

    I do not equate skeptic with denier. I am skeptical that CO2 increases will lead to catastrophic consequences. In some regards, Climate Science is over 100 years old, and I understand that in laboratory settings a doubling of CO2 leads to about a one degree increase in temperature. What is relatively new in Climate Science is the attempt to model positive feedbacks. Because CO2 impact is logarithmic, there is little impact of CO2 after doubling from pre-industrial areas. Our computer power now allows us to ATTEMPT to model feedbacks. In one regard, Climate Science is very new – the model results do not match observations. Those of faith conclude that the observations are wrong. Generous skeptics would give the modelers more time to improve their models.

    Contrary to some pro-AGW beliefs, there is harm to constructing regulations based on what is not true. Yes, it is generally a good idea to do conservation and less polluting alternatives even if AGW is wrong. (By the way, this is what George Bush the First proposed in the early 1990s, and the liberals blasted him for it.) However, to call CO2 a pollutant or to be singled-minded on it is a mistake. Perhaps the most noticeable impact of Kyoto so far has been to shift industry to countries where there is less pollution control and then using more energy to transport products to developed countries. Also, there have been more than a few cases of threats, deceit and bribe in Europe on handling Kyoto numbers – it is hard to imagine that it would get better if the concept goes worldwide. Economies and the environment can / will be hurt by AGW proposals.

    As far as naming scientists who do not accept AGW arguments, there are hundreds if not thousands of them. They are not getting quoted often in the media, and they are not getting much funding to study AGW, but if someone does not know who they are and what issues they raise, I wonder how much study that person has done on AGW.

  94. Mark

    "The romans grew vinyards in the south of England."

    And we're beginning to see vinyards in teeside.

    PS England != World.

  95. Saint Ignatius

    Google and anonymous coward

    Christ the poor tech guys at Google must be breaking a sweat right now as we speak. "Oh no not another man-made global warming question/affirmation from this guy".

    Same ol same ol rebuttal tecnique often used by school children who leave their coursework till the last minute.

    Listen here. There is not one, and I mean one, piece of evidence that man is making any significant change to the global climate. Sure, as anyone who lives in a city knows, the local climate is affected by his doing in terms of pollution and heat but it is utter arogance to suggest that man is having any real impact on the wider planet.

    Google these if you dare.

    The real reason mount Kilamanjaro is losing its icecap.

    The hockey stick graph disproved.

    The flat-lining of global temperatures since the year 2000.

    Variations in tree ring data.

    Where land based monitoring stations are sited (eg next to air conditioning exhausts)

    The lead time of heat followed by carbon dioxide rather than the other way round which Saint Al Gore duped many of the gullible to follow his mental loony ideas.

    Biofuels (you all probably know this by now it was in the news only last week)

    That's only for starters and is merely a newbies guide to the path to enlightenment and the cure for self delusion in this aspect.

    Just before the outbreak of world war 2 the recieved wisdom amongst scientists was that the practice of eugenics might be a very good thing (Google that too).

    This belief was later dropped following the observations of what really happens when this idea was put into practice.

  96. Dr Coles

    Over 400 World Wide Prominent Scientists Dispute Man-Made Global Warming

    Over 400 World Wide Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007. See

  97. Scott Manley
    Thumb Up

    Astronomers have Studied the Climate For Centuries

    In fact, one of the longest records of weather conditions was started at the end of the 18th century at Armagh Observatory

    You can download the scans from their site if you like

    But I'll tell you that much of my astronomical research focussed on climate change and developing theories of how cosmic events (like killer asteroids) could be responsible for many rapid changes and associated mass extinctions.

    So, it's not like a computer scientist designing a bridge, it's more like a computer scientist designing a computer. John, you should follow your own advice and leave climate science to people who actually have real experience.

  98. Anonymous Coward

    Hooray Oil!

    So oil companies are bad, bad, bad, huh? As anyone can see at, while the price of crude has more than quadrupled in the last 5 years, the retail gas prices have merely doubled. All the while with oil companies posting profits for the first time in about a decade.

    Say what you want, but while there aren't cost-efficient alternative fuels, anything other than oil is asinine.

  99. Robinson

    Well said

    Well said. Consider also that if Climate Scientists were actually trained in statistics most of the current catastophism would never have happened. It is high time climate papers were peer reviewed by people with the correct real-world expertise.

  100. ian
    Dead Vulture

    Coming out of an ice age?

    Actually, there is some evidence that we should be at the beginning stages of entering an ice age, but that GW is putting a stop to it. This is good, however it is only the start of what is likely to be a major nightmare, in particular for northern Europe.

    This denial of GW is interesting as it seems to being follow the stages of the Kubler-Ross grief cycle:

    1. Denial - it ain't so!

    2. Anger - dammed scientists/hippies/liberals!

    3. Bargaining - I'll do X if it will make it go away!

    4. Depression - oh god, were fscked!

    5. Acceptance - ok, where do we go from here?

    John Atkinson (and many of his commenting fanboiz) seem to be in stage 1, while many others are in stage 2. My hope is that we can quickly move to stage 5 and sort out GW.

    The dead bird, because we are all likely dead ducks.

