Thursday, September 23, 2010

Global Warming Exposed as B.S. during Debate

In our beloved Frist 307 this afternoon, former classroom of Albert Einstein, professor and internationally renowned global warming skeptic Fred Singer opened the debate. Professors Robert Socolow and Isaac Held took up the G.W.'s defense.

The Debate, an Interpretation:

Singer: Is warming natural or manmade? That is the question. The UN scientists think it's manmade. Real scientists think it's natural. Stupid people, like the media and politicians, support human caused global warming because they're selfish and stupid. But these stupid people cannot identify the cause. We need scientific effort and evidence to determine the cause of warming. It is natural and the human component is so small it's ridiculous.

Is warming good or bad? Economists say a modest warming is good. It benefits farming and forestry.

Is there really anything we could do about it if we wanted to? NO.

30 points for Singer.

Socolow:

Compliment Princeton. 10 points.
Compliment the students here. 10 points.
Compliment Singer. 10 points for good sportsmanship.

We're putting in four times more CO2 than we did when I was an undergrad. We also want to shoot the messenger of bad news. If you get a diagnosis from a doctor that you don't like, you go for a second opinion. -10 points because this was confusing.

20 points total for Socolow.

Held:

Science is wonderful and has so many gadgets! We can calculate lots of cool things using satellite and fancy gizmos. In fact, I don't really know what to think. But it's become warmer this last half century, and it's likely humans did it.


To see the rest of the debate scoring, click the Jump!
Singer:

Carbon dioxide levels over the past 200 million years have been 5 times higher than today and have been steadily decreasing. Plants live on CO2. It's their food. We don't want the plants to starve, do we? People think that CO2 is a pollutant. It isn't. It's part of our atmosphere like any other part of the atmosphere and we all need it. So stop hating on CO2. Also, a thousand years ago it was warmer than today. Back in the Middle Ages it was downright toasty. How do you think the Vikings settled Greenland? Then we had ice ages. And we'll have more ice ages. And no one was driving Hummers back then. So lay off the Hummers too.

50 points for Singer. Right on. I love Hummers.

Socolow:

We're adding fossil fuels! CO2 levels are 40% higher today than since the Industrial Revolution! It's climbing half a percent a year and we're all going to die.

35 points. Compelling.

Held:

The ocean is increasing in heat content. We didn't know that hundreds of years ago, but now the ocean is starting to boil. I see global warming through the ocean's eyes.

15 points. As Sebastian would say, the seaweed's always greener in somebody else's lake. And who doesn't love hot tubs?

Looking to the future, closing remarks:

Singer:

"It takes a great amount of courage for a politician to do nothing. That is what I advise them to do. Nothing."

40 points. The enemy of politicians is my friend.

Socolow:

"Fred's worldview is outdated."

20 points, hitting below the belt, naming names, I like.

Held:

Okay, not gonna lie. I got bored and left. So it wouldn't be fair to tally up the points, we'll keep it Whose Line style.

-The Blogstress


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the "Warming" part, but I can't go along with the "Global". Don't they know the Earth is flat?

Miriam said...

Fred Singer has never done climate research and is funded by exxon mobil, among other oil companies. His ideas, which he has never tested, have been discredited by climate scientists. He believes that climate change is a hoax to increase government regulation in order to make the U.S. communist. I wouldn't believe anything he says on this topic.

08 said...

hahaha this was hilariousw

Anonymous said...

Fred Singer's CV
http://www.sepp.org/about%20sepp/bios/singer/cvsfs.html

I guess we have toss out all scientists at Berkeley as they are getting $500 million from BP and Stanford too as they are getting $225 million from Exxon.

http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2007/stanfords_deal_with_exxon_mobil_raised_concerns_5137

Miriam do you have any proof for your claims? Exxon Secrets a Greenpeace Project had allot of innuendo about Singer but no details or documentation on amounts.

Miriam said...

It is hard to document money going directly to Singer as an individual, however oil companies have contributed money to several think tanks that he has founded or worked at and which have produce anti-climate change rhetoric and pseudo-science. You can see this at exxonsecrets and it only takes a little more digging to learn about the various groups listed on Singer's page. Singer has also denied funding from the tobacco industry but it is well documented that he was employed to write a "scientific" paper arguing against the health risks of secondhand smoke. You can find info on this at tobaccodocuments.org.

The book "Climate Cover-up" by James Hoggan is a mine of information about Fred Singer and other skeptics. I highly recommend it if you want to truly understand the debate over climate change.

