Climate Change Barry_Bickmore

Published on November 12th, 2011 | by Guest Contributor

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A Republican ex-climate skeptic explains how people avoid the truth about climate change

By Barry Bickmore

Professor of Geologic Sciences, Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University prof Barry Bickmore talks climate skepticismI gave a talk called How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change for the College of Science and Health at Utah Valley University.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I am a Republican and a geochemist who, until a few years ago, was quite skeptical about the idea that humans are causing significant climate change.

In the presentation, I briefly talked about how I had made the transition from being a climate change skeptic to being an outspoken advocate of mainstream climate science.  I then discussed how it is that people like me can so effectively avoid the truth about climate change.

Please pass this video along!  I am actually writing a book with the same title, but there’s no way I can get it published before the Republican primaries.  Hopefully this kind of thing can influence a few people toward the center on this issue.

My sticking points

  • I thought there was lots of scientific controversy about human contributions
  • I thought climate projections are based solely on complex computer models of physical systems, which (I know from experience) are easy to screw up.
  • I know there is always uncertainty in science.

The Truth:

  • There is almost no scientific debate over whether humans are largely responsible for the temperature rise over the last 50 years or so.
  • There are other ways to estimate climate sensitivity (e.g. from paleoclimate data) that give about the same answer as the models.
  • The uncertainty is mostly on the high end, given the data we have now [e.g., it’s not whether there will be warming, but how bad it will be].

How we avoid the truth:

  • We tend to believe what we want to hear
  • There are always truth-challenged individuals who will tell us what we want to hear to promote political goals
  • The media makes little or no effort to determine who is right
  • Most people (including many scientists) have naive ideas about the nature of science

(From Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah)

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  • http://errortheory.blogspot.com/2011/04/solar-warming-and-ocean-equilibrium.html Alec Rawls

    “There is almost no scientific debate over whether humans are largely responsible for the temperature rise over the last 50 years or so.”

    In fact, there is OVERWHELMING scientific evidence that 20th century warming was caused by the 80 year “grand maximum” of solar activity that ended in 2003. DOZENS of studies at this point show between a .5 and .8 degree of correlation between solar activity and global temperature going back hundreds, thousands, and millions of years. That is, solar activity “explains” in the statistical sense 50-80% of all past temperature change, and it can easily account for most or all 20th century warming.

    We know on theoretical grounds that the increase in CO2 over the century should cause at least a small amount of warming, but unlike the solar effect, this CO2 effect is undetectable in the geologic record. CO2 goes up when temperature goes up, but with a delay of about 800 years. That is, increased temps cause higher atmospheric CO2, as ocean warming causes the oceans to release CO2, but no effect of CO2 on temps is discernable.

    Yet the IPCC fixes solar effects as having 1/14th the effect on global temps as CO2. This is not a product of the model, it is an ASSUMPTION of the model. By far the dominant driver of global temps as seen in the geologic record is ASSUMED by the IPCC to have 1/14th the warming effect of something that cannot be seen in the record to have any warming effect at all (despite our knowing that it must have at least SOME small warming effect).

    That is not science. The scientific method is that data is supposed to trump theory, but the IPCC makes theoretical assumptions that are in direct contradiction to the data. And now Barry Bickmore’s assertion is that there are no scientists who are not on board with this direct perversion of the very definition of science. He needs to get out more.

