Intellectual Pauper

In a letter to The Londoner entitled Some dubious claims Mr Peter Pauper criticizes some local personalities and politicians.

Arguments to every one of Mr Pauper’s points can be found at How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic, at And once you wade through the crumbling structure of Logical Fallacies Mr. Pauper tosses in our torturous path to the end of his letter we are left with only one criticism; What we are left with is the tale of a judge who at the behest of a truck driver decided that An Inconvenient Truth was too scary for kids to see without a warning that the film was scary. Ohh, don’t scare us please.

This trail of rubble pile of Logical Fallacies follows:

PP: Ad Hominum: “I don’t know which subjects Gord taught before he retired, but he is clearly no more a climate scientist than Mr. Gore is.”

PP: Appeal to Authourity: “Gord might be interested to know that some of the claims made in Mr. Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, were examined by a British court last fall.”

PP: Straw Man: “The judge ruled the film was politically partisan and rather than being an impartial analysis of the science of climate change”

Is the film partisan? Very probably. When ever does it make the claim to be an objective examination? Yes, It’s a political film. Is the film alarmist?  Does that deny the underlying science is valid? No.

From Real Climate

There are a few scientific errors that are important in the film.…

For the most part, I think Gore gets the science right, just as he did in Earth in the Balance. The small errors don’t detract from Gore’s main point, which is that we in the United States have the technological and institutional ability to have a significant impact on the future trajectory of climate change. This is not entirely a scientific issue — indeed, Gore repeatedly makes the point that it is a moral issue “

Even as Peter Pauper denigrates Gore’s and Gord’s conclusions because they ‘aren’t climate scientists’, he infers the Judge, because he is a judge of law is more of an authority on the science. He is a judge of the law, not a judge of science.

Here are three stories from a Google search from October of 2007:

British judge says Al Gore’s climate change film contains 9 scientific errors

High Court Judge Michael Burton said he had no doubt that the points raised in “An Inconvenient Truth” about the causes and likely effects of climate change were broadly accurate, but in a ruling published Wednesday he wrote that they were made in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration.””


“Agreeing that Mr Gore’s film was ‘broadly accurate’ on the subject of climate change, he found that errors had arisen in ‘the context of alarmism and exaggeration’.”

U.K. judge: Gore film biased but OK in schools

It was a partial victory for claimant Stewart Dimmock, a truck driver from Dover, a port city in southeastern England, who works part-time on a school board. Dimmock has said he is fighting to have his children to be educated in an environment “free from bias and political spin.”

“Climate change is important,’ he added, “but it should be taught to children in a neutral and measured manner. Indoctrinating school children in this manner is unprecedented and unacceptable.”

Some comments from the Blog, Real Climate, Climate Change from Climate Scientists:

The debate is just beginning — on the Cretaceous!

In a lawyerly debate, it is fair game for each side to pick and choose whatever argument has the most persuasive force with the audience, jury or judge, without any obligation to consider the force of counter-arguments except insofar as they affect one’s defense against the opponent. Science, in contrast, is a deliberative, cooperative, yet still competitive enterprise, where each side is duty bound to fairly consider all arguments and data that bear on the matter at hand. This is not to say that scientific disputes are necessarily dispassionate or orderly.”

“Last week, a UK High Court judge rejected a call to restrict the showing of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (AIT) in British schools. The judge, Justice Burton found that “Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate” (which accords with our original assessment). There has been a lot of comment and controversy over this decision because of the judges commentary on 9 alleged “errors” (note the quotation marks!) in the movie’s description of the science. The judge referred to these as ‘errors’ in quotations precisely to emphasize that, while these were points that could be contested, it was not clear that they were actually errors (see Deltoid for more on that).

Andy Revkin, who’s one of the best journalists on the climate beat, wrote a curious piece in the NY Times discussing the ‘middle stance’ of the climate debate. It’s nice to see news pieces on climate that aren’t breathless accounts of a new breakthough and that take the time to point out that the vast majority of relevant scientists take climate change extremely seriously.”

PP: Ad Hominum: “Gord Harrison’s playmate, Mr. Pearson claims,”

PP: “the vast majority of scientists – now more than 90 per cent – concur with Mr. Gore’s findings.” I’d be interested to hear the source of that claim.” has a source on this. I don’t say that Wikipedia is his source. This page is a list of major scientific organizations with summaries of their opinions.

