The Challenge is Impossible/It’s a Religion

There has been a rash of two false arguments made by deniers lately that I would like to address below.

The Challenge is not possible because you can’t prove a negative with the scientific method.

This, of course, is a completely false argument made by deniers that are having a hard time dealing with the fact that they are put on the spot. It is most certainly possible to prove man made warming doesn’t exist by using the scientific method. All you have to do is provide an alternative explanation for all of the scientific evidence that is itself, scientific.

The claim deniers make is that I am not following the scientific method myself. Their claim is that I am putting forth a hypothesis (man made global warming is real) and it is up to me to prove that hypothesis. By making the challenge, I am attempting to put the burden and them and forcing them to prove a negative. But, that is not the case and is merely a false argument they are using to avoid being held accountable.

The truth is, the deniers are the ones that have put forth the hypothesis – i.e., man made global warming is not real and it can be proven with scientific evidence. Now that they have put forth the hypothesis the burden is on them to prove it. Notice something about this, my stand on global warming is irrelevant in this challenge. The hypothesis originated with them, not me. I could be a denier myself and the challenge would still be equally valid.

So far, I have received thirty-something submissions. Some of them have been pretty silly. Some of them have been genuine scientific attempts. None of them have turned out to be scientifically valid. Let me repeat that point to be sure I am clear: The reason they failed is because they are not scientifically valid. Just as soon as someone provides a scientifically valid explanation that covers all of the observed facts, they will win.

So, tell me how that is not possible under the scientific method. It is not possible because the science isn’t there, but it is certainly valid under the scientific method. And, when deniers say otherwise, they are just trying to make excuses.

Climate science is a religion.

Just another denier false argument to try explain away how they can’t defend their position to anyone that understands science.

The definition of a religion is something that is believed on faith and doesn’t need any evidence. That is the very description of deniers and their beliefs. When someone tries to engage me in a global warming debate I ask them one question, “Is there anything I can do or say that will change your mind?” If their answer is, “No,” then I see no point in going on. So far, no one has ever said, “Yes.” That one question sure saves me a lot of aggravation.

So, deniers will stick to their beliefs in the very face of massive scientific evidence and will not even consider they are wrong. Scientists examine the evidence and are continually changing their understanding of the science.

Which one is a religion and which one is a science? You tell me.

Announcing a Deadline for the Challenges

I made my two challenges to prove a point – the deniers are making claims that are false. I have succeeded in making that point. To date, there has been no scientifically valid submission to the challenges. I know, deniers will rant on about how I was wrong in my response, but no one has been able to show a scientific reason why.

So, I am announcing both challenges will come to an end at the end of this month. After midnight (CDT) July 31, 2014 no more submissions will be accepted. That will give anyone plenty of time to go ahead and make a submission. You can’t complain that I didn’t give you enough time. I first posted the challenge April 10, 2012 so deniers have had over two years to make submissions.

One of my promises has been to post all original challenges with my response (the requirement in the challenge was the submission had to be first in order to win). They have been coming in at a heavy pace lately and it is taking me time to get to them all. But, I will. I will post all challenges with my response within 61 days of the close of the challenge – September 30, 2014. It you feel I missed your submission please let me know and I will address your complaint.

Again, all submissions to the two challenges (the Global Warming Skeptic Challenge and the Scientific Evidence Challenge) must be made before midnight (CDT) on July 31, 2014 (before the clock goes over to August 1).

All original submissions will be posted with my responses before September 30, 2014.

$1000 Evidence Challenge – Skeptical Papers

Dr. Keating,

I am a poor college student that needs the 1,000 dollar reward. I do believe that man made Global Warming is real, but I can present evidence against it, because all scientific theories have unsolved problems, and there are no absolute certainties in science.
Here are two papers that are skeptical about man made Global Warming. You can look at the data presented in the Papers.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0098847298000471
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007JD008465/full

If you think the papers make good points, please contact me because I will need the 1,000 dollar reward.

