Halfway through March Madness

At the start of the month, in my 100th blog post, I dedicated myself to posting daily through March. So far, so good: I’ve had more hits and almost as many comments on my blog so far this month than I did in the entire time up until now. That’s largely due to my frogging post being featured on the front page of wordpress.com after following the advice of Kathy at Lake Superior Spirit. However, I’ve also been flaunting my blog a bit more on facebook (my poor friends are probably sick of seeing the notifications…) and have investigated some other sharing options. I’m doing it partly because it’d be cool to know more people are reading my stuff, but also because I want to try to understand how traffic flows around the internet. What interests people? How can you find material that you like among the sea of miscellany?

My very own hockey stick. April could be a brave new world...

I’ve also had a (now ended) tangle with a climate change denier unbeliever, in which I refrained from arguing on the climate science and instead tried to unpick dear Roger’s motivations and understanding of the process of science (despite pointed hints James at talkingnature.com that I was wasting my time – perhaps, James, you were right!). It was an interesting experience, which taught me a few things: one is that non-scientists (well, at least one, but I have no reason to suspect his views are unique) in this debate claim to understand what science is and what scientists are, better than actual scientists. Literally:

“I have to say that you dont come accross as “literally a research scientist””

“I dont believe you know much about science at all.”

“if you think AGW is a fact you are hardly a scientist”

“every scientists and intelligent lay person knows that the AGW hypothesis is unprovable”

I’ve done a bit of head-on-brick-wall-bashing arguing with creationists about evolution in the past, and I pride myself on being as civil and fair as possible, but it can really make me grind my teeth. As I pointed out to Roger, many of the people I work with are actively engaged in various aspects of climate change research. Skeptics and deniers who make outlandish claims about scientists ‘cooking the books’ are attacking the honesty and professional integrity of my colleagues – I won’t say peers, because they are all much more knowledgeable about climate change and their own areas of specialisation than I am!

Anyway, there’s plenty in the pipeline for the rest of the month: continuation of the toxicity and behaviour change series I’ve started; a new photographic experience (oooh, mysterious!), plus my thoughts on nuclear power, slime, spin and more. I hope you’re finding March Madness as interesting as I am!

Categories: Random Links, Thoughts | Tags: , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Halfway through March Madness

  1. Looks like your hits are sky-rocketing!! Way to go, David. Funny comment about “frogging”. I only put my blog on FB sometimes because after awhile some people do seem to get annoyed. Good luck with all of this!

    • Thanks Kathy! Yes, I think I might turn off the automatic notification I had set up. I’m pretty sure it is increasing my views, but I’m also pretty sure it’s getting old for those who have to see it every day… maybe when I go back to posting a bit more irregularly, it will serve its purpose better.

  2. M@

    Heh; maybe this isn’t the time or place to mention I have an irrational (but not entirely serious) hope that science shoud rid itself of diplomacy… For lols, imagine a stream of scientific dissent against reviewers – giving scientists a good stern, unjustified talking to. I mean how kick arse would it be if you actually saw something like this in peer reviewed literature:
    “So essentially… they dicked around with some reagents and found that their precious Hat-3 recombinant construct autophosphorylates itself… how many times do you have to be told that your theory sucks ass”.


    Congratulations David for hitting 100 posts and the recent upsurge of web-traffic. It looks like people are starting to really embrace your work. You make a great spokesman for science.

    • Thanks M@! I’m hoping that this blog is just the start of a career in which I can play a role sharing information and helping people understand the world.

      And I totally agree with the notion of having a street-speak review system: there’s been a couple of papers in the area I’m researching where I’ve wanted to write “You’ve ignored principles of high-school level statistics to make your conclusions here, and all I can assume is that your brain is as bent as your supposedly linear graphs! And you didn’t cite my work on the same subject, which included the conclusions of your paper as not much more than a half-sentence in the methods, because your work is so trivial. Jerk.”

  3. rogerthesurf


    I like it, he calls me “climate change denier unbeliever” probably because the facts I present can have no other answer.

    Is this some sort of new religion then?



  4. rogerthesurf


    Of course its not a crime to admit you’ve been wrong.

    Thanks for the links, I went through some of them.

    Now it appears that you havent read my blog or taken in anything of it at all.

    You see my blog points out some of the historic unassailable facts showing the the world has been warmer than this before. Of course, if the world has been warmer than this before, one has to seriously ask why we are blaming CO2 this time around.

