Any one with the slightest interest in climate science will now know that The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has released the conclusions on global temperature data for feedback before peer review and publication.
The project funded independently and including part funds from oil interests, brought together more temperature records than any previous study and when first announced became the climate ‘skeptics’ last great hope for showing that if the world was even actually warming it was overstated by unscrupulous climate scientists looking for further funding.
Unfortunately Richard Muller, a physicist and head of the project announced that the average global land temperature has risen by about 0.9C in a century, which is slightly higher than the 0.7C – 0.8C normally quoted by climatologists, and said;
"My hope is that this will win over those people who are properly sceptical. Some people lump the properly sceptical in with the deniers and that makes it easy to dismiss them, because the deniers pay no attention to science."
When the news was announced I mentioned it on Paul Hudson’s blog and theorised that if they haven’t already accepted the planet is warming the ‘deniers will say something like they now accept there is global warming but not what the scientists say is the cause’. I wasn’t disappointed either with many now making claims that they do accept it is warming and in most cases claiming to always have accepted it. But this warming they say, is actually caused by (Insert appropriated denier myth here). The typical reasoning is that there are too many unknowns or it’s been warming since the end of the last ice age, etc.
Even The Daily Fail held up my theory with the headline; ‘New analysis of 1.6 billion weather records concludes the world IS warming (but still can't say what's causing it)’, which was very kind of them since the Berkeley Earth project never even considered the cause. But scientists have been not only saying it has been warming but that human emissions are the main cause. So good on the Daily Fail, with a headline like that not only do they imply that the cause was considered but the scientists have no idea why – science reporting at it’s very worst.
However this set me thinking how I would deal with their ‘Yes it’s warming but science doesn’t know why’, arguments that will keep appearing. The logical thing to do is to point out that research has looked at all the other possibilities, natural cycles, the Sun, cosmic radiation etc, and discounted them as improbable compared to increasing green house gases, but that hasn’t really worked up to now. I did think of a couple of other simple ways though.
Yes it is warming but science doesn’t know why
The only reason scientists were looking to see if warming was occurring was that the basic physics worked out in the 1800s by the likes of John Tyndall, Joseph Fourier and Svante Arrhenius suggested that the increase of certain gasses in the atmosphere would warm it. Those gasses (principally Carbon Dioxide), had increased through man made emissions and if the physics was correct, then at some point a warming signal would be detected within the natural background variation.
So basically, scientists said Man should be causing warming and found warming. For skeptics to then say; ‘We can’t know if the warming is man made’ is just like saying; ‘Scientists say Gravity should cause things to fall downward, but just because they do doesn’t mean that Gravity is the cause’!
So I would argue that it is up to those who believe current warming might not be due to emissions to come up with a more scientifically acceptable theory. I know that most actually believe they have done this with 'It's the Sun' or whatever but that is only half way there. Not only do they need a theory to explain this current warming trend but they also need another theory to explain why the physics worked or in the 1800s hasn't caused the warming that scientists were originally looking for and believe they have found. A rather tall order and one that might push the limits of Occam's razor.
Of course it is warming; it has been since the last Ice age
I see this argument more and more often and it gets more ridiculous the more I think about it.
Yes it has been warming since the last Ice age, but it has warmed about 1C in the last century. The Ice age was about 4C colder than now and ended over ten thousand years ago – DO THE MATH!
Actually if the planet was to heat up 1C every century then in the last 10,000 years the world would be over 100 degrees centigrade! Or hotter than boiling water!