  101. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    Mathematical models

    As a mathematician, I wholly agree on the doubts about climate models... We have very little data, and it is certainly next to impossible making any kind of accurate precision. Yet, we constantly see predictions of how many degrees the temperature will rise in the next 100 years... Last year was exceptionally hot - way more than predicted - and nobody knows why!

    The problem is, when you ask a scientist (and I am one), he will never admit he doesn't know. After all, his bread depends on having results and publishing papers. He'll make up a complicated model, and give an estimation. And since nobody exactly knows what's happening, it will be trusted.

    Governments are in constant need of predictions to take decisions. 2'000 years ago, they would have read the entrails of a goat. Today, they call scientists.

  102. Peter

    Wahey! Climate twaddle!

    So an "IT professional" is able to spout some twaddle about a field he doesn't understand? Bimey, the Reg is going downhill. OK: As others have pointed out, climate science didn't suddenly appear fully formed, it's based on solid science. It's not just about the climate models, those are based on the real data. It's a pity that someone calling themselves an IT professional clearly has no idea of real science. Obviously no-one has told the Royal Society that all these scientists don't believe it - but then why listen to an old-fashioned body of people who've actually achieved something, or read actual research papers?

    Interesting also that the "It's all a green conspiracy" theorists are out in force - obviously articles like this written by a hack after a liquid lunch don't help, but neither do White House aides editing scientific reports to make it appear as if there's genuine consensus, or pseudo-independent think tanks funded by the oil industry duplicating the tobacco industry tactics to make it appear as if there's still a debate. Anyone out there really think the green lobby has more power than the oil companies? Anyone who believes that who isn't wearing a tinfoil hat? No, thought not.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    good points

    Some people like to claim that 'Climate Science' and meteorology are the same thing. They aren't, meteorology covers what you expect to get (and 50% right is amazingly good) while climate science is what you have. (This would seem to make those claiming to be climate scientist actually long range meteorologists.)

    For more information on the problems with IPCC & global warming:

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It wasn't an article

    To all those that comment here _and_ for some reason think that you are commenting on an attempt on a scientific article. Come on! Read before you comment.

    That was a comment, not an article. It wasn't supposed to have any proof or scientific data to back up any thing. It was a comment. John Atkinson points out a few things he find questionable. To question something you don't have to prove that it is wrong. In fact it requires you to not have proof. If you have proof of something being wrong, you don't have to question it.

    Secondly. Each time you attack the person and his motives, not the science he presents, then I know that you don't know what you are talking about. In science it doesn't matter what your motives are, it doesn't matter who fund you, it doesn't matter what your work normally consists off. The only things that matters is science you present. Why? Because this isn't politics, it is science. All you need to do is to is reproduce their tests and see if their claims hold water or not. It does however give you a reason for questioning the result, but that is another matter, see earlier paragraph. Like we question the oil companies since they benefit from less hysteria, we question the climate scientists because they benefit from more hysteria.

    I am being anonymous here because even though I havn't said anything claiming that climate change isn't man made, I bet people will read it as I did. Like every scientist I have met(not that many) I will prefer to stay out of it since you are not allowed to reach other conclusions than the consensus.

    PH because she wonder what anonymous is.

  105. Peter

    Re: It wasn't an article

    OK, was comment...not supposed to have any proof or scientific data. Then you say people are attacking the person and motives, not the science he presents. So you're a little confused there. over whether science is being presented or not. At least you're agreeing the article has no basis in science, can't be justified, and isn't adding anything to a debate on the matter.

  106. IR
    Paris Hilton


    So we have a guy making comments about the techniques and strategy behind climate science being wrong, and he starts by pointing out that many of the people in it are unqualified. How ironic that he is just as unqualified to talk about what is going on in that industry, but he still does it.

    Even Paris could see the irony in that.

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    "We're the living proof"

    No we aren't, we're the incredibly fortunate survivors of the permian die-off and other such massive extinctions. Often triggered, as any geologist or paleontologist will tell you, by major and sudden events of climate change.

    You kind of undermined your entire article right at the end there. After persuasively arguing that the models are uncertain and unproven, and that therefore there is great uncertainty and nobody can really be sure, you go on to announce

    "Sea levels go up and down for many reasons - carbon dioxide not being one of them"

    ORLY? Have you got some sooper-dooper secret climate model that actually is correct, precise and proven? No, you haven't. You're just asserting it based on - what? A priori knowledge? Divine inspiration?

    No, you haven't got anything. You've gone and made a good argument about how limited the models are, but you don't even have a model. You've just got an assertion you pulled out of thin air. The fallacy of argument from authority becomes even more fallacious and frankly just embarrassing to those around you when the supposed authority referred to is only one's own inflated sense of self-importance.

    You *are* exactly what you accuse those who disagree with you of being, and they are not, because they at least have science, flawed and crude though it may yet be, and all you have is assertions. They're working on improving their models and gathering more data - what could you possibly do to make your argument stronger? I don't see any options for you beyond shouting louder.

    Oh, hang on. You could always try flinging unproven and unprovable non-specific allegations of bias and conspiracy. That's the fairly standard rhetorical manoeuvre in this kind of situation where you don't have a leg to stand on. Carry on, then! Pip pip!

