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back to article Mega new climate science: 'Runaway' effect exaggerated

Top international boffins, having crunched vast amounts of climate data, say that the effect of "carbon feedback" - thought likely in some quarters to cause imminent runaway global warming followed by the end of human civilisation - has been exaggerated. "Our key finding is that the short-term temperature sensitivity of …

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Coat

Not a chance...

"quite possibly to the extent that international agreements and government policies may change noticeably."

There is too much money to be made from carbon trading/tariffs that no government will backtrack on this regardless of what evidence is presented.

The amount of political capital various politicians have spent trying to persuade people that calamity is just round the corner means that they cannot perform a U-turn and expect to be re-elected.

Where's the money symbol??? Pick-pocket will have to do.

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Coat

ARRRGGGGHHHHHH - We're all gonna die...

Pardon?

Oh, sorry, I'll... errr... get my coat, well its warm so I'll leave me coat then.

Bye

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Bronze badge

Cue loads of people saying "Told you so..."

That is all.

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Boffin

Ha!!!

Maybe now the boffins can get past this pointless distraction with harmless CO2 and actually pay attention to the really harmful chemical pollutants that continue to be poured into the environment unabated

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Anonymous Coward

@Ha!!!

Read the article - they have reduced the apparent effect/danger of ONE feedback mechanism, not all.

Quite an interesting bit of work and more balanced reporting than I usually expect of the register on this subject.

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Pint

Sorry Lewis...

"... government policies may change noticeably."

I think your being a tad over-optimistic there, Lewis. We all know that governments have a stated Ostrich techinque (involving sand, their head and some creative burying arrangements) when any information comes to light that contradicts their own agenda...

I hate to say it but nothing will change... money will be wasted on new quangoes, "green" energy sources will contiunue to be propped up, and at the end of the day, you and i will pay our taxes and watch the politicians p*ss it away...

Is it too early to head to the pub, i feel the need for some reason...

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Alert

yes and no and maybe

I agree in part that the govs probably won't go back on some of their green "initiatives", but that's not necessarily an entirely bad thing -- we do need to clean some of this messy stuff up a bit if possible.

On the other hand, there also needs to be less stupid projects that only look good on paper (and politically) and that waste tons of time, capital and raw materials.

Imho, that is.

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there's feedback for sure

It doesn't take much time examining temperature reconstructions to see that the earth has repeatedly been both a bit hotter than now and cooler than now. Given that there hasn't been runaway heating (or freezing) in the past it would seem that the obvious way to bet is that there are strong *negative* feedback forces at work.

A global thermostat, if you like.

I guess that doesn't attract as much research funding.

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Anonymous Coward

thermostat

The thermostat seems pretty loose: e.g. ice ages and the "tropical-poles" ages. Loose enough so that the climate may change enough so that a significant fraction of our infrastructure is compromised or submerged, and so that our current agricultural processes are broken.

Our civilization is tightly coupled to the current climate, and assumptions based on that current climate. Adjusting our behaviour as an insurance policy against disruptive climate change might be expensive, but so is moving $COASTAL_CITY to higher ground ... or fighting off N millions of desperate refugees.

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Go

Solar Thermostat

So we need to find the global thermostatic PID algorithm based on historical data, and then we'll be able to predict what the temperature will be in future!

Listen up, Government! I'll need £50M budget, for which you'll get a small graph showing approximate predicted temperatures for the future.

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Anonymous Coward

@Bruce Hoult

What no runaway cooling like the 'snowball Earth' about 600 million years ago (if I remember correctly - Google it).

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AC@12:07

"So we need to find the global thermostatic PID algorithm based on historical data, and then we'll be able to predict what the temperature will be in future!"

Good thinking. However I remember back in my dim and distant days (*very* dim, *very* distant) napping through a lecture on limit cycle oscillation and how it tends to be a feature of non-linear control systems. Linear PID types are either quite expensive or lack the crisp response of a bang-bang system. The classic example being the domestic central heating thermostat, which actually keeps the room in a *band* around the desired temperature because it has no idea about boiler output Vs house temperature rise.

The "bang" in the Earths climate could be volcanic eruptions, sunspots, asteroid impacts or the introduction of a large scale energy using civilisation.

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Coat

grrr

"Adjusting our behaviour as an insurance policy against disruptive climate change might be expensive, but so is moving $COASTAL_CITY to higher ground ... or fighting off N millions of desperate refugees."

