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« Speechless | Main | Mann cannot live by science alone »
Monday
Nov082010

A letter to DECC's chief scientist

Do take a look at Matt Ridley's letter to David Mackay, chief scientist at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Hockey Stick Illusion is mentioned.

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Reader Comments (113)

It's an excellent letter, with good references to the Bish and the HSI. It should be compulsive reading for politicians. David Mackay's letter should be interesting, but no doubt it will be DECC mantra about scientific consensus, what a good job the IPCC has done and the marvellous Stern BS

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Not ncessarily, Phillip, although he may have to put stuff like that in withut necessarily meaning it.

David Mackay is not, AFAIK, a wholly parti pris CAGW fascist. His book lists three reasons for getting off fossil fuels.

(1) they're finite
(2) the supply comes from dodgy countries
(3) "it’s very probable that using fossil fuels changes the climate...Whichever of these three concerns motivates you, we need energy numbers, and policies that add up."

(http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c1/page_5.shtml)

Only one of these need follow for it to make sense to investigate alternative / renewable energy. His book goes on to conclude that only solar power sourced from PV arrays in sunny countries is likely to work. This ignores economics, but also doesn't get you past (2), so I'm not sure what he advocates.

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

I look forward to the original letter.

I don't think we can expect him to be saying an entire Govt Dept was created on the basis of voodoo science, but it does seem like the first stage towards an exit strategy.

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Very cogent, and nice to hear someone that knowledgeable admit he was taken in by the warmists, once. Makes me feel better, anyway!

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Perhaps it was in the original Times piece but the only point missing from Matt Ridley's article is a mention of Tom Wigley's 2005 admission that all the pre-1850 temperature reconctructions are mutually contradictory and therefore so suspect as to be unusable:

I would be careful about using other, independent paleo reconstruction work as supporting the MBH reconstructions. I am attaching my version of a comparison of the bulk of these other reconstructions. Although these all show the hockey stick shape, the differences between them prior to 1850 make me very nervous. If I were on the greenhouse deniers' side, I would be inclined to focus on the wide range of paleo results and the differences between them as an argument for dismissing them all. (my bold)

(http://assassinationscience.com/climategate/1/FOIA/mail/1119957715.txt)

For at least four years before Climategate, climate scientists were entertaining very significant reservations about the reliability of their science, but keeping them to themselves. In Mann's case his efforts seem to have been focuss not on doing further work to support his 1998 paper but on propagandising about conspiracies against himself.

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Justice:

David MacKay got himself a prestige job on the back of his excellent book (ignoring the cc bits). I can't imagine him disagreeing in any way with the DECC position; but I would like to be proved wrong.

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@Justice4Rinka

David MacKay is very much convinced about AGW and 'very likely' about CAGW. I have his book on sustainable energy open before me. Read Part 1 section 1 'Motivations'.

It's a very useful book and Prof. MacKay comes across through his writing as a decent, likable man, if perhaps a little optimistic about the real-world potential for renewables.

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Mackay may well be listening carefully - he has come out on the side of nuclear as viable and desirable as can be seen in interview a year ago. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6860181.ece
This stance may well have influenced Huhne in his more recent utterances on nuclear after his (misunderstood?) statement in 2007, viz;

"An 80% target can be met through wind, wave and tidal power together with the use of carbon capture and storage technology. Ministers must stop the side-show of new nuclear power stations now. Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology and the Government must stop putting time, effort and subsidies into reviving this outdated industry. The nuclear industry’s key skill over the past half-century has not been generating electricity, but extracting lashings of taxpayers’ money."

Amazing what responsibility (“no intention of the lights going out on my watch.”) can do to change a view!

Nov 8, 2010 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Excellent letter. Let us hope it is widely read by science advisers everywhere. Mackay is good at arithmetic, and has exposed much nonsense in the public arena about energy options. He would be a good man to win over. Clear thinkers, willing to check the numbers, are in short supply in a political class that has ensnared leaders of the Royal Society into propagating a ludicrous dramatisation of the role of CO2 in climate, a role it has only been clearly shown to possess when given it inside computer models.