  108. vincent

    Hard data sites for this disscussion. Then make up your mind

    Most serious sites (even NOAA), and all the satellite globe temperatures are falling pretty dramatically (last two months) The trend has been flat for 5 years but is now falling. Check some serious sites. To a certain extent this discredits the global warming theory and more mainstream media is becoming aware lately. (satellite temps january 2008) see "about us" to see list of meteorologists

    South Pole is extremely above normal see "sea ice index" (35%)

    Artic is advancing at record pace and will probably be anomalously high soon.

    See "Cryosphere today"

    Another site run by Climatologists/meteorologist is this one

    make up your own mind

  109. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo


    I can't wait for the earth to go tits up, this planets inhabitants suck ass and the sooner a mass population cull in invoked the better, of course I'll be OK I've been prepared for years.

  110. Speedy

    A Voice in the Wilderness

    Very refreshing...someone who actually applies basic scientific principles to this propaganda campaign.

    One of my biggest problems with this whole media campaign is, remember the scientific method? Is a theory proved by "consensus?" If so, then the sun revolves around the earth. And, electroshock is good for you. And, drinking liquid mercury is good for what ails you. There is a reason a theory must be proved through experimentation. All the scientists in the early 1800s who disagreed died because they drank liquid mercury.

    My personal opinion is, barring the inherent feedback mechanisms the the chaotic inherently unsolvable equations determining climate and weather, is that we are in much more danger of entering an ice age. Climatic temperature shows a close correlation with sunspot cycles (translate solar output, the heat source, the sun is a variable star) and there are some very disturbing signs that we are entering what is known as a "Maunder Minimum."

  111. Speedy
    Thumb Up

    Would you trust a software engineer to build a bridge?

    Give me a break here. You trust software engineers every time you drive across a bridge. The structural engineers enter the parameters into the program written by a software engineer. He gets the outputs from the program and specs the steel and rivets. Then you drive across it. You better trust these guys...or, program your magellan to look for ferrys and good "fording points"...

  112. Speedy

    You are global warming

    Good God.

    I have never seen such a dearth of scientific thought in my life.

    Chaos theory got it's start in an attempt to model meteorology. Insights from mathematical analysis of that attempt revealed that any attempt to predict weather suffered from a sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Ever hear of the butterfly flapping it's wings thing? That has a sound mathematical grounding in Chaos Theory. The bottom line is, it has been proven mathematically impossible to accurately predict the weather. Climate is also chaotic, although over longer time scales.

    The mass of ignorant people, who believe what they are told, who influence the politicians, and the media, who influence grant fundings, are the source of "global warming." Any scientist who really in his heart believes in global warming is either a fool or a charlatan. Any "scientist" who accepts a theory before it has survived the testing of the scientific method, is a [female of the species selling it for money]

    Where has science gone? Probably the same path free speech followed in the quest of political correctness.

  113. IR

    Let's look at the subtitle

    "Would you trust a software engineer to build a bridge?"

    So if this guy doesn't trust climate scientists to do climate science, as he claims later in the article, who would he trust to do it?

    I seriously think that this article was written solely with the intent on getting hundreds of irate comments from oth sides of the debate.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Hard data sites for this disscussion. Then make up your mind

    Ok, went to and their list of experts. Picked one with a distinctive name, Sallie Baliunas, and googled for that, got the wiki page which mentions someone by that name who is also an astrophysicist <>. Interesting para "Controversy over the 2003 Climate Research paper" which says


    In 2003, Baliunas and Astrophysicist Willie Soon published a review paper on historical climatology which concluded that "the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium."

    [big snip]

    Shortly thereafter, 13 of the authors of papers cited by Baliunas and Soon refuted her interpretation of their work.

    [more snip]

    Half of the editorial board of Climate Research, the journal that published the paper, resigned in protest against what they felt was a failure of the peer review process on the part of the journal...


    Which is interesting.

    It's the same person certainly because both wiki and have a comment about gene rodenberry/sci-fi consultation.

    I am sure that someone will attack this para on the grounds that it is wiki and perforce untrustworthy. An easy trick.

    I also suspect that someone may throw doubt on her scientific credentials because of the rodenberry consultation. That, too, would be a cheap trick.

    That by the way was my first dig and it took five minutes. I can't b bothered to look at the rest.

    It's usually worth doing a bit of digging around with whois and then chasing names. I did this on my 2nd seemed to have found that the registrant of had some interesting indirect links which you can look for yourself.

    These chases take time to verify and I can't be arsed now.

  115. Chris
    Paris Hilton

    It's all very simple

    The way I've always figured it, it doesn't matter if climate change is real, and if it is it doesn't matter whether we're the cause of it.

    The reason why it doesn't matter is that we need to stop pumping so much crap into the air becuase it's slowly killing us. We know that inhaling smog is bad for our health, we know that we're killing not only ourselves but many other animals and plants as well.

    We know that drilling for oil and oil spills destroy environments and whether you actually care about at the very least, even if you don't care about the lives of small furry/feathery creatures, the envrironments we're destroying could contain something useful.

    Clean energy and energy conservation is a must, not because the seas might rise, but because I'd like my grand kids to grow up in cleaner air with clearer skies than I did, not in a world where the answer to the question "what colour is the sky" is some sort of dirty brown or gray.

