A New Kind of Crime Against Humanity?: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Disinformation Campaign On Climate Change

I. Introduction.

This post examines the question of whether some US companies are guilty of a new kind of crime against humanity that the world has yet to classify. This post is not meant to be a polemic but a call for serious engaged reflection about deeply irresponsible corporate-sponsored programs that have potentially profound harsh effects upon tens of millions of people living around the world, countless millions of future generations, and the ecological systems on which life depends. This post seeks to encourage further reflection on the issues discussed here.

II. Corporate Disinformation Campaign

Although skepticism in science is needed to make science advance, for almost thirty years some corporations have supported a disinformation campaign about climate change science that has been spreading untruths and distortions about climate science. Several recent books document how this disinformation campaign began in the1980s including a book by Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt. (Oreskes and Conway, 2010)

Although it may be reasonable to be somewhat skeptical about climate change models, some corporate sponsored participants in the climate change disinformation campaign have been spreading deeply misleading distortions about the science of climate change. These untruths are not based upon reasonable skepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science. These claims have included assertions that that the science of climate change that is the foundation for calls to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been “completely debunked” and that there is no evidence of human causation of recent observed warming. Reasonable skepticism cannot make these claims or others frequently being made by the well-financed climate change disinformation campaign.

Given that there are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies that support the consensus view on the dangers of continuing to emit increasing levels of greenhouse gases, that most Academy of Sciences around the world have issued statements in support of the consensus view articulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there are virtually no peer-reviewed scientific articles that prove beyond reasonable doubt that observed warming is naturally caused, that there are a huge number of attribution, fingerprinting, and analyses of isotopes of greenhouse gases that are appearing in the atmosphere that point to human causation, that the basic physics of exactly what initially happens when greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere in terms of absorbing and reradiating heat in watts per square meter has been understood for over 150 years, claims that the science of climate change have been “completely debunked” and that there is no evidence of human causation are patently false. These claims do not represent reasonable skepticism but utter distortions about a body of evidence that the world needs to understand to protect itself from huge potential harms.

On October 21, 2010, the John Broder of the New York Times, http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/politics/21climate.html?sort=newest&offset=2, reported, that “the fossil fuel industries have for decades waged a concerted campaign to raise doubts about the science of global warming and to undermine policies devised to address it.” According the New York Times article, the fossil fuel industry has ” created and lavishly financed institutes to produce anti-global-warming studies, paid for rallies and Web sites to question the science, and generated scores of economic analyses that purport to show that policies to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases will have a devastating effect on jobs and the overall economy.”

Without doubt those telling others that there is no danger heading their way have a special moral responsibility to be extraordinarily careful about such claims. For instance, if someone tells a child laying on a railroad tracks that they can lie there all day because there is no train coming and has never checked to see if a train is actually coming would be obviously guilty of reprehensible behavior.

Disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily if not criminally irresponsible because the consensus scientific view of climate change is based upon strong evidence that climate change harms:

(1) are already being experienced by tens of thousands in the world;

(2) will be experienced in the future by millions of people from greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted but not yet felt due to lags in the climate system; and,

(3) will increase dramatically in the future unless GHG emissions are dramatically reduced from existing global emissions levels.

These harms include deaths and harms from droughts, floods, heat, storm related damages, rising oceans, heat impacts on agriculture, loss of animals that are dependent upon for substance purposes, social disputes caused by diminishing resources, sickness from a variety of diseases, the inability to rely upon traditional sources of food, the inability to use property that people depend upon to conduct their life including houses or sleds in cold places, the destruction of water supplies, and the inability to live where has lived to sustain life. In fact, the very existence of some small island nations is threatened by climate change.

As long as there is any chance that climate change could create this type of destruction, even assuming, for the sake of argument, that these harms are not yet fully proven, disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily morally reprehensible if it leads to non-action in reducing climate change’s threat when action is indispensable to preventing harm. In fact how to deal with uncertainty in climate change science is an ethical issue, not only a scientific matter, because in the case of climate change:

• If you wait until all the uncertainties are resolved it is likely to be too late to prevent catastrophic climate change.
• The longer one waits to take action, the more difficult it is to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of climate change at safe levels.
• Those most vulnerable to climate change include some of the poorest people in the world and they have not consented to be put at risk in the face of uncertainty.

The October 21 New York Times article mentioned above concludes that some US corporate sponsored activities are helping elect politicians that have been influenced by the most irresponsible climate change scientific skeptical arguments. These corporations are clearly doing this because they see climate change greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies as adversely affecting their financial interests. This fact leads to even greater moral culpability for American corporations because their behavior is as offensive as if the person who tells the child train that no train is coming when they don’t actually know whether a train is on its way makes money by misinforming the child.

The October 21rst New York Times article concludes that the oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates who support actions to reduce the threat of climate change. It would be one thing for an American corporation to act irresponsibly in a way that leads to harm to Americans, but because of climate change’s global scope, American corporation’s have been involved in behavior that likely will harm tens of millions of people around the world. Clearly this is a new type of crime against humanity. Skepticism in science is not bad, but skeptics must play by the rules of science including publishing their conclusions in peer-reviewed scientific journals and not make claims that are not substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature. The need for responsible skepticism is particularly urgent if misinformation from skeptics could lead to great harm. For this reason, this disinformation campaign being funded by some American corporations is arguably some kind of new crime against humanity.

III. Conclusion
The international community does not have a word for this type of crime yet, but the international community should find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims about climate change that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity. What do we call such behavior?

By :
Donald A. Brown,
Associate Professor,
Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law
Penn State University


Broder, John, (2010) “Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith” New York Times, October 21, 2009, http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/politics/21climate.html?sort=newest&offset=2,

Oreskes, Naiomi, and Erik. Conway, 2010, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth On Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming Bloosmbury Press, New York.