Response:

I’m afraid these papers do not qualify as scientific evidence of anything. The reason is because of who wrote them; The first reference was written by Craig and Sherwood Idso along with Robert Balling. The second paper was written by Ross McKittrick and Patrick Michaels. Every single one of these people have been shown to falsify their research and are not credible. The Idsos are funded by The Heartland Institute which is a fossil fuel industry funded organization that funds scientists with the stated goal of undermining climate science. Anyone associated with Heartland has lost all credibility, but the Idsos have gone to great lengths to destroy theirs.

Sorry, there is nothing here that qualifies as scientific evidence. It will merely serve as something deniers will pull out endlessly, not matter how many times it gets debunked. 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Some people have made comments indicating they think I was overly dismissive. I wasn’t. But, I will admit I didn’t clarify myself well enough. Let me take care of that.

The Idso family (father Sherwood and brothers Craig and Keith) run the denier organization Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. This center is closely aligned with, and accepts money from, the Heartland Institute. Internal documents from Heartland showed Heartland is providing funding for the purpose of undermining climate science. Craig Idso, according to the documents, is collecting $11,600 a month from them. Another organization funded by Heartland is the NIPCC, which presents itself as an alternative to the IPCC. I have already responded to a submission on the NIPCC. You can see it here. Craig Idso is lead author on reports of NIPCC.

So, we have a group of people receiving money from the fossil fuel industry with the stated, directed goal of undermining climate science.  No one associated with the group is credible and nothing they say can be accepted as scientific evidence. To me, this is no different than “evidence” from Nazis about Jews or from the KKK about black people. They have zero credibility and have been demonstrated to present false reports in the past. When someone has the stated goal of destroying something, how can you possibly give any credence to what they have to say on the subject? The answer is, you can’t. And, I don’t.

Ross McKitrick is an economist (yes, you read that correctly). He is a signatory to the Cornwall Alliance‘s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that “Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting”. He wrote an ‘evangelical response to global warming’ and has spoken at the Heartland conferences (see my comments about being associated with Heartland above).

Patrick Michaels was a professor at the University of Virginia but is now Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is a denier organization that receives funds from the fossil fuel industry, most notably from the Koch brothers. Michaels was an expert witness for the Western Fuels Association. ABC News reported he received $100,000 from the Intermountain Rural Electricity Association to fund his research into alternative climate science and he has admitted that 40% of his funding comes from the fossil fuel industry. He has a long history of getting it wrong.

McKitrick and Michaels have collaborated before. Together, they wrote a paper on the urban heat island effect that has been completely debunked and, in my opinion, used falsified data. Even though debunked and shown to be false, this issue is still one of the most often-cited criticisms deniers produce. In other words, years after the two of them made a false claim, scientists are still forced to repeatedly fend off that false claim. To really rub salt in the wound, even McKitrick and Michaels said only half of the observed warming could be attributed to the urban heat island effect (not a true statement, by the way). So, even with flawed work, they still could not show man made global warming is not real. And yet, it is still cited as evidence against AGW.

So, am I being overly harsh for dismissing these papers as being unscientific? If anything, I believe I have been very generous. I did not use this submission as an opportunity to launch into their work to show why they are even worse than what I have portrayed here.

If you have an accountant and you learn that he was stealing your money, would you go back to him and trust him? This is the same with McKitrick and Michaels. The have a long history of taking fossil fuel money and then making false statements about climate change science. They have no credibility and their work cannot be accepted as scientific evidence.

Can they reform their reputations? Yes, they can. Even the Idsos. But, it would be a long, difficult process and it will not start with me.

Some Clarification on the $10,000/$1000 Challenges

UPDATED: I HAVE ADDED SOME SPECIFIC WAYS AGW COULD BE DISPROVED BELOW.

So, my two challenges to the deniers has been getting a lot of attention lately and the comments and accusations are really  flying. I think it would be easier to make a posting about this instead of addressing each one over and over.

