the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Bart’s Bud

Posted by Jeff Id on May 25, 2011

Bart Verheggen left a link to atmospheric sciences student Chris Colose’s reply to Dr. Happer’s article featured at WUWT and here.  The article is titled ‘Even Princeton Makes Mistakes’ which is certainly true.  This is all Bart had to say on the matter:

I’m sure most here won’t appreciate the post, but Chris Colose over at SkS disagrees with Happer:

It was published at ‘skeptical science’, a blog skeptical of anything which doesn’t support leftist science – a form of politically motivated science which has invaded our universities (like Princeton and UEA) in replacement for ‘actual’ science.  Ya know, save the planet by growing your own vegetables, riding bikes and building wind farms.  That sort of thing.

It is an ironic post to say the least as it critiques the lack of content of of Happer’s excellent and well written article The Truth about Greenhouse Gasses, while providing little content of its own.  You have to wonder what they are teaching in college these days. I’m certain from the papers I’ve run across, that math is not heavy enough in the atmospheric sciences department.  Still, in an ever expanding effort to tell us how to live and what to think, the head in the sand opinions keep coming.  Chris though likes to take his shots where he can:

In the case of many of the more prominent global warming skeptics who have actual publishing experience, much of what they say on the internet is done precisely because it would never get accepted into a journal document.

It makes you wonder the purpose of Real Cliamte, Climate Progress and all the wild assed leftist climate blogs which do nothing but spout spoon fed conclusions without critique or even consideration of anything other than the source.    Do they publish on line just because it can’t be published also? Chris has this to add:

Just who is William Happer to someone who doesn’t really care much? Well, he is “the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University”, which probably makes him correct concerning a lot of physical phenomena he chooses to talk about.  But then you come across an article such as this (which was then reproduced at Watts Up With That, presumably for the sole reason that it is a disinformation piece).

Well the left does enjoy giving power and trust to authority, however I really don’t  care if William Happer is king of the world, I make my own decisions and from his article, I find little or nothing to disagree with.  It is simply reason in the face of an insane world whereas rational scientific thought is being actively suppressed in response to proper skepticism.   Recall James Annon’s head in the sand comments about models not running higher than trends by an obviusly huge margin (and the fact that people such as myself don’t get it).   It is obvious that climate models have overestimated the amount of warming, yet no admission or updates are forthcoming.  Those admissions reduce the alleged potential for disasters and therefore the funding, so simply say the opposite until everyone on Earth realizes it really isn’t ten degrees warmer than before outside..

They have stated their positions and will not back down.  The paleo proxies are bad data.  You can’t even trust the ice cores for temperature.  I wish you could, but the data is uncalibrated something, it is not clean temperature.  That doesn’t stop the conclusions in climate science though.  We don’t know temperature history from proxies, we don’t have a true clue.   Yet that isn’t what the IPCC will tell you.  The reasoning for declarations of historic knowledge become clear when you consider the ‘warmest ever’ mantra we contend with.  Instead of that kind of ‘science’ Happer writes paragraphs like this:

The minimum acceptable value for plants is not that much below the 270 ppm preindustrial value. It is possible that this is not enough, that we are better off with our current level, and would be better off with more still. There is evidence that California orange groves are about 30 percent more productive today than they were 150 years ago because of the increase of atmospheric CO2.

Although human beings and many other animals would do well with no CO2 at all in the air, there is an upper limit that we can tolerate. Inhaling air with a concentration of a few percent, similar to the concentration of the air we exhale, hinders the diffusional exchange of CO2 between the blood and gas in the lung. Both the United States Navy (for submariners) and nasa (for astronauts) have performed extensive studies of human tolerance to CO2. As a result of these studies, the Navy recommends an upper limit of about 8000 ppm for cruises of ninety days, and nasa recommends an upper limit of 5000 ppm for missions of one thousand days, both assuming a total pressure of one atmosphere. Higher levels are acceptable for missions of only a few days.