    I hasten to add, that at no time do I assert that the planet does not need looking after, just that chasing after CO2 is a pointless exercise which will do nothing for the planet.

    So when I checked out some of your references, of course I was looking for their slant on historical incontrovertial facts.

    Instead this is what I found.

    Solomon, History is not considered in the paper, instead it is based on climate models which are based on the unprovable AGW theory, and although it may have some logic if the AGW theory was proven it is simply no different from a long range weather forecast.

    I could only find the abstract of Peng but once again he is not dealing with history, just some current effects on contemporary rice growing.

    Westerling seems largely irrelevant in that he records the changes in the fire danger caused by longer dry periods and then quotes IPCC forcasts (which once again based on the unproven AGW theory).

    Morgan seemed to support the fact that increased CO2 concentrations caused more growth of woody plants. I thought that would have been a good thing as it shows a natural tendency to more carbon sinks. However he is worried about woody plants invading grazing land. Puzzling that this paper was included, because AGW theorists want to do away with grazing land and plant forests, which is exactly what woody plants are.

    MCabe starts off with the statement “The high demand for water, the recent multiyear drought (1999–2007), and projections of global warming have raised questions about the long-term sustainability of water supply in the southwestern United States”
    Once again based on the erroneous projections from the IPCC et al.

    Epstein caught my attention. Malaria is not a tropical disease. Used to be rampant in the UK, US and New ZSealand to name just a few countries. It was stamped out by public health measures. Malaria is a disease of poverty stricken countries who do not have the resources to stamp it out.
    Although I know less about dengue fever, the fact that it is mosquito borne as is malaria implies that the same comments I make on malaria apply.

    The fact remains that these diseases have nothing to do with climate change, just in the particular countries ability to carry out preventitive and irradication activities. Epstein does not mention historical distribution of malaria which is definitely a serious oversite. Once again he quotes IPCC and AGW theory to somehow connect his paper to Global Warming. http://www.malariasite.com/MALARIA/history_parasite.htm is an authorative site on malaria. Read carefully the paragraph on its geographic spread in the 19th century.

    So Im afraid that your references that I have studied, which you would also do well to study as well, lend no support to the AGW theory. They would certainly have some effect on impressionable people and bolster other people’s faith though.

    Now why dont you study my blog again and read the references, and then come up with something factual that contradicts the assertions found there. Would be only fair wouldn’t it?



    PS I also examined our comments history etc on this subject and I could not find where you have even attempted to address the issues raised in my blog.

    • Roger, your entire argument can be summed up with “There was a warm period in some parts of the world in the relatively recent past, so AGW isn’t happening.”

      That’s it, as far as I can tell. Correct me if it’s a misrepresentation. You cite graphs which are of such a large timescale that the last few hundred years would be less than a single pixel wide.


      Explain to me why the MWP contradicts CO2-induced climate change. You simply haven’t made that connection anywhere that I’ve seen. For your argument to be credible, you need to show why the currently proposed mechanism (CO2 forcing) is inferior as an explanation to an alternative. Why are we currently experiencing warming? What caused the MWP, and why should we believe it is the same process happening now?

      Right now, you’ve not made a case which needs answering.

  5. rogerthesurf


    Your link does not address the point and once again the explanation assumes that the AGW theory and the models based upon it are true. Remember we are considering the AGW hypothesis itself which even the IPCC draws short of calling it fact.

    If the climate has been warmer that the present at least once before, we should be wary about the Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming hypothesis, but actually it has been warmer (and colder) many times and at least three of those times within human history.
    The graph at http://rogerfromnewzealand.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/holocene_delta_t_and_delta_co2_full2.jpg which comes from the well referenced work of Nahle illustrates the above fact clearly. The red line is averaged from a number of different sources.
    Note also that CO2 levels are documented in this graph also.
    All of those warmer periods have names such as “The Holocene Optimum”, “Minoan Warm Period”, “Roman Warming” as well as the “Medieval Warm Period” etc.
    In my blog, the archaeological findings at Schnidejoch simply reinforce the facts in that graph. The original site is http://www.welt.de/print-welt/article177591/Steinzeitliche_Handelswege.html but you may find http://climateaudit.org/2005/11/18/archaeological-finds-in-retreating-swiss-glacier/ easier to read.

    Therefore we have to ask, if the world has been regularly warmer than this before (a number of times in recorded history, (in the absence of anthropogenic or any other CO2 concentrations), why should we blame CO2 this time round?

