Denying Climate Science in Multiple Dimensions

The famous Polar Vortex has come and gone in North America. Then, it came back. What a jerk.

NewPolarVortexMemeAs I write this the outside temperature is 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and tomorrow morning’s Bus Stop Temperature promises to be about –25F windchill here in central Minnesota. Meanwhile my Twitter stream is polluted with climate science denialist tweets pointing out that it is too cold outside to believe in global warming, even though the entire land area of the United States, where this cold is being experienced as a cultural and physical phenomenon, is about one and half percent of the planet Earth, and the Northern Hemisphere has just experienced its fourth warmest January during the period known as “Since Records Began” which in this case is about 1880 to the present.

Releasing the Carbon Kraken

There are multiple dimensions along which denialists either get it wrong (because they are not paying attention or don’t understand the data) or making it wrong (because they have an interest in misdirection and misleading others). One is pretending that the weather outside their window is the climate. The other is pretending that climate change only started after Al Gore said it did, or after some other recent date, ignoring the fact that we have been releasing the Carbon Kraken since the early or mid 19th century, when industrialists figured out they could make more money using coal, rather than water, to run their ever expanding acreage of dark satanic mills.

It is hard to say exactly when Anthropogenic Global Warming began because at the start any signal from this effect may have been swamped by non anthropogenic (sometimes called “natural”) variation. The available data suggest that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million (ppm) in the 18th century, and started to rise during the last half of the 19th century. After World War II, the rate of rise increased significantly. We know added CO2 increases the global surface temperature and the temperature of the oceans, and melts glacial (and sea) ice through the greenhouse effect. This graph, from here, combines various data sources to show the increase in CO2 emissions over time:


When we look at temperatures over time, we see a close relationship between CO2 and temperature, and we see a slow rise prior to World War II with a more rapid increase after. Another graph, from here:


The increase in temperatures are slow and steady but measurable prior to World War II, and much steeper thereafter. It would be nice to see a graph like this that goes back a little farther in time to match the CO2 graph, but the “instrumental record” mostly post dates the Civil War, and really, the better quality record post dates about 1880. There are records that go way back, tens of millions of years, but they are “proxy” records of a different scale and it is hard to get them on the same graph.

People who (unbelievably) deny that global warming is a real thing will often point to climate events earlier in the 20th century that may resemble modern day events that we think could be related to warming, and say “see, it happened then, so there is no global warming now.” There are several reasons that is wrong. First, often, older records of spectacular weather events may be wrong, incomplete, or not measured like we would like them to have been measured, so going back to old newspaper accounts and such is highly unreliable. So this means that people are criticizing a carefully assembled and verified set of data (recent changes in CO2 and temperature) and complaining that it is no good because of cherry picked observation from “data” that is not controlled or verified. The second reason this is wrong is that there have been very few weather events that could not, really, have happened any time. This does not apply so much to sea level enhanced weather events. If sea level rises then sea or estuary flooding can happen in places it could never have happened before, so that is a qualitative, or base-line, difference. But for the most part, a major cold snap, a high precipitation event, drought, or other event can happen at any time. Climate scientists do not think that there are very many weather events that happen now that could never, ever have happened in the past. Rather, there is concern that some of these classes of events are happening with significantly greater frequency now than in the past.

Was Kansas Not In Kansas Any More For A Decade Or Two?

A third reason this is wrong, which is rarely pointed to but I think important, is that we really don’t know what the association is between two important factors and weather events. First, just how much new CO2 added to the atmosphere does it take to change the weather? Since CO2 records show an increase that started prior to the better quality instrumental record, the entire instrumental record is potentially affected by higher CO2, though of course, this effect would be much less prior to World War II than during more recent times. Second, and related, is this: There may be weather related effects that come not from the specific amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but from changes in the CO2. The warming effect of added CO2 is not instantaneous, but rather, takes a long time during which time climate or weather related things may change. Adding a specific amount of CO2 to the atmosphere is like turning the stove on under a pot of tap water. The water starts out cool, and over time heats, then it eventually reaches boiling. After that, the temperature does not change; due to the boiling point, the pot of water has reached a new equilibrium and has stopped increasing in heat. But before equilibrium is reached there are constant changes in the heat level of the water inside the pot as well as other things the water is doing, such as pushing out various gasses, forming bubbles, and circulating thermally in the pot. That is a very simple analogy; there may be either simple or complex changes that happen in the Earth’s heat circulation system that occur as a result of added CO2, that involve changes over time, then reach an equilibrium of some sort and stop happening. Perhaps this occurred during the early days of increased CO2.

I have a hypothesis that I’m not aware has been examined. During the 1920s and 1930s, in the US at least, there seems to have been a handful of extreme weather events, including some major tornadoes, big hurricanes, an historic and history changing drought, and a few other things. The Wizard of Oz, the writings of John Steinbeck, and other cultural phenomena are a very interesting proxy for those climate events, in a way. I’m afraid that at the moment the data required to examine this period are not sufficient. But I wonder, looking at the above graphs, if the earlier part of the 20th century saw a metastable shift – changing from one equilibrium to a new and different equilibrium – in weather patterns, caused by CO2 induced warming, the effects of which arose for a while then faded away.

The possibility that extreme events may have happened during some period of a couple of decades early in the 20th century due to anthropogenic global warming does not explain all, or even a majority, of the denialist claims. Most of those claims are probably references to incorrect data or cherry picking of events. The largest and most frequent weather related effects of global warming probably date to the last 20 years. Weather events are known of over many decades before that, and to some extent, even centuries into the past. Therefore, the historical bowl of cherries from which denialists may choose is large. That ratio, between the expanse of historical information and the more limited recent past, is large enough that there are dozens of past events that can be cited, as misrepresentations of reality.

Bicycles Going Backwards

You wouldn’t think it easy to ride a bicycle backwards but it turns out it is. Climate science denialists are good at it, and they can use multiple bicycles at once.

In a recent twitter conversation, an Australian MP challenged John Cook with the false assertion that several studies confirmed that global temperatures have stayed steady or gone down over the last decade or so. When Cook asked for the studies, the MP replied not with any studies, but with a comment about climate models. When pressed further for the studies, the MP claimed he had not promised any such studies and when pressed further changed the conversation to the last 150 years of data. When that did not work he shifted to mention of work that he claimed defied the nearly perfect consensus among both scientists and their peer reviewed papers about climate science. When that did not work he shifted to references in a non-peer reviewed anonymous blog, and then to perceived problems in the peer reviewed process. About that time another climate science denialist attempted to shift the conversation to the alleged (and non-existent) inability of alternative energy sources to work when it is really cold out.

If you have one thing to say that is wrong, it is hard to sustain argument. If you have ten things to say that are wrong, you can sustain the argument by shifting among them as each falsehood is effectively challenged. That form of argument does not advance understanding, but it does sustain the argument, but in a rather vacuous form. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Science denialism thrives in a vacuum.

Fighting With Words

Another dimension along which climate science denialists operate is linguistic. The terms “global warming” and “climate change” mean different things. The former is part of the latter, and in fact, “global warming” is not exactly the same as “anthropogenic global warming.” Within science, we sometimes see extended discussions of the meanings of specific terms. What is a gene? What exactly is the relationship between “founder effect” and “genetic drift?” When is an “adaptation” really an “aptation” or an “exaptation?” These conversations have three characteristics. First, they reflect changes in understanding, or sometimes, conflict between perceptions of natural phenomena that arose independently and then crashed into each other in the literature or at conferences. Second, they are useful conversations because they can expose uncertainties or ambiguities in our actual understanding of nature. Third, despite their short term utility, they eventually become boring and misleading and scientists move beyond them and get back to the actual science, eventually.

