2011-01-16 15:22:22What compelling test, trial or demonstration has this "established climate science supposition" passed?
Peter Miesler

In a way I'm sorry for posting this, but it's such a brain teaser...

From a blog poster  "I've asked before, What compelling test, trial or demonstration has this "established climate science supposition" passed?" 

This has become the gents mantra, actually going back over 1.5 years, though I've only been wrestling with him a couple months.

Every aspect of CO2 understanding has been presented to him with copious links to information sources. I'm just the latest in a string of proud little posters trying to get through to this guy.   OK, he's probably unreachable, but he is a master debator. hehehe

Still, the puzzle persists {and is echoed a hundred times over} so I was wondering if anyone has a short answer or story to spring on someone who insists CO2 knowledge hasn't been properly... "atmospherically" tested?  But remains obtuse toward earth observation and lab studies?


2011-01-16 16:33:58Your question is unclear in my mind, can you clarify?
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

As for "Is the world warming?", the National Academies say it is established fact.  As for the human-caused attribution of the warming, the NAS puts it in excess of 90% likelihood:

"A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems…."
"Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small."

"Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts."


"This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities."
2011-01-16 20:39:04

The question, as posed, contains a value judgement (compelling); whatever evidence you may provide he'll say it's not compelling. Indeed, science does not prove anything, if you take the word "proof" litterally. One can prove just simple facts, like the expansion of the universe, easily accessible experimentally; no one can prove the Big Bang.
If we apply to GW the same criterion as in the example above, we can prove experimentally that the effect of GHG is the "trapping of heat" (it has been done in the 19th century), no one can prove it will be 3 °C (or any other number) for doubling CO2 in the earth's atmosphere.
The role of science is to provide evidence, not proofs; it is left to scientists decide what's acceptable as fact. Daniel's answer correctly goes along this line, the many lines of evidence made the large majority of scientists and all the National Acedemies accept the good old "CO2 theory".
2011-01-17 02:03:59
John Hartz
John Hartz

Here's what i would post,

"The only way to prove with 100% certainty that humans are responsible for global warming would be to run an experiment with two identical Earths – one with human influence and one without. That obviously isn't possible, and so most scientists are careful not to state human influence as an absolute certainty. Nonetheless, the evidence is now extremely strong."

Source: "Are humans definitely causing global warming?",

Guardian, Dec 30, 2010 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/30/humans-causing-global-warming/print

Although it is difficult not to get into "tit" for "tat" exchanges with climate deniers on comment threads, we should constantly strive to keep in mind that our primary purpose in posting comments is to "set the record straight" and educate the average person who may be perusing the comment thread.   

2011-01-17 15:34:44 this is not a normal conversation
Peter Miesler

Daniel B & Riccardo, your posts are true, true, true . . .
But you have forgotten, this is not a normal conversation!

Let me be presumptuous for argument sake.  For the most part when thinking folks, scientists or educators sit down at a table to wrestle with their questions - there is an attitude of intellectual adventure: bring on your challenges, and I’ll parry with mine.  There is this foundational understanding that learning and better grasping our ‘problem’ was everyone’s base passion.  It is OK to be wrong, because new learning is founded on those past mistakes, etc, etc. {more or less, I know nothing is perfect}

But with the AGWHoaxer crowd, we have an entirely different dynamic going on!  To be blunt, they are pure predators - winning being their only concern.  And they have been winning the PR campaign for way too long!

Back to those two nice posts >>> Daniel B & Riccardo, et al. you folks need to find a sexier attention grabbing way to say what you’re trying to explain.  

... Because, and I hate to say this, but, your explanations lost most the public at the 3rd word and another half by the 7th. (just being a devil’s advocate, no insult intended... and I appreciate both posts, they are helpful for me... but not to them}.  
I’m just saying time to ratchet it up.  

USA’s reality today is a Congress full of Representatives and Senators that actually believe science is the bad guy.  They aren’t interesting in a good conversation and thoughtful learning!  

Gotta step it up.

