Singer accepts Flat Earth Award

The Christian Science Monitor has published Fred Singer’s acceptance speech after he won the ‘Flat Earth Award‘. This paragraph is interesting:

What matters are facts based on actual observations. And as long as weather satellites show that the atmosphere is not warming, I cannot put much faith into theoretical computer models that claim to represent the atmosphere but contradict what the atmosphere tells us. [Editor’s note: Satellite measurements indicate the lower atmosphere is warming at a rate of 0.12 degrees F. per decade.] A computer model is only as good as the assumptions fed into it.

That’s not my Editor’s note, it was added by the Christian Science Monitor. Good on them. I just wish more newspapers would do similar things when pundits made false claims.

John Ray (last seen spreading a bogus quote), cut the entire article from the Christian Science Monitor and pasted it into his blog. Well, the entire article except for one small change. He deleted the Editor’s note so that Singer’s dishonest claim (that satellites show that the atmosphere is not warming) stood uncorrected. I don’t even think that Ray was trying to deceive his readers here. It seems to me that he concludes that any facts that contradict his world view must necessarily be wrong.


  1. #1 Bob
    July 27, 2005

    Now why would Singer get the “FlatEarth Award”?

    Oh, I guess this explains it..

  2. #2 Thomas Palm
    July 27, 2005

    From Singer’s speak:
    “And now, an announcement, inspired by your efforts: The Science and Environmental Policy Project will sponsor the prestigious Chicken Little Award.”

    Someone good at the contrarians and their positions might wish to nominate some of the worst in predicting doom and gloom if USA signs the Kyoto treaty.

  3. #3 Glen Raphael
    July 27, 2005

    I’d be more impressed with that Editor’s note had it given a source for that number. Do you have a source? A brief google search found several articles claiming that a 0.12 degree positive correction was applied to the satellite data, turning a net slight negative in the raw data to a net slight positive (less than 0.12 F) in the “corrected” data. I also found some articles claiming the surface was warming by that amount.

    here we have a claim of .08 for the atmosphere, .12 for the surface.

    here we have .10 atmosphere.

    And here we have Michaels in an old article discussing the correction that produced the .08 estimate and the degree to which it was popularized.

    Is it possible CSM accidentally used the wrong number?

  4. #4 John Cross
    July 27, 2005

    I would guess that the CSM used the revised S&C numbers but got the units wrong. It should be 0.12 C/decade.

  5. #5 David
    July 28, 2005

    S&C new data has not been published – though apparently will soon be in Science Magazine. In the interim, the only valid estimate of tropospheric warming from Satellites avaliable is that by Fu et al. which shows +0.18C/decade versus +0.17C/decade at the surface.

    The difference between the new S&C trend (~0.12C/decade) and that of Fu et al. comes down to the method used to correct for stratospheric contamination.

    Any trend estimates from the S&C data should not be used, given that the corrected data are yet to be made publicly avaliable, and the uncorrected data which are avaliable have a large error due.


  6. #6 jet
    July 28, 2005

    comes down to the method used to correct for stratospheric contamination.

    I’m confused as I thought the atmosphere was actually warming. Does this mean that the atmosphere is not warming but only because of human induced ozone depletion or something like that, and that without these contaminants the atmosphere would actually be warming?

  7. #7 David Weigel
    July 28, 2005

    Glen Raphael, I think you’re mixing your scales. You say that your three links talk about .08, .10, and .08 per decade, but they’re all Celsius. The the Christian Science Monitor said 0.12F. I’m not sure if you’re thinking that the CSM is being too low or too high or just unclear, but leaving the scale off your numbers makes you unclear to me.

  8. #8 Tim Lambert
    July 28, 2005

    jet, the stratosphere is cooling, the troposphere is warming. The satellites see a combination of both.

  9. #9 jet
    July 28, 2005

    So that is where Fu et al. and their using data for the upper troposhere and lower stratoshere comes into play showing warming? Just using the sratosphere gives you no warming, but that is explained by ozone depletion? Is that even close to a summary?

  10. #10 Robert P.
    July 28, 2005

    The stratosphere is cooling for two reasons: first, the greenhouse effect by itself results in stratospheric cooling (i.e. the temperature profile changes, with lower atmosphere getting warmer while upper atmosphere cools.) The way I’ve heard this explained is that greenhouse gas molecules both absorb and emit radiation, and at high altitudes most of the radiation escapes to space (resulting in cooling) while at low altitudes most of the radiation is reabsorbed (resulting in warming). However I’ve heard people say that that is an oversimplified or even incorrect explanation, that you need to consider how the radiation rates and the temperature profile all interact with each other, etc. Whatever, stratospheric cooling is a very well established prediction of the greenhouse effect, going back to the 1940’s or perhaps earlier.

