Bill Totten's Weblog

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic

by Coby Beck

A Few Things Ill Considered (February 19 2006)

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming

I have spent about eighteen months now rather obsessed with the controversy over Global Warming. Firstly, as a matter of disclosure, IANACS (I Am Not A Climate Scientist) but rather an intelligent layman who is concerned about an issue with ramifications for all of us. That said, I have read and discussed and enquired about a great deal of the scientific material that is out there and quite easily accessible. The scientific case is actually not that difficult to follow even if you lack the specific and highly technical knowledge required to create it.

One thing I have noticed over these months is that there are a very limited number of objections or attacks on what is really very sound and well resolved science but they come up over and over again on sci.environment, and the blogs I visit either regularily or occasionally. I think this is an important debate and I want to help fight the good fight.

Now there are already a few very good FAQ's out there about the science, so I don't feel the need to create yet another. Rather what I would like to do is provide a layman's guide to defending against the assorted specious attacks that are out there, both by pointing out the basic logical fallacies they are based on and providing some appropriate reference material to avoid the typical "is too, is not" exchanges these things frequently devolve into. Nothing like a nice link to an authoritative resource to refute the factually incorrect pontifications. Nothing like a calmly presented and solidly logical rebuttal to put the scaliwags in their place!

I invite suggestions for other Guide topics and any and all scientific corrections or clarifications. Any advice I do take up, I reserve the right to delete from the comments just to keep a coherent page.

So without further ado here are links to the best responses I can think of for the following climate sceptic arguments, please feel free to refer to, paraphrase or quote as desired:
groups the Guide topics by category and contains a link to each topic.
contains a link to each Guide topic, as listed here:

There is no real evidence of warming, just model predictions.

Global Warming is nothing but an environmentalist hoax.

One warmest year on record is not global warming.

The surface temperature record is so full of assumptions and corrections that it only says what the scientists want.

In the 1970's they said a new ice age was coming.

Global temperatures over just one hundred years doesn't mean anything.

Glaciers have always grown and receded. A few glaciers receeding today is not proof of Global Warming.

Climate scientist are trying to hide the dominant role of water vapor in Global Warming.

H2O is the only significant greenhouse gas.

There is no proof that CO2 is what is causing the temperature to go up.

The current warming is just a part of natural variations, humans have nothing to do with it.

It was even warmer during the Holocene Climatic Optimum

The Medieval Warm Period was just as warm as it is today.

All in all, a warmer climate sounds like a good thing.

Reducing fossil fuel usage is mass suicide.

Even if we fully implemented the Kyoto protocol it would have virtually no effect on the temperature even by mid 21st century.

Why do India and China get a free pass? That's not fair, no wonder the US did not join.

But there is Global Warming on Mars, without any SUV's or human influence at all.

It was very cold in Wagga Wagga today, this proves there is no Global Warming.

The ice core records show clearly that CO2 rising is an effect of rising temperatures, not a cause.
There is no consensus yet on the cause or even the reality of Global Warming.

Ice sheets in the Antarctic are growing which proves Global Warming isn't real.

Volcanoes emit way more CO2 than people, so emissions controls would be useless.

Global Warming is an illusion caused by the Urban Heat Island Effect.

We can't even predict the weather next week, forget about 100 years from now!

Greenland used to be nice and warm and the vikings lived there happily until the Little Ice Age.

Climate is a chaotic system and just like the stock market, forget about predicting where it will go.

The models are unproven and therefore unreliable.

Satellites are more reliable and they show cooling.

But the temperature dropped all through the 40's and 50's while CO2 rose, there must be something else going on.

The Null Hypotheis says the warming is natural.

Geological history is full of periods where CO2 was high and temperatures were low and vice versa.

The climate is always changing, no reason to think it is our fault.

Natural emissions of carbon are 30 times bigger than human emissions, so any reductions are useless.

CO2 is measured on Mauna Loa, which is an active volcano. That is why the levels are so high

Global Warming began about 20,000 years ago, humans have nothing to do with it.

Even if the ice caps melt, the water will go into the ground underneath.

CO2 has risen on its own before, no reason to assume it is our fault.

The Hockey Stick is broken, global warming theory falls apart.

No one knows how confident the models really are.

There is no historical precedent for CO2 causing warming, it is the opposite.

James Hansen is being an alarmist, just like before.

Position statements hide legitimate scientific debate.

Climate Models don't even take cloud effects into consideration.

Global Warming stopped eight years ago!

Global warming is caused by the sun, of course.

The United States actually absorbs more CO2 than it emits.

Most of the glaciers are growing, just a few are shrinking.

If we don't understand the past, how can we understand the present?

Global Dimming is stronger in the north, so how come it is not warming more in the south?

"Probaby", "likely", "evidence suggests". Even the scientist aren't sure AGW is real!

Sea ice in the Antarctic is growing.

This alledged consensus is just because scientists are afraid to speak out.

Some locations are actually cooling, which shouldn't happen if there is global warming.

The small observed warming shows that the climate models are overestimating CO2's importance.

Sea level measurments in the Arctic Ocean show that it is falling, not rising!

Today's warming is just a natural rebound from the Little Ice Age.

AGW theory is not even scientific because you can not do experiments and make predictions.

Bill Totten


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