The reality is that this is science and fact, nothing more or less. Chris the annointed, responds in his post with this:

This would, of course, be a perfectly valid counter-argument to would-be fallacious reasoning, yet it isn’t the reasoning any real scientist uses, and is therefore a smokescreen.  Naturally, the WUWT crowd has eaten it up without thinking twice.  The causative mechanism is the underlying radiative physics of how a CO2 molecule interacts with infrared light, and also a wide variety of indirect signatures of climate change induced by agents acting on the longwave part of the spectrum, such as stratospheric cooling or the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere. 

Of course that missing tropical hotspot that just won’t materialize disturbs this future climate alarmist’s thoughts not one bit.  He knows that it will come, just because the data doesn’t show it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

Chris also writes:

There’s a whole list of other quick talking points about climategate, the hockey stick, etc that readers here will be well familiar with.  What is most surprising to me is that a distinguished physicist apparently has no original thoughts on the matter.

No original thoughts caught my attention.  What more is there to say, climate scientists gamed the system in cliamtegate (bearing out sections of the Wegman report) and the hockeystick graphs are the ugliest combinations of bad math and data that I have ever witnessed.  It left me wondering, what is Happer supposed to write?  Not that it would have changed Chris’s already decided head one bit.

Happer did point out a lot of sore spots in the consensus duma community which I’m sure sting a little to read.

A rare case of good correlation between CO2 levels and temperature is provided by ice-core records of the cycles of glacial and interglacial periods of the last million years of so. But these records show that changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 levels, so that the levels were an effect of temperature changes. This was probably due to outgassing of CO2 from the warming oceans and the reverse effect when they cooled.

BTW, this makes a hell of a lot more sense than the hand waiving exercise climate scientists go through in their own efforts to explain away the observed reversal of time-space causation.

Happer makes a number of good observations in the next couple of paragraphs, although a couple of his possible explanations for observed warming are off base IMHO, many are quite plausible.

The earth’s climate has always been changing. Our present global warming is not at all unusual by the standards of geological history, and it is probably benefiting the biosphere. Indeed, there is very little correlation between the estimates of CO2 and of the earth’s temperature over the past 550 million years (the “Phanerozoic” period). The message is clear that several factors must influence the earth’s temperature, and that while CO2 is one of these factors, it is seldom the dominant one. The other factors are not well understood. Plausible candidates are spontaneous variations of the complicated fluid flow patterns in the oceans and atmosphere of the earth—perhaps influenced by continental drift, volcanoes, variations of the earth’s orbital parameters (ellipticity, spin-axis orientation, etc.), asteroid and comet impacts, variations in the sun’s output (not only the visible radiation but the amount of ultraviolet light, and the solar wind with its magnetic field), variations in cosmic rays leading to variations in cloud cover, and other causes.

The existence of the little ice age and the medieval warm period were an embarrassment to the global-warming establishment, because they showed that the current warming is almost indistinguishable from previous warmings and coolings that had nothing to do with burning fossil fuel. The organization charged with producing scientific support for the climate change crusade, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), finally found a solution. They rewrote the climate history of the past 1000 years with the celebrated “hockey stick” temperature record.

Still though, it doesn’t stop Chris from writing his own opinions:

Happer’s reasoning is well out of line throughout his entire article, yet that doesn’t stop a Princeton physicist from declaring with such confidence that this CO2-induced global warming thing is all a sham.  Throughout the article he shows his unambiguous mission to confuse the reader, and his own ignorance concerning the physics of climate. He makes a number of serious accusations against a very large community, something which if unfounded (as it is surely is) should ruin the reputation of any serious scientist.  Indeed, for me at least, it has.  It is possible his own area of research is so far removed from climate that none of his colleagues will bother to care.