But terminology has another use, and that is obfuscation. It is often said by denialists that scientists changed from using the term “global warming” to “climate change” for one or another nefarious reasons. We also see denialists claiming that scientists used to study “climate change” and that included both global warming and global cooling, but then changed to global warming because they could make more money on it. (I wish I knew how that worked!) Recently, Rush Limbaugh, the intellectual leader of the American right wing, claimed that scientists made up the term “Polar Vortex” in order to advance tax and spend liberal ideas. The famous NBC weatherman, Al Roker, and others, noted that the term “Polar Vortex” was already there, as a term referring to a real thing, and Roker even showed the term in use in his meteorology textbook from the mid 20th century. Indeed, here is a Google Ngram Viewer result of a search for the term “Polar Vortex” in all the books Google has indexed:


Note that the term is way old, predating 1950, and had a peak in usage druing the late 80s and through the early 90s, probably related to an increased rate of study of this phenomenon that happened because of concern over the Ozone Hole.

Fighting with words was codified by, if not invented by, the Ancient Greeks. It is called sophistry, or at least, is a subset of that practice, whereby arguments are made in large part on the basis of rhetorical style or method. You see people do this all the time. If someone you know is in a grumpy mood, or does not want to admit they’ve made a mistake, they may resort to a sophistic argument.

“Sorry I’m late, I got lost because they changed what’s on the corner of your street and it confused me.”

“They never changed what’s on the corner of my street.”

“Yes they did, there used to be a coffee shop, now it’s a pet grooming place.”

“Yeah, but it’s still the same building, they never changed what’s on the corner. You got lost because you don’t like me any more.”

That sort of thing.

Science denialists look silly when they do this sort of thing, but apparently they don’t know that. And, the method is related to the backpedalling bicycles. You can always shift the conversation to the apocryphal shift between the terms “global warming” and “climate change,” implying a conspiracy among scientists, when the going gets tough.

This seems to happen a lot with hurricanes. When the Bush Administration wanted to avoid taking responsibility for a poor response to Katrina, someone actually said that the major damage done to New Orleans was not due to Katrina, but rather, to flooding. This idea was bolstered by noting that the hurricane had made landfall at a different time and place than the flooding. That, in turn, was based on the idea of “landfall” being related to the location of the eye of the storm; but the eye of a hurricane is tiny compared to the entire storm, which may be hundreds of miles across. We saw this again with Sandy. Sandy was a pretty bad hurricane, but it lost its hurricane status just before making “landfall” (though the leading edge of the storm had been on land for a long time already). Just before hitting land, Sandy integrated with another storm system, which actually made the thing a super storm with much more impact than just a hurricane, but in so morphing changed enough that it no longer fit the definition of a hurricane. Then it hit New Jersey and New York. So, those who wish to deny the importance of hurricanes simply claim that when Sandy flooded Manhattan and the New Jersey shore, and caused widespread damage, loss of life, and injury in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, that did not count as a hurricane related event. Sophistry.

But Galileo!

The final dimension of argument I want to mention is perhaps the silliest of all, and we see it in widespread use far beyond the area of climate science denialism. The idea is simple. All major advances in science have come about when almost everyone thinks a certain thing but they are all wrong, but a small number of individuals know the truth, like Galileo's attack on a geocentric universe.

While it is true that such things have happened, in history, they have not happened that often in science. For example, Einstein’s revision of several areas of science fit with existing science but modified it, though significantly. Subatomic theory did not replace the atom, but rather, entered the atom. The discovery and characterization of DNA was a major moment in biology, but the particulate nature of inheritance had long been established. Darwin did not change the existing science of nature, but rather, verified long held ideas about evolution and, dramatically, proposed a set of mechanisms not widely understood in his day. Science hardly ever gets Galileoed, and even Galileo did not Galileo science; he Galileoed religion. Even his insightful contribution was accretive.

There is a demented logic behind the Galileo claim. If every one thinks one thing, and one person thinks something different, that high ratio of differential is itself proof that the small minority is correct. But the truth is that consensus, or what we sometimes call “established science,” is usually coeval with alternative beliefs the vast majority of which are wrong, most of which do not even come from the science itself, but rather, from sellers of snake oil, individuals or entities that would benefit from the science being questioned, or from individuals with delusional ideas. Even if there is now and then a view held by a small minority that is actually more correct than the majority view, we can’t establish veracity by measuring rarity. Chances are, a view of nature held by only a few is wrong. This simple numbers game is not how we should be seeking truth, but if one does engage in the numbers game, then dissenting views of established science can be assumed to be wrong, if you were going to place a bet.

Climate Science Denialism along Multiple Dimensions

It seems to me, and others have noted this, that there is an uptick in the activity levels of climate science denialism. This seems to have started just prior to the release of the first draft documents of the IPCC report on climate change last year. Perhaps it is also being fueled by efforts linked to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Denialists have recently used the fact that about one or two percent of the Earth’s surface is experiencing a dramatic cold wave, which is quite possibly an effect of climate change, to question global warming, even in a winter where the Earth is exceptionally warm. Sophistry abounds. There is so much cherry picking going on that I fear for a shortage of cherries, which really should be reserved for making pies and jam. Backwards pedaled bicycles are whizzing about. But the denialists do not seem to have increased in number or even reach. Last November, there was a project called #ClimateThanks in which people were asked to tweet thanks, using the #ClimateThanks hashtag for those individuals and organizations who have been doing or promoting the results of good climate science. The denialists jumped on that bandwagon, producing numerious anti-science tweets and retweets. But if you look at the tweets and the tweeters from the denialist gaggle, while they were many most had few followers, and some of the tweeting entities even seemed to have been made up or brought out of mothballs for the purpose. They amounted to little more than a large collection of small wanna-be-Galileos.

It is probably true that the biggest problem we have in advancing a productive conversation about climate change is the tenacious insistence on false balance in the media. It isn’t just FOX News that thinks it is OK to place real science and politically motivated propaganda on the same stage, as though they had equal merit. False balance, which may be spreading as a phenomenon in major media at a time it should be diminishing, is probably the best friend of the denialist community.

Meanwhile, the denialsts have repeatedly shown themselves to be wrong, along many and diverse dimensions.

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Hey, what ever happened to Watts' groundbreaking paper on UHI which Watts said disproved the BEST results (which Watts said he would accept no matter what until he found out those results supported AGW)?

He never published it and those he gave credit to in the paper backed away from it.

By Chris Kennedy (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

Chris Kennedy....SHHHHH!! Watts think swe all forgot about his--ahem--sophistry. :)

By HarryWiggs (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

This is a very coherent analysis of the resistance to climate change models. Ultimately it is led by political interests prodded into action by the industries most likely to lose funding and whose investments in technology and infrastructure are most likely to become obsolete. The pipeline issue is a flashpoint. So is resistance to fracking.

By Helga Vierich (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

I'd like to follow up on the Auspol connection. Could you provide the twitter names of Cook and the Australian politician?

@DennisJensenMP @skepticscience

But I wonder, looking at the above graphs, if the earlier part of the 20th century saw a metastable shift – changing from one equilibrium to a new and different equilibrium – in weather patterns, caused by CO2 induced warming, the effects of which arose for a while then faded away.

I have had a related notion about what happened in the 1940-1970 time frame. If you look at the temperature anomaly curve, you will see that it was flat or even slightly negative during that period. What else was going on during those years? There were little dustups in Europe and the Pacific that you may have heard about, and then there was a series of atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons continuing until the mid 1960s. These things would tend to kick a bunch of aerosols into the stratosphere, something that is known to have a temporary cooling effect. Volcanoes can do the same kind of thing: the last time the temperature anomaly was well below the trend line was the early 1990s, following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, and "the year without a summer" (1816) is associated with the Tambora eruption of 1815, the largest volcanic eruption witnessed by people who lived to write about it.

