Un-Scientific American's global warming lesson

Scott McNally

After the fizzer that was “Deniergate” (a crap name for a non-event) [UPDATE: “Fakegate” – much more appropriate], back to the usual run of the mill nonsense, this time from Scientific American that bravely sets up a string of straw men and blows them over in a patronising piece entitled “How to explain climate change to a moron skeptic”. This is for presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s benefit, since he has had the temerity to question the alarmist BS being churned out daily.

It gets off to a less than auspicious start:

The majority of evidence presented by skeptics is anecdotal – evidence that is based on non-scientific observations or studies that may sound compelling in isolation. One example is “It is colder today than the average for this time of year; therefore global warming is not true.” Those who cite this clearly don’t understand the difference between weather and climate. You may have also heard someone say, “The climate is cyclical, and we are just on a warming trend.” Or “The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo has changed the climate more than we have.”

Count the misrepresentations in that paragraph. We continue:

I am not saying that volcanic eruptions, or solar flares, or natural changes in the biosphere don’t change the climate. They do. Sometimes significantly. But that is not the argument. The argument made by skeptics is whether humans are changing the climate.

In order for the anthropomorphic [cringe, it’s actually “anthropogenic”, anthropomorphism is attributing human characteristics to something non-human – Ed] (human caused) climate change ‘theory’ to be true, there are two corollary truths that must also be proven. Find failings with one and you have broken the climate change theory. Prove them both, and human caused climate change must be true.

Corollary #1 – Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

The ‘theory’ that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas has been tested and confirmed thousands of times. But if for some reason you don’t believe it, here is an experiment that you can do at home, courtesy of NASA. 

[ridiculous “fill a soda bottle with CO2” experiment omitted for my readers’ sanity – Ed]

This is just one way to show that CO2 acts as a blanket that traps heat. There are dozens of other ways to show that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and if you put this blanket around the earth, the earth will get warmer.

Corollary #2 – Humans are putting more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Yes, there is a finite amount of carbon in the biosphere. Humans can’t add to that, but what we can do is convert carbon from a solid or a liquid to a gas. As a gas, it goes into the atmosphere, rather than staying underground. We know that we are doing this because we dig up lots of coal and oil, materials that are mostly made up of carbon, and convert that carbon to a gas. On a large scale, this gas can be measured as it is released from power plants. We can also simply measure the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. We have measured that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing by about 2 parts per million every year for the past several decades.

[The rest of the post repeats the above in “blind-em-with-science” mode]

And there the prosecution rests, m’lud. That’s it. Sceptics are dumb and can’t understand the difference between weather and climate, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and humans are putting more of it into the atmosphere, ergo humans cause climate change. Case closed. See, the science really is settled!

I don’t really know where to begin with this, since the arguments so utterly simplistic as to beggar belief, even from Scientific American. You all know the points, but let’s go through them anyway:

  • CO2 is a greenhouse gas – agreed
  • Humans are putting more CO2 in the atmosphere – agreed
  • Humans are changing the climate – also agreed
  • But the question which the author fails to raise is “by how much?”
  • How much do natural drivers compare with the human fingerprint?
  • Where’s the acknowledgement that catastrophic warming is a result of computer-modelled positive feedbacks which have not been adequately tested or proven?
  • Where’s the acknowledgement that if catastrophic warming isn’t happening, then we are wasting billions of dollars that could be used for other, tangible, benefits to humanity?
  • Where’s the acknowledgements that mitigation is highly unlikely to be effective, and adaptation to whatever climate change (human or natural) befalls the planet is a far better option in terms of cost/benefit?

Just embarrassing.

Read it here.


  1. The biggest problem with their position (and that makes it a BIG problem) is the complete ignorance of feedbacks. The warmists rely on these feedbacks to massively amplify CO2’s impact, whereas at this point in our research it would appear feedbacks reduce the impact. Sci(fi) American can’t say their 2 statements prove warming until they address feedbacks.

  2. Just out of interest I wonder how they explain:
    Temperatures lower than the IPCC lowest CO2 estimate by 2011
    The IPCC saying how much better their programs are than the ones they used originally (to make current policies)
    The stability of world ice coverage
    The lack of positive feedback from 50% extra CO2
    Where the 60 year multidecadal oceanic oscillation fits into their graphs?
    Why solar power and tilt correlates more with temperatures than CO2
    Why the polar bear population is not yet reduced but higher
    How the ocean releases its heat with a long delay as suggested by James Hansen
    How an 8 inch sea level rise is expected to inundate anywhere in a century
    At what level does CO2 change from an essential part of the atmosphere to a pollutant?

    If anyone knows these clowns please could they forward this list along to them, it should keep them busy for at least a minute (ie ‘the science is settled, these figures are irrelevant’). Nope, try again.

  3. Dan Harlow Chapman via Facebook says:

    But according to them “The debate is over” lolll

  4. Ullie Fancy via Facebook says:

    The global warming mongers need censorhip to cover up their hoax

  5. What a lot of garbage…who is this [snip] (and what pay check does he receive…hmmmmmm)

  6. Rick Bradford says:

    “Deniergate” was last week’s term — it’s now known as “Fakegate”

  7. Mankind is releasing precious, beneficial, plant food, CO2, that was once part of the atmosphere.
    We is making small inroads into restoring the correct balance for thriving plant life.

