Doomed Planet

Debating physics

[This is a response to Peter Smith’s essay "Sceptics losing clarity"]

Peter Smith ignores the elementary logic that, if man-made CO2-driven warming is a yet-to-be proven hypothesis, as I believe we both agree it is, then it will one day be validated or falsified by direct observational evidence – evidence that is likely to come from satellites.

He writes that “everyone knows that 1998 was an outlier” (in terms of elevated temperature), as the peak in that year was caused by an El Nino event, and implies that 1998 data should be excluded from the discussion for that reason. But we know that the high temperature of early 2010 was also caused by an El Nino event – so the two peaks should be comparable: if one is an outlier, so is the other; but both are data, so if one is either included or excluded, the other should be treated in the same way.

He writes that “temperatures since satellite data have been collected (1979) show an upward trend to the naked eye” and I agree. But I wrote that “for the past 12 years, there’s been no global warming”, referring only to the last 12 years – not the period since 1979. Based on the 13-month running average used by Dr. Spencer, this is clearly so and remains so in either case: whether the El Nino-caused peaks of 1998 and 2010 are either included or excluded, Spencer’s curve still shows there’s been no warming for 12 years.

Smith would like to see an authoritative and definitive summary of the anti-catastrophist position. Such a summary would be either an argument from authority (argumentum ad verecundiam) or an argument from headcount (argumentum ad populum), both of which are logical fallacies, noted since antiquity, where the premises can be true, but the conclusion false. It won’t happen – it’s not how debates go, much less debates about matters of physics.

See also:

Bob Carter’s response to Peter Smith "Science is about testing hypotheses"

Peter Smith replies in “Climate riposte

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