The only accusations I read by Happer were toward the climategate emails which were quite accurately described by Happer.   If Chris Coloese is making the statement that climategate scientists were not directly involved in the manipulation of data, hiding of results, clipping of temperature graphs, all to make the appearance of global warming ‘science’ more certain, then he is promoting propaganda before truth.  Truth is truth and these leftist to a man climate students seem to take courses in lying with a straight face.  They know after cliamtegate that any insane thing they write or say will be backed by the fully committed on-board media, all their peers and no harm can come to them no matter which data they manipulate or which lies they tell about it.

I’ll finish with a couple of paragraphs from Happers work which are far more enjoyable to read.   A little sanity for an ever-more-corrupted climate community.

Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really is a greenhouse gas and other things being equal, adding the gas to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly cause about 1 degree Celsius in warming. At the current rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere—about 2 ppm per year—it would take about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increase will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, and so on are greatly exaggerated.

“Mitigation” and control efforts that have been proposed will enrich a favored few with good political ties—at the expense of the great majority of mankind, including especially the poor and the citizens of developing nations. These efforts will make almost no change in earth’s temperature. Spain’s recent experiment with green energy destroyed several pre-existing jobs for every green job it created, and it nearly brought the country to bankruptcy.

What a crazy world.

26 Responses to “Bart’s Bud”

  1. Yes, Jeff, the products of brainwashing:

    a.) At the most right-wing, fanatical religious college, and

    b.) At the most left-wing, prestigious eastern university

    Are identical twins hiding under different cloaks of respectability.

    This climate scandal is starting to unfold very rapidly tonight, as public attention is focused on volcanos, tornadoes and other unusual weather events.

    I expect that heads of the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK’s Royal Society, BBC, and PBS – as well as editors of Nature, Science & PNAS – will be forced to resign before we get to the bottom of this global climate scandal.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  2. GregO said


    Thanks for the deconstruction of Chris’s fatuous criticism of Happer.

    Two aspects of the AGW alarmist meme that get me are: 1) exaggeration 2) groundless assertion.

    Chris seems to simply accept 1) as truth given; and as an example of 2) states “yet it isn’t the reasoning any real scientist uses”.

    What? What is the reasoning real scientists use, and how has Dr Happer not reasoned up to par? Groundless assertion, and/or ad hom. Nothing is proposed, then supported, nothing is added to the discussion.

  3. Bryan said

    Lou Grinzo writes this post Sk Sc about the article article.

    …..”I’ve heard many people talk about how physics is the field that produces the most adamant and often just plain wrong deniers. (Which is NOT to say that all physicists are deniers, merely that the worst ones with a background in a hard science tend to come from that field.) Happer sounds like a prime example of the phenomenon, right up there with Dyson.”…..

    Well observed Lou …..I wonder why that is?

  4. Chuckles said

    In fairness to Chris Colose, I don’t that that his comment starting ‘This would, of course, be a perfectly valid counter-argument’ was addressed to the Happer quote that you placed just before it?

    And Happer’s statement ‘Although human beings and many other animals would do well with no CO2 at all in the air,’ is not something I’d want to be claiming.
    If the CO2 levels fell to 0, I’m not sure we’d have any humans or mammals alive. Our breathing reflex is controlled by CO2 levels; absent that as a cue and our bodies do not know to change our breathing rate/level when we are short of oxygen. Similarly our whole pulmonary system has evolved to mimic an ancient paleo-atmosphere that was much higher in CO2 than is the case today.
    These basic facts of human/mammalian physiology are probably amongst the simplest and strongest evidence that high levels of CO2 are not a cause for concern, and that CO2 is not a pollutant.
    Given prof. Happer’s title, perhaps we could call it ‘Bracketting the Fog’?

  5. Mark T said


    Engineers, too. Likely because such hard sciences involve intense training in data analysis and, often, statistics. Not that this makes us right, it just makes us harder to convince than the hoi palloi. We (engineers at least) spend our lives doubting and questioning everything so it is hardly a surprise when we see conflicting lines of evidence as a failure in a hypothesis. Add to that behavior that would get any engineer fired and you have skeptic soup.


