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.

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