Dessler debates Lindzen

Andrew Dessler sends me a link to his debate with Richard Lindzen. I agree with Dessler’s assessment that Lindzen’s case was very weak. Watch it and make up your own mind.

Dessler also sends me a link to his new paper that demonstrates that the claims of Paltridge et al (2009) (touted at Climate Audit) that specific humidity was decreasing in the the mid to upper tropical troposphere were spurious.


  1. #1 MapleLeaf
    October 18, 2010

    Cross-posted from the Marohasy thread as it is also relevant here:

    “Marohasy [corrected spelling] claims that tropospheric moisture is decreasing (she probably thinking of the Paltridge et al. (2009) paper). Anyhow, moisture measurements from radiosondes have issues and therein lies the problem with Paltridge’s findings, b/c unlike the other reanalysis products, the NCEP reanalysis does not assimilate moisture derived form satellites and relies solely on (troubled) radiosonde humidity data to constrain the runs.

    From Dessler and Davis (2010):

    “The five reanalyses analyzed here (the older NCEP/NCAR and ERA40 reanalyses and the more modern Japanese Reanalysis (JRA), Modern Era Retrospective‐Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), and European Centre for Medium‐Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)‐interim reanalyses) unanimously agree that specific humidity generally increases in response to short‐term climate variations (e.g., El Niño).”


    “In response to decadal climate fluctuations, the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis is unique in showing decreases in tropical mid and upper tropospheric specific humidity as the climate warms. All of the other reanalyses show that decadal warming is accompanied by increases in mid and upper tropospheric specific humidity. We conclude from this that it is doubtful that these negative long‐term specific humidity trends in the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis are realistic for several reasons.” Which they go on to list.

    Perhaps the most important finding from their research is this:

    “And finally, we point out that there exists no theoretical support for having a positive short‐term water vapor feedback and a negative long‐term one.”

  2. #2 Jeremy C
    October 18, 2010



    But thanks for the Dressler biog link, didn’t know much about him, cool guy by the looks of him and his water work – bet the denialists hate him……

  3. #3 Wayne Fowler
    October 18, 2010

    I’m at the 60 minute mark and all I can think is Lintzen’s basic argument is that he is simply a superior scientist to everyone else. That he has thought of things and exercises the proper level of skeptisism whiule no one else has. He occasionally strays into a scientific argument but…

  4. #4 Jeremy C
    October 18, 2010

    I just don’t appear to have the link so can’t see the debate.????

  5. #5 Dave R
    October 18, 2010

    Jeremy, the video is embedded in the post. If you can’t see it here, [this link]( might work.

  6. #6 Paul UK
    October 18, 2010

    Thanks Tim for the video alert.
    Dessler seems like a confident speaker.

  7. #7 Jeremy C
    October 18, 2010

    Thanks Dave,

    your link works.

  8. #8 Moth
    October 18, 2010

    Richard seems to more or less confirm point that Andrew stated – not that he proved the data is wrong but to stimulate doubt (pretty much employing all 5 points of denialism explained by Diethelm and McKee, 2009). Andrew didn’t rely on models, but Richard continued to drill them as wrong – red herring. Richard continued to attack the IPCC reports rather than the science behind it.
    Wind, the sole reason why sea ice has reduced over recent decades? Is wind really changing that much – and even if it is, it’s certainly a variation of climatic conditions, which again returns us to a changing climate.
    With the sun; a few billion years ago the sun was 20% less bright.. and? Let’s look at it this way; 20% increase over a few billion years compared to 2% over ~150yrs. It’s not really the same thing. Then there is also the fact that solar activity hasn’t followed the temperature anomaly since the 60’s (for instance Lockwood, 2008).
    In all, he largely seems to conclude that there is no reliable evidence that climate is changing, which is blatantly wrong.
    One point that neither address is the bio-physical responses that have been studied, the best known papers probably being; Rosenzweig, et al (2008) and Amano et al (2010). Other species and physical processes don’t lie. We know that CO2 and other GHG concentrations have been on the increase for more than a century and that over this period of time, the majority of the data Andrew commented on, plus the emerging data on bio-physical processes provides a high level of confidence in the validity of anthropogenic climate change.
    As I started with, Richard doesn’t really address the majority of the available evidence, but picks a few weak points, exaggerates the importance of the IPCC reports (rather than the strong evidence behind it) and tries to create unmerited doubt. As Andrew says, concern is a personal thing and being passionate about ecology, the multiple anthropogenic threats to biodiversity (including ACC) are, in my opinion, unacceptable (see Rockstrom et al (2009) for example []). The risk is great and the confidence, due to multiple lines of independent evidence is credible.

  9. #9 jakerman
    October 19, 2010

    Congratulations to Andrew Dessler on an excellent presentation so far (I’m still at early stages on the debate) I am impressed that AD uses RL’s points from the WSJ to fill in calculations etc.

    This helps to avoid talking past each other’s points, and is helpful for clearly showing where consensus with Lindzen is and isn’t.

  10. #10 ben
    October 19, 2010

    “It’s quite clear that water vapor follows temperature…”

    I didn’t see that in his plot. Anyone have a link to that plot?

  11. #11 Jim Groom
    October 19, 2010

    I managed to make it to the end. All in all a very informative lecture/debate by the two gentlemen. In my opinion Lindzen did not come off very well. Prof Dressler did a good job of explaining that the data, not from models, clearly shows trends and the influence of man re the increase of CO2 and other gases. As pointed out by other posters, Lindzen seems to want everyone to just take his view since he knows more. Lindzen continued to dismiss models as a point in his argument. Dressler clearly showed that in his opinion they just confirm observation and data sets. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I believe if a winner was to be declared it would be Dressler. His presentation was concise and lacking the talking down appearance of Lindzen’s.

