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Michael Shermer's Five Questions on AGW Skepticism

Chill Out” blog on AGW skepticism by nonskeptical Skeptic Michael Shermer (Sep 29).

Shermer’s point is so incredibly obvious, I am sure very few people will be able to “get it”:

In my opinion we need to chill out on all extremist plans that entail expenses best described as Brobdingnagian, require our intervention into developing countries best portrayed as imperialistic, or involve state controls best portrayed as fascistic. Give green technologies and free markets a chance

Will the above earn him (again?) the label of Denialist? Who knows? For well-known reasons, his mention of Bjorn Lomborg seems to have caused a stir (even if they both are firmly in the AGW camp…I presume that’s what happens when one agrees with people all too ready to label as “denialist” anybody that doesn’t fully agree with them).

Shermer suggests also five questions to help establish if  one is “a global warming skeptic, or […] skeptical of the global warming skeptics“:

  1. Is the earth getting warmer?
  2. Is the cause of global warming human activity?
  3. How much warmer is it going to get?
  4. What are the consequences of a warmer climate?
  5. How much should we invest in altering the climate?

Shermer’s answers: (1) yes, (2) “primarily“, (3) “moderate warming with moderate changes” (following the IPCC, no less), (4) “consequences must be weighed in the balance” (that is, positive consequences should be considered too), (5) much less than the “Brobdingnagian proposals being talked about, and not even as much as recommended by the IPCC (with references to Lomborg and Nordhaus).

Interestingly, Shermer shows his skepticism increasing from nil (questions 1 and 2) to almost 100% (question 5)


How do you score on Shermer’s questions? I can answer also on the basis of my About page: (1) yes, (2) slightly, (3) between almost nothing and half of what Shermer expects, (4) overall, consequences will be positive and (5) zero.

0 replies on “Michael Shermer's Five Questions on AGW Skepticism”

1. The values of the temperature numbers that are chosen for presentation to the general public have gotten larger.
2. From an absolute perspective, yes. From the same perspective, the oceans gets warmer when a human pees in them.
3. I suspect that the numbers chosen for presentation will get alarmingly higher with a large increase in the rate of change until that is no longer a tenable position. The numbers will then fall at an alarming rate, ushering in the “next ice age” scare (you know, the one that we learned about in the 1970’s — via scientific consensus).
4. Overall, good. Unless “Waterworld” was accurate. (Where did all of that water come from? Did God open “the springs of the great deep” again ? Quite a mystery.)
5. The same amount our governments currently spend on exorcisms (please tell me that’s zero).

Regarding #2, just realized I should clarify: it’s quite likely that our impact is larger than peeing in the ocean — that was more of a rhetorical device than an accurate assessment of how much I think we contribute — I just think that, like peeing in the ocean, it’s relatively negligible.

1) impossible to know with current sparse data available
2) idem
3) idem
4) depends of how much, some good some bad, if too much all bad.
5) lots if the idea is to be able to build a climate in spaceships and eventual planets.

Oh yes good point. But don’t forget the warmists dismiss LIA as a localised phenomenon or make the point that the Thames flowed more slowly due to low bridges etc. Question 1 is about global temps.

Then the question of since the MWP arises (or the RomanCO, MinoanCO, Holocene CO). And of course you could go back to the younger dryas or the end of the last ice age as well and so on through the ages. It depends on your reference point on a greater that 100 years basis and then the hockey/spaghetti graph you use.

I took the view that question 1 is really aimed as a test – “Are you now or have you ever been a denier” from those blindy believing the 20th global ‘instrumental’ trend graph hence my points 1-4.

And I’m still very curious for answers to my point about 1998.

I think question 1 “Is the earth getting warmer?” is more complex than it first appears.

Whilst naive scientistic warmers (of the peeritarian/ science is infallible ilk) assume that this is clearly a denial issue there is more to it. The scientifically literate (skeptic or not) can easily discern at least four sequential steps of global temperature ‘measurement’:
1. The basic readings themselves – calibration, siting, screens/paints – do they represent real ‘natural’ temperatures
2. Variations in the action of taking the readings themselves – TODay etc
3. Issues around adjustments at individual sites – for UHI etc
4. The way (weightings, infilling, averages etc) that these numbers are combined to produce the global temperature record.

The first two lead to what could be called the raw data. Steps 3 & 4, call it what you will – adjustment/ normalising/ manipulating/ massaging – of the data to create the final record have scope for bias which is potentially troubling and is presumably the reason why papertiger makes his point of view above so bluntly.

But the reason for going through all of that is to add another thought that has been bugging me.
When I first heard about El Nino it was about the distribution of sea temperatures – effectively a ‘pushing’ of sea heat to different parts of the coast around (mainly) South America. (This was from New Scientist c.1987). So it was a peculiar ‘localised’ weather phenomenon. (I’m ignoring PDO, AMDO etc for now and any thought of their drivers).

But the 1998 spike in global temperatures is usually ascribed to El Nino. This is weird. How could ENSO cause the earth to get warmer? This would seem to be against the second law of Thermodynamics. Did more energy arrive on earth that year? Did less escape?

So my simplistic and speculative conclusion is that the global temperature trend either has:
a) incorrect weighting to accommodate the ENSO affected area, or
b) was influenced by heat being brought from within the earth’s system to the smaller part of the earth’s system that is being measured in the global temperature trend.

Either way it means that the answer to question 1 is not so obvious. Does this make sense to you or your readers?

Here we go;

1. Is the earth getting warmer?
No. Not even any heat in the pipeline. We do have records being set by cosmic ray bombardment however, which as you know means more lower cloud nucleation and higher albedo (or is it lower? I get those two mixed up) It’s going to get colder especially over the oceans.

2. Is the cause of global warming human activity?
See the above. Belief in global warming is entirely artificial so in a roundabout way I think you could say yes.

3. How much warmer is it going to get?
It’s not going to get warmer. This of course will have no effect on the GISS temp record which will continue to show a monotonic march to the global hellfire.

4. What are the consequences of a warmer climate?
If only AGW were true! It would have been a wonderful thing. Few if any homeless people freezing to death in the snow. Extended growing seasons for all co2 enhanced crops. Increased evaporation meaning water catchments full to overflowing for energy production, agriculture, and environmental concerns. A true blessing for all of mankind.

5. How much should we invest in altering the climate?
Have to go with Klem on this one. Not a single red cent more for the climate change humbug. Solar power subsidies – kill them dead. Sooner the better. Windmill power – stop the forced antiquation of our power grid. Do it for the birds Do it for the peoples pocketbook. Do it for the health of investment banks.

No need to check the score on mine Omni.

1. yes 2. no. 3. unknown 4. unknown 5. zero dollars

These are my answers. How do I score? I don’t know if I’m a skeptic , denier, Believer or where I fit in the scheme of things.

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