2011-01-10 12:32:41Banging your head against a brick wall
John Cook


I got an email from a skeptic explaining where I got it all wrong:

In all your points and arguments you ignore the real cause of any global warming.  Volcanic activity.  Rifts in the sea floor heats water in the Cayman trough to a 1000 degrees which rises to the surface maintaining enough heat to melt lead (750) degrees.  The cold we're now experiencing is a direct result of the volcanic activity above the surface this year.  Volcanic sea floor rifts close to the poles are responsible for the major ice melts.  You're ignoring the facts and peddling horse manure.

Whether I reply to skeptic emails really depends on whether I think any headway can be made in the conversation. I couldn't resist in this case, emailing this reply:

The pattern of observed ocean warming doesn't match with underwater volcanoes. Instead, we find heat penetrating from the ocean surface in a manner that is only consistent with greenhouse warming. I suggest you check out Barnett et al. (2005) for more details:

Barnett 2007.gif

Also ruling out the oceans as the source of ocean heat is the air temperature record which finds lands warming faster than oceans –indicating the source of warming is originating in the atmosphere, not the oceans. There are a pair of illuminating papers Braganza et al 2003 (http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/Braganzaetal03.pdf) and Braganza et al 2004 (http://www.springerlink.com/content/8wm04eqdg1u0calq/) which discuss the various climate indices to be found in the temperature record which I highly recommend.

It’s certainly ill advised to ignore all the facts. For example, some regions are experiencing unusual cold at the moment but the entire globe is experiencing unusually warm conditions. And there are many different climate indices or “human fingerprints” that exhibit a pattern of warming all consistent with greenhouse warming and just as importantly, rule out other sources of warming such as underwater volcanoes:


The reply back:

John no one has started or is doing a vigorous search for under water volcanic rifts.  That is the only source of surface warming.

The exchange was a reminder of the principle to consider when allocating limited time resources: "do not cast your pearls before swine".

2011-01-10 12:48:18


John, why bother to answer individual emails? When you respond to a public challenge, your effort is not really wasted, because a reasonable lurker may get a clue.

No chance with a 1/1 email exchange.

2011-01-10 12:56:23Why respond to emails
John Cook


Generally, I try to keep my powder dry for the website - much better time efficiency to write for thousands than for one. And I would encourage that approach for all SkS authors - remember you can publish a blog post that will be read by tens of thousands. If you have the choice of spending your debating in online forums or writing a blog post/rebuttal, I'd go for the option that would get your efforts in front of many more eyeballs. Whenever I see quality comments in the SkS threads, I often email the commenter suggesting they adapt it into a guest post. Don't hesitate to use our "home ground advantage".

But sometimes I'll respond as it's good to stay sharp by directly interacting with people. I don't let it get away from me though - obviously that guy cannot see reason and is not worth continuing a conversation with.

2011-01-11 02:11:11
Mark Richardson

I find forum posting to be quite useful... it teaches me a lot about which analogies seem to work and which don't.


I spent some time on the Daily Mail website recently. The climate science deniers over there are vociferous and it sometimes gets frustrating. I can't tell whether they're being intentionally stupid or if they're genuinely fooling themselves...