People talkin’ #10

A new open comment thread for the New Year, mainly because it’s too long since I posted the last one, but also because I’ve been declaring too many comments on recent posts to be off-topic. James Hansen‘s commentary on last year’s temperatures and the prospects for this year (pdf) is your starter for ten…

Meanwhile, I’m preparing a couple of talks for this weekend’s Coal Action Network Summer Festival near Gore. I’ll be briefing attendees on the state of the climate, and what we know about where we’re heading. There’s a session for the public on Sunday at the James Cumming Wing in Ardwick Street in Gore — I’ll be speaking at about 10-30 am. See you there? Failing that, I’ll probably post edited highlights of my thoughts next week.

153 thoughts on “People talkin’ #10”

  1. My main concern from Hansen et al’s statements (from the pdf linked in the main post)

    The second largest human-made forcing is probably atmospheric aerosols, although the aerosol forcing is extremely uncertain3,4. Our comparison of the various forcings (Fig. 6a) shows the aerosol forcing estimated by Hansen et al.9 up to 1990; for later dates it assumes that the aerosol forcing increment is half as large as the greenhouse gas forcing but opposite in sign. This aerosol forcing can be described as an educated guess.

    and later

    The one major wild card in projections of future climate change is the unmeasured climate forcing due to aerosol changes and their effects on clouds. Anecdotal information indicates that particulate air pollution has increased in regions with increasing coal burning, but assessment of the climate forcing requires global measurement of detailed physical properties of the aerosols. The one satellite mission that was capable of making measurements with the required detail and accuracy was lost via a launch failure, and as yet there are no plans for a replacement mission with the needed capabilities

    So he admits that the second biggest forcing is aerosols, and that it is an educated guess, and we can’t measure it because the only satellite that could do the job because it blew up on the launch pad.

    I have to admit I admire the guy for his honesty

    1. Hansen is nothing if not honest. We need a lot more data on aerosols and their impact. It may well be that the increase in pollution caused by the rapid expansion of the economies of China and India is helping to mask warming. What happens when that pollution is cleaned up? A pulse of rapid warming… It’s a Faustian bargain.

    2. Sorry andyS, I find it very hard to believe that you consider honesty to be an admirable trait.
      Some time back (in the Twilight Zone) I was asking if you were ever going to go back to Bishops Hill and update them on the outcome of the NIWA v swivel-eyed nut-jobs court case. You can search NIWA on BH and see lots of excited chatter (including some of yours) before and during, but after? Nothing! Will you go back and give them an update on the outcome as some there requested you do? As you know from your wind output cherry picking, Bishops Hill really respects your insight!

      1. Hi beaker,
        Thanks for your kind comments
        I have had a great time at Bishop Hill engaging with some very smart people, trying to learn about Bayesian statistics and its application in climate science. As a result, I have bought a bunch of books from amazon and also downloaded some papers that deal with some of the difficult issues with regard to choosing appropriate priors for climate models . It is a long learning process but that is the nature of denialism, I hope you understand.

        1. Ah, does that explain why there is nothing but tumbleweed over at BH on the subject of Wegman, Montford and his admirers are desperately trying to read up and catchup on why the work they had based their argument on, was wrong. Do let us know if the BH collective do ever manage to dig themselves out of that hole. While everyone is waiting, why not update BH on the NIWA case. If it is too difficult to type through the tears, give them this link
          It is very easy to find this page, just search for the word “prolix”.

  2. Other points I note from the Hansen publication:

    (1) He acknowledges the flat-lining of the 5 year running mean of temps for the last decade (with the usual caveats, of course)

    (2) The forcing growth rates of GHGs (Figure 5) are slowing. This is attributed to decline in non-CO2 GHGs and also a partial saturation of the CO2 absorption bands. However, he notes that the rapid growth of CO2 emissions is countering the reduction in forcing from GHGs

    (3) “A slower growth rate of the net climate forcing may have contributed to the standstill of global temperature in the past decade, but it cannot explain the standstill,”… “The more important factor in the standstill is probably unforced dynamical variability, essentially climatic “noise”.”

    I wonder how much “noise” was apparent in the prior years when the IPCC claimed that “most of the warming since 1950 can be attributed to human GHG emissions”, but we are not told that

    1. I thought you were supposed to have read the IPCC reports, andy?

      For the rest, I assume you’re playing at ‘the God of the gaps’ – i.e. ‘there are uncertainties, therefore Lord Monckton and Heartland’. Otherwise the only response seems to be ‘and?’

      1. I am not playing anything. I am reading a report and seeing the issues that stand out to me.

        We have uncertainties, yes. These uncertainties, particularly aerosols, are parameters in the climate models upon which the IPCC make projections.

        If there is a way of getting better data, then we should try to facilitate that,. After all, aerosols may have a positive feedback and it could be “worse than we thought”

        By the way Gareth, take your winter woolies to Gore. The temps have dropped in South Canterbury and there is fresh snow in the hills.We also had a sudden wind surge at lunchtime which I thought might be one of those twisters they were forecasting, but it just gave us a bit of hail

        Oh summertimes …

        1. Interesting, but perhaps unsurprising, that you should focus on the “standstill” part of Hansen’s discussion. He also discusses at length the observed climate changes, in particular the dramatic increase in heat extremes over land since the 1980s.

          And you may rest assured that I will be travelling to Southland in the full expectation of wind and rain, but the forecast doesn’t look too bad at present.

          1. What particularly interested me about Hansens Paper is the focus on a short term situation, too short to do more than acknowledge long term trends. We already knew about the La Niño influence.

            Now that the long term trend is clear he appears to me to be saying, with others that fitting short term variability into the picture may make for better understanding of the current picture that I suppose could translate into better forecasting and of course it gives him a platform to nudge the effort to evaluate aerosols which tend to last only a week in the atmosphere.

            I wondered if there are some global methods to estimate aerosols like treating sealevel as a rain guage or measuring reflection at the top of the atmosphere, both of which seem crude and loaded with a variety of inputs to separate out so it is interesting indeed to read of the three different kinds of polarimetry tests that must have just got under way.. Apparently it is possible to distinguish a number of types of aerosols. Hmm . . . we do get a lot from Oz.


            1. Not so well between this and the last epic heat wave. However, we’ve go a good stock and there’s always the Framers’ Market!

    2. The “most of the warming since 1950 can be attributed to human GHG emissions” phrase already excludes noise, because it is specifically talking about the warming trend, not the interannual variability which comprises both warming and cooling.

      It’s generally best to have your eyes open when reading things, andy.

  3. When I was a boy in the 1950’s the talk then was of an approaching ice age and it you look at the temperature records for the last 150 years and look at that period you can see why. Little did we know. It appears that the cool period was caused by all the coal we were burning to gear Europe up after the war. A similar effect could be happening now with China and India burning coal for industrial energy.
    Hansen and Trenberth are having a disagreement about the lost heat with Trenberth saying it is in the oceans and Hansen saying it is the aerosols in the atmosphere. My money is on Hansen.

  4. Hansen has been serious when he jokes that when his group had to come up with projections for the IPCC AR4 he found no better way to decide what the aerosol forcing for the model run was than to ask his grandchildren.

    He stood in front of the AGU fall meeting one year and put up a slide of the two grandchildren, Sophie and Conner. He said Conner could only count up to 1, so that was his guess. Sophie, who he said was older and “probably wiser”, thought 2 might be a better choice. He said the group tended to choose a number closer to Sophie’s guess.

    He says, if you think this isn’t science, “you should see what the other guys do”. (Hear him say this in this talk, available on Youtube).

    Hansen isn’t complaining about lack of data about what aerosols are really doing for first time in this latest paper. He regularly complains that a satellite mission could be put up that would go a long way towards rectifying the situation, by measuring what is happening.

    Given the data available, Hansen has chosen to emphasize that there has been a revolutionary change in how certain we can be about if the planet is warming now that there are so many Argo floats measuring the heat content of the global ocean. Whatever role aerosols play, if more energy is coming into the planetary system than is going out, the excess will be apparent in the global ocean, where 90% of the incoming heat, if there is any, should be accumulating. And, sure enough, it is.

    In Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications, Hansen explains that Von Schuckmann have come up with what looks like a good analysis of the Argo data, and if they have, there is no question the planet is warming.

    There isn’t any “standstill” in the rate of accumulation of heat in the global ocean.

    I’ve got a problem with the way Hansen expresses himself.

    In this latest paper Gareth is pointing to, Hansen uses the words “global warming standstill”, words an ordinary human being might be expected to take to mean “global warming has stopped”, to describe what is happening to the 5 year running mean of the global average surface temperature chart.

    Although 90% of the heat that is accumulating in the planetary system is going into the global ocean, it is not directly measured or described by the global average surface temperature chart. Tiny changes in heat distribution in the global ocean, i.e. ENSO (El Nino/La Nina) have a profound effect on the global average surface temperature chart precisely because so much of the heat in the overall system is in the ocean. If you want to know if the planet is heating up, you study the ocean. If you want to describe the system in terms like has there been a “standstill” in the “global warming”, you’d have to point to an indicator that included measurements of the global ocean.

    Yet even Hansen when he looks at the global average surface temperature chart, he sees the 5 year running means have been fairly flat for a decade, and he pronounces there has been a “global warming standstill”.

    Its preposterous.

    Obviously, Hansen understands what he is talking about, but I think he could be more precise in his choice of words to describe his thoughts.

    1. Hansen is pretty careful to refer to a standstill in global temperature, not warming, because, as you point out, global temperature change is only one aspect of global warming – which covers the total energy accumulating in the system.

      1. I have been mulling over the term: standstill and looking over my past for an analogy. As usual it can’t be pushed too far but …

        When learning to drive I was one afternoon given the wheel of a 2 ton Bedford truck with an unbaffled tank of water on the back and instructed to drive it from Napier to Taradale. As I pulled out the water surged backwards, then forwards and so forth resulting in an uneven motion of the truck which I struggled to get control of. Ahead was a major intersection. A vehicle was approaching from the right. I clapped on the brakes but nosed onto the inersection with the water slopping forward over the cab. The car having dodged the truck I tried to keep going but the wave was heading aft. The truck remained almost at a standstill with more traffic coming in all directions – then the wave started forward again with my foot still on the accelerator and the impulse of the wave the truck rocketed across the remainder of the intersection to the surprise and consternation no doubt of the oncoming drivers. Eventually I got the hang of it.