  12. #12 cynicus
    October 19, 2010


    “And finally, we point out that there exists no theoretical support for having a positive short‐term water vapor feedback and a negative long‐term one.”

    Enter Miskolczi, from all I know he argues that watervapor must decrease as other greehouse gasses increase to maintain constant opaqueness. You will have to prove yourself that it’s true though. 😉

    There is much debate on Miskolczi’s interpretation of some laws of physics, and it’s argued that his radiosonde reading data isn’t good enough to make the claims he does. Am I correct that the latter objection is supported by Dessler and Davis (2010)?

  13. #13 Marco
    October 19, 2010

    Not just some issues with the laws of physics, cynicus, but also a major, major problem in explaining interglacials. During much of the temperature increase of the interglacials, solar forcing is already back to ‘normal’, and yet the temperature keeps increasing. If there is such a powerful “long-term” negative Miskolczian feedback (with “long term” being rather short on a geological time-scale), this should not happen.

  14. #14 Paul UK
    October 19, 2010

    Is Lindzen in the same discussion as Dessler??

    It’s as if he is somewhere else talking to different people.

    Does he actually want any answers?
    Maybe he lives in some fantasy world where science can be done forever and nothing is resolved! And hence costing the tax payer huge amounts of money.

    It’s all very well over egging the uncertainties, but in the real world answers are required within certain deadlines.

    I haven’t got to the Q&A session yet.

  15. #15 Wow
    October 19, 2010

    You use measurements to show AGW: Correlation Is Not Causation!!!

    You show the causation: That’s Just A Model!!! GIGO!!!

    As long as your aim is not to win the argument but to ensure someone else doesn’t, denial is easy-peasy.

    And why so many dumb people do it. If you can stymie an “intellectual elite” with your denialism, you MUST be as smart as them!

  16. #16 J Bowers
    October 19, 2010

    What was with Lindzen’s “personal attack” guff? Do these guys go on training courses or something? Given who the audience were I doubt it was a very smart thing to say – not a Heartland conference, so to speak.

  17. #17 Tony O'Brien
    October 19, 2010

    “No cause for concern”
    Yup, we are so totally screwed. Those slow feedbacks are comming just a little too quick.

  18. #18 MapleLeaf
    October 19, 2010

    Cynicus @12,

    Yes, Dressler and Davis point to the issues with the radisonde data, the reanalysis data are much better when they include the satellite irradiances.

    Unfortunately, moisture measurements from radiosondes are not really reliable enough for climate studies of moisture, especially in the upper troposphere. There are also issues related to transitioning between different sensor types and even different manufacturers of sondes. The latest sensors, e.g., Vaisala R292 are better, but they have issues to, and the data need to be corrected for biases (some work on that has been done , see link below).

    The gold standard in measuring moisture in the atmosphere are the so-called “Snow White” chilled mirror dew-point hygrometers– they are however, expensive and only really suited for use in field trials and for calibrating sondes.

    Other ground-based measurements of PWV sensors such as radiometers show potential, but they are few and far between. The advantage of the GUAN, is that it has been around since the fifties…..

    More evidence of a positive WV feedback:

  19. #19 Mark Shapiro
    October 19, 2010

    Lindzen offers his listeners two opportunities to be ill-informed and unthinking.

    1 — His ugly claim that climate science is a religion (followed by his whine that Dessler made ad hominem attacks!)

    2 — Showing that with a big enough temperature scale, 20th century increase in temperature disappears. Pointless.

  20. #20 jakerman
    October 19, 2010

    What are the papers that explain the faint young Sun paradox without a stronger Greenhouse?

    Do they say what Lindzen claims they do?

  21. #21 Dave R
    October 19, 2010

    I think he means [this one]( (PDF [here]( and some commentary [here](, which says that the geological evidence does not support high enough GHG concentrations to account for the full FYS paradox.

    It suggests that lower albedo played an important role, caused by less continental area and less biologically induced cloud condensation nuclei.

    The latter does not seem to support Lindzen’s argument of more cloud as a feedback from warming, e.g.

    >In our present atmosphere the majority of CCN are produced by atmospheric oxidation of gases released by plants and eukaryotic algae.

  22. #22 dougie
    October 19, 2010

    you think “I agree with Dessler’s assessment that Lindzen’s case was very weak.”

    mindset problem i would imagine. stand back & rethink with respect to scientific rigor.

  23. #23 jakerman
    October 19, 2010

    Dave R thanks for the paper,

    It is my impression that Lindzen’s was claiming that the faint younng Sun paradox could be accounted for without important effects of CO2.

    This is not the finding of [this paper](

    Rather the paper’s findings alleviate “*the need for extreme greenhouse-gas concentrations [pCO2 ~2–6 bar or 100 times current levels] to satisfy the faint early Sun paradox.”*

    The lowest CO2 concentrations they find that satisfies their models correspond with log(PCO2)= -2.5 which is 10 times higher than current CO2 concentrations [log(PCO2)= -3.5]. See fig 1.

  24. #24 jakerman
    October 19, 2010

    Dave R thanks for the paper,

    It is my impression that Lindzen’s was claiming that the faint younng Sun paradox could be accounted for without important effects of CO2.

    This is not the finding of this paper.

    Rather the paper’s findings alleviate “the need for extreme greenhouse-gas concentrations [pCO2 ~2–6 bar or 100 times current levels] to satisfy the faint early Sun paradox.”