113 thoughts on “A New Kind of Crime Against Humanity?: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Disinformation Campaign On Climate Change

  1. Larry,
    The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions because the law Congress established required it to follow the science. Exxon, BP and Shell have issued statements saying they agree with AGW. Yet they fund groups that make absurd claims like there is no data to support AGW. If they were selling a product this way this would be false advertising. Wait, they are selling a product. They skirt the law by giving the money secretly to “educational” foundations. Let’s tighten up that loophole.
    You are still free to not believe in gravity if you wish. But if you try to sell people toxic anti-gravity pills using false claims you may indeed be liable as the tobacco industry was found to be. You are free to believe tobacco is healthy, but you are not free to use such claims in selling it.
    Prof. Brown should be clearer that you cannot prohibit responsible or irresponsible scepticism, but deliberate fraud against the public for profit is another matter. The new legal issue is that most of the damage has not occurred yet.
    How are oil companies different than tobacco companies in ethical terms? If there is no ethical difference, why should there be a legal difference?
    (As for funding, I do know people who get NSF funds. And, no there are no political tests. The tiny handful a scientists who are sceptical still get funded! Even under Bush the funded science mostly still said AGW was real. And all branches of science use models!)

  2. The consensus view articulated by IPCC relies on several thousand peer reviewed articles cited by IPCC. The claims made by those opposed to climate change policy discussed in this article (notice not all skeptical claims) are not only not supported by peer reviewed science: they are obviously false. They include such claims as there is no scientific evidence of human causation of observed warming, or that the consensus view has been “completely debunked.” The post is not about all skeptical arguments but the disinformation and distortions that are being made by organizations funded by fossil fuel interests.

  3. What kind of absurd nonsense is this? You claim that a high school student can follow your calculations, then you make a few nonsensical statements and then draw an absurd conclusion. If you want to make the claim that there is not a greenhouse effect, or dispute its effect, show your “calculations”. Show your data and cite your sources and I will show that you are absolutely, comically incorrect. This is typical of the way you people reason, and it is a serious indictment of the level of scientific and mathematical literacy that denialists possess.

  4. Bob Armstrong,
    If you understood the most basic physics yourself you’d apologize for your post…

  5. Ah , peer review !
    What is absurd is that even PhDs in “climate science” either have never learned this most basic physics , or think it is optional . The Stefan-Boltzmann law says energy density is proportional to the 4th power of temperature . Virtually all our energy comes from the sun . It subtends about 5.41e-6 of the total sky . The most commonly cited value I’ve seen for its temperature is about 5778 kelvin . Thus
    ( 5.41e-6 * 5778 ^ 4 ) ^ % 4 |->| 278.7
    which is about 9 or 10 centigrade below the 288 kelvin commonly cited as our observed mean temperature , up perhaps 0.6c since before the steam engine , essentially nothing since the 1930s .
    As I learned reading boy’s science books in the 1950s , and was essentially Kirchhoff’s ( and Stewart’s ) insight 150 years ago , this computation applies to any gray ( flat spectrum ) ball , however dark or light . What’s absurd and an indictment of our government education is that anybody graduates from highschool physics without understanding this fact .
    The commonly claimed 255 kelvin computation is in fact a little beyond what is possible for even the most extreme spectrum which displays our approximately 0.7 absorptivity with respect to the Sun’s spectrum .
    If you disagree with this extremely classical computation , experimentally falsify it .

  6. The Supreme Court did not order the EPA to regulate CO2. Instead, the court determined that the EPA had the authority to regulate it. Big difference.

  7. A portion of the sun’s energy is reflected back to space. Remember clouds? Your model does not account for this. There are also convective effects since air can move. It is not as simple as you believe.

  8. Mike replies to Larry:

    The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions because the law Congress established required it to follow the science.

    No, the SC said the EPA had the authority to regulate CO2 and could either issue regulations or publish a statement explaining why it didn’t.

    Exxon, BP and Shell have issued statements saying they agree with AGW. Yet they fund groups that make absurd claims like there is no data to support AGW.

    Well, of course they do. Florida Power & Light, one of the greatest consumers of coal in the country, is also the single largest owner of “wind farms” in the country, and as a result has had no tax liability on over $2 billion in annual revenue for the last 3 years.
    Wake the hell up. There is no data to support AGW. If you deny this, show me the exact paragraph in the IPCC’s AR4, WG I, Ch. 9 — which is the only relevant chapter in the whole report — where there is any scientific evidence supporting this silly hypothesis.

  9. Regarding the SC you are splitting hairs (Larry as well). The SC ordered the EPA to follow the science. The EPA had to follow what the N.A.S. concluded. They cannot just pick their favorite blogs to follow like so many deniers do. The book Judging Science gives a history of how courts can and cannot make use of scientific research.
    Your last point (“There is no data to support AGW”) proves you are you have lost the ability to be honest. Even if you don’t agree with the conclusions drawn by the Nation Academy of Sciences or the IPCC no honest person can claim there is no evidence at all. Get help. I won’t respond to further comments by you until you do.
    (The IPCC report is a literature review. The data is in the references. Read them.)

  10. Suppose the oil companies said: While there is a lot of scientific evidence that AGW is real and dangerous, we think the burden higher energy costs and lower profits is just too high and that future generations will understand why we did nothing. Then fine. That would be a honest and ethical argument. But that is not what some of them are doing. They – like the tobacco companies – know the science is very likely correct, but sow doubts in the public mind through stealth campaigns. This is unethical. Should there be legal consequences? For the tobacco companies there was. Do we have to wait for millions to die?
    Those of you who truly don’t agree with climatology or evolution or gravity are free to speak your mind. You are not free to sell a product using false claims – even if you believe them. You are free to believe your dog is the devil. You are not free to kill people on his say so. By any legal standard the science of AGW passes muster. Courts and government agencies have to use consensus conclusions. What else should they follow? If you disagree, you can publish your own research on how great tobacco is or that AGW is harmless, but you cannot sell products based on it until the courts determine the consensus has changed.
    For example, silicon breast implants were restricted for years until the science determined they were safe. In that case industry finally won. The point is there has to be a common basis for making decisions. (This was one of the cases that lead to the current need for courts to follow mainstream science and not let lawyers sherry pick studies.)