The swings have gone on for eons without our interferance, we do nothing climate will change, do somthing, climate will change. It still going to piss me off when i get a £70+ additional charge on my electric bill for the fight on global warming

pickpocket, as i am fed up of the green taxes

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DENIALIST PROPAGANDA!!

Any any fool can see, a temperature rise of 2 degrees will lead to a runaway heating cycle which will utterly destroy the biosphere and turn the Earth into a fiery Venusian hell JUST LIKE IT DID EVERY TIME TEMPERATURES ROSE IN THE PAST.

DENIALISTS can't be allowed to use so called "facts" or "evidence" or "basic common sense" to keep this information secret any longer!!!!11!!

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Anonymous Coward

@Rogerborg

Whoa there! Calm down.

I don't believe there is any evidence that Earth ever reached the extremes demonstrated by Venus. Also, as I recommended to another poster, read the article. These guys are not claiming all is hunk-dory, just that one of the feared feedback mechanisms may not be as severe as previously thought.

I believe the evidence that the Earth is warming and I also believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that humanity is playing a significant part but that doesn't mean that whenever someone produces rigourous scientific evidence that seems to reduce the threat that I feel impelled to shout DENIER at them. I don't think any fool can see that a '2 degree rise will lead to a runaway heating cycle' or perhaps only a fool who doesn't rely on scientific evidence.

Take a deep breath, read and accept that not everything has to be at the extreme end of danger for it to be worth doing something about it.

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Happy

Title..

I'm pretty sure Rogerborg used something called sarcasm when he wrote his post

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Boffin

Hoist with...

...your own petard, my friend.

Read the article where it states that human emissions are about 31Bn tonnes pa, vs forest absorbtion (alone) of around 123Bn tonnes pa or four times what we puny earthlings put out.

Just HOW much influence does all of humanity have, then, eh?

Doomsayers might need to be looking for a Vogon Constructor Fleet instead.

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FAIL

irony detection failure

irony detection failure

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FAIL

@Hoist with . .

You're assuming a linear relationship based on what?

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Anonymous Coward

RE: @Rogerborg

How can you tell?

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Anonymous Coward

So angry he can't spell

Rogerborg, you come across as another over-emotional eco loony, with all those CAPITAL LETTERS and !! 11!! 's.

(Unless it's a brilliant parody of over-emotional eco-loonies, and he's got me).

CO2 increases when the planet warms, it has been much higher in the past without runaway warming. Try reading you might learn something.

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Dead Vulture

If only...

"Doomsayers might need to be looking for a Vogon Constructor Fleet instead."

Don't worry, they'll find it - they are psychologically addicted to Doomsday. The Big Kahuna (Global Warming) isn't working out, so it must be Peak Oil. Or Ocean Acidification.

For a tech site, El Reg is a magnet for unscientific loonybins.

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Troll

AC@12:48

Check his other posts.

You've been trolled.

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re "who there calm down"

Are you American or something? Look up the meaning of "sarcasm"

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Heart

Got you!

@ AC 14:46

I'm afraid he got you!

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FAIL

Lewis, stick to what you know

like telling how our forces should buy US weapons. You last few articles about climate change stuff show that you have no idea on how to read a scientific paper. In fact all you seem to do is rewrite the abstracts, stuff a 1st year undergrad would do (and be marked down for) and then you jump to your own conclusion, totally taken out of context of the meaning of the paper showing how little you actually know.

I would be interested do know how , "...a less pronounced climate-carbon cycle feedback..." becomes mega new and exaggeration totally explaining the runaway process. It is but one part of existing models, Q10 is but one of many "critical" variables.

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Bronze badge

It's the bit where he says...

'It is unlikely to mean the end of climate-change concern, however, as various other "runaway" mechanisms are also postulated'

However, the carbon feedback business is the most often quoted when it comes to these sorts of things. If these boffins have come up with more accurate figures to feed into climate prediction models, then I for one will be happier.

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Silver badge

Wishful thinking

"Together the two studies are expected to have a major impact on climate science and modeling, quite possibly to the extent that international agreements and government policies may change noticeably"

Wanna bet?

There are too many global-warming partisans too heavily invested both professionally intellectually (I use the word advisedly), and additionally, and very importantly, invested emotionally for them to publicly recant their position.