    The lowest CO2 concentrations they find that satisfies their models correspond with log(PCO2)= -2.5 which is 10 times higher than current CO2 concentrations [log(PCO2)= -3.5]. See fig 1.

  25. #25 toby
    October 20, 2010

    Lindzen has already been fingered a master of the “forensic” school of argument – which is why Andy Dessler was drawing attention to this style and warning folks about it. In this style, there is focus on the strengths of one’s own case, the emphasis of weakness of the others, free use of ad-hominem attacks, use of derision (“religious cult”), value judgments, appeal to sympathy (“Look at him attacking a poor old guy like me, who only loves science and truth” etc.) and other emotions like fear (NAS/ Royal Society conspiracy theory), envy etc. I hope the audience were alert.

  26. #26 Alex Harvey
    October 20, 2010

    Hi Tim,

    I think Andrew Dessler’s key achievement in this debate is use of the microphone. I could hear every word Dessler said but due to poor quality of the audio recording, I can’t hear a word that Lindzen is saying. I’d be very grateful for a transcript.

    Best, Alex

  27. #27 barry
    October 20, 2010

    Lindzen gave absolute statements regarding his own work, mentioned no uncertainty, alternative data or error bars. Dessler did that throughout his argument. Lindzen also emphasised doubt – even on matters he said he agreed with Dessler – yes, the globe has been warming, but global data, and even the concept of global average is suspect. He managed to contradict himself here.

    Lindzen did just what Dessler announced climate ‘skeptics’ do.

    At the same time, Lindzen is a worthy opponent – much better than Monckton. Lindzen’s grasp of the science is much, much better, which creates a solider platform for the rhetorical jugglery, which is subtler than Monckton’s.

  28. #28 Gaz
    October 20, 2010

    I’ll get around to watching the rest of Lindzen’s talk at some stage but if the first few minutes are any guide it will be a waste of time.

    So many misrepresetations and straw men in such a short time, eg implying Dressler said the science was “incontrovertible” when he really said the evidence was “unequivocal”, two totally different things.

    You know someone has little to contribute when he prefaces his case with a misrepesentation of what he’s supposed to be arguing against. Very Plimeresque, really.

  29. #29 MapleLeaf
    October 20, 2010

    My thoughts on the talk– copied from a post made at Bart Verheggen’s place:


    I have never watched Lindzen talk. I was prepared to be wowed by Lindzen and for him to pose some very convincing and well-laid out arguments. Instead he presented a potpourri of claims.

    Lindzen faired horribly, his lengthy preamble did not help his case [edit, I’m sure many/most people would have tuned out before he got to the science], nor did his awful PPT slides, nor did his allusions to conspiracy, nor did his insinuations of scientists changing the data to fit preconceived ides, nor did his condescending attitude, nor did his antics with the scale of the global SAT anomalies– you have to be kidding me on that one. Anyhow, horrible PPT slides are not an excuse to dismiss Lindzen’s science….

    Lindzen clearly had a canned talk, he repeatedly tried to attack the models, when in fact Andrew spoke to the data. Later Lindzen’s excuse was that you can’t trust the data– a very unconvincing argument by Lindzen given that they both use CERES data, and that the independent datasets presented by Andrew gave a very coherent picture. Andrew spoke to and indicated the uncertainty in his data, Lindzen did not.

    And Andrew (and others) critiquing Lindzen and Choi is not a personal attack. It was very unprofessional and rude of Lindzen to keep interrupting Andrew during his rebuttal, and pretty pathetic for Lindzen to try and frame critique from his peers as a ‘personal’ attack.

    To say the least I was not impressed by Lindzen at all. IMHO, Andrew gave a much more professional, scientific orientated, engaging and convincing talk than did Lindzen. I initially thought that Andrew went on a little too much about the tactics employed by the “skeptics”, for example them using doubt– but then Lindzen tried to play that very card during his talk.

    Arthur Smith says they both made some technical errors, so Andrew was not perfect. Andrew’s rebuttal was not great, but Lindzen’s repeated interruptions did not help.”

  30. #30 cthulhu
    October 20, 2010

    Funniest thing I’ve read all week:

    “Encouraged by the resignation of Hal Lewis from the American Physical Society, I hereby announce that I would have resigned from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, had I been a member.”

    It’s not a joke either! This is what happens when you fervently believe the greenhouse effect violates physics.

  31. #31 Adam R.
    October 20, 2010

    Lindzen’s grasp of the science is much, much better, which creates a solider platform for the rhetorical jugglery, which is subtler than Monckton’s.

    Which leaves one to wonder again at Lindzen’s motivation for his disingenuous pronouncements. He knows enough to know better. Perhaps he simply enjoys playing the gadfly for the attention he gets, though speaker’s fees from the likes of the Heartland Institute might also encourage him, I suppose.

  32. #32 Rob
    October 20, 2010

    Professor Lindzen’s presentation was far better than the one professor Dessler gave. I have to admit sometimes it was difficult to understand Lindzen because of the bad microphone. Dessler presented the science as if it is already settled. If a planet warms (natural or anthropogenic) one can expect a melting of glaciers, ice caps and sea ice. And yes, ocean temps, satellite temps, surface temps may also rise, but can we blaim it all on CO2 only? That is what Lindzen tried to illustrate in his presentation. It is sad that not many people who watch the video get that.

