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Discussion > Where's my best evidence?

I've mentioned best evidence in a comment. As I understand it, it's a legal concept where you ought to provide the best evidence available. It's not enough to have a blind witness if someone else must have seen. Now, when I want to apply that to the science of climate change, I find a lot missing. We are all familiar with the usual litany of models, proxies and the dead Swede, but why don't they show me 'radiative forcing' actually happening? By measurement of actual heating taking place. Why don't they give me the measured radiation budget of the Earth from satellites and albedo?

I tried the IPCC, AR2 for the scientific basis. Nothing there, all taken for granted, assumed as part of the question, petitio principii. Where is it? If it is there, why not use it instead of all the models and trees? If it isn't, why not? Did they look and not find it? Did they not look?

Jun 20, 2012 at 3:05 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I think you will find it is all there in the literature. It's just that it is all rather complicated and relies upon a lot of background knowledge. You will need to do the equivalent of several university degrees and perhaps a PhD to understand enough to make sense of it. Once you've done that you'll be a climate scientist :-)

Jun 20, 2012 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I happen to think that is quite easy to just slag off useless opinions, and better to find that one source that answers a specific question the best :)

Jun 20, 2012 at 7:05 PM | Registered Commentershub

Yes BB, but how hard would it be to understand if someone had measured downwelling IR twenty years ago in the desert then contrasted it with today? Or looked at a insolation spectrum from overhead and then from later in the day when the light had to travel through twice as much CO2? Things like that. If they are indeed in the literature, why are we looking at tree rings and models that can't predict tomorrow?

Jun 20, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda, the data you want almost certainly exists somewhere. Whether anyone has done the necessary work to analyse it is another matter. Search the literature or do some original research.

Tree rings are about the distant past, which seems rather a different subject. On models, how else do we get models that work other than by starting with models that don't work and improving them?

Jun 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

You don't get the point. If the work has been done, why is less convincing evidence used? You have no clue whether it has been done or not, nor do I, but as it would represent the best evidence, we need to see it, and never mind the trees and models.

Oh, I did find work by Slade Barker on real observations of IR in the desert. No CO2 effect found. That's all I found. There seems to be no mention in the IPCC stuff of actual CO2 warming measurements. Why not?

Jun 20, 2012 at 10:20 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Mr Bucket

I have tried to engage with you and give you information but you have proved yourself to be the classic Troll. You are simply a spoiler, you do not know or understand the science, you contribute nothing to discussions and you are totally superfluous to all of the aims of this blog.

Jun 21, 2012 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Hi Dung, I have not intended to offend you, so I am sorry that I have. I disagree with you, but I don't imagine you can have been offended just by my opinion.

Discussions in which everybody agrees are a little dull, I find, so maybe I'm doing you all a favour. However, I will promise you this. If ten people that I recognise ask me politely to stop posting at BH and give a coherent reason, I will go away. Fair enough? Any rudeness resets the count ;-)

Jun 21, 2012 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

...On this thread; I don't read many.

Jun 21, 2012 at 3:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Damned if I am going to be nice to the spoiler on the promise that he will go away. Begone, Troll!

Jun 21, 2012 at 7:55 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda. You are obviously a nit picker who demands unreasonable levels of proof. Most people who agree that "the science is settled" find the line "The planet has been warming and it must be caused by CO2 because we can't think what else was causing it" entirely adequate evidence. What makes you so special?

Here is what Professor Julia Sligo, the Met Office's Chief Scientist said in a podcast (whatever that might be). If anyone has all the available evidence at their fingertips, it is obviously Professor Sligo.

No confusing reference to actual measurements of heating or anything like that, so they either do not exist or, if they do, they are incorrect. Please read Professor Sligo's reasoning and the evidence she produces for CO2 being the cause of dangerous warming and I think you are certain to be convinced that man-made CO2 is heating the planet dangerously.

If despite Professor Sligo's words you remain unconvinced, I am sorry to say that you are probably never going to find the results of simple (or even complicated) physical measurements that give you the evidence you demand.

"There's been a lot of questions about carbon dioxide and whether it's generally responsible for climate change, and so the first question would really be, how do we know that carbon dioxide is responsible for the climate change that we have seen and can we prove it?

Well we know that carbon dioxide is a very potent greenhouse gas, and although it's not the dominant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, by increasing its concentrations we know that it will have a very significant impact on the radiative balance of the planet and lead to changes in temperature. But it's important to put this in context because in fact water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and it's the reason why his planet is inhabitable. Without it, we would be a much colder place and life would not thrive if we didn't have water vapour.

What carbon dioxide is doing now is enhancing that greenhouse gas effect. So we understand the basic physics of that. It's enhancing that greenhouse effect and leading to an increase in temperature, so we're trapping more energy into the planet because of increasing levels of carbon dioxide.

How do we know that it matters? Well you don't have to really think to (sic) hard that if you've gone from before we started our industrial activities in the 19th century carbon dioxide levels were at 280 parts per million by volume. We are now rapidly approaching 390 parts per million which means it's been a 40% increase. Most of that increase has happened in the last 50 years. And if we know that carbon dioxide is greenhouse gas, it's hard to believe that if you increase it by 40% you're not going to do something to the temperature of the planet."

"... and can we prove it?". I think that only unreasonable nit-pickers would protest that the foregoing is not actually "proof".
[I had to OCR the text - hence any transcription errors.]

Jun 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

BB - I find some of your interventions diverting (in either or both senses of the word) so I would not wish you to disappear although it would be good if the quality of some of your comments were improved.