    This does not absolve us from the responsibility of looking after the planet etc. but considering that we are being urged to break our economies over the unproven Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming hypothesis, we better be damn sure that it is an issue.

    The main reason that I have become interested in this subject is because as an economist, I am acutely aware of what the IPCC CO2 emission reduction proposals will do to our economies, our way of life and current resources allocated to looking after the planet.



  6. Roger, I don’t know if you’ve looked up the source of the graph you cite (Bond et al 2001): It’s for the north atlantic region, and explains how solar variation influences wind and weather patterns and a 1500-year broad cycle. Temporal resolution for the series is 30-50 years, which indicates that the only last data point or two in the series are relevant to AGW.

    So, as evidence against AGW, it fails because it is (a) regional, not global and (b) says little about recent warming (some of the proxies used to create the temperature graph don’t even cover the past few decades when CO2 increase is most dramatic).

    “why should we blame CO2 this time round?”

    You tell me. Please. Explain to me the logic behind why we could be blaming CO2 for the current increase – even if you don’t agree with it.

    I ask that you do this because I want to know if you actually understand the arguments in support of AGW. Show me that you understand the chain of logic which connects CO2 with recent warming, and explain the reasons why you reject that logic.

  7. rogerthesurf

    100 posts? (I think she means hits)

    Wow is that cumulative?

    Sometimes I get over 100 in a day:)

    • No, posts. I’ve now posted over 100 times on this blog. Hits… I had more than 4000 in March. However, I’d write this blog even if I only got five hits a day. If your point was to belittle me, you’ve not done very well.

  8. rogerthesurf


    The graph goes as far south as the Sagasso Sea.

    Your statement about the last data points is irrelevant unless you are disputing whether the current warming is less than the historical ones.

    However if you are wondering if these warm periods are global:
    Here are some links about the medieval warm period which show it was not local.
    I take it you looked at the links about Greenland, Switzerland, Greenland ice cores and the US on my blog. Well here is an anecdotal one about Spain.

    Of course the medieval warm period shows up in other literature as well, such as
    or if you want to read “Grove, J.M. 988:The little ice age.by methuen.
    Warm periods are well documented by other cultures eg http://www.springerlink.com/content/gh98230822m7g01l/ etc where the historical history of China’s climate is examined.
    Medieval warming and earlier periods are even suggested in the Antarctic Ice core project.

    But anyway the point of my blog is that the current warming is nothing extraordinary as the world climate has always fluctuated, even in the absence of significant levels of CO2, and therefore any connection to CO2 is simply an unproven and unlikely hypotheisis.

    Of course I understand the logic behind the AGW theory. Unfortunately as the whole logic stands upon an unproveable and disproven hypothesis, it dose not actually stand for very much.

    I’m sorry that this may offend your faith or beliefs, but exploring supporting and disproving factors of any hypothesis as well as using empirical proof, have always been a key method of advancing science and it is distressing to see it discarded in the case of AGW.
    I think few understand what is at stake currently, and the danger does not come from the threat of the planet overheating, but rather the certain effects of the IPCC proposed Carbon Emission reductions.

    Im sorry that my new blog on that subject is taking so long but keep a look out for it.



    • “Of course I understand the logic behind the AGW theory. Unfortunately as the whole logic stands upon an unproveable and disproven hypothesis, it dose not actually stand for very much.”

      Aha. I get it. You’re thinking in the wrong order.

      The logic doesn’t stand on the hypothesis or theory. It’s the other way around. Global warming theory seeks to explain observed changes using physical principles, which are arrived at by a process of logical deduction. One such logical deduction is that, if CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs outgoing IR radiation, changing the atmospheric CO2 concentration will affect the earth’s energy balance. Observation -> deduction.

      You, on the other hand, first dismiss the theory, then rule out the logic associated with it because it supports the theory. That’s not how logic works. It is, however, illuminating for me, because until now I wasn’t ‘getting’ how you could miss the connection between CO2 and warming. Now I do. You reject AGW, and by default the mechanisms for it must be wrong.

      Thanks for your reply.

  9. rogerthesurf

    Well David,

    Thank goodness you understand what I am getting at at last.

    It certainly has been a struggle to explain to you what a simple reading of my blog should have done. To be honest, everyone except yourself and Ed Darrell understand my blog at first reading.

    If you are happy believing a theory without empirical evidence, well thats your right.

