2011-09-22 14:37:32Email about Cadburyism
John Cook


One of those long, interesting emails with some good ideas but also the disclaimer that they can't help out implementing the idea at all:

I have noticed that geologists, in particular, often mount the argument that temperatures and CO2 levels have been much, much higher in the past than now … so what’s the problem?
This comment by Dr Jay Cadbury PhD on Lucia’s blog The Blackboard is one that I can’t let go unchallenged:
“There is also another theory of climate change, I like to call it Cadburyism.
Unlike most people, Cadburyists use the geological record of the earth, a strong point of contention between Lucia and her lukewarmers.
Cadburyists choose to use the geological record because we feel only showing the temperature record from 1800 or 1850 is really biased, misleading and wrong. Using the geological record, Cadburyists can factually claim the earth is below average temperature and below average atmospheric co2 concentrations.
In fact, you learn that the earth is truthfully in a “cool period” with 2 small warming periods in the century 1900-2000. You also learn that we are in a unique time period regarding co2; there is almost never so little of it in our atmosphere.”
On your site there is a ‘response’ to the argument that climate has changed before but I don’t think it addresses the key point of the argument put by Cadbury … which is that much higher temperatures and CO2 levels observable in the past proves that we have nothing much to worry about.
I suggest that you organise an effort to prepare a specific response which addresses the question “could our human society live in the high temperature/CO2 conditions observed in the past?”
At the outset, I assume that the key factors will relate to the ability of our ecosystems to provide for 6 billion humans. I say this because intuitively the geological timescale view means diddly-squat to whether we can feed ourselves … which is a question of the ecosystem time scales over just a few years. We have all observed how relatively short periods of low rainfall and high temperature lead to drought and famine and large scale loss of life.
I would like to see a collection and synthesis of the science which paints a picture of “life in the ABC era when temperatures were 6C higher and CO2 was 1,000 ppm” … you get the idea. There may be several of these “pictures” to paint.
You see, I am sure I could live in such conditions … but what about my 6 billion brothers and sisters?
In each picture, the fundamental questions to examine go something like this:
What would be the productivity of our food bowls? Would our crop seeds germinate? Could they be watered? What would happen to yields?
What would happen to our arable land stock? Would it reduce because it just became unproductive? Would we have to resort to artificial cultivation like hydroponics? What impact would sea levels have on arable land stocks?
How much land animal protein could we grow? What share of the arable land would be dedicated to growing feed crops? How does this mesh with growing plant food for humans?
What would be the productivity of our fisheries? What impact would ocean temperatures and acidities have on nurseries like coral reefs? Would the seafood carrying capacity of our oceans change?
I’m sure that eco-scientists have looked at these questions and even perhaps painted pictures of what life would be like back in geological time when temperatures and CO2 levels were much, much higher than today.
Over to you. I can’t help … way outside my capability and time capacity.
If you want to take this on and seek a starting point may I suggest Prof Barry Brook who can probably direct your ‘team’ to the key scientists in the area.

2011-09-22 14:43:59
Dana Nuccitelli

Oh god, it's Cadbury.  Not to be mean, but he was quite possible the dumbest commenter we've ever seen on SkS.

Ironically, I just posted a comment that my biggest disappointment with the whole Pielke exchange was that he was unwilling/unable to answer the question about discrepancies between low sensitivity arguments and the paleoclimate record.  Cadbury thinks we're the ones who ignore the geologic record, but it's really "skeptics" who ignore it.

2011-09-23 01:14:19


In my experience, anyone using the form Dr. [name] Phd has no such qualification.  Its a tautologous style.


I looked up cadbury on a blog once - it may have been here at SkS.  His email address was a domain on a server specifically set up for the use of students.


As to the historic average temperature - do we include the bit when the Earth was entirely molten ?  How many years did that last?

2011-09-23 08:55:38
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

I once traced several of his IP's to a University in Pennsylvania before I lost all interest.

I'd be utterly shocked if he were to have any form of an advanced degree as that would be a complete indictment of the US educational system.

2011-09-29 17:56:48
Paul D


I though this was about chocolate.

2011-10-05 20:58:02I like the suggestion in the email...
Kevin C


There used to be a troll who would regularly respond to any climate news story with a one liner "What is the optimum temperature of the earth?". Such an article would answer that person to. (May have been Cadbury, of course). The question is the cost benefit of course - how often does this kind of argument come up?

One thing to add is the connection between CO2 and solar irradience. (One reason we have much less CO2 now is that the sun is hotter than at the beginning of the phanerazoic, see the Alley CO2 lecture, Monckton no correlation argument, etc)