Some of them are weak on logic and they do sometimes contain implications or unwarranted accusations that annoy BH posters...

Here is an example - I've changed it from Phil Jones to Gary Glitter in an attempt to make it clearer:

"Gary Glitter was convicted of having child porn in his PC. It's hypocritical to condemn him for that when you no doubt also have kiddy porn on your hard disk. Furthermore, PC World did not have his permission to open his files so the evidence presented to the police was stolen. He did not expect his private files to be disclosed to the vice squad ".

I'm hoping:
- You can see the parallel with some of your recent comments.
- You do not agree that GG was unreasonably convicted.

Jun 21, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Why should we be nice to the Troll.

First reply is ignorant and condesending.

I think you will find it is all there in the literature. It's just that it is all rather complicated and relies upon a lot of background knowledge. You will need to do the equivalent of several university degrees and perhaps a PhD to understand enough to make sense of it. Once you've done that you'll be a climate scientist :-)

And the second is condesending again but also confirms the superior argument of Oxford Housewife's.

Rhoda, the data you want almost certainly exists somewhere. Whether anyone has done the necessary work to analyse it is another matter. Search the literature or do some original research.

If the data exists somewhere then quote it instead of insulting people.

Jun 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

I have to admit that my thoughts, when I read those comments, were "I hope he gets what he has asked for".

Especially as Rhoda seems to know a lot more physics than BB or most "climate scientists".

Jun 21, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Hi Martin, "I'm hoping: ... You do not agree that GG was unreasonably convicted."

I'm hoping:
- you didn't mean that to be as insulting as it seems.


Jun 21, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Don't fill up the threads with fluff. And remember, it is not about you.

Jun 21, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Registered Commentershub

Local CO2 varies from year to year. So even measurements two seasons apart, in the same year, should show a considerable difference, right? Secondly, it is known that there are small pockets of increased CO2 in urban areas compared to the country side (though the average height of such pockets or clouds must be minuscule compared to the height of the atmosphere). Do you think the net increase in downward radiation in such locations can be measured by our instruments?

II ) Are you looking for studies like this?

Jun 21, 2012 at 4:29 PM | Registered Commentershub

What I meant was "I feel certain you would never suggest GG was wrongly convicted".

Jun 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Garratt & Prata (1995) is obsolete. Nor does it even say what I think you imply. G&P argued (17 years ago, about four models from a long-superseded generation of GCMs) that downwelling *shortwave* radiation was over-estimated but downwelling *longwave* radiation from the radiating atmosphere was under-estimated by up to 10W/m2.

Rhoda's question is fair enough, and best answered by common sense. Point measurements of DLR/DSW at the surface are far too localised to be of any diagnostic value. You would need a global distribution of millions of repeat measurements over a period of at least 30 years for any hope of meaningful results. This would be prohibitively expensive and logistically impractical.

So the effects of increased CO2 and other GHGs on the radiative properties of the atmosphere are calculated and the results considered in the light of observations. See GAT, cryosphere, SLR and land surface temperature and SSTs and OHC etc since the second half of the C20th.

Parsimonious reasoning supports the theory that increasing the atmospheric fraction of CO2 causes energy to accumulate in the climate system.

Jun 22, 2012 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I don't know if this page on Science of Doom will give you the information you want.

If not, then I think that either scienceofdoom themself or a reader should be able to point you to what you want - if it exists. I have posed questions on Science of Doom and always been answered helpfully and knowledgably.

The point I was trying to make in my Jun 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM post was that, since the Met Office does not mention such data, it seems pretty obvious to me that either it does not exist or, if it does exist, then it does not confirm - or it discredits - the CAGW meme.

Jun 22, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Who set you up as the authority on what is 'obsolete'? What is obsolescence in science?

What they do in their paper is not what we are concerned about. Did they measure values like what rhoda's asking for, that is the question.

From your long reply, I can see that you do not have any answer to that question. Why fill up words then? Don't write paragraphs that make it look as though you are answering a question, when you are not.

Say instead: "I don't know if such measurements have been performed". Or, "I don't think such measurements have been performed".

We don't need one more person "linking" to NASA, Google, the internet, 'original research', do we?

Parsimonious reasoning tells me, that, someone as hardworking as you, would be waving such measurements in everyone's face if they existed, and supported your contentions.

Jun 22, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Registered Commentershub


I explained *why* such measurements have not been performed, then *how* the investigation of the effects of GHGs has proceeded without them.

I note your rejection of a collection of observational data. This sits rather uneasily with your apparent insistence that everything depends on... observational data.

Jun 22, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Ha ha! :)

Jun 22, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Registered Commentershub

This is commonly referred to as 'research'.
Dr Joelle Gergis

Search the literature or do some original research.

Jun 22, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

No BBD, I cannot accept that this can't be measured. I cannot accept that nobody has been crazy enough to try to measure it. I cannot accept that any theory must be right even though nobody can even conceive of an experiment where the result can be shown to occur in the real world. Your argument amounts to 'because I say so'.

Conjecture, hypothesis, experiment. You can't omit that last bit if it does not suit you.

In the spirit of best evidence, I conclude that the defence lawyer has no best evidence, and the lack thereof is significant. Just as if an alibi of four people the defendant was with was put up, but none of them were called as witnesses. The lack of this evidence matters.

I don't know who is reading here ,but no-one from the warmist camp has come up with anything but diversionary tactics. I conclude that the evidence is absent.

Jun 23, 2012 at 11:19 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda