back to article Would putting all the climate scientists in a room solve global warming...

Entourages are not something that delegates bring to a conference. Especially if the delegate is a humble public sector scientist. But the private invitation-only event I attended at Downing College Cambridge this week was no ordinary conference. It was an attempt to bring together leading climate scientists and IPCC figures …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    A question, and a dig ...

    Q: Where was Al Gore & his Jumbo Jet in all this?

    The dig: I have had access to boats in the water at Santa Cruz, Pillar Point, San Francisco, Redwood City, Sausalito, Petaluma, Napa, Bodega Bay, Albion, Fort Bragg and Eureka for over fourty years. The level of the ocean along the central/northern California coast hasn't changed in all that time. At all. And you global warming enthusiasts were saying ... what, exactly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The level of the water hasn't changed?

      The level of the water hasn't changed where your boats were moored?

      Not once? by the sea?

      Round by where I live it's contantly changing...

      Actually this is a serious point, tidal digs aside, the level of the water is far less likely to change (on average) where you moor a boat, what with harbours/marinas. It is also much harder to see a small rise in the sea when you're only visiting for short times, due to the tidal affect. Or do you have specialist measuring equipment and historical records?

      Anecdotes aren't evidence.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC 13:49

        Tides & various tsunamis aside, no. Mean lower low water and mean lower high water are EXACTLY the same as they were over 125 years ago at Noyo Harbor (Fort Bragg), Bodega Bay, Marina Green (San Francisco), Redwood Creek (Redwood City), Pillar Point and Santa Cruz. Yes, these are official, historical data.

        What, no comment on Al Gore's private Jumbo Jet?

    2. smacky

      Fort Bragg

      Isn't even near the ocean, and it's on the Atlantic side.

      1. jake Silver badge


        Fort Bragg, in Mendocino County, California, named after the same General Bragg as the East Coast version, is most definitely on the Pacific Coast.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Make that "mean higher high water".

          Brain fart. I'm only human. Apologies.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      It would have been more honest...

      ... to just type 'I'VE GOT A LOT OF BOATS!!!!!!!!!'

      1. jake Silver badge

        But AC13:56 ... I don't have a lot of boats[1].

        Please note where I said I had "access" to the records of the various harbors over the last 4 decades or so. Or even the last century and a quarter. So do you. So do the global warming alarmists.

        The difference between me & the global warming alarmists is that I review reality before commenting. The global warming alarmists refuse to review reality.

        [1] OK, I'll admit to having more boats than most folks, who have zero boats ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Any chance you can post a link to this data?

          1. David Pollard

            @ Jake - acutal sea level data

            If data from the U.S. Geological Survey is credible, then sea levels in the San Francisco region have risen significantly in recent decades.


            1. jake Silver badge

              @ David Pollard

              If you look at the data & squint, ignoring the red line[1], with the exception of El Nino years (which are normal, and were well documented by the Incas and Mayas before you Europeans[2] got here), after the mid-1940s and thru' the 1970s, the measured level is pretty much flat. Prior to the 1950s, the data is well within experimental error, given the measuring tools available.

              I first noticed this when interning as a key-punch operator at the USGS in Menlo Park in the late 1970s & early '80s when I was at Berkeley & Stanford. When I brought it up to an analyst, he pointed out "wait until we get more off-shore measuring points, and see what the real temperature & sea level of the Pacific is outside the Humboldt Current ... people are going to freak out!"

              And here we are today :-)

              @AC 08:59: See David Pollard's link for the address of the USGS in Menlo Park, CA. They are more than happy to provide raw data. Have fun!

              [1] Lies, damn lies, statistics & all that.

              [2] I'm 100% Suomalainen, don't call me European, white boy ;-)

              1. Doctor Tarr

                Title must contain blah.................

                You're called Jake and you access to loads of boats. Must be a pirate then!

                1. jake Silver badge

                  @Doctar Tarr

                  No, I'm called "jake". And if you had bothered reading for comprehension, you would have noticed that I have access to the water, not necessarily "loads of boats".

                  Poirat, tho' ... Aye, lad. Oi've rescued rottin' boats in Bodega Bay; caught sturgeon & stripped 'em for their roe and then released 'em South of the Dumbartin Bridge; taken chainsaws to useless hulks to make use of decent parts in Docktown, Redwood City; caught th' drippins of the leaky pipes from Moffett Field to the aging fuel pier for my own use; made midnight runs to the guest docks around the bay to unload my privy without sharing it with the rest of the water lovers in the area, and otherwise boated with a minimum of impact on either my wallet or the environment. I've also hauled idiots out of the break at Mavericks with a Jetski ... Us modern-day pirates have a completely different agenda from those of old :-)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Someone has downvoted a genuine request for data to back up a claim about sea-levels on a discussion about climate change?


            I don't know where to find the data, Jake obviously does because he says he's seen it, I'd like to see the data as well, so I asked for a link.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    an entourage ...

    or a collection of colleagues, postdocs and graduate students?

    1. Jolyon


      Or just evening up the numbers if it ended up 50-50 skeptics and, what do we call them on here, Warm-Mongers? Morons? Scum? I forget what the current derogatory term is.

      1. breakfast


        I believe the correct term is "scientists."