You folks need to come up with something more potent and poetic for any chance to get under the skins of all those simple folks who voted the Republican Tea Party into a position of power.  How are you scientists going to talk to that all important constituency?

what about explaining our climate as a heat engine?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Badgersouth, thanks I’m going to post that quote and see what he comes up with.  Also I will check out that link you shared after posting this, I appreciate it.

cheers all and thanks.

2011-01-17 18:37:59for what it's worth... the reply
Peter Miesler
Brian Ganek wrote:
citizenschallenge wrote:..."The only way to prove with 100% certainty that humans are responsible for global warming would be to run an experiment with two identical Earths – one with human influence and one without."...

The only way to experimentally test is to design an experiment with two Earths?  Who wrote that?  They haven't heard about single subject experiments ?  I've posted links before, these designs are commonly used in behavioral, physiological and medical science.  Simply put, treatments are random over time and the theorized "cure" is measured to see if it correlates with the treatments.

What you're saying is, there are no compelling experimental tests because it's impossible; are you sure your AGW sources understand science?

Well heck Brian, give us a break you've been offered sources to such information for at least a year and a half.
Why not try a study session?  
Take the time to do some serious studying and learn about what you wrongly imagine does not exist, there are many more sources, but this is an excellent starter:
2011-01-17 19:09:26
Paul D


I have had discussions with Americans on comments sections of American local newspapers. Generally the best way to 'win' is by being more knowledgeable and clearly explaining the logic/science of your stance and pointing out flaws in the opponents.

Otherwise you get into a political slanging match.

Having said that, I usually indicate that I'm British, which usually throws them completely because they don't know what to expect and want to know why you are interested in their little town.

I don't do it very often, but sometimes I join in. I did get 'burnt' a few years ago though, when my knowledge was less developed.

2011-01-18 01:17:41

As The Ville correctly says, these arguments are not very sexy and I (admittedly) am not that good at communicating "sexy science". Take my words as directed to you.

You should not engage with these people on such generic questions. If you really want to, the first thing is to make questions to frame the discussion better; something like "what you mean by compelling" or "what could be the experiment" or "which of the many aspects of climate science still requires compelling evidence before being accepted by you". As he demonstrated with his reply, he will probably come out with something impossible or irrelevant and this will show that he's is intentionally asking the impossible.

In his reply, he's playing with words, certainty vs. compelling. Also, he's throwing random concepts without really understanding them, single subject experiments are impractical as well beacause they require the control of at least on parameter. Any kind of experiment is impractical, indeed; climate science, like astrophysics and others, is purely observational. You can only experiment on single physical/chemical aspects of the climate system, which has been done, and put everything together. Beyond this, we're left with relying on many different lines evidence. This is why is question is tricky, no single "compelling" evidence will ever exist.

By the way, be prepared that similar arguments will come out more often in the future when discussing extreme events. Skeptiks will through temporal series from a single location showing that nothing has changed. No one will ever say that the last flood in Brisbane or Brasil demonstrate anything. Again, it's the large picture that confirms what has been predicted.
2011-01-18 05:13:37Two cents
Julian Brimelow

Good posts everyone.  This person is jus obfuscating and fabricating faux debate.  Same trick used by young earth creationists.

Science, alas, is not  mathematics. This guy knows that and is trying to exploit it. Ask him if he is willing to jump off a building on the off chance that gravity is wrong, b/c one cannot prove that gravity is real....

Riccardo, Richard Dawkins in his book "The Greatest Show on Earth", The evidence for evolution,  has an excellent discussion on theory, hypothesis, fact etc. in Chapter 1.  I would highly recommend reading it.  He has some good lines in there.  One example is that, strictly speaking, it is impossible to prove that the moon is smaller than the sun.

 As stated by NAS, AGW/ACC is a fact.   That should suffice for reasonable people without an agenda.

 Basically the way he is framing the argument means one of two things:

1) He is ignorant about how science works.

2) He is being disingenuous, b/c he does know how science works and is deliberately trying to confuse other people reading the thread who are not as well informed.


So ask him to choose ;)





2011-01-18 06:16:24
Peter Miesler

Thank you excellent thoughtful replies.

I look forward to seeing what he has to say.  PS. In this case, though I'm letting him know these words come from others, I'm not sourcing them.