The Ergosphere
Thursday, December 13, 2007

An irritation of trolls

Once upon a time, the English played a game of creating collective nouns.  It is from this that we get "a gaggle of geese", "a murder of crows", and so forth.

The Internet creates a need for terms to describe new things and phenomena.  I nominate "an irritation of trolls" for a 21st-century collective noun.  There are a number of them plaguing blogs such as Green Car Congress and The Energy Blog, posting and re-posting the same absolute nonsense over and over.  This behavior is eerily Rove-ian (though its origins go back much further), and makes me suspect that these are paid denialists, trying to put their talking points everywhere.  (Well, some of them.  At least one of them is either a travesty generator or so batshit insane that he will contradict himself outright within the space of 3 paragraphs.  But I digress.)

This post started as a response in the Sandia thread at Green Car Congress, but the spam filter won't allow it to be posted.  I'm not going to let it go to waste, so it appears here.

I was 60% of the way through ripping Arthur a new one last night, when Windoze crashed and lost all my work.  But it's dinner time and I've got some time to write, so here it goes again.
I ... saw the "Ice Age" (news media) hysteria in the 70's. There was just as much "scientific consensus" then as now.
No there wasn't, and you wouldn't have known it.  What's happened in the mean time can be summed up in two words:  The Internet.  The "new ice age" articles of the 70's had no significant climate modeling behind them; how could they, when computers were so slow and whole categories of scientific data from ice cores to satellite measurements of temperature and ice cover and borehole reconstructions of recent temperature history did not yet exist?  And almost nobody reading the magazines would have known that the whole thing was essentially a media craze, because all the data was in journals in research libraries to which few people had access.  Today, it's the Internet which allows anyone to look at the scientific literature and see that it's AGW denial which exists only in the media; there is no science to it.

The "new ice age" came essentially from one thing:  reconstructions of glacial history associated with Milankovitch cycles.  By the cycles, we are indeed about due for renewed glaciation (which observations did not support then, or now).  This led straight to the question of why we don't see glaciation despite Earth's orbital state predisposing the climate in that direction.  The research into this is what grew into today's IPCC reports.

Arthur gets up to the level of one major falsehood per claim:

Any theory must explain known facts, be testable, and be predictive. CO2-caused-climate-change falls on its face on all three conditions.
That's what the propagandists say for the press, and the press quotes them for the sake of "balance".  But there's no truth to it.
It doesn't explain the ice core data that shows that CO2 levels follow temperature trends.
Yes it does.  CO2 in natural systems has large feedback effects; heating reduces the CO2 capacity of seawater and causes droughts, both of which lead to more CO2 going into the air rather than the oceans or biomass.  A heating trend can be started by other influences but sustain itself through CO2 feedback.  Of course, the same thing could be started by emitting CO2.
It goes counter to the natural temperature cycles that caused cooling from the 30's to the 70's while anthropogenic CO2 emissions were increasing.
Emissions of sulfates and other reflective particulates were also increasing until the passage of the Clean Air Act.  In China, they're still going up.  These particulates reflect sunlight and cause cooling ("global dimming").

The particulates have an atmospheric lifespan of days to weeks; CO2, from decades to centuries.  As soon as pollution controls or depletion of coal cuts the particulates, the signal from CO2-induced warming will be unopposed.

And the troposphere does not show the warming that was predicted to prove the theory.
That's a flat-out lie.  The signal from ground-based thermometry showed it clearly, but there was contradictory data from radiosondes and satellite measurements.  Something was clearly being measured wrong.  It turned out that some of the data did indeed have systematic errors:If the "scientists" claiming that AGW is a hoax were doing science, why didn't they discover these problems first, and show that correcting them made the signal disappear?  It's because there is no science on the denial side.
Since it isn't explanatory, testable, or predictive, it must be political.
That is the exact status of AGW-denialism:  explains nothing, fails all the tests, and fails to predict the droughts, ice loss and warming.  It has traction only because it has committed financial and ideological supporters, just like the evolution denialists.  Projection is their common trait. 
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