That his ideas have been discredited I know from talking with various scientists and by reading the scientific literature on topics he has ideas about. For example, he likes to say that increased CO2 is a good thing because plants will grow more and produce more O2. Sounds plausible till you dig. Climate scientists have been testing this idea and what they have found is that increased C02 does not lead to increased growth because other nutrients -- such as nitrogen and phosphorous -- are in short supply.

I know that he believes climate change is a communist plot from talking to him over the phone for a paper I wrote.

You are write that climate scientists have also received funding from oil companies -- our very own PEI receives funding from BP. I do find this problematic but at least they are being paid to do actual research. Also, it is not in BP's self interest for climate change to be real or for alternative energies to be perfected, so I don't think that BP's funding means anything PEI says must be false and they are making up climate change. Rather, BP's involvement may mean that PEI under-reports its findings on climate change, which would mean that it's an even bigger problem.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miriam, you used "write" to mean right. Therefore, you are discredited. Thanks for playing

Roald A. said...

Fascinating that Miriam attempts to cite supposedly "smoking gun" indictment evidence at tobaccodocuments.org (that Singer has takes a position against the hazards of 2nd hand smoke), but has apparently never read the document, much like the people at DeSmogBlog where this source comes from.

It says as plain as day in that document, "The health risk from smoking is not the focus of this paper. Instead, this paper explores the EPA's analysis of ETS or second hand smoke....In brief, EPA makes certain assumptions about ETS which are then used to buttress EPA's scientific and economic conclusions. Moreover, the science as presented is insufficient.... In the process, it has engaged in both scientific overreach and regulatory overreach..."

So what happens to Miriam's accusation now? Worse, what happens to the entire argument of "big oil/coal" corruption, if the accusation itself is potentially a fabrication, as the article here implies? "Smearing Global Warming Skeptics" ( http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/smearing_global_warming_skepti.html

Roald A. said...

Hmm... the plot thickens. It seems Miriam's recommendation of the James Hoggan "Climate Cover-up" book is not without its own huge problems, as noted in the link to the 'Oreskes two-step' within this more recent American Thinker article, "Warmist Slander of Scientific Skeptics" http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/09/warmist_slander_of_scientific.html

Miriam said...

1. Excuse me for my typo. I am human.

2. Perhaps people should actually read the book I mentioned or Jane Mayer's article on the Koch brothers, etc. rather than just reading articles that claim to expose them as fabrications. Then people can read the documents that are cited and come to their own conclusions. Also, the issue is not that corporations = evil, it is an issue of conflict of interest.

3. Singer's article on ETS was "peer-reviewed" by economists and other academics who were not experts on smoke or cancer or anything related to ETS. Singer's conclusion was that science can neither prove or disprove a connection between ETS and lung cancer. The idea seems to be that without 100% proof (which you can never get from science), there should be no regulation.

As Ronald mentioned, this paper was "exposed" on DeSmogBlog. According to James Hoggan, Singer threatened to sue if he didn't post a retraction, but when no retraction was posted, Singer evidently realized that he didn't have a good case because he never sued.

4. Even if you ignore the issue of funding, Singer's work is not backed by the science

chuckhigley said...

Miriam,
First, science is insensitive to who communicates it. It does not matter if Singer is the UPS man, if the science is right, he is right. This criticism of Singer is spurious.

Second, the money going to warmists is 1000 times that from "Big Oil" and the alarmists are still losing - to real science. AGW is junk science with not a single shred of defendable science to support it. So, can the Big Oil argument, it makes you look foolish.

Third, global warming is a totally false crisis. The Arctic has not warmed over the last 100 years. It is supposed to be warming more than any place else. It's just not happening and no amount of name calling or junk science can change it.

Fourth, warming HAS been caused on paper by extrapolating a lack of Arctic data from places farther south, as far as 1200 km. Also, GISS expanded their definition of the Arctic to lower latitudes (south covering by 4 million square miles of warmer territory) as well, thus creating an automatic rapid warming. [Eventually they will probably include the Tropics with the Arctic, using this method to keep up the warming.] This is fraud, pure and simple.

And fifth, both sides also agree that an equatorial upper troposphere hotspot is required if warming is happening. It not only is not there, but NASA reports that this region of the atmosphere has actually cooled a bit.

You have a right to your own opinion, but you do not have a right to your own facts. These are facts, you lose.

PhD, Biochem/Marine Biol. No big oil funding, ever.

chuckhigley said...