    Dessler lost the discussion the moment he started a personal attack on Lindzen while trying to debunk his latest paper (Lindzen & Choi 2009) in an attempt to question his truthfulness to the public. You just don’t do that. Dessler should have debated the science with which Lindzen came up with. Probably he couldn’t.
    Lindzen & Choi’s paper was indeed full of flaws, but that is not the issue here.
    Lindzen perfectly presented that climate science is far from being ‘settled science’ and that scientific organisations are too much involved in the political gameplay and policy-making business.
    Andrew Montford’s book ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ is a good place to try to understand what climate science is all about these days unfortunately.
    It is also very doubtful if climate sensitivity was always a constant in the climatic history of planet Earth.
    Bottomline is that the human race does not fully understand climate at all. We need more objective scientific research without withholding facts from the public.

    Policy should be made when we know if there is a real problem and it is certainly not carbontax. That won’t reduce the emissions of CO2. We should develop cleaner technology.
    For example why are there still cars around that run just 5 or 10 km on 1 liter of fuel? We can make cars that easily run 200 miles on 1 liter of fuel.
    If governments are really that serious about AGW they would have banned these environmental unfriendly cars a long time ago.

  33. #33 Mike (other)
    October 20, 2010

    @30 – I’ve just been part of a surreal forum exchange elsewhere, where aside from the usual conspiracy theories trotted out by clueless people, some fairly educated posters with science degrees & the likes were also alleging that they “know for a fact” that the greenhouse effect violates physics, or thermodynamics (both first and second laws), or something-or-other.

    Seems that this particular sceptical argument is becoming popular, now that many others have failed dismally.

  34. #34 MapleLeaf
    October 20, 2010


    “Dessler lost the discussion the moment he started a personal attack on Lindzen while trying to debunk his latest paper (Lindzen & Choi 2009) in an attempt to question his truthfulness to the public”

    And Andrew did that in his rebuttal at the end of the debate, not the beginning as you seem to be suggesting. Dessler was showing papers that have been published which refute Lindzen’s findings. Dessler was critiquig the methodology employed by Lindzen and Choi. That is how science works, that is not a personal attack. If you are OK with Lindzen’s sub par papers like Lindzen and Choi (2009), fine, but do not expect the top notch scientists to buy into that.

    Andrew Dessler and others in the know do not attribute all the warming solely to CO2– in fact he says so in his talk.

    Much of the science on AGW is settled. CO2 is a GHG, the so-called “greenhouse effect” is real, CO2 concentrations are going up, primarily because of anthro activities, the earth is consequently in an net positive energy imbalance etc.

    Your premise for declaring Lindzen the winner seems to rest on the fact that you think Dessler was mean to Lindzen for critiquing Lindzen’s sub par research paper. You have never submitted a paper for review to a journal have you Rob? Let me tell you, those reviewers can be incredibly tough on you.

    Montford’s book is a piece of political propaganda gleaned from blog posts at ClimateAudit. Rob, and afraid to say that the charlatans have hood winked you.

    I do agree with you about improving fuel efficiency….enter the Volt, and the Leaf. The are going to be some major changes in the auto industry in the coming 5-10 years.

  35. #35 Michael
    October 20, 2010


    Bottomline is that the human race does not fully understand climate at all.

    …but we are certain that AGW is a fraud, with scientists frabricating data in their religious zeal.

    There is doubt about everything – except a carbon tax, which has been proved through the laws of physics to be an assault on our freedom.


  36. #36 dhogaza
    October 20, 2010

    Dessler lost the discussion the moment he started a personal attack on Lindzen while trying to debunk his latest paper (Lindzen & Choi 2009) in an attempt to question his truthfulness to the public. You just don’t do that. Dessler should have debated the science with which Lindzen came up with.

    Ah, so Rob doesn’t believe that Lindzen & Choi 2009 is science?

    Harsh, Rob, harsh for one who claims to believe that Lindzen won the debate…

  37. #37 Holly Stick
    October 20, 2010

    Rob writes: “…If governments are really that serious about AGW they would have banned these environmental unfriendly cars a long time ago.”

    Is Rob ignorant of the fact that most of the politicians ruuning our governments are scientifically illiterate and prefer to place their own short-term good before the long-term good of their countries? Is Rob aware that some politicians receive sizeable donations from oil corporations which don’t want gas-guzzlers to be banned? Is Rob aware of the corporate PR campaign to persuade ordinary people that the climate is not being changed by humanity’s current behaviour?

    Is Rob ignorant or disingenuous?

  38. #38 TrueSceptic
    October 20, 2010

    33 Mike,

    Apart from the fact that, despite having science degrees, they don’t actually understand the subject, you should point them to [Roy Spencer](, who is, of course, a prominent “sceptic”. If he understands and accepts the GH effect, why aren’t they questioning their own understanding?

  39. #39 Gaz
    October 20, 2010

    Dessler lost the discussion the moment he started a personal attack on Lindzen..

    So what about when Lindzen claimed climate scientists were building models to produce results the politicians wanted? Accused them of being “quasi-religious? You don’t think those were “personal attacks”? Or is it OK to slander thousands of people as long as you don’t name them individually?

    Dessler presented the science as if it is already settled.

    Utter bullshit, Rob. Half his talk was about the uncertainty surrounding feedbacks.

  40. #40 J Bowers
    October 20, 2010

    Rob — “Policy should be made when we know if there is a real problem”

    Each decade is hotter than the last. The oceans are becoming acidic. It’s been observed that phytoplankton die off at lower acidity levels than previously thought. CO2 becomes carbonic acid when absorbed into the oceans. There’s 4% more water vapour in the atmosphere. Methane’s being released in the Arctic Circle. Species are becoming extinct. It’s been found that crops react badly to too much atmospheric CO2 through experimental observation. Russia discovered that fire burns crops. Ice is disappearing.

