2011-09-21 05:55:34"Climate Skeptics are like Galileo" -- draft rebuttal, for feedback
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

DRAFT  Rebuttal to the Skeptics “Galileo” Argument    by Tom Smerling

 The skeptics’ argument:

     Climate skeptics are like Galileo, who bravely challenged the majority view and was vindicated by history.

 One line rebuttal

     Modern scientists, not anti-science skeptics, follow in Galileo’s footsteps.  

 Brief rebuttal

The comparison is exactly backwards.     Modern scientists follow the evidence-based scientific method that Galileo pioneered.    Climate skeptics who oppose scientific findings that threaten their world view are far closer to Galileo’s belief-based critics in the Catholic Church.

 Long rebuttal

Deniers of human-caused climate change sometimes compare themselves to Galileo, the early 17th science pioneer who challenged the Church’s view that the sun revolves around the earth, and was later vindicated.

The comparison is not only flawed; the very opposite is true.

First, Galileo was not disbelieved, “outvoted,” or suppressed by other proto-scientists of his time.   Some of his scientific contemporaries agreed with him, and most were appalled by his trial.    Galileo was persecuted by the religious-political establishment – the Catholic Church.   The Inquisition tried and convicted him of religious heresy in 1633.  

Second, the key difference between Galileo and the Inquisition lies not in the fact that Galileo held a minority view.   It concerned Galileo’s “way of knowing,” or epistemology.     How is knowledge attained?    And who decides?

Medieval scholarship and Catholic Church dogma relied on the authority of Aristotle and a literal interpretation of the Bible to place earth at the center of the universe.   Their geocentric view had dominated Western though since antiquity.

In contrast, Galileo pioneered the evidence-based method of inquiry later known as the scientific method.     He formed logical hypotheses from observations, and tested his ideas with further observations and experiments.    His improved telescope enabled new observations of solar system that lent support to Copernicus’ “heliocentric” model, in which the planets revolve around the sun.   For disobeying an order to stop contradicting Church dogma, the Inquisition tried Galileo for religious heresy in 1633, banned his books and placed him under house arrest for life.

Galileo’s conflict with the Church was far from unique.   History is full of examples where new scientific findings threaten powerful vested interests – whether they be religious, financial or ideological -- and provoke a furious backlash from the powers-that-be.    Needless to say, the backlash continues today.

Third, like Aristotle’s geocentrism, disbelief in human ability to alter the global climate is hardly revolutionary; it has been the prevailing view for throughout history.    Until the mid-20th Century, only a tiny number of prescient scientists believed anthropogenic global warming was possible.     The very idea was deemed an outlandish and remote possibility, irrelevant to the great scientific questions of the day. 

The revolution in scientific thinking about climate occurred gradually, some130 years after the idea was first suggested by Joseph Fournier in the 1830s.    The revolution in thinking about climate did have its“Galileo moments,” however, when lone individuals challenged prevailing thought.   

Climate science’s first “Galileo moment” came in 1896, when Svante Arrhenius, after years of laborious calculations, became predicted global warming, and even estimated with uncanny accuracy the amount of likely warming.   But Arrhenius won few converts, because his calculations were based on over-simplified assumptions and there was little actual data to support it.

Forty-two years later, a lone English steam engineer, Guy Steward Callendar, after spending poring over old CO2 and temperature records, stood before the Royal Meteorological Society and again predicted global warming.    Once, again, almost nobody was persuaded, for his methods were questionable and his evidence not sufficiently compelling.

It took decades for mainstream scientific opinion to change.   Only in the 1950’s, when  newly-accurate instruments and methods (reminiscent of Galileo’s telescopic breakthrough) revealed that rising CO2 concentrations were in fact rising, could the problem no longer be dismissed.    As research accelerated and the evidence accumulated,  more and more scientists changed their views and a new consensus gradually emerged.  The earth was warming.   CO2 was measurably rising, the added CO2 bore the chemical “fingerprints” of fossil fuels, and all other explanations failed to explain it.    Arrhenius and Callendar had been right, after all.

By the late 1980’s, the scientific evidence had become overwhelming, which generated calls for action to limit CO2 emissions.   Only then did the critics take a strong interest.   In most cases, the most vocal critics start with an ideological conviction that government regulation is always bad, therefore any phenomena that may require it must be denied.    They rehashed earlier, failed theories to explain the warming, and tried to cast doubt upon  the science any way they could.    They do not argue for a singular, revolutionary hypothesis, like Galileo, because they don’t agree among themselves on an alternative, but simply seek to restore the age-old conventional wisdom that human-caused climate change is impossible.

Fourth, there is the question of tactics.   Armed with ideological certainty, backed by powerful interests, skeptics deploy every rhetorical and political weapon available, not only to discredit the science but to impugn the honesty of the researchers.   A recent tactic is to use political connections and financial clout to bring criminal lawsuits against climate scientists, charging them with fraud, in an attempt to intimidate, silence and possibly bankrupt them.    

If he were alive today, watching climate scientists being be dragged into court on baseless charges, is there any doubt whose side Galileo would take?

Clearly, Galileo has much more in common with today’s evidence-based scientists, than with their ideology-based critics.

--------------------

Notes:   

1)      Sources for the above points will be added to the final draft.

2)      Examples of the skeptics' “Galileo” argument:

A) On Sept 7, 2011, at the Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, Texas Gov.. Rick Perry, became the highest level politician to compare climate denial to Galileo

“Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/politics/08republican-debate-text.html?pagewanted=all

B) The founders of Australia’s “Galileo Movement,” which claims that global warming is a “fabrication,.”

“cite as inspiration Galileo Galilei, the 17th century astronomer and father of modern science, who challenged the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church to report the Earth orbited around the sun.”  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=galileo-movement-fuels-australia-climate-change-divide  ]=

 

2011-09-21 06:10:06
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Great post -- quick and easy to read.

A couple typo/word omissions:

1)His improved telescope enabled new observations of solar system (INSERT "the" in the solar system)...

2) Climate science’s first “Galileo moment” came in 1896, when Svante Arrhenius, after years of laborious calculations, became (DELETE "became") predicted global warming, ...

3)...after spending (DELETE "spending") poring over old CO2

--------------

I'd love to illustrate a timeline of these events. Let me know if you want one.

jg

2011-09-21 06:10:49
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

"...Galileo, the early 17th Century science..."

"some [insert space] 130 years after the idea was first suggested by Joseph Fournier Fourier in the 1830s"

"Guy Steward Callendar, after spending [missing word] poring over old CO2 and temperature records"

"In most cases, the most vocal critics start with an ideological conviction that government regulation is always bad, therefore any phenomena that may require it must be denied." <= hmm this seems to go against SkS policy not to speculate about others' motivations.

I was going to ask for sources, but see they'll be forthcoming.  I presume Spencer Weart will be the source for the climate science history.  The only concern I have is the discussion about motives and ideology.  Not that I disagree, but that it goes against site policy.

2011-09-21 06:33:48
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
george.morrison2@sympatico...
198.96.178.33

re: your point three

"like Aristotle’s geocentrism, disbelief in human ability to alter the global climate is hardly revolutionary; it has been the prevailing view for throughout history. Until the mid-20th Century, only a tiny number of prescient scientists believed anthropogenic global warming was possible... The very idea was deemed an outlandish and remote possibility, irrelevant to the great scientific questions of the day."