      2. fishman


        Term I've heard is Alarmists for those who support "climate change".

      3. Anonymous Coward

        It is 'warmists'

        Other terms are alarmists, CAGW-believers, bed-wetters, religious types etc.

        Since the dawn of mankind there have been those keen to use fear to predict the end of the world, unless one does what they say, notably religious organisations. Global Cooling / Global Warming / Climate Change / Climate Disruption are the new tools of fear and control by these modern day charlatans.

        The Sun / Cosmic Ray theory will almost certainly prove to be the main climate driver, and not CO2. When you study correlation graphs comparing Temperature/CO2 & Temperature/Cosmic rays, the Cosmic Ray theory fits far better than CO2. It's startling.

  3. Battsman

    Not Andrew's Most Editorialized Article

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that Andrew actually tried to report the facts somewhat evenly without extensive editorial - typically his climate oriented articles are heavily tinged. I was also pleasantly surprised to see someone trying to foster intelligent discussion across the aisles regarding climate change and its potential causes.

    I am by no means convinced of human-centered climate change - i'm much more inline with the idea that the large glowing fusion furnace located near by and streaming energy and highly energetic particles at us contributes the most to our daily experience on the planet Earth. Similarly, I have to assume that volcanos/geological events have an extraordinary impact on our climate due to the scale of energy/material involved.

    The above being said, I think we'd be ostriches not to seriously consider the idea that humans have a significant impact on their environment - we literally have changed the face of our planet via deforestation, paving, farming, etc. What worries me is the idea of equialibria and tipping points - 3% man-made CO2 vs. 97% may not seem like much but that kind of delta can be the push to shift equalibria and we have to be aware of that possibility. It is quite possible that 3% isn't insignificant.

    What I worry about most is that the historical arguments for/against continued analysis of climate change seem to be extraordinarily idealogical with little concern about the net outcomes. On the human-centric side you have the expectation that we are going to completely change our society to deal with problems that may or may not be real and on the other side you have people that would argue that we should be ostriches because it might be expensive to solve a preventable problem.

    Who wants to put money for/against the idea that reality probably lies between the two idealogical arguments? I for one would put my money on humans are impacting environment (but probably not to the amount the alarmists predict to get a reaction) and if we were smarter about energy use and energy production, we could mitigate the majority of the risk with a reasonable amount of investment. More meetings like the meeting described by this article please.

    1. Schultz

      Concerning volcanos/geological events

      Volcanos and geological events can be quite neglected. All geological energy comes from radioactive decay and tidal forces (don't forget, we always gotta conserve energy). Science gives some numbers: Sun irradiation of the earth surface: 174 000 TW; Geothermal energy 45 TW (K.H. Nealson, R. Rye (2004) Evolution of Metabolism, pp.41 ff . In Biochemistry (ed. W.H. Schlesinger), Vol. 8 Treatise on Geochemistry, Elsevier-Pergamon, Oxford.)

      If you talk about the greenhouse effect or atmospheric light scattering after volcanic eruptions, we're back to the sun irradiation issue and you might have more of a case.

    2. C 2

      Human 'contribution'

      FWIW the human race contributes about 134 *times* (not 134%, but 13400%) the CO2 that volcanoes do annually, as of the USGS study in 2007. This number varies slightly as volcanic emissions are somewhat erratic, and human emissions are on the rise. This is with data on modern volcanic emissions.

      In summary that's volcanoes 200 Million tonnes/year vs. humans 28.6 Billion tonnes/year.

      Volcanoes are credited with bringing the earth out of the 'snowball earth' phase of its history via co2 emissions.

      I'm not getting into other factors such as albedo (roads, deforestation and buildings) and particulates or aerosols (skin flakes, diesel exhaust, dust, sulfur dioxide etc); however this suggests that 6billion humans can *easily* have quite the effect on our climate.

    3. Mike007

      human impact

      I have to agree that we are changing the planet a lot, and I very much doubt that CO2 is a major factor, the turning of forests in to concrete cities is having a far bigger effect than anything else we're doing.

      We have literally wiped out hundreds of species of animals thousands of species of plants and totally screwed with the weather with our huge city expansions, but everyone is sitting in the corner talking about something which if it even has an impact that impact is so small we can't detect it...

  4. Valerion

    Good step

    A small step, but a good one. At least everyone was in the same room and having (by the sounds of it) sensible, level-headed scientific discussion rather than scaremongering from one side (which I guess is why Al Gore wasn't there) and shouted denials from the other.

    At least it has proven that the debate is not over...

  5. Melvin Meatballs

    Simpleminded me

    I take from this that the human race knows the thick end of bugger all about how our planet's climate works.

    1. copsewood

      Plenty of knowledge, but incomplete

      "I take from this that the human race knows the thick end of bugger all about how our planet's climate works."