    There isn’t a problem, there are lots of problems. Time to make policy.

  41. #41 John
    October 20, 2010

    >but can we blaim it all on CO2 only?

    You make an interesting point and my response is as follows: shut up.

  42. #42 Alex Harvey
    October 20, 2010

    I note some commenters are talking about Lindzen & Choi 2009, and I can gather that means that Dessler had a go at it.

    I am puzzled by this as Lindzen & Choi 2010 is in review at JGR. Did Lindzen not mention this? He must be planning this as an ambush.

    To estimate climate sensitivity from observations, Lindzen and Choi [2009] used the deseasonalized fluctuations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the concurrent responses in the top-of-atmosphere outgoing radiation from the ERBE satellite instrument. Distinct periods of warming and cooling in the SST were used to evaluate feedbacks. This work was subject to significant criticism by Trenberth et al. [2009], much of which was appropriate. The present paper is an expansion of the earlier paper in which the various criticisms are addressed and corrected. In this paper we supplement the ERBE data for 1985-1999 with data from CERES for 2000-2008. Our present analysis accounts for the 36 day precession period for the ERBE satellite in a more appropriate manner than in the earlier paper which simply used what may have been undue smoothing. The present analysis also distinguishes noise in the outgoing radiation as well as radiation changes that are forcing SST changes from those radiation changes that constitute feedbacks to changes in SST. Finally, a more reasonable approach to the zero-feedback flux is taken here. We argue that feedbacks are largely concentrated in the tropics and extend the effect of these feedbacks to the global climate. We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zero-feedback fluxes thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric GCMs forced by the observed SST are less than the zero-feedback fluxes consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. The observational analysis implies that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.

  43. #43 MapleLeaf
    October 20, 2010

    Tim, help, my comment is stuck in moderation….not sure why.

  44. #44 Stu
    October 20, 2010

    J Bowers

    Why were the oceans not acidic (PH<7) when there was 10-20 times the current atmospheric CO2 concentration in the past? Any clues? Is the CO2 molecule different now than it was in the past?

  45. #45 himThere
    October 21, 2010


    A big clue is the rate of change of ocean acidity, and the impact that this will have on the evolution and adaptation of the species affected, see [here]( for example.

  46. #46 jakerman
    October 21, 2010

    >*Why were the oceans not acidic (PH<7) when there was 10-20 times the current atmospheric CO2 concentration in the past?*

    Do you know the relative acidity of the oceans when CO2 concentrations were 10-20 times higher?

  47. #47 Martin Vermeer
    October 21, 2010

    Stu #43, the difference is in the suddenness at which CO2 enters into the ocean. At the 100,000 year plus time scale, chemical weathering processes and carbonate deposition maintain an equilibrium in the ocean, irrespective of atmospheric partial pressure. When hit with a sledge hammer at the century time scale, the equilibrium just keels over.

  48. #48 Eli Rabett
    October 21, 2010

    Alex, basically RL started to sputter when AD pointed to the original Lindzen and Choi (it happens in the rebutal, AD’s response was hey, I don’t have a copy of that, it’s not in the literature and I am talking about what you HAVE published.

    One thing Eli would bet on is that the referees are going to be thorough with the revision.

  49. #49 Bernard J.
    October 21, 2010


    You are obviously ignorant about the technical and semantic difference between the terms ‘acidification’, ‘acidity’, and ‘acidic’.

    You obviously also have no clear understanding of inverse logarithmic scales, of diffusion rates, of equilibrium times, or indeed of anything remotely related to chemistry, or to the biological consequences of ocean acidification caused by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Here’s a clue – follow these links, and those that they contain, and learn something:

    The hope that you might actually absorb something is probably a forlorn one though… Just as there are other characters, such as those above, who cannot see the science that Dessler communicated, it is likely that attempting to expand you horizons is a fultile exercise in casting pearls before swine.

  50. #50 Stu N
    October 21, 2010

    I’m glad of the N I have decided to append to my name.

    But, to be a stickler, the oceans aren’t becoming acidic are they? They are becoming more acidic or less basic, depending on your paradigm, but to become acidic the pH would actually have to become less than 7. Such is my understanding anyway.

    So other Stu has made a mountain out of J Bowers’ molehill @ 39. Technically, I’m sure, stating that the oceans are becoming acidic isn’t 100% accurate. But they are becoming less basic/more acidic, which is a problem. No-one should use a slight misunderstanding like this to propose that it’s not a problem…

  51. #51 Bernard J.
    October 21, 2010

    [Stu N](

    I’m pleased to see you distinguished from Nu Stu too.

    The convention of acids being those solutions with a pH less than 7 is a somewhat arbitrary one. It reflects the fact that at pH 7 pure water has as many hydronium (H3)+) ions as it does hydroxide (OH)ions: below 7 there are more hydroniums ions than hydroxide ones, and the inverse exists above pH 7.

    Essentially what we are saying is that a solution is acid if it has a greater concentration of hydronium ions than distilled water.

    As I said, this is an arbitrary distinction.

  52. #52 Alex Harvey
    October 21, 2010

    Eli #47, so you’re saying that Dessler’s rebuttal of the arguments of LC10 is that Lindzen is just unreliable because LC09 had mistakes in it and in his opinion he doesn’t have to understand or respond to the arguments of LC10 because JGR hasn’t published it yet? And you also want me to believe that it was Lindzen who ‘sputtered’ this? If I had been Andy Dessler, I would have felt rather embarrassed to say this in a room full of presumably intelligent people after having claimed to be an ‘expert’.