The two challenges are in response to deniers claiming that man made global warming is not real and that the science to support them is conclusive. My challenge to them is to show their claims are true. That is all it is.

There have been complaints by deniers that this is not a fair challenge. Why not? Deniers are the ones that made the claim, why is it unfair to make them stand by their own words. If they think it is unfair to hold them to their own claims, then stop making the claims.

Some have tried to change the challenge by arguing semantics, saying that I have not defined the parameters clearly. The parameters are clear – put up or shut up. If they think that the parameters of their claims are not clear, then stop making the claims.

Some have objected that I treat them with harsh words. That is true, but doesn’t change the nature of the challenge. You guys have made the statements, not me. Why is your inability to produce the fault of what I think of you? The fact that you lie to the public like that with no ability to produce is why I say harsh things about you (and think much harsher things that I keep to myself). If you don’t like being treated harshly, then back up what you say with some proof.

Some have even gone so far as to claim that no one has ever denied that man made global warming is not real. I swear, I didn’t make that last statement up. This is such a brazen lie that I wonder if the people saying this have lost touch with reality. Seriously, I wonder if they have lost touch with the real world. One question to those people, if deniers have never said man made global warming is not real, then just what have you guys been saying all this time? There is a long record of your statements about how global warming is a fraud, etc. Once again, if you don’t like being held accountable for what you say, stop saying it.

Some have said the challenge should be to the scientists to prove their claims. Scientists, unlike the deniers, have to prove their statements every step of the way and have to do it every day. All of their work is submitted to refereed journals for review before it can become part of the scientific literature. After publication, their work is still examined and reexamined over and over. That is part of the scientific process – it has to be reproducible by other people. So, I don’t need to issue a challenge to the scientists because they already have a challenge much more rigorous than anything I could issue. The deniers should be held to the same level of accountability, but they aren’t. They are getting off very easy with my challenge.

So, I will do some of your work for you and provide you with a couple of ways to disprove AGW. It surprises me that I have to do this because the deniers just go on and on about how the science doesn’t support man made global warming. You really would think they could figure out a proof all on their own.

The first comes from an anonymous  reader that made a comment:

Option #1:

The basic tenets of AGW are these two IPCC conclusions:

It is extremely likely (95-100%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

Climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C and extremely unlikely (95-100%) less than 1°C.

So if someone was able to scientifically disprove these two extremely likely / unlikely statements, then that should suffice. That said, the climate debate has shifted a bit over the past decades I’ve following it into at least “skeptics” grudgingly accepting (1) that the planet is actually warming and (2) the physics behind sensitivity excluding feedbacks being 1.1°C.

Option #2:

Deniers love claiming that previous cycles in the climate prove that the current warming cycle is nothing more than a naturally occurring warming cycle (of course, you have to concede that it is warming in order to make this claim).  The problem is that they never provide any proof, or even evidence, that there is any connection between the current warming cycle and naturally occurring cycles.

Proof that today’s warming cycle is a naturally occurring event would satisfy the challenge.

So, there you go. I set the challenge up to favor the deniers and have now even produced two separate ways they can win.

And, yet, THE DENIERS STILL CAN’T PRODUCE.

That is part of the problem. They are told to put or shut up and THEY DON’T DO EITHER ONE! Come on guys! Do one or the other!

They try to change the subject on the challenge. I have been told I should be the one to prove my stand. Two comments on that. First, the challenge is to the deniers, not to me. If they don’t like the challenge, then stop making the statements. Second, I DID! That is what my book is all about! I made a claim about the validity of man made global warming and I provided a proof to back up my claim. If they really want to see me prove the validity of man made global warming they only need to buy my book.

Until then, the challenge remains and it will remain unchanged. Deniers say man made global warming is false and it is easy to prove it. SO DO IT!

I’m still waiting. And, so is the rest of the world.

You know why you guys haven’t done it yet? Because you are frauds, liars and deceivers! You make statements to the public because you know you can say anything you want without being held accountable. The challenge remains – if is is so easy, why can’t you  do it?

