Climate of complacency #2: de Freitas lies to TV3

by Gareth on January 14, 2013

Imagine my shock when I discovered today that Chris de Freitas — the Auckland University academic who hit the news a couple of years ago when it was found that he was teaching climate denial to first year students, but who has a 20 year history of advocating for inaction on climate change — had made headlines by telling lies to a TV news operation. The headline: Kiwi scientist: Climate change not to blame for heatwaves. For a while it was top story on the TV3 News web site. Here’s how the story opens:

A New Zealand scientist has denied popular claims the recent Australian heatwave and other extreme weather events around the world are linked to global warming.

Here’s where de Freitas plays fast and loose with the facts:

The Australian government’s Climate Commission released a report last week stating: “climate change has contributed to making the current extreme heat conditions and bushfires worse”.

But associate professor of climate and environment science Chris de Freitas, from the University of Auckland, says this is not the case.

“There is no evidence to suggest that,” he says. “It’s really [just] hype.”

There’s the lie. De Freitas states without qualification that there’s “no evidence”. And yet the Australian Climate Commission’s report on the subject, prepared by three scientists with a great deal more experience and scientific mana than junior geographer de Freitas, states:

Climate change has contributed to making the current extreme heat conditions and bushfires worse.

The report provides a long list of peer-reviewed scientific studies to support its conclusions. But de Freitas keeps on digging a hole for himself:

Dr Freitas says the earth actually hasn’t warmed for at least a decade, and scientists do not know enough about climate change to tell if carbon dioxide emissions could cause large or damaging changes.

“There’s no evidence to suggest that what we’re doing is creating dangerous change.”

Tell it to the firefighters, Chris. Tell it to the people of Dunalley. Tell it to the Australian people suffering as climate change comes home to roost.

There are several questions that have to be asked about this “news” item. Why did TV3 go to de Freitas for a story in the first place? Was de Freitas touting his contrarian lies to the media, or were his friends at the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, where he rejoices in the role of “science adviser”, pushing his views to news operations running short-staffed during the summer break?

Auckland University, which allows de Freitas to teach rubbish to its students under the guise of academic freedom, has to ask itself if it can really stand behind an employee who so egregiously lies in public. Academic freedom should be cherished, but allowing de Freitas’s nonsense to go unchallenged devalues the very notion, and diminishes the university’s hard won reputation as a centre of academic excellence.

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony January 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Maybe Chris DeF should be forced to take the polygraph test when performing such interviews.

William S January 15, 2013 at 4:25 am

Instead of simply deferring to the supposed authorities on the subject can you actually list the empirical evidence that you feel confirms, unequivocally, that the present climatic conditions in Australia you are referring to are not simply part of natural climatic variation.

I am sure you understand that science and scepticism are inseparable; to be scientific is to be sceptical. Science advances by hypotheses being proposed and then other scientists, acting as sceptics, try to challenge or falsify them. This is a perfectly normal and appropriate procedure that, we hope, leads us towards truth. In the light of this understanding, what empirical evidence do you have, other than ‘appeal to authority’, that de Freitus’s statement “scientists do not know enough about climate change to tell if carbon dioxide emissions could cause large or damaging changes” is not a perfectly valid scientific opinion or indeed false. Can you also explain what observation you would accept as falsification of the hypothesis that ‘the recent climatic events in Australia are caused by human emissions of CO2′ and not simply confirmation bias being propped up by cognitive dissonance. Also, I would be interested to know why you feel justified in making quite unpleasant ad hominum attacks on perfectly decent, thoughtful and diligent scientists who’s interpretation of the data, logical thinking and adherence to the scientific method brings them to different conclusions from yourself, isn’t this simply the scientific method in action and how our knowledge and understanding progresses?

CTG January 15, 2013 at 7:54 am

William, saying that someone is wrong because their arguments are wrong is not an ad hominem attack.

For example, I have no confidence that you are able to think critically because you do not understand the ad hominem fallacy (and can’t even spell it correctly). This is not an ad hominem attack, as I am clearly basing by opinion of you on the arguments you have put forward, not on some a priori view of you as a person. You might be upset at this opinion, but that does not make it an ad hominem attack either.

Likewise, your attack on Gareth – although impolite and unjustified – is not ad hominem, simply fatuous.

William S January 15, 2013 at 8:33 am

CTG

I actually haven’t put forward any arguments, I’ve simply asked Gareth to explain the empirical evidence he considers justification for his assertion regarding CO2 contributing towards the recent warmer weather in Australia. This is a perfectly valid request and I fail to see how you consider it an impolite attack. Perhaps you could outline the empirical evidence (not opinion) I have requested on Gareth’s behalf.

William S

Dappledwater January 15, 2013 at 8:04 am

William S – your post contains so many contrarian catchphrases, I doubt very much you have even looked at the scientific literature on this topic. It also appears strange you you makes such stringent demands of Gareth, yet let De Freitas’ garbage stand simply because he has asserted it is so.

If there is one consequence of global warming we can be certain of, it’s that a warming background climate will elevate weather fluctuations along with it. The net result will be to dramatically increase the frequency of record-breaking heat extremes and their severity. This is because global temperatures have been observed to follow a Gaussian (or Normal) Distribution. See this SkS post: An American Heatwave: The United States Glimpses its Hot Future.

To follow the analogy of the boat moored on a rising tide used in that post; weather fluctuations are waves, and the rising (warming) background climate state is the rising tide. What De Freitas is claiming is that the rising tide will not result in the boat being lifted higher. One doesn’t need a scientific background to understand De Freitas’ claim is total nonsense.

Also note the reference to Dr James Hansen’s paper – where heat extremes have been observed to increase dramatically. There should be a peer-reviewed paper coming out soon from Stefan Rahmstorf on this topic as well.

Gareth January 15, 2013 at 9:31 am

One: It would be a miracle if the current extreme weather in Australia were not a direct result of climate change, because the atmosphere contains 40% more CO2 than 150 years ago. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, and we observe Australia and the planet warming. As DW notes, this is expected to increase the frequency of heat extremes, and that is indeed what we observe. Please do read James Hansen’s recent paper on the subject: there’s coverage here, with a link to the text at the bottom.

Two: It is not my job to do your reading for you. Please refer to the Australian Climate Commission report linked to in the post, and take the time to read it. If you want to explore the referenced articles, so much the better. This is not an “appeal to authority”, it is a recognition of expertise and the existence of evidence.

Three: I made no ad hominem remarks about de Freitas, as CTG points out. De Freitas asserts that there is no evidence linking the Aussie heat to climate chnage. That is not being “sceptical”, that is denying a huge body of work and basic physics. As I also said, he has a long track record of this sort of behaviour.

Four: De Freitas’s actions over the last 20 years indicate that he is not interested in helping our “knowledge and understanding” of climate to progress. He is involved in a political campaign designed to make action against emissions reductions more difficult.

Five: Take a close look at Hot Topic’s comment policy before commenting again.