Miriam said,
"Climate scientists have been testing this idea and what they have found is that increased C02 does not lead to increased growth because other nutrients -- such as nitrogen and phosphorous -- are in short supply. "

You obviously do not read the actual papers. Greenhouse plants are quite often given over 1000 ppm CO2 to accelerate growth, and the plants are significantly more efficient with utilizing water and nutrients, so what nutrients there are go farther. Your claim is ingenuous. CO2 IS PLANT FOOD.

Increased CO2 can be accredited with our world's food supply keeping up with the population;'s needs. It is greening our world. We have 40% trees in the US now than we had in 1950. The Sahara Desert is shrinking, the south border moving north, greening as it goes.

Real papers, real science, you lose, again.

Thermodynamics clearly indicates that CO2 cannot have the effects claimed by warmists.

Computer models are the basis for almost all of the warmist claims and these models truly suck. They are rank with inabilities to model critical factors, the missing factors are legion, and the programs do what they are programmed to do. They are programmers' wetdreams, nothing more.

Claims of widespread species extinctions, just not happening. The claims are based, again, on a computer model which is being used for purposes for which it was not designed. Their predictions are not real, again just imaginary. Go to the real papers and there has been no extinctions beyond a couple from over-hunting and one case of habitat loss from development.

Sea level rise? Just not happening. The rise in recent decades is right in line with the last 200 years and the rise stopped 6 years ago, oops.

Ocean acidification. Also not happening. Changes are all within known ranges and, as seawater is a complex buffer system, CO2 has little effect. Regardless, studies of marine organisms under ridiculously high CO2 shows that productivity increases significantly, trumping any supposed acidification. As the acidity is part of an extended equilibrium, more CO2 means more coral, not less. they love CO2. Coral reefs have been growing 30–50% faster in recent decades.

Real science, Miriam. You have to go to the papers.

Chuck

chuckhigley said...

Miriam said,
"Climate scientists have been testing this idea and what they have found is that increased C02 does not lead to increased growth because other nutrients -- such as nitrogen and phosphorous -- are in short supply. "

You obviously do not read the actual papers. Greenhouse plants are quite often given over 1000 ppm CO2 to accelerate growth, and the plants are significantly more efficient with utilizing water and nutrients, so what nutrients there are go farther. Your claim is ingenuous. CO2 IS PLANT FOOD.

Increased CO2 can be accredited with our world's food supply keeping up with the population;'s needs. It is greening our world. We have 40% trees in the US now than we had in 1950. The Sahara Desert is shrinking, the south border moving north, greening as it goes.

Real papers, real science, you lose, again.

Thermodynamics clearly indicates that CO2 cannot have the effects claimed by warmists. Take some physical chemistry while you're at it.

Real science, Miriam. You have to go to the papers.

Chuck

chuckhigley said...

Miriam,

Computer models are the basis for almost all of the warmist claims and these models truly suck. They are rank with inabilities to model critical factors, the missing factors are legion, and the programs do what they are programmed to do. They are programmers' wetdreams, nothing more.

Claims of widespread species extinctions, just not happening. The claims are based, again, on a computer model which is being used for purposes for which it was not designed. Their predictions are not real, again just imaginary. Go to the real papers and there has been no extinctions beyond a couple from over-hunting and one case of habitat loss from development.

Sea level rise? Just not happening. The rise in recent decades is right in line with the last 200 years and the rise stopped 6 years ago, oops.

Ocean acidification. Also not happening. Changes are all within known ranges and, as seawater is a complex buffer system, CO2 has little effect. Regardless, studies of marine organisms under ridiculously high CO2 shows that productivity increases significantly, trumping any supposed acidification. As the acidity is part of an extended equilibrium, more CO2 means more coral, not less. they love CO2. Coral reefs have been growing 30–50% faster in recent decades.

Weather extremes more? Nope. No evidence at all.
Diseases more? Nope, again.

The trick is that, since we are actually cooling (since 2002), nothing can be shown to be from warming. I cannot lose.
Chuck

Anonymous said...

DId anyone go to this / how many people were actually there.

Miriam said...

Chuck,

“First, science is insensitive to who communicates it. It does not matter if Singer is the UPS man, if the science is right, he is right. This criticism of Singer is spurious.”

I agree that science is science regardless of who communicates it, but I am arguing that Singer does not talk science. Info on his funding sources and his belief that that environmentalism is a communist plot are not meant as ad hominem attacks. These things affect his science and that is why I mentioned them. However, I am mainly arguing with his ideas and the notion that he is an expert on par with scientists like Socolow.

“You have a right to your own opinion, but you do not have a right to your own facts.”
I agree. But we obviously disagree on what the facts are.