Regarding politicians, I have to disagree with a few opinions expressed here: I think politicians for the most part could change their position on the imminence of planetary death by carbon fairly easily. "Changing positions" is, after all, what politicians pretty much do for a living, right? And I think that most people realize that politicians are not scientists. If "lapsed scientists" such as the cabal of propagandists from East Anglia or the statistically-mercurial James Hansen decide that their real vocation is "influencing public policy by lying" it is not really fair to expect politicians to easily see through their ruse. So for politicians to change their position because of, let's say, new research showing that their previous positions were based on "erroneous" (though actually fraudulent) research and to do so for the sake of economic growth, would not be a difficult maneuver for them.

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Thumb Up

So the only people left who believe in Man-Made Global Warming...

... are people with a financial interest in it.

Windmill manufacturers

Insurance companies (higher premiums)

Energy companies (carbon trading was invented just for them at Kyoto)

Bureaucrats and bean-counters

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the only people

<Sigh> Read the article . . . .

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Flame

vested interests...

Windmill manufacturers (and solar panel manufacturers etc etc...) may be benefiting from that man made global warming panic...

*but*

...just because that is a load of rubbish doesn't mean that moving away from our huge dependency on oil isn't a good thing for lots of other reasons...

Flame on for.. well.. global warming and stuff.

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Coat

So the only people left who believe in Man-Made Global Warming...

>So the only people left who believe in Man-Made Global Warming...

You missed out 95% of climate scientists (that climbs to 99% if you ignore all the ones funded by oil companies, even if you drop the ones funded by greeny organisations).

Or 90% of the world who have a scientific training and have bothered to do any reading on it.

The sad thing is, it's not a matter of faith for the greenies, they've got this thing called "theory supported by evidence". The anti-greenies are making lots of noise, and relying on the human nature side (we don't want to believe it, because we don't like it), but at the moment, there's no serious scientific opposition to the greenies. I'd welcome it, having spent years poking holes in MMGW but there is nothing even vaguely credible. I'd expect lots of responses to me with assorted pieces of evidence, but I'm afraid I can now recognise cherry picking, bad theories and desperation.

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Anonymous Coward

Faith-based

AC:

they've got this thing called "theory supported by evidence"

If only.

MMGW is an interesting idea, I do not dispute the potential impact as a positive feedback, but in 30 years they have never more than a bag of guesswork and hypotheticals. Panic has now broken out because the heat must be "hiding".

They would have done better not trying to pretend they know how the climate works. And you would have done better not bluffing.

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Coat

Re: Missing out on scientists

"...but I'm afraid I can now recognise cherry picking, bad theories and desperation."

Yep, a lot more of us can, now, than when the cherry pickers, bad theorists and desperate [insert financial beneficiary of MMGW here] got together and realized they could get HUGE amounts of cash for pet projects, etc. and control over people's lives. Much like a gossiping church deacon who loves to waggle fingers at those "less holy"... while holding out the collection plate with the other hand.

Man has some influence on global warming; but it is never about saving the planet. Its about saving our hides while maintaining our "comfortable" 1st world culture and lifestyle. This planet would get along quite happily without us, I think.... but that would label someone as a "desperate Malthusian" as well. When the person comes forward that has a solution that doesn't want taxpayers cash - then somebody might listen objectively. Otherwise, shisters and grifters (politicians and financiers) will warp whatever they can claim as "evidence" for either position.

Icon - cherry picking taxpayers cash based on bad theories made out of deperation.

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Stop

It's the end of the world

@AC

HAHAHA, you make me giggle so.

I'd love to see where you get your 95%(99% even) of climate scientists stat, or for that matter what you qualify as a climate scientist.

Just saying that I've seen a fairly even spread about the subject with the most level headed science being done by the denialists while the kicking and screaming about "killing our mother, wah wah wah!" being done by the bleeding heart greenies.

Or has everyone just totally blanked CRU out of their minds?

It's sexy to "save the world" but not particularly practical, we're very tiny and there are no hard facts to show we're changing 10/5ths of sweet F*A. There is a lot of correlation, but that is not causation or I'm a pastafarian.

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FAIL

Thermodynamic principles vs. politics

"You missed out 95% of climate scientists (that climbs to 99% if you ignore all the ones funded by oil companies, even if you drop the ones funded by greeny organisations)."