William S January 17, 2013 at 12:50 am

First, my thanks for responding to my comments, this will be my final response and I do not request or expect a personalised response. I do, however, hope you will allow my comments to be read by visitors to your site.
You say it is not your job to do my reading. I agree – that is why I have spent the last 6 years or so reading for myself. It has become quite clear that the Earth’s climate is always changing, that’s what it does. At any specific time in our planets ancient or recent history the climate has either been warming or cooling – there is no such thing as a stable, unchanging climate.
Temperature data from all continents using numerous proxy studies have confirmed the existence of a ‘Medieval Warm Period’ when temperatures were as warm as the present and quite probably warmer.
Proxy evidence has also confirmed the existence of other similar warm periods over the last 3,500 years, these are: The Roman Warm Period around 2000 years ago, The Minoan Warm Period around 3000 years ago and The Egyptian Warm Period around 3,300 years ago. In between these warm periods have been colder periods, the most recent being the Little Ice Age which we have been coming out of for the last 300 years or so. When considering temperatures for the last 100 years, we are really comparing them with the much cooler temperatures that existed as the Earth moved out of this Little Ice Age. Consequently, in relation to this period, temperatures have indeed risen.
More recently, there have been a number of distinct periods of warming, approximate dates are: 1860 to 1880, 1895 to 1946 and 1915 to 1945, All show roughly the same rate and degree of temperature change, of around a 0.6 to 0.8 ºC increase with periods of cooling in between. These warmings occurred even though there were lower levels of atmospheric CO2 so they must have been caused by some other, as of yet, unidentified natural forcing.
Reading numerous research papers and IPCC reports has also made it quite clear that there is no unambiguous empirical evidence that confirms, unequivocally, that human emissions of CO2 have caused the late 20th Century warming, let alone causing dangerous global warming. The evidence that is generally cited as consistent with the CAGW hypothesis is also consistent with other non-anthropogenic theories of warming i.e. natural causes like; ocean currents, solar cycles, cosmic rays, etc. A clear human fingerprint in any perceived climate change has never been identified let alone quantified. If it is there, it is, as many scientists say, “hidden in the general noise of natural variation”. De Freitas’s statement “scientists do not know enough about climate change to tell if carbon dioxide emissions could cause large or damaging changes” is consistent with these empirical observations.
This evidence is also true for the recent unusually warm weather Australia has experienced. This is why De Freitas asserts that there is no evidence linking the Aussie heat to climate change. He is not denying a huge body of work and basic physics he is using empirical evidence from real world data and logical thinking to come to his conclusions.
Since there is no empirical evidence that confirms CAGW, then instead of ridiculing scientists like De Freitas’s we should respect their views and steadfast adherence to the basic tenets of scientific investigation.
Therefore, when you headline your article “De Freitus Lies to TV3”, I think this is an attack on the man, not a challenge to the accuracy of the proxy data studies and other empirical evidence that brings him to his conclusions.
You also state “It would be a miracle if the current extreme weather in Australia were not a direct result of climate change, because the atmosphere contains 40% more CO2 than 150 years ago”. This statement does not seem to be based on science; in fact it is more akin to a religious belief. However, despite this, to put the elevated levels of CO2 into perspective, this increase you refer to only represent about 1/3,000th of the atmosphere.
Finally, I feel I must respond to the following remarks made by one of your blog readers in response to my original comment, but directed to all those scientists who do not come to the same conclusions as he would like.
“….. I just hope that in decades to come they will be hunted down and brought to trial as criminals in the same way aging Nazis have been dragged from their South American villas to face their villainy”.
I am a teacher of science and have made a point of teaching my secondary students not to simply accept the assertions of others, to examine the evidence, to apply logical thinking and to try to avoid and identify logical fallacies not only in the arguments of others but also in their own argument. I have also explained and demonstrated that the basic null hypothesis stated as “recent increases in global temperatures can be accounted for by natural variation” has never been falsified.
I feel this is very much in keeping with the basic tenets of the scientific method aptly stated in the motto of the Royal Society, “Nullius in verba”. I would like to ask him whether he thinks I should also be hunted down and brought before a trail in the same way as the Nazis for my particular approach?

Rob Taylor January 17, 2013 at 1:17 am

With his tedious and tendentious regurgitation of tired old denier tropes without a single scientific reference to back them up, William S demonstrates the intellectual dishonesty and laziness of his ilk.

For a thorough debunking of all of his claims, one need only go here:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?f=percentage

William S January 17, 2013 at 1:34 am

The data I refer to is widely available.
In the interest of scientific balance I suggest your readers go here: motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/john-cook-skeptical-science.html to see a debunking of a debunking.

bill January 17, 2013 at 1:40 am

A link to Lubos Motl! Hey, I’m claiming victory in Denier Bingo!

bill January 17, 2013 at 1:50 am

In some sense, I feel some satisfaction that Breivik has changed the image of skeptics or rightwingers as defenseless losers who are going to be whipped off the surface of the globe.

Nut-job. Whine about ad hominem all you like.

bill January 17, 2013 at 1:35 am

I agree – that is why I have spent the last 6 years or so reading for myself. It has become quite clear that the Earth’s climate is always changing, that’s what it does.

Well, that was 6 years well spent, then.

As for the rest of your doubtlessly-enlightening tome, I think I may wait for the television mini-series.

William S January 17, 2013 at 2:14 am

Nice comments Bill, can I take that you are unable to offer any refutation of the empirical evidence I have outlined.

bill January 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

It’s the bog-standard farrago of multiply-refuted nonsense that people like andy have been regurgitating here on a daily basis during your prolonged swatvac. There’s not a single original notion in it. Yawn.

Here’s a golden rule, similar to the rule regarding any references to ‘CAGW': anyone who begins a phone-book length screed with ‘the climate is always changing’ as if this inanity was some species of stunning trump that would leave the opposition dazed and breathless should be volunteering to help Messrs. Dunning and Kruger directly with their research, rather than wasting everyone’s time on the global intertubes.

andyS January 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

My regurgitated nonsense?
I can’t say I have made any comments about climate science in a long time, and the last one was a link to a James Hansen paper in which he admits a 10 year hiatus in warming

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 8:59 am

Sorry, William. It appears you failed to understand the comment policy. Your screed is off topic in this thread, and the only reason I have not moved it to The Twilight Zone is because people have already replied to its substance. Please restrict any further comments to the subject of the post.