  11. This comment well summarizes the main point in the original article. One cannot say there is no evidence of human causation of climate change or that the consensus view has been completely debunked. This is simply not true. One could say that in their opinion the models may not capture all of the negative feedbacks from such things as clouds. But the oil companies, by funding irresponsible climate deniers are spreading untruths and disinformation about the climate science. This is immoral because it is like telling a child laying on a railroad track that they have checked to see if a train is coming and that no train is coming when the person making the claim that there is no train coming has ignored the evidence that a train is coming. There are numerous lines of evidence of human causation of the observable warming. This includes the isotopes of carbon appearing in the atmosphere, the fact that it has been known for 150 years precisely the initial forcing of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere when new concentrations of ghg are added to the atmosphere, (notice the claim is initial forcing not temperature at equilibrium, something that can be known precisely only after all feedbacks are quantified), the fact that ghg are appearing in the atmosphere in direct proportion to fossil fuel use and deforestation, and numerous fingerprint and attribution studies. If humans are not causing the warming but humans are adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere then given the unambiguity of the observable warming one must explain why the warming caused by the initial forcing is not contributing to the observable warming. If you cant do this, one must admit it is the initial forcing from the additional concentrations of ghg which are contributing to the observable warming.
    One does not get off the hook by saying some on the other side are exaggerating the climate science. This is a strawman argument. This may be true of some people in the world but the US Academy of Sciences has not exaggerated the science nor all of the other Academies of Science in the World, nor the IPCC. The Academies of Science reports all point to peer reviewed science for support for their conclusions. This does not of course mean they got it all right, but one cannot say they have no evidence for their conclusions. One cannot attack models in the abstract and claim that temperatures will be less then predicted by IPCC without relying on some other kind of model.
    It is simply a distortion and a lie to say that this science has been completely debunked. It is also dangerous and unethical to say this as long as it is potentially true that it is right. Someone is free to say they dont believe it for the following reasons but it is simply a distortion to say there is no evidence for the consensus view.

  12. We pay NASA to run the experiment.
    There’s a more direct calculation of what the surface temperature would be without the greenhouse effect.
    The solar energy flux at the Earth orbit (S) = 1.366 x 10*3 W/m-2 (+- 0.1%.
    Earth’s radius (R) = 6.371 x 10*6 m.
    Cross section (EC) = pi x (6.37 x 10*6 m)*2 = 1.28 x 10^14 m2
    Surface area (ES) = 4 x EC = 5.12 x 10^14 m2
    Energy flux crossing Earth (EE) = EC x S = 1.74 x 10^17 W
    The energy absorbed by the Earth (EA), considering reflection = .70 x EE = 1.22 x 10^17 W.
    In equilibrium, the Earth’s average radiated energy (ER) = EA.
    Stefan’s constant (A) = 5.67 x 10^-8 W / ( m^2 x K^4)
    Stefan-Boltzmann Law ER = ES x A x T^4
    1.22 x 10^17 = 5.12 x 10^14 x 5.67 x 10^-8 x T^4
    T^4 = 1.22 x 10^17 / 2.9 x 10^7
    T*4 = 4.21 x 10^9 K^4
    T = 254.7 K

  13. Professor Brown: Like so many others, you base your scientific and ethical arguments on the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report – as if this report were some kind of climate science bible. You claim that the report’s authority derives from “over 21,000” peer-reviewed studies. This number itself is a gross exaggeration: The actual number is more like 18,500 references, of which 30% have since been shown NOT to be peer reviewed at all, but drawn from sources such as newspaper articles, reports from lobbyists, and brochures. That leaves about 13,000, but many of these references are duplicates from chapter to chapter, and from one report to another(there were three working groups). So allowing for duplication, your original number of 21,000 falls to something below 10,000 peer-reviewed articles.
    While this number may still seem weighty, you’re ignoring the fact that you can find over 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles skeptical of man-made climate change. Some 800 of these have recently been tabulated in Popular Technology, but there are others. And that doesn’t count all the skeptical papers that didn’t get published because the alarmist hierarchy refused to accept them.
    These numbers mean there is ample evidence, well-documented in the literature but ignored by the climate establishment, for other, natural explanations of global warming. The IPCC and its followers are merely the Spanish Inquisition of modern times, seeking to suppress all heresy against their views.

  14. The conclusions of IPCC have been reviewed by many scientific organizations around the world with expertise in the subject matter and supported. Given this to say that the science of climate change has been “completely debunked “is just not true. The US Academy of Science issued a statement in May in this regard. The 800 articles in your list will not withstand any serious review. Many appear in journals that do not do climate science such as the journal of physicians and surgeons almost all of them dont refute the main claims of IPCC, many are not peer reviewed andare not in journal format, few appear in any major cliamte science journal. A number of people are looking at this list and results will be published soon. In fact the claim that these 800 are equal in credibility to the mainstream scientific articles relied upon by IPCC is not true.

  15. So, let’s see if I got this straight: Even if, as you state, the climate sensitivity is uncertain and the harms of CAGW are not yet fully proven, then I should be held criminally accountable for expressing a position, based on research by qualified scientists, that calls into question the position of a majority. Wow! That’s not the way the scientific method works in any other field of investigation.

  16. No 0f couse not. What we said is that there are wildly untrurhful claims being made by some ideological skeptics that include that there is no evidence of human causation whichare flatly untrue. These claims are being financed by fossil fuel interests. It is the fossil fuel interests that support these claims that are highly unethical. Every Academy of Science in the world has issued statements that support the consensus view. You can not claim that the science of climate change has been debunked. You can claim that you dont agree with the scientific view but you cant tell citizens that there is no evidence for human causation.

  17. I must be missing something in your argument. You seem to be saying that approximately ten times as many serious peer reviewed studies support the premise that you believe is not true than support what you apparently believe, therefore you must be right. The point becomes even more absurd when your reasoning is examined. It is common denialist nonsense that skeptical papers don’t pass peer review because of there contrarian position. In fact, they don’t pass peer review because the mathematical or scientific flaws are obvious to the reviewers. No paper that is rejected is merely rejected out of hand. The reasons are documented and the authors can respond or make corrections. Recently, scientific journals have published skeptical papers when the flaws were obvious to avoid appearance of bias. Richard Lindzen’s last paper (Lindzen Choi ’09) should never have been published and had flaws that bordered on malfeasance, but was published anyway. Lindzen himself said that the criticisms of his paper “had merit”.
    Denialists hold a position that can not be supported by the science so they attack the scientists. If the majority of the scientists disagree with their position the consensus is irrelevant. If the peer reviewed literature indicates they are wrong then peer review is not important. If you point out that 97% of the scientists with expertise in this particular area say they are wrong, well then,expertise is not important either. If these were purely academic issues your position would be simply comical. As it is, it is unethical.
    The charge by denialists that the lack of respect given to papers that deserve no respect is a conspiracy is a self reinforcing claim, but it does bring to mind the following:
    “But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
    –Carl Sagan