The point is that our current warming trend could well be interrupted (at least temporarily) by a major war--something made all the more likely as climate change stresses agricultural yields and as rising sea levels force some coastal people to migrate to higher ground--and the usual suspects would likely claim that global warming theory was disproven (I don't think the models include possible wars among their forcings). If I were betting on a location for this flash point, I'd take Pakistan (which has a barely stable government already, and their primary commercial city, Karachi, is at sea level) lobbing nukes at their traditional enemy India, which is capable of retaliating in kind. But that's not the only possibility.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

I think there is a gap in the major volcano activity during this period, so I'm betting on things like blowing up much of Eruope and the bomb tests.

Sure polar vortex is older than Limbaugh claimed but I bet it doesn't predate Gore. Checkmate! Or some such "logic"....

By Dan J. Andrews (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

I picked on a shift from Laden's blog that I had never thought about before but I think could represent a positive shift for those concerned about increasing awareness of the issue of climate change: instead of saying "climate change denialism" he said "climate SCIENCE denialism. Just like evolution denial is fundamentally an assault on science denying the findings of science on the climate change issue is most fundamentally an attack on science itself. I think there could be a better outcome in the debate if we begin to drill this into everyone's head.

By DuaneBidoux (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

Yeah, I've been saying it this way for a while. I'm not consistent, but I prefer to change "climate science denialism" to "science denialism" rather than "climate denialism" both because it keeps the point intact, and actually, the denialists aren't really denying CLIMATE. "climate change" denialism, also, does not highlight hte science.

Duane @ 10 and Greg @ 11: Excellent. "climate science denialism" and "science denialism." Exactly. Take charge of the language and force the other side to justify theirs.

But also: Trying to fight denialism by "explaining" facts, is a losing battle. "He who _explains_, _loses_." Explaining is playing defense. You need to start playing _offense_.

There's a famous video wherein Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong is at some hotel at a conference, and a Moon landing denialist was following him around, hassling him, saying to his face that the Moon landings were faked, etc. etc. (Moon landing conspiracy theories are apparently getting more common, about which I was skeptical at first but just this week ran into a bunch of it in comments on a story.)

At first, Armstrong was the total gentleman about it. When the nutcase conspiracist kept following him and hassling and pestering him, he tried to walk away from the guy. But then, finally, when the guy wouldn't quit and wouldn't go away, and got in Armstrong's face and called him a fraud, Armstrong (who is still as fit as a soldier in his older years) turned around and punched the guy in the nose. That, finally, made the guy go away. And a police officer who happened to be there did not arrest Armstrong, because it was clear who started it and that Armstrong would have a viable claim to self-defense.

That's how to fight: do the verbal equivalent of punching the denialists in the nose. Hit them hard, and don't hesitate to get personal and/or use emotional zingers where appropriate.

For example with the Australian MP: "Sir, if you are trying to defend the legacy of a family member who worked in the coal mines, all you are accomplishing is to dishonor all coal miners." (Note: Australia has a _huge_ cultural thing about coal mining and coal miners, and this is a key reason why Australia is still infested with denialists.)

For example with the lobbyists: "You sir, are merely defending the unproduced assets of your employer. That makes you a corrupt shill, a liar, and a prostitute."

For the Galileo wannabees: Take a hint from a ferociously effective zinger at a presidential candidates' debate in the 90s (that is famous enough to still be relevant): "I knew Galileo, and let me tell you, you are no Galileo." Or with an audience too young to remember that one, "So, you think you're Galileo? Did you think you were Jesus last year too? Do you often hear voices nobody else can hear? Calling your name, swearing at you, that kind of thing?"

As for Rush Limbaugh, "He himself admits he's nothing but a clever entertainer. He doesn't even believe half of what he says on the air. He's a clown. He's not even a very funny clown."

Phrases such as "19th-century energy sources" are also useful. "Why are you defending 19th-century energy sources in the 21st century? Are you some kind of Luddite?"

Also, "Are you one of those anti-nukers?" and "What other conspiracy theories do you subscribe to? 9/11 Truther by any chance?"

Lastly, be willing to fight dirty. Go into the denialist blogs and make posts that bring in other conspiracy theories, the wilder the better. 9/11 Truther stuff is always useful. Moon landing fakery stuff is apparently popular now so use it as well. "The Queen of England is in cahoots with the international drug cartels" is a classic, and easily tracked back to Lyndon LaRouche who is a well-known nutjob conspiracy theorist. The goal is to encourage "crank magnetism," to get denialists to chime in with all the conspiracy theories they support.

In general, be willing to use all lawful means at your disposal, and don't let squeamishness stop you. The science is settled, the politics are not. We are fighting on the ground of politics, where the niceties of the science community are seen as quaint and antiquated, where red meat works, and where reasoning takes a back seat to emotion. That's the empirical reality on the ground, and we ignore it at our peril.

"Chances are, a view of nature held by only a few is wrong."

Even though I agree with almost everything Greg writes, I'm a little uncomfortable with this sentence. It contains an important germ of truth, but it seems a touch too strong.

As an example, I deny the existence of supernatural beings. This places me in a tiny minority worldwide. If, in a discussion with a believer, they were to say to me "You are wrong because so few people in the world agree with you", I would consider that they were making a mistake in their reasoning.

By Milton Barber (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

Right, I should have been clearer. I intended to speak of issues within science, among scientists.

First out of the box laurels on AGW go to whichever ( or whatever ) anthropitihcienes of the >1000th millennium BP set the first uncontrolled forest fire in hope of enjoying some barbecue in its wake.

Best supporting role in prehistoric geoengineering is a toss up between the Aboriginal hunters who organized the first paperbark fueled marsupail drive , and the last brave native Americans to fire the understory of the Forest Primeval before the Pilgrims came ashore.

Remember that someways chaotic book _Chaos_ the occurrence of "phase doubling" as a system enters a new norm.
Also, not long ago a heavy rain might lay down half an inch of rain over a couple of days. Now one or two inches fall is ordinary.
Sorry for terse. Tired.

By David Formanek (not verified) on 27 Feb 2014 #permalink

Re. MWS @ 17: Thereby exposing my notorious bad memory for names. The way my brain is wired, names are arbitrary character-strings like telephone numbers, that have zero semantic meaning. Anyway, kudos to Buzz Aldrin for doing with his fist what climate activists should be doing with words. Fight hard, hit hard, do not "explain," and do not apologize.

First, some words about Berkeley and Watts. The Berkeley study did take the urban heat island effect into account. In a New York Times op-ed Richard Muller, who led the study, wrote:

“We carefully studied issues raised by skeptics: biases from urban heating (we duplicated our results using rural data alone), from data selection (prior groups selected fewer than 20 percent of the available temperature stations; we used virtually 100 percent), from poor station quality (we separately analyzed good stations and poor ones) and from human intervention and data adjustment (our work is completely automated and hands-off). In our papers we demonstrate that none of these potentially troublesome effects unduly biased our conclusions.”…- skeptic.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
To begin with, Watts refused to accept the Berkley conclusions because the paper had not yet been peer-reviewed. Then, when the paper had been reviewed, Watts rejected it because it had not been reviewed in an established journal. There was no way Watts could have accepted the conclusions of a paper that undermines all he stands for, and the only reason he said that he would stand by the results was that Muller previously had aligned himself with the septics and that Watts therefore assumed the results would be to his liking.…- confirm-global-warming/…

Re. science denial, I think it's worth mentioning that it first became prominent when science began playing a role in the regulation of industries, and could be seen as inimical to corporate interests. It's hardly a coincidence that the vast majority of climate science denying books have been financed by, or associated with conservative think tanks.

Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere: A Study of Public Trust in the United States, 1974 to 2010

The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism…

The septics' allegations of fraud could be an example of projection. In any event, the economic interests behind the septics themselves are undeniable:
“Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded and financed by the oil industry and some of the Republican party's wealthiest donors, told the National Review in December his group made "great headway" during the past three years in turning acceptance of climate science into a political liability. "The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] nominating process—the conventions and the primaries—are suspect of the science. And that's our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it," he said.”…

Well, I don't know the whole story behind it, but I remember Watts saying that the UHI effect is irrelevant concering global temperatures, because of the study's outcome. Maybe a bit late but at least he accepted it.

By Kemmy Landurm (not verified) on 28 Feb 2014 #permalink

Kenny, could you point to where Watts "accepted" that UHI is irrelevant, WRT to the measure of AGW? I can recall no specific point at which he conceded that point, at all, and if so, I want to be able to trumpet it. The only place I can think of would be in his *single* published paper, which even he tries to disown.

By HarryWiggs (not verified) on 28 Feb 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Kemmy Landurm (not verified)

So you want me to post a link to wuwt in here?


Just some remarks: I totally agree with, that science doesn't usually get "Galileoed". Let's take lagrangian mechanics, looks fine, works fine, makes totally sense, everything is fine. Then some guy named Maxwell did some generalisation of all the electrodynamical phenomena described by Ampère, Faraday etc.. Then someone noticed that there is a fundamental problem with electodynamics that just won't fit into the classical mechanics way (we call it lorentz invariance). Well in the light of the present, it turned out Maxwell already made an realtivistic equation, but it took about 50 years (?) for Lorentz and Einstein to realize that the problem lies in classical mechanics, not in electrodynamics. Hence, we got the Theory of Special Relativity.

In this example, mechanics does not get "Galileoed", but rather limited to certain applications, and extended to a new principle generally applieable.

Ok so here is my point (after this long and mostly inaccurately repeting of science history). We talk about physics. Ye, it is that plain simple. We have no model about the climate where scientists are saying: "Oh yes this is the best describtion of reality we have. Just look how well it works." or other scientists saying: "Hmm yes, it works here, but how do you explain that?". So all in all, we know the physics, yet we don't know the dynamics occuring in such a complex system. The whole topic, nonlinear dynamics and chaos, is like 20 years old, a completely new mathematical approach. (Ye quite now, I'm asking myself what I actually want to say in here, well I let you decide)

By Kemmy Landurm (not verified) on 28 Feb 2014 #permalink

Kemmy, I don't buy the "it's too complex to understand" argument, and I especially don't buy the "Its not at the level of this or that physics yet"

Regarding the former, climate science is a subset of earth system science, which is parallel to and similar to biology (and maybe geology) in that it is a mixture of historical, dynamical, contingent, (and yes, in there somewhere but overrated in importance, chaotic etc.) systems and we've been studying complex systems like this for a while. The earliest major book that I've read that addresses this is Darwin's Coral Reef monograph. I don't buy the latter because the study of complex systems does not ever reduce to something as simple and obvious, once it is noticed by a genius or two, as relativity!

Kemmy Landurm –
"So you want me to post a link to wuwt in here?"

Like HarryWiggs, I don't recall that the BEST study got Watts to modify his claims. As you have a clear memory that he did, you should have no trouble providing documentation for your assertion. If you feel that a link to WUWT would meet with disapproval, you could instead provide us with the title(s) of the relevant post(s), which we then could google.

Mr. Laden,

This is an excellent and crystal-clear discussion. I like how accessible you make the complex ideas. I would also add that there are cultural and psychological factors that play into the phenomenon of AGW denialism. I teach a class on it, and invite you to stop by my blog about it for more information:

Interesting blog, but there are several things wrong within the presentation.
1. Yes, it did warm slightly more rapidly in the early 20th Century than the end of the 20th Century. No one knows why the early 20th century warming happened. There are multiple theories, but no single cause/effect.
2. The Dust Bowl drought was a minor drought in the USA. Paleo records, AND observed records are abundant with longer, much more intense droughts. After the drought of 1955-57, the frequency and intensity of droughts has actually declined.
3. There is NO evidence that higher CO2 levels add temperature to the oceans. The radiation band of CO2 is called Long Wave. It penetrates water approx 2 microns. Short Wave radiation, sent to us by the sun, penetrates water up to 30+ meters. The evaporation of water is faster, under most circumstances, than the radiation band of CO2 can overcome. This is easily documented via laboratory tests.

We are in a long term warming rebound from the LIA. The LIA was a world wide event confirmed by proxy data. While proxy data is not perfect, (resolution etc problems), it is what we have.

Basic physics and gas laws show that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The bands over lap the H2O vapor bands. Even with that overlap, a doubling of CO2 should increase temps approx 1.0C, everything else static. The atmosphere is NOT static. Hence, sensitivity comes into play. The current climate models have a divergence problem. They are based on CO2 as a large driver of climate. Observations indicate the sensitivity is lower than had been previously thought. This is not good nor bad. This is how science works. Make a best prediction of a non linear atmosphere and see how it plays out. The divergence now is approx 2 sigma, which is a clear signal that sensitivity, as previously understood, was too high.

We have not warmed for 15-17 years, depending on the temperature metric. That has caused the divergence problem. Time to go back to the drawing board, which is being done, and get a better understanding of our chaotic climate.

Once again, interesting op-ed, but fraught with failure.

No one has suggested here that CO2 in the oceans increases heating in the oceans. Heat enters and leaves the ocean as a function of the ocean/atmosphere interface which in turn is affected by the movement of sea water and its relationship with air currents.

Climate sensitivity has not been reassessed to be lower. There was talk about that a while back but it was a misunderstanding of the research and has been cleared up. If anything, the range of climate sensitivity has been expanded, lowered on the low end and raised on the high end, and at the same time the more likely answer to that puzzle leans towards the high end.

The comparison of and relationship between vapor and CO2 is increasingly well understood and you have that wrong. The invocation of water vapor as more important than CO2 is a classic climate science denialist tactic and, frankly, has gotten boring. You can go read more about water vapor here:…

The earth has warmed over the 15-17 year period you cite, pretty much regardless of metric, but to do it honestly you have to use a metric that includes all the warming.

Note: Reference to "chaotic" or "chaos" happens much more among people who don't understand the science or who wish to deny the science than it does in the actual science literature.

Regarding the LIA and past climate. Climate changes over time, and over the last several thousand years we've seen cooling and warming. The present warming is unprecidented for the present geological era, and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is astonishingly high. Climate sensitivity refers to the ultimate (shorter term, over decades, vs. longer term, to equilibrium) increase in temperature with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere is like turning on that burner under the pot. It takes time for the atmosphere/water-in-the-pot to heat up. We have significantly increased CO2 in the atmosphere and we are now going to watch the earth warm. If we add more CO2, that warming will be greater.

Your attempt to minimize the numerical value of sensitivity is a classic climate science denialist move.

I'm glad you enjoyed the blog post. Your comment, though, is fraught with failure. To coin a phrase.

Always easy to set up straw man arguments in an echo chamber and knock them down.

Very few, if any, disagree that man-made CO2 emissions have pushed atmospheric CO2 to around 400ppm from about 280ppm, or there is warming since about 1850. Nor is there disagreement that adding CO2 to the atmosphere would be expected to cause some warming for an iconic doubling of CO2, all things being equal, which of course they aren't. Climate sensitivity is theoretical and derived from computer models. Some recent papers suggest a sensitivity below 2C, others suggest higher. A CO2 rise of about 120ppm has been accompanied by about 0.8C of warming, although not all of that can be blamed on CO2 (e.g 15% for solar if we consider TSI only?).

Hopefully no one 'denies' that climate (and weather) is naturally variable and has been changing as long as we have had a climate?

A temperature 'anomaly' is derived from (arbitrarily?) comparing a chosen period of time with another. Claims that 20th century warming is 'unprecedented' isn't necessarily true given the well known problems with some proxy data and methodology. It is also likely that a warm bias remains in the surface temperature record.

