Throwing cold water on climate change pseudoskepticism

Further to recent chatter about how silly it is to mistake blasts of cold weather for a reversal of long-term climate change, here's the latest missive from James Hansen:

The past year (2007) witnessed a transition from a weak El Nino to a strong La Nina (the latter is perhaps beginning to moderate already, as the ocean waters near Peru are beginning to warm). January 2007 was the warmest January in the period of instrumental data in the GISS analysis, while ... October 2007 was # 5 warmest, November 2007 was #8 warmest, December 2007 was #8 warmest, and January 2008 was #40 warmest. Undoubtedly, the cooling trend through the year was due to the strengthening La Nina, and the unusual coolness in January was aided by a winter weather fluctuation.


The reason to show these is to expose the recent nonsense that has appeared in the blogosphere, to the effect that recent cooling has wiped out global warming of the past century, and the Earth may be headed into an ice age. On the contrary, these misleaders have foolishly (or devilishly) fixated on a natural fluctuation that will soon disappear

I think Hansen is really beginning to have fun mocking the pseudoskeptics. Most of the last half dozen PDFs he's made available on his website are more concerned with the social and political context than the science itself. He does, however, continue to generate good science.

For a more restrained overview of the nonsense to which Hansen is referring, see Andy Revkin's Dot Earth blog entry, "Cold Weather in a Warming Climate."


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James - What qualifies seeming skeptics as _pseudoskeptics_? Do they actually, in their heart of hearts, say, believe what they seem to doubt?

By bob koepp (not verified) on 04 Mar 2008 #permalink

"James - What qualifies seeming skeptics as _pseudoskeptics_?"

Skepticism as in evidence based thinking, of course. That's what separates honest skepticism from any sort of ideologically motivated denialism.

Then why not call them 'ideologically motivated deniers,' or does that impose too great a burden on the accusers to establish with solid evidence that ideology is the motivating force?

By bob koepp (not verified) on 04 Mar 2008 #permalink

I'm glad you find methodological matters a source of humor. So do I. Sometimes, things get almost slapstick.

By bob koepp (not verified) on 04 Mar 2008 #permalink

bob koepp,

There are people that have decided that they do not want to discuss the science of climate further unless you agree in advance to accept their hypothesis. If you want to present evidence or analysis that is not in lock step agreement with them you are derided and likened to all manner of disreputable and detestable people and groups such as holocaust deniers, flat earthers, and creationists.

These same people will tell you that is how "real" science works. It is about working within the "consensus" and only making small incremental changes to accepted theories. Any criticism of the consensus is to be shouted down and ignored.

Of course many of them, like or host, are not active scientists but self-appointed defenders of the faith that just parrot what they read in the few sources they deem worthy such as Grist, desmogblog, RealClimate etc.

While the recent downturn in global temps is, as Dr. Hansen points out not a "trend" it is certainly counter to what could be expected were CO2 driving the climate. It remains to be seen if temperatures will continue to fall over the next year. Of course alarmists like Dr. Hansen have decided we can't afford to wait and we must act quickly to "save the planet".

It is obvious that CO2 production is not going to be reduced anytime soon, unless the world economy collapses, so we will see what happens in the next decade.

If temperatures do not increase appreciably as predicted by Dr. Hansen and his "consensus" colleagues the hypothesis will be falsified. I will be among the loud voices pointing this out and no amount of excuses, such as the ad hoc "aerosols" excuse used previously, will be able to resuscitate it.

"There are people that have decided that they do not want to discuss the science of climate further unless you agree in advance to accept their hypothesis."

What's funny is that at first I thought the comment was going to argue against the AGW deniers, because that's exactly what they do. The fact is that AGW deniers refuse to accept any evidence that does not confirm their own beliefs. If the IPCC supports AGW, then it cannot be believed because it's a UN organization, and everyone knows the UN wants to take over the US. If it's a temperature record that shows a trend that is obvious to a decent high school science student, then you have to cite the UAH satellite data. If the UAH satellite data analysis is eventually brought into agreement with the rest of the world, then stop citing their current results and go back to earlier results. Oh well. you get the idea.