  18. But that is the whole point, doc! The “proof” of CAGW is based on computer models that ASSUME the atmosphere has a significant sensitivity to CO2. But since no one KNOWS, in fact, what the sensitivity is (as even you stated in a previous comment), then we must look into today’s data and compare it past data (i.e. proxy records) to see if our time of increased CO2 follows any pattern in the paleo record. And THAT is where the pro-CAGW community has trouble. In just the last century, we have examples of: 1) CO2 holding fairly constant while temperatures increased, 2) CO2 increasing while temperatures decreased, and 3) CO2 increasing while temperatures increased. This divergent behavior is damning evidence that CO2 and temperature are not highly correlated. Going back further, one can find examples of temperature rising at rates faster than the last 30 – 40 years while CO2 was, again, fairly constant. And, if we go back far enough, we can find examples of CO2 being MUCH higher than today and the planet thrived (implying that any “tipping point” due to CO2 alone is not just questionable but, indeed, tremendously unlikely). One cannot look at the past climatic history of the planet and conclude that, somehow, it’s different today, even if the leadership of ALL of the Academies of Science say it is.

  19. I wonder if there was this much arguing when the Titanic hit the iceberg?
    Yet some fatcat CEO’s of oil corporations who think they are the captains of the Earth are still yelling ” There’s no way a little chunk of methane ice can sink this unsinkable ship! FULL SPEED AHEAD!”

  20. The consensus view is that climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 degrees C with actually an upper tale at 9C. Even at 1.5 degree C there are some parts of the world that suffer greatly. In fact there are parts of the world that are already deeply stressed by drought. As long as there is any possibility that the consensus view is correct no one should claim that there is no evidence for the consensus view as long as evidence exists. In other words the burden of proof should be as a matter of ethics on those who dint want to do anything to reduce the threat as a matter of ethics. By spreading misinformation that there is no evidence for the consensus view climate skeptics who make this claim are encouraging people who could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at no cost to them by simply eliminating waste to continue behavior that may lead to suffering. In other words, once it is established that there is a reasonable basis for concern, a fact well established by the consensus view and the overwhelming comparative number of peer -reviewed papers that support this view, it is ethically wrong for someone to say there is no evidence for this position.

  21. Doc, I thank you for your civility but I guess we have to agree to disagree. You prefer to accept theory stating that there is a real concern while I prefer to accept the paleo record which says nothing abnormal is happening. I do not know how to bridge such a void. I will continue to articulate my point of view until such time as evidence shows a distinct departure from historical natural variability.
    FYI – While I presently disagree with CAGW, that should not imply that I favor gluttonous energy consumption or disfavor alternative energy. I live what you would call a low-carbon lifestyle. Not because it is green but because it’s all I need and saves energy for future generations. I do disfavor subsidies for and legislation requiring certain percentages of wind/solar usage. While they have their place in niche markets, these technologies are not competitive (at this time) and have severe logistical and energy storage issues.

  22. “In fact, they don’t pass peer review because the mathematical or scientific flaws are obvious to the reviewers. No paper that is rejected is merely rejected out of hand. The reasons are documented and the authors can respond or make corrections.”
    Bill – I don’t know what world you are living in, but your statements are a far cry from reality. Yes, skeptical as well as supportive papers have flaws. But the fact is that skeptical papers, including the better ones scientifically, are frequently “rejected out of hand” or otherwise obstructed by those who control the climate change literature. This has been documented many, many times. The IPCC did it with its report too.
    As I said in an earlier comment, this obstructionism is reminiscent of the Middle Ages and the Inquisition’s persecution of those who didn’t agree with the Church that the Earth was the center of the universe. Galileo was lucky enough only to be placed under house arrest for endorsing the sun-centered view of the solar system, because he had powerful friends at court, but less fortunate individuals were tortured or even killed for their contrary beliefs. At least we’ve advanced from those times.
    “Denialists hold a position that can not be supported by the science so they attack the scientists.”
    I haven’t attacked any scientists myself, and am in fact a scientist who focuses on the science – a position you can check out by looking up my book on the subject. And I don’t deny that CO2, whether from human activity or not, causes SOME warming. The crucial point, and the one most often overlooked by warmists, is HOW MUCH of an effect the CO2 has.
    The IPCC’s temperature increase range of 2 to 4.5 degrees C can be seriously questioned. If feedback (not just from clouds) is zero or even negative, unlike the positive feedback in IPCC computer models, the climate sensitivity falls to 0.5 deg C or lower. The models not only estimate feedback poorly, but they also omit important natural sources of warming such as several solar effects, ocean climate cycles, and undersea volcanic eruptions. When the models get a handle on these and other phenomena that are part of our climate, then we can pay attention to their predictions.

  23. You attempted comparison to the murder of heretics in times past pretty much tells me who you are. I haven’t read your book, but I have read any number of books by people like yourself. Ian Plimers book comes to mind. What a travesty. The fact is that 99% of the statements in these books are demonstrably false. The people that publish them have no choice but to claim that their genius is being thwarted by the climate mafia. Solar effects have been studied to death, not much there.Undersea volcanoes? I have only undergraduate degrees in physics and math, and I can explain why these aren’t a factor.
    Cite a serious paper that has been rejected in peer review. This should be easy if it has happened many, many times.
    The IPCC’s estimated range of climate sensitivity has both theoretical and empirical underpinnings. You know that. Richard Lindzen has been trying to prove the iris effect for years. How is that working out? Still, the most troubling thing about your position is the idea that if we don’t know everything then we should put off action on CO2 until we do. This is absurd in the extreme. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that decarbonising the economy as soon as possible is the prudent and moral path. Even most skeptical climate scientists admit this. Besides, If we start now, it can be accomplished with a minimum of economic disruption. If we wait until people like you are convinced, future generations are screwed.