        So if we label the wave in the tank ‘ENSO’, the road toward Taradale ‘Climate Change’ and paint ‘Rising Global Surface Temperature’ on the truck we have it. The wave in the forward direction is El Niño, the wave going aft La Niña. Perhaps the engine could be labeled ‘Fossil fuel Combustion’ and the exhaust ‘GHGs’. Hmm, what about the driver? – new video animation for skeptical Science?

            1. Noel – we’re working on a few things – such as Earth’s energy imbalance, heat waves, and the intensification of the water cycle. We have some very simple analogies/ideas that should enable the average punter to grasp what is currently going on around us.

              Guess we’ll see if anyone takes your analogy and runs with it.

    2. Language is a difficult one, I would agree, because climate scientists are trying to express what is essentially a mathematical problem in written language terms.

      The term “uncertainty” in particular seems to raise a lot of heckles, but this term is merely representing a statistical concept. Ideas like “climate sensitivity” are represented as probability distribution functions (PDFs) that typically have a short head and long tail.

      When we say we have “uncertainty” in climate science, it means different things to different people. To me, it represents the PDFs. To others, they seem to think it means a “call to inaction”. I mean no such thing. The political and policy aspect is something, in my view, that should be separated from the physical science

      Physical science progresses primarily by refining our knowledge through better models and better measurements. The IPCC seem to have acknowledged more natural influence in the climate than in previous years, as does Hansen et al in the latest publication.

      More data, better models, better understanding. What’s not to like?

    3. David – I concur with the majority of your comment, however, I think that Dr Hansen when he uses the heading “Global Warming Standstill” – to which you take exception (and I see your point) – is actually using it to address the erroneous conception that we have portrayed by some on this commentary that Global Warming has stopped. As noted by Gareth he chooses his words carefully, and the paper is specifically addressed to the subject of Global Surface Temperature – which as we all know is but one aspect of Global Warming.
      After consideration of the major forcings Dr Hansen concludes and I quote:
      “A slower growth rate of the net climate forcing may have contributed to the standstill of global temperature in the past decade, but it cannot explain the standstill, because it is known that the planet has been out of energy balance, more energy coming in from the sun than energy being radiated to space.10 The planetary energy imbalance is due largely to the increase of climate forcings in prior decades and the great thermal inertia of the ocean. The more important factor in the standstill is probably unforced dynamical variability, essentially climatic “noise”.”

  5. Responding from Climate of Complacency thread as requested.

    No AndyS, the question was addressed to William who raised it (but appears not to have read it).

    Sorry, but time too short to waste time watching video, especially if of Shaviv and even more especially when talking to the German equivalent of the Heartland conference. This is industry commissioned and paid-for propaganda. If he has something of relevance published in a peer-reviewed journal (EIKE publications arent) then let me know.

    1. The presentation is concerned mainly with discussions of Svensmark’s cosmic ray theories and how that affects CO2’s role

      I think there are peer reviewed papers on this topic.

      Scientists presumably want to know about all the drivers of climate, whether it be CO2, cosmic ray driven cloud effects, soot, aerosols etc. If we don’t know about the parameters then any discussion of climate sensitivity is not worth much

        1. You’re going to have to do better than Shaviv, andy.

          As we repeatedly pointed out over the years: that global warming over the past decades is not linked to cosmic rays is clear from the fact that the cosmic ray measurements over the past 50 years do not show any trend (Schiermeier 2007).

          Any arcane and highly-speculative absurdity as long as it exonerates your client – ie. CO2 – eh, andy? While the basic laws of physics – CO2 traps heat, we’re pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere, therefore… well, that’s just politically-motivated speculation, isn’t it?

          Could you be more ridiculous? It’s often hard to believe this ‘debate’ is even happening, given the ludicrous dissembling and special-pleading that constitutes one side of the ‘argument’…

          1. His thesis is that, in order to explain the temperature gains of the late 20th C by CO2 alone, the climate has to be very sensitive. If you include the effects of cosmic rays, then the sensitivity to CO2 doubling is necessarily lower, around 1 deg C according to his calculations

            The cosmic ray – cloud link has already been observed and also confirmed at CERN.

            1. Nope: I refer you to this recent article at RealClimate.

              In my opinion, Laken et al. provide an accurate comprehensive review of the hypothesised effect of GCRs on our climate through moderating the clouds. There is still no evidence suggesting that the GCR influence our climate in significant ways.

              Do not rely on what amounts to wishful thinking by others, Andy.

            2. “gains of the late 20th C by CO2 alone”
              Real climatology (as opposed to the strawman type) expects climate to respond to all the forcings. Very little can be inferred from the noise (eg ESNO) which Shaviv (and others confound). On the other hand, full physics models account for the observed temperature very well – and from which charney sensitivity of around 3 emerge.

            3. Real climatology (as opposed to the strawman type)

              So you don’t think Shaviv’s work is “real climatology”?


