A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

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This article has moved to ScienceBlogs

It has also been updated and this page is still here only to preserve the original comment thread. Please visit A Few Things Ill Considered there. You may also like to view Painting With Water, Coby Beck's original fine art photography.



  • At March 16, 2006 4:30 AM, Blogger TokyoTom said…

    You might want to address the Tunguska Event more carefully, in light of a new paper coming out, and possible additional attention it may attract:


    The paper does not deny the other factors involved in climate change, but points to the Tunguska Event as the kick off point.

  • At March 16, 2006 8:39 AM, Blogger coby said…

    You're right. I put it there based on a user comment but I did not realize it was that hot off the press and still have not looked at it in any detail.

  • At March 17, 2006 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I found the paper on the Tunguska thing:


    I'm clueless about the science, and it gets no respect at UKWeatherWorld climatology forum.

    He does show a familiar looking graph and shows a dramatic increase in temperature starts with the Tunguska event. The temperature graph levels off during the years when atomic bombs were tested, then the same upward slope resumes afterward.

    Doug L

  • At March 17, 2006 2:59 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Yes, what I've heard of it so far, it seems that bit of correlation is almost the entire story. There is no plausible mechanism and certainly no explanation of why there is no CO2 forcing after all.

  • At March 17, 2006 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Surprisingly to me, RealClimate has decided this Tunguska theory is worth some space, 50 comments so far.


    according to one commenter:

    ““The author of the Tunguska theory, Vladimir Shaidurov, is the winner of the most prestigious scientific award in Russia for 2004, the State Prize, and he is the director of the Computer Modelling Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences “

    The thrust of the other comments suggest to me that this scientist has floated this theory on a whim.

    Doug L.

  • At March 24, 2006 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe you should check out this site for more to debunk:


    There's quite a bit of crackpottery there. The parent site at www.fathersforlife.org is interesting also...

  • At March 24, 2006 3:45 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Thanks! More work.... :o/

  • At March 31, 2006 2:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A note on the categories you've chose: "Argument from ignorance" is the name of an informal fallacy (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam), which takes the form of "You can't prove that x is false, so it must be true", which, well, none of those particular statements commit. On this page, the statement "Does this prove that CO2 doesn't cause global warming? The answer is no." comes pretty close, though. Ah, logic...

  • At March 31, 2006 7:01 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Ok, I would rather avoid any such naming collisions, so I'll give "Ignorant or Misinformed Arguments" a go. Thanks for the logic lesson, I know a few of the classic fallacies but didn't know the formal definition of that one...

  • At May 23, 2006 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read your comment on World Changing and I'd like to offer a couple of suggestions I think will help your readers find guides faster.

    For instance, right now your categories are mostly based on your critique of the denialist argument, Misinformed, FUD, Crackpottery and so forth. Try basing the categories on the content of the refutation instead. It will put more entries at the top level improving navigability, and as side effect, move you along the way to making an index. The categories can also be sequenced by stage of skepticism.

    Here is an example of what I'm getting at:

    * Climate change is a myth or conspiracy
    - The temperature record is phony
    - the consensus is just politics

    * Climate change is unproven
    - The models are wrong
    - One hundred years isn't enough evidence

    * It's not our fault
    - Volcano's emit way more CO2
    - It could be natural variation

    * A warmer climate is nothing to worry about
    - It was warmer in the middle ages
    - A warmer climate is a good thing

    * Mitigation will destroy the economy
    - We don't know enough to act
    - Reducing fossil fuel will destroy us

    * It's too late or someone else's problem
    - Kyoto is too little too late
    - The US absorbs more CO2 than it emits

    This is very rough example, but if you think it is headed in the right direction, I'd be happy to go through your guide in more detail and come up with something concrete - just give me the word.

  • At May 23, 2006 1:13 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi David, thanks for the visit.

    This is an excellent way of dividing them up, if you developed that further I would put it up right away. It's also the kind of kick I need, the site was mostly created in a bug burst and I have been drifting for a while now.

    What I want initially is to present a choice of organizations, yours being a very useful one, mine being ok but largely a product of my personal approach. I have seen the talk.origins index someone down thread at worldchanging mentioned and like that alot too. Another organisation would be by scientific sub-topic eg, GHG, extreme events, ocean, cryosphere, atmosphere, paleoclimate etc. (actually that's pretty close to talk.origins approach)

    So that's a longwinded "thanks, I accept the offer!"

  • At May 24, 2006 3:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    cool, I'll get on it.