Nov 8, 2010 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I can add that I congratulated David MacKay on his book when it first came out and I pointed out one or two errors in it. To begin with he was communicative, but he stopped replying to me after I criticised his stance on AGW.

Nov 8, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

He may be an interesting bellwether of how the wind is blowing. As has been said, he's hardly going to come out and 'fess up to half of DECC's acronym being complete balls, but he has offered them a way to dismount from their positions and he seems amenable to reason.

He's not a climate scientist himself either and may have supported their conclusions on the mistaken assumption that the work had been done properly.

Nov 8, 2010 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Justice:

He's a physics professor. He knows the scientific methodology and should be able to see through the IPCC argumentum ad ignoramus and consensus statements.

Nov 8, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby's point about Mackay becoming uncommunicative when he realised he was talking to a sceptic is not surprising but is depressing.
"Science" in general has taken a very wrong turning when those who take a different view on a scientific hypothesis are demonised in this way. I know we've all said that before but this sort of behaviour points it up very sharply.
It is reminiscent in a way of the problem the Tories had between 1997 and 2005 when in many surveys the general public was overwhelmingly supportive of many of the party's policies — unless and until they found out they were Tory policies when there was a complete volte face.
The general public could perhaps be forgiven for "feeling" rather than "thinking"; scientists are supposed to know better.

Nov 8, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

I can only marvel at someone who can combine such factual ammunition with such devastating logical firepower, and with such lucidity, and all without a shred of malice or arrogance. I really hope the letter gets the exposure it deserves.

Nov 8, 2010 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

MacKay is a Professor of Physics and the following passage appears on page 10 of his book - "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air"

'''However, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Not the strongest
greenhouse gas, but a significant one nonetheless. Put more of it in the
atmosphere, and it does what greenhouse gases do: it absorbs infrared
radiation (heat) heading out from the earth and reemits it in a random direction;
the effect of this random redirection of the atmospheric heat traffic
is to impede the flow of heat from the planet, just like a quilt. So carbon
dioxide has a warming effect. This fact is based not on complex historical
records of global temperatures but on the simple physical properties of
CO2 molecules. Greenhouse gases are a quilt, and CO2 is one layer of the
quilt."

How is it possible for someone who is a Cambridge Professor of Physics to spout this twaddle ?

Needless to say I received no reply to my letter to him querying his ludicrous assertion.

Nov 8, 2010 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMasius

Great letter and a bit like the prodigal son he should be welcomed home to sceptical science.
I find it extraordinary that David Mackay, a Prof of Physics, can accept AGWH when the only evidence put forward comes from discredited GCM computers. Assuming the global temp records are correct (!) is he unaware of the strong correlation with ocean currents (PDO, AMDO, ENSO) and even solar cycles. Is he unaware of the cyclical nature of arctic ice and the opposite behaviour of the Antarctic? No increase in rate of rise in sea levels for 150 years, no evidence of increased extreme weather nor of polar bears being threatened. Does he know about the missing tropospheric hotspot or the work of Lindzen and Choi or several analyses by prof of Physics (in relevant fields) questioning if not refuting the physics underlying AGW?
Still it is some comfort that he was alerted to Matt Ridely's article by a secretary of state and that a conversation has at least been started.
BTW Are Chief Scientific Advisors obliged to disclose all their investments and sources of remuneration? Not that I'm suggesting any impropriety but when our economic future is threatened by Huhnian energy policies, it would be nice to be reassured. cf Hal Lewis's letter to APS.

Nov 8, 2010 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Masius asks:

'How is it possible for someone who is a Cambridge Professor of Physics to spout this twaddle ?

Needless to say I received no reply to my letter to him querying his ludicrous assertion.'

I'm not surprised. Nothing in the excerpt from MacKay's book is seriously disputed. It's not 'twaddle'.

The argument is over what happens when the temperature forcing from rising levels of atmospheric CO2 meets the chaos of the climate system.

The consensus view is that net positive feedbacks will amplify the CO2 forcing and temperatures will rise.