            4. We all seem to agree that there have been temperature increases in excess of normal cyclical variation. A true sceptic would then conclude that the reason is probably due to an experimentally verified reason such as the increase in greenhouse gases rather than a theoretical explanation such as cosmic rays where the mechanism is unclear.

            5. The mechanism is not unclear. The theory is that cosmic rays affect cloud seeding. Clouds affect climate. Therefore, cosmic rays are a parameter that should be considered, alongside co2, aerosols, and black carbon, ,ie soot, when modeling forcings on the climate system.

            6. Read the bloody references you’re given. They have been considered, but are considered to be insignificant, at best.

            7. I did read the Realclimate link.
              Of the other forcings I mentioned, Hansen himself admits that we know little about aerosols, we know little about clouds and their affect on climate change, and black carbon is being investigated by Jason Box as you reported yourself recently.

              In addition to that the IPCC are acknowledging much more input from natural variability than was originally thought by them.

              So if we can put aside the political issues for a minute, perhaps we can agree that there is a lot we still need to learn about the climate and what drives it.

            8. Uncertainties exist – therefore; all’s fine! do nothing!

              You should go run a bank with Matt Ridley…

              In addition to that the IPCC are acknowledging much more input from natural variability than was originally thought by them.

              Denier shibboleth. Actual wording of any such statement regarding these matters, please.

            9. “So you don’t think Shaviv’s work is “real climatology”?”
              Nope. Shaviv had some interesting ideas from astrophysics but they dont stand the test of evidence. I think some bad papers have effectively torpedoed his career and now rather like Scafetta playing maths games. The published weight of evidence against GCR is overwhelming.

            10. Do you also think the same of Svensmarks work? I look at his graphs and I see correlation, I look at the CO 2 graphs and I see none.

              Do I need my warmist beer goggles on?

            11. Andy: What correlation? I recall he was giving a presentation at some European conference wherein a graph showing an impressive correlation between cosmic rays and temperature rise was presented, but at the time a Teheran newspaper was the only place I saw it . When I checked the cosmic ray data it seemed far too scattered to produce a correlation even though there may be a mathematical process to give the appearance of one – I once had a similar scatter of data to interprete. However, a little later Gavin Schmidt, I think it was, reported he pointed out to Svensmark that of 22 lines that could be drawn to fit the data, only the one presented supported his claims. On what basis was that line selected and the others rejected? Svensmark had no answer to that but a paper that is to have any credibility must answer such a question.

              Since then various examinations of cosmic rays and cloud formation have not come up with the correlation Svensmark proposed. In other words the proposition has not withstood further examination which is what that review Gareth referred you to essentially said. The CERN experiment confirmed that cosmic rays could produce a nucleated particle of about 1 nm, many times too small to form a cloud droplet so no confirmation of potential influence. Only an outlier of a number of possibilities was tested so I was interested to see a far more recent examination than any I had read, the last of which was covered in an earlier commentary on Realclimate (26 Sep, 2011) which concluded:

              “While reported observed correlations between cosmic rays and clouds are suggestive of effects of cosmic rays on clouds, cosmic rays rarely change without other inputs to the Earth system also changing (e.g. total solar irradiance or solar energetic particle events, both also driven by changes in the sun, but distinct from cosmic rays). Thus, we must understand the physical basis of how cosmic rays may affect clouds. However, it is clear that substantially more work needs to be done before we adequately understand these physical connections, and that no broad conclusions regarding the effect of cosmic rays on clouds and climate can (or should) be drawn from the first round of CLOUD results. Finally, there has been no significant trend in the cosmic ray flux over the 50 years, so while we cannot rule out cosmic-ray/cloud mechanisms being relevant for historical climate changes, they certainly have not been an important factor in recent climate change.”

              Note that last sentence . There are lots of references for you to follow through on but at best you really are trying to ‘make a mountain out of a molehill’.

              You see no correlation of temperatures (?) with CO2? Astonishing! Are you confused by lag times, lead times, natural variabilities? Well that is of course your problem.


            12. Are you even aware of issues that have raised about Svensmarks “correlations” in papers that have pursued this idea? Or do you only read papers that support the ideas you like?

            13. Sorry, andy it is not enough to say “cosmic rays affect cloud seeding”. Clouds can have both a negative and positive forcing, so if GCRs have caused most of the observed warming (more than 45% to you), you would have to come up with a mechanism that means GCRs selectively induce high cloud formation and decrease low clouds. This simply does not match observations, which along with the complete lack of correlation between GCRs and the warming trend points to a very small role for GCRs.

    2. Phil,
      I really think you should watch Shaviv’s lecture video; he described some top class empirical research, really very impressive in all respects. It would be really interesting if, after listening, you used his comments section to present any criticisms of his data and conclusions to see how he defends his ideas. This would be true science in action. So many people on both sides of the debate are reluctant to consider new ideas that challenge their long established beliefs, especially when they have become an integral part of their own identity. It is so easy to develop strategies/reasons to dismiss/avoid these challenges rather than face up to them and be prepared to change/amend our own ideas accordingly. I’m sure your aware that I’m referring to the theory of cognitive dissonance. I do not ask you to reply to me individually just attempt to falsify Shaviv’s ideas, this is, after all, one of the basic tenets of the scientific method. I shall keep a watch on Shaviv’s comments section over the next few days. Regards

      1. As we repeatedly pointed out over the years: that global warming over the past decades is not linked to cosmic rays is clear from the fact that the cosmic ray measurements over the past 50 years do not show any trend (Schiermeier 2007).