I'm sure no one considers Gavin Schmidt et al or Ben Santer et al as 'deniers' but they are an example of those who have been trying to explain the 'pause, ' which could already be 20 years long if the Santer paper is correct. It's over 17 years in the satellite record (RSS and UAH).

We can congratulate the IPCC for climate sensitivity being supported by observations at the low end of IPCC model projections.

It looks as though we have an extended period of low solar activity through cycles 24, 25 and 26, predicted 3 decades ago, which should provide the opportunity to test solar v CO2. If solar wins, the 'pause' will continue and there will be no warming with the coolest period around the 2030s before solar activity picks up again.

My disagreement is with counter-productive alarmism or catastrophism, which is a 'big turn' off for the public and promotes bad policy. I am a scientist, by the way, but not a climate scientist. Alarmism over the subsequently de-bunked 'gulf stream scare' prompted me to look 'under the hood' of global warming (or climate change).

By Paul Biggs (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

Climate sensitivity is not theoretical and derived from models. It is based on two major sources. One is physics. That's a kind of science. An atmosphere with no feedbacks would have a sensitivity of 1.2 C, that's easy to calculate. Then there are feedbacks, and unfortunately they are mostly positive. The positive feedbacks are entered into models or calculations to estimate sensitivity, but the paramaters are based in some cases on more physics, and in other cases on direct observations of temperature changes as other factors play out, either during the period of the instrumental record or in the paleorecrod. That's data.

If solar was a big factor the results would be different.

It does not matter much what period of time you use, we are experiencing anomalously warm temperatures. The range of climate data used to calculate an anomaly value can be arbitrary. What is really happening, though, is that a lot of reports or depictions of data use a moving goal post, with the climatic baseline being moved more and more towards the present as time progresses forward. That is standard climatology but underestiamtes the true anomaly since industrialization.

So, you are predicting, specifically, that we are going to continue to not warm, and even cool, with a minimum around 2030. We'll see!

Nobody is being alarmist here. But you are being overly optimistic. Optimisticism is not helpful in the face of contrary scientific data.

Weather is chaotic, climate is not. If you think it is, you don't even understand what climate is.

Mr. Laden:
The interface you mentioned is a very minor source of heat in the oceans. The main force of heating the oceans is short wave radiation. We both know that, I would hope.

The range of climate sensitivity to CO2 has been expanded to include a lower number. The reason for this is, at present, no one really has a good handle on said range.

H2O vapor is the driver of change or stability in our climate. It dwarfs any other green house gas. The over lap of radiation bands between CO2 and H2O is well understood. In the troposphere, CO2 has virtually no effect on temperature because of this.

The present warming is not unprecidented during the Holocene era, which we are in. The rate of warming isn't even unprecidented.…

Greenland is not the world, but is reflective of at least NH climate/temps. Dr. Alley's ice core interpretation has been confirmed via shell studies in that area.

I am not attempting to minimize sensitivity. The range was expanded in IPCC 5. The lower end lowered because of an increase in knowledge. It has as high a probability, with our current understanding, as the higher end of climate sensitivity.

There is no denying in my comments. There is a better presentation of what our current understanding is, with no political bend to it.


Wrong again. We are not talking about what heats the oceans. That isn't even slightly related to this conversation. We are talking about the location and movement of added heat from radiative forcing increased by greenhouse gasses. And, over 90 percent of that heating goes into the ocean. We all know that. But there is variation over time and actual measurements (rather than your speculations) indicate that the middle and deeper levels of the ocean are taking in more heat now, over the last few years, than before. Recent modeling and research suggests that this is related to natural oscillations and unfortunately we can expect that heat to come back, to some degree. The present warming is at a greater magnitude and greater rate than anything we've experienced since the end of the pleistocene.

Not only is greenland not the whole world, but that graph of those data is not the whole story.

The lower end of the range was NOT increased because of increased knowledge. It was increased because of a change in the definition. The upper end was increased, and the the most probable, narrowly defined, range increased.

Nope, you are denying in these comments as you've done on other blogs, and there is a political bent to it.

You're welcome.

Water vapor is indeed a problem. It amplified the effects of CO2. With no water vapor, sensitivity might be close to 1.2 C, but with it is is closer to 3 or 4 C.

"When skeptics use this argument, they are trying to imply that an increase in CO2 isn't a major problem. If CO2 isn't as powerful as water vapor, which there's already a lot of, adding a little more CO2 couldn't be that bad, right? What this argument misses is the fact that water vapor creates what scientists call a 'positive feedback loop' in the atmosphere — making any temperature changes larger than they would be otherwise.

How does this work? The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere exists in direct relation to the temperature. If you increase the temperature, more water evaporates and becomes vapor, and vice versa. So when something else causes a temperature increase (such as extra CO2 from fossil fuels), more water evaporates. Then, since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this additional water vapor causes the temperature to go up even further—a positive feedback.

How much does water vapor amplify CO2 warming? Studies show that water vapor feedback roughly doubles the amount of warming caused by CO2. So if there is a 1°C change caused by CO2, the water vapor will cause the temperature to go up another 1°C. When other feedback loops are included, the total warming from a potential 1°C change caused by CO2 is, in reality, as much as 3°C."

As we all know, the science and the facts are incontrovertible. Those arguing against climate change are doing so because of two reasons. the first is because people are lazy, threatened, scared or just plain stupid. the second and more vocal and organised lots are zealots of what I like to call the religion or belief system of NEO-conservatism. The reason why you hear there voiced so much in this FALSE BALANCE debate we have in the media is simply because the media is owned, operated and controlled by corporate interests. When you step outside this cooped corporate space into alternative media sources you do not hear the babble of 'denialist' because these media sources question and actively rebut their false and misleading claims.

By Stephen Brailey (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

Stephen Brailey: Man - made catastrophic global warming, or climate change, isn't a fact. 'The science' is framed mostly as evidence with low to high confidence. Claiming people are arguing against climate change is another straw man - who is arguing that the climate doesn't change? If you want to 'follow the money' follow the beneficiaries of the tens of billions spent on the climate agenda by governments. False balance comes from the fact that it is career suicide to speak out against flaws in 'the science.' Judith Curry has "fallen on her dagger" for being outspoken against certain aspects of the 'consensus.'

By Paul Biggs (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

That is actually the opposite that is true. It has been argued that climate scientists who favor, for scientific reasons, more extreme possible outcomes of climate change are more likely to get passed over for funding. And the funding climate scientists get isn't particularly large, typical for physical scientists. People don't go into this business to make money.

@Mr. Laden

Yes, of couse we can't simply say "It's too complex, forget about it", but I guess we both agree that we are dealing with a complex system. Additonally, mathematic studies towards chaotic system won't derive any huge leap towards the understanding of a perticular problem, at least not in the next few decades. So we got the data, telling a waming trend since at least 150 years. Therefore we are wondering why is that? Even more because there doesn't seem to be any natural cause of the warming. So yes, it makes totally sense that enrichment of CO2 in the atmosphere did it, as we know the physical properties of this molecule. (Well this not a discussion, because while writing this I notice that I totally agree with you)

Ok there is one thing that really troubles me. You can't say that relativity is obvious. Yes hell yeah it is obvious if you know 1.constant of speed of light, 2. basic principle of physics: physics is the same no matter in which frame you are. But that's the point: It took a while to realize this, and, even then it took a while to notice to what consequences these two assumptions will lead to.

By Kemmy Landurm (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

But Greg. Anthony Watts IS the new Galileo! Rick Perry said so . . .