  8. Oh dear! A truly embarrassing article from a 20 odd year old who only just got his B.S. (not sure which BS they refer to) in 2008.
    Seems his conscience and wallet knows no bounds having worked for the tobacco companies of the global warming world, such as:
    -Hess Corporation – involved with the production and sale of refined petroleum products.
    -Valero Energy Corporation – North America’s largest independent petroleum refiner and marketer.
    -Austin Energy – the 9th largest public power utility in USA.
    – Shell – a global group of energy and petrochemicals companies.

    Still, let’s not get a few tonnes or carbon dioxide get in the way of a good story!

    • Are you referring to hansen, mann, black, jones….there’s quite a few BS’rs in the AGW crowd, please specify!

  9. Lew Skannen says:

    It is a fact that the printing of currency fuels inflation.
    It is also a fact that there are people out there producing counterfeit currency which has the same effect.
    It is fair to say then (if you are a Scientific American writer) that if you want to work out where the world economy is going over the next century then the only factor worth considering is how many forgers are out there.

  10. Blair Giles via Facebook says:

    Thought I’d take a stroll over there and see how they go with some… logic.

  11. None of these scientist have explained why Mars has 95% Co2 and cooler climate. Mars has more than just a blanket of co2 around it it’s got 1000 blankets around it and it’s cooler than earths. And climate is weather if you don’t have weather to get this results. You don’t have a climate… So how do they get their results, if it’s not from weather?? Oh we got a really cold day today .. We can’t use that information cause it’s weather. Oh look we got a really hot day today. We’ll use that for global warming.. Wankers~!!

  12. Scientific American hides the amplifying water vapor feedbacks behind a non-quantitative argument. Here it is debunked at a level everyone can understand, using the best available data:

    [REPLY: Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the link! – Simon]

    • Hi David. just a correction required,

      On Figure 5 of your pdf, could you please add the word “anomaly” on the vertical axis.

      I don’t think the actual “Ocean Heat Content” ever goes negative ;-))

  13. or maybe change the axis lable to “Relative Ocean Heat Content” ?

  14. “Natural forcings” are actually pretty minor compared with all the extra emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by man’s activities. Parallel model runs separate these forcings out. There is abundant information in the literature on these sorts of model experiments.

    Let’s just say the results of these studies leaves no doubt that the extra greenhouse emissions from man’s activities are by far the dominant driver of the latest warming.

  15. @ Raymond Seres As much as I agree with you on the global warming issue, the fact of the matter is Mars is a lot further away from the Sun than Earth is. Distance makes a huge difference.

  16. In relation to Mars its atmosphere is also quite thin so while ppm might be high pm3 would be quite low. This of course makes the geological information from the cambrian period where atmospheric pressure was close to twice what it is now also had a believed measurement of 7000ppm very interesting as well. That is an awefully large amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but instead of the planet being turned into a Venus type it continued with varying temperatures, no acid oceans and a great adundance of life. Later near the end of the Ordovician period with CO2 near 4500ppm the earth suffered average temperatures thought to be even colder than now. Pity I cannot find that paper I read recently on hydrocarbons having a closer correlation to modern temperatures than CO2 levels, still unlikely in my skeptical mind but a far sight more logical than warmist doctrine.

  17. SOYLENT GREEN says:

    “Where’s the acknowledgement that catastrophic warming is a result of computer-modelled positive feedbacks which have not been adequately tested or proven?”

    I don’t no, failing every test so far seems adequate to me, Simon. 😉

  18. Unfortunately for me I was once one of those sheeple that took the bait on this global warming fraud until I started to wonder what the chaff on the other side of the fence tasted like. I am convinced that it is a politically motivated hoax that has hijacked science and probably can only be counteracted by political action from the opposite direction. Now I am not and have never been involved in politics but I feel it’s time to put my hand up and say my piece. The ballet box has such a strong altering power on a politicians behaviour that I believe that this is the one place where this issue will be put to rest once and for all. Politics through much of the developed world has become in recent years a rather tightly contested event and all that is required to persuade politicians from this environmental hoax is a few percentage points swing against them. All I am saying is it’s time for people to get active and speak their mind to their politicians and see an end to this if that is what they feel.

    • I have emailed the Libs and TA several time urging them to drop their psuedo surpport of AGW, and drop the “direct action policy”. Their current position makes them look sort of wishy washy on the issue.
      Its time they stood up and bit the bullet on the issue.
      Its time they stood up and said that they will immediately abolish / de-fund all aspects of the climate change agenda.
      Its time they threw the likes of Flannery, Steffen, etc on the unemployable line or in jail.
      Its time they went through the BOM & CSIRO climate division, with a scythe and told the remainder to get on doing their job, instead of supporting the scam.. Heads should roll !!!

      Kill all solar feed in tariffs above say 75% of normal retail, knock down all those ghastly wind turbines, and build some decent, cost efficient, modern coal, gas or nuclear power stations.

  19. @David Foshee Yes true distance dose matter. Don’t you think that over the 65 million years the suns got closer to us. As we all know the sun is a star and it’s going to get a lot bigger before it dies. what would happen if the sun grew about 1 meter bigger overall. Wouldn’t that have a slight temperature change in our climate? Like, just say 0.2degs. or maybe 0.15 is sun and the rest is co2??? So our impact would be 0.05degs a quarter of the impact that Climate scientist say! it makes you wonder.

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