Monday, August 11, 2008

Michael Duffy and the $1000 Bet

Our little tale begins with a post by Jennifer Marohasy entitled “Causal Linkage between Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming”:

I've been having some discussions with a colleague who has never thought too hard about anthropogenic global warming.

Anyway, he says there must be some work/some research results that have been published in reputable scientific journals that:

1. examine the causal link between anthropogenic carbon dioxide and warming, and

2. quantify the extent of the warming from anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

What he really want (sp.) is links to research papers or citations to research papers.
Now, it’s up to you, dear reader, to decide for yourself whether this request was made in good faith or not.

It is a little strange that a person who has never thought too hard about AGW would want to overlook text books and the like, and go straight for original papers published in journals. Without the scientific context provided by a broad knowledge of a particular field, such papers are often impenetrable.

Having never dwelled upon the discipline in great length, I personally wouldn’t like to make the call as to whether this paper constitutes an unequivocal case for an unusual manifestation of acquired syphilis, for example. It’s just not where I’d start.

Maybe such reticence is a sign of my overwhelming conservatism. I dunno.

However unlikely the scenario outlined in the post may seem, let us assume it’s an honest request.

Jen decides the best place to put forth such a request, apart from her own blog, is in the comments section of a post on economist John Quiggin’s blog.

Then it gets serious.

Conservative radio host Michael Duffy puts up $1000:

I will pay $1,000.00 to the first person to provide a reference to the sort of paper Jennifer has described.
Commenter Luke immediately replies with:
Can I nominate the charity.
No reply from Duffy.

CoRev ups the ante:

C'mon Luke stop quibbling. There must be a seminal a paper or a set of "peer reviewed" papers that establishes these two core basics of the AGW theory. Otherwise, how did the theory get established?
CoRev, editor
Much commenting ensues on John’s and Jen’s blogs – some posts pointing toward some fascinating pieces of work published in the past, some inane in their content, and some typical denialist fluff.

I put forth the seminal work of Plass:

Plass, G.N. (1956). "Effect of Carbon Dioxide Variations on Climate." American J. Physics 24: 376-87
Though perhaps Revelle and Suess’ 1957 piece is equally deserving:

Revelle, Roger, and Hans E. Suess (1957). "Carbon Dioxide Exchange between Atmosphere and Ocean and the Question of an Increase of Atmospheric CO2 During the Past Decades." Tellus 9: 18-27.
Unfortunately, one thing we can be reasonably sure of is that Michael Duffy will never pay out on that bet.


Because the questions are vague and open ended. What is a ‘causal link’ as defined by Marohasy and Duffy? Are we talking examining or proof?

Duffy is just doing a Kent Hovind.

Many papers examine such a link and many papers quantify the extent of AGW-induced warming.

So my question to reader is: What will be the CAUSE of Duffy to refuse to pay out on his bet**?

Will it be:
B. ‘Cause they’re all based on the outputs of models – and Jennifer Hawkins ain’t exactly MENSA material
C. ‘Cause climate science is based on chemistry, which is based on physics, which is based on mathematics...and there's no cause to believe the addition of a 1 to another 1 brings the total to a 2. None at all.

There’s gotta be plenty more. Bring ‘em forth.

**On the off chance I’m mistaken, and Huffy does pay out, I’ll apologise and donate $50 to the Heart Foundation (which, as a poor young scientist with a mortgage, is a fair bit of of my hard-earned).