    It's as simple as that folks, it doesn't matter whether Al Gore is right, all you have to believe is that breathing in the fumes from the back of your car or a coal power plant is bad for you.

    Paris, because even she could understand.

  116. Lon Willett

    Intelligent Design must be next

    The Register has sunk to a new low with its AGW campaign; I suppose we'll be subjected to the Intelligent Design propaganda next. I guess it's finally time to trawl through the web and find a site to replace it for my IT news fix.

    This article is just so bad that it's hard to know where to start. I suppose the parts that jump out as abnormally stupid are:

    "why do most if not all of the climate models rely on it to get doomsday predictions?"

    They don't. The doomsday predictions are in the popular press (and yes, there is a lot of really stupid rubbish put out on the green side of this issue). The scientific reports tend to be quite conservative about what the consequences of their predictions are. Anyone who bothered to read some of them would know this (John Atkinson clearly can't be arsed to read them).

    "For the Earth to have survived as long as it has with a stable climate"

    It hasn't. It has survived with a frequently unstable climate. That's really the major source of concern. And the paleo record shows that the changes are often abrupt, and not nice for the ecosystems involved. Which anyone who bothered reading the scientific reports would know.

    "it seems life has happily trundled along through it all ... I have faith in our ability to solve the problem"

    Not really. Some life has survived. Most has not. An analogy: largish asteroids periodically crash into our planet. Some life has survived. So I suppose John Atkinson would happily steer an asteroid our way (assuming we were capable of such a feat). After all, they crash into the Earth all the time. So it'll be no problem at all coping the consequences.

    And no, I don't think we are talking about the extinction of the human race as the result of climate change, at least not climate change on its own. But, believe it or not, bad things do sometimes happen. Where is the Roman empire now? And they didn't even have to cope with an ecological catastrophe on the scale of the one that is in the making.

    Of course, I'm sure John and his mates know best. Their conversations down at the pub are obviously so deep and well informed that he doesn't even need to bother reading the scientific papers.

  117. Peter W

    it was me!

    an email to Andrew Orlowski after his last nonsense article.

    Anyway, that particular paragrah actually read

    "3)David Whitehouse - although a respected scientist - is still only one

    voice and his speciality is astrophysics not climate. It is interesting

    seing the response that New Scientist themselves give to his article here including this "I’ll be blunt.

    Whitehouse got it wrong – completely wrong. The article is based on a very

    elementary error: a confusion between year-on-year variability and the

    long-term average. ".

    You seemingly give no credence to contrary views from experts in the field -

    which David Whitehouse is not btw. Essentially it reads as though you've

    read his article and simply trusted it without investigating further, or

    you've investigated further and then chosen to believe the article that

    already agrees with your beliefs. Either way, poor journalism and poor

    science I'm afraid."

    I believe El Reg is suffering from a bad case of confirmation bias in all this.

    Pete - An IT Professional (and BSc and shortly MSc, but hey surely the IT Profesional part is what qualifies me to comment?)

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "My personal opinion is, barring the inherent feedback mechanisms the the chaotic inherently unsolvable equations determining climate and weather, is that we are in much more danger of entering an ice age. Climatic temperature shows a close correlation with sunspot cycles (translate solar output, the heat source, the sun is a variable star) and there are some very disturbing signs that we are entering what is known as a "Maunder Minimum." "

    awesome.. I consider myself fairly well informed, but I have only the vaguest concept of what that is supposed to mean.

    LISTEN: we are all crew-people of Spaceship Earth. Fact.




    Behaviour that compromises the safety of the mission is de facto insane/criminal.


    My personal view? The behaviour of our socio-political-industrial-economic bodies corporate is prima facie insane. Take your gap-year/lifestyle choices, your moby/pda/fanboi preferences and shove them u no where. Wake the f))k up and smell the DMT.

    Reality sux. Chaos rox.

    Go figure.

    ... calling the manfrommars....

    RAW - RIP one yr on... 23skidoo

  119. Mike Bremford Silver badge

    Hey, can I have a byline too?

    I had to chuckle reading the Register recently.

    Apparently computer viruses are caused by infection of pluggin' a computer into the Electriical Intermernet! Well, that's one point of view. Computer Science is a very new field, and not all the experts agree.

    For instance, I have a computer in my living room and it get's quite hot when I turn it on. Doctors tell us all the time about Bacteriums and Immunocological systems but because they're not respected "Computer Scientists" their opinions are ignored. But when my Aunty Mabel got the French Pox last year she got hot too. Why does no-one listen to these Doctors too?

    Clearly these so called "IT professionals" have a vested interest in having us download upgrades the size of Wales for our perfectly healthy Computers. But when I put a Cup of Chicken soup in the cup-holder on my computer and wrapped it in a blanket, it cooled down right away? How do they explain that then?

    --- Mike is an avid Mail reader and mother of three.

  120. Anonymous Coward

    Whats new?

    Divided opinion on such affairs is not new. Each side can give examples of why the other is talk out their left tit. Arguments flare and people rant. But I think most are missing the point.

    You can argue economy or ecology all you want. Reality is we are living on this world, its our home. Why not stop the stupid hostility and treat the earth as you would treat your home.