The counter-argument is that this is not 'settled science'. Nor can the effect of CO2 forcing be quantified unless it is better isolated from the fluctuating chaos of the climate system.

Roger Pielke Snr has published extensively on land use change as a contributor to AGW.

Others, including James Hansen, have published on the warming caused by black and brown carbon aerosols.

Both may be mis-attributed to CO2 which will exaggerate the upward bias in the estimate of climate sensitivity to CO2.

Lindzen and Spencer essentially argue that the 'weather' can offset the CO2 forcing through negative feedbacks.

The uncertainty of climate response is the question, not the radiative physics of CO2.

Of course all this has a potential impact on the predictive skill of the GCMs.

Although it doesn’t exactly advertise the fact, the IPCC admits this to be the case:

“A number of diagnostic tests have been proposed [-] but few of them have been applied to a majority of the models currently in use. Moreover, it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining future projections [of warming]. Consequently, a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed.”[IPCC AR4 WG1 section 8.6 p640; emphasis mine.]

Nov 8, 2010 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

@BBD

"The argument is over what happens when the temperature forcing from rising levels of atmospheric CO2 meets the chaos of the climate system"

There is no "temperature forcing". CO2 is not a source of energy; it cannot heat the earth's surface (1st Law of Thermodynamics). Neither can a cooler atmosphere heat the earth's warmer surface (2nd Law of Thermodynamics).

Nov 8, 2010 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMasius

Masius:

Of course it's twaddle. Only the sun (ignoring geothermal) can have a warming effect. The colder atmosphere cannot warm the earth's surface. Putting extra quilts on your bed won't warm you.

Nov 8, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Masius. Sorry, we said the same thing.

Nov 8, 2010 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Masius

CO2 is not a source of energy. It just absorbs and radiates. The sun provides the W/m2 and CO2 detains and re-radiates this energy in the atmosphere. The physical systems of radiation and moist thermal convection (ie weather) 'try' to transfer the energy to space (lowering entropy). No laws are violated.

This does not mean that the consensus view of a high climate sensitivity to CO2 is correct.

Nov 8, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

G Watkins - re: CO2 as a source of wealth. WUWT is carrying the story of the demise of the Chicago Climate exchange:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/08/public-carbon-trading-dead-in-the-usa/

However here in the EU we are apparently expecting a euro20bn contribution from the EUA by 2020.... :

http://www.pointcarbon.com/news/1.1480871

Nov 8, 2010 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

from the comments:

"Posted by, Cameron Rose (not verified)
Today we have a letter in The Times (behind paywall) from said Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State along with Ministers from France, South Africa and Singapore.
Here are some extracts:
". . . As concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise, the need to act becomes ever more pressing.
"We believe that now is the time for the international community to work together urgently. . . to build momentum to the next climate change meeting in Cancun.
"There is no time to lose."
The 300 or so words in between express more urgency in getting the finance together "urgently to combat climate change."
Could the minister be given a copy of your post - along with Andrew Montford's book. He has no time to lose."

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

BBD:
The consensus view is that net positive feedbacks will amplify the CO2 forcing and temperatures will rise.

The counter-argument is that this is not 'settled science'. Nor can the effect of CO2 forcing be quantified unless it is better isolated from the fluctuating chaos of the climate system.

I think the counter-argument is a lot stronger than "not settled science". There is a lot of evidence that there is no "positive feedback" - like Ken Gregory's demonstration of water vapour at critical height diminishing even as CO2 increases. And your third sentence has to be applied to your first sentence as much as to your second, to be fair.

**********************************************

I think Matt Ridley's letter is succinct, clear, scientific, informed, wide-ranging, relevant. A classic of a response. Thanks.

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

Perhaps misdirected animus? Did you read my preceding comments carefully?

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

And so to bed.