Michael Tobis recently pointed to a video of a talk at the AMS by Simon Donner, "Making the climate a part of the human world". It is very effective in putting the "prevailing view... throughout history" for climate in historical context. I.e. that it was not - could not be - controlled by man. He shows how much of our religious practices for 1,000's of years were intimately linked to a belief that climate was divinely controlled.

I really enjoyed it. Maybe not worth a link in the "Galileo" article, or maybe yes. Worth a look. More commentary at Simon's Maribo blog.

NOTE: the audio on the video does not kick in until ~ 1:30.

2011-09-21 06:38:04nice catches
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

wow!  That was fast!   And thanks everybody for catching all those typos.    (I'd wish I could say I left them in intentionally, like my old English teacher, to see if anybody was paying attention, but that would be a lie.....)

I get your point, Dana, about attributing motivations, and wrestled with it a bit.    I'm not wedded to the formulation, maybe there's a way to say it that doesn't infer motivations.

 

 

2011-09-21 07:05:22
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

If I recall correctly, the fossil fuel industry instigated the first push-back to AGW for purely financial motives.  This gets a little blurry because key officals in the fossil fuel industry such as the Koch brothers are also rabid Libertarians.

Regardless, I suggest that something be added about the fossil fuel industry using the tactics developed by Big Tobacco to fight the smoking-cancer link. Fred Singer and the Hoover Institute being the prime example and perhaps "ground zero" in the creation of what we now  know as the Climate Deneial Spin Machine.

2011-09-21 07:39:51
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.133

The narrative is good as it is but, just to be pedantic, I have few comments. Please note that I'm not a good communicator and I don't want to make your narrative worse, feel free to ignore the following comments:

"The Inquisition tried and convicted him of religious heresy in 1633."
If true he would have been sentenced to death. He was "just" suspected of heresy. (in italian "veementemente sospetto d'eresia", in english "vehemently suspected of heresy").

"The revolution in scientific thinking about climate occurred gradually, some 130 years after the idea was first suggested by Joseph Fournier in the 1830s. "
It looks like it is referred to "anthropogenic global warming was possible" in the preceding paragraph. In this case, it's not true. Fourier said that the atmosphere acts like a blanket, he knew nothing about CO2. On passing, it was in the 1820s.

Callendar "again predicted global warming"
Consider to add that he believed that anthropogenic global warming was already occurring.

"revealed that rising CO2 concentrations were in fact rising"
This is not the only breakthrough in the 1950s, but adding rising temperature and the CO2 producing warming (Gilbert Plass) would probably make the sentence a bit awkward.

2011-09-21 11:33:06Biggest diffs between Galileo and denialists
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
76.30.158.238

Galileo admitted he made a 'mistake' (or at least signed a confession to that effect).  The 'eppur si muove" legend has it that he didn't believe what he was forced to sign, but present day deniers will never admit an error.

 

Other difference - he was right!

2011-09-21 12:19:20excellent points
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

This is great; thanks, everybody for your thoughtful input.

And special thanks to Riccardo, for such careful scrutiny of the history.   You've pointed out several important nuances that will make it a better article.    

Who said "writing by committee" doesn't work?    Nonsense!

2011-09-21 12:58:16The "Galileo Gambit"
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Muoncounter and other Galileo fans -- re: the importance of actually proving yourself to be right, not just persecuted.

Check out the Galileo Gambit at RationalWiki.org


They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
They make fun of me, therefore I am right.

The Galileo gambit, or Galileo fallacy, is the notion that if you are vilified for your ideas, you must be right.....People use this argument repeatedly in response to serious criticisms that more often than not they just don't understand

There is no necessary link between being perceived as wrong and actually being correct; usually if people perceive you to be wrong, you are wrong. . . ..They really do forget the part where they have to prove themselves right in order to be like Galileo.

[My favorite is this quote from Carl Sagan.]

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers.    But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

:)


2011-09-22 12:03:40
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97
2011-09-22 12:06:59Second Draft: \"Galileo\" rebuttal
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Thanks, again, for all the excellent corrections & suggestions.

Here's a 2nd draft, incorporating most of them.   No doubt additional typos have crept in during the revision process -- its inevitable.    So if you are willing, I'd appreciate some additional proofing by fresh eyes.

Dana -- I tried to address the \"no inferring motivations\" rule, by cite observers who have observed this.    See if you think this is satisfies the rule (which I agree with, in principle).   If not, perhaps you can offer a suggestion how we might modify that passage without losing the point of that section of the rebuttal.   Perhaps a couple of additional citations would strengthen my point that this observation is not something we just conjured up, but is drawn from statements by skeptics themselves. 


DRAFT  Rebuttal to the Skeptics “Galileo” Argument            by Tom Smerling

The skeptics’ argument:   Climate skeptics are like Galileo, who bravely challenged the majority view and was vindicated by history.

One line rebuttal:      Modern scientists, not anti-science skeptics, follow in Galileo’s footsteps.  

Brief rebuttal:         The comparison is exactly backwards.     Modern scientists follow the evidence-based scientific method that Galileo pioneered.    Climate skeptics who oppose scientific findings that threaten their world view are far closer to Galileo’s belief-based critics in the Catholic Church.

 Long rebuttal:

 Deniers of human-caused climate change occasionally compare themselves to Galileo, who in the early 17th century challenged the Church’s view that the sun revolves around the earth, and was later vindicated.

 The comparison is not only flawed; the very opposite is true.

 First, Galileo was not suppressed by other proto-scientists of his time.   Many scientific contemporaries agreed with his observations[1], and most were appalled by his trial.[2]    Galileo was persecuted by the religious-political establishment – the Catholic Church, which tried and convicted him in 1633.  

Second, the key difference between Galileo and the Inquisition lies not in the fact that Galileo held a minority view.   It concerned Galileo’s “way of knowing,” or epistemology.     How is knowledge attained?    And who decides?

Medieval scholarship and Catholic Church dogma relied on the authority of Aristotle and a literal interpretation of the Bible to place earth at the center of the universe.   The “geocentric” view had dominated Western thought since antiquity.

In contrast, Galileo pioneered the evidence-based method of inquiry later known as the scientific method.     He formed logical hypotheses from observations, and tested his ideas with further observations and experiments.    His improved telescope enabled new observations that lent support to Copernicus’ “heliocentric” model, in which the planets revolve around the sun.   For disobeying its order to stop contradicting Church dogma, the Inquisition tried Galileo for suspected religious heresy in 1633, banned his books and placed him under house arrest for life.

Galileo’s conflict with the Church was far from unique.   History is full of examples where new scientific findings threaten powerful vested interests – religious, financial or ideological -- and provoke a furious backlash from the powers-that-be.  

Third, like Aristotle’s geocentrism, disbelief in human ability to alter the global climate is hardly revolutionary; it has been the prevailing view for throughout history.    Until the mid-20th Century, only a tiny number of prescient scientists believed anthropogenic global warming was possible.     The very idea was deemed an outlandish, remote possibility and irrelevant to the great scientific questions of the day. 

The revolution in thinking about earth’s climate occurred gradually, over some 175 years, beginning with French scientist Joseph Fourier’s 1820s speculation that the atmosphere keeps the earth warm by trapping heat.[3]   However, the revolution in climate science did have its “Galileo moments,” when individual scientists challenged the prevailing view.   

 Climate science’s first “Galileo moment” came in 1896, when Svante Arrhenius, after years of laborious hand calculations, predicted eventual global warming due to CO2 emissions.[4]    Arrhenius won few converts, because his calculations were considered over-simplified and failed to account for all the factors in the atmosphere.