    Without taking care of it, we all end up in the same boat. Dead.


  121. Alan Wilkinson
    IT Angle

    Show me a model with predictions

    I notice on reading this that everyone who claims experience with mathematical models is sceptical and that is also my position.

    Please show me the best existing climate model and its verifiable predictions matched to data and expected errors in those predictions over the next decades and century.

    Then we can see if anyone here actually knows what they are talking about.

  122. amanfromMars Silver badge

    We are what we do. What do you do with Life? Share IT?

    "Bush's Possibility 5: Jesus teleports believers to paradise." ... By Nano nano Posted Thursday 14th February 2008 14:11 GMT

    Amen to that, Brother. And AIMen on the MI567ON?

    <<<Picking Up Speed, Cap'n...

    By amanfromMars

    Posted Friday 15th February 2008 04:40 GMT

    "it must have been in a parallel universe, or at least a very oBLique oNe." ..... By Adrian Esdaile Posted Thursday 14th February 2008 23:59 GMT

    Yes, it was, Adrian, but it boldly went forth on its own rather than "entangling" viewers to realise it is an AIdD which parallels Real Life Ventures......and even builds for Real in a Simulator that which the Program Shows ....... for Total Information Awareness Immersion ..... Virtualised TelePortation.

    One of those TEMPEST*uous Alien Technologies Floating on the Market Seas.

    * and also, it is not disconnected from .... "Devolved Control of ATM Networks .... Controling the Tempest: Adaptive mangement in advanced ATM control architectures ... The Tempest: A Practical Framework for Network Programmability (136K) ...

    IT could even be BetaTesting ITs Control Architectures for Fitness for Future Purpose. ..... which would be Default Mutual Benefit Positive Reinforcement. Very Sophisticated, Virtually IntelAIgent Programming [Quman Instructions and Guidance] >>>

    "Reality sux. Chaos rox.

    Go figure.

    ... calling the manfrommars...." .... By Anonymous Coward

    Posted Thursday 14th February 2008 23:54 GMT

    Feeling them Vibes right to the Heart, AC, however, whenever Reality sux so Good, why Chaos rox so Badly is worth Figuring for Fixing.

    "Intelligent Design must be next" ...By Lon Willett Posted Friday 15th February 2008 01:17 GMT .... You have a problem with Intelligence, Lon? The Register is Full to OverFlowing with ITs Constant Instantiating Streams

    "Pete - An IT Professional (and BSc and shortly MSc, but hey surely the IT Profesional part is what qualifies me to comment?)" ....By Peter W Posted Friday 15th February 2008 01:17 GMT

    And the Best IT Professional is the True Amateur, Pete?

  123. Tracey May

    The trap of climate change

    Well john, i do absolutely agree with you. It is a shame that so many people have fallen into this climate change trap. Now you have those who think they know what they are talking about snapping and growling at your heels because you have given your opinion and are not a climate scientist. so what! climate scientist are all under the spell of the 'save the planet' giants, and as you said need to keep on at us to save fuel and the planet because they get funding from govenments who want a reason to tax us to the hilt. And it working. £22 billion has been collected already and according to the tax payers alliance who reported on it a few months ago, thats plently enough to sort out the UK CO2 problem, as defined by a selection of climate specialist. (report was available here in the Reg).

    The people in 'the trap' havent really got the gist of what you are talking about John. There are few new sciences that have been accepted in such a short time as that of climate change. The media have helped the govenments terrify us all, whilst laying the blame squarly at our feet.

    The climate models we have are not able to add in all the variables. The amount of variables in actually quite astonishing. There is much variability among different climate model types and within each re-run on each computer.

    This is a dynamic planet, always changing, it was only in the early 1980's we were warned that there was an ice age coming toward us at full speed. thensome clever boffin took up the 200 year old climate change problem and grabbed it with both hands. Yes...this climate change thing has been looked into for over 200 years guys. if they knew why not do more about it then. Oh....and by the way....200 years ago, we didnt have cars, or electricity. (read-Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming by Gale E. Christianson)

    I am sure those of you in 'the trap' will spout at me about my credentials etc, i have studied climate change. At first i was like you, blindly believing all that i read, now i have the credentials to research things have changed, and i no longer blindly believe i take time to research all areas before i have an opinion.

    Climate change has now become like a religion, 2 facts about religion (which ever one you look at) Having faith, is blindly believing, and religion is power.

  124. Diggers

    This discussion is really amusing because....

    Anonymous coward and his climate change warriors seem to missed one minor fact....

    Their argument is based on one premise - the author of the original article cannot possibly be correct, because he's not a climatologist, he's an IT consultant.

    Far enough you may think, until you consider the climate models themselves. How are these models calculated, executed and how are their predictions arrived at?

    They're computer generated models. Which means that they must've been designed and coded by an IT professional, who by definition will not be a climatologist.

    Therefore the accuracy of the climate models falls to a simple mathematical equation...

    The program is written by an IT proffessional with direction from a climatologist, executed and the outcome is observed.