Note: presenting an unreferenced list of standard denier nonsense also fails to meet the comment policy.

Tony January 15, 2013 at 8:09 am

On 3news it says:

“But he (Chris deF) says carbon dioxide is a green house gas and will continue to have an environmental impact.

“I’m very concerned about the human impact on the environment,” he says. “But what I think is we need a sober and calm approach to this [issue].”

It seems to me vague nonsense. What impact exactly does he think CO2 will have/is having? On the second point he doesn’t exactly say what human impact to the environment he is talking about, or what constitutes a potential sober and calm remedy to the aforementioned impact. Its just empty words that mean nothing. He might as well say that he has seen the eyes of the Spanish infanta and they are bluer than the Stones of Galveston.

James W January 15, 2013 at 8:26 am

If TV3’s reporters are just going to accept de Freitas’ claim that “the earth actually hasn’t warmed for at least a decade”, perhaps they could spend 2 minutes watching this video:

http://slate.me/13v4UGS

Gareth January 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

Thanks James. I’ve tweeted a link to Phil’s article – but we did feature that video at Hot Topic a few days ago… ;-)

noelfuller January 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

Whenever I hear someone say ‘there is no evidence’ that CO2 increase is leading to dangerous climate change, specially when I’m aware there is a great deal, gathered over a considerable time I am minded of a 9 year old boy being taught to swim.

Having learned to float he was asked to open his eyes underwater so he could see the stones and growths on the bottom through the clear water. He claimed he could see nothing (true) and swore he had his eyes open. A hand was held under his face on the second try. He could still see nothing but swore his eyes were open. On his third ‘attempt’ I swam below him and saw his eyes very firmly closed. “There are none so blind as those who will not see”.

So could this inability to see the evidence be straight forward incompetance? denial? or could it be willful ignorance – the considered behaviour of the merchants of doubt?

William S January 15, 2013 at 11:59 am

A very nice analogy but, as I keep saying, science advances by empirical evidence. I would be very grateful if you could direct me to the “great deal of evidence gathered over a considerable time” that you consider confirms human emissions of CO2 are causing dangerous climate change. This must include evidence of a significant net positive feedback arising from the accepted 1 to 1.6 oC temperature increase that in theory may have arisen as a result human increases in emissions of CO2.

Gareth January 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

See my point two above. Do your own reading. You could start with Spender Weart’s excellent history of climate science, , which explains how we know what we now know.

John Russell January 16, 2013 at 1:53 am

If you really want to understand the great body of evidence, William, I can recommend NASA’s website at http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence . Use the tabs on the left to navigate through NASA’s site. I trust you will think NASA is an honest and objective organisation who are not prone to alarmism.

andyS January 16, 2013 at 9:15 am

“Global Temperature Update Through 2012″ by Hansen et al is worth a read (just published)

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2013/20130115_Temperature2012.pdf

I took particular note of the last paragraph with respect to aerosols and their uncertainty. Do we need to give these guys some more money? They need a new satellite

Mr February January 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm

How come there are people who have a good understanding of English grammar and who clearly have a web browser and internet connection – but who cannot educate themselves about the science behind global warming?

bill January 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm

cannot will not

They’d prefer to stick with what they think they know already, thanks.

(Ooh, the editor works properly with functioning buttons and everything! Well done, Gareth!)

makesensereally January 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

People like De Freitas scare me because people believe them, so when they’re told that we cannot stop polluters from dumping carbon in the atmosphere because that will cripple our economies and cost them personally, they listen. Somehow along the way they’ve been convinced that under the leadership of Al Gore the immeasurably powerful and merciless greenies have made thousands of scientists lie in support of a a scam designed to crush the delicate flower of modern capitalism, and that’s what has crippled our leaders at a time when urgent action must be taken

What everyone is missing is that adopting the strategies and ideas that will lead to a low-carbon business model will not only make most of our lives better, but will only hurt those businesses that are essentially economic dinosaurs. You, me and probably William S would be significantly better off if people like De Freitas would shut up. Sadly they won’t and it will be our children who pay for their stupidity and/or duplicity. I just hope that in decades to come they will be hunted down and brought to trial as criminals in the same way aging Nazis have been dragged from their South American villas to face their villainy.