Forty-two years later, a lone English steam engineer, Guy Steward Callendar, after poring over old CO2 and temperature records, stood before the Royal Meteorological Society in 1938 to state that global warming was already happening.[5]    Again, the scientific establishment was unpersuaded.   The evidence was still not strong enough to overturn, in  science historian Spencer Weart words,

 “the widespread conviction that the atmosphere was a stable, automatically self-regulated system. The notion that humanity could permanently change global climate was implausible on the face of it, hardly worth a scientist˙'s attention.”[6]

 

Mainstream scientific opinion did not begin to change until the late 1950’s, after  newly-accurate instruments and methods – reminiscent of Galileo’s telescopic breakthrough -- revealed that the CO2 concentration was in fact rising, the earth was warming, and the two were likely linked.   In the face of this new evidence, the problem could no longer be dismissed.    As research accelerated and the evidence accumulated, more and more scientists eventually changed their views, and a new consensus gradually emerged:  The earth was warming.   CO2 was measurably rising.   The added CO2 bore the chemical “fingerprints” of fossil fuels, and all alternative explanations failed.    Arrhenius and Callendar had been right, after all.

 By the late 1980’s the scientific evidence had become overwhelming, provoking calls for action to limit CO2 emissions.   Only then did the critics, backed by the fossil fuel  industry, take a strong interest.   Many observers have pointed out that the most vocal critics of climate science share a strong ideological conviction that government regulation is bad, therefore any phenomena that may require it must be denied.[7]   They do not argue, like Galileo, for a single revolutionary hypothesis based on new evidence; they do not agree among themselves on an alternative explanation.[8]    Instead, they try to cast doubt on climate science in order to restore the age-old conventional wisdom that human-caused climate change is impossible.  

 Fourth, there is the question of tactics.   Armed with ideological certainty, backed by powerful, monied interests, skeptics deploy every rhetorical and political weapon available, not only to discredit the science but to impugn the honesty of the researchers.   A recent tactic is to use political connections and financial clout to investigate climate scientists, charging them with fraud in an attempt to intimidate, silence and possibly bankrupt them.[9]    

If he were alive today, watching climate scientists being be dragged into court on baseless charges, is there any doubt whose side Galileo would take?

 --------------------

 Notes:   

 1)      Sources for the skeptic “Galileo” argument:

 On Sept 7, 2011, at the Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, Texas Gov.. Rick Perry, became the highest level politician to invoke the Galileo comparison.

 “Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans˙' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that˙'s not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/politics/08republican-debate-text.html?pagewanted=all

 The founders of Australia’s “Galileo Movement,” which claims that global warming is a “fabrication,”

 “cite as inspiration Galileo Galilei, the 17th century astronomer and father of modern science, who challenged the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church to report the Earth orbited around the sun.”  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=galileo-movement-fuels-australia-climate-change-divide  ]=


[2] personal communication, Spencer Weart, 9-17-2011.

 

 

 

2011-09-22 12:49:06Gilbert Plass/Roger Revelle
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
124.181.130.131

Tom, I agree with Riccardo about it being nicew to mention Plass. I would go further and add a sentence or two. In the 50's three  things happened. Plass was the first to do a better analysis of the Radiative Transfer stuff with early computers to show that CO2 would cause warming - Saturation was wrong. Revelle and others showed that ocean chemistry and very slow mixing times meant the oceans wouldn't absorb most of what we emitted as previously believed, and KeelSo 3 key pieces of pioneering work in the 50's, even if it was latter decades that firmed up the work.

 

The reason it might be worth mentioning this a bit more is to reinforce that actually the Theory of AGW came before the observations of warming. This goes to the heart of the denialist meme 'Its warming so they came up with this CO2 hypothesis to explain it." The meme makes the theory seem post-hoc and dubious. Rather showing theory came first and observation followed gives it a firmer footing.

 

So your comment "and the two were likely linked" ois a bit of a red-rag to a bull for some skeptics. Rather theory based on known data about CO2 said it should cause warming, it was then observed that it was warming as CO2 rose.

2011-09-22 19:36:30
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.33.164

"The reason it might be worth mentioning this a bit more is to reinforce that actually the Theory of AGW came before the observations of warming. This goes to the heart of the denialist meme 'Its warming so they came up with this CO2 hypothesis to explain it." The meme makes the theory seem post-hoc and dubious. Rather showing theory came first and observation followed gives it a firmer footing."

This is exactly right: Indeed, if there had been no prediction, the statistical temperature trends, alone, would not provide significant support for an after-the-fact proposed explanation in terms of CO2. The history is important.

2011-09-23 07:03:31final Galileo rebuttal submitted
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

I've posted the final rebuttal at Author Admin.

Since I'm 100% certain that additional typos/errors crept in during revising -- I caught a couple already -- any additional proofing is welcome once it is posted.

Thanks again for the suggestions -- couldn't have don eit without you.    I incorporated most, but skipped a few for the sake of parsimony.

In response ot specific points above:

jg -- Thanks for the offer of a timeline.     That would be great; you can lift material from Stewart Weart's definitive milestone list at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.html.

muoncounter -- After careful thought I chose to not include the "Galileo was right, you're not" rebuttal, though many people like it.    My thought is that it's a rhetorically strong but logically weak argument, easily refuted   The skeptics aren't claiming to resemble the Galileo viewed in hindsight, after he was vindicated.   They claim to resemble the Galileo of 1633 whos miniority views were hotly contested even by most (but far from all) non-clerical scholars.   Nobody knew then whether G would be vindicated.     If others view the utility of this rebuttal differently, I'd like to hear the rationale.

riccardo, Glenn T and nealjking -- Since you all weighed in on this, I went ahead and added a few sentences to give Plass, Suess, Revelle etc the credit they deserve.    However, I'm still not sure this level of detail is warranted in this particular rebuttal.    Maybe it should be explored further in a separate rebuttal that focusses on the 1950s era.

TOm

2011-09-23 08:44:49
adelady

amgnificent@gmail...
124.171.82.190

Tom, I think it can't be repeated often enough.

The science was in long before the evidence showed up.   

The biggest difference between the past and now is computing power.  And Arrhenius didn't do so badly with just a pencil anyway.

2011-09-23 09:03:23
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.33.164

Tom, I'm a little suspicious of your timeline:

"Mainstream scientific opinion did not begin to change until the late 1950’s, after  newly-accurate instruments and methods – reminiscent of Galileo’s telescopic breakthrough -- revealed that the CO2 concentration was in fact rising, the earth was warming, and the two were likely linked.   In the face of this new evidence, the problem could no longer be dismissed.    As research accelerated and the evidence accumulated, more and more scientists eventually changed their views, and a new consensus gradually emerged:  The earth was warming.   CO2 was measurably rising.   The added CO2 bore the chemical “fingerprints” of fossil fuels, and all alternative explanations failed.    Arrhenius and Callendar had been right, after all."

- Wasn't global temperature more or less stabilized from 1940's to 1970's?

- I think there were papers in the late '60s (Watanabe? Ramanthan?) that calculated the amount of radiative forcing in a realistic way. The important point is that the prediction for warming, based on increasing CO2, was made prior to any measured trend having been properly established. This is hugely important: You can't claim experimental support for a hypothesis that was inspired by those selfsame experiments.

- I think you should check Weart for the timeline on these points.