PP: Appeal to Ridicule:  “It reminds me of the old joke that 75 per cent of statistics are made up.”

PP: Appeal to Authority again: “According to the judge, Mr. Gore’s apocalyptic views are, in fact, not shared by the majority of scientists. I’m sure it’s true that a majority of scientists would agree the planet is currently warming”

PP: Appeal to Authority: “but according to Professor Lindzen of MIT, that warming consists of a barely discernible one-degree increase in the global mean temperature since the late 19th century.”

Here is a source for the paper:

CATO is not a science journal. The page is headlined as “Individual Liberty, Free Markets and Peace”. A right wing tank. Keep your bias filters on.

From Climate of Fear 

“Much of his recent work has focused on climate change. Dr. Lindzen hypothesizes that global warming will not increase Earth’s temperature significantly because increases in upper-level cloud cover will result from increased thunderstorm activity, and this increased cloud cover will act to reflect away more incoming sunlight, cooling the planet. This “Iris Effect” is named after the ability of the human eye to control the amount of light entering the eye by changing the diameter of its iris. His theory is difficult to prove or disprove, as the water vapor-cloud feedback is one of the hardest things to get right in climate models, and is a key source of uncertainty in them. To my knowledge, his Iris theory has not been disproven, but is thought to be incorrect by most climate scientists. “

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog asked Dr. Andrew Dessler, a professor at Texas A&M University whose research focuses on climate change and water vapor, to comment on this. He responded:

The rate of evaporation from the surface, which is one determinant of the strength of a hurricane, is determined by (q*-q), the difference between saturation specific humidity and the specific humidity. You can convince yourself that this makes sense by thinking of the two limits: if the air is saturated, then q*=q and evaporation is zero, which makes sense since saturated air cannot hold any more molecules. If the air is extremely dry, then q is about 0 and evaporation is at a maximum, again as you’d expect.

The climate, on the other hand, is sensitive to q in the mid-troposphere. There’s not really a simple explanation for this. I can give you a few good references if you want to check this out further (e.g., Held, I. M., and B. J. Soden, 2000: Water vapor feedback and global warming. Ann. Rev. Energy Environ., 25, 441-475).

Lindzen’s argument ignores the differences and suggests that if q*-q decreases at the surface, then q must decrease in the mid-troposphere. That argument is so far outside the realm of scientific reasonability or common sense, that it’s my opinion that Lindzen is acting as a policy advocate rather than a scientist. Like most advocates, he takes advantage of the lenient rules of policy debates (e.g., no peer review or other vetting mechanism to test for scientific accuracy of arguments), to make patently false scientific arguments as a way to advance his preferred policy position (he opposes any policy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions).”

Climate scientists are not alarmists out to get research funding. They are raising the alarm because they see a genuine major threat to the planet. Dr. Lindzen’s voice needs to be considered, because he is a good scientist looking at the same data as the “alarmist” scientists, and is coming up with a different conclusion. But consider that his voice, and voices of the 10 or so famous “greenhouse skeptics”, are in the extreme minority. Their voices are greatly amplified by the public relations machinery of the fossil fuel industry, and the politicians sympathetic to them. Thus, it seems like there is more of a scientific controversy than there really is.

PP: Hasty Generalization: “And the support for claims of man’s responsibility for this small amount of warming is far less overwhelming.” 

Your evidence sources are…? Once again, How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic

PP: “The earth’s climate has varied naturally in the past (in the last millennium we had both the medieval warm period and the mini-ice age), ”

‘The Medieval Warm Period was just as warm as today

Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age Myths

Weren’t temperatures warmer than today during the “Medieval Warm Period”?

PP: Appeal to Belief: “and some scientists hold that any current warming trend is just another natural variation,” 

“some scientists”…

PP: Appeal to Belief: “while a number of solar scientists seem to feel that solar rather than human activity is the main driver of climate change.”

Lindzen is a Professor of Meteorology, a weatherman, a subset of the “Climate Scientist ” category. He has a narrow, specialized understanding seeking to explain a global mechanism. “A number of solar scientists” is a subset of  the category “Climate Scientist”, and they offer a narrow specialized understanding and explanation.

‘Current global warming is just part of a natural cycle’

Objection: Current warming is just part of a natural cycle.