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"". . . As concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise, the need to act becomes ever more pressing.
"We believe that now is the time for the international community to work together urgently. . . to build momentum to the next climate change meeting in Cancun.
"There is no time to lose."
Aliter
As concentrations of bio-friendly gases in the atmosphere continue to rise, the need to act
becomes even more pressing.
We believe that now is the time for the international community to work together urgently... to build
momentum for the imposition of a global taxation system that will provide the twin benefits of balancing budget deficits, in the short term, to guarantee our pension in the future and absolve us, the politicians, from any blame.
There is no time to lose is a given. It must be done PDQ before the trusty scientists who advised us about the Science get found out as being as untrustworthy as we are perceived
Hey guys and gals, we wiz only acting out of the best of motives. We are blameless. They lied. Know how bad you must feel. Legally, we have to draw our stipends, wish it weren't so but that's life.

Nov 9, 2010 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Phillip Bratby

It's an excellent letter, with good references to the Bish and the HSI. It should be compulsive reading for politicians.

Lucky you, at least you have politicians who can read. In my case, both in the USA and Ireland, they appear to be illiterate. For example, the US Congress passed several 2000 page bills nobody, including the "authors", read. This magical feat was accomplished by having their funkies do the actual writing.

As for what is going on in Ireland, the less said the better, and hopefully the IMF will take that over shortly.

Maybe you should check to see if the UK politicians are actually literate as well. Perhaps you are mistaken. From what I have seen, you might be in for a sad surprise.

Nov 9, 2010 at 2:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Where's Bob Ward? Is he unwell? Sunning himself in Tahiti?

Normally he would be busting an a*** valve to get something in print debunking this dangerous and potentially sceptical liaison between a science journalist and the chief scientist of the DECC.

Nov 9, 2010 at 3:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Don

When I wrote it I almost put "It should be compulsive reading for politicians, but would they understand it".

Nov 9, 2010 at 6:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Herewith my comment as a token sceptic (of what I am not so sure)

I found the article entertaining, sometimes compelling, but I felt it was let down by segues into 'standard arguments'

Simply saying that adjusted temperature records are faulty and 'caused by urbanisation' is as great a myth as saying that present temperature changes are unprecedented.

In all cases - being honest - it requires proof. Until a good analysis is released (or analyses) then uncorrected urban heating in 'the record' is a myth. This is as much a myth as the 'these are unusual times' by the warmists. All need sound backup.

I'm sure there is a scientific maxim - "doubt everyone, but most, doubt yourself" If not I claim copyright! :-)

Nov 9, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

@jerry

Its not just the 'adjusted' temperature records that are faulty. The entire data collection recording and analysis system is not fit for purpose. Even before Phil and his acolytes in NZ get their hands on the data to 'adjust' it in the required direction. Remember temperature is adjusted up for new records, down for old ones. This ensures a greater temperature gradient over time and hence more opportunities to run around waving ones arms about..and funding nice IPCC trips to Bali

Seriously though, you can read about a lot of these problems - not limited to just UHI - at WUWT over the last year or so.

Somebody recently proposed that we spend 15 billion or so on a global system to monitor oceanic pH in case a change from 8.2 to 8.1 brought immediate doomsday (though barely measurable). IMHO if that amount of cash is sloshing about it would be far better spent on getting the raw temperature record sorted into something half approaching reliable data. Which it certainly isn't at the moment

Nov 9, 2010 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

“Anyone who examines world population growth over the past two centuries certainly must be astounded, and quite possibly alarmed. The global population reached one billion in 1804. In 1927, some 123 years later, it passed two billion. Sixty years later, in 1987, the world population was five billion, and 12 years later, in October 1999, it is estimated to have passed six billion. Small wonder that many are concerned about what this bodes for our future.”
From http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/human_pop/human_pop.html

There is no way that you could state that UHI has not changed between 1927 and 1999 with a trebling of the global population and this has to be taken into account. Adjusting records up in later years and down in previous years totally runs against the grain of population trends and land usage. The way that the science is being used at the moment is suggesting that there is an inverse relationship between the number of humans on the planet and the recdorded temperature trend from land based sensors. In other words that the increase in the human population is having a cooling effect on the planet, utter rubbish.