        Sorry, it simply isn’t true, is it? Open-mindedness does not mean countenancing clearly false notions. That can only result in your brain falling out. Next.

      2. Well if its that good, then I will look forward to seeing this in a peer reviewed journal where I can read quickly. Assessing the research without access to references and checking data sources eludes me. However, given Shaviv’s past record, I would highly doubt it, and frankly if he had a real contribution to climate research to make, then why would he make it at an anti-science conference like EIKE?
        As for your pop-psychology. science is about defeating your prejudices and as someone who works in petroleum exploration, nothing would be better than finding out that we dont have to worry about CO2. However,I am not going to ignore hard science in favour of fairy tales. New ideas have to face some rigorous inspection and frankly, nothing promising showing up so far. The problem with Shaviv’s ideas have been well documented but have you read that literature?

        1. Science is about the dispassionate search for truth by searching for empirical evidence to falsify hypotheses. You have put forward a number of reasons not to to listen to the video exactly as I anticipated.

          1. What a load of rubbish. Empirical evidence is only one tool that science uses, and if scientific research was limited purely to empirical evidence then none of the technology we rely on today would exist.

            1. CTG,
              Science is a way of testing the validity of ideas/explanations by generating testable hypotheses and designing experiments to attempt to falsify these hypotheses. Experiments must provide empirical evidence. Without empirical evidence you do not have science. Without science being conducted in this way technology would never have advanced; bridges would collapse, drugs would fail, etc. and you are founding your assertions on unverified dogma, faith, mysticism and wishful thinking, etc.. Reliability on today’s technology is founded in empirical data.

            2. But if you didn’t have models, as for example in molecular biology, you wouldn’t have a clue what empirical evidence to go looking for, The double helix led scientists to discover topisomerases, helicases, polymerases etc. Without a double helix model, where would you even start to look for DNA processing enzymes,

              The double helix is still just a model, but one that fits all the data/empirical evidence. Rodley and Bates came up with an alternative structure in the 70s which in the end quickly was dismissed as their model wouldn’t explain the activity of topisomerases.

              Similarly with climate change, there is alot of empirical evidence that best fits the AGW/CO2 model. If you want to come up with an alternative to double helix you have a lot of work to do but chances are it will stay as the best model that fits the data, ditto AGW/CO2.

              It begs the question, why have Watson and Crick never been badgered and hassled by deniers, or thousands of antagonistic blog sites set up for basing all their work on models?

            3. Okay, William, so you agree that we have no way of knowing what global temperatures in the Mediaeval Period are? There were no thermometers then, and so no way to get empirical readings of the temperature. Therefore, according to you, we know precisely nothing about what the actual temperatures were then – therefore you must retract your statement that the MWP was warmer than today. Okay?

              Let’s take another example. My field was population ecology, specifically epidemiology. I studied patterns of disease spread in rabbit populations, using computer models. According to you, this is not science. What I should have done was go out into the field, infect rabbits and watch how many of them die. If I had been studying disease spread in humans, then presumably I should also go and infect a bunch of humans, deny them medicine and watch how many of them die. Can you see any ethical problems with that approach, William?

              Saying “Without empirical evidence you do not have science” is complete balderdash, and shows you have very little understanding of what science is.

          2. I dont do videos for science no matter who is presenting. I similarly avoid conferences. If its in a peer-reivewed paper then I will read it, as I carefully read Lindzen, Spencer, and others who present work which probe how climate works by comparing realistic physics to data (my idea of empirical as opposed to curve-fitting). I have a very clear idea on what data would falsify the current theory of climate and certainly look for it. On the other hand EIKE has no interest in how climate works; only pushing any kind of disinformation which the gullible will swallow towards a predetermined aim of preventing action on CO2 reduction. 100% not dispassionate and open about it.

            1. Phil,

              I’d be very interested in what data you think would falsify the “current theory of climate change”.

            2. Do you also studiously ignore the 30% or so of IPCC reports that are non peer reviewed? [snipped as deliberate misrepresentation. GR]

            3. You argue exactly as creationists do. Or partisans of Velikovsky.

              Life’s simply too short to watch presentations that are already known to be wrong.

              Cosmic Rays are out as the source of GW. Get over it.

            4. Tony,

              Thanks for your comment. I don’t think a model such as the one that explains the structure of a DNA molecule is quite the same thing as a computer model used to investigate and make climatic projections. As you will know, climate is described as a multi-factor, linear chaotic system. Unless we know every factor that can influence the climate down to the smallest detail and programme them into the computer models, they will never successfully predict more than a few days/weeks ahead at the most, after that the ‘butterfly-effect’ kicks-in.

