I am trying to develop a RAMA initiative, working to improve our understanding of Recognition and Attribution of climate changes and later to prepare and prioritize options for Mitigation and Adaptation should they prove needed.
Yesterday I offered a set of basic statements. They are aimed at finding out where agreement stops and starts with skeptics. (My secondary motivation is to help deligitimize use of the term ‘denier’, which I despise.) The statements are:
- Global surface temperatures have warmed about 0.8C over the course of the past century or so.
- Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions.
- Scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate: Deforestation, pollution, changes in land use / land cover and emissions of greenhouse gases.
- Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.
- Emissions of greenhouse gases have grown dramatically over the past two centuries, as have concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere
I asked if skeptics would tell me if they agreed with these statements. So far, they do, if my comments are any indication. I’ll repeat my invitation here. Skeptics, what is your level of agreement with these statements?
I emailed them to Viscount Monckton, the UK nobleman who has been one of the leading figures of climate skepticism.
He has responded. And boy, did he respond, sending me a Word document 10 pages in length. I’ll publish his entire response in a separate post. First, though, here are his responses, his level of agreement, with the base statements above.
1. Global surface temperatures have warmed by about 0.8 K over the past century or so.
(Viscount Monckton, or VM) “Since 1900, global mean surface temperature as measured by the three longest data series – GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC – has risen by approximately 0.9 K, a rate equivalent to 0.8 K century.” (He offers serious reservations which I show below.)
2. Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions.
(VM) “This statement is trivially true. Every living thing on Earth has the capacity to change the climate. Nearly every plant takes CO2 out of the atmosphere; every volcano and fire and nearly every animal adds CO2 to the atmosphere every time it breathes out. The ocean takes CO2 out of the atmosphere when it cools and adds it to the atmosphere when it warms. The greenhouse effect has been posited hypothetically, demonstrated empirically and explained theoretically. Its existence is no more in doubt than the theorem of Pythagoras. The question is whether but how much our emissions influence the climate.” (Again, more below.)
3. Scientists have identified ways in which human activity can change the climate: Deforestation, pollution, changes in land use / land cover and emissions of greenhouse gases.
(VM) “Again, the statement is trivially true, and accordingly skates neatly around the true topic of scientific debate, which is not whether the four listed activities can change the climate but to what extent they do change it.” And again, more below.
4. Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.
(VM) “Once again, the question is not expressed quantitatively and cannot, therefore, be answered definitively in scientific terms. It is trivially true that adding a greenhouse gas to an atmosphere such as ours will – all other things being equal – be expected to cause some warming. The results of Tyndall’s experiment are not up for repeal. The real scientific questions are whether all other things are equal, and how much warming a given greenhouse-gas enrichment will cause.”
5. Emissions of greenhouse gases have grown dramatically over the past two centuries, as have concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.
(VM) “Yet again, there is insufficient quantitative information in this statement. Yes, emissions of greenhouse gases have grown, but in what sense is the growth “dramatic”? Grown compared with when? Dramatic compared with what?”
Despite his caveats (some of which I agree with, some of which I do not), it is quite clear that Monckton is not a ‘denier’ of science. He may vigorously dispute the findings of some research and he may be right in some cases and wrong in others. I will try to add my comments to his so readers can see some of the differences between a lukewarm and a skeptic point of view.
More importantly for the future of my RAMA initiative, we can see that we don’t have to start at zero level in establishing a base for negotiating recognition of climate change. We still have to make the case–Monckton (and others) are clear on this.
As commenter Hunter remarked in yesterday’s post, “The list is more or less agreeable. The question is: To what degree? The least agreeable point is that “Conventional physics accurately describes how greenhouse gas concentrations can contribute to warming.”
-Are we dealing with “change” not definable, a term of convenience for hypesters, or “warming”, which the hypesters have largely left behind?
If it is “change”, the question like all questions regarding “change” of any sort is this: how much, and what are the good and bad impacts?
So far a rational honest look at that question has not taken place in the larger public square.
The second question is regarding the 0.8oC: So what?
Grant that this change has actually happened, and let’s posit that 100% of it was caused by human generated CO2. Where is the harm?”
But that is infinitely easier that it would have been if the Konsensus alarmists had been right about skeptics. As the Konsensus has been wrong about everything else, I am not surprised to encounter firm evidence they are wrong about skeptics as well.