It's All CO2! It's All AGW!

There is a beautiful discussion going about “Hockey Stick Redux” (HSR), the Oct 1 entry of brand-new blog “Cruel Mistress – Being Human on a Harsh Planet” by Dr Ben Hale (I reached it by following Roger Pielke Jr.’s recommendation to visit “Cruel Mistress).

And that’s a great blog name, by the way…finally somebody recognizes how Earth is not made of fragile crystals and china…

Anyway…the beauty of the discussion is three-fold.

(1) Ben Hale is no AGW skeptic, and yet he has not imposed any censorship, whimsical or otherwise (by the way: let’s welcome Ben to the Joe Romm (dis-)Appreciation Society! – with Romm now openly toying with Fascist character-assassination techniques).

(2) For the time being, HSR is a place where AGW believers and skeptics can exchange disagreements rather than outright insults. One suspects, that is because of the absence of the “usual suspects”, the clique of self-appointed AGW True Believers, the Osama bin Climate‘s fond of censorship and coprolalia

(3) The HSR comment area is the best place where to see AGW skepticism at work, with plenty of nuances, disagreements, sentences at the opposite ends of some scales on the part of people that only agree that the AGW brouhaha is a wild overstatement. If that doesn’t disprove the cretin label of “Denialists”, I don’t know what will.

There are plenty of gems among the HSR comments (also some funny ones I have already written about). For example there is a great explanation by a PhysicsGuy (Oct 3, 10:31am) of what peer-review is and is not, and how it all went wrong regarding AGW, ending with the following:

To summarize, a pro-AGW paper being peer reviewed by other climate scientists is probably (like Briffa appears to have been) being considered favorably because of its results, is being reviewed by reviewers who know and often have co-authored with the paper’s writer, likely contains undisclosed data treatment that influences the result, is being reviewed by reviewers who do not have the mathematical background to spot subtle statistical errors, and is being judged on “conformity to accepted practices in the discipline” in a discipline that is evolving so quickly that the “accepted practices” themselves are not well validated.

I’m not sure that this kind of peer review means what many of us appear to think it does.

And now for one of my own little contributions. I have had an exchange with Ben Hale about my use of the slogan “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW” as the defining one for the current scientific consensus/dogma on AGW.

Ben replied:

Are reputable people actually saying this? Even with my basic and flawed understanding of AGW, this is expressly not what people are saying. I call straw man.

That led me to elaborate more on the topic (see here and here and here). I am putting it all together below.

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The overwhelming importance in contemporary mainstream climatology of CO2/GHG warming, and of the human contribution to it, can be read in a Jan 27, 2005 blog (“What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?” by stefan) on Real Climate:

The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.
(1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.
(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.

The key words are main, concern, anthropogenic climate change, due to human activity. That is, RealClimate and (by simple logical extension) the scientific consensus on Climate Change, are concerned because human activities are increasing ghg’s (and especially, CO2) in the atmosphere.

What was the IPCC established for, after all, if not to investigate the warming effects of CO2/GHGs emissions from human activities? Here’s from the FAR (1990) as per Wikipedia:

…emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, CFCs and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface…

The key words there are human activities, increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, additional warming.

Hence: “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!”…a slogan that has all the defects of a slogan (e.g. simplification), and yet conveys the two most important aspects of the AGW scare and dogma. “Most important” by a long shot.

Let’s look at how long a shot, from a purely logical point of view. What would happen if human activities would not be emitting CO2/GHGs? There would be no IPCC. What would happen had it been thought there were no AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming? There would be no IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are necessary conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

What would happen if the only driver for climate change were human emissions of CO2/GHGs? There would still be an IPCC. What would happen if the only climate phenomenon of note were AGW? There would still be an IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are sufficient conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

Therefore, since CO2/GHG emissions and AGW are (together) necessary and sufficient for the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus to exist, the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus are for all intents and purposes exclusively dedicated to CO2/GHG emissions and AGW.

“It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW”. QED.

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That’s why, as remarked by another commenter “MrPete”, the “primary policy push” is about GHGs, and in particular about CO2.

In a saner world, in fact, we would have gone a long way already to eliminate that other, and shall I say even more established source of climate change and untold numbers of respiratory diseases and deaths, namely soot. And especially the soot generated by primitive cooking stoves.

It is one of the biggest tragedies of the AGW consensus: we could have in a month a 10-year worldwide plan to physically eliminate all human emissions of soot at a relatively minor cost…look instead how many person-years are being wasted for a Copenhagen deal that everybody well knows it will be ineffectual and costly at best.

But what can we do? After all…It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!