      No, because reasonably good estimates based upon the model we have (weather forecasting) can be made over the next 5 days or so. But climate is a very complex mechanism, and not all parts of it are understood yet and not all of the interactions are known. And we're probably a very long way from complete understanding. The knowledge we do have suggests strongly that we need to act in a way that reduces our risk of wrecking our own climate which requires development of climate friendly energy sources and use. Leaving or keeping 2/3rds of the world population in poverty isn't an option here either, because people in bad enough poverty will burn anything to keep warm or destroy any nearby forest in order to feed themselves, while people who are better off tend to have the means and motivation to care about their nearby environment. It's the same kind of issue which led in many places to localised pollution becoming sufficiently disliked that activists eventually got this cleaned up, e.g. you can now find fresh fish in the Thames not present 100 years ago, and you can also breathe air in London without many people getting ill.

      In the past the rich have been able to externalise environmental misbehaviour, by siting toxic waste dumps where poor people live while keeping the areas where rich people live green. But global climate is the part of the environment in which we can't avoid all sharing our pollution. Localised solutions don't work here so this needs a global response.

    2. C 2

      Which hasn't stopped us from meddling

      .. nor has it stopped some from proposing 'geo-engineering' to fix it.

      Although many say isn't broken, despite the world being in a global food crises, due to what else but climate driven crop failures for the last few years:

      Lets have a pint while we still can.

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Good step

    Actually it would appear that the debate is just starting. It's the mud-slinging, finger-pointing, propaganda and hysteria from both sides of the debate that may or may not be over......

  7. Dr. Ellen


    I definitely believe in climate change. Over the past century or two the planet has been getting warmer -- as well it might, climbing out of the Little Ice Age. Of late, at least in the part of the world I deal with, it's been getting colder. This is all moderately undeniable.

    What I would like to know, however, is where all these people get the precise data to assess blame upon me; to tell me what I must and must not do; to tell me my taxes and expenses must increase mightily that they may save me.

    Until they get better data and models, this is all an attempt to gain control over me and my money -- and you and your money as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Money

      As I'm sure you're aware, we're still *technically* in an ice age - a big one rather than the 'Little Ice Age - and will be until the poles are completely ice-free.

      I'm interested that even the cited data that's being used are subject to arguments, such as the use of sea temperature against air temperature. It makes it sound like even basic data collection isn't beyond doubt. And scientists are supposed to be familiar with the idea of tough scrutiny and the burden of proof.

      I don't advocate reckless abuse of our planet's resources but healthy scepticism, especially when scientists' funding is dependent on there being a problem, seems a logical position.

      But I wholeheartedly agree that allowing the competing views to properly debate seems like a good and promising step forward. I commend the organisers.

  8. Anteaus

    Good article..

    ..and highlights the lack of reliable, dependable science behind all of these climate-change issues.

    I think one of the key issues is that the proponents of global warming are trying to draw conclusions from statistically-insufficient data sets. Because of random 'noise' on short-term measurements, climate trends can only be properly assessed over data spanning periods of hundreds of years. Attempting to make predictions of trends for the next century based of 30 years of data (since global warming allegedly took-off) leaves a gigantic margin for error.

    The fact of the matter is that if we want proof (or refutation) of global warming, we need to wait for more data, to see if the trend continues or not. Meanwhile the politicians are already in panic-mode, and don't want to wait. Result: unwise decisions, knee-jerk reactions, wasted capital and resources, unwise energy policies, scaremongering and hysteria, racketeering, environmental damage.

    Climate change or no, we need a replacement for fossil fuels, and will need that whatever happens, sometime within the next hundred years. Therefore we should be concentrating on that area of science. Once we have a safe energy source that doesn't liberate carbon dioxide, the global warming debate will become irrelevant.

    1. Mike VandeVelde

      wasted capital and resources

      You can find *much* bigger piles of wasted capital and resources in many other areas besides our half hearted attempts at climate change mitigation. I wish the one-world-order-tyrants-are-taking-milk-straight-from-my-babies-mouth types would get a little perspective.

    2. C 2

      Some actual information might have helped to come up with a more realistic comment. Allow me to fill in some gaps.

      "I think one of the key issues is that the proponents of global warming are trying to draw conclusions from statistically-insufficient data sets. Because of random 'noise' on short-term measurements, climate trends can only be properly assessed over data spanning periods of hundreds of years. Attempting to make predictions of trends for the next century based of 30 years of data (since global warming allegedly took-off) leaves a gigantic margin for error."

      This is typical of the propaganda from political factions (IMO) that want everyone to keep using fossil fuels until there is no more to sell. As for the history of climate data it goes back somewhat farther than you suggest. Global warming was suspected and tentatively proven in the 1930's to 1950's using data as far back as the mid 1800s.

      "Climate change or no, we need a replacement for fossil fuels, and will need that whatever happens, sometime within the next hundred years. Therefore we should be concentrating on that area of science. Once we have a safe energy source that doesn't liberate carbon dioxide, the global warming debate will become irrelevant."

      Great idea, but we need something a LOT sooner than 100 years, unless you think farmers can somehow revert to 19th century practices by not using 10 calories of fossil fuels for every 1 of food they produce. "Peak oil" which for some reason is widely ridiculed happened in 2006 or 2007 at best estimates. Since the rate at which we use it continues to increase it won't last 30 years, much less 100.

      This article sums everything up pretty well..

      Peak oil will also likely cause 'boom bust' cycles in the world economies, until we find another solution or go back to 19th century technology.