              Computer models are interesting ways of investigating hypotheses and I agree will open up ideas for further lines of research but they are not empirical evidence. Empirical evidence comes from observations of the real world. Climate models have built into their programs unverified assumptions, which are not empirical. For example:

              (1) CO2 is the primary driver of climate.
              (2) The Sun has no really significant effect on climate.
              (3) There is a strong net positive feedback.
              (4) All of the 0.7ºC of warming that occurred in the late 20th Century was due to human emissions of CO2.

              There is no evidence to justify any of these assumptions but they are interesting to explore.

              Sceptics argue that because the models do not include the effects of natural factors, like; ocean cycles, solar cycles, cosmic rays or the different effects of clouds their projections are inevitably flawed.

              Two huge influences on the global climate are El Nino and La Nina events. If climate models were able to accurately predict the climate they would also accurately predict both these events, they can’t.

              Incidentally, there is a huge amount of data that shows good correlations between solar cycles and global temperatures but climate modellers seem to dismiss this as insignificant.

            5. William, you have never actually looked at any climate models, obviously, because they do none of the things you say. If you really were a skeptic, you would be skeptical of the things that you read on so-called skeptical blogs.

            6. CTG.

              There are hundreds of papers that confirm the existence of the Medieval Warm Period using proxy data. Proxy data is empirical data. As for your rabbit study, I assume you used a well tested statistical sampling procedure, which is empirical. When scientist investigate new drug treatments they ensure we use at least two, large, random sample populations giving one the drug being tested and the other a placebo, this has all be carefully designed to provide us with unambiguous empirical data that allows us to come to verifiable conclusions. Without empirical data to verify our conclusions, there is no science, just conjecture.

            7. “I’d be very interested in what data you think would falsify the “current theory of climate change”.”

              Should make that current theory of climate, period. Like any theory, if we get data that is at variance with predictions beyond the limits of known error, then the theory must be reexamined. Unlike the curve-fitting theory, which generally try to fit some postulated effect to surface temperature, climate theory is making predictions about a huge no. variables from Ocean heat content, OLR brightness and spectrum, surface temperature, ocean pH, humidity, evaporation indexes, vertical structure of the atmosphere, stratospheric temperature etc. etc. The degree of physical knowledge varies widely among these and with it so is the robustness of the predictions but there are many variables that would cause severe doubts if predictions were wrong (outside error limits).

              To me, the critical ones would be 20-year surface temperature trend. 5 year 0-2000m OHC trend, upper stratospheric temperature trend and OLR spectrum but you could probably come up with quite a no. of others that I would ready agree with.

              Caveats. The theory does not predict future values of forcing especially those under human control. You need compare predicted state of climate to the actual forcings for falsification. Secondly, climate theory does not predict weather. ENSO is a major internal mode of variability. Physical models have ENSO-like emergent features but cannot predict it. They have no skill at predicting decadal level temperature and dont pretend to do so.

              Since you like “empirical methods”, then how about these which use empirical methods to examine the temperature response to physically reasonable climate forcings.

              Benestad & Schmidt 2009
              Foster and Rahmstorf 2011
              Rypdal 2012

              I rather like this, 2-box+ENSO model, based on Rypdal 2012, but its not published so trying to reproduce it myself.

  6. Something different for a change of topic: It seems that the USA is calculating itself oil and gas rich, based on their “fracking revolution”.
    It would appear that fighting Climate Change is loosing its “alliance” with the Peak Oil argument (at least for a perhaps a crucial decade or two). So far attacking our fossil fuel dependency for the sake of fighting GW had the added benefit of also attending to our Achilles heel – our energy dependency on cheap and abundant fossil fuels – which seemed to come to hurt us rather soon.
    Now it might seem, we might loose an important driver of the argument of developing alternatives to fossil fuels in the eye of the cornucopian exponentialists who see the “oil and gas bonanza” as a ticket to enrich themselves further on the back of our planets ecology.
    This is a dark cloud indeed as the fear of going over the Peak Oil cliff was a strong driver for even hard core AGW deniers to at least work on the issue of energy alternatives.

    1. It is a dark cloud that may provide 200 years of affordable energy and a lack of need to go to war in the Middle East over oil assets.

      Meanwhile we have the time to develop serious energy alternatives like Thorium And fusion power.

      This of course is terrible news. We need to be building more windmills to destroy the countryside, kill endangered birds, and not actually decrease co2 emissions according to local denier Mark Lynas.

      1. What a fool you are, andy. And a toxic one at that. In common with so many of your peers you have the soul of a witchfinder.

        Speaking of fracking, this is what I was doing yesterday. See if you can spot me (hint, I’m an arboreal marsupial!)

        Of course, this is fighting a real threat to endangered species, as opposed to the fantastic wind-beast bogey that has so captured the imaginations of the Colonel Blimps and late-middle-aged hysterics.

        1. Mark Lynas makes this statement

          My conclusion so far is that unfortunately Germany’s ‘renewables revolution’ is at best making no difference to the country’s carbon emissions, and at worst pushing them marginally upwards. Thus, tens (or even hundreds, depending on who you believe) of billions of euros are being spent on expensive solar PV and wind installations for no climatic benefit whatsoever.

          So all those acres of land [snipped: deliberate misrepresentation, GR], all for no reduction in CO2 emissions.