  6. GT said

    The leftist mindset might be characterized by an interpretation of the famous quote attributed to Robert Kennedy, but apparently originating with George Bernard Shaw:

    Some men see things as they are and ask why; I dream things that never were and ask why not?

    The position assumes a moral superiority grounded in nothing absolute and leads to the presumed right, perhaps even obligation, to tell everybody else what to do and how to think because the non-leftist is too benighted to do anything but lament current conditions and submit to the manipulations of their overlords. OTOH, we of noble and superior vision see how things should be and challenge the status quo, demanding that it change. The leftist doesn’t need to “ask why” — he already knows and everything else is just tidying up. You hear this condescension clearly in the tone of Colose’s piece.

  7. Rich Horton said

    I love how Colose wonders why there isn’t a lot of high order mathematics in a piece published in First Things, a journal of political opinion.

    Colose cannot be as stupid as he sounds, can he?

  8. Mark T said

    No, just blind.


  9. BDAABAT said

    @ Mark T (5): Absolutely! Don’t forget the other major difference in what engineers do that climate scientists seem consistently and purposefully unwilling to do: real TESTING.


  10. steveta_uk said

    Chuckles said

    May 26, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Our breathing reflex is controlled by CO2 levels

    True, but CO2 levels in our lungs make us breath out; it’s not triggered by what we breath in.

    One of the nicer suicide methods is apparently to simply breath pure nitrogen. We simply slow down, then stop, breathing as we stop producing CO2. No nasty gasping involved.

  11. Mark T said

    That just seems eerie.


  12. Chuckles said


    I’m not sure I follow, as your second paragraph about nitrogen exactly corresponds to an earth atmosphere without CO2?
    Without CO2 in the atmosphere, we simply cannot feel whether we are suffocating or not, which was pretty much my (probably badly explained) point.

    By way of demonstration –

  13. MikeN said

    Chris Colose has his own blog linked from RealClimate. I’ve found he doesn’t do anything in the way of censoring. Though he also generally has low volume.

  14. Lynn said


    I think you’re drawing the wrong conclusion from the video. Notice that Dr. Miller in the video says that the breathing reflex is caused by “the build-up of CO2 rather than the fall of O2”. Under normal conditions, that build-up comes from the CO2 that is coming out of our bloodstream and into the lungs between breaths. The apparatus he is using only speeds up the process so he can illustrate the effect in the finite time of the demonstration.

    Try this simple experiment. Sit in a comfortable position for a minute or two, long enough to be able to breathe normally. Then, exhale, and hold your breath for as long as you can. When you do finally inhale, notice whether that breath is more or less robust than the breaths you were taking before you held your breath. Why do you think it was more (or less) robust? The O2/CO2 concentrations in the air outside your nostrils presumably hasn’t changed appreciably while you were holding your breath. Your heart continued to beat, and blood continued to circulate, and CO2 continued to build up in your lungs while O2 decreased.

    So I think Happer is correct that non-plant life could get along just fine with no CO2 in the atmosphere — except that we’d have nothing to eat, of course. We produce all the CO2 we need with every breath to stimulate the breathing reflex in normal conditions.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong. 😉

  15. Carrick said


    One of the nicer suicide methods is apparently to simply breath pure nitrogen. We simply slow down, then stop, breathing as we stop producing CO2. No nasty gasping involved.

    I’m not a physiologist but I think this may be a myth.

    In a normal healthy person who is at rest, breathing is controlled by the build up of CO2, however, when O2 levels start dropping precipitously (say SPO2 of 90%), it is O2 level that controls breathing…this is notable is the rapid, shallow breathing of a dying or sick person whose cardiovascular system is failing, as his lungs are fighting to maintain sufficient O2 levels in his blood stream.

    It may be that the switch from CO2 to O2 driven breathing (hypoxia driven breathing) will occur in a healthy person who is offing himself with N2 at low enough SPO2 levels as to cause unconsciousness… Still this is something I would try on a captured enemy before myself, just to be safe. 😉

    (Caveat, I know this stuff is very complex and I have only a partial grasp of it, which is why I make the caveat that I’m no physiologist.)