Obviously they are not scientists at all as those can admit when they are wrong. Politicians never admit that, thus so called "climate scientists" are more interested about their own welfare than science. I can understand that.

I begun to seriously doubt their so called "science" when we got reports that

a) Sun output had increased 2%

b) every other planet (and moon) on Solar system started to warm significantly, even Pluto

and

c) these so called "scientists" vehemently deny that Sun has anything to do with Earths warming.

Tell me, do they really believe the shit they are saying? "Believe" as opposed of knowing, because that's something they don't do.

Do you believe that you can heat an object in a vacuum 2% more than earlier and it's temperature won't rise a bit?

If you do, you fail at thermodynamics and have a promising future in climatology instead. Which happens to be precise science compared to climatology and if these differ, somebody in climatology has made an error.

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@Bruce Hoult - actually there's been plenty of runaway freezing

Whilst you're quite correct that the runaway heating panic was a very obvious bunch of rubbish, due to the historical periods that have been much warmer than we are currently, runaway cooling is very well estabished as an actual problem. They're called ice ages. And they're very scary indeed.

Recent research into growth patterns suggests that the onset of an ice age is very fast indeed, going from a slight bobble downwards in temperature to ice sheets covering Europe in well under a decade. Drivers for it are not well understood, but people are looking at the very, very long period of low sunspot activity in the sun that we are currently going through, indicative of low solar output, and getting rather nervous. Ice ages have been fairly regular occurances throughout history, and we're rather overdue for another.

Still, should be good for a laugh watching the politicians all reversing themseves and screaming for more co2 to be put into the atmosphere asap, as the glaciers bear down on whitehall...

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Joke

Re: Solar Maximum

"...people are looking at the very, very long period of low sunspot activity in the sun that we are currently going through, indicative of low solar output..."

Though less interuption in our reception of Sky and Dish network would be considered (by some) to be a blessing; its never wise to count your velocirapters before they hatch... Some models show a rapid rise in sunspots once they get started, causing... a runaway period... of intense impact... to human activity... NOW WAIT A MINUTE?! They didn't use the same model, did they?!

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/11/cycle_24_prediction/

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CO2 & Temperatures

ISTR reading somewhere that there was a period in the past with CO2 levels significantly higher (multiples of times higher), however the temperature was about the same as now or slightly lower.

That doesn't seem to fit with some of the claims that have been made in the past.

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Paris Hilton

Re. CO2 & Temperatures

Actually, no. If the ice core data is to be believed, there's a *very* strong correlation between CO2 and temperature. BBC online have a nice intro to this at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/sci_tech/2009/copenhagen/8393855.stm>. Go to the link for the 800,000-year EPICA ice core data, download it, draw the graph. For anyone not familiar with Excel/whatever, who can't draw the graph, reply here and I'll upload my graph somewhere.

You'll notice that there's only one point where the correlation fails: right *now*, where the CO2 goes off the scale, and the temperature hasn't followed. *This* is what the climate change debate is all about: will the temperature follow, or won't it? Anyone who's seen this graph is going to have a hard time believing that it won't.

@El Reg: there's a fat chance that you'll even read this, let alone do something about it. But, if you do, and if you actually have any interest in climate change, then here's a suggestion for you. With every one of your climate stories, post a link to this data, with a graph added, and ask everyone to look at the graph *before* commenting on your story.

Paris, 'cos I found a picture of her scratching her crotch this morning, and that's about as relevant to IT as climate change is.

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I;ll being checking the table rather than the graph, Oh look the CRU provided it.

Only I seem to recall a version of this graph appeared in a *peer* reviewed publication it showed CO2 *lagging* temperature. Which would somewhat change the picture.

Could be wrong. But It's a strong memory.

Thumbs up for a link to some factual data. Nevertheless the attribution does mean it should be treated with caution.

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Anonymous Coward

Vested interests.

If for example, a naturalist wants funding to study the mating rituals of the Aardvark he’s told to go take a running jump.

If the same naturalist asks for funding to study the effects of global warming on the mating rituals of the Aardvark he's asked, how much do you need?

With attitudes like this so common, can we really trust all these doom merchants impartiality?

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@Marcus Dubious

So you've made up a story (unless you're an aardvark specialist?) and then claimed its a common event?

Well I'm convinced; Jeeves bring out the V12!

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It was an example of attituse

Are you trying to suggest that I’m wrong and funding isn't more readily available to research possible global warming effects?