Of course, we all know exactly why.

The lack of proof from you guys is all I need to prove my point.

First $10,000 and $1000 Challenges!

I received the first submission to the $10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge today. It was submitted as a comment to the challenge page. You can see it there, but I also reproduce it here verbatim:

Here you go:
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:2000/plot/rss/from:2000/trend

Please make your generous donation payable to: The Free Software Foundation (fsf.org). You donation is appreciated and TAX-DEDUCTIBLE…

If you go to the webpage he (forgive me for being sexist. There is no indication of gender. I use the male gender here as a generic reference only.) references you find this:

http://www.woodfortrees.org/graph/rss/from:2000/plot/rss/from:2000/trend
Source: WoodForTrees.org

Let’s cut right to the chase because this is a really pathetic example of denier-speak: No, this does not satisfy the challenge. In fact, this doesn’t even qualify as a proof under the scientific method. This is what is known as ‘cherry-picking’ – picking your data to get the results you want.

Since, Mr. Anonymous (I don’t blame him for refusing to identify himself. I would be embarrassed too.) didn’t submit a proof, I am forced to conclude this is not a proof that man made global warming is not real.

However, I will, on my own initiative, submit it as the first challenge under the $1000 Scientific Evidence Challenge. Again, this is not evidence against man made global warming for the following reasons:

Failure #1: The data is cherry-picked, as I said before. It is completely expected to see a large amount of variability in the data. Just look the graph above and you can see how it goes way up and then it goes way down. Comare the year 2008 to 2010. In fact, let’s do that and see what we get:

http://www.woodfortrees.org/graph/rss/from:2000/plot/rss/from:2008/to:2010/trend
Source: WoodForTrees.org      

Wow! What a difference! See the thin green line going up at an incredible rate? Look at that and tell me there is no such thing as man made global warming! We’re all doomed! DOOMED!

But, if you objected you wold be correct. This is cherry-picking. I selected two data points in order to get what I wanted. Cherry-picking is invalid science, no matter which way you go. I cannot do it any more than Mr. Anonymous can. It is still invalid and only serves to provide someone with a false argument.

If we want to really see what is going on we need to use statistical methods that take out the ‘noise’ of background effects and variability. A long-term average does a better job:

Source: WoodForTrees.org

This plot shows the average data from 1980 to the present with a trend line from 1980 to 2013 (the last complete year). This is a much more valid plot than what Mr. Anonymous provided and shows a seriously different result: there is has been a definite waring trend in the data.

Mr. Anonymous failed on this one point alone. His plot is not scientific evidence against global warming.

Failure #2: If you are able to see the source for all of these plots (shown to the right on the source page for the plots) you should quickly pick out the second fatal flaw in Mr. Anonymous’ argument: The data source is “RSS MSU lower trop. global mean.” This stands for Remote Sensing System Microwave Sounding Units lower troposphere global mean temperature. In other words, this is the satellite measurements of the lower part of the atmosphere. There is the problem with this claim and I have pointed this out many times:

When we say global warming we mean the whole globe, not just one part of it.

Using a limited data set excludes what is happening everywhere else. Where is the data on ocean heating? Or, data on ice melting? Or, data on other parts of the atmosphere? Mr. Anonymous has conveniently left out all of that data. It is a very different story when you include it:

Source: Skeptical Science compiled from data in Church et al. (2011)

Seeing a more complete depicting of the data shows global warming is serious and it continues, despite the false arguments of deniers to the contrary.

So, there is a second fatal flaw in Mr. Anonymous’ claim.

In short, he did not submit a proof, so he failed in the $10,000 challenge and it is not scientifically valid evidence against man made global warming, so it fails the $1000 challenge, as well.

I am sure the deniers will object simply because deniers reject science in favor of their denier-religion. But, if they think I am wrong in my statements here, they are free to both comment below and to make corrections to the submissions and submit them again.

