[Coral-List] Expert Disagreement in Climate, Science

Clive Wilkinson clive.wilkinson at rrrc.org.au
Fri Jan 13 22:02:56 EST 2017

Dear Gene and the list
There has been much comment on this posting. The terminology has been discussed in detail, and I will not enter there; BUT ....

I was surprised that a scientist would trot out that hoary old chestnut of the curve of global temperatures flattening with CO2 concentration increases after 1998. Predominantly the people espousing this line are either those working for the fossil fuel industry or those sceptics with no understanding of statistics. 1998 datum point in the temperature graph is clearly an outlier due to the major El Nino - La Nina shift in the global climate. The underlying graph with that datum point removed is a steady increase that has accelerated after about 2010. One way to treat such outliers is to do a running 3 or 5 year average graph; do it and you will see no evidence of the sceptics flattening. If you applied the same logic, the global financial situation continued for years on a major decline after 2008.

Whether it is climate change or global warming is irrelevant; what is alarming is that it is accelerating faster than we are able to control and faster than what geologists measured over millennia.

Clive Wilkinson

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Eugene Shinn
Sent: Wednesday, 4 January 2017 11:47 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Expert Disagreement in Climate, Science

Do coral-list readers remember back when we all talked and worried about global warming? As I recall that was mainly before the 1998 El Nino. 
Then for about 20 years global temperature flattened somewhat and sometime during that time global warming became “climate change.” As a result of this change the subject became more confusing especially for the public and coral biologists. Geologist, however, have always known that climate has been changing. Such change is most obvious in Pleistocene ice core records that clearly show periodic glacial and interglacial (warming and cooling) periods as well as concomitant CO_2 ups and downs. Beside ice core data recent melting of glaciers of course is undeniable evidence of warming. So why is it called “climate change” 
instead of climate warming? And of course we have all seen the decline in coral reefs. My 56-year photographic record in the Florida Keys dramatically show coral demise began in the late 1970s and culminated in the early 1980s. Unfortunately the reefs have experienced a downhill slide ever since.

We have all worried about how to get our message to the public and decision makers. We have not done a good job of it. I suspect the term Climate Change has made communicating with the public more difficult. 
The problem is we have used the term Climate Change almost interchangeably with CO_2 /Methane and greenhouse gases. As a result the whole complex subject has become emotional economic and political. 
Emotions are so strong that if one questions whether CO_2 is the cause he or she is labeled a “Climate Change Denier.” Why not CO_2 or Carbon denier? These arguments must be very confusing to nonscientists. So when a politician calls Climate Change a hoax does he or she really mean temperature has not risen or fallen in the past 100 years or do they mean that they do not believe CO_2 and other greenhouse gases are the cause? These become difficult questions when we don’t clarify what we mean. Regardless what skeptics may believe they are nevertheless branded climate deniers and compared to those who believe the Earth is flat. 
Good scientists have always been skeptics regardless of the subject.

The recent election has multiplied our concerns and postings on the list continue to confuse global warming with climate change. The term Climate change logically means temperature can go down as well as up. So why can’t we just say what we mean? To make the subject even more confusing many have begun to say carbon is the major cause of warming when they should be saying Carbon dioxide. As scientists we like to see evidence based on a controlled experiments. Those are experiments where we treat X number of organisms with varying amounts of a substance B, and compare results with X number of subjects not treated with substance B. I realize that’s old-fashioned scientific proof but it is straightforward and even the most ardent skeptics can understand the results.

Unfortunately we cannot perform these kinds of straight experiments. We lack reference planets the same distance from the sun as earth to serve as a reference. What we have done is show experimentally in the laboratory (as did Svante Arrhenius back in 1896) that raising CO_2 levels increases adsorption of infrared radiation and thus raises temperature. We then infer (note I said infer) that CO_2 also raises atmospheric temperature as it does in laboratory experiments.

We know the computer climate model outputs are mathematically correct but do we really know they accurately replicate nature? A little bias one way or the other can influence the outcome. One should also be suspicious because many models (there are more than 20) is that while
CO_2 has continued to rise since 1998 global temperature did not rise at the rate predicted by most models. The public and many politicians are often reminded of these problems so it is no wonder that many are confused and remain skeptical. I am confused as anyone. The message in the  Australian youtube does not clarify the problem for most of us..<https://www.youtube.com/embed/BC1l4geSTP8> I suggest we drop the term climate change and say what we mean-----global warming.Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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