    But if an IT professional cannot be correct in this matter (thus a negative (we'll call it -1)) and the input given to them from a climatologist must be correct (thus a positive we'll call this +1)) this would make the equation look like:

    IT (-1) + Climatologist (+1) = outcome accuracy

    Therefore -1+1= outcome accuracy

    outcome accuracy therefore = 0 neither positive, nor negative

    Obviously then, the outcome of these models cannot, by definition, be deemed to be accurate, nor inaccurate. As a result, when it comes to Anthropogenic Climate Change - I don't believe a word of it.

    One last thought - do we have sufficient data to prove ACC? Do we have extensive accurate records stretching back thousands of years? No. GIGO Garbage in Garbage out - computing term for: the data you get out of a program can only be as a direct result of the data going in. In my humble opinion then folks ACC is garbage out.

  125. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Peter' response to "It's wasn't an article."

    I quote: "OK, was comment...not supposed to have any proof or scientific data. Then you say people are attacking the person and motives, not the science he presents. So you're a little confused there. over whether science is being presented or not."

    To take it in steps:

    Science are more than just scientific data. Asking questions is science for instance.

    No, I am not confused. I said that the comment didn't have any proof or scientific data. Yet, I will claim that it was scientific. That is because one part of science is to ask question and put itself under scrutiny.

    Then you write: "At least you're agreeing the article has no basis in science, can't be justified, and isn't adding anything to a debate on the matter."

    1. Again, it is not an article.

    2. It is an interesting claim that asking questions have no place in science. Because that is more or less all he did.

    3. It is even more interresting to say that you shouldn't be asking questions in a debate.

    4. I bet it can't be justified by freedom of speech, which sadly is slowly dieing in this matter.

    5. No, I don't agree.

    Still Paris. Just look at her, she is asking questions.

  126. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alright then

    So, nothing's happening? There are no consequences to folks not giving a good shite about anything other than the wiser world of bigger motor cars?

    Excellent. Good to know.

    Thanks much.

  127. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sanity Checks

    When I was learning science at school, I was always taught about the need to sanity check things. If you are calculating the speed of a body, when you have your exact answer, go back and think of an approximation to the answer and make sure they match. How easy is it to solve s = u.t + 1/2 .a.t^2 to find t when s, u, a are known, and mistakenly pick the negative result from the quadratic equation for example.

    This article is clearly talking about those sanity checks. If you build a model, and you are trying to calculate the feedback mechanisms, you know some feedback is positive and some is negative, but you don't know every feedback mechanism in existence. When you end up with a very large positive feedback in total, any engineer will tell you the system is likely to be unstable, and that doesn't seem to correspond to history. You are therefore clearly missing something.

    Now, if you start to look more deeply at the "science" behind climate change, as I have, it starts to get interesting. Papers are put up for peer review. Now peer review has a tendency to look at process and make sure you aren't doing something silly. They also tend to make sure you follow your assumptions. But when you have assumed that feedback processes are limited to a small handful of the possible processes, your science may be valid, but your conclusions aren't relevant to the real world.

    Take the question about water vapour. This is the biggest greenhouse gas, but one of the least understood. When the sea gets warmed up, it releases water vapour, this water vapour is a greenhouse gas, so we get positive feedback, and the earth gets hotter. But, when the air reaches a certain saturation point we start to see cloud build-up. This cloud build-up results in different types of clouds depending on other factors, like the vertical temperature gradient, etc. If we get high level cirrus clouds, this also has a greenhouse effect and results in positive feedback. If we get lower level cumulus or cumulo-nimbus clouds, this has a tendency to reflect solar radiation, but insulate the ground layers, so we see a dampening effect where differences between day and night temperatures reduce. The problem is the difference between different systems can be very small. Just look at the boundary between tropical regions and desert around the world. What defines one region and not the other - its a fine line. Get it wrong and your models will be wildly incorrect - desert on the one hand, tropics and teeming wildlife on the other.

    Some of these climate models though just need people to stand back and think, this doesn't make any sense. Something has to be wrong. Its this type of thinking which leads to so many changes in the "consensus opinion" in modern science. In fact, think back a few years, a patent clerk questioned Newtonian mechanics, he said they didn't make sense at speeds approaching light speed. Was he qualified to ask these questions - technically no. Was he right - yes, for the time being.

    Consensus opinions change in science all the time. They change by people asking hard questions, and going back to fundamentals, rather than considering things down in the weeds. In science, a dissenting opinion is actually crucial. Those people whose response to dissenting opinions is to shoot the messenger, have missed the whole reason for scientific debate. And those who fund only 1 side of the argument are being fundamentally dishonest. The argument is far from over, even a biased report like the IPCC recognises this when it says that certain climate changes are "likely" or "very likely", but never "almost certain".

    All I ask for is that the argument be conducted scientifically, and that the religious fervour or many, especially on the green side, is removed from the debate. If we got rid of the religious comments on this forum for example, it would reduce the size of the response list by 60-70% (as an estimate), and leave you with some nice scientific argument from both sides.

  128. Steve

    Sanity has been checked

    It's a bit disappointing that Anonymous Coward's in the "Sanity Checks" post seems to think that climate scientists are driven by the extremist green agenda, and that they don't undertake the sanity checks s/he advocates. Otherwise, his comments on clouds seem reasonable, and do much better than the original comment in identifying the uncertainties in climate science.

