Potholer54 Vs. Tony Heller: Part 2

Submitted by John on Mon, 01/28/2019 - 23:13
A picture of a landscape. In the foreground is a nondescript building, and some street lights. Above the buildings the sky fades from pink to dark blue-gray. In the middle of the sky, below the blue-gray clouds is a bright beam of a rainbow.


In my last post, I described the ongoing feud between Peter Hadfield (Potholer54, or just Potholer) and Tony Heller taking place on YouTube. Over the weekend, this duel continued when Potholer posted his response to Heller early Saturday morning. Heller again quickly responded with his own video, in which he describes the basic premise of positive feedback.



Potholer's video. He covers a number of topics, and as usual, cites all his sources, and shows that he has read the articles that he is citing.



Heller's video response describing positive feedback. I found this response frustrating. In his last video, Potholer encouraged Heller to take his time and properly research his claims. But in the video, Heller seems to double down on the idea that if we were experiencing a positive feedback loop with global warming, then we would perpetually heat up until it "went out of control and there would be no way to stop it" Potholer addressed exactly this in his January 18th video, starting around the 15 minute mark. He's also discussed this in one of his previous videos. With this in context, Heller's response almost seems intentionally obtuse. If I were to force Heller to answer some specific questions, here is what I would ask. 


  • What do you think climate scientists are claiming to be the causes of these "positive feedbacks?" 
  • How do you respond to Potholer's statements that eventually every forcing stops, and the system enters homeostasis?


I've seen the argument Heller is using numerous times by people engaging in this debate on twitter and elsewhere. The Skeptical Science blog has an article on this very point. I wonder if there is a simple disagreement on the terminology? Is positive feedback with limiting factors in fact a positive feedback? I believe Heller's description of positive feedback is correct, and he even states that the limiting factor in his speaker analogy is the maximum volume of the speakers. In terms of the black body radiation of the Earth, different levels of greenhouse gases can adjust that maximum volume, to use Heller's analogy. The Earth is not going to enter a runaway effect, and become Venus-like, because we don't have nearly as much CO2 available to dump into the Earth's atmosphere. I'd understand if Heller had not seen Potholer's older video, but Heller has no excuse for not catching Potholer's comments in his Jan 18th video, it is a direct response to him. In fact, when I pointed this out to Heller in the comments, he simply said "No he hasn't.  You don't understand what the problem is with his theory." Well if Heller actually addressed any of the problems in "Potholer's theory" (note, not Potholer's theory), then maybe we all would understand what Heller is trying to say. 

Somehow I don't think Heller will respond to these questions. He seems keen on providing a source for confirmation bias for climate change deniers. Maybe he wishes to lend credibility to that position, as so many conservative politicians have set their own stakes in the issue denying AGW. Heller's channel is relatively new to me, so I'm not sure what his motivations are, but I will hear him out if he takes more time to do his homework in his next video.