  9. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Thumb Up

    two questions on abbreviations

    #1 Which "Met" are you talking about as having attended? I know that in the UK, the Met is usually the Metropolitan Police, but here in Ireland, the Met is the Meteorological Office. I would have assumed you meant the latter except for the comment wondering why they attended.

    #2 CBR on page 3... is this supposed to be Cosmic Background Radiation? If so, I think this is the wrong phrase since CBR refers to the ambient radiation left over from the Big Bang. Isn't it?

    Overall, nice article. Not nearly (as pointed out) as editorialising as your other articles. Which is nice because we get a chance to comment. That seems to have been a good call as (so far) the comments haven't descended into religious flaming. Thumbs up.

  10. sisk

    The real cause of global warming...

    is obviously politicians, lawyers, and other hot air filled persons relieving some internal pressure.

  11. BlackMage

    Models and truth

    Oh dear:

    "People underestimate the power of models. Observational evidence is not very useful"

    WRONG! The originator of this quote is not a scientist whatever they claim or their job title is. This directly violates Karl Popper's expression of scientific philosophy that, to be considered scientific, any hypothesis (of which a model is one form) must be falsifiable by observations. Observational evidence or measurements is the closest we can get to ground truth. If models don't agree with observations we have a term for them (watch out for technical jargon here): "wrong".

    Models are worthless unless they correctly predict observations.

  12. LightWave

    arguments for and against

    So I found this page whilst trying to understand what the heck is going on.

    The science is pretty hard for my brain to understand at this moment. The author and some commentators sound like they might be scientists or have enough scientific schooling to help me out :

    I would like to know if the science is based on reality or just scare-mongering.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: LightWave

      As would we all.

  13. nederlander

    what do you expect from a bunch of hairdressers?

    I think its all rather irrelevant as people by enlarge will never accept voluntary restrictions on their consumption to solve something like this. Each person measures the importance of themselves having a hot bath or a holiday in Thailand verses the tiny (even it it were certain) impact that said action will have on climate, and concludes that their own comfort is far more important. Its the kind of 'one more wont hurt you' attitude that an alcoholic has to whisky. There's no point getting angry about it, its human nature, one might as well get annoyed with gravity.

    Damn gravity!

    Mines the organic hemp woven cardigan.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    this about sums up my feelings on the subject

    1. C 2


      You sir, are awesome. Have a pint on me.

      ... and for those who run screaming like little school girls from a few expletives they can watch the kids version here:

  15. Zippy the Pinhead

    Does it really matter

    The Vogons are on the way anyhow!

    Now where's my towel... I'll get the door on the way out.

  16. Alex 72
    Thumb Down

    Straw Man!

    Straw Man! that is all

  17. nederlander

    say wha?!

    Hold on.. what money has been squandered on climate change?

    Some money has been spent on developing homegrown industries, including (mostly) nuclear (and to a much tinier extent), solar, wind and ocean, but all this pales into utter insignificance when measured against the bill for bailing out the financial system, that spent on weapons of mass destruction etc.

    Squandered on climate change indeed. I ask you.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    In *real* science

    Observations meet theory.

    Observations *win*.

    Influence of sunspot and UV levels underestimated x6 and that is *not* important.

    I'd suggest that is at *least* worthy of investigation.

    And despite *repeated* observations that "We don't really understand the role of clouds" WTF don't you start *trying* to find out.

    The fact that CFC production brought about changes in polar Ozone levels on *human* timescales proves that humans can change climate.

    However I find the fact that the temperature pattern between ground level, troposphere and stratosphere matches the skeptics, rather than the advocates *astonishing*.

    This is an empirical *fact*.

    Yet I have not seen advocates *explain* it.

    If that pattern does *not* drop out of their GCM runs by *default* that would suggest *all* GCM's are FUBAR anyway.

    I believe that something is happening. Everything is *not* rosy in the garden.

    However *real* science explains *all* the observations *and* predicts what will happen next.

    And the skeptics look like they have demonstrated *superior* science and more honesty.

  19. Jim Carter


    Bugger the climate change, we don't know enough to figure out what is going on there yet. Further research is needed.

    However, what strikes me is, it makes sense to making our society more resource efficient, as we only have so much land, energy and resources to go around.

    As with other things, we're living beyond our means, financially (so we're told) and ecologically as well, if you look at the damage over-fishing does to the sea, deforestation to the land, and the over-use of well, everything.

    Anthropogenic climate change or not, things cannot continue as they are.

    1. J 3

      Your lack of faith...

      Ah, but you forget the highly esteemed opinion of that expert in American Congress:

      That settles it, doesn't it?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Sure they can

      I am all for, better use of resources, less deforestation (reforestation) and a million other concrete things we can do to improve the general state of play. Very few people disagree with your (or my) postion on this.

      However, this has fuck all to do with AGW via CO2, and you (and a zillion others) who are incapable of distinguishing these two things, and thus incapable of recognising the politics of it all, offer nothing but static to the debate.

      "Things" can continue for quite some time, most likely centuries just as they are - at least in terms of energy availability. We are not running out of fossil fuels any time soon, though their extraction costs might rise a bit. Peak-.oil is just scaremongering and makes so many invalid assumptions it is worthless as a measure of available resources for power generation. Even without indulging in nuclear power expansion, we have plenty of things to burn. We are not going to fry.