By kelly anspaugh (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

Really good blog article Greg, enjoyed it! One thing I think was missed in your review is the how strongly most of those who claim to be skeptical of human caused global warming seem to believe there is some vast conspiracy of scientists, politicians, and environmentalists (and Beta Retigulans, big foot, Elvis and who knows what else) to doctor all scientific findings. While I recognize and agree with your points regarding the science, I am finding that there is a cadre of denialist/conspiracist individuals that will accept no honest review of the science, regardless of it's origin. I think that the recent cold weather in the US has simply brought this group out again; basically its cold out so the climate science is a hoax. (Love that one BTW "climate science denial" I will be using that!) It seems to me that much of the media is geared towards this small but vocal group. In essence, I am thinking that they perceive this group to have more influence/money than they perhaps do.
A targeted campaign to avoid the media outlets (Fox, Forbes etc) that are most egregious in promoting this false but persistent denialism might dent their pocket books enough to force them to give a real balance to the discussion.

Or, perhaps, the media finds the denialists convenient for story generation. Reporting the steady forward plodding of advancing science is boring compared to reporting controversy!

"The Wizard of Oz, the writings of John Steinbeck, and other cultural phenomena are a very interesting proxy for those climate events, in a way. I’m afraid that at the moment the data required to examine this period are not sufficient...."
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written in 1900 and was hugely popular. It's a coincidence that a movie about it came out in 1939. Just sayin'.

By Robert Murphy (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

Re. Philip @ 20: "...Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity..." Given what we know to expect in terms of death and destruction due to climate change, that makes Tim Phillips a domestic terrorist, and Americans for Prosperity a domestic terrorist group. They should be treated accordingly.

Re. Stephen Brailey @ 34: "...Those arguing against climate change are doing so because of two reasons. the first is because people are lazy, threatened, scared or just plain stupid. the second and more vocal and organised lots are zealots of what I like to call the religion or belief system of NEO-conservatism...." No, no, no. That's "not even wrong."

Fossil fuel interests are seeking to protect their unproduced assets (e.g. coal mines full of coal, oilfields full of oil) from the financial devaluation that will occur if fossil fuels are regulated and phased out. That's the _cause_. Everything that follows is an _effect_.

Fossil fuel interests have bought off certain scientists and elected officials and created a "tribal" mentality among a segment of the media and general public. The laziness and stupidity and zealotry of which you speak, are _effects_, not _causes_.

In order to be effective in the fight, you need to understand the difference between the root causes and the observable surface effects. For example the denialist trolls who post comments in this blog and elsewhere are not part of the cause, they are part of the effect. Tim Phillips and "Americans for Prosperity" are bought & paid for by fossil fuel interests, so they are part of the cause.

Mr. Laden:
You may find this paper of interest.

Fyfe et al.1 showed that global warming over the past 20 years is significantly less than that calculated from 117 simulations of the climate by 37 models participating in Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). This might be due to some combination of errors…

By Camburn (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Helga Vierich (not verified)

No they did not. Surface warming, which is atmosphere and SST mainly, has been flatter. That is not the same thing as global warming. It is important to keep those straight.

No - a range of projections from theoretical climate models isn't real data - they can't all be right. That's astrology - not physics. Projections need to be matched with observations. Climate sensitivity may well be nearer to 1C rather than 6C - we'll see. The balance of positive/negative feedbacks aren't proven science.

There's plenty of evidence to support warmer and cooler periods in the last few thousand years, without significant changes in CO2, along with plenty of evidence for a solar link to various aspects of climate.

As for the quality of surface temperature data - IPCC AR5 conceded that the AR4 position is fabricated:
2012 IPCC report (AR5, chapter 2 page 34) "AR4 concluded that this correlation ceases to be statistically significant if one takes into account the fact that the locations of greatest socioeconomic development are also those that have been most warmed by atmospheric circulation changes but provided no explicit evidence for this overall assessment result."

And yes - that's my prediction - non-warming/cooling reaching a low in the 2030s based solar magnetic activity/eruptivity. I've already proved David Hathaway of NASA wrong with his 2006 prediction of a 'big' solar cycle 24.

I agree wee need to replace carbon fuels with something of equivalent affordability and viability. George Olah's 'Methanol Economy' looks a good bet. But carbon fuels aren't done yet - coal is still king, and we only extract the easy 25% of oil - the rest is more difficult and expensive to get, but the higher that oil prices go, the more financially viable it becomes to extract it.

By Paul Biggs (not verified) on 01 Mar 2014 #permalink

I don't get why you don't understand why there are different sensitivity measurements. Comparing them to witchcraft may not be the way to go if you want to eventually get that.

Warmer or cooler periods than what? We are starting to experience and we are heading clearly into the warmest period we've seen since before the LGM, probably something like a million to three million years before the LGM but we can't make easy direct comparisons going back before the PTM or possibly double the PTM.

The best study. Go have a look. It's buy your people. Did you think we forgot that?

OK, get back to me when we have the data to check your prediction!

Greg - you're trying to create certainty out of uncertainty.

There's a wealth of published evidence suggesting current warmth is not unusual in the Holocene. In the UK, viticulture, which is climatically controlled, demonstrates the RWP, MWP, LIA and the modern warm period, with the RWP being the warmest.

The 2011 Muller/Curry BEST study paper was rejected by JGR, but Muller continued to promote the results despite the serious shortcomings that prevented publication. Wickham et al was also rejected. I suspect that BEST is crap, no matter who produced it.

Any prediction, including mine, will be judged against the reality that either does or does not manifest itself in the future.

By Paul Biggs (not verified) on 02 Mar 2014 #permalink

No, there isn't. The present warming excedes the MWP, and we are not "coming out of the LIA"

You are right about your prediction open to judgement by reality!

The LIA is even evident in Australia (e.g. Pollack et al 2006)

We'll have to agree to disagree about paleoclimate and statistically insignificant hockey sticks with highly questionable data and methodology.

By Paul Biggs (not verified) on 02 Mar 2014 #permalink

I'm not aware of any questionable hockey sticks.

Ignorance is bliss :-)

BTW, BEST UHI: Muller & Curry 2011 (rejected) became Wickham et al 2012 (rejected) became Wickham et al 2013 published, followed by McKitrick 2014, in press. So we edge closer to resolving the stalemate over UHI.

Greg – It would help me and perhaps others if you would specify the comments to which you are responding. As comments are numbered here, @+number would be enough.

Re. Camburn
I appreciate it when others provide documentation for their assertions. It enables me to learn more about something that interests me, or to check whether a particular commenter is loyally presenting the material he/she cites. In the case of Camburn 33, the imputation seems to be that the link substantiates his/her claim regarding the relationship between CO2 and water vapor. As far as I can see (based on the abstract), it doesn't. The title is “Weather and climate analyses using improved global water vapor observations,” and it does not appear to discuss the relative importance of CO2 and water vapor.

Greg has already provided some information about this. Here's more:

Lacis, Schmidt, Rind, Ruedy: Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature

“Ample physical evidence shows that carbon dioxide is the single most important climate-relevant greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. This is because CO2, like ozone, N2O, CH4 and CFCs, does not condense and precipitate from the atmosphere at current climate temperatures, whereas water vapor can, and does. Noncondensing greenhouse gases, which account for 25% of the total terrestrial greenhouse effect, thus serve to provide the stable temperature structure that sustains the current levels of atmospheric water vapor and clouds via feedback processes that account for the remaining 75% of the greenhouse effect. Without the radiative forcing supplied by CO2 and the other non-condensing greenhouse gases, the terrestrial greenhouse would collapse, plunging the global climate to an icebound Earth state.”

Lacis later wrote a post for Judith Curry's blog:

“Even though we have known and understood for decades the basic science of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and water vapor feedback effects, in the current climate (politically speaking) of the frequently expressed irrational thinking, there is unfortunately a clear and pressing need to keep on repeating and explaining the most basic of global climate concepts.

...the aim of our Science paper was to illustrate as clearly and as simply as possible the basic operating principles of the terrestrial greenhouse effect in terms of the sustaining radiative forcing that is provided by the non-condensing greenhouse gases, which is further augmented by the feedback response of water vapor and clouds...

