The Truth About the Truth About Greenhouse Gases?

Clearly, everyone wants to have a long discussion about GW etc etc, and maybe I haven’t provided a venue for this for a while. But I’ve now found an excuse, prompted by (or perhaps more accurately, simply ripping off) mt, who has looked at The Truth About Greenhouse Gases by William Happer.

mt says various wise things, and I too balk at the very first thing he says about climate, viz:

The argument starts something like this. CO2 levels have increased from about 270 ppm to 390 ppm over the past 150 years or so, and the earth has warmed by about 0.8 C during that time. Therefore the warming is due to CO2.

This is a common septic meme, but Happer should be aware that it is wrong; so either he is ignorant or lying; I can’t tell which.

There is a wiki page about this, [[Attribution of recent climate change]] and although it isn’t great, it is better than Happer, and at least points you to the correct sources. And it says:

Attribution of recent change to anthropogenic forcing is based on the following facts:

* The observed change is not consistent with natural variability.
* Known natural forcings would, if anything, be negative over this period [The page says, earlier, “particularly on the last 50 years”].
* Known anthropogenic forcings are consistent with the observed response.
* The pattern of the observed change is consistent with the anthropogenic forcing.

And so we head off for IPCC AR4 chapter 9. And read the Exec summary: It is extremely unlikely (<5%) that the global pattern of warming during the past half century can be explained without external forcing, and very unlikely that it is due to known natural external causes alone. The warming occurred in both the ocean and the atmosphere and took place at a time when natural external forcing factors would likely have produced cooling.

And so on; you can follow it to whatever level of detail you please. So the question is, how can Happer not be aware of this? He is not obliged to agree with the IPCC report, but he cannot but realise that it is the authoritative voice of the position he disagrees with; he is obliged to at least know what it says and (if he is being honest) he is obliged to report (and then, if he can, refute) its arguments. It is dishonest of him to substitute strawmen.

I could go on, but can’t quite see the point. The Happer text is just the std septic mish-mash. It doesn’t even know what the position it opposes is, so cannot say anything interesting about it.

[Update: this was a “s(k)eptic test” post. The question was: “is it possible to argue coherently against the IPCC position, but at the same time realise that Happer had misrepresented it”? The answer, on a sample of one s(k)eptic so far, is no: either because it is necessary to defend Happer from any charges of error, or perhaps because the attempt to compare what Happer said to what the IPCC said is too difficult; it would require reading and understanding what the IPCC said -W]


* John Mashey is a destructive force