==============

UPDATED

2011-09-23 09:20:04
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.133

Plass actually did radiative transfer calculations with arbitrary absorption lineshapes and overlaps. He also included the pressure and temperature dependence of the absorption lines. That was in 1956, when the temperature increase had already flattened after the increase in the first half of the century.

2011-09-23 10:10:58Riccardo
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

I just came across this article, "Did Galileo get in trouble for being right, or for being a jerk about it?" How does it compare to your understanding of what went done back then? 

2011-09-23 13:30:34responses to Neal, Riccardo, John H.
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

John H -- My understanding is that Galileo apparently had a defiant streak, and this did get him in trouble.    I think the modal position from Galileo scholars, would be that Galileo was brought to trial, not for being right, but for a) disobeying the 1616 order to desist, b) insulting the Pope Urban, in the Dialogue.    So ultimately, it was his insubordination that could not be tolerated, more than the Copernicanism.    However, the article - and others like it - takes a bit of an extreme position.

Neal -- Good point about the 40-70's plateau;  I'll go back to Weart to try to check the timeline regarding observed warming.   I may have to tweak the language a bit on the warming a bit.   You are of course correct that the theory preceded the data, but our concern in this paragraph is when and how the weight of scientific opinion shifted.    Perhaps, as you suggest, I overstated the role of new empirical findings.  If you're willing to take a shot a rough redraft of that paragraph -- reflecting your understanding -- that would help ensure that I understand your point, and help speed up the editing process.    If you haven't time, well, I can surely understand that too!    I running out of time for this mayself.

Riccardo -- I think I understand your point about Plass, but am unclear whether you are recommending any change in the text.   I believe in the final final draft submitted, I deleted changed "late 50's" (which was in reference to Keelings work) to "50's", deleting the word late to account for other developments.    Notice that I did not list these developments in chronological order, but rather in logical order to help the reader understand how the pieces were falling into place.

2011-09-23 17:21:38
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.99.6

Tom,

I'm just goiing to give a sketch, no names or dates:

"Mainstream scientific opinion did not begin to change until the late 1950’s, after  newly-accurate instruments and methods – reminiscent of Galileo’s telescopic breakthrough -- revealed that the CO2 concentration was in fact rising, the earth was warming, and the two were likely linked.   In the face of this new evidence, the problem could no longer be dismissed.    As research accelerated and the evidence accumulated, more and more scientists eventually changed their views, and a new consensus gradually emerged:  The earth was warming.   CO2 was measurably rising.   The added CO2 bore the chemical “fingerprints” of fossil fuels, and all alternative explanations failed.    Arrhenius and Callendar had been right, after all."

=>

"For many years, the absorption of IR by CO2 was considered to be of only academic interest, because it was thought that the appropriate mechanism to consider was simple absorption: It was thought that this absorption would saturate, so that the effect on temperature would be very limited. In the 60's and 70's, it was recognized that the appropriate mechanism was radiative transfer, and that the controlling issue is the difference in temperature between ground level and the top of the CO2. At this point, it could be understood that increased CO2 would have a real effect on climate, and the impact of an increase in atmospheric CO2 could be converted into a quantitative calculation of the resulting radiative forcing. With rough ideas about how to convert the forcing into temperature increase, an increasing temperature trend could be predicted. When the global temperature data were examined from this point of view, the expected trend could be seen (after taking into account other forcings, such as the impact of increasing aerosols)."

That's the "plot", as I see it: After some important conceptual confusions were cleared away, the GHE could be understood within the framework of radiative transfer (thus elimiinating the mistaken "saturation" concept, which still continues to haunt the public understanding), and the degree of radiative forcing could be calculated. Once it could be calculated, you have an expected upward temperature trend - but to see it, you have to subtract out the impact of the sulfate aerosols (coal smoke). When this roughly matches, you get confirmation of the theory by the data.

Otherwise, if you get the idea of the trend from the data, and then generate a theory that gives that trend, you CANNOT claim experimental support for the theory from the same data: You would need new data to constitute experimental support. Analogy, roughly based on an example by Feynman: If I walk out onto the street, pick up a rock at random, and find a $100 bill, I might think, "Today is my lucky day!" I might then formulate a theory: "There must be some magical force trying to make me rich. How can I prove it experimentally? Ah: I found a $100 bill today, and that hardly ever happens. That proves the theory!" Of course it doesn't: What would support the theory is if I turned over another rock, and found another $100 bill; and if other people turned over rocks but found nothing. Then you would begin to be justified in thinking you had experimental proof of a magical force, because your theory would have predicted the trend of data other than that which had inspired the idea at the beginning.

If it had happened the way you originally surprised, the skeptics would basicly be right: Without a theoretical expectation of a trend, the data are not "good enough" to constitute evidence against the null hypothesis of zero trend. Whereas with a theoretical expectation of a trend, the data are not "good enough" to constitute evidence against the null hypothesis of the expected trend.

You should take a look at Weart to see the timeline.

2011-09-24 01:00:46
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Tom: I started a timeline. I have Weart's book for reference. I couldn't view the link (http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.html) -- perhaps I have to be logged in as a member?

I found other information from Weart's book at the same site, so I have that to work with. I'll post drafts soon.

jg

2011-09-24 01:51:23timeline
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

jg -- oops!    that is the correct link, but for one tiny error....the suffix should be .htm  not html    undoubtedly introduced when copy/pasting. 

So here's the whole thing again, corrected:   http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm    Sorry for the confusion.

Interesting question is, "how much info to include?" in the timeline.     Too much = a bewildering clutter.     Too little = misses key parts of the story.      Of course, different users will have different needs.    Maybe a "basic" and "advanced version?"

Another question:    Is this info -- the brief history of the discovery of global warming -- already available elsewhere on SkS?

 

2011-09-24 01:59:27the 50's narrative
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Neal -- thanks, again, for taking the time to put this down on paper (er, pixels).      I want to  "get it right."    Though I can't focus on it much today, but will get back to it over the next couple of days.   

The challenge of course, is to "tell the story" accurately -- with just enough detail to make the argument re: Galileo --  without getting so far down into the weeds that we lose our audience.

I wonder:   Perhaps the full story is worth a separate blog post, summarizing this part of the history.

2011-09-24 02:07:14
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.99.6

I don't think you need a lot of detail. You just have to avoid saying that they got the idea of rising temperature from looking at temperature trends. They didn't: They got the idea from looking at equations and calculations.

2011-09-24 02:25:47
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Thanks Tom for the corrected link. A lot of information, but I enjoy the challenge. My first goal was to give you something that looks nice within the 570 pixel wide format that covers the main points of your post. Then for the more in-depth timeline, something in the 900-1100 pixel wide format as a comprehensive study guide, kind of like a placemat... in fact we could do an SKS table placemat series where each placement diagrams a different side of the science, but that's for another topic.

2011-09-24 06:01:16
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Here's what I was able to do in a lunchtime. I'll return to this tonight and tomorrow. Any suggestions are welcome. I understand there are some conflicting lines, eg., were red timeline markers cross the gratuitous use of the temperature and CO2 trends, but if these trends remain in the picture, I'll explore ways of removing the visual conflict -- eg. more like a water mark in the background.

This is mostly drawn from Weart's timeline cited above, but I added a few personal favorites, such as Pierrehumbert's mention of lunar temperature measurements in 1927 (allows me to cite his book in the credits) and a 2000 or 2001 Nature paper claiming first observational evidences of an enhanced greenhouse effect (for those still in the 1990s claimings it's never been observed).