  24. I want think about the legal issues. Assume we have a for profit company the makes a product. Assume that mainstream scientists have determined that the product is harmful. Assume Congress asked the NAS to investigate the matter and the NAS reported that the product was indeed harmful. Any court would recognize this science in a liability suit, but the damages have not occurred yet.
    Some people (X) not affiliated with the company disagree. We agree that they are free to speak their minds on the question.
    But, what measures can the company take to defend itself? (A) We agree – I assume – that they cannot bribe Congressional men or women to vote in their favor. (B) We agree – I assume – they cannot make false claims to sell their product. (C) But can they secretly give money to tax exempt educational groups to spread doubt among the public? (D) Can they secretly fund attack ads on politicians who want to restrict the sale of their product?
    Are C&D fundamentally different than A&B? Under current law C&D are permitted. Should we change that?
    If so, we must not infringe of the rights of X. Should we change tax laws so the educational groups have to list their donors? Can we distinguish between education groups and stealth PR firms – requiring only the latter to list their donors? An AIDS educational group may have group reasons to protect the names of donors, for example. Can incorporation laws be changed to prohibit companies rights to fund political groups in exchange for their limited immunity protection? Would this require a constitutional amendment?

  25. Before I get back to the debate, let me make one thing clear – which is that I’m all in favor of developing renewable forms of energy, not based on carbon. As a former nuclear physicist, I’m personally a fan of nuclear power.
    But what I’m not in favor of is spending billions or even trillions of dollars to curb CO2 emissions in the meantime. Those are not numbers pulled out of the sky, by the way, but come from sources such as economists and the US government. You yourself mention “a minimum of economic disruption”. Cap-and-trade or a carbon tax would truly disrupt economies (as perhaps has already happened in Europe), because the cost of energy would go up considerably. This you will have heard before, but the real burden of increased energy prices would fall on the poor in the developing world. If you want to talk about moral issues, you need to include the Third World too.
    Serious papers rejected in peer review? One that comes to mind is Roy Spencer’s “Global Warming as a Natural Response to Cloud Changes Associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)”, submitted to Geophysical Research Letters in 2008. I expect you don’t care for Spencer, as he mixes politics with his climate science, but that paper is at least as solid as the typical paper supportive of man-made warming. Another example is astrophysicist Willie Soon’s 1998 paper “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”, rejected by several publications and eventually published in a medical journal. It’s also a sound paper, even if you don’t agree with its conclusions. In fact, the paper helped Soon establish a reputation that enabled his later works to appear in mainstream climate publications.
    You refer to Ian Plimer’s book. I’ve read it too and, while I disagree with you that it’s mostly nonsense, I did find a number of errors in it that dilute his message. My book is much shorter and, to my knowledge, contains no errors.
    Solar effects may not be the whole answer, but the IPCC in its third report deliberately trivialized the sun’s contribution to global warming, which set the stage for constantly downplaying solar effects ever since. I feel sorry for the solar science community. As for undersea volanoes, I’m well aware that the ocean has a large heat capacity. However, this doesn’t prevent heat released by the Earth at mid-ocean ridges from reaching the surface via various circulatory currents.
    I’ve enjoyed our debate, Bill, but probably won’t post again as I feel we’re starting to stray from Prof. Brown’s original subject of ethics and the fossil fuel industry.

  26. Your computation is much more complicated than it needs to be because planet size makes no difference , only the portion of the “celestial sphere” covered by the sun and its temperature matters .
    As I stated , for a uniform gray ( flat spectrum ) ball , absorptivity/emissivity cancels out . Absorptivity is 0.7 , but so is emissivity . So , as Kirchhoff pointed out 151 years ago , and Ritchie had actually demonstrated in 1833 , how dark or light a gray sphere is makes no difference to its equilibrium temperature . This gives the 279k value for any uniform gray ball in our orbit .
    It is only with the ( impossible ) assumption that the ball somehow emits 1.0 of the heat absorbed that you get that get the impossibly cold “frozen earth” value so ubiquitously cited .
    I consider the understanding of the most basic classical temperature physics of radiantly heated balls pathetic on both sides of the debate . While this one impossibly extreme computation is parroted endlessly , I see little evidence that people in the debate even know how to compute the equilibrium temperature of a radiantly heated uniformly colored ball . If you can’t do that , any claims about more complex problems simply is nonscience .

  27. Bob,
    Interesting and challenging point. (I’m not a scientist.) In your notational system, “e” is “10, right? I now understand your ingenious approach. You are absolutely correct that the value of the Earth’s radius is unnecessary. I could have simplified by using “R”. I will switch to your less complex computational method (using 10 instead of e).
    As I understand it, the emissivity of a substance/surface is a function of wavelength. While often not a significant factor, radiation from the sun and radiation from the Earth’s surface are in vastly different spectral bands. At the solar frequencies, the Earth’s surface’s absorptivity / emissivity varies greatly, on the average absorbing 70% of the incoming solar radiation under current conditions. However, it’s average absorptivity / emissivity is near 1.0 within the IR range. The “greenhouse effect” is calculated in the IR range. Reflected radiation can be ignored as if it never “arrived” because it is not absorbed by the atmosphere as it “leaves”. Your equation appears to assume that 100% of the incoming radiation is absorbed. To validate the difference in how we interpret physics, I’ll recalculate using my assumption and using your method with the same type of intermediate calculations that I used in my first response. Let me know if I’m confused.
    (( 1.0 – 0.3) x 5.41 x 10 (-6) * 5778 ^ 4 ) ^ % 4 |->| 278.7
    5,778^4 =1.114 x 10^15
    ( 1.0 – 0.3) x 5.41 x 10 (-6) = 3.787 x 10(-6)
    (3.787 x 10(-6) x 1.114 x 10^15) ^ %4 =
    (4.22 x 10^9) ^ %4 = 254.88

  28. As usual the corporate side lies about its role in the global warming scam. Fossil fuel companies are 100% begind cap and trade, despite donating tiny amounts to right wing nut jobs to divert attention from the truth.
    James Hansen writes
    Governments today, instead, talk of “cap-and-trade with offsets”, a system rigged by big banks and fossil fuel interests. Cap-and-trade invites corruption. Worse, it is ineffectual, assuring continued fossil fuel addiction to the last drop and environmental catastrophe.
    These are the criminals
    International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)
    BP, Conoco Philips, Shell, E.ON, EDF , Gazprom, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley.. Goldman Sachs.

  29. Donald Brown asserts:

    As long as there is any possibility that the consensus view is correct no one should claim that there is no evidence for the consensus view as long as evidence exists.