    On top of this, ozone depletion also leads to stratospheric cooling since less UV is absorbed in the stratosphere.

  11. #11 Dano
    July 28, 2005


    it is not close to a summary.

    If you were to read their paper your questions would be answered. Or an article on the Internets in a science magazine that summarizes it.



  12. #12 Scott Church
    July 28, 2005

    The corrected trend from UAH (S&C) is 0.12 deg C/decade for the period Jan 1979-Dec 2004. I’m not sure what it is up to the present. This is a direct trend, not a correction, and represents their TLT lower troposphere trend which is for the “bulk” brightness temperature of roughly the 1000-200 hPa layer with peak signal coming from about 800 hPa. This is around 3 km above the surface give or take. The “raw” MSU data being used here (Channel 2) looks at a much larger layer–1000 hPa to almost 10 hPa–which dips well into the stratosphere. This causes some of the well established stratospheric cooling to be aliased into the troposphere trend. Also, the layer of the atmosphere that is of most interest for comparisons to surface warming is the lower portion of the troposphere, not the whole thing. So the raw MSU Channel 2 data is actually seeing a whole lot more than what is of most interest. Hence the various efforts to process the data so as to get a “pure” lower troposphere signal. For a better look at this see Figure 7 of a paper I wrote on the MSU record: Climate Change &amp Tropospheric Temperature Trends – Part I.

    The new corrected trend being referred to by CSM is this TLT trend of S&C’s. It uses weighted combinations of different views of the satellite sensors–side looking and nadir (straight down)–to come up with a filtered view of the lower troposphere. The Fu method uses a clean look at the stratopsphere trend alone based on MSU Channel 4 (a separate channel which sees the stratosphere only) and radiosonde data to correct the raw MSU Channel 2 data. This method is preferred by many because it avoids high sampling noise which can be problematic for the TLT method.

    The latest and greatest from S&C has been hard to come by because it seems they’ve been putting their data up and pulling it down again at their FTP and UAH sites at random intervals. If you watch close enough you’ll get it but you have to be quick. As of my writing this there appears to be a copy of it at a NASA mirror FTP site. The files of interest are the ones denoted “5.2”. It’s not clear why they’ve been doing this, but considering the size of the change from their previous release, Ver. 5.1 (Christy et al., 2004, Geophys. Res. Lett. 31) and the usefulness of their work to people like Singer and Michaels (for those who don’t know S&C are skeptics too), perhaps they want it to be available to their friends but don’t want anyone else looking too close yet!

    The reasons for the difference have not been published yet, but as David said are to be soon. In any event, the salient point is this;

    S&C lower troposphere trends are now consistent with those of the RSS Team and are well within the range of current climate model predictions for this part of the atmosphere.

    Essentially, this resolves the whole surface-troposphere “disparity” Singer loves to harp about. If he wants to have any credibility at all he’d better come up with something else, and it damn well better be good. 🙂

  13. #13 David
    July 28, 2005

    I have since learned that the S&C update will be one of 4 papers on the satellite data, and is expected to appear in Science Express in the coming few weeks. The S&C new trend is +0.115C/decade….

    I am more inclinded to use the Mears et al./Fu et al. reconstructions as their track record is a lot better than that of S&C! Their technique is also much simpler and more robust.

    I don’t think this correction will stop the sceptics telling fibs about the tropospheric trends. A couple of locals in OZ, who will go unnamed, know full well of these corrections to the MSU data but continue to spread the same incorrect claims in talks and editorials in the media.


  14. #14 Coby
    July 31, 2005

    Since no one else noted this yet, I will: Singer says “What matters are facts based on actual observations. And as long as weather satellites show that the atmosphere is not warming, I cannot put much faith into theoretical computer models”

    Now an obvious problem with this is that actual observations from the most direct source, direct surface readings, show plenty of warming.

    So his cherry picking is quite a precision feat, the one study of the one indirect method that does (er..did) not show warming (well, not much).

    I too, can’t wait to see what people like him will have left now that their last cherry has gone all moldy… sour grapes, anyone?

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