      Dramatic societal destruction will more likely be caused by a meltdown of our economic system long before an extra degree of temperature has any effect whatsoever.


  20. Graham Wilson

    Fine! But I've read the leaked emails too.

    I'm not a climate change skeptic but I actually took the trouble to download the leaked East Anglia emails--all 64,936,854 bytes zipped, 164,687,567 unpacked bytes of file and waded through much of it.

    Anyone who reads my El Reg post would know I'm pretty outspoken. That said, I wouldn't commit many of the comments therein to paper let alone send them over the Net.

    What I gained for the emails was that there was an alacrity and sloppiness that'd you'd be unlikely to see in the more traditional sciences, physics, chemistry etc., thus I've still little confidence in anything they say, especially anything with definite figures attached.

    Seems to me it's time to get the scientists out and put the engineers in. At least they'll put a measure to Climate change that we can threat as realistic.

    Tragedy really, that I've even to contemplate such things.

  21. nyelvmark

    Can someone make me a T-shirt with this, please?

    "People underestimate the power of models. Observational evidence is not very useful"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear *

    ...please read this article:

    This article is about the science of belief itself. It is about why people - regardless of political denomination - doggedly cling to their beliefs regardless of the facts.

    Every person on earth of every belief, from religious to rationalist, from conservative to liberal needs to read this article. Please read it all the way through before turning your nose in disgust and continuing on as your were...I feel it is critically important that you at least give the information a chance.

    It pertains not only to the topic at hand - which it uses as an example - but to every argument every person has ever had since the beginning of time.

    Andrew O, please consider this request personally…I think that you might benefit from it. Though I honestly doubt the contents of the article will change your belief system in any way, given that it references a topic you write about very often (climate change) as an example, I suspect it might provide some insights relevant to your writing.

    Thank you to each and every one who actually took the time to follow the link and read the article. Each person that reads and understands the science presented therein makes the world a better place.

    1. J 3


      Nah, people will just say "those so-called scientists don't know no nothing, who pays for this crap" yadda yadda, and move on with business as usual...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice report, Mr Orlowski

    I wish people would stop discussing climate change and anthropogenic climate change at the same time. I think it just muddies the water. Of the three most relevant questions: Is climate change happening? What effects are likely? What can we do to mitigate these effects? ...only the last one requires reference to man's actions.

  24. Roke

    You know...

    ... as a "scientist" or "boffin" or whatever myself, I am really bothered by two facts in the "debate":

    One: when there is a claim of "consensus" among scientists, it is usually politically inclined - I bet you can find a bunch of references on that. What this article shows is that there is no consensus, and that, despite how different industries tries to lobby both sides, there are scientific differences,

    Two: ALL science, at least non-social sciences (well and some of those too), seems to try to find ONE (simple) theory to explain EVERYTHING - and most often fail.

    My take on this is: yes, man has caused changes in our environment, but CO2-emissions pales in comparison to other emissions we also cause, like methane... In addition, I am sure the sun, cosmic rays and a bunch of other stuff is ALSO part of the problem.

    Yes, we need to rethink our technology and way of life, but no, it is not the ONLY explanation.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God forbid anyone should cramp our "lifestyles"

    "Our lifestyles are surely up to us, and policies in response to climate change should be decided coolly and rationally, not handed down as instructions from academic priests. People can get carried away with their own importance at times - particularly scientists".

    No - particularly Andrew Orlowski. I don't know if you understood Francis Farley's remarks "the system is unstable" and "a runaway chain reaction is very likely". If there should be a runaway chain reaction leading to unchecked global heating, vast numbers of people (clue: billions) might die. In that context, asking (or even compelling) people to change their "lifestyles" is by no means unreasonable. It's the minimum we should expect of any competent government.

    Thanks for this long, admirably objective account of the meeting in Cambridge. But what we can see, thanks to your good reporting, is how dispassionately the scientists themselves are discussing the matter. It's non-scientists who get wrought up and start to bandy ad-hominem slurs.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: God forbid anyone should cramp our "lifestyles"

      Tom Welsh:

      "compelling people to change their "lifestyles" is by no means unreasonable. It's the minimum we should expect of any competent government"

      That's because you're a natural authoritarian, Tom.

      Small groups have always sought to bypass democracy and impose their minority views on everyone else. Sometimes it is done in the name of race, or genetics, or for a higher calling: in the name of national destiny, economic ideology, religion or "saving the planet".

      They all amount to the same thing. But governments are there to serve the people, not the other way around. Sometimes we need the image of a rope and a lamp post to remind them of that.

      1. NomNomNom


        "Small groups have always sought to bypass democracy and impose their minority views on everyone else."

        Eg rationing in WWII

  26. J 3

    Cool... or not.

    Well, the interesting thing is that we don't hear much about all other lines of evidence of the change, which by the way is very much welcome in Greenland -- they already enjoy plenty of results from that -- from what I hear.

    It's not all thermometers and direct or indirect temperature measurements.

    This sounds like the creationists, who like to latch into one little disagreement in the scientific community and ignore everything else, then decreeing it is a "field in decline", etc.. Sorry to make that probably unfair comparison, but it does sound like a very similar strategy.