  53. #53 oh dear
    October 21, 2010

    At Jo Nova’s alternate universe, I’ve been arguing with Richard S Courtney, coal industry lobbyist and advisory board member of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which has received donations from ExxonMobil and Chevron. (

    Richard’s admission of losing the argument was:
    “Repeat your lies and insults under your own name and with your home address and my lawyer will give you a credible rebuttal on my behalf.”

    His reliance on sophistry was extreme in comparison to the run of the mill denialists that flock to Jo’s site.

    For anyone interested in having a closer look, see comment #75 at

  54. #55 Geoff Houston
    October 21, 2010

    Before you get too excited about Desslers alleged victory, visit this site which analyzes his results statistically and shows he has no evidence for his claimed positive feedback.

  55. #56 Wow
    October 21, 2010

    Sorry, Geoff, it uses computer models. GIGO and all that.

    However, there is plenty of historical evidence that the feedback cannot be unity and would have to be at least 1.5x (along with an astonishing series of coincidences that make all other elements point *exactly the right way*) to explain historical records.

    Please try a little skepticism of your position, Geoff.

  56. #57 Wow
    October 21, 2010

    > Policy should be made when we know if there is a real problem

    Why this time?

    The US didn’t know there was a real problem from the Russians. Still they armed.

    The UK didn’t know there was a real problem with letting the banks fail. Still they made policy decisions.

    When you buy insurance, you don’t know whether there is a problem, but still you buy.

    And when your doctor says you need to quit eating fast food, you don’t KNOW there’s a problem, but still you change your diet.

    Lastly, you don’t KNOW there’s a problem walking across the highway when it’s busy (Frogger manages to do this all the time), yet still you insist that your children are at danger from people speeding past the school they go to.

  57. #58 J Bowers
    October 21, 2010

    Re. 52 oh dear

    Oh dear indeed. 😉

  58. #59 Eli Rabett
    October 21, 2010

    oh dear, Eli has never seen Richard haul out the I’m gonna sue you card so fast. You have a talent.

  59. #60 guthrie
    October 21, 2010

    Well done oh dead #52 – I’ve never managed to get threats of legal action from the liar Courtney. Mostly he hangs around long enough to spurt some rubbish, then after a few hours when I’ve finally worked out what he is on about and why it is wrong (I can be a bit slow htinking) he runs away.

  60. #61 Paul
    October 21, 2010

    I actually learned something. I really do like how Richard shows us a perspective on the the processes and mathematical mechanisms involved. He really invites us into the process to judge for our selves what is going on.

  61. #62 Bernard J.
    October 21, 2010

    [Oh dear](

    Oh my.

    Richard S. Courtney seems to have popped a few rivets.

    Personally, I found the guy to be so wrong and/or muddled on simple matters of physics that I usually ignored him when he sniped at me on Codling’s blog. I commend you for your tenacious engaging of him – I would never have the patience to spare for that particular person. And Eli, you seem to have got up his goat too!

    Courtney seems to have painted himself into a corner now. Either he finishes what he started and sues everone within spittle distance, or he backs down and admits his bluster for what it is.

    I note that his skin is much thinner and his jaw more vitreous than that of most of us in the blog trenches; and further, that his focus on names and addresses has nothing to do with the substantive questions that Oh Dear put forward in the first place. I am amused at his ranting about “paid trolls” when he himself is a [coal lackey](

    It’s the fulminations of folk such as Courtney that resulted in my own cessation of adding my surname to my posts – I had too many spam dumps and thinly veiled threats from the Ignorati to be bothered to subject myself or my friends and relatives to harrassment.

  62. #63 Bernard J.
    October 22, 2010

    Further to [Stu](’s comments about atmospheric CO2 concentration and ocean acidification, is it salient to note the following.

    Pre-Industrial Revolution ocean pH was about 8.2. Increasing the acidity of sea water at this pH ten times gives a pH of 7.2 – still “not acid”. Indeed, it requires an increase in acidity of 16 times to bring Pre-Industrial Revolution ocean pH to neutrality.

    To increase the acidity of oceans by a factor of 16, to reach neutrality, it would be necessary to increase the atmospheric CO2 concentration to at least 280 x 16 = 4560 ppm at equilibrium… and this assumes many things.

    Firstly it assumes that oceans, rather than other sinks, absorb all of the extra CO2 to reach a 10x equilibrium. It assumes that there is not precipitation of carbonate from the sea water. It assumes a linear equilibrium reaction. It assumes that there is negligible lag between CO2 emission to the atmosphere and absorption by the oceans. And it assumes many other things that I does not, unfortunately, have time to list at the moment.

    Even so, these few factoids should be enough to understand why Stu’s expectation of an ocean with a pH less than 7 is a distraction from what is actually important – that any decrease more than several tenths of a single pH unit is sufficient to have significant and sever impacts on marine ecology.

    In a world where ocean pH was actually less than 7 most life would be wiped away, either through the collapse of the global marine ecosystem or from the steaming greenhouse resulting from the absurdly high CO2 concentration.