    I assume that all the links on the front page are unique, let me know if this isn't the case.

    It might be easier to send you the cats, you can get me at dotti at telenet dot be.

  • At May 25, 2006 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Coby,

    I've had a chance to go over the blog and have a spreadsheet with suggested categories and the corresponding page file names. Think of the verbage as indications rather than specific suggestions, you should change them to suit your style. I also have a kind of sorting flow chart you may be interested in looking at - could come in handy as you add things. So how should I get them to you? And if you want the files, which formats? I use linux (xubuntu).

    Are you still considering move the guide onto a website, wiki or what not? The extra flexibility could be useful at the level of page structure, as well as additional organizational schemes. I'd be happy to continue pitching, running through all those denialist arguments was much more interesting than I thought it would be. Organization, layout, additional content, depends on what you want to do and on which kind of 'platform'. cheers, david

  • At May 28, 2006 10:10 AM, Blogger coby said…


    I have sent email to the address you provided, and now 4 days later I got a bounce message. Do you want to email me, and then I will be sure your reply address is correct?

    (remove #\Space "coby 101 @ telus . net")

    Thanks, hope you did not feel ignored!!

  • At May 29, 2006 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Coby - I sent you the files sunday around 21:00 GMT. Just now thought to post to let you know they are on there way. Fingers crossed.

  • At May 29, 2006 6:43 AM, Blogger coby said…

    received, and a reply sent just now, thanks.

  • At August 02, 2006 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Coby,

    first of all, thanks. All this information was known (more or less) to me, but..., here it is, well in order and easily explained. Secondly, I want to translate some of your answers in Dutch (of course with source), I hope you don't mind? If you do, please say it in a comment.

  • At August 02, 2006 3:18 PM, Blogger coby said…

    That's fine with me. Please be sure to let me know when it is done!

  • At November 01, 2006 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree that moving it to a wiki format could help move things forward quicker...as I understand it you could set it up so that the only editors are those people who are familiar with the literature.

  • At November 01, 2006 11:33 AM, Blogger coby said…

    that would be my preferred way, edits by those only with permission, but with liberally granted permission.

  • At January 08, 2007 7:54 AM, Blogger Guy said…

    Coby: Your site is amazing, thank you for the great material. I talk the issue up and challenge people every moment of the day. Your efforts to catalogue the classic denials are very very helpful.

    I've notice that a number of the links are dead (or are they under development)? The one I am most interested is: "The CO2 rising in the atmosphere is coming out of the oceans" Can you post your response?

    Lastly, El Nino seems to be in the news this week. Many folks are happy to explain away AGW by way of El Nino. Have you though of adding a response to this argument?

  • At January 08, 2007 9:20 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Guy, thanks for the positive feedback! I don't think I have anything specifically about CO2 from the oceans, but the material in these two articles should cover it.


    Keep up the good fight! The denialists are on the ropes, but it is not over yet.

  • At March 10, 2007 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Are there really no credible alternative theories or scientists who embrace another viewpoint other than human activity as the main cause of the rapid increase in GW?

    If there are I would find it helpful to see the two sides of the argument presented so I could understand better. To be honest the politics and the handwringing make it difficult for someone who is looking into this issue for the first time to make a reasonable choice.



  • At March 11, 2007 1:36 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hello Dan X,

    Are there really no credible alternative theories or scientists who embrace another viewpoint other than human activity as the main cause of the rapid increase in GW?

    No, I don't believe that there are. I guess the closest thing would be the GCR (galactic cosmic ray) hypothesis. But my impression is this is very speculative and as well as having to demonstrate and quantify the mechanisms involved for a significant GCR effect on climate, this hypothesis would requre finding serious flaws in a very well established and substaniated alternative theory. The air time the scandinavian scientist who promote it get is far more than the science they have behind them would merit.

    You can read some good detailed discussion of GCR's and climate on the Real Climate blog

    If you wish to better understand the science and avoid the politics I recommend the IPCC report (link in side bar)

    Thanks for the comment!

  • At July 06, 2007 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, thanks for this great list.

    There are a number of people out there now saying that GW theaories aren't taking into account sunspots/solar-mgnetic flux, which are on the increase and are supposedly well-correlated with climate change. One such influential example is http://www.stanfordreview.org/Archive/Volume_XXXIII/Issue_5/Features/features1.shtml

    Do you plan on addressing this issue? I saw you had "cosmic rays" in the list, but it isn't linked.



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