Nov 9, 2010 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

@Jerry

May be worth looking at the following document
http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/western_climate_establishment_corrupt.html
which was recently publicised on JoNova's website
http://joannenova.com.au/2010/11/is-the-western-climate-establishment-corrupt-how-many-excuses-does-it-take/

Nov 9, 2010 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Remind me who were meeting the DECC Ministers again (wwf, Green peace,etc)

from the wwf website (comments generally zero at their blog)
http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/tackling_climate_change/climate_change_explained/

wwf:
"Climate change denial – some people might try to tell you: "Global warming is natural" or "The Earth is actually cooling" or "There's nothing we can do anyway"...

Here's the truth:

it's true the Earth’s climate has always changed, and temperatures risen and fallen over thousands of years. But it's happening now at a far faster rate than ever before, which doesn’t give the world’s species (including ourselves) much time to react or adapt.

it's true the Earth was in a cooling cycle, slowly heading for another ice age in a few thousand years – but the wholesale burning of fossil fuels has upset that cycle, vastly increasing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The good news is, if we accept that we’re a major cause of climate change, we can choose to do something about it. But we have to do it soon.

Nov 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I'm sure there is a scientific maxim - "doubt everyone, but most, doubt yourself" If not I claim copyright! :-)

Unfortunately I think the great Richard Feynman got there before you...

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Nov 9, 2010 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Masius
Phillip Bratby

I don't think any-one seriously disputes the IR absorption and re-emission properties of CO2.
Nor do I think any-one seriously disputes the added advantage of an extra quilt on a cold night!

In both cases, the key point is the resistance to heat flow from the heated body to the cold exterior.
Neither the quilt nor the CO2 adds extra heat (i.e. energy), but by providing a barrier to heat flow it raises the temperature of the body until equilibrium heat flow is established.

I am extremely sceptical of AGW because of the 'fairy dust' which appears to be a necessary part of the models to force the minor impact of CO2 into a strong (via water vapour) driver of Earth temperature and implicitly assumes that the much more complex behaviour of water in all its phases is necessarily a positive feedback.

Nov 9, 2010 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

1. AGW is possible, but is clouded by uncertainty (pun intended).

2. CAGW is impossible, because of 4 billion years of physics, chemistry, geology and biology.

Nov 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Ronaldo.

I agree with your first three sentences. However, your 4th sentence is wrong. Imagine wrapping a hot water bottle with quilts; no matter how many quilts you add, you cannot raise the temperature of the bottle. It is the combination of the energy source together with a changed heat transfer coefficient that cause the temperature to change.

But with increasing CO2 in the atmosphere we don't know the OVERALL heat transfer coefficient to space, since it depends on the combination of a set of interdependent individual heat transfer mechanisms.

Someone has produced an analogy of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere to double glazing your house. Double glazing won't have any effect if you have open doors and uninsulated walls and roof.

Nov 9, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip

I agree about the hot water bottle analogy, but a human body in a bed is actually generating heat, and the earth receives heat from the sun. In both cases, if the barrier to dissipating this heat is raised, then the surface temperature of the body will rise until equilibrium is re-established.
All that happens in the case of the hot water bottle is that an extra blanket slows down the rate of cooling.
I also agree that we don't know the overall heat transfer coefficient of heat transfer to space and that's why I am sceptical of AGW and the assumptions of the models.

Nov 9, 2010 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

It's good to go back to basics - and even better when a discussion is triggered by a public letter to a person in a position of considerable influence who has been polite and forthcoming to a committed sceptic so far. So well done Matt Ridley. I've been thinking much about humility (it's one of my greatest strengths, as the man said) since the big Channel 4 show which more than anything was demanding that quality of the green movement - and since Delingpole launched a tongue-in-cheek attack on the parable of the Prodigal Son in his response on Friday. And there's no better example in the recent record for me than this from Mr Ridley about the acid rain scare of the 80s:

I was a gullible idiot not to question the conventional wisdom I was being fed by those with vested interests in alarm.

With this in mind, I tend to sympathise with the 'go carefully' approach of BBD, Jerry and Ronaldo. Mac's summary is the snappiest. CAGW has to overturn the massive amount of prima facie evidence for an extremely stable climate system that has stayed within 20degK out of around 300 for four billion years. Large positive feedbacks from water vapor and clouds would never have allowed such a thing even in a few hundred. That's why the burden of proof is solidly with the alarmists. And all they can come up with are software model runs which are completely opaque to external inspection and the odd historic event where cause and effect are not known (as Ridley deals with very well).