    32,000 scientists have signed Art Robinson’s “Oregon petition” stating that: “There is no convincing evidence that human release of CO2, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will cause, in the foreseeable future, catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/3214

    And here is video of one skeptical scientist, CERN’s Jasper Kirkby, who’s international team of all-star physicists recently amassed clear experimental evidence for the mechanism by which solar-magnetic activity drives global temperature:

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid106573614001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAGKlf6FE~,iSMGT5PckNvcgUb_ru5CAy2Tyv4G5OW3&bctid=941423264001

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Dude, I hate to break the news to you, but on this subject you’re not Galileo – you’re the agents of the POPE, clinging to ancient and outdated dogma.
      Just a few links debunking the Solar Myth:
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=18
      http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/07/and-the-sun-isn/
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7327393.stm
      http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2008/09/30/203069/study-suns-contribution-to-recent-warming-is-negligible/

      • http://errortheory.blogspot.com/2011/04/solar-warming-and-ocean-equilibrium.html Alec Rawls

        Dude Jeremy: Yes, do please look at the links you posted. The first, for instance, to John Cook’s misnamed “Skeptical Science” site, says that solar activity cannot be the cause of late 20th century warming because “In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions.” This is Cook’s answer at all three levels, “basic,” “intermediate,” and “advanced.”

        As I noted in my comment, solar-magnetic activity was at “grand maximum” levels for about 80 years, from the early 1920’s to about 2003 or 2005. See Usoskin et al., 2005:

        http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/aa7704-07.pdf

        Cook’s claim is that, in order for the sun to cause continued warming, it is not enough for the solar-warming effect to remain pinned at the highest levels seen in the last 10,000 years. He claims it has to KEEP going up in order to have a continued warming effect.

        Seriously? You can’t heat a pot of water by turning the flame to maximum and leaving it there? It will only heat if you turn the flame up gradually?

        That’s how dishonest this evasion is, and it is not just Cook who is doing it. He is getting this evasion from a whole host of solar scientists (solar scientists!) who are saying the EXACT SAME THING. It is a patently fraudulent excuse for ignoring what the geologic record points to very clearly at THE primary driver of global temperature (“explaining” in statistical terms 60 to 80% of past temperature change).

        Earlier this year I offered a dozen solar scientists and other climatologists a possible rationale for their making this claim that a solar warming effect can only cause warming if solar activity continues to rise. I suggested that they must be assuming that by the 1970’s the oceans had already equilibrated to the forcing effect of the 20th century’s grand maximum levels of solar activity. Otherwise the high level of forcing would continue to cause warming until equilibrium was reached. I said that if such an implicit assumption was being made, it needed to be argued for, and asked if they could please explain how they justified it.

        Almost all of them were good enough to write back, and all who did write back acknowledged that yes, they were indeed assuming that the oceans had equilibrated to the high level of 20th century solar forcing by the 1970’s (even though, as with John Cook, not one of them had stated this assumption when they made their Cook-like assertions). They offered a couple different rationales for why ocean equilibrium had to have been reached by the 1970’s, but lo and behold, none of those rationales stand up to the least bit of scrutiny. Check my link if you want to read the details.

        Now look who you are citing: Cook, Romm, Wired, and the BBC, four of the most ignorant propagandists on the web. These zealots are trying to unplug the modern world. Before you assist in steering society on such a monstrously costly course, you have an obligation of due diligence to check the facts for yourself, and it is very easy to do.

        The alarmists try to tell you that you can’t check the facts. The science is beyond you, they say. You have to take their word for it. But you certainly don’t have to take their word for THAT. Check and see if the science is beyond you. It’s not. It is trivially simple.

        Step 1: It is a VERY well established fact at this point that solar activity and climate global temperature are highly correlated going back many thousands of years (at my link). Step 2: it is trivially easy to determine that the rationales that the anti-CO2 scientists offer for dismissing a solar explanation for 20th century warming are patently illogical (at my link).

        Two steps, that’s it, and bingo, now you know why global temperatures flattened out when and the sun went dormant in 2005. All the evidence points to the solar explanation. The geologic evidence points to a solar driver, but NOT to a CO2 driver. And solar explains why temperatures have stopped rising, while the CO2 theory says they should be going up faster than ever.

        Two steps, and you have verified that anti-CO2 alarmism is a gigantic fraud, contrary to all available evidence. Try it, just in the privacy of your own home. You don’t have to tell anybody what you find. Just know the truth for yourself.

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