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The Sceptic View

The Sceptic view is the final statement published 6th May 2012 prepared after a discussion on the blog Scottish Sceptic by a number of regular contributors to that blog as well as others who participated from Wattsupwiththat , Bishop Hill and other blogs.  It was an agreed statement by those participating in the discussion. As such it represents the most authoritative statement of the views of Climate "Sceptics"/"Skeptics" as of May 2012.

The Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5)

This sceptic Isle

cartoonsbyjosh.com (click to enlarge)

Sceptics value diversity of views and there are many strands. As one contributor said:

Climate scepticism isn’t necessarily about what we agree upon, it’s based upon how many questions go unanswered. More, it’s about how many lies that have been told, whether directly or by omission. The greatest liberator of mankind so far – fossil fuel – has been tried, found guilty and condemned without ever being allowed to publicly mount a defence. (TinyCO2 )

Many have passionate views based on the evidence:

As far as I’m concerned I see absolutely no unambiguous empirical evidence that CO2 has any discernible effect on climate whatsoever. It may possibly have an influence but I’m damned if I see it anywhere. (cerberus)

Although there is no single sceptic view, most** sceptics broadly agree with the following:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) has been increasing. In 1960 it was 0.032% of the atmosphere, today it is 0.039%.
  • There has very probably been warming of average global temperatures in the last 150 years.
  • There is a greenhouse effect and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The best scientific estimate of this effect (for doubling CO2) is about 1C warming.
  • People think there are mechanisms that could increase warming further than the direct effect of CO2. This is not supported by the evidence.
  • Current estimates of about 0.8 C temperature rise in the past 150 years are very likely too high.  There is compelling evidence of malpractice, urban heating and poor instruments & siting. A figure of 0.5-0.6C warming appears more likely.
  • Man-made sources have increased global levels of CO2, however scientific analysis shows part of the increase is natural and no one is certain how much or little of this rise is man-made.
  • Water in the atmosphere is far more important than CO2 in determining global temperature.
  • The harmful effects of warming have been exaggerated as shown e.g.  by the absence of substantial evidence for increasing weather extremes.
  • Known benefits have been hidden. It is estimated there are more than 20,000 extra winter deaths each year in the UK and increasing fuel costs will make this worse. CO2 is essential for plant growth and increasing levels are beneficial to plants.
  • Even under the worst case scenario warming, when the usual method of comparing the cost and benefit of policy is used, it is more cost effective to deal with any problems that occur than to pay to try to stop them.
  • Climate proxies are not reliable. If we consider all the evidence including historical records, the evidence suggests the world was warmer during the “medieval warm period” as well as being cooler during the “little ice age”.
  • Climate varies naturally. Most of the CO2 rise occurred in the latter half of the 20th century. If this change were man-made the global temperature change for the early and latter 20th century should be very different. They are not. This suggests a natural cause for much of the 20th century warming.
  • In 2001 the IPCC stated with a high degree of confidence that global temperature would warm. It has not. In science a theory is not valid unless the data supports it. Climate scientists must accept this theory is not validated and acknowledge that the IPCC confidence in warming was greatly overstated.
  • We condemn the many instances of malpractice seen in climate science and those who condone them.

Explanatory note

**We encourage debate based on scientific evidence. We particularly abhor any dismissal of potentially good science based on the preconceived prejudice that has dominated climate science and prevented debate. Those who did not agree with the above seemed to do so for the following reasons:

  • Some sceptics reject any interpretation of the data beyond a minimal assertion of the facts.
  • Others question the validity of isolated surface stations as representing a global temperature.
  • A vocal group of sceptics look to other planets as a model of the earth’s climate and argue that the temperatures seen on these planet contradict the theory on which greenhouse warming is based. We think such ideas and theories deserve consideration and require effort to substantiate or refute them based on the evidence.

Myths about Sceptics