(1) The terrestrial greenhouse effect is comprised of two distinct components: (a) the non-condensing greenhouse gases that provide the ‘radiative forcing’ that sustains the terrestrial greenhouse effect; (b) the ‘feedback component’ by water vapor and clouds that acts to amplify the radiative effect of the non-condensing greenhouse gases.
(2) The radiative forcing by the non-condensing greenhouse gases is accurately known, and fully understood. Of the GHGs, atmospheric CO2 is the principal contributor, hence the principal control knob that governs the strength of the greenhouse effect and global temperature. The greenhouse physics, and the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases as the fundamental basis for global warming, are well founded.
(3) Water vapor and clouds account for about 75% the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, but are feedback effects that require sustained radiative forcing to maintain their atmospheric distribution. Their radiative effects are accurately known. The magnitude of their feedback sensitivity is also reliably known, to within order of 10%.”…

See also:

Even the few scientists associated with the septics recognize the status of CO2 and attempt to distance themselves from those who don't:

Patrick Michaels
"It's hardly news that human beings have had a hand in the planetary warming that began more than 30 years ago. For nearly a century, scientists have known that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide would eventually result in warming that was most pronounced in winter, especially on winter's coldest days, and a cooling of the stratosphere. All of these have been observed. . . .

Richard Lindzen

“The claim that the earth has been warming, and that there is a greenhouse effect, and that man's activities have contributed to warming, are, in fact, trivially true statements. They are not argued...” (45:35)

Judith Curry

“From the perspective of comparative planetology, I think that Lacis makes a
plausible argument, from which I infer that without CO2 in the atmosphere, the Earth’s climate would more closely resemble the climate of its moon rather than the current Earth’s climate.  For reference, the surface temperature of the moon can swing between  -150°C during the night and 120°C during the day.  (pay attention, greenhouse effect deniers).”

Now let's go to Greenland. Camburn's link in 31 is based on Richard Alley's ice core analysis, which shows evidence of abrupt climate change in the past. If anything, Alley's findings seem to point to higher, rather than lower sensitivity, and this appears to be consonant with more recent research:

"Climate sceptics like to criticise climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect," said Sherwood. "But what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by the models which predict less warming, not those that predict more."…- climate/print

The septics use Alley's data to show that abrupt changes in the past have not been dependent on CO2, and that CO2 thus cannot be responsible for modern warming. Peter Sinclair has a video on this
(What the Ice Cores Tell Us, and How Deniers Distort )
that among other things refers to a post by Andrew Revkin in which Alley distances himself from the septics' interpretation.

“First off, no single temperature record from anywhere can prove or disprove global warming, because the temperature is a local record, and one site is not the whole world. One of the lessons drawn from comparing Greenland to Antarctica and many other places is that some of the temperature changes (the ice-age cycling) are very widespread and shared among most records, but other of the temperature changes (sometimes called millennial, or abrupt, or Younger-Dryas-type) are antiphased between Greenland and the south, and still other temperature changes may be unrelated between different places (one anomalously cold year in Greenland does not tell you the temperature anomaly in Australia or Peru).“

After a number of other caveats, Alley concludes:

“So, using GISP2 data to argue against global warming is, well, stupid, or misguided, or misled, or something, but surely not scientifically sensible.”…

Finally, in 48, Camburn links to a paper that he obviously hasn't read, and the link provides no more information than the sentence he/she has already quoted. In any event, one of the co-authors was the lead author of a paper that found:

“A threat of irreversible damage should prompt action to mitigate climate change, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which serves as a basis for international climate policy. CO2-induced climate change is known to be largely irreversible on timescales of many centuries1, as simulated global mean temperature remains approximately constant for such periods following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions while thermosteric sea level continues to rise.”
Ongoing climate change following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions

Paul Biggs #36:

You're talking about "...the beneficiaries of the tens of billions spent on the climate agenda by governments."

I see this claim made over and over in these discussions. Where do the numbers come from? Please cite a source for a) the "tens of billions", or b) ANY evidence that climate scientists are better paid than other respected scientists in their fields.

As you say, "Projections need to be matched with observations."

Greg H –
I think his numbers come from here:

"The prominence of conspiracist ideation in science rejection is not unexpected in light of its cognitive attributes: For example, if a scientific consensus cannot be accepted as the result of researchers converging independently on the same evidence-based view, then the belief in a scientific conspiracy can provide an alternative explanation for the consensus [18,20,21]. Moreover, because conspiracist ideation need not conform to the criteria of consistency and coherence that characterize scientific reasoning [30], its explanatory reach is necessarily greater than that of competing (scientific) theories [31]. Conspiracist ideation is also typically immune to falsification because contradictory evidence (e.g., climate scientists being exonerated of accusations) can be accommodated by broadening the scope of the conspiracy (exonerations are a whitewash), often with considerable creativity [32]. Those cognitive attributes render conspiracist ideation ideally suited for the ongoing rejection of scientific evidence...

The driving psychological force that is underlying the rejection of science is ‘‘system justification’’ [42,43]; that is, a person’s need to perceive the current political and economic system as fair, legitimate, and stable. According to the system justification view, scientific findings are rejected by people high in system justification when the evidence challenges the status quo [42], rather than on the basis of ideology per se. Hence, because system justification tends to be greater among conservatives than liberals [42], climate science is primarily rejected by people on the political right because they tend to be particularly concerned with system justification and hence respond to the threat to the economic status quo that might arise from climate mitigation efforts...

Finally, in a reversal of conventional scientific reasoning, evidence against conspiracy theories is often construed as evidence for them, because the evidence is interpreted as arising from the conspiracy in question.

The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science…

Another source is this:

"[He]'ll be fooled by anything as long as it rejects climate science.”…

Phillip @57

The paper isn't concerned about the action/reaction of H2O and CO2. That paper is concerned with the reliability of the measurements of H2O vapor.

The paper can not confirm an increasing trend nor a decreasing trend in H2O vapor because of the statistical error of previous measurements.

By Camburn (not verified) on 02 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Philip (not verified)

Paul Biggs 52
“The 2011 Muller/Curry BEST study paper was rejected by JGR, but Muller continued to promote the results despite the serious shortcomings that prevented publication.”

This is a lie. The paper was not rejected. JGR made certain demands that would have delayed publication, but did not find deficiencies in the paper itself.

“Referee comments from the initial submission to JGR did not uncover any significant errors although they asked for many worthwhile clarifications (largely because the mathematic techniques, although standard to statisticians, were new to them) that held back the acceptance. We responded to the editor, arguing that this requirement was unusual and ill conceived. We can point to a vast number of papers with results that were published prior to the kind of detailed analysis of methods that we were being required to produce. In fact, the results paper was written to be able to stand alone; it contains all that is needed. Nevertheless, JGR refused to forward our paper for peer review, so we never received any comments from the JGR referees on the results paper. Delaying submission to JGR until after the methods paper was accepted would almost certainly have excluded the Berkeley Earth work from the next IPCC report. So we began searching for a journal with open access, quick turn around time, and a good grasp of modern statistics -- and finally settled on GIGS.”

“There’s a wealth of published evidence suggesting current warmth is not unusual in the Holocene.”

Then you should have no problem documenting this warmth and that it was a global rather than a local phenomenon.

Paul Biggs 54
“...statistically insignificant hockey sticks with highly questionable data and methodology.”