    So, disagreeing on the amount of human contribution to the change might be reasonable. Thinking nothing is happening is not as good of an idea. (and before someone unthinkingly repeats, again, that climate/ecosystems/whatever has always changed, remember that the whole problem is that it's changing way too FAST compared with the past natural occurrences that no one serious denies)

    Otherwise, just tell those gullible plants and animals to go back to their geographical distributions of just a couple of decades ago. Silly critters, they don't know there is huge uncertainty in the data and the models, and should therefore just have stayed where they were... Now, could they all have moved/died off/etc. for a so-far-unknown reason completely unrelated to climate, but that gave results that look the same? That's of course a possibility, but we'd still have to find out what that could be for each case. Not very parsimonious, but possible.

    Oh, and that "some global warning" joke every time there is a cold spell or snow storm was only funny the first 37 times. Now I smile at it for a different reason.

    Fire because we'd need some here, it's been chilly the past couple of days, for nearly mid-May...

  27. Mikel

    Global warming may impact your wi-fi

    In the distant past and the distant future, it is/was possible to walk across the ice from Britain to France. The human habitable zone was/will be shrunk to within a dozen degrees of latitude from the equator. The maximum sustainable human population did/will number in the hundreds of thousands. When the cold comes it comes relatively sudden - with global temps dropping 6c below present in a relatively short period of time near as we can tell.

    This past is some 9,000 years past. The future coldness may be closer depending on what we do. It's been a cyclical thing for some three billion years. Sometimes hotter than now, sometimes colder - mostly by far colder. On the average the Earth is not habitable by modern humans, even with our current science. Some say it's an Earth orbital thing, others that there's some cyclic pulsing to the sun, others that Sol's route through the galactic plane holds the answer, others would point to more local geological volcanic disturbances while still more mutter arcane gibberish about the flows of streams in the oceans. We don't agree about the cause, but all are agreed that we got from 100,000 to nearly 7 billion humans in a geologically brief temperate span 'twixt walls of ice and snow that were in the past and inevitably are in the future.

    If the Earth's temperature rises 4c (oh, woe) it will test the heights it reached in the Carboniferous era - the period when all our fossil fuels were trapped. Some might say that by releasing the carbon trapped in that time we're pressing rewind to the time when the arctic was rich with ferns. It was a richly productive time, when temperate climates on Earth lasted for hundreds of millions of years rather than mere thousands because a deep blanket of CO2 staved off the ice ages from (various previously referenced possible causes).

    If we free the trapped carbon from when the Earth was warmer and the Earth's temperature rises 4c some bad things will happen. Some islands, some coastal cities will fade beneath the waves over centuries. There will be more coastal flooding in a thousand years. Some equatorial areas will have to be evacuated over centuries. Some good things will happen too: the vast expanses of Canada and Russia become arable land to feed our teeming billions.

    If we don't free the carbon and build the blanket then the cycle will come around again. The glaciers will march on our cities, our nations. They'll scrape the evidence of our civilization from the globe. The end will come quick as it has before with some of us frozen to death wandering through a field of daisies as some Mammoths were. As we fight over dwindling resources the 30M walls of ice will march on unconcerned with our quibbling.

    No matter what we do it will be cold again. I would prefer though that it were a few hundred million years hence than it were a few thousand or hundred. That should give us time enough to figure a way to get off this rock and survive the ice when it inevitably comes. I have some kids and I'd like their offspring to explore the solar system and for some to venture further out.

    If we release every last carbon molecule that was trapped (impossible, I know) in a warmer era we can make the Earth no warmer than it was then, and can't escape to Venus type runaway greenhouse effect because Earth just didn't have enough carbon to do that last time and it doesn't have any more now than it did then. The horrible uninhabitable "too hot" planet thing just cannot happen. No matter what we do the biosphere will eventually capture again all the CO2 we release. 'Twixt now and then we'd best be roaming the stars.

    We need not hurry about it. There are other energy sources that work well like solar and geothermal that it's good to use because they give better local returns. But let's not panic about CO2.

  28. Gannon (J.) Dick
    IT Angle

    We've seen this Play before.

    The tickets were cheaper. It was about 115 years ago, as I remember.

    Those Warmists preached the Ultraviolet Catastrophe, until a way was at last found to tell them to STFU (props to Max Planck).

    The current Production features the same cast of logical errors and careerists supported by heavy handed Authority insisting that a 5,000 year record of groupthink must be tamper-proof when in fact it only ever needed tamper resistance, and very little of that.

    I could go on, and have*, but this is a very nice summary.

    * the vested interests are buried very deep, sorry if this is a bit boring ...

    Where Climate fits in will make more sense with this:


    > or


  29. Livinglegend

    I was wrong!

    "People underestimate the power of models. Observational evidence is not very useful,"

    If the model says that it should be sunny and I walk outside to find it pouring with rain, then it really is sunny. Now which should I believe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It depends...

      Is the model correct 99% of the time and that's just an anomoly, or is the model wrong all of the time?

      I saw Prof Brian Cox and the other uncaged monkeys speak last night, he was very clear: Observation is only part of science, in order to show that we understand what's happening we need to make models. Those models won't work to start with but with effort they will get closer to what's actually going on. Experiment can then show that those models work.