      2. And, of course, the sociopaths and witchfinders are actually in charge in many parts of the world – result; this.

        Maybe you should contact them and point out that windfarms are the real threat to the globe’s wildlife, andy?

      3. Andy, your ideas of “affordability” are rather wicket. Your “affordable energy” is bought with a Faustian bet: For a few decades of cheap energy (and even that is rather uncertain actually as fracking only pays for itself when the energy produces is south of what most people considered to be affordable) you are willing to pay with the future of the planet and civilization proper. Plus its not your sacrifice personally as the real heat (proverbial) will be upon our children’s generation. This is as stupid as Mitt Romney’s electioneering quote: “Obama wants to save the planet, but I want to save the American Family….” (paraphrased).

    2. CTG,

      I am very sceptical of those blogs and in the same way you must be sceptical of the blogs that promote the idea that humans are unequivocally are causing dangerous global warming. Let me end by using three quotes from the great philosopher of scientific thinking, Carl Popper.

      “Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve”.

      “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality”.

      “The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement“
      Karl Popper (1902 – 1994).

      1. And yet you uncritically repeat their false claims about climate models. Very skeptical.

        I note that you still haven’t answered my point about the MWP not being empirical evidence.

        Science is entirely dependent on both models and empirical evidence, it cannot operate on one or the other alone. Models can be thought experiments, paper models, single equations or complex computer simulations, but you cannot generate a hypothesis – and therefore have something to test your empirical evidence with – without a model.

        As Phil pointed out above, it is possible to test specific outcomes of climate models against empirical evidence, and these largely show agreement with model results. Yes, the models have low skill in predicting specific short term ENSO variations, but this does not mean they do not have skill at longer term forecasts. You cannot dismiss the entire field of climate modelling simply because the models are not 100% perfect. That’s simply saying “we do not understand everything therefore we know nothing”, which would negate the entire purpose of science.

        If you’re going to quote Popper, he also said

        The genuine rationalist does not think that he or anyone else is in possession of the truth

        You would be well advised to bear that in mind when you read blogs.

        1. CTG.

          Your Popper quote is exactly my point. I have sent an answer to your question about the MWP not being empirical, its there above somewhere I’ve just read it again.

          1. Oh, didn’t see that. You said:

            Proxy data is empirical data.

            This shows you haven’t the faintest clue what empirical actually means. A proxy by definition is not empirical data. Empirical data is obtained by direct observation. A proxy is used where direct observation is not possible, ergo it is not empirical.

            Take temperature reconstructions. The only way to get an empirical temperature record is to measure temperature with a thermometer. As thermometers did not exist before the 16th century, there are no empirical records of temperatures before that time, which is why proxies must be used.

            Tree-ring width is one of the commonest. Looking at relative widths of tree rings is one way to guage temperatures, as under certain conditions, temperature can be the controlling factor in tree growth. But tree ring widths are not empirical evidence of temperatures – they are only empirical evidence of tree growth rates. To convert tree ring widths into temperatures, one must apply a model, in fact several models. First of all, tree samples must be assigned a date. This is done by comparison to a reference dendrochronology, which is a model of what the pattern of tree-ring widths should look like over time. This model is built up by progressively extending back from trees with known dates into the fossil record. Assigning a fossil tree to a date range in the past is a statistical process that relies on a model.

            Then you can look at the pattern of tree-ring widths over time from the samples. Assigning a temperature value to these widths again relies on a model, this time established by comparing the tree-ring widths from a reference period where thermometer readings are available.

            Claiming that tree-ring widths are empirical evidence of temperature is nonsense. Trees are not thermometers. Proxies can be useful, but they require interpretation, and rely on models (both statistical and theoretical) for their accuracy. If there is a problem with the model used to create the proxy, the proxy will be inaccurate. Search for “tree ring divergence problem” to see an example of this – recent tree ring observations are departing from the temperature record. This could indicate a problem with the model of how temperature limits growth in trees.

            1. So the only evidence for warmth in the MWP is a “proxy” like tree rings?

              How does evidence of housing and other Viking artifacts in Greenland stack up? Or the parish records in England that indicate that wine was grown during that era? Or the village ruins on high moorlands in the south of England that would be uninhabitable today, using the same materials?

              Surely, these are empirical evidence of warmer temperatures. You could refer to them as “proxies” because we didn’t have thermometers, sure, but it’s a bit more than tree rings, which have quite a lot of issues anyway

            2. They are evidence of warm temperatures at the time, but not of warmer temperatures. Wine is much more extensively grown in the UK now, for instance.

            3. Evidence of Viking occupation of Greenland is evidence of the climate in Greenland. Likewise for England. Neither of these on their own is evidence for a global temperature comparable to today’s. Most of the proxy evidence from that period is from the northern hemisphere, so it is hard to get a conclusive picture of the global climate, but results from the southern hemisphere strongly suggest that the MWP was a regional phenomenon, not a global one.

              If I belonged to the “it’s not CO2” camp, I wouldn’t be pinning my hopes on the MWP anyway, as a very warm MWP would be pretty strong evidence in favour of a high climate sensitivity, given that the changes in forcings during this period were likely rather small. Unless you can find evidence of another forcing operating at that time, it would seem that even relatively small changes in atmospheric CO2 due to land use activities could have a major impact on climate.