  16. Chuckles said

    @Lynn & Carrick,

    I agree, and I’m happy to admit I may be wildly wrong, but I think we should be very careful here to distinguish between what we believe to be the mechanisms involved, and what they actually are. I didn’t base what I said on the video, I just find it a useful anecdotal illustration of the dangers of low CO2 atmospheres. Without CO2 at a suitable partial pressure in the incoming air, there is no physiological reaction to a lack of oxygen.
    There is no signal saying ‘you must breathe more deeply’ ever generated, and equally no ‘shortness of breath’ or any other warning. That’s why oxygen is mandatory for pilots above a certain altitude in unpressurised planes. You simply do not know this is happening.

    Like you, I’m not a physiologist or a specialist physician, and when I first read about pulmonary physiology, I was amazed at how it differed from received wisdom. I don’t want to hijack the thread here, so I’ll just post a couple of useful links from a prof of physiology –

  17. Carrick said


    There is no signal saying ‘you must breathe more deeply’ ever generated, and equally no ‘shortness of breath’ or any other warning.

    Actually, there is a reaction to O2 concentration the blood, it is just substantially lower in magnitude than the CO2 concentration one. It even has a name, “hypoxic drive”. (It is important to distinguish the reality of the hypoxic drive from the “hypoxic drive theory”, which is a failed idea about COPD patients.)

  18. Is there one physics bone in this guy’s body?

  19. Chuckles said

    @Carrick, Sounds like the sort of thing that will get you arrested? 🙂
    We know there is an upper limit beyond which the ‘breathe more’ reflex is not triggered, because of the evidence of the effects on pilots. i.e. slide into unconsciousness without knowing it. Similarly, we have Steveta_UK, comment that breathing pure nitrogen has a similar effect, with obviously no ‘incoming’ atmospheric CO2.
    Confounding fact is that in both the above, there is no O2 to be had.
    I’m trying to decide whether there is a lower limit of atmospheric CO2 below which our bodies would also not notice that more O2 is needed, e.g. when exercising etc, and with similar effects.
    Or whether, as Lynn noted, the CO2 coming out the blood swamps everything, and is sufficient to keep us alive?
    It’s those positive CO2 feedbacks you know…

  20. Anonymous said

    Carrick, Chuckles, et al,
    The perception of “lack of air” or a “need to breath more deeply” or “sense of suffocation” is mostly the result of a buildup of CO2 in the bloodstrean (IIRC, actually a downward shift in pH… sort of like very localized ocean acidifiation ;-). I am quite sure that you can pass out and die in a nitrogen atmosphere without any substantial alarm or warning.. two workers at a plant where I was employed died from nitrogen asphyxiation when the entered a reactor vessel (which they had mistakenly filled with nitrogen… a process that required an hour of over-the-top stupid effort to defeat the systems that were installed to keep this from ever happening!). One passed out within ~2 minutes of entering the reactor, the second entered to save the first, and both died before anybody who was there (other production workers)figured out the reactor had been filled with nitrogen. The time needed to exit the reactor, if you perceived a problem, was not more than about 5-10 seconds, but neither perceived that they were being suffocated…. no buildup of CO2 in the bloodstream.

  21. Apparently this fight over ‘who had the better article’ is really just finding out where people already stand on the significance of AGW as an issue.

    The broad generalizations and ignorant comments about entire communities and departments (as in “atmospheric sciences doesn’t have enough math”) doesn’t really give much substance to reply to (as if you’ve actually delved into the textbooks, spent all-nighters with your peers solving relevant problem sets due the next day, or have read a large volume of literature on the topic); frankly responding to people who actually believe this stuff is like convincing people the rapture wouldn’t actually happen last week. There’s no point in debating with this degree of irrationality with reason, so I won’t try.