I don’t have the time to address every issue you brought up at this moment, so I will focus on what I know best.

Models – certainly they are not perfect but when they accurately predict past climate, that seems like a pretty good indication that they work fairly well and can predict future climate.

“Greenhouse plants are quite often given over 1000 ppm CO2 to accelerate growth, and the plants are significantly more efficient with utilizing water and nutrients, so what nutrients there are go farther. Your claim is ingenuous. CO2 IS PLANT FOOD.”

This is true in a greenhouse but ecosystems are vastly more complex and when you do the same tests in a field you find that plants are nutrient limited and extra C02 does not help.

“We have 40% [more] trees in the US now than we had in 1950.”

True but this is because we have been replanting trees and have stopped logging in much of the country, not because C02 has increased growth. This trend is not evident in much of the world where deforestation is still a problem.

Miriam said...

Chuck,

“First, science is insensitive to who communicates it. It does not matter if Singer is the UPS man, if the science is right, he is right. This criticism of Singer is spurious.”

I agree that science is science regardless of who communicates it, but I am arguing that Singer does not talk science. Info on his funding sources and his belief that that environmentalism is a communist plot are not meant as ad hominem attacks. These things affect his science and that is why I mentioned them. However, I am mainly arguing with his ideas and the notion that he is an expert on par with scientists like Socolow.

“You have a right to your own opinion, but you do not have a right to your own facts.”
I agree. But we obviously disagree on what the facts are.

I don’t have the time to address every issue you brought up at this moment, so I will focus on what I know best.

Models – certainly they are not perfect but when they accurately predict past climate, that seems like a pretty good indication that they work fairly well and can predict future climate.

“Greenhouse plants are quite often given over 1000 ppm CO2 to accelerate growth, and the plants are significantly more efficient with utilizing water and nutrients, so what nutrients there are go farther. Your claim is ingenuous. CO2 IS PLANT FOOD.”

This is true in a greenhouse but ecosystems are vastly more complex and when you do the same tests in a field you find that plants are nutrient limited and extra C02 does not help.

“We have 40% [more] trees in the US now than we had in 1950.”

True but this is because we have been replanting trees and have stopped logging in much of the country, not because C02 has increased growth. This trend is not evident in much of the world where deforestation is still a problem.

Miriam said...

“studies of marine organisms under ridiculously high CO2 shows that productivity increases significantly, trumping any supposed acidification. As the acidity is part of an extended equilibrium, more CO2 means more coral, not less. they love CO2. Coral reefs have been growing 30–50% faster in recent decades.”

False. Coral bleaching events are increasing and corals are dying. Research by, for example, Dr. Samantha de Putron of BIOS, shows that increased C02 leads to weaker coral skeletons. Because of the carbonate buffer system, increased levels of C02 lead to decreased levels of CO3 2-, which is what corals use to make their CaCO3 skeleton. Increased water temperature also leads to a loss of zooxanthellae, i.e. bleaching. Some corals have been found near Hawaii that can withstand very high temperatures without bleaching but they are in the minority. Perhaps a better understanding of these corals will help us mitigate the consequences of climate change on other corals, but they are not proof that climate change isn’t happening, that it isn’t anthropogenic or that it won’t have serious consequences for many organisms on this planet.

“The trick is that, since we are actually cooling (since 2002), nothing can be shown to be from warming.”

When looking at graphs of temperature, the overall trend is up but there are dips. It’s more of an upwardly moving zig zag. A few years of cooling doesn’t disprove anything.

I don’t know where you get your “facts.” They don’t match anything I have ever heard from a scientist or read in a peer-reviewed journal article.


If you would like to continue this conversation, kindly email me at mgeronim@princeton.edu. I need to get back to my own work, so I will not be continuing to check this comment section, but I will gladly respond to further criticisms or questions in my inbox.

I am an undergraduate in ecology and evolutionary biology focusing on climate and marine biology.

Roald A. said...

Notice how Miriam now does not dispute that Singer's paper was NOT arguing against the health risks of secondhand smoke. For those unfamiliar with the situation, under Carol Browner's direction at EPA, scientific studies were undertaken to determine if second hand smoke caused cancer. The results were inconclusive, yet EPA upstated it to a Class A carcinogen anyway. In 1998, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Osteen struck down the decision, ruling the EPA had wrongly used provisions of the 1986 Radon Gas and Indoor Air Quality Research Act to conclude secondhand smoke is hazardous - quoting the judge: "Using its normal methodology and its selected studies, EPA did not demonstrate a statistically significant association between ETS and lung cancer. EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun; excluded industry by violating the Act's procedural requirements; adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the Agency's public conclusion, and aggressively utilized the Act's authority to disseminate findings to establish a de facto regulatory scheme intended to restrict Plaintiffs' products and to influence public opinion." Will Miriam's argument now be that the judge was not an expert on smoke or cancer or anything related to ETS?