Rob Taylor January 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Amen to that – let the climate criminals beware, they’ll be toting sandbags on the levees one day.

George January 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

They quote me at the end of that article, but I didn’t say “regardless of whether global warming is to blame”. I made several more comments than were published. I identified the extreme weather events as being a consequence of anthropogenic climate changed, and I urged NZ to stop mining coal, and move to renewable energy. So I must say I am perplexed as to how this has been reported.

andyS January 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Nz coal is primarily exported for steel production. Are you anti steel George?

Perhaps you need to urge people not to use steel, or alternatively find an alternative

CTG January 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Interesting definition of “primarily” there, andy.

In 2010, 2.4Mt of coal were exported from NZ, most of which is used in coking, this is true.

However, in that year, NZ coal production was 5.33Mt in total, so exports for coking were about 45% of total production. This is a very peculiar arithmetic you use, andy, where 66+44=100 and yet 45% is a majority.

What was the rest of that coal used for – oh, about 2.4Mt was burnt at Huntly Power Station, so one could just as easily have said that NZ coal is primarily converted to CO2 and exported to the atmosphere, eh andy?

andyS January 15, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Well if you have an objection to Huntly then shut it down. I live in the South Island so you guys can figure out your own energy solutions. We have plenty of hydro here and last weekend both Tekapo and Pukaki were spilling excess water. Great news for kayakers and energy consumers.

George January 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Only a technological alarmist would suggest that human ingenuity is not able to come up with an alternative to making new steel.

bill January 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Don’t worry about it, George; this is a variant on the ‘you people just want us all to live in caves’ trope.

makesensereally January 16, 2013 at 9:40 am

or find a way to reduce needless consumption. We’re flat out busy finding ways to buy more stuff we don’t need with money don’t have that doesn’t improve our lives in the slightest. Why do people trade perfectly good cars that have years and even decades of life left in them? Or build using steel and cement when timber is a far better option?

Rob Taylor January 17, 2013 at 7:47 am

William, you have provided no “empirical evidence”, just trite faith-based assertions from the Church of Denial, backed up by a link to a blog maintained by a right-wing controversialist. You really should get out more…

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Lubo%C5%A1_Motl

William S January 17, 2013 at 8:03 am

Thanks Rob for your very enlightening comment. Still can’t provide me with any empirical evidence to refute any of the well documented, well researched empirical data that I have referred to then? Lets make it simple, there are hundreds of papers that confirm the existence of a MWP, can you provide empirical evidence that proves the temperatures at that time were not as warm or possibly warmer than the present. Describing my comments as denial has nothing to do with science, we can not deny what these numerous papers show.

RW January 17, 2013 at 8:29 am

Oh Joy. Another year, and yet another tedious bore of a denier, peddling the same discredited twaddle as all the predecessors.

William S January 17, 2013 at 8:33 am

RW.

Please refer me to the papers that discredit just one of the pieces of empirical evidence I have referred to.

andyS January 17, 2013 at 8:45 am

William, good luck. :-)
I am surprised that no one has commented on the Hansen et al link I provided earlier in the thread. The authors acknowledge the lack of warming over the last decade, and are pretty hesitant to give a robust explanation.

They also state that the influence of aerosols is a “guess”, and that there are no ways of accurately measuring the aerosol influence as the only satellite failed to get into service, and there are no plans for another one. Aerosols, according to the authors, are the major anthropogenic influence after CO2, and we know little about it.

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

Hansens’ stuff is very interesting, as always, but is off-topic here.

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

OT. No more please.

Phil Scadden January 17, 2013 at 9:02 am

Sigh. Actually William perhaps show us which papers support the view the MWP was globally warmer than current? Misrepresentations of data and papers abound on junk sites though. Anyway, how about:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/moberg2005/moberg2005.html
http://www.pnas.org/content/105/36/13252.full.pdf+html?with-ds=yes

and particularly this one for global spatial view.
http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf

In fact, any of the many published reconstructions referenced in Chpt 6 of the IPCC AR4 WG1 report. Read the chapter and check out the referenced published science. eg
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-6-10.html
Quick summaries at
http://www.skepticalscience.com/medieval-warm-period-basic.htm

andyS January 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

Perhaps what is on topic is the historical witchhunts against CdF which are well documented by an NZ blogger here
[Link to tedious and inaccurate site removed: GR].