    Fine. There is no possibility that the “consensus view” is correct. As a theory, it has been completely discredited by actual evidence ranging from satellites to deep-diving buoys. Without the enormous investment in propaganda from financiers and obese “green” bureaucracies, it would have been abandoned a decade ago.
    Once again: Show me the exact paragraph in the IPCC’s AR4, WG I, Ch. 9 — which is the only relevant chapter in the whole report, and which is moreover less than 90 pages long, hardly a strain for an academic — where there is any actual scientific evidence supporting this silly hypothesis. After two decades and $100 billion, if there were such a possibility, clearly some evidence would surely have been found. None has.

  30. Thank you for your response.Incidently, I also believe that GenIV nuclear or thorium cycle nuclear are the transition energy sources that can get us to renewable baseload power without destroying the climate.
    I have to take exception to a few comments though. Soon’s paper was published in the Medical Sentinel. It is a rag sent out by the same people that sent out the “Petition Project”. That paper does not look to me like it should have been published anywhere, but the follow up commentaries show plenty of reasons why a scholarly journal dedicated to climate science would not have published it. It doesn’t lend any support to the idea that peer review is similar to the Inquisition. I can’t say for sure but I would be willing to bet that Spencers paper is the same. Spencer mixes a lot of stuff in his work (including politics and religion), but mostly clings to satellite records that have since been corrected and no longer support his beliefs.
    Mainly though , I would like to point out my major problem with your comment. You agree that CO2 causes “some warming”. It is clearly a heat trapping gas. If you wrap a heat emitting body in extra insulation it WILL warm. up We are at 390 ppm and climbing fast. Skeptics base their arguments for inaction on the idea that something MIGHT come along (some feedback, or cosmic rays,the climate fairy or whatever) that invalidates all of the evidence that is accumulating that such a rapid run up in CO2 concentrations can cause serious problems. At what point do you stop waiting for this lifesaving mechanism to show up and take evasive action. The claims of economic devastation are overblown, and there are many studies indicating that transitioning out of a carbon based economy will cause a slowing of the growth of GDP and not a retraction if we get started now.If we wait a few generations the economic toll will be catastrophic. What will we say to that generation? That despite all the evidence we didn’t want to be inconvenienced until we had absolute proof?
    I don’t think this is too far afield from DR. Brown’s original point. If it is , my apologies. The denialists and skeptics that responded tried to make the point that the climate science in question is so vague that the claims made by the fossil fuel industry can’t be considered a deliberate deception, that they are simply making a legitimate interpretation of sketchy data. On that point they are incorrect.

  31. This is not an addiction, we have been snared, booby-trapped, trapped and imprisoned by the fossil fuel industrial complex.
    Attempted genocide would be the closest classification of the crime, I believe.
    Public officials and corporate officials have a responsibility to investigate threats to public welfare and to provide protection, particularly against harm caused by their actions.
    Information on the hazards of continuing to burn fossil fuels has been available since 1980. Evidence has grown stronger since then, the predictions of damage more severe, and the possibility that we are passing the tipping point to unstoppable warming more likely.
    The fact that the actions occur today, and the worst effects occur after 20 and more years, as the excess carbon dioxide slowly overheats the mass of ocean water, does not lessen the culpability. It is just low dose arsenic rather than a gunshot.
    Claims that the information cannot possibly be true do not provide a defense. ‘Yes, I knew the gun was loaded and pointing at him, and I pulled the trigger, but I didn’t know it would kill him.’
    We do know: burning fossil fuels release CO2; CO2 raises temperatures; predicted temperature rises are occurring at the high end of the projections; record setting weather events are occurring more often as predicted.

  32. It’s refreshing to have a rational discussion of this most basic physics .
    The e notation for powers of 10 has been common in computer languages since the days of Fortran nigh on 50 years ago .
    My equation assumes a flat spectrum , that is a neutral gray ball . Thus absorptivity = emissivity = k for all wavelengths and absorptivity from the sun’s approximately 6000k black body spectrum is the same as emissivity from our ball at approximately 1/21 that temperature . Thus the k drops out .
    This assumption is neutral , not only in the sense that a null hypothesis should be neutral in not presupposing some particular spectrum , it separates out average reflectivity , albedo , from spectrum leaving the pure correlation between the spectra of sources , sinks , and sphere as the factor raising or lowering the equilibrium temperature from the simple unweighted sum of impinging energy .
    What most appalls me about the lack of scientific approach to these “climate science” debates is no one seems to actually know how to calculate the temperature of a simple radiantly heated colored ball . I find it inconceivable that anybody could have graduated from a physics program 60 years ago without learning how do the calculation . Yet in 2010 , with the welfare of the world in the balance , I see This one crude , most extreme , in fact impossible , example used as the field’s null hypothesis . Explicitly : that without an atmosphere the earth would have a uniform spectrum exhibiting 0.7 absorptivity with respect to the sun’s approximately 6000k spectrum , yet 1.0 emissivity with respect to earth’s approximately 300k spectrum .
    Something is seriously wrong when , tho the actual measured spectrum of the earth , and of course that of the sun , are available , no one does the actual computation . While I go into more detail , with a few lines of executed Array Programming Language , on my website , I don’t have the time to mess with the actual full spectra of interest , So I’m offering a meager prize of $300 to any student who gathers and confirms the relevant spectra , and works with me to implement the couple of additional lines of APL needed , and calculates precise equilibrium temperatures for various spectra . The “model” will immediately be able to handle any spectral image of the globe .

  33. Bob, I also appreciate the exchange. However, we will not agree on how the physical world works. Increasingly accurate and compelling empirical evidence will settle the public debate about climate science. Many of the same players are pulling the strings in a repeated pattern of stoking confusion to influence public opinion. “Winning” for them is delaying the inevitable.
    Looking at your website I see that we’re about the same age. You develop complex computer applications. I developed computer systems and semi-conductors before retirement. You have an advanced degree in psychophysics from Northwestern . I have a physics B.S. from Caltech. We’re both politically active which is why we both care about how CO2 influences the climate. Science informs political decisions about environmental policy. I’m more comfortable with that process than Libertarians.
    On many specific issues I fully agree with Libertarianism. However, I think that sweeping hidden transaction costs under the carpet of free market dogma introduces a flawed market bias. A fee should be assigned to the right to degrade the environment, otherwise such transactions are subsidized by damage to the commons. Rational consumers and investors don’t make optimal decisions in a distorted market. You might agree in principal, otherwise wouldn’t you be promoting “the environment doesn’t matter” rather than minimizing the risk (probable cost) of climate change? Donald Brown’s essay advocates assigning a high current value to investments that will reduce emissions by emphasizing the ethics of how such investments will benefit our descendants. Ethics, economics, science and politics are vital to devising mechanisms that will deliver the best shot at preserving the civilization upon which personal freedom and prosperity depends.
    Back to Professor Brown’s question , “What do we call such behavior?”. Does “Ecocide” cover it?