      However, you seem to have mixed up climate and weather - A climate model isn't going to tell you what is happening at the moment, it will say what should be tending to happening over the current timescale.

  30. Displacement Activity

    What is a "model"?

    I have to humbly differ with the other commentards who suggested that there was "less editorialising" in this article. Take this comment:

    "Even the basics of how different clouds affect temperature is guesswork: water vapour feedback may have a slight negative cooling feedback, or it may have a large positive warming feedback. These must be guessed at, or imagined, through models".

    No-one writes a model to "guess", or "imagine". It's like finite element analysis. You start with what you know, or think you know, and use a computer to find out what the analytically-intractable consequences are. If you're lucky, you can get some independent confirmation that the model "works", in the sense that the outcome produced by the model can be independently verified. Generally, you discover that you can't accurately verify your calculated outcome, and you go back and tweak your assumptions, or account for other variables. And so on. It's iterative. Nobody spends years writing millions of lines of code to "guess" or "imagine".

    If there had been "less editorialising", this paragraph would instead have read:

    "Even the basics of how different clouds affect temperature is poorly understood: water vapour feedback may have a slight negative cooling feedback, or it may have a large positive warming feedback. These effects must be estimated through models".

    This is precisely what makes the climate debate so irritating. Every time you read an article, you have to start with the agenda of the author, and then find what there is of value, if anything, in what they've written, after correcting for their agenda.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's odd that no-one from the University Of Reading seems to have known about this event, especially when there are people there doing phd level research into clouds and pretty much everything that you've quoted in your comment...

      1. Displacement Activity

        more hmm...

        Was it just a college event? I got an invite a few months ago to something similar just down the road, simply on the basis of being an ex-undergrad.

  31. EvilGav 1

    My Favourite Graph

    Why ? Because it shows a cyclical nature of the climate, cycling every 125,000 to 150,000 years and has been doing so in a fairly balanced manner for close on 500,000 years.

    It also shows that the warming period is extremely rapid, compared to the much shallower cooling period that comes afterwards.

    It also shows that there is climate change, anyone who says there isn't is a luddite.

    However, the crux of the problem is : how much, if any, of this change is based on the actions of Homo Sapiens ?

    And however much each side would like to say they are right, the jury is very much still out on this debate. Personally, i've yet to see the smoking gun and I do read an inordinate amount of science papers on the subject. Which isn't to say it isn't happening, it is to say that it remains an as yet unproven hypothesis, with unfortunately large amount of holes in it.

  32. Shakje
    Thumb Up

    Gratz on an (almost) objective climate change article

    Just a quick comment on:

    "The most passionate believers in the view that man is irreparably changing the climate are the people with the long lists of radical remedies already prepared"

    So what you're saying is, that the people who are most convinced that the world is headed towards something terrible, happen to have ideas as to how to stop it? And that the people who aren't really that worried about it, or don't accept it will happen, don't have any plans to fix it?

    This is the most unfortunate part of the sceptics' camp: the idea that there is some sort of collection of corrupt scientists who have gathered together to ignore discrepancies (which are suggested, in many places, to be incredibly simple and obvious), teach lies and modify data. It's this sort of thinking that blew "Climategate" out of proportion and places the scepticism firmly in the land of conspiracy theory rather than science.

    Well done to the scientists who objectively don't agree with the conclusions or the data, and argue it scientifically, but the idea that there are that many corrupt people in the scientific community (just look at some good surveys on climate change views), who are working together to fabricate something of this magnitude, is no better than saying that the US government orchestrated 9/11, or (and in many ways this is closer) young earth creationism (almost the same conspiracy theory, and I've noticed that if you're a creationist you're far more likely to be a denier). It's THIS sort of attitude that leads to people being called deniers instead of simply sceptics, not valid disagreements with the scientific method and theory. Maybe they have just got it wrong, but showing that clearly still needs work, and a little less emotion from both sides perhaps.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Gratz on an (almost) objective climate change article

      "So what you're saying is, that the people who are most convinced that the world is headed towards something terrible, happen to have ideas as to how to stop it?"

      Er, no. The people who say the Sky Is Falling insist everyone else's ideas are not only ineffective, but immoral.

      I suggest you do some background reading on the relative costs and benefits of mitigation vs. adaptation. It isn't a new debate. Much more useful than ranting on about creationists and conspiracy theories - as you say, a little less emotional, and more rational analysis is a good idea.

      1. Shakje

        But you're still saying

        that the people who are most worried about it have the most radical solutions planned.

        Put it this way, if I thought that the rapture was happening on the 21st and I feared for a relative's immortal soul I would try literally anything to help save them.

        If I was slightly less certain, but thought it might be, I might try to persuade them strongly, but I'd probably give up eventually.

        Since I don't have any thoughts on it, I don't see why I should try and save anyone's soul before the 21st.

        Using your rhetoric, it might go along the lines of "people most convinced that the rapture is happening are the ones most likely to have radical plans set out". If you really think the world is in danger, why would you do anything but try and find some way out? And if it was a shortish timescale with a lot to do, anything that you plan out is going to look radical in comparison to those of someone who doesn't accept that timescale. I guess what I'm really trying to say is, if you thought the sky really was falling, wouldn't you want to point out flaws you saw in other people's suggestions, and don't you think that if those people were simply shrugging you off and telling you the sky wasn't falling, that if you had good evidence it was then you would call them immoral as well?