As we know from various emails, both Mann and Salinger were quite keen to get CdF sacked from various positions including that at Auckland University

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

Andy, you should know better than to provide links to rubbish. The supposed “witch hunts” against CdF were nothing of the kind. I suggest you read up on the real story of pal review at Climate Research, carefully assembled by John Mashey, which demonstrates beyond any doubt that CdF ushered papers by his mates — notably Patrick Michaels — through friendly peer review. His resignation from the editors position came because other editors simply would not work alongside someone so debasing the process.

andyS January 17, 2013 at 9:36 am

I am not referring to the Climate Research issue. The emails quite clearly document a campaign to get rid of CdF at Auckland University.

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

No, they do not. They demonstrate that a couple of scientists expressed frustration that CdF could apparently get away with playing fast and loose with the scientific process, and misrepresenting the facts about climate change. There was never any “campaign”, and CdF remains employed by the university.

If you want to play apologist for de Freitas, please present a reasoned argument why he was not telling lies to TV3.

andyS January 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

Well, there was certainly an attempt to mount a campaign to draw CdF’s views to the VC’s attention

From Jim Salinger:

My suggestion is that a band of you review
editors write directly to Professor Hood with your concerns. In it
you should point out that you are all globally recognized top
climate scientist. It is best that such a letter come from outside
NZ and is signed by more than one person

and other emails seem concerned at CdF’s exposure in the NZ media.

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

To the best of my knowledge, that never happened. Taking private emails out of context is never a reliable way to examine history.

William S January 17, 2013 at 9:13 am

I have just received the following email from Gareth

Sorry, William. It appears you failed to understand the comment policy. Your screed is off topic in this thread, and the only reason I have not moved it to The Twilight Zone is because people have already replied to its substance. Please restrict any further comments to the subject of the post.

Note: presenting an unreferenced list of standard denier nonsense also fails to meet the comment policy.

I apologise for taking you off topic. Thank you all for some very interesting exchanges. Some of you really are very angry people. I look forward to using your comments with my students when we discuss the; scientific method, logical thinking, logical fallacies, denialism, empirical evidence, etc. With Regards WS

Phil Scadden January 17, 2013 at 9:43 am

In all your 6 years of reading, did you bother to read the IPCC WG1 or was it just on denier sites with cherry picking, misrepresentation etc. Your reading doesnt appear to have covered the peer reviewed literature.

Spend some time at Skepticalscience.com where such discussions are definitely on topic, but focused on the published science. See if ANY of your “empirical data” stands scrutiny

John Russell January 17, 2013 at 10:04 am

If your students have any aptitude they’ll see through your denial, too, William. Oh; and ask them to critique the NASA link I posted. Do tell them I said this. Thanks.

William S January 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

The NASA link provides evidence that the planet has warmed slightly which is generally accepted but any empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis that ‘human emissons of CO2 are causing dangerous global warming” is not there. That is because there is none. If I am wrong, direct me to it.

Phil Scadden January 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

First step – do you accept there is direct empirical evidence that supports the fact GHG emissions are effectively delivering more w/m2 of radiation to the earth surface? Eg
http://ams.confex.com/ams/Annual2006/techprogram/paper_100737.htm
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v410/n6826/abs/410355a0.html
http://www.eumetsat.eu/Home/Main/Publications/Conference_and_Workshop_Proceedings/groups/cps/documents/document/pdf_conf_p50_s9_01_harries_v.pdf
for starters. I mean incoming radiation is something you can measure.

William S January 17, 2013 at 11:32 am

I accept that GHG emissions could in theory have raised global temperatures by a degree or so. The question is whether there is a net positive feedback to amplify this warming. There is evidence for positive feedbacks but not a net positive feedback.

George January 17, 2013 at 11:41 am

Internally inconsistent — on the one hand disregarding the effect of CO2, on the other hand accepting it.

If we presume we’re communicating with CdF or his avatar, I guess that means this is all on-topic after all.

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

I can say that “William S” is not CdF — at least, not unless CdF is doing some fairly sophisticated use of proxies.

Drew January 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Perhaps an ex student.

I was talking with one of CdF former PHD students recently and un-surprisingly they think the master is right, some suggestion he has taken money from the coal industry in the past though.

Phil Scadden January 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

No. Every feedback has a huge literature. Virtually impossible to get it be 1. The positive feedbacks water vapour and albedo are well defined. Clouds are lot more difficult but (eg http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/dessler10b.pdf) net cloud feedback appears to be close to zero and certainly incapable of overpowering positive feedbacks. Furthermore, there are empirical constraints on feedback too eg http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frsgc/research/d5/jdannan/probrevised.pdf

As Gareth will jump soon, as offtopic, I suggest you take this to a more appropriate forum (eg skepticalscience.com).

