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A request for help

April 21st, 2005

In the discussion over Michael Duffy’s SMH article, we had a lot of trouble with a survey supposedly showing that 25 per cent of climate scientists doubted the reality of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. We’ve tracked the survey downhere and it appears that the relevant question is number 40

Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.
Respondents have to answer on a 7 point Likert scale from Strongly agree to Stongly disagree

Tim Lambert observes that this was an online survey, which may raise doubts about the sample frame, though it appears that Dennis Bray, who ran the survey, tried to keep participation limited to those in the study population.

Brian Bahnisch comments

To me the question is too open-ended. Surely any rational, logical scientist would see that “climate change� has been going on a lot longer than we have been walking upright.
It is also possible to think that anthropogenic causes are less than natural ones, but still a significant, indeed critical, influence.
How does he count the fence-sitters who marked “4�?

and I share these concerns.

Anyway, the immediate problem is that Bray has set up some fancy code to display the survey results and neither Brian or I can make it work. It appears to be set for either Mozilla or Windows IE. Can anyone find the results and advise me.

Update Thanks to TIm Lambert, who has located what appear to be the results to Question 40 here The number giving “Disagree” responses (29 per cent) roughly matches the 25 per cent cited by Duffy, who was apparently relying on a second-hand and not very reliable source. But, as we’ve seen the description of the question given by Duffy was incorrect, as was the date of the survey and the description of the sample population, not to mention the characterisation of the thinktank where the results were presented.

There’s obviously a big difference between “the modest warming of the past 150 years is due to human activity” (Duffy’s description) and “Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes” (Bray’s actual question) and neither represents the IPCC position, which is that at least some of the warming observed over the last 50 years is anthropogenic and that, under current policies, this warming will continue. For appropriate time scales (say, as short as an El Nino cycle or longer than 1000 years) it seems pretty clear that natural causes are dominant, so it’s perfectly reasonable to disagree with, or give a “Can’t answer” response to Bray’s question, while agreeing with the IPCC view.

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  1. Steve
    April 26th, 2005 at 10:57 | #1

    And Jennifer your comment about not finding personal attacks ‘useful’ is laughable given the piece about John Quiggin titled “Australia’s highest paid blogger” that you posted today on your own blog. Why that title? It doesn’t seem to be the most relevant aspect to the post.

  2. April 26th, 2005 at 13:31 | #2

    Jennifer wrote -”I have nothing against peer review and the IPCC – but I am also interested in testing the advice and predictions of the ‘establishment’ against the evidence. ”

    However in this case the establishment has the evidence. Also peer review is not establishment in the sense that you mean. It is a system that has grown up to ensure that the science that is published and taught is as true to nature as the available data can prove.

    Also some of Mr Kininmonth’s data is factually wrong. This would suggest that he would have trouble with publishing his paper in the peer reviewed world. It is one thing to email journalists and publish a web site however if his science is sound then it will survive peer review.

    Mr Kininmonth et al however are not interested in facts. They are running a campaign to stop action on global warming. They do this by inserting uncertainty into the in the minds of the less informed public and polititians. They do not have to prove anything only confuse the issue.

    If you want the truth have a look at the work of thousands of dedicated scientists, that are usually very poorly paid, trying to alert the world to the danger that is approaching. Their work somehow survives peer review – some of it against the ‘establishment’.

  3. April 27th, 2005 at 03:10 | #3

    In her attack on John Quiggin Jennifer accuses him of deleting the first couple of paragraphs of a post without inidicating that it had been editted. However, the original posting is available here and shows that her claim is false.

  4. Simon
    April 27th, 2005 at 12:09 | #4

    “The troposphere does emit more radiation than it absorbs because the air temperature gets colder with increasing altitude and because of the vertical distribution of greenhouse gas concentrations (especially water vapour).” This explains nothing. I’m not even sure what it means. He has made some observations – it’s cooler as you go up and there is a vertical distribution of greenhouse gases – without saying what this has to do with the troposphere emitting more radiation than is absorbs(?).

    “The air temperature is colder at higher altitudes because when it rises air expands and cools; when air sinks it compresses and warms – this is not related to greenhouse gases.” In previous sentence he said that the troposphere emits more radiation that is absorbs (?), which means it has a cooling effect (?), and this is related to the distribution of greenhouse gases. Now he says cooler air temperature at higher altitudes has nothing to do with greenhouse gases?

    My understanding is this – greenhouse gases do not absorb much of the incoming sunlight but does absorb the reflected heat from the earth. The atmosphere itself will also be emitting infrared radiation. A lot of this will be again absorbed at some other point in the atmosphere. But at sufficiently high elevation, where the atmosphere is thin enough, the radiation emitted from there will eventually be able to escape to space. The effect of the troposphere is to stop heat from simply being reflected into space.

    Without this effect the earth would be a cold lump of rock. You would not have oceans or water in the atmosphere. You need other gases in the atmosphere for the earth to be warm enough to have free flowing water and masses of water in atmosphere. Water, itself, then becomes a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and weather patterns.

    Now you need to ask yourself, Jennifier, what is the effect of increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?

    The rest of Bill’s piece is about how water effects the earths weather patterns etc. Bill doesn’t present anything that refutes the basic principle of increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to an increase in temperature.

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