You sound like a dogmatic MMGW believer who can’t be convinced of anything else.

PS if your going to be such a pompous twit then at least have the guts to insult me to my face and show your name.

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Anonymous Coward

@It was an example . . .

No, I'm not suggesting that you are wrong, I said you MADE IT UP. Instead of making up little stories and then using them as evidence of common attitudes produce some evidence!

And if you consider a statement of a fact to be an insult then it doesn't surprise me that you find your own internal world so convincing. Pip pip!

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WTF?

Funy how others disagree with you then isn't it?

Like I said dogmatic, others see exactly the point I was making and Marek below understood it so well he gives a perfect example.

Unfortunately you fail at English comprehension or could it be that you have some axe to grind?

I also see that you're still to cowardly to show your identity.

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Anonymous Coward

@ CAPITAL LETTERS

"I said you MADE IT UP."

Dearie me, you are getting shrill as you lose the debate. Unless you're a complete imbecile you can see the Aardvark example was a metaphor.

He's quite right. Scientists need to put a politically-correct spin on their research, the surest bet is to stick climate change on the funding application.

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Sorry

Sorry AC but you are either a complete fuckwit or have done no reading of scientific papers being published over the last few decades. Take a look and you will see that the number of papers on subjects containing phrases like "the effects of global warming on" or "the effects of climate change on"*. The interesting thing about a lot of these papers is that they don't actually show what they set out to show because they don't have a hope in hell. It doesn't stop them trying.

Imagine, if you will, a paper studying the effects of climate change on the global bluebottle population. In order for this to mean anything at all you would need to isolate the effects of global warming from any other other influences on the population and you would need to do the same historically in order to get a good baseline on which to base your research. How many such studies do you suppose go to those lenghts? Not very many, mostly because the historic data reuqireed aren't even available. However that doesn't stop people titling these papers like that. So what could be the reason for using these misleading titles if it's not funding?

One big problem I have with climate "science" is that it is somewhat victorian in its approach. The victorians gave us the idea of the balance of nature - that is to say that nature is completely stable unless man interferes. Climate scientists manage to ignore most significant rises or falls in global temperatures in much the same way as victorians assumed that nature was almost static before they started to observe it. It's easy to draw a horizonatal line for termperature against time with a flip up at the end to convince people that global warming is a man made phenomenon. It's less easy to convince the sceptics if your historic line shows points in the past where it was warmer than it is today. Now that's not to say that man made global warming doesn't exist, or that it isn't a problem if it does, but the scientists do their cause no good by presenting such an over simplified picture. It may convince the ignorant and the lazy (aka willfully ignorant) but it makes the inquisitise automatically distrust anything the scientists say.

* I recall a period where there was a huge rise in paper's titles including words like "fractal" and "chaos" because they were the in thing that could almost guarantee funding. And there wasn't nearly so much funding for chaos based research as there is for global warming.

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Silver badge
Stop

Nice Opinion

Now if you want people to agree with it, provide some evidence. Here's an example of actual support for your opinion.

1. An unbiased , properly sized sample of grant applications over a given time frame,

2. Data on the sample showing whether or not the grant included climate-change language, whether or not the research actually was climate-change oriented, and whether or not the grant was approved, and

3. A valid statistical analysis of the data showing a statistically significant correlation between climate-change language in a grant application and approval of said application.

Anything else is not a valid argument, but opinion. Ad hominem attacks are not vaild arguments. Metaphors are not valid arguments. Even anecdotal evidence is not a valid argument.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument is a good starting point, if you actually want to have a debate rather than trading insults.

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Anonymous Coward

My distrust comes from Climate modelling

I find climate modelling one of the worst forms of vested interest driven pseudo science.

We understand so little about the climate that we cannot predict any real long term changes in any macro climate system, let alone the whole global climate.

But people claim to predict what the climate will be, to reinforcing degrees of accuracy, in 50 - 100 years.

Worse still, the models that get the most attention are the ones that support the MMGW thinking by reinforcing their preconceptions of impending Venusian doom. (anyone else thinking of “the rapture” here?)

I find it hard to believe that if a climate model consistently concluded there was no negligible effect that it would get more funding.

The people who decide these budgets have a vested interest in promoting MMGW for political reasons and the modellers have a vested interest in skewing their algorithms to give profitable predictions.

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