Argument I had with a climate change denier...
Let's go through each of your points one by one.
"Dyson Freeman [sic] understands "science" as well as anybody on the planet."
Firstly, you might want to get his name right before you start talking about him. It's Freeman Dyson, not Dyson Freeman.
Dyson is a theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. I'm sure he's a genius in those fields. However, none of them have any relevance to climate change. He is not qualified to study climate change, isn't an expert on the subject and has zero published, peer-reviewed papers on climate change. You do realise that "science" encompasses an enormous range of different fields, right? Nobody in the world can be an expert in every single field, it would require literally thousands (if not millions) of years' worth of study. To claim that Dyson "understands 'science' as well as anybody on the planet" is a bizarre, dishonest and illogical statement.
"We know for a fact that the VIkings farmed Greenland for 300 years before the weather cooled."
Indeed we do. As explained before, a few areas around the globe were warmer during that time, but the Earth as a whole was cooler. A five second search on Google will tell you this (published, peer-reviewed journal articles, as opposed to personal blog posts, or talk show radio hosts).
"We know for a fact that Hansen was scaring the populace with global cooling prophecies half a century ago."
How many times are you deniers going to keep repeating this myth? The vast majority of scientific studies in the 1970s predicted continued warming in the future. Only a handful of outlier studies predicted cooling and these were amplified by the mainstream media. I don't know about you, but I prefer to get my science from sober, scholarly and cautious scientists, whose work is peer reviewed – not the hysteria and bias of the mainstream media. Clearly you seem to prefer the latter. Ironic that you finished your post with "Learn to question, learn to think."
"We know for a fact that 9,000 people with PHD's in science signed the petition."
The Oregon Petition has been thoroughly discredited. Barely 0.1% of the signatories were climate scientists, and in any case, most of the "signatures" were obtained dishonestly. End of debate. How the fuck is a heart specialist qualified to produce a detailed study of the radiative forcing effects on the equatorial regions during the late Miocene period? Can't you see, can't you just stop and think about this logically, regardless of your political stance? Fine, go and discuss how certain aspects of climate change might be wrong – but the Oregon Petition is so totally discredited it's laughable. Even most skeptics are now embarrassed to mention it, but for some reason a few like yourself continue to screech about it.
Meanwhile, numerous studies conducted independently (Oreskes 2004, Oreskes 2007, Doran and Zimmerman (2009), Anderegg et al. (2010), Cook et. al., 2013) have shown that a huge majority of climate scientists agree that human activity is contributing to an increased greenhouse effect.
"We know for a fact that the global warming phenomena is now a 1.5 trillion dollar industry in this country."
I don't know the exact figures, but clean energy is certainly a major growth area with massive job potential. Wind turbine makers are currently among the top stock performers, and onshore wind is already among the cheapest energy sources. Solar is growing exponentially in capacity and will soon be competitive even without government subsidies. Energy efficiency programs for homes and workplaces can save huge amounts in energy bills, etc. while new technologies like battery storage and smart grids can solve baseload issues. Hybrid and electric cars are rapidly improving too, both in terms of cost and the range/power/capabilities. The sheer amount of innovation and potential in these industries is breathtaking and they are clearly the future drivers of economic growth. By contrast, fossil fuels are a mature and dead-end technology, overly centralised, increasingly expensive and hard to extract, kill 1.6 million people each year from air pollution and cause all sorts of other problems. What was it you said again?
"Al Gore has made hundred of millions selling this crap to the U.S. govt."
Al Gore is a red herring and totally irrelevant to the debate. He isn't the world's scientific community.
"Do you ever think to question anything that is portrayed to you by those that benefit from it?"
Like the fossil fuel companies, you mean, who stand to lose trillions of dollars in stranded assets, and have a gigantic vested interest in maximising fossil fuel extraction? They already receive untold billions in subsidies (both direct and indirect) thanks to avoiding the true costs of fossil fuels, i.e. not having to pay for health impacts and other externalities, which are instead borne by taxpayers like you and I. To answer your question – yes I do question these things.
"We know the ocean temps have increased about a third of a degree in the last hundred years. For this you want to spend trillions of dollars?"
It's more than a third of a degree. And the oceans are pretty much dying now. We're in the early stages of a mass extinction.
"Can you tell me how much of your global warming is caused by sunspots? El Nino?"