  34. Good to hear back from you, Bill – no, indeed we’re not too far off track in discussing the underlying science, the veracity of which is very relevant to Prof. Brown’s topic.
    A few loose ends. Soon’s paper on CO2 does ramble in places, but I found some good solid science in it. Interestingly enough for you and me, the paper advocates nuclear power, as part of a long-winded discussion of energy sources. The Medical Sentinel, by the way, later became the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. As for Spencer’s paper, it’s speculative but plausible and scientifically sound, and I strongly suggest you look it over (you can find it at http://myweb.wwu.edu/dbunny/research/global/pdo/spencer-cloud-cover-pdo.pdf).
    You’re as skeptical about effects such as feedback and cosmic rays as I am about CO2 and warming. But I maintain that if the climate modelers knew how to include these and other phenomena in their models, the predictions would be very different. I started my career in computer simulations and have seen many times just how misleading computer calculations can be. The climate models, about 20 of them, all agree with one another only because they make essentially the same assumptions.
    However, the real issue, which you address later in your post, is the Precautionary Principle (PP) and the costs of curtailing CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, most of the studies on the economic impact of cap-and-trade or a carbon tax are biased one way or the other, simply because they come from folk who are either warmists or skeptics. The impartial studies, for example that done by the US Congressional Budget Office – known for its nonpartisan stance in the political arena – project a significant effect on our society’s poor. You need to consider that even a slowing of GDP, as we’re seeing right now, can have adverse effects on the economy. Our children and grandchildren won’t thank us for passing on astronomical debt, any more than they will for not being mindful of the PP.
    The reality is that the world is going to keep burning coal until the alternatives are viable, which
    is tens of years from now. If you don’t agree with this, consider what’s going on in China which, like it or not, will soon be the world’s largest economy. The Chinese are furiously building fossil fuel power plants, at the same time as they’re becoming the leaders in solar and wind technology.
    Louise S. – If you happen to be reading this, let me just say that we are nowhere near the high end of temperature projections. In fact, we are currently below the low end of climate model predictions. Average global temperatures have been flat, or have even declined slightly, over the last 9 years.

  35. OK, if the IPCC is a literature review, let me rephrase my question:
    Where in AR4, WG I, Ch. 9 is a reference to an article which presents actual evidence of CO2 causation of dangerous warming?
    Interestingly, I have asked this question on many blogs supporting the hysterical warmist position, and some of the evasions were even more transparent than this one. Never, however, have I gotten an actual answer. I invite Dr. B to be the first.

  36. OK, if the IPCC is a literature review, let me rephrase my question:
    Where in AR4, WG I, Ch. 9 is a reference to an article which presents actual evidence of CO2 causation of dangerous warming?
    Interestingly, I have asked this question on many blogs supporting the hysterical warmist position, and some of the evasions were even more transparent than this one. Never, however, have I gotten an actual answer. I invite Dr. B to be the first.

  37. Ralph, you somewhat misstate my position. I am skeptical of the effects of feedbacks until someone documents the effects. I keep seeing skeptical scientists trying to force something, anything, to give them the negative feedbacks that their reality requires, and each time their efforts turn out to be wrong. I am also skeptical of anyone making either of two claims. First, that the evidence for AGW depends critically on the predictions of GCM’s. It does not. That is one component. There are several others. Secondly, that the effects of aerosols or clouds or whatever else distort the predictive skill of climate models to the point that they are completely ineffective. While this was right thirty years ago, climate models, like most everything else technological, have become sophisticated enough to make a valuable contribution to the effort to understand the climate.
    Your link to Spencers paper doesn’t work, but I have read enough of his stuff anyway.
    I think the Precautionary Principle is the essential guide going forward. You make two mistake in your assumptions . First, you note that the CBO analysis predicts a significant effect on our nations poor. That is an easy enough effect to mitigate. Hansen’s cap and dividend is just one example. This notion avoids the fact that in developed countries, increases in energy costs can be offset by using energy efficiently and wisely. The last time energy spiked people carpooled, bought fuel efficient cars and turned off lights when they weren’t using them. The ones that didn’t paid more. But what of the poor in the Maldives or Bangladesh? Does our need to avoid inconvenience or accumulate stuff trump their right to survive? Secondly, the preponderance of the evidence is against you, so our descendants are more likely to suffer from the effects of climate change than debt caused by mitigation. But even if the odds were the same the debt involved would be managable, the effects from global warming won’t. I think we can be cavalier about the potential damage because we won’t personally be around to suffer.
    You are only right about fossil fuels if we dont shift to the Gen IV nuclear to transition us in to a carbon free economy. As long as climate skeptics have their way though, you are probably right. God help us.
    Lastly Ralph, I think your note to Louise is disingenuous. As you know, it is silly to claim that the last few years establish a statistically significant trend. Skeptics usually like to start their trend in 1997, because of the strong El Nino anomaly, But here is relevant data:

  38. It is beyond my comprehension that a supposedly sentient individual has apparently accepted the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming prior to its actual proof in accord with the tenets of scientific method. There is no paleoclimatological evidence; there has been no statistically significant warming and the integrity of a large swath of the data is questionable. The “hockey stick” has been demolished. The role of clouds is not known. Hell, we don’t even know what caused the warming since the LIA. The only other “proof” consist of immensely complex computer models requiring the simultaneous accurate solution of scores of non-linear equations.