  63. #64 oh dear
    October 22, 2010

    RE 52 on this page:

    I’ve posted an apology to Richard S Courtney. See #95 at


  64. #65 Eli Rabett
    October 22, 2010

    Hi oh, Eli is not sure why you apologized to Courtney, who is as big a bully as exists in the climate corner of the internet. Eli has had some amusing and not so amusing run ins with him, but you were right, when he loses an argument he makes legal threats. BTW, Richard does not have a doctorate, PhD or DSC. He has a couple of diplomas for odd stuff including, as Eli recalls, theology. And oh yes, he has never visited Epsom

    As to references to his papers and publications, well, that depends on which reference data base you use, and what that scans. World of Science does the published scientific literature, Google Scholar is net centers so it gets stuff that is not included in WoS such as conference proceedings, arXiv, etc, and Scopus is Elsevier’s entry.

  65. #66 Ian Forrester
    October 22, 2010

    Here is an [interesting quote]( from denier (and liar) Richard S Courtney:


    I have a DipPhil and I do not have a PhD but both qualifications provide the title Dr. Indeed, if you view the video of my presentation at Heartland 1 (that Derek attended) you can see
    (a) that I was (correctly) introduced as Dr
    (b) that my name plate stated DipPhil and not PhD.

    But why does any of that matter? Either my research is right or it is significantly flawed. And so far I have not seen – or been informed of – any significant flaws in my work. The only meaningful challenges to my work have been from Ferdinand Engelbeen and Jack Barrett who assert that my findings on the carbon cycle must be wrong because they differ from Engelbeen’s (whose work I do say is wrong because it relies on a circular argument).

    Sadly, ‘warmers’ attack me and not my work. Indeed, entire web sites have been set up to malign me and other climate realists.

    The first of such web sites against me (and the late John Daly) was established by John Hunter as a retaliation. Hunter had published fabricated data in GRL and John Daly presented a paper to GRL that proved Hunter’s misbehaviour. Daly’s paper relied on documents I obtained from the Royal Society (RS) library (Daly was not a member of the RS so could not get access to them himself). Hunter’s response was to set up a web site that purportedly revealed “facts” about Daly and myself. However, the contents of that web site were pure invention. Subsequently, other warmer smeer web sites have copied from Hunter’s. I can usually tell those that have copied from Hunter’s web site (or from copies from Hunter’s web site) because they say I live in Epsom. But I have never lived there and have never visited there.

    At first I was angry and considered legal action. But I soon learned that this would be expensive and pointless. I could sue some who published under their own names (e.g. Hunter) but not others who publish under pseudonyms (e.g. Eli Rabbett) because it could never be demonstrated in a Court of Law that every post under an alias was by the person who usually posted under that alias. So, the legal advice I obtained was that Court action would be expensive and pointless: the best thing to do was to ignore it.

    This advice has proved correct. Fred Singer did sue over similar smeering and won his case, but the person he sued has repeated that libel. The only defence is to repeatedly sue, and that is prohibitively expensive in most places (the exception is the UK where libel damages are high) and there is no extradition for libel actions.

    Hence, I have become resigned to the smeers. ‘Warmers’ can malign me all they want. Their lies, smeers and innuendoes make no difference to the value of my work.

    But, if they were to show that my work is wrong then I would be grateful because then I would learn something. Unfortunately, they do not point to flaws in my work.


    How many lies can you find?

  66. #67 Jeremy C
    October 22, 2010

    Oh Dear,

    Thats not an apololgy, thats a very clever use of words to confirm what you originally said. The joke is that RJC either didn’t figure out what you were doing by that or he realised exactly how you have backed him into a corner e.g. he can’t sue now and you haven’t changed your position on what you originally wrote.

    And if he hasn’t figured it out……..

    Very well done.

  67. #68 t_p_hamilton
    October 22, 2010

    Jeremy C:”Oh Dear,

    Thats not an apololgy, thats a very clever use of words to confirm what you originally said.”

    Otherwise known as a Notpology.

  68. #69 adelady
    October 22, 2010

    Loved it. That’s the first _notpology_ I’ve ever seen that is not mealy-mouthed, evasive, scornful or dismissive. Focusing on values is absolutely the right way to go.

    A masterpiece, as Jeremy indicates.

  69. #70 Dappledwater
    October 23, 2010

    That Lindzen sure is boooring!. He and Michael Crichton debated Gavin Schmidt from NASA & Real Climate a few years back. A big time mumbler there too.

    The funniest thing is Dessler’s presentation sums up by pointing out suspicious things to look out for, then Lindzen very early on in his lecture, starts trotting out “alarming” “catastrophe”, “climategate” Own goal!!!!!!.

  70. #71 Bernard J.
    October 23, 2010

    Richard S Courtney is a pontificating liar.

    As [Ian Forrester]( notes, Courtney claims that his DipPhil permits him the honourific ‘Dr’ as a prefix to his surname. It does not, and [Brere Eli]( has gone to some pains to explain this.

    In order to enhance this point, I did a trawl of a few university sites myself to see how they describe their own Diplomas in Philosophy. This is what I found in two minutes:

    [Macquarie University]( says:

    The Graduate Diploma in Philosophy is a degree especially designed for those who already have an undergraduate degree in any field of study who wish to undertake a short, intensive program of study in philosophy, for their own personal interest, to enhance and update their professional skills and expertise, or as a means of acquiring the philosophical background necessary for pursuing further postgraduate work in philosophy.

    [Emphases mine]

    The University of London says that their diploma is intended to possibly:

    …convert to the [undergraduate] BA [in Philosophy] after passing the examinations for the Diploma.

    [Monash University]( indicates that:

    [s]uccessful completion of the diploma with a credit average will result in an entrance pathway, via course 3937 Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Research), course 2695 Master of Arts, course 2846 Master of Arts by research and coursework and subsequent higher degree by research candidature.

