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← Why the laws of physics make anthropogenic climate change undeniable

rolan's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by rolan

I must say that I find the term denier and the general condescending tone rather offensive. I have a science qualification, am skeptical regarding unfounded claims of various flavors, and resent the characterization of any critical analysis of the popular position on climate change as being some sort of Luddite, reactionary response.

I do think that the "reduce carbon dioxide emissions at any cost" position to be flawed.

1) The material posted above is really great and a great boon to the discussion. The physics is well understood. There is no argument that a doubling of CO2 concentrations should give rise to a temperature increase of about 1 degree K.

But I would point out that Lecture 7 - Forcing, feedbacks, and the climate response explains the uncertainties in trying to estimate the climate sensitivity to this change from models and the difficulty (the lecture says that it cannot be done) in trying to use experimental data for such an estimation. It also states that the precise effect on and by various actors in the system (e.g. cloud cover) is currently unknown. It's the climate sensitivity which is unknown.

This is a big deal as most of the IPPC predictions are predicated on multi-degree changes in temperature.

2) It is unclear that a 1 (or 2 or 3 or whatever) degree change in global temperature is significant in relation to long-term cyclic, global temperature variation. This is a pulling-signal-out-of-noise problem, and so far, the experimental data doesn't seem to have matched model predictions.

We just don't know enough to make accurate predictions - and as scientists, that's OK. We're comfortable about having challenges and things to learn about our universe.

We can make hypotheses and discuss their relative likelihoods. We can undertake risk analyses and act on them appropriately. Just don't tell me that the science is settled, blather on about scientific consensus, and pull out numbers from somewhere within the error bars as definitive fact.

I don't think I'm denying anything, I think that's the way science is done. (Faith, on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish).

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 01:48:44 UTC | #865395