Surely Miriam would agree that if scientists commissioned by President George Bush said evidence for man-caused global warming was inconclusive, but he instead declared the evidence showed no such thing was happening, scientists would be outraged. This is no less than exactly what happened with regard to second hand smoke. Miriam's faith on the matter relies entirely on two paragraphs in a book written by a man who shares the same animosity against Fred Singer with ultimately the same central source - Ross Gelbspan - that the Jane Mayer New Yorker article's sources rely on to say skeptic scientists are corrupted by big coal and oil. This accusation is unsupported, as was spelled out in rather great detail in the two American Thinker articles I cited. Guilt by association is a superficial accusation that would be shredded like child's play by any competent cross examining lawyer, if the accuser could not provide evidence to show specific money donated prompted specific error-riddled science conclusions and assessments.

Then we have one more gigantic problem: Miriam says Singer's work is not backed by "the" science. When Singer's (and co-author Craig Idso's and 35 contributing authors') NIPCC 2009 Report ( http://tinyurl.com/2as7m6m ) cites literally thousands of peer-reviewed science papers published in science journals to support their assessments, what now happens to Miriam's claim? If the response is the NIPCC is not backed by "the" science of the IPCC, then what we have is one group of scientists contradicting another group. So, the science is not settled, is it?

Anonymous said...

As someone with an open mind, I am struck that Miriam gives very thoughtful answers, while Roald and Chuck tend toward being snide and don't dispute her responses to them. Miriam answered most of the charges related to climate change, which is the topic of primary interest and debate here, so whether or not she answered on second-hand smoke is of secondary interest. Besides, she gave her email if people have follow-up questions. As for "settled science", I assume nothing in science is 100% settled and, thus, anyone can call anything unsettled. But if I understand correctly in this case, the vast majority of serious climate change scientists believe the weight of the evidence is that climate change is occurring and is man-made. Just because Fred Singer has some scientific credentials doesn't mean he knows what he is talking about in an area in which he doesn't do state-of-the -art research. And I'd rather intervene and find out the climate scientists were wrong, than not intervene and find out they were right -- especially since the conclusion of most true climate change scientists points in that direction.

Roald A. said...

Notice how commenter "Anonymous" directly above attempts to sidestep the fundamental point made by Miriam's first post, which otherwise had nothing to do with her subsequent 'charges related to climate change': "I wouldn't believe anything [Singer] says on this topic." For a person with a supposedly open mind, isn't it curious that "Anonymous" does not address the plain fact that Miriam's repetitions of tobacco / big oil & coal corruption accusations do not stand up to scrutiny? For a person with a supposedly open mind, why say Dr Singer "has some scientific credentials" instead of saying outright that he is an atmospheric physicist, and why steer the point back to him rather than acknowledge the undeniable amount of "state-of-the-art research" papers and their scientific credentials within his NIPCC Report? Is that another attempt to sidestep Miriam's basic point?

If accusations against Dr Singer and his associates cannot be proven true in any convincing manner to prompt us to ignore them out-of-hand, as Miriam would seem to suggest, now what do we do? Would "Anonymous" suggest we ignore skeptics if the situation was reversed, where an 'alleged' few scientists have compelling evidence that human-induced CO2 DOES cause global warming? Of course, another question to pose to "Anonymous" is, who quantified the so-called consensus? Where does the average citizen go to corroborate the claim that "the conclusion of most true climate change scientists points" to man-caused global warming, and who has verified whether a scientist is "true" or not? A still far better question to AGW believers in general is why do you put so much effort into making sure the public thinks skeptics are corrupt as your primary focus, rather than prove their assessments false from the start? Do you not realize this gives the appearance you have no confidence in the IPCC and its supporters to defend themselves on the underlying science?

grover said...

@Anon: I don't know which is a worse way of resolving a dispute you know nothing about: picking the side whose advocate sounds polite (even though she attacks the other side's advocate ad hominem), counting heads, or deciding that the action proposed by one side has no costs and all benefits. Really what all these forms of "reasoning" reveal is that you've already resolved this dispute in your mind and are not, in fact, so open-minded as you are intent on appearing.

Anonymous said...

Big global cooling conference last week. Could be a maor problem in the next few decades. Hard to fight warming and cooling at the same time.