Skeptics Don't Deny the Greenhouse Effect

I want to be clear on something. It's fine to be skeptical of the greenhouse effect because you don't know enough about the subject to reach a conclusion. That's fine because a lack of knowledge is a legitimate reason to be skeptical of things. What is not fine is to research the greenhouse effect and conclude it isn't real. That is because the greenhouse effect is beyond dispute.

I get some people may not agree with me. I don't care. If people have questions about the greenhouse effect, that's fine. If people want to say the greenhouse effect isn't real, that's not fine. If people want to say humans aren't contributing to the greenhouse effect via our emissions of greenhouse gases, that's not fine. That's crazy.

Yes, I said crazy. I'm not using a rhetorical flourish here. I'm not exaggerating to make a point. I literally mean denying the greenhouse effect requires believing crazy things. It's not a scientific position. It's a position for people who believe television shows like Ghost Hunters really do involve people finding ghosts every week.

I haven't really talked about this before because I figured it was something we all just kind of knew and understood. It turns out I was wrong. "The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change," Watts Up With That (WUWT), has decided to tell everybody greenhouse gases don't cause the planet to warm.

The first line of a post which went up at WUWT a couple days ago says:

The only place in the world where CO2 increase causes a temperature increase is in climate models, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

That's about as clear a rejection of the greenhouse effect as you're going to find. The post clearly says rising CO2 levels does not cause temperatures to rise, in direct contradiction to what the greenhouse effect says. But in case there was any doubt, the post goes on to say:

In this case, the null hypothesis is that CO2 is not causing global warming. The IPCC never considered the null hypothesis. Ironically and unwittingly, James Hansen proved the null hypothesis in his first major attempt to push his agenda that CO2 is causing global warming or climate change.

If we account for the fact carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas, this is a clear claim it's been proven greenhouse gases are not causing global warming.

This isn't the first time WUWT has run posts making this claim. I don't follow the site regularly so I don't see most of the posts there, but last week I came across a post from a few months ago which said things like:

Two German professors of physics the Prof. Dr Gerlich[4] and Tscheuschner have analyzed some tens of definitions of the greenhouse effect and found that all of them are contrary to basic physics.

And:

Two other physicists, specialists of the atmosphere[6], have shown that the ideas of the radiative-convective equilibrium and the definitions of the greenhouse effect are absurd w.r.t elementary physics.

So apparently denying the greenhouse effect is a thing at Watts Up With That, the "world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change." Anthony Watts, the proprietor of the site, insists he is a skeptic, accepting the greenhouse effect and the fact man is contributing to global warming. I've always taken him at his word. I still do.

But I have no explanation for why any skeptic would run posts like these. I think it's disgusting. No genuine skeptic denies the greenhouse effect, and no genuine skeptic would encourage others to deny the greenhouse effect. Yet for some reason, Watts is doing exactly that.

5 comments

  1. Sites like WUWT and BH are such blatant propaganda channels. For somebody coming reasonably fresh to the issues and without much of an ideological agenda, IMO their main impact is to increase confidence in a mainstream/IPCC position - if they represent the best counter to that position then ...

  2. I normally don't like labeling things "propaganda," but I have to wonder if that's not a fair assessment, at least in terms of WUWT. I can't imagine why anyone would find it to be a compelling source. I don't think it's the best counterargument to anything. It's popular, but that's about all it has going for it.

    With the way the site is going, I wouldn't be surprised to see it welcome Steven Goddard and the Sky Dragons back soon. Anthony Watts has already started being very cautious in his criticisms of Goddard, as though he wants to have a reconciliation. He's also allowed Tim Ball to post what is basically the Sky Dragon message. Hopefully either Watts or his readers realizes how bad that is. Because "skeptics" who welcome Goddard or the Sky Dragons in their midst won't have any credibility at all.

  3. By the way, it's amusing to compare the posts I highlight in this post to a post from just two years ago which said:

    Dr. Roy Spencer has made a challenge to the Slayers/Principia folks who keep insisting the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist at all. For example, see the front page claim at right from the Principia web page where they claim the greenhouse effect is “bogus”.

    My view has always been that it exists. and has been effectively modeled as well as observed/measured (up to a point, so far I don’t know of a full scale measurement being done for the entire vertical column of the atmosphere), but likely isn’t the catastrophic issue portrayed by alarmists due to climate sensitivity likely being low....

    These folks mean well, but they’ve latched onto an idea that just doesn’t work. Some of the main players, such as Doug Cotton and John O’Sullivan have gotten so entrenched and angry that they have made persona non gratas of themselves here and at some other blogs.

    But the best part?

    Like Dr. Spencer, if and when they are able to provide a simple working model of the atmospheric energy balance that matches their theory with observations, I’ll be happy to take another look at the idea here.

    In the meantime, it’s just a Sisyphus style table pounding time sink, and one has to know when to step away from the argument until such time something of substance is presented.

    Watts closed the comments on that post fairly before too long because the people he was criticizing had nothing new to offer. Now, only two years later, he gives them multiple posts even though they have nothing new to offer. And he doesn't even challenge them, letting their posts go unanswered...

  4. I wish TIm Ball would post an update on his trial with Mann like Steyn does. Go hunting on line and you end up with a lying post from John OSullivan who appears to be trying to steal contributions.

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