Documentation? If all you have is McIntyre and McKitrick, you have nothing.……

Robustness of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures: Examination of criticisms based on the nature and processing of proxy climate evidence
Eugene R. Wahl · Caspar M. Ammann

Abstract The Mann et al. (1998) Northern Hemisphere annual temperature reconstruction over 1400–1980 is examined in light of recent criticisms concerning the nature and pro- cessing of included climate proxy data. A systematic sequence of analyses is presented that examine issues concerning the proxy evidence, utilizing both indirect analyses via exclusion of proxies and processing steps subject to criticism, and direct analyses of principal compo- nent (PC) processing methods in question. Altogether new reconstructions over 1400–1980 are developed in both the indirect and direct analyses, which demonstrate that the Mann et al. reconstruction is robust against the proxy-based criticisms addressed.

Thanks Philip. I don't disagree with you, but this is an example of such a wide-spread denialist meme that people as well-educated as Mr. Biggs must have some justification for repeating it. To my mind, it reduces the credibility of any other arguments he cares to advance. And yet this must be clear to him as well, yes?

GregH –
“And yet this must be clear to him as well, yes?”

Really, no. There's a good reason why the septics' sources of information are called an “echo chamber,” and that particular meme reverberates constantly. The remark, "they'll be fooled by anything as long as it rejects climate science," is pretty accurate.

Camburn @27

We have not warmed for 15-17 years, depending on the temperature metric.

Evidence that it deviates significantly from earlier projections, please. Don't forget to calculate the P values and include ocean temperatures (I am not aware of a single person who has claimed there is a 'hiatus' and backed it up with any statistics).

Regarding the ice core data linked to in #31, notice that the graph does not start at the present time and also be aware that 'present day' by convention refers to the summer of 1950. Conditions in Greenland have changed since then.

By Richard Simons (not verified) on 02 Mar 2014 #permalink

We have not warmed for 15-17 years? Maybe we should tell the oceans that...

Reliable ocean temp metrics were not established prior to ARGO deployment. The error bars are large enough to statistically say the ocean has not warmed in the past 20 years. There is a step jump in 2003 as a result of shifting from a multitude of sources to ARGO. It is what it is.

I am very aware of the 1950 time period. The purpose of the graph is to show climate variation in the NH in times past. There is a paper just published, concerning Greenland, with a much higher resolution from the ice core data.

By Camburn (not verified) on 03 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Marco (not verified)

Camburn, reference needed for your claim that "There is a step jump in 2003 as a result of shifting from a multitude of sources to ARGO".

Note that you will have to prove two things:
a) that there is a step jump in 2003, and
b) that this is due to a shift to ARGO data

I am skeptical you will be able to prove either point, see e.g. Lyman et al 2010, who point to a *flattening* of the 0-700 m OHCA around 2004, coinciding with the shift to ARGO. Exactly opposite to your claim...

So we still don't have anyone who has claimed that there is a 'hiatus' in global warming and backed it up with a statistical analysis.

By Richard Simons (not verified) on 03 Mar 2014 #permalink

Not likely ever to occur, because "the hiatus' does not comport with REALITY, and reality is not the dismissives' friend.

By HarryWiggs (not verified) on 03 Mar 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Richard Simons (not verified)

I ran across this website while doing research about global warming. I was impressed for just about two seconds. Then the displays of cognitive dissonance, appeals to authority, and just plain out right fallacies in reasoning were too great to bear.

I continue to read in an attempt to see just how high the BS would mount despite a growing migraine headache.

It seems there are lemmings in the 21st century and they are the ones that follow global warming or climate change or whatever they're calling it today.

First in the 1970s it was global cooling with claims beyond all certainty that glaciers would cover Kansas City by 1995 if we didn't hand over the reins of our economy to the government who, after all, knows far better what to do with the fruits of our economic labor then we do.

The reader might note those same glaciers failed to appear. Making a major point that when predictions fail it means the theory must be thrown out and re-configured, not the data reconfigured to fit the theory as has been done with climate change.

Statistically speaking the error of the predictions are far greater in magnitude than the predictions themselves meaning the predictions cannot be trusted with any certainty at all.

Not only that the models are based on datasets that have been manipulated to show the very global warming that we have all been warned of. Several statisticians of very strong reputations have demonstrated so. Confirmation bias rears its head.

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Dan, niiiiice.

Thanks for the demonstration.

*VERY* good. Dan! A better recitation of all--and I mean ALL--of the bazillion dismissives' memes, half-truths, and outright lies, I've not seen in...oh, lessee....20 minutes?

Continue, please. The D-K is fun to watch!

By Harry Wiggs (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Dan Easterling (not verified)

Oh, Poe Dan...

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Feb 2015 #permalink

Too bad all of you are scientifically and statistically illiterate. You can dismiss the truth alll you want in the name of your ideology. Truth is still truth. Too bad ignorance of counterfactual is so endemic here.

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

unofficial fact checker is wrong again. There is no consensus. And if there was, its irrelevant as far as science is concerned. Science is hypothesis testing with empirical data, not made up data.

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Poe it on, Dan! Poe it on!
Moar, MOAR!!

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Dan, once again, you miss the point: the consensus among scientists exists because the data and analysis led them to it.

But, if you have evidence that the data is faked, you must evidence: put it on the table and present it. If you have proof for what you'll say then, well, you'll be a hero to some people and rewarded.

Without presenting any proof, you will be considered nothing more than a foaming at the mouth lunatic.

I know graphs of temperatures are lost on all of you but here I go.

1850-2006, 150 years of no temp variance. Data source and how derived noted in the graph itself.

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Here is a link to a heavily footnoted article about the "adjustments."

Its by Paul Homewood whom the climate alarmist blogosphere has gone ape attempting to prove something, anything about him.

I contend it just demonstrates more statistical illiteracy amongst the faux intelligensia of climate alarmists.

Homewood's methods are statistically valid. They show a profoundly solid education and many years of experience.

But then again, comparing historical trends as written from several different sources against the NASA data sets is no small thing. It's research of the highest order and demands a very sharp mind and an eye for detail.

I'm posting is article about the Arctic adjustments because they are so egregious. And demonstrate the potential level of fraud inherent in the rest of the measurements.

So I ask again if you can find anything wrong with his methodology please demonstrated otherwise your opinion will be assigned the value it demonstrates.…

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

And *you* bleat, in faux outrage, about "name calling?" Hah. Despite your hand-waving and continuing denial of the findings of those who, you know, actually *understand* why temperatures are adjusted (which you resolutely refuse to do) you have presented *nothing* to robustly refute what the science supports. Keep trying, Mr. Dismissive! Oops, I called you a name! WAAAAAH!

By Harry Wiggs (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Dan Easterling (not verified)

When the proof is deleted, its called censorship.

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

Dan, yes, you have some comments in moderation. still trying to decide what to do with them. I checked out one of your links and strange popups that resembled the usual prelude to computer viruses came up. plus the link was utter bullshit. In addition I dont allow this blog to be used as a link farm to anti science sites. Finally, there is no censorship here. that is impossible. you are free to say whatever you like. It is possible, however, that I won't entertain that here. It is a nig internet, you could always get your own blog! So cool your jets and when I have time I'll evaluate your comments more closely.

Also, you are an asshole. Not sure if you knew that, but if I did post your comments eceryone else would immediately know. perhaps that is your wish.

Wow, name calling already, I will be mirroring and displaying my comments and your responses on my web page.

Truth is truth, despite post modern ideology that wishes it wasnt. All of you are just fooling yourselves.

The link is to a timeseries of temperature data because the comment section deleted my hyperlink.

And, last I could care less what you call me. It just affirms to me the statistical illiteracy, reasoning fallacies, and lack of scientific acumen so thoroughly present in the climate alarmist crowd.

Laughable is the word that comes to mind.

By Dan Easterling (not verified) on 12 Feb 2015 #permalink

"lack of scientific acumen so thoroughly present in the climate alarmist crowd."

A scientist would note adjustments and then do a thorough literature study to determine why those adjustments take place. Neither Homewood nor you have done that. It is thus clear who it is that lacks the scientific acumen...