    The counter argument though is that the same model code runs quite successfully over vastly different climates across the world: the same code can be used to predict the weather for the UK in winter and Australia in summer. And by the same code, I mean that substantially the same lines of code are executed to model a cloud in a hot humid environment and a cloud in a cool wintry environment.

    So while s/he is right to say that clouds are one of the biggest unknowns in calculating the feedbacks, the cloud schemes undergo tests in many different scenarios, and there are no reasonable cloud schemes that produce negative feedbacks to warming.

    So you have to be optimistic to hope that the clouds will result in a negative feedback to balance out the warming effect we know will be caused by increasing CO2, particularly when we have actually observed warming that was predicted 30 years ago.

  129. Peter

    @@Peter' response to "It's wasn't an article."

    OK, lets try again. It is an article: nonfiction prose.

    I've no problem with someone asking questions as part of science. Even though it was in a news website. The problem is that if you're going to ask questions in science, it's normal to have some understanding of the field before you do so. Other posters have made it very clear why he's wrong in his basic assumptions. It's a pity you think freedom of speech is "dieing" (sic). Go and read some of the real science, and when you've educated yourself on the subject, you might be in a position to add something to the debate. Just don't expect to come along to a forum, post some twaddle without any understanding of the issues, and expect to be taken seriously.

  130. paul
    Paris Hilton

    software engineer--bridge

    Just an aside to your comment "Would you trust a software enginer to build a bridge?" The bridge on highway 35W in Minneapolis collapsed in August 2007. The time frame of the design correlates with the beginnings of computer analysis for structural design. So did we trust a software engineer to build a bridge??"

    Keep up the good work on so-called global warming.


  131. Peter

    @Sanity checks

    Thats kind of why we have peer review, and why you shouldn't form your opinion of a field of science from media reports...

  132. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "it seems computer modeling of climates is a good way to get into financial/economic modeling. Or at least it pays more.) "

    Nonsense - everyone knows that the climate modelers are just rolling in grant money, and are only coming up with the number's they're coming up with to keep themselves in the manner that they've become accustomed to!

    Bloody hell! The JeremyClarkson-esque tone of recent ElReg coverage on the issue of climate change would be funny if it wasn't so appalling. You've become as bad as the Discovery Institute, proudly displaying your new-found religion of climate-change scepticism.

  133. Petrea Mitchell

    Only 30 years of data???

    Um, so the multiple well-correlated lines of evidence on past climate from tree rings, ice cores, mud cores, etc. have been thrown out? Could someone please tell me when that happened?

  134. Anonymous Coward

    Does it really matter?

    After all in 2012 on the 21st day of the 12th month the world is going to end. The pole will shift and the Zetans who have been talking to Nancy will come in and rescue us from ourselves. (

    "For yay, did they come out of their houses and wave their hands in the air and drink a coke, for it was happiness to be knowing that they were free to be stupid" Stupidicus vs 10 ch 3.

  135. Scott
    IT Angle

    Comforting Words?

    We are in an ice age right now. What hollywood portrays as ice ages are glaciations within ice ages. The Earth is much warmer than this current state, otherwise, with higher sea levels and no ice caps. We are not necessarily "coming out" of this ice age, as a previous poster suggested. We are in the midst of an interglacial period, where the glaciers have receded. This is by it's nature a transient state, but it is the state in which human civilization has risen.

    Whether or not the current, relatively rapid, climate change is anthropogenic, it should be of concern. We have over six billion humans on this planet, in fairly precarious circumstances. If the world were to get substantially colder or warmer it would pose a serious problem.

    Too many people get caught up in the debate over the cause of climate change. The results of the change are what matter. We know that we can affect the climate. We know that the climate is changing. We know that a much colder or much warmer Earth would likely prove disastrous for current population levels and distributions. Therefore, we know that we need to act to constrain climate change.

    Blind optimism is often comforting, but perhaps the author should pursue a regimen of education on the subject before pontificating further.

  136. Alan Wilkinson

    Results are what matter

    Scott, I agree the results are what matter. My problem is that we are not able to forecast those results to better than within a factor of five at the most optimistic view (ie that the models have no fundamental deficiencies).

    To assist our education, please show us evidence that we know what is happening with sufficient precision to have any clue as to what we need to spend money on. No-one else has.

    The global average temperature charts have been flat for a decade. Please pontificate further.

  137. John Marshall

    Global What?

    Climate Change is with us and has been for 4.6 Bn years, but it is driven by solar activity not CO2. CO2 is not a polutant but a vital gas that plants cannot live without. No plants, no life!

    Water vapour is responsible for 95% of so called greenhouse effect. But water vapour gives a negative feedback effect because when it condenses into cloud solar radiation is reflected back into space.

    If CO2 is so important in affecting global temperatures why, during the Medieval Warm Period, and Roman Warm Period, we had low CO2 volumes (250ppmv) and higher temperatures than today. In fact the Romans grew vines for making wine in northern England. That would be impossible now.