        Here's the real problem I have, which is why I went off on a rant (which I'm quite happy to apologise for). There's basically three explanations that I can see of why people might be so entrenched in false views about climate science:

        1) They believe it for no good reason, it just feels right

        2) They're stark-raving mad

        3) They're conspiring with others to continue the supply of money to their research

        The general sentiment tends to lie with 3, which is why I posted those two paragraphs. 1 seems to go against everything that defines good science, and it seems highly unlikely that this would be the cause for the environmental scientists who are at the fore of the research. 2 seems unlikely on such a large scale.

        Now if you can offer a really good, plausible explanation as to why scientists on a very, very grand scale would be misinterpreting evidence, lying, or covering up, then I'll quite happily go on my merry way, but there doesn't seem anything to suggest that climate deniers/sceptics are anything other than minority conspiracy nuts or just people who would rather bury their heads in the sand than worry about things that they can't touch or see.

        PS As I said before, I've got no bone to pick with scientific data, or scientific debates.

  33. EWI
    Dead Vulture

    Where's Mr. Page?

    Meltdown in progress at Fukushima. I'm still awaiting the article telling me how this is all made-up scaremongering (and how he's going to go on holidays there just to prove it).

    Publish this comment or not, Orlowski.

    1. Philip Lewis

      A puddle

      Yep, core melted some time ago and formed a puddle of very nast gunk at the bottom of the containment vessel.

      Sounds like the expected outcome and the expected engineering result to me.

      Yes, it will be a bitch to clean up

      Yes, it would be better if 9.0 on the richter scale was a theoretical possibility, rather than an experienced fact

      No, not an engineering failure

      No, not an environmental disaster

      Find another hole and crawl into it.

  34. Bryan Seigneur


    I thought if you wanted to criticize a scientists conclusions you had to A.) Get a PhD in appropriate field. B.) Come up with a better conclusion and get it published.

    But what do I know?

    I mean, there are plenty of "critics" that disbelieve the basic properties of CO2. How do you dismiss them so easily in the first paragraph? You group-thinking dunderhead!

  35. Bryan Seigneur

    A New Take

    Global Warming isn't caused by Man. It is caused by un-offset fossil carbon. It is due to old fossil energy technology that has outlived itself.

    Global Warming isn't caused by carbon emissions, but old fossil fuel carbon emissions. Non-fossil emissions are forcibly offset, but fossil emissions can cheat the cycle.

    Breathing, burning wood, burning cow farts, and burning sewage or landfill gas all emit carbon that capture recently. Thus, those sources of carbon are circumstantially controlled from expelling too much carbon over the long term. You'll be forced to quit burning wood when the forest is gone, dumb-dumb.

    Burning fossils releases carbon that was captured millions of years ago, over the course millions of years (when the sun was cooler and CO2 perhaps needed to be a bit higher, btw). We can use this stored solar power, and dump that Jurassic CO2 back into the atmosphere as fast as we can dig it up.

    Finally, alarmists aren't Luddite hippies. They are pro-technology.

    Science and technology enable our huge population and increasing standard of living. Science and technology are always improving. SciTech that stands still cannot do it's magic. The sci and tech we had 2000 years ago was still sci and tech, just at a lower level. The PROGRESS of sci and tech is what enables our expanding civilization.

    For 30 years scientists have delved into this area of study--I guess so that we would be certain that we stopped worshiping our old fossil technology no sooner than we absolutely had to--and for 30 years they have become more certain.

    The state has always pushed beneficial technology faster than the market would by itself. Markets with a few large players are sticky and must be unstuck. The crown gave lucrative charters to promising inventors. War has the state constantly improving technology. Computers for ballistics and missile guidance, the internet for robustness in war, nuclear power, etc, etc, etc.

    The state should take money from old fossil energy technology and give it to every other type, via the people, as a fossil carbon fee on fossil production or import with 100% equal household tax credit.

  36. Philip Lewis

    Forgot the link

  37. Bryan Seigneur

    Plimer has a too-convenient way of putting it...

    Plimer: "I would like to see why 3 per cent anthropogenic CO2 drives climate, and the other 97 per cent doesn't". The official answer is that the 97 per cent of natural CO2 is perfect equilibrium, but the wicked (fossil fuel) 3 per cent tips everything out of balance.

    Definitely need more detail on that. Where does that number come from? I'd be very interested to see it broken down that way. It's very surprising, considering that concentrations have gone up almost perfectly in sync with fossil fuel use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Measurement bias

      Those measurements are in very serious dispute. Do some research into CO2 measurement and you will be surprised at the results of your effort.

  38. R J Tysoe

    @Ministry of Truth

    "Legend has it that there was a king who decided he was so powerful, he could command the tide to stop. Not much to add, other than he drowned."

    There's no such legend. I think you need to get your facts straight. Perhaps you are thinking of King Cnut, who, according to Henry of Huntingdon, ordered the tide not to wet his feet to prove that he had no power over nature. He didn't drown.

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