  39. Sorry about the URL, Bill. Try this shorter version instead (the paper is on Don Easterbrook’s website): http://myweb.wwu.edu/dbunny/research/global/pdo/ I’m going to be brief, as I also want to add something to another sub-debate on this site, the technical debate about the natural greenhouse effect.
    But a couple of things. If only we could be induced to use energy efficiently and wisely as you suggest, we probably wouldn’t even be having this debate. However, I’m cynical enough to believe that, at least in the US, we’ll continue to waste a lot of energy. And you may have forgotten that during the 70s energy crisis, we had roaring inflation and the economy was a mess, despite all the carpooling and energy consciousness. Countries like Bangladesh desperately need access to cheap fossil-fuel energy, while it lasts, to industrialize and raise their standard of living. That’s why I mentioned China.
    As for my note to Louise, what is disingenuous is the habit of those skeptics who measure the present temperature decline from the peak of the 1997-1998 El Nino – as you say. But I was careful to date the start of falling temperatures to 2001-2002, when the mercury was steadier. I personally don’t trust the GISS data because they’re constantly changing recent numbers, along with switching the warmest year on record, and they use only extrapolation at polar latitudes. Oddly enough, despite the Climategate revelations, I prefer the HadCRUT temperature record. This shows an ummistakable drop of more than O.15 degrees C since late 2001 until the onset of the current El Nino a year ago.
    While 8 years certainly doesn’t establish a long-term trend, it’s as long a period and the rate of change is as high as when Hansen first made his presentation to Congress in the 1980s. Furthermore, a cooling of even 0.15 degrees is very significant when you look at the IPCC’s projections, which predicted WARMING of about 0.16 degrees C for the same interval.

  40. It is refreshing to see a skeptic and a non-skeptic interchange reasonable views on climate change science. This is not what the original article was about. The original article was about the evil of obvious distortions being circulated by some in the disinformation campaign including the claim that there there is no evidence of human causation and that the consensus view referred to by 18 Academies of Science around the world have been “completely debunked” These are obviously false. One may be reasonably skeptical of whether the models have it right without claiming there is no evidence of human causation or that the scientific support for the consensus view has been “completely debunked.” As a matter of ethics if it is possible that the consensus view is correct than ethical questions arise about who should have the burden of proof and what quantitiy of proof should satisfy the burden of proof. It is particularly important to see these ethical questions if harm can be done while uncertainties are being worked out. In other words, duties to act may exist in the face of uncertainty particularly in cases where it is others who will be harmed by delay and if one waits until all uncertainties are worked out it it too late to protect others who have not consented to wait.

  41. Bob and Charles – I’ve been following your mini debate, on the magnitude of the natural greenhouse effect, with fascination. That’s because you’re discussing a question that’s never been satisfactorily resolved in the scientific literature, as you probably know. There are publications, some going back 50 years or so, that support Charles’ 255K estimate of the Earth’s temperature without an atmosphere, and others that support 272K, close to Bob’s 279K.
    Rather than get into technical details myself, let me refer you to a good summary at http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ (see How much does the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ warm the Earth?). This is a skeptical website, but it includes some excellent and accurate background material on global warming science. You’ll find there, Bob, a slightly more refined calculation than yours that leads to a gray ball temperature of 272K.
    Also in the same section is a discussion of where the 255K estimate comes from. This estimate assumes an albedo (reflectivity) of 0.3 from an Earth with no atmosphere. But that really isn’t valid since half the albedo normally comes from clouds, which wouldn’t be present above a frozen Earth without an atmosphere. And as Mike pointed out in his post on November 2, there is also convection to consider – which makes it all more complicated yet.

  42. Prof. Brown – as Bill Logan and I have mentioned in our posts, we know we’ve been somewhat off track. But the underlying science matters for any discussion of ethics, because it involves the question of whether global warming by 2100 is going to be a negligible 0.5-1.0 degrees C (as skeptics maintain) or the 2 to 4.5 degrees predicted by warmists. You won’t hear much more from me, at least for now, as I’m taking a short vacation.

  43. I did not mean to connote anything other then a welcoming of reasonable scientific debate. I am glad you have done this, agree that the science is critical to the debate about ethics, and am happy to see reasonable exchanges about the science.. I, however, wanted to point out that this does not change my conclusion that complete distortions of the science are ethically reprehensible. This is not what I saw in some of your recent exchanges.

  44. I’m not sure what you “saw in some of our recent exchanges”, but my position is this. I believe that there is warming, though less than it’s made out to be; that it comes mostly from natural climate cycles and not human CO2; and that the indications are the total warming will be minimal. That said, I have little time for those on either side of the debate who bend the truth, alarmists or skeptics alike. And I’m no fan of oil or other fossil fuel companies either, for a variety of reasons. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

  45. Ralph, Quick response. Will read the JunkScience article tomorrow.
    The 255K estimate communicates the MATH of calculating atmospheric radiative forcing. In that context, all other variables must remain constant.
    You correctly state that variables effecting the heat budget are not independent. When the non-condensing gas, CO2, is removed from climate models, the absolute humidity drops as temperatures fall. That would reinforce cooling under that hypothetical scenario. Cloud cover would also decrease, and indeed would independently represent decreased albedo. On the other hand, a cooling surface would be covered with more ice which would increase albedo. An Earth without CO2 would be a very cold planet.

  46. Ralph Alexander:
    1) The Greenhouse Effect works, given absorption/emission spectra of greenhouse gases, the sort of stuff we learned in sophomore physics at PSU ~1965. For them not to work, you have to throw out most of modern physics, including quantum mechanics.
    2) We know that the big increase of CO2 since the Industrial Revolution is due to human burning of fossil fuel. We know because the ratios of carbon isotopes has changed in ways only explainable that way:
    3) If solar irradiance is more-or-less constant (modulo sunspot cycles), which it has been for a while, then about the same energy is coming to Earth.
    Higher GHGs reduce outward radiation, and since Conservation of energy is The Law (sophomore physics again), the Earth gets hotter until it radiates more strongly enough to balance.
    The usual analogy is a bathtub, constant inflow from faucet, drain slowly getting plugged up, water rises until the pressure is enough to balance.
    4) So, I am afraid your position seems to be that modern physics does not work, typed on a computer whose semiconductors depend on quantum mechanics and transmitted via fibre optics systems that do also.
    5) If anyone cares what happens to their parts of the US, I recommend a great, readable book from 2009 by the US Global Climate Research Program:
    Each US region is covered by 5-6 pages, since the effects differ. Share with grandchildren so they can figure out if they’ll need to move.

  47. Ralph , isn’t that calculation for an idealized planetary greybody with an albedo of .3? I don’t think the cause of the albedo is relevant at this point. I think this gives a baseline temperature that excludes GHG radiative forcing, allowing an idea of what the strength of the greenhouse effect is.

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