William S January 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

I’m afraid I can’t wait any longer for you anticipated reply, its 11pm here in England and I have to work tomorrow. Thank you all for an interesting evening. In anticipation of your reply Phil I’ll finally add this comment:

As far as I can see, there is no evidence to support the contention that the ‘net feedback is positive’, in fact, recent papers, which I am unable to reference here tonight as I do not have the time but you can easily find them on the internet, indicate that the net feedback is most likely negative.

For example, actual empirical data obtained by the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) satellite shows that when the Earth warms, more heat is radiated back into Space, in other words, a strong negative feedback which cancels out the initial temperature rise.

All computer models predict a net positive feedback that amplifies the initial warming. Therefore, the models programmed with the unverified assumption that there is a net positive feedback are fundamentally wrong. The CAGW hypothesis fails in this respect.

Phil Scadden January 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm

William S, sorry but you are just demonstrating that you dont understand the physics. Of course as the earth warms more is radiated to space. The 1st Law must be satisfied. A better way to look at it is that temperature of surface must increase till Planck radiation exactly matches incoming radiation. If radiation from the sun isnt increasing, then what is causing the increased radiation at the surface? This is evidence for GHE.

WG1 report is full of papers showing net positive feedback. By all means post a paper that suggests otherwise but I fear you misunderstand it. And better still – take it to more appropriate forum.

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 10:12 am

An observation: every time I post something about CdF, it seems like a new troll — one without a history of commenting here — turns up to defend him by spewing a long list of nonsense. I haven’t gone back and checked every post and every comment, but it has certainly happened with some regularity. The result is that discussion of CdF’s behaviour is derailed as people weigh in to debunk the nonsense. “William S” is a classic example.

Rob Taylor January 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

Hmmm…. “William S”, are you Chris de Freitas – or his mum, perhaps?

George January 17, 2013 at 11:31 am

Recurring IP addresses?

Gareth January 17, 2013 at 11:45 am

Not that I can see.

makesensereally January 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Interesting debate, and i must say I admire William S for resolutely sticking to his position despite there being nothing credible to support it, but at the same time I am amused that anyone of his intelligence can expect the MWP be accepted as an argument against the current climate change – I thought even the deniers had given up on that little gem.

I’m a simple chap and I find that applying the good Friar Occam’s razor works on most things, including climate change. The climate is changing and temperatures have been rising for some time now, so the question is why? People far cleverer than me assure me that the planet only becomes warmer when:
(a) The earth gets closer to the sun due to something called a Milanković cycle
(b) The sun sends more energy our way
(c) The amount of heat that escapes into the atmosphere decreases

Seems pretty simple to me. The only thing that’s changed to make things warmer over the last hundred years of so is the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, so that’s the one I’ll believe.

CTG January 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm

What’s hilarious is the way that William S repeatedly demands empirical evidence of warming, but the only evidence he offers is temperature proxies of the MWP, which by definition are not empirical.

William S January 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Thanks for your comment makesensereally. [snipped. OT. GR]

andyS January 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm

It is also a fact as given in the Hansen article I linked to, again for what ever reason.

Dappledwater January 17, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Well, it didn’t take long for William S to start regurgitating contrarian myths after Chris De Freitas’ nonsense was debunked.

This is a clear signal that he has not actually read the peer-reviewed scientific literature, but has merely confined himself to contrarian blogs based on ideological preferences.

Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) satellite shows that when the Earth warms, more heat is radiated back into Space, in other words, a strong negative feedback which cancels out the initial temperature rise

And the inevitable contrarian contradiction soon reveals itself. The MWP was supposedly warmer, but the Earth can’t get warmer because it cancels out the initial temperature rise when it does. Nice.

I hope your students do read this – should give them a few giggles.

Tony January 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Personally I think that it is pointless to focus on Chris DeF. He is just a patsy for big business. If he didn’t shoot his mouth off someone else would be filling his shoes of allaying the fears of the masses. Clearly there would be a massive upheaval if the hoi polloi knew the truth about the dangerous climate change threats like many on this forum do.

The focus instead should be on the media, as to why they choose someone who is factually blind over the many scientists in NZ who are better qualified to comment, and I don’t mean Dave Frame.