    [Emphases mine]

    [Milltown Institute](, a theological college whose diploma has been canned, classified theirs as “undergraduate”, and specified that it was not a “third level” (Masters, PhD) degree.

    [Oxford College]( has designed their diploma for those:

    seeking… preparation for degree level study…

    [Emphasis mine]

    If Courtney believes that his diploma gives him the right to be called “Dr”, he has but to show us exactly where in the granting institution’s prospectus or by-laws this privilege is bestowed.

    Courtney has challenged others – with threat of litigation – on what he claims are lies about him. Well, as I said above, it is quite apparent that Courtney himself is a liar. The alternative is that (to use Courtney’s own words on [19 October 2010 at 10:27 pm]( he “obviously suffer[s] from… delusional tendencies and I commend [sic!] that [he]… seek medical aid”.

    In my humble opinion the man is a pernicious distorter of climate science and a disparager of the professionals who work in the field. Perhaps it is time that he has a thread dedicated to the cataloguing of the lies, misrepresentations, and slanders that he has amassed over the last several years.

  71. #72 oh dear
    October 24, 2010

    Hi Eli #64: Contemptible as he is, I actually apologised to him because I felt sorry for him.

    I kept hammering away at a vulnerability I’d spotted, but it dawned on me that his general intelligence level is low, and that he is so lacking in intellectual skills that he wasn’t able to defend himself.

    When I realised that it all felt rather unsporting.

    I realised I was tormenting a low-IQ person who was begging me to stop, and I felt sympathy for him.

    The lawsuit threats were not a real concern, as I know how difficult it would be for him to sue me, but nevertheless I took the opportunity do a minimal amount of butt-covering.

    The mention of the paper that cites his was just a nice gesture: the caveat I didn’t mention was that it was published in a scientifically-worthless magazine.

    Hi Jeremy #66: you are right that it is essentially bereft of content and that it is all just shallow niceties with some vague self-depracation to make it seem more genuine. That’s because I refused to retract my assertions; i just wanted him to feel better.

    Hi t_p_hamilton #67: you’re essentially right, it was little more than an ego massaging comment.

    Hi adelady #68: the word “value” is a dog-whistle word for the Tea baggers and their septic brethren alike. Almost empty of meaning, they use it to justify many of their moronic ideas. It is sufficiently meaningless that I was able to seamlesslessly sidestep AGW and talk about vagueries such as “realisations”.

    There were a few other little tricks I used to make it more convincing for him, including a favourable reference to another commenter who has particularly extreme views.

    Hi Bernard J #70: most worrying of all is that he has [worked as an advisor to several British MPs](; I suppose the fake credentials do open doors for him.

  72. #73 Bernard J.
    October 24, 2010

    [Oh dear]().

    I know that feeling of sympathy. For a while I experienced it for Tim Curtin, because it was patently apparent that the man was absurdly out of his depth… and then Curtin refused to even consider the extensive amount of educational material that was provided to him by many folk, and all I perceive after that were pearls cast before swine.

    The symapthy rapidly evaporated.

    [Desmogblog]( has a few more things to say about Courtney. After a while, even naturally-empathetic folk – such as I am off-line – run short of tolerance for the foibles of scientifically-illiterate folk. And when they are active distorters and liars… well, tolerance isn’t even in short supply.

  73. #74 John Wall
    October 24, 2010

    [Post from Tim Curtin sockpuppet deleted]

  74. #75 Bernard J.
    October 24, 2010

    Sometimes I wish that our blogmaster wasn’t so quick off the mark!

    Still, I can imagine what Ol’ Radium Water said.

  75. #76 Marco
    October 25, 2010

    Actually, Bernard, you may not have been able to imagine that the sockpuppet managed to make an attempt NOT to be Tim Curtin (even signing off with “John”), and in the same message say “Why am I not allowed to respond?”. Yes, “I”…

  76. #77 david young
    April 10, 2011

    Lindzen won the scientific debate. On the hot spot in the upper troposphere in the tropics, all the data agrees with Lindzen that the hot spot is not there as the models predict. Andy’s “refereed” paper disagreeing used temperatures INFERRED from wind measurements, an inherently noisy endeavor. Surely, the actual temperature data must be more reliable.

  77. #78 Chris O'Neill
    April 10, 2011

    david young:

    On the hot spot in the upper troposphere in the tropics, ALL the data agrees with Lindzen that the hot spot is not there. Andy’s “refereed” paper disagreeing used temperatures INFERRED from wind measurements

    So you contradict yourself in the one paragraph. Bang goes your credibility.

  78. #79 Lotharsson
    April 10, 2011

    > …all the data agrees with Lindzen that the hot spot is not there as the models predict…

    Sounds like the kind of meme that Jo Nova propagates – even after I pointed out to her in reference to her frequently (self- and) other-cited post on the subject:

    (a) one must understand what the hotspot is and is not before one can determine whether the data supports or refutes it, and her post gets it wrong.

    (b) She includes coloured graphs in the post and asks her readers if they can eyeball a hotspot by comparing graphs. She didn’t point out that the figures to be compared use the same colours but on different scales – although at least she left the scales attached to the figures so you can work it out if you’re savvy.

    And when you understand (a) and the different scales, it is evidence that the very figures she provides as evidence of no hotspot show the kind of hotspot that is predicted.

    (c) the numeric data and calculations in the reference paper from which she drew the graphs show a suitable hotspot.

    So David, if you’re getting your “facts” from sites like these, it might pay to dig a little and find out whether they’re leading you up the garden path or not.

  79. #80 Lotharsson
    April 10, 2011

    it is evidence that

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