    For those who want to actually learn the subject though (and hopefully basic courses in logic, as apparently the straw man fest in Happer’s article was too dressed up for some to see it) I would recommend going through a curriculum in this field. I can proudly recommend the school where I received my Undergrad Atmos. and Oceanic Science degree, University of Wisconson-Madison, as a great research institute where you will get a solid foundation in basic radiative and fluid dynamical processes. There’s also several electives in climate or paleoclimate related subjects for you to learn the issues, and to see why virtually the entire climate science community– including every major scientific organization– has supported the IPCC stance on where the best scholarship currently resides. If you don’t want to pay tuition, there’s enough textbooks on the subject though. There’s really no excuse for supporting this pseudo-science.

  22. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Chris Colose,
    I urge you not to run away from engaging people on the technical aspects; there are some lots here (and a several other blogs I am sure you denigrate) who do know quite a lot of physical science… I would venture some know a bit more than you do about physical sciences.
    I also suggest that appeals to authority like “virtually the entire climate science community– including every major scientific organization”… I resigned after 35 membership from one of these organizations because their stance on GHG driven warming was as much political as scientific.

    You are young enough to see what happen. I am not, but I suspect you will be disappointed to find that the warming will end up below the low end of the IPCC range.

  23. Steve,

    The latest post about Venus’ “dense atmosphere” and its insulative properties even without a GHE, gives me a good indication about the physical understanding here. I’m sorry to say but there are much better resources on the web you can dedicate your attention to, such as the National Academies many reports on the issue, USCCP, IPCC, etc. It’s not an argument from authority, just a reasonable line of pursuit in where you want to get information on a topic you want to learn more about.

  24. Brian H said

    Anonymous said
    May 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply w/ Link

    two workers at a plant where I was employed died from nitrogen asphyxiation when the entered a reactor vessel (which they had mistakenly filled with nitrogen… a process that required an hour of over-the-top stupid effort to defeat the systems that were installed to keep this from ever happening!).

    An excellent demo of one of the versions of the “Original Murphy’s Law”: It’s impossible to make things foolproof, because fools are so ingenious!”


  25. M said

    “BTW, this makes a hell of a lot more sense than the hand waiving exercise climate scientists go through in their own efforts to explain away the observed reversal of time-space causation.”

    Um. Haven’t climate scientists discussed the ocean’s role in CO2 feedback in glacial/interglacial cycles for at least two decades? Eg,, which was discussing the CO2 lag before (I believe) the ice cores were resolved in sufficient detail to actually measure said lag. And the people who actually do the CO2 lag measurements (eg, seem to have no problem believing that the CO2, while it does not initiate glacial/interglacial transitions, is a necessary feedback in order to explain the magnitude, and given that the glacial/interglacial transition takes 6000 years, a few hundred years of lag does not provide evidence against the role CO2 of magnifying the magnitude of orbitally driven change (which also requires non-linear ice-sheet response).

  26. M,


    The logic behind feedback and some of these glacial-interglacial theories is not very difficult to understand. The issue with dismissing the science outright, and substituting it with one-liner talking points (without addressing well-known scientific explanation and counter-arguments, as Happer did in his “well-written” article) is just a matter of dogma. As a commenter “LazyTeenager” pointed out in the comments of my SkS piece, the issues surrounding the article were: 1) Lack of objectivity 2) Partisan support of poorly supported debating points while ignoring well known counter arguments 3) Not considering the evidence 4) Misrepresenting other peoples views 5) Repeating lies made up to discredit climate scientists so that he can justify ignoring the evidence collected by others 6) Logically fallacious arguments. E.g. Stawman

    All of these are hopelessly easy to spot in Happer’s article, as well as subsequent criticism of my own article (e.g., I’m engaged in scare-mongering in pointing out how CO2 is not called a “pollutant” on Venus but still maintains high temperatures there). This is why exams like the GRE that are intended to make sure incoming graduate students understand basic reasoning skills exist. Clearly it is lacking in some arenas. But for others, especially those who have published in this field, it’s just a matter of public attention or maintaining their faith in the non-issue of AGW to justify saying things they say.

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