Do we not have any organisations that clamp down on quacks? What about the Royal Society? A formal rebuttal might be good.

William S January 18, 2013 at 6:46 am

Phil Scadden January 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm
William S, sorry but you are just demonstrating that you dont understand the physics. Of course as the earth warms more is radiated to space. The 1st Law must be satisfied. A better way to look at it is that temperature of surface must increase till Planck radiation exactly matches incoming radiation. If radiation from the sun isnt increasing, then what is causing the increased radiation at the surface? This is evidence for GHE.

WG1 report is full of papers showing net positive feedback. By all means post a paper that suggests otherwise but I fear you misunderstand it. And better still – take it to more appropriate forum.

Phil, If there is a net positive feedback, less IR radiation will be radiated back to Space and so the planet will warm . As I said previously, observations from satellites have repeatedly shown that as the Earth warms more IR is radiated back into Space. This means that the Earth’s atmosphere operates with a net negative feedback compensating for changes in global temperatures.
If the satellite data is accurate, and there is no reason to suggest that it isn’t, then the hypothesis postulating a negative feedback can be considered supported by empirical evidence. This contradicts the assumption of a net positive feedback built into all the computer models, they are therefore wrong. Without a positive net feedback there is no global warming problem.

John Russell January 18, 2013 at 7:16 am

William, if you’re cooking a pie in the oven, the cooker will become hot and warm your kitchen. If you turn up the temperature of the oven the cooker will become hotter and thus radiate more heat into the kitchen: but at the same time the oven will also become hotter and cook the pie faster.

In other words, even if with more CO2 in the atmosphere more heat is radiated into space, it doesn’t prevent the temperature on the planet rising. Indeed, in theory, if the extra heat is absorbed by the oceans, the planet’s surface temperature could actually fall: but it doesn’t mean the problem of climate change will not becoming worse. Eventually that absorbed heat will catch up with us.

William S January 18, 2013 at 7:54 am

Hi John, As I said, the theory of CAGW requires a net positive feedback, without it there is no problem. Empirical evidence from the real world indicates, repeatedly, there is no net positive feedback, the data indicates the feedback is likely negative. Data from the Argo Project also indicates there has been no significant warming of the oceans since the project started in 2003. Hansen with Sato and Ruedy are reported today as acknowledging there has been a standstill in global temperatures lasting a decade. I assume they are referring to the fact that there has been no significant warming, for whatever reason, for the past 16 years. This is empirical data (HADCRUT) as you must be aware. I hope Gareth allows this one through; I have to leave now to play squash, Thanks for taking the time to express your ideas and challenge my comments, I will continue to think about your analogy and respond later if allowed. Regards WS

Phil Scadden January 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

‘If there is a net positive feedback, less IR radiation will be radiated back to Space and so the planet will warm”

This shows a misunderstanding of fundamentals. You will understand the arguments a lot better if you do some homework. Can I suggest looking at http://scienceofdoom.com which will take you through the textbook physics?

Phil Scadden January 18, 2013 at 9:21 am

You keep repeating the assertion that there is no net positive feedback without anything to support that assertion and in the face of miles of published science that shows the opposite.

As to no significant warming from Argo, where did you get this from? Try this

For the idea that Global warming has stopped – no significant warming for last 16 years, then this little article reviews the actual science. The statement is wrong on several levels.

And while we are at it, “CAGW” is rhetoric. Show me any science paper that uses it.

andyS January 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

Some people prefer the term DAGW, where “D” stands for dangerous.

Given that the “consensus” view that ECS is unlikely to be below 2 deg C and the political view that 2 degrees is dangerous, then AGW = DAGW

Phil Scadden January 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

By the way, did you actually read Hansen, Sato and Ruedy? Especially the section “Global Warming Standstill”?

andyS January 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

Yes I did read it (assuming that you are addressing me, Phil)

I have posted a couple of comments on the open thread making some observations.

B the way, this video of Nir Shaviv has some relevance to the discussions on climate sensitivity

http://www.sciencebits.com/Munich-2012

Gareth January 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

Phil, Andy, William – take this to the open thread please.

Dappledwater January 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Drew, my youngest son informs me that De Lange guy at Waikato University serves a similar function – misinforming students on global warming.

I wonder how long it takes for former students to realize their lecturers were total fruitcakes?

Macro January 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

My eldest daughter had the misfortune to have C de F, It has taken about a decade for her to get to grips with the actual science.

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