2011-09-24 07:03:22timeline - wow!
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

jg -- when you said a timeline....I had no idea!   The graphics are great!   Hey, are you the genius behind all SkS great graphics?

2011-09-24 07:05:03timeline -- btw
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

BTW, when you have it the way you like it, do you mind if I forward it to Spencer Weart?   I think he'll be quite intrigued, and may want to use it on his website as well.

2011-09-24 07:21:02
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Thanks for the kind words Tom. I am not the genius behind the SKS graphics. My style is to overdo things a little, using illustration to collect information for study. I've started to add a few illustrations to the SKS graphics resource and to some of the blog posts, but the genius behind the SKS graphics resource page is John Cook. I admire John's ability to stick to simplicity.

2011-09-24 08:20:32timeline -- btw
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

jg -- I didn't realise that JC does his own graphics.  Kudos to JC!

And, yes, keeping it simple takes a lot of discipline,  for all of us, whether writing, speaking or drawing.   we're so trained to be comprehensive., "The Curse of Comprehensivity" I call it... sort of a corollary to "the Curse of Knowledge."    A lot of my work is trying to pare things down to their bare essentials, but it's not my natural inclination.

2011-09-25 03:28:15
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
96.229.221.76

Tom,

I'm enjoying this illustration, and I expect to make additional changes. For example, I reserved some space after Keeling for any name we think should go in there. The events of the 70s onward are so numerous that I welcome advice on which, if any, to put in this space. I'll be gone for a day (forcing my kids into a science-related outing under the disguise as fun) and will work on any suggestions tomorrow.

2011-09-25 07:26:01
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
121.212.140.197

jg

LUV the graph! Detailed enough with the little images conveying just the right amount of detail.

2011-09-25 08:35:20jg
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Got any new "Toons of the Week" up your sleeve?

2011-09-25 08:49:53
adelady

amgnificent@gmail...
124.171.82.190

I love it too.    

I can't see value in putting any further info in the later 20thC.   Because you'd need to cram in more stuff.   

And as it is it shows that the scientific basis was pretty thoroughly 'done' before Callendar said "it's starting". 

(Of course he thought it was a good thing at the time -  when the general view was that an ice age was mere centuries off rather than 10s of thousands of years away.)   

2011-09-25 09:25:15Hansen
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

jg, I'd suggest Hansen's 1988 global warming prediction and testimony before Congress.

Would you mind if I use this graphic in my book too?  Maybe you could sign the bottom right corner, or something to give you credit.

2011-09-26 01:29:46
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
george.morrison2@sympatico...
65.95.185.117

I also really like Tom article and jg's graphic in particular.

I will make another plug - perhaps for another time - about the point(s) that Simon Donner makes in his AMS presentation that I linked to above.

He even makes explicit (@ 11:00) the point that - like we are doing here! - almost no one ever makes an outreach presentation on climate where humanity's thinking about climate change begins at a date any earlier than ~ 1820. "We have been thinking about climate for 1,000's of years. And we are ignoring that when we are communicating this to audiences."

You have to watch the whole presentation (the audio kicks in at 1:30) to understand his context. He suggests that a brief acknowledgement of the longer history (and the idea that climate was always understood to controlled "by mystic forces grander than us" ) helps emphasize that jg's graphic is the real "galileo" analog. The "climate skeptic galileos" are implicitly arguing that Fourier>Tyndall> >Keeling>... is the "old" paradigm which is about to be usurped by their new Galileo-like assertions. When in fact, modern climate science is the new kid on the block...

Also, again maybe for another time, I like this picture (below) of the lobby of the National Academy of Sciences Keck Center in Washington, D.C. There are Darwin's finches, Mendel's peas, Watson and Crick's double helix... and up in the upper left - Dave Keeling's curve. Just an anecdote/visual of where science itself considers some of climate science's achievements amongst the greatest scientific achievements of all time. (Better/larger quality image here. I got it from a Richard Somerville (Scripps) presentation.))

And, again, really like the post and the graphic, Tom and jg. Thumbs up.

2011-09-26 06:18:02
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
188.152.84.241

Good job Tom and jg.

Tom, your comment on 23 Sep 2011, 1:30 PM. I was just giving those great scientists due credits. I don't think it's necessary to give more details, I like your post as it is.

2011-09-26 06:58:48Fourth Draft!
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

OK guys.   You've been great about sticking with this....    I anticipated a sprint; but it became a marathon.    I hope it proves worthwhile.   This ridiculous boast really deserves a knock out blow.

I've posted the 4th (!) draft in Author Admin, and pasted below (without formatting)

jg -- My 2 cents:   As an attachment to this rebuttal, keep it simple and tied to the points in the rebuttal -- the purpose being simply for readers to get an overview of the points in the rebuttal.     After 1965 or so, the science becomes too distinguish key milestomes.   At that point, the milestones are the public statements describing the new consensus:   1) hansons 1988 testimony, 2) 1990 - 1st IPCC report confirms that earth is warming and 3) 2001 3rd IPCC report confirms  "unequivocal" warming, almost certainly (>90%) due to human gg emissions.   That's where the narrative in this rebuttal ends -- the solidification of the new consensus.

But your timeline is so good, it can stand alone.   How about expanding crafting an expanded version for it's own SkS blog posting?    Wouldn't this be cool:   Start with what you have, but build it into a even more comprehensive zoomable timeline -- keyed to Weart's milestones adn linked to his website --  so one can zoom out to see only the key milestones, or zoom in for the minor ones.     I've seen this done (the obvious example being maps, of course).        When you've got a draft you're satisfied with, with your permission I'd like to send it to Weart.    I bet he'll be willing to offer feedback, and may even want it for his website!

Neal -- I went back to Weart's text and, yes, your point was 100% correct about temperature rise not being empirically confirmed until much later, due to the 40s-70s plateau.    So I amended the text to reflect that.

Riccardo -- Thanks for the note re: credit to the scientists.    I ended up putting it in anyway.   Also, more re-reading of convinced me that it was worth being precise:    "Suspected heresy"    thanks agin for pointing that out.

rustneversleeps -- Thanks for persisting.   I confess I haven't yet watched the entire clip; but I will and revist the last draft, in that light.

John H -- for 'toon of the week.....check out today's doonesbury!   "Honest Man Seeks Platform"   It's a zinger!    I'm putting it at to top of our "best climate cartoons ever" list over at ClimateBites.

In general:   I believe it would be a mistake to try to use this particular rebuttal as the venue for teaching too much history.   Again, like the timeline, the full history is in Weart; perhaps a synopsis belongs in its own SkS post, with links to Weart's site.    Point #3 in the rebuttal is already disproportionally long; its only point is what rust says -- to show that Climate scientists are the revolutionaries here; the skeptics are counter revolutionaries, trying to restore the ancient regime.   The challenge is to identify the minimal info necessary to drive that point home -- then stop!   Anything more, however justified historically, is actually counterproductive in this context.

 


 

The skeptics’ argument:   

Climate skeptics are like Galileo, who bravely challenged the majority view and was later vindicated by history. 

“the science is -- is not settled on this… Galileo [too] got outvoted for a spell – Texas Gov. Rick Perry[1]   

One line rebuttal:     

Modern scientists, not anti-science skeptics, follow in Galileo’s footsteps.  

Brief rebuttal:        

The comparison is exactly backwards.     Modern scientists follow the evidence-based scientific method that Galileo pioneered.    Climate skeptics who oppose scientific findings that threaten their world view are far closer to Galileo’s belief-based critics in the Catholic Church.