However, I am thankful to Mr. Anonymous for the link. That is a very nice website and it will provide me with some nice graphics to show how deniers cherry-pick the data.

Why Haven’t the Deniers Taken the Challenges?

So far, the deniers keep talking about how the science is overwhelmingly in their favor and climate change advocates are ignoring the science.

Fine. So, I made a venue for them to prove their claims, the $10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge and the $1000 Scientific Evidence Challenge. I am disappointed, but certainly not surprised, that there have been no challenges in either case. Why do you think that is?

The deniers, I am sure, are saying the reason they don’t submit anything is because I’m the sole judge. Yes, that is a true statement, but its my money. However, I also said I will post any challenge and I will show why the challenge does not meed the standards, in the case it doesn’t. What this means is that I am putting my credibility on the line. If someone makes a valid challenge and I dismiss it, it will be there for the entire world to see.

Besides, if I am giving a critique, all a denier has to do is take that critique, address my criticisms and submit it again. There is no entry fee and you can keep submitting for as long as you like – or win, if that happens to be the case.

Someone criticized me with the statement that I wouldn’t enter a challenge with those terms. In fact, I did just that. I submitted an entry for the Junk Science Ultimate Global Warming Challenge. Junk Science (what an appropriate name for an organization that deniers global warming and says DDT is harmless for the environment) had their challenge in 2007-2008. They promised a $500,000 award to anyone that could prove global warming is real and is harmful. He also charged $15 to make a submission.

Oh, by the way, he was the sole judge.

I made my submission, but not because I thought there was ever any chance he would admit his mistake and award the money. I am very suspicious that he never had the money anyway. I did it to illustrate the point that he had no credibility. He cannot make a valid claim that no one could do it. By the way, he just said my entry didn’t succeed, he never gave any reason for his decision. But, we know his reason, he never intended to give the money away to anyone.

No, the real reason no one has taken the challenge is because they can’t. There is no scientific evidence supporting the claims of the deniers that man-made global warming isn’t real. The science is overwhelming. It is not possible to prove, via the scientific method, that it isn’t real. And, I stand by my statement that there isn’t even any scientific evidence at all to support the deniers.

Their silence says everything that needs to be said. I know it, they know it and now you know it.

Is there ANY scientific evidence against climate change?

I have put my money where my mouth is in the past. I made the $10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge where I said that I would pay $10,000 to anyone proving, via the scientific method, that man made climate change is not real. So far, there has not been any takers. Lots of people have looked at the challenge, but apparently the deniers aren’t as sure of themselves as they claim to be.

Well, I have also stated that there is no scientific evidence refuting the conclusion that man made emissions are responsible for, at least, the majority of climate change, and is most like responsible for all of it. So, I am now making a new challenge to climate change deniers – the $1000 Scientific Evidence Challenge. I will pay $1000 to the first person to show there is any scientific evidence that refutes the conclusion of man made climate change.

The rules are simple and are the same as for the $10,000 challenge:

1. I will award $1,000 of my own money to anyone that can show there is valid scientific evidence indicating man made global warming is not real. It doesn’t have to prove man made global warming is not real, it just needs to be valid scientific evidence against it.;
2. There is no entry fee;
3. You must be 18 years old or older to enter;
4. Entries do not have to be original, they only need to be first;
5. I am the final judge of all entries but will provide my comments on why any entry fails to meet the prove the point.
Simple, right? In fact, if you listen to the skeptics I will have to be writing a check within a day or two because they all claim ‘the science isn’t settled.’ Fine! Prove it! Are you telling me you wouldn’t like to take $1000 from someone that advocates global warming is real?
This is not a joke and it isn’t a bluff. If someone can provide any valid scientific evidence that anthropogenic climate change is not real, then I will write them a check.
But, I am sure my money is safe. I would not have made this challenge if I didn’t already know the answer.  The scientific evidence for global warming is overwhelming and the only way you can believe otherwise is if you reject science.
Any takers?