Answer: While it is undoubtedly true that there are natural cycles and variations in global climate, those who insist that current warming is purely natural — or even mostly natural — have two challenges.

First, they need to identify the mechanism behind this alleged natural cycle. Absent a forcing of some sort, there will be no change in global energy balance. The balance is changing, so natural or otherwise, we need to find this mysterious cause.

Second, they need to come up with an explanation for why a 35% increase in the second most important greenhouse gas does not affect the global temperature. Theory predicts temperature will rise given an enhanced greenhouse effect, so how or why is it not happening?


This is Just a Natural Cycle

Rationality here despite the source :-) :

Sun Blamed for Warming of Earth and Other Worlds

Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University who monitors studies and news reports of asteroids, global
warming and other potentially apocalyptic topics, recently quoted in his
daily electronic newsletter the following from a blog called Strata-Sphere: 

“Global warming on Neptune’s moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto,
and now Mars has some [scientists] scratching their heads over what
could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets …
Could there be something in common with all the planets in our solar
system that might cause them all to warm at the same time?” 

Peiser included quotes from recent news articles that take up other
aspects of the idea. 

“I think it is an intriguing coincidence that warming trends have been
observed on a number of very diverse planetary bodies in our solar
system,” Peiser said in an email interview. “Perhaps this is just a fluke.” 

In fact, scientists have alternative explanations for the anomalous
warming on each of these other planetary bodies. 

The warming on Triton, for example, could be the result of an extreme
southern summer on the moon, a season that occurs every few hundred
years, as well as possible changes in the makeup of surface ice that
caused it to absorb more of the Sun’s heat. 

Researchers credited Pluto’s warming to possible eruptive activity and a
delayed thawing from its last close approach to the Sun in 1989. 

And the recent storm activity on Jupiter is being blamed on a recurring
climatic cycle that churns up material from the gas giant’s interior and
lofts it to the surface, where it is heated by the Sun.”

And once again, Real Climate, just because it is an amazing compendium of all the arguments and intelligent debate: Sun-Earth connections

A Galactic glitch 

“It is claimed in ‘The Cloud Mystery’, the book ‘The Chilling Stars’, and related articles that our solar system takes about 250 million years to circle the Milky Way galaxy and that our solar system crosses one of the spiral arms about every ~150 million years (Shaviv 2003).

But is this true? Most likely not. As we will discuss below, this claim is seriously at odds with astrophysical data.”

Cosmic rays don’t die so easily

… It is interesting to note that Svensmark and Friis-Christensen now acknowledge the fact that filtering time series can produce misleading impression after the dubious curve-fitting magic in the famous Friis-Christensen & Lassen (1991) science paper.

Svensmark and Friis-Christensen should know of the chaotic nature of our climate system and the fact that it takes more than a few years to determine whether there is a trend or a pause in the trend. The most convincing explanation is that there are also many factors (such as aerosols) playing a role, adding to inter-annual and inter-decadal variations.

To answer the question I posed in the beginning of this post, I think that the chapter on the connection between [galactic cosmic rays (GCR)] and clouds is not yet closed, but all the evidence goes against the notion that GCR are the cause of the present global warming.”

From Real Climate again: Sunspots? and Fun with correlations!

To give you an idea, I’m going to go through the motions of constructing a new theory of political change using techniques that have been pioneered by a small subset of solar-climate researchers (references will of course be given). And to make it even more relevant, I’m going to take as my starting point research that Richard Lindzen has highlighted on his office door for many years:

Man, I’m getting tired.

PP:And even if you stipulate that any climate change is man-made, there is disagreement over whether climate change is a bad thing and over whether it would be beneficial to try and stop it.”

A period of mild weather in the northern hemisphere – Europe – Middle Ages – probably wasn’t so bad. For Europe. That’s the area we have records for. That’s the little tunnel we want to see through. 

From Brian Fagan, authour of The Great Warming, Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.

In some areas, including Western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles as they traded precious iron goods. Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on earth. But in many parts of the world, the warm centuries brought drought and famine. Elaborate societies in western and central America collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatan were left empty.

One comment

  1. well done, Doug.

    I’ll be posting my own response but I’ll definitely be directing folks to read your mighty effort. again, well done.

    gord harrison

Comments are closed.