 Long rebuttal:

 Deniers of human-caused climate change occasionally compare themselves to Galileo, who in the early 17th century challenged the Church’s view that the sun revolves around the earth and was later vindicated.

The comparison to Galileo is not only flawed; the very opposite is true.

1.   Galileo was suppressed by religious/political authority, not scientists.     Galileo was not suppressed or “outvoted” by other early scientists.   Many scientific contemporaries agreed with his observations[2], and were appalled by his trial.[3]  Galileo was persecuted by the religious-political establishment – the Catholic Church, which in 1616 ordered him to stop defending his view of the solar system, which contradicted church dogma.  After Galileo published his famous Dialogue, the Roman Inquisition tried him in 1633 for defying Church authority, and found him guilty of suspected religious heresy, forced him to recant, banned his books and sentenced him to house arrest for life.[4]   Galileo died eight years later.[5]

2.   Science is evidence-based; vocal skeptics are belief-based.  The key difference between Galileo and the Church concerned Galileo’s “way of knowing,” or epistemology.  How is knowledge attained?    And who decides?

Medieval scholarship and Catholic Church dogma relied on the authority of Aristotle and a literal interpretation of the Bible to place earth at the center of the universe.  

In contrast, Galileo’s views were not based on infallible authority.   His conclusions flowed from observations and logic.     Galileo’s evidence- and logic-based method of inquiry later became known as the scientific method.

The vast majority of vocal skeptics are not engaged in climate research.   The common bond uniting most skeptics, observers note, is an ideological belief system:   government regulation is bad, so problems that may require it must be resisted.[6]   From that point of departure, they search for ways to cast doubt on the science.[7]  Unlike Galileo and modern scientists, they do not change their view when presented with new evidence, because their position derives not from open-ended scientific inquiry, but from strongly-held ideological convictions.

In contrast, climate science applies the scientific method pioneered by Galileo.    Scientists make observations, form logical hypotheses, then test their hypotheses through experiments and further observations.   They follow the evidence wherever it leads.

The Church’s attack on Galileo and the skeptical assault on climate science are far from unique.   History is full of examples where new scientific findings threatened powerful vested interests – whether religious, financial or ideological -- and provoked a furious backlash.   

3.  Climate science overturns an age-old belief; skeptics seek to restore it.   In arguing that the planets revolve around the sun, Galileo was challenging an idea that had dominated Western thought for over 1400 years.    Ever since Ptolemy (90-168 AD) codified Aristotle’s “heliocentrism,” most philosopher/scientists had accepted the common sense view that the earth is the center of the universe, with the sun and planets revolving around us.

Similarly, the prevailing view throughout history was that people, through our own actions, could not possibly alter earth’s climate on a global scale.   Even into the 20th century, the overwhelming majority of scientists maintained, in science historian Spencer Weart’s words,

the widespread conviction that the atmosphere was a stable, automatically self-regulated system. The notion that humanity could permanently change global climate was implausible on the face of it, hardly worth a scientist's attention.[8] 

Some say climate science’s first “Galileo moment” came in 1896, when Swedish scientists Svante Arrhenius, after years of laborious hand calculations, predicted eventual global warming due to CO2 emissions.[9]    Others point to 1938, when a British steam engineer named Guy Stewart Callendar, after poring over old CO2 and temperature records, stood alone before the Royal Meteorological Society to argue that global warming was already happening.[10] 

Arrhenius and Callendar were ahead of their time, and failed to persuade others.   In both cases, the scientific establishment found their calculations oversimplified and their evidence incomplete, certainly not convincing enough to overturn the ancient view that global climate was impervious to human acts.

Mainstream scientific opinion was slow to change.    During the post-war science boom in the 1950’s, early computers and advanced methods allowed scientists to directly investigate objections to Arrhenius’ and Callendar’s view.[11]   Using the new digital computers, Gilbert Plass found that more CO2 could indeed block more heat.[12]   Hans Suess analyzed radioactive isotopes to detect ancient carbon in the air, presumably from fossil fuels.[13]    Roger Revelle and Suess discovered that the oceans could not quickly take up additional CO2.    David Keeling built the first sensor capable of accurately measuring atmospheric CO2 – just as Galileo had invented a more powerful telescope – and found that the CO2 level was indeed rising.  

From 1960 to 1990, the evidence kept accumulating, from areas of study as far afield as geology, astronomy and biology.   As the gaps in knowledge were filled, one-by-one, most scientists changed their views and gradually formed a new consensus:  significant anthropogenic (human caused) global warming was likely.[14]  

By 2000, the evidence was overwhelming.

The hypothesis proposed by Arrhenius in 1896—denied by almost every expert through the first half of the twentieth century and steadily advancing through the second half—was now as well accepted as any scientific proposal of its nature could ever be.[15]  

The climate pioneers had been vindicated.

Critics of climate science, backed by the alarmed fossil fuel industry,[16] sprang into action in the late 1980s, when the mounting evidence led to calls for international action to limit CO2 emissions.   They did not argue, like Galileo, for a single revolutionary hypothesis based on new evidence, because they could not agree on one among themselves.[17]    They produced little new evidence.   Instead, they searched for flaws in others’ research, and launched a public relations campaign to sow public doubt.    

Unlike Galileo, climate skeptics were not trying to overturn an ancient view. Their goal was the opposite:   to restore the  age-old conventional wisdom, that, by itself, “human activity was too feeble to sway natural systems”[18].    In clinging to this old view, the skeptics' stance more closely resemble that of the Catholic Church, which fought Galileo’s views for another 100 years after the scientific establishment had embraced him.

4.  Scientist are being dragged into court     Armed with ideological certainty, backed by powerful financial and political interests, climate skeptics have sought to not only discredit the science but impugn the researchers’ honesty.   Unfounded accusations of deception and conspiracy fly freely,[19] and some climate scientists even receive death threats.[20]   These attacks, according Dr. Naomi Oreskes, “have had a chilling effect...   Intimidation works.”[21]

In April 2011, personal attacks on scientists took a more ominous turn, when Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a fierce climate skeptic, launched a criminal fraud investigation of a prominent climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann.[22]   Multiple investigations by independent scientific bodies have found no trace of wrongdoing  in Mann’s work, and a Virginia judge dismissed Attorney General’s subpoena request for lack of evidence.    Yet, as of September 2011, Cuccinellis’ crusade continues.[23]  

If Galileo were alive today, watching climate scientists being dragged into court on baseless charges, is there any doubt whose side he would take?



[1]  On Sept 7, 2011, at the Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, Texas Gov.. Rick Perry, became the highest level politician to invoke the Galileo comparison.

Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/politics/08republican-debate-text.html?pagewanted=all

 The founders of Australia’s “Galileo Movement” claim that global warming is a “fabrication,” and

 cite as inspiration Galileo Galilei, the 17th century astronomer and father of modern science, who challenged the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church to report the Earth orbited around the sun.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=galileo-movement-fuels-australia-climate-change-divide

[3] personal communication, Spencer Weart, 9-17-2011.

[4] Wooton, David.   Galileo: Watcher of the Skies, Yale University Press, New Haven (2010), p. 224-5

[5] Galileo died on January 8, 1642 at age 77.

[7] See Oreskes, Naomi and Erik M. Conway.  Merchants of Doubt, Bloomsbury Press, New York (2010)

[12] Dr. Spencer Weart’s excellent history of this period can be found in overview at  http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm, with more details at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm, the linked timeline and other articles.