  138. ttt

    there is a problem...

    it does not matter the ratio as to how much climate change is human or naturally induced, what matters is that climate is changeing, it is never fully stable, i'm a 3rd year geography student and climate change is my main focus, many climate models run on co2 levels, it is impossible to get a model which contains every natural aspect of the climate system, yes ile admit non i know of contain water vapour as a green house gas, which is known as the most prominate, nor do others account for India and China and there expected output of emmisions over the next 50years, there are too many feedbacks, both possitive and negative to know exactly what is going to happen, but we know that climate is changing, with more extremes (weather wise) occuring, people should be concerned, not ignoring the problem just because 1 person says its solar activity, and the other says CO2,

    and i do not believe CO2 is just responsible for current climate change, but many factors, but what we do know is that levels have increased sharply, faster than ever known before (more so because we can measure at a higher resolution than the past), and that it does have a massive affect on climate, for instance look into the snowball earth theory.

  139. David

    Another view.

    Ok, got bored with reading the comments for now so making my own.. (If you've read through all the comments and got to mine, well, you deserve a pat on the back.. so go to your favourite back-patter and ask them to give you one)


    Firstly, yes. The climate is changing. It will have highs and lows and highs again, and some more lows. But it is changing.

    How much has man had to do with this?

    Changes will, I expect, speed up for a while over time while the pendulum swings in one direction or the other. Are we making it faster?

    Well.. I dunno.. What I do know is this. I've not known coldness like the last few winters. Or summers for that matter. I'm not talking increased rain and increased cloud, I am talking colder clear nights than I can recall.

    Also, I look at Mt Egmont in Taranaki, New Zealand, and I know that the climate is not at all warmer. I grew up in the shadow of that mountain, and I do not recall it ever having as much visible snow on it as it does this summer. Scratch that. I do not recall it EVER having visible snow. The snow usually melts in spring, and does not return till autumn. That alone is proof that the climate, at least in that area, is currently colder.


    I must look to my own faith, to the warnings in Revelation, Job, and other places throughout the Bible. The climate is going to get noticeably worse in the not very distant future. Massive storms, on larger scales than we know now. Worse hail storms than Hollywood can imagine.. Some of the stuff that the climate change people are on about.. I don't for a moment trust them but.. At least some of what they say matches what I beleive the Bible to say.

    However, all that aside - believe in the Bible or not, believe in climate change or not... Will it hurt for us to start working to improve our climate? Instead of burning every bit of energy we can get our hands on - and much of it in a wasteful manner, how about working to make more efficient use of the energy we have? Oil is limited, at least for now. We may have 10 years reserves or 10,000 years reserves, but it is limited. And it's expensive as well - surely better use of it would save us money.

    And must we really keep pumping pollutants into our atmosphere? I come from a rural background, and always live on the outskirts of whatever town or city I am stuck with. I don't like the pollution around our cities, on our more major roadways. I can't stand peak hour traffic in the few times I have to endure it.

    True or false, global warming doesn't really matter to me. But the quality of my air, and the amount of cash in my pocket does. And more efficient use of energy is going to affect both in a way I like.

    (Penguin coz.. We need to think of the poor little buggers and how they're gonna get on without being able to drive suv's like we can, poor little fellas... :) )

  140. Mark

    @Saint Ignatius

    When you google for the hockeystick debunked, make sure you check out the "hockystick debunk debunked" links too.

    Or should you show bias in your selection trying to undo any bias on AGW?

  141. Mark
    Thumb Down

    looking at

    And I see no graph of what the CO2 and temperature are doing. Not one pixel. Not one vecor.


    So how does this prove that there's a 800 year lag?

    If I assert here right now without any graph or reason why this is so that there is no such lag, is the link now wrong?

    In short, the link says nothing that is able to be seen. There is nothing that shows the assertion is correct.

    Avoid it.

  142. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Game theory

    So... - the Cheney adminstration tells us that regardles of the likelihood of a massive terrorist attack the horror of such an event is justification enough to spend a lot of money on it.

    And then... - the Cheney adminstration tells us that the likelihood of a massive ecodisaster is not proven enough to justify enough spending a lot of money on it.

    Some screwy game theory going down here, somewhere.

  143. Gordon Crawford

    Just takes the push of a button to stop it.

    no consensus , so anyones guess /opinion's good .so here is my 2 cents

    1] we here in america are doing our best to reduce the misery of future poor and mis fortunate,reducing the population where ever we can((Iraq, Afghanistan right now (and thanks for helping))of course the firing of so many guns causing all that friction MIGHT be hindering the affects of all their hot breaths they will not breath anymore.,but at least the can not breed any more,thereby reducing the future masses...

    2] Mr Carl Sagan postulated back in the 80's how to stop this global warming .

    remember nuclear winter? Just takes the push of a button .

  144. Jay

    We should be greener anyway


    "Geologists find the arguments very unconvincing."

    I am a geologist and find the arguments convincing enough. Something's happening on an unprecedented scale of time, and nobody can deny that.

    But in my opinion everyone's missing the point. It doesn't matter much whether the change is man-made or natural, or even if it is happening for real in the first place.

    The real point is, we can't go on abusing our little planet like that and should do something about it anyway, regardless of whether it will avoid a climate crisis or not... Some European initiatives have proved that we can go green in sustainable ways, and not necessarily at prohibitive costs. The "I go on polluting as much as I want because it doesn't affect the climate" is wrong and irresponsible all along.

    Let's get our act clean.

This topic is closed for new posts.