Lubos Motl’s 104 Reasons To Be A Skeptic

Lubos Motl’s skeptical website, The Reference Frame, is widely read and cited.  Motl counters John Cook’s assertions about man-made global warming.  Motl provides background science that will serve skeptics in any discussion and/or debate.  Motl introduces his material as follows:

John Cook, a former student of physics in Australia, has constructed an interesting website trying to attack the opinions of climate skeptics.

It’s been in my climate bookmarks for quite some time but no one really cared about it so I didn’t want to respond. However, his talking counter-points were recently adopted by an iPhone application. Moreover, Andrew Revkin promoted the website, too. So let us look at his points and counter-points.

Motl matches the headings from Cook’s listing of “myths” and Motl adds his view illustrating what the real story is. Below are two of the 104 topics so you can get a flavor of what is included. To read to all of Motl’s work click here.

On his (Cook) website, you can currently see 102 observations by the skeptics (or some skeptics); 2 of them were added by March 29th and I can’t constantly update this web page so that he’s likely to surpass his 104 points sometime in the future. Each of the “slogans” is accompanied by a short attempted rebuttal by John Cook. And if you click it, you get to a long rebuttal. So let’s look at them:

1. It’s the sun: I agree with Richard Lindzen that it’s silly to try to find “one reason behind all climate change”, because the climate is pretty complex and clearly has lots of drivers, and this applies to the opinion that “everything is in the Sun”, too. Cook shows that the solar irradiance is too small and largely uncorrelated to the observed changes of temperatures. I agree with that: a typical 0.1% change of the output is enough for a 0.025% change of the temperature in Kelvins which is less than 0.1 °C and unlikely to matter much. But I find it embarrassing for a student of solar physics such as himself to be so narrow-minded. The Sun influences the Earth’s atmosphere not only directly by the output but also indirectly, by its magnetic field and its impact on the cosmic rays (via solar wind etc.) and other things. He has completely ignored all these things. Of course, I am actually not certain that these effects are very important for the climate but the evidence – including peer-reviewed articles – is as diverse as the evidence supporting CO2 as an important driver.

104. Southern sea ice is increasing: Cook agrees but says that it surely has nothing to do with warming or global climate change. It must be due to “complex phenomena” such as changes of the winds and circulation. Note that such comments would be unthinkable if he tried to discuss the Northern sea ice. As we have noticed, all “warming” observations are about the climate, important signals that you should appreciate, worship, extrapolate, and be afraid of. On the other hand, all “cooling” observations are just an irrelevant weather that you should dismiss, humiliate, and spit on. With such a biased attitude, it shouldn’t be shocking that Mr Cook ends up with an irrational orthodoxy based on 104 largely obscure misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and myths – and that his opinions about the most important questions are upside down.

Go through all of them, you will might learn something that you didn’t know.


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