[13] Weart, Spencer.   The Discovery of Global Warming, Harvard University Press, New York (2004), p. 26

[14] Weart, p. 164.

[15] Weart, p. 191.

[18] http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm

[19] Oreskes and Conway, page 4, 198-213. 264.

[20] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/climate-scientists-angered-by-deniers-death-threat-campaign/story-e6frg6nf-1226079058193

[21] Oreskes and Conway, p. 264-5.

[22] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/30/AR2010083005004.html?sid=ST2010050303477

2011-09-26 07:13:28p.s. so what happens next?
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Perhaps an SkS veteran can tell me.....after a blog is posted on Author Admin, what happens next?     When does it get posted online?

2011-09-26 07:39:43
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.113

After it gets enough green thumbs, A MIRACLE HAPPENS, and JC or Dana post it.

2011-09-26 08:23:32rebuttal
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

Tom, next step - go to the Rebuttals list, claim the Intermediate version of 'climate skeptics are like Galileo' (last on the list, #198), and paste your rebuttal in there.  I'll add a greenbox to the post noting that it's a rebuttal.  It's on the schedule for Thursday Aussie time, Wednesday for most of the rest of us.

Here's the post:

The Galileo Gambit - Rebuttal (corrected)

2011-09-26 08:38:28inserting the timeline
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Dana -- how do you recommend inserting lg's great timeline (when he confirms a final draft)?   

Should he just post his final draft here, then I can cut/paste it into the rebuttal text?    Or should he post it elsewere?  

2011-09-26 08:43:00another admin question...
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

once I've pasted the rebuttal into the "Rebuttals list" is there still a mechanism for making corrections?    In may experience, new typos -- and old zombie errors -- somehow manage to rear their ugly heads at every stage of revision, so it would be good to know.

2011-09-26 09:43:13
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

Probably easiest for jg to post the graphic here.

Since you're the rebuttal author (once you claim it), you'll be able to go in and edit it at any time.  Just go into the Rebuttals List (same link as above) and click "edit" on the rebuttal you want to revise.

2011-09-26 10:46:16
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

>>>Deniers of human-caused climate change occasionally...

NO.  Don't give Watts et al ammo to peddle nonsense.

2011-09-26 11:10:22Watts et al ammo?
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Alex -- I'm not sure I understand your point; can you elaborate a bit?    Are you referring to use of  the term "deniers" vs. "skeptics?"

2011-09-26 11:16:42
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

Yes; sorry about the lack of clarification, we're discussing this on this thread.

2011-09-26 13:12:18
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
96.229.221.76

I've updated the timeline illustration. Thanks all for the kind comments.

Dana, please use the illustration as you see fit. Please let me know if you'd like a custom version for your book.

Though it's hard to pick specific events after 1970, I put in Dana's suggestion of Hanson's prediction and testimony as it is a nice compliment to the satellite observation 13 years later. 

Tom, I revised this before seeing your fourth version above. I'm worn out from a busy weekend chasing kids and sharing astronomy with the public, so I'll read it in the morning when I'm thinking clearly and likely have a streamlined version to choose between. I do like the idea of a stand-alone timeline project.

John H: I do have some ideas for toons; I'll share them on another thread; thanks for asking.

2011-09-26 14:31:36
logicman

logicman_alf@yahoo.co...
86.178.33.88

Tom: excellent article.

 

Climate skeptics are like Galileo, who bravely challenged the majority view and was vindicated by history.

 

What Galileo actually did was to make a telescope with which he obtained some 'mark 1 eyeball' evidence in support of the growing scientific consensus that the Earth orbits the Sun.  He also showed features on the surface of the moon.

Church dogma had it that the moon, like all celestial orbs, is a perfect and unblemished sphere, and the Earth is the centre of the universe.

From the complete ban on the teachings of Aristotle - Provincial Council of Paris 1209 - the pendulum had swung fully the other way by Galileo's times so that there was a complete ban on teachings against Aristotle.

Galileo bravely supported the growing scientific consensus in spite of those who would deny the value of the scientific method.  When an anti-science propagandist claims to be like Galileo I fall about laughing.

 

A modern day Galileo would be any scientist who could provide startling new evidence of AGW strong enough to make AGW deniers change their minds in the same way that the Catholic Church changed its collective mind about the theory which Galileo supported.

 

Just throwing some ideas out there, Tom: this is not meant as a criticism of your article.

2011-09-26 14:35:35One more item..
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
60.230.5.210

jg.

If you don't think it crowds things too much, one more possible entry. The first report to government about the risk of Global Warming. Presented to Lyndan Johnson in 1965!

2011-09-26 20:16:17
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
192.84.150.209

jg

Hanson -> Hansen

2011-09-27 00:30:09timeline
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

thanks jg -- I certainly sympathize with being worn out from chasing (not to mention shlepping) kids around.

No rush.   I'll keep an eye out for the streamlined version, which I'll include with the rebuttal and also forward to Weart (if that's OK with you).  

Looking at the graph again, this option occurs to me.    Instead of trying to cram the explanatory info below the timeline -- or just omit it altogether when there's no space, like for Plass, Revelle etc -- how about a mouse-over pop-up.    So when you mouse-over, say, Arrhenius, the explanation and little graphic of CO2 molecules pops up.     Just a thought.

As you've probably noticed, after 1960, it's not obvious from Weart what exactly are the major milestones.   I suggest above that they may pertain more to the articulation of the new consensus (Hanson, IPCC etc.) than scientific breakthroughs.    Weart notes, in his book, that once AGW was confirmed, and the consensus congealed, the research then scattered in many different directions.

2011-09-27 02:01:22
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

logicman -- interesting tidbit about Aristotle.   It's quite a stretch for us to imagine life when religioun/politics/philosophy/science were all rolled up in one ball.   Even more amazing is how many people -- including, in the U.S., national figures -- are galloping back toward that pre-Enlightenment state.    

2011-09-27 06:05:05
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

A lot of fine suggestions have been made, and I plan to deal with them, but first, let me finish the diagram I started, then I'll move to others. Below is the 570-pixel-wide timeline intended to reflect the climate science achievements cited in Tom's article and fit within the SKS margins.

-------------------------

Next I'll try a stripped down version should Tom prefer that for his post. It won't take me long; I just needed closure on this one before I started.

Then, I'll try for a grand-unified timeline that is not limited to space. E.g., I'll make it wider to be displayed fullscreen or printed sideways (landscape) on a sheet of paper.

I can also make an interactive timeline as suggested, and an interactive version has a lot to offer and can be embellished by others. For example, years ago I created this timeline: JG's Geotimeline (NOTE: you'll need a Flash-enabled browser to view it and make sure you click the timeline on the left to see how it expands). In this timeline, all the entries are described in an XML file. So anyone could create an xml element that has a date, area of focus and text description. Such a timeline can view specific types of information as well as draw connections between the entries. I suspect this type of thing has been done. The only issue that I see is that my skills are a bit dated: I can do this with Flash, when it probably needs to be in HTML5.

 

 

2011-09-28 04:50:25streamlined timeline?
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

jg -- thanks for all your work on this!    I think a streamlined timeline woudl be great for the rebuttal; I'll keep an eye out for it.   But in the meantime, I'm publishing the Galileo post (4th draft, plus a few corrections) with your latest timeline above.

Once you post the streamlined version, I'll insert that instead.     Be a ruthless editor!     Think of the graphic as a reader assist for making sense of the points in the rebbutal and cut the rest -- when you have it posted, I'll add a note and link to your more comprehensive timeline.    Be sure to put your name somewhere; you deserve credit.