As Lindzen says, I'd be willing to be called a sceptic if there was a prima facie case to be sceptical of - but there's not even a prima facie case. For this descendant of Holocaust survivors to opt to be called a climate denier ('as far as it is possible to be one') is one of the greatest, most contemptuous comments of the last two years of the climate scene. It never fails to make me chortle. And laugh we should. In the history of science mockery has never been more deserved - and at such expense.

Nov 9, 2010 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Ronaldo
Phillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby is correct - the Second Law applies even in the case of heat transfer by radiation. There can be no 'barrier to heat flow'.

From "the Theory of Heat Radiation" by Max Planck, 1912, p6 -

"...the emission of any volume-element depends entirely on what takes place inside this element... "

Nov 9, 2010 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMasius

David MacKay's letter is full of him agreeing with the consensus beliefs. That is worrying, in light of what Matt Ridley has to say about previous consensus beliefs. Why do people not learn from experience and history?

Nov 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I have just glanced through McKays letter, seems to spend an awful lot of time playing with the meaning of 'Unprecedented' and 'Fast' , must have been taking lessons from Acton and Muir Russell.

Is there a special Hockey Stick Edition of the Oxford Dictionary just for their use.

Nov 9, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

the temperature of earth , a rotating ball in cold space warmed by the sun, is only depending on its colour.
CO2 is colourless so it cannot change earth's temperature.
One can contend that the melting of ice surfaces , leaving exposed rock (white->black) will change the avg colour of earth but this is probably balanced by these warm rocks causing more evaporation and clouds (which are white)

the discussion is cunningly misled by the concept that our "burning of fossils" is heating the atmosphere. they probably do but the day you stop burning them , the extra heat dissipates in erm 2 days.

Watched asteroids program yday: far more important to build asteroid warning system. And a self sustaining moon base to stock biodiversity. and a couple of mars missions to make robots and replicators build a selfsustaining livelihood there. instead of cap and trade.

the problem is for these mentioned projects you need inventiveness, creativity , risk taking and people who went through straining education. For cap and trade and windmill production you need obamania turnips who are good at sitting in overpaid institutes decrying the injustices. For example the 45k that went for a party to COP15.

Nov 9, 2010 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo

Masius

You are getting confused again. This isn't the time or the place for a 1000-word explication of the Second Law, so I urge you to find out more. I have had a look around for an accessible treatment and this is a very good place to start:

http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/09/27/the-real-second-law-of-thermodynamics/

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

@Richard Drake

Well summarised.

@ phinniethewoo

You state:

'the temperature of earth , a rotating ball in cold space warmed by the sun, is only depending on its colour.
CO2 is colourless so it cannot change earth's temperature.'

Words fail me.

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

The reference, in Matt Ridley`s letter, to the acid rain scare and its alleged effect on forests in Germany rang a very loud bell with me. At the time German politicians were leaping up and down about it, demanding that the motor industry install catalysts (at great expense to the consumer) to prevent the destruction of the forests. The fact that there had been previous periods when there had been a die back - before cars and the internal combustion engine had been invented - was beside the point. The German manufacturers were well aware of this fact. Indeed they pointed it out - but to no avail. The line of least resistance was to accept the legislation requiring catalysts and make the consumer pay. We are still paying.

The same thing has happened with carbon taxes and the whole apparatus set in place by the Climate Change Act. It is here to stay. Our grandchildren will still be paying the price 50 years from now just as they will still be paying for catalysts. Such is the stupidity of the political classes.

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

MacKay says:

I’m not a climate scientist. But I have spent quite a lot of time in seminar rooms with real climate scientists over the last few years.

It would be interesting to know what his definition of a "real climate scientist" is. I don't classify Jones and Briffa or computer modellers as climate scientists.

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

BBD

Thank you, the Science of Doom article is one that I had not seen before.

Nov 9, 2010 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

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