CO2 is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas. We've known this since 1859 when Tyndall performed his first laboratory experiments. Today we have tens of thousands of highly qualified climate scientists and a vast armada of technology at our disposal to research the topic in miniscule detail. It's now about as controversial as the idea that the Earth goes around the Sun.
We can identify the isotopes in the atmosphere to determine what proportion of CO2 is natural and what proportion is man-made. Based on this (and many other lines of evidence), we know that human activity has increased the CO2 level by at least 40% since pre-industrial times. We also know that even a small quantity of something can have a large effect on its surroundings (see e.g. cyanide in a room, and the effects of CFCs on the ozone layer. There are countless other examples I don't have time to list here).
A huge and growing body of evidence shows overwhelmingly that CO2 is now the primary driver of warming. Google "bloomberg what's really warming the world" and view the excellent graphical presentation there. Natural variability alone can't possibly explain the recent warming. Our Sun's radiance, for example, has actually declined in recent decades. Nothing else comes close to matching the heat-trapping effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we're effectively creating a "blanket" around our planet.
"Do you know carbon dioxide levels were higher during the dinosaur era? What kind of a car did a T-Rex drive? Or is that Exxon's fault too?"
By your logic, fires happened naturally in the past – therefore arson is impossible today.
"No, your kind want to spend trillions..."
As explained before, we're already spending trillions on subsidising the external impacts of fossil fuels. You don't seem to complain about that?
"...on a phenomenon that even if true, may actually be good for the planet."
Try telling that to the people of Kiribati, Tuvalu, and other low-lying islands who are already being driven out of their homes which are being increasingly inundated by rising sea levels. Or the farmers in Bangladesh and elsewhere, losing more and more land. Countless other examples I don't have time to list here. There might be a few small benefits to climate change in certain localised regions, but the overall global impacts will easily outweigh any positives, especially longer term.
"You say 2014 is the warmest year on record. Was that before or after NASA and the NOAA altered the temperature record to make recent years warmer? See some us don't forget little charades like that."
There was no "charade". They obtained better and more accurate data, which happens all the time in every area of science. In fact the new trend actually shows less warming than before when measured on a century timescale!
"Your Al Gore models told us that we'd see more and harsher hurricanes. Living in the south I can tell you we've had a relatively mild 10 years. Guess it's time to tweek your infallible models."
There you go with Al Gore again. As though he's the sole expert on climate change. He isn't even a scientist! Again, will you please try to adopt a more rational and balanced viewpoint on this? As for the models, nobody ever said they were "infallible". But in my previous post I already provided a long list of predictions they made correctly – and yet, we don't even need models to know this problem is real and man-made. And with all due respect, I don't think your anecdotal experience (about a localised region over a relatively short period) carries the equivalent scientific weight of a peer-reviewed research paper looking at bigger areas over much longer timescales. If you're truly honest, I think you'll admit I have a point here?
"Science is supposed to be about DOUBT. Question, question, question."
Indeed. In the case of climate change, researchers have been doing this since 1859, when Tyndall first discovered the heat-trapping effects of CO2. Doubt and questions are the very essence of the scientific method. Well, after 150 years of theories, studies, falsification, replication, experiments, questions, etc. etc. the scientific opinion is overwhelmingly that CO2 traps heat and we're increasing the ability of our atmosphere to trap heat (especially when combined with rampant deforestation). As of today, there isn't a single national or international science organisation anywhere in the world that disputes this fundamental point. By all means debate the economic responses to climate change, and how we adapt to it, but you can't debate the science anymore. We're long past that stage now. Sorry.
"Nobody has yet been able to calculate how well trees and plants can absorb carbon."
Actually, they have. I can't find the link, but a study last year managed to quantify the amount of carbon absorbed. There's also a new satellite being launched in 2019 that will monitor almost every tree on Earth.
"Nobody knows if a degree of two of additional warmth is a good or bad thing."
Given what's already happened with only 0.85°C of warming I think it's safe to conclude that 2°C would be disastrous.
"Every time something happens taht is different from the models, they tweek and hope they got it right."
As mentioned before, I already posted a long list showing how the models have been overall pretty good. I can't think of any examples where they've been drastically wrong. Skeptics often quote an individual scientist who's said something like "The Arctic ice will vanish by 2013." However, this is just a fringe/outlier and doesn't represent the majority mainstream view, which is sometime around the 2030s.
"Learn to question, learn to think."
I am open-minded. Are you?