BTW, your Geotimeline is remarkable  -- love those the bouncing molecules! 

2011-09-28 05:10:40
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Hi Tom, I'm working on the streamlined version. Thanks for your comments. I didn't answer your question about sharing this with Weartz. Please do so if you feel inclined. Along with the streamlined version, I'll be creating the more elaborate one too, so you may want to put off contacting Weartz until that one is ready. Do what you think is best.

2011-09-28 05:56:34
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Tom: Here's a version that cites only the names and events in most recent draft that I've seen.

2011-09-28 13:05:24
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

thanks, jg.  To be honest, I hate to part with the complex timeline, but I think for this particular rebuttal, the simple one works best to illuminate the text.

But  I really look forward to seeing the comprehensive/interactive one evolve into its own post.   Keep at it!

2011-09-28 22:34:55Arrhenius the first?
alan_marshall

alan.from.tas@gmail...
114.73.182.252

Excellent post, and one that is sorely needed to rebut those anti-science zealots who would claim Galileo as one of their own. In Australia, one nauseating example of this is the “Galileo Movement”.

With regard to the text, I make just one pedantic point. It could be argued that climate change science didn’t start with Svante Arrhenius, but with Joseph Fourier in 1824, followed by John Tyndall in 1858. The connection between the three men is neatly summarised in Wikipedia as:

The greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824, first reliably experimented on by John Tyndall in 1858, and first reported quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

However, I will leave it for you to decide how best to present the history.

2011-09-29 01:52:54
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Hi Tom. I dropped Fourier from the Spartan timeline; let me know if Alan's comment induces any change. It's easy to put back.

2011-09-29 01:57:24
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.44.158

jg,

Fourier is a big one: One of the most stupendous and fruitful discoveries in mathematical physics is the Fourier series.

2011-09-29 05:03:02Fourier & Tyndall
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

jg -- I think Neal's right, and it wouldn't hurt to put Fourier and Tyndall back into the timeline, just to remind people how long the idea has been around, even though they are not mentioned in the text.     A hyperlink to Spencer Weart's "milestones" page wouldn't hurt either.

Alan, you of course are right about F & T's early contributions.  I though long and hard about this.    Here was my thinking in picking A & C.

Point #3 in this rebuttal is not intended as a full history.   The point simply argues that, if you're looking in the history of climate science for a analogous "Galileo moment", there are at leasat two very good examples.   Arrhenius and Callendar.    What distinguishes, in that context, is not just that they went much further than others in describing, calculating and predicting the greenhouse effect, but that they stood their ground, alone and publicly, despite widespread criticism from the science establishment.    It is that last point that makes them standout the most -- especially Callender's standing before the Royal Society -- as analogues to Galileo.    Fournier and Tyndall, to my knowledge, experienced no such drama and received little or no establishment criticism.

(BTW the third point 3 is already disproportionately long and digressive compared to points 1,2 and 4.    if I were to revise once more, I'd probably trim out some fo the historic detail, rather than add more.)

Hmm.    Given all the comments above, I wonder whether a separate SkS blog post on the history would be useful, combined with jg's soon-to-be-released (?) interactive timeline!     Weart's will remain the definitive work, but SkS could make a unique contribution by highlighting exactly the key turning points that would be most useful when rebutting skeptical claims.

2011-09-29 05:17:04
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.44.158

Tom,

This reminds me of my back-burnered project (most of my projects these days are back-burnered) to review the history of AGW studies, to look for:

- the development of the key ideas; but even more

- to pin down the understanding of the dead ends.

In this area of science, I believe the dead ends are of more than normal interest, because I believe that virtually ALL the 'skeptic' ideas that we have to deal with in our line of work are just recaptitulations of ideas that were invented, promoted, de-bunked, and discarded during the course of the scientific discussion on AGW. I believe it is literally true that nearly all these myths have been dragged off the dust-heap of scientific history; and this junk is being displayed as new scientific insight, while the "not fit for purpose" sticker is ignored.

2011-09-29 05:23:43Galileo rebuttal is now in the queue
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

For Galileo-philes, the final (?) draft, with graphics, can be pre-reviewed at http://skepticalscience.com/arg_list.php?Action=Preview&r=397.     If you spot further typos or desired tweaks, let me know here.

Dana --  Technical details   

1) As this is my first SkS rebuttal , I didn't know where to put the "one line rebuttal."    Does the moderator drafts this?  if so, take a look at the one I came up with (above).   

2) Is this "basic" or "intermediate?"     I posted under basic, but in retrospect, with 23 footnotes, perhaps it should be considered intermediate.    Your call.

3) the first endnote in my draft pertained to the skeptic arguments.    Can it be linked to the skeptic argument at the beginning of the post?   Otherwise, it's an orphan endnote.

Finally,  I'll update the timeline (with F & T added!) when jg posts it.

2011-09-29 05:40:37
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Hi Tom,

I read an excellent article on this galileo nonsense, but i'll be darned if i can find it.  i did find this though:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/science/earth/09galileo.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/211518/20110909/rick-perry-galileo-campaign-2012-climate-change-global-warming-science-theory.htm

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=galileo-movement-fuels-australia-climate-change-divide

Anyhow, might worth be reading those and seeing how they mesh with your great post-- we don;t want to give the 'skeptics" and those in denial any wiggle room.

2011-09-29 05:43:31
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Tom,

"If Galileo were alive today, watching climate scientists being dragged into court on baseless charges, is there any doubt whose side he would take?"

Brilliant :)  Great post and one that is sorely need right now.  Thanks and kudos.

2011-09-29 06:46:28
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Oh, for some reason I thought you'd drafted a separate basic version.  This one should be intermediate I think.  And yes, I'll put in the one-line response and skeptic argument and all that stuff.

2011-09-29 08:00:01
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

thx Dana -- Can you "relabel" it intermediate from the backend, or do I have to cut/paste to move it over?

T

2011-09-29 08:02:03
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Albatross -- glad you caught that last line!   Wasn't sure if anybody noticed....

2011-09-29 08:03:25Timeline updated
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

2011-09-29 08:14:58
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Not much I can do there - you'll have to move it Tom.

2011-09-29 08:15:09dead ends
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Neal -- Having all those "dead ends" documented, in one place -- with a timeline, of course -- would be a very useful tool.

2011-09-29 08:30:36
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.44.158

Tom,

Ari dreamed up the idea of a study group focused on the classic papers of AGW theory. I think there is a collection of articles, but also most of them are available anyway. Ari has a list.

A quicker way to do it would be to study Weart's book; but it wouldn't be as deep.

2011-09-29 08:33:37
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Tom, actually that sentence is so good that you should perhaps consider moving it to the beginning.  It could be a good lead in.... followed by "......".  By having it right at the end many peole may miss it, and it is a very important sentence IMHO.

2011-09-29 17:40:10Published this post
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
123.211.208.191

Tom, hope it's okay I went live with this. Got sick of looking at the denial post at the top of the homepage.

I highlighted the final killer line by putting it in a green box.

2011-09-30 08:28:55
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

thanks, JC.    Glad to see it up!

2011-09-30 08:59:40minor fixes
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

JC/Dana -- I corrected the minor error in Point 3 (it's Aristotles geocentrism, of course, not helio-), pointed out in comment #2 to the blog post.   

Not sure how to address the footnote glitchs mentioned in comment #8....I would try to fix if I knew how.