    To be honest though, you better review your logical thinking.

    Did I ever suggest you watch this video of the sequences leading up to a terrible plane crash.
    Well I suggest you do because it is example of your sort of thinking being so terribly wrong.

    If you are too proud to try and understand what I am trying to convey to you well thats your problem.



    • Wow, Roger. That really encapsulates our entire dialogue to date. I’ve been getting completely different information out of your posts than what you’ve been writing.

      I’ve understood your position, as stated on your blog and repeated over and over in your posts, from the start. It’s simple to the point of being trivial, and explains nothing. I don’t find it compelling.

      However, you seem to equate me disagreeing with you as me not understanding you. That’s not the case. I understand that you think AGW is disproved by the MWP. What I haven’t seen from you is any attempt to actually propose a specific mechanism or reason WHY that is the case, or to grapple with any of the lines of evidence linking greenhouse emissions to warming.

  10. rogerthesurf

    If you understood my position from the start it certainly didn’t show very well.

    Yes it is simple, and if we are going to blame the current warming on something else than just another natural cycle (and it is well within the limits so far), we better have some very good empirical evidence to show that it is different.

    The fact is, all there is is a lot of modeling based on unproven theories and some records that show there was a warming up til about 1990 and probably none since then. There is no evidence to suggest that this is different from history, only a lot of speculation, exaggeration and scaremongering.

    So what you should be doing is looking for empirical evidence, not spouting theories which even the IPCC are not prepared to claim as being fact.

    And why dont you watch carefully that video I suggested. It is an excellent example of a hypothesis, a coincidental event that appeared to support it and the terrible event when the hypothesis (that could have so easily been disproven) proved false.

    Mind you, based on your conversation record with me, you might have a little trouble seeing the point.



  11. Natural variation is not, in itself, a climate driver. Variation in a whole range of factors – sunspots, orbit eccentricities, albedo and cloud cover, aerosols, ocean currents and greenhouse gases, among other things, combines to affect global temperatures.

    Your argument fails because it doesn’t address any of these, at all, except to write off CO2. We have a situation where one known climate driver is being pushed up (greenhouse gases), temperature is rising, and variability in the other drivers cannot explain the rising temperature.

    I guess I took so long to realise exactly what your position was because I struggled to believe it would be so blunt and unsubtle as it is.

    Throwing up your hands and shouting that “It’s all natural” doesn’t (a) explain recent warming, (b) predict future trends or (c) expose the idea to falsification. And that’s why you’re not a scientist.

  12. rogerthesurf

    David, if you are a scientist you are a very poor one because you don’t appear to understand what a hypothesis actually is.
    I haven’t written off anything, I am simply asking you for some empirical evidence that supports the anthropogenic co2 causes global warming hypothesis.
    The short truth is that you can’t and I can understand that because there isn’t any.

    It is important that the hypothesis is 100% certain because people are already dying because of the rise in food prices caused by plantings for bio fuel.
    If the IPCC has its way, millions more will die also, and I would not rule out poverty and starvation in your city.

    Now if you watched that video closely you may pick up a few clues, but you appear too arrogant to do that. I on the other hand have always examined your “evidence” and given a good explanation why it isn’t valid.



    • In one breath, you ask for 100% certainty for the AGW hypothesis (a cursory understanding of the scientific term ‘hypothesis’ and the way science works would tell you that 100% certainty is never possible in a natural system), then make a claim that millions will die as a result of the implementation of IPCC recommendations, without providing any evidence to support the assertion.

      “I am simply asking you for some empirical evidence that supports the anthropogenic co2 causes global warming hypothesis.
      The short truth is that you can’t and I can understand that because there isn’t any.”

      Do you even read what you’re writing? You ask a question which you’ve already decided the answer to. Way to keep an open mind, Roger.

  13. rogerthesurf


    Do you think I would be arguing all this without careful research beforehand?

    100% certainty is absolutely possible for any hypothesis if there is supporting emperical evidence.
    If you come up with some supporting emperical evidence for the “anthropogenic co2 causes global warming” hypothesis I shall be most interested in examining it. However as I said before I also know, as you also know, there is none.
    I apologise for the lack of references about the starvation and millions dying. These are being prepared in my long awaited economic effects of IPCC policies.
    In the mean time you may take note that there is precious little discussion from the IPCC in that sphere.

    I again suggest you watch the video I suggested and do some hard thinking.




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