              But of course, that won’t worry you, andy, given your commitment to the anti-science cause. It doesn’t worry you that the various arguments you put forward are contradictory – as long as they contradict CO2 it’s all fair game to you, eh?

            4. CTG,
              I understand your point about proxy data not being empirical. My definition of empirical evidence may be rather wider than yours as defined in the Collins Dictionary, “derived from or relating to experiment or observation rather than theory”. When scientists investigate past temperature trends using for example: the concentration of 14C in tree rings or lake and ocean sediments or the concentration of 14C and 10Be isotopes in each of the ice-core layers, I consider these empirical studies because they are actually observing and measuring phenomena in nature but using the variables measured as proxies for temperature, ie. empirical studies using proxies. The point is I consider studies like these valid evidence. Hundreds of studies (easily found on the internet) have provided a sufficient body of evidence to consider it highly likely that there was a global MWP. In the same way, proxy evidence also supports the existence of other similar warm periods over the last 3,500 years, these are: Roman Warm Period around 2000 years ago, 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. These periods of warming indicate that perfectly natural cycles of periodic climate change occur. They also indicate that previous periods of warming were at least as warm as present day temperatures and possibly warmer. These observations provide a theoretical model which suggests that late 20th century warming was not unprecedented and may in fact reflect natural climate change.

            5. Well I’m afraid that William S really doesn’t know what he is talking about. That, of course, is a symptom of someone who just cuts and pastes without trying to understand what he is reading.

              C14 and Be10 are not proxies for temperature. C14 is used to show that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is mostly from fossil carbon since fossil carbon is depleted (in fact it contains zero) C14. Be10 is used as a proxy for GCRs (galactic cosmic rays). GCRs were greatly increased during the Laschamp event of approximately 41,000 years ago when the Earth’s geomagnetic field was reversed and substantially reduced for more than 400 years.

              Unfortunately for AGW deniers who believe that GCRs are the cause of global warming there is no indication in the ice cores of any change in temperature during the Laschamp event.


            6. Evidence of Viking occupation of Greenland is evidence of the climate in Greenland. Likewise for England. Neither of these on their own is evidence for a global temperature comparable to today’s.

              I never made any assertions about global climate during the medieval warm period. I was providing evidence for the localised climate in the Northern Hemisphere, which may or may not have been global

              If you find this offensive then I am deeply sorry, and also sad for you in that anything at all that seems to attack your CO2 centric view of the world is considered “anti-science”

    3. Hi Phil,

      Thanks for your comments.This will have to be my last as I have to sleep and gareth has warned me. I think I agree with what you say. For whatever reason there has been no significant warming for 16 years (HadCrut) do you mean after another four years (ie 20years), without any warming trend, you will have doubts about the theory and agree it should be re-examined. Also, the Argo data shows there has been no significant global increase in OHC since its initiation in 2003 (data readily available on the internet images). The regional Arctic warming can be explained by naturally occurring cyclic fluctuations in the PDO and AMO. Also, the ENSO and other ocean currents have a huge long-term influence on the climate cycles and so successful models will have to predict them quite accurately to make accurate climatic predictions. It seems to me that the climate models have done very badly in making predictions. I will look at your references later, they seem to be familiar. Regards and good night.

      1. William, it is not possibly to carry out a sensible conversation if you are not following the actual science. The “no warming for 16 years” is one thing that F&R 2011 tackles. You think that surface temperature trend is at variance with the science but it is not. I think you are uncritically reading disinformation. Science and skepticism means you examine every claim, whether it supports your ideas of not. You have made various claims about what you think the science says which are completely false as CTG has pointed out. This implies that you have taken a stance against AGW without actually examining the scientific evidence.

        IF net climate forcings were positive for another 4 years and if the surface temperature record (GISTemp) showed no significant warming then that would be issue. Ditto for OHC, but 0-2000m OHC does show significant warming since 2003. (See Leviticus et al 2012). I called you on this false assertion earlier – just looking a 0-700m would be cherry-picking.

        You then make further unsupported assertions – the you can can explain arctic warming with PDO and AMO; and the ESNO and ocean currents have “huge” long-term influence on climate. I doubt you can back those assertions. On the other hand Sedlácek & Knutti (2012) present evidence to the contrary. How can you physically back the idea the ocean currents (which distribute heat around the planet) can change the long term energy budget of the planet? How is conservation of energy maintained? How do you explain the increase in OHC shown in Leviticus since 1955? Put a large pot of water onto boil. The chaotic nature of the density/convection currents within the pot will defy accurate computer modelling but you can predict the pot will heat.

        1. William S claims that he did not “say specifically that these isotopes were themselves proxies for temperature”.

          How on earth would anyone conclude that he was not referring to them as proxies for temperature when he specifically says:

          When scientists investigate past temperature trends using for example: the concentration of 14C in tree rings or lake and ocean sediments or the concentration of 14C and 10Be isotopes in each of the ice-core layers, I consider these empirical studies because they are actually observing and measuring phenomena in nature but using the variables measured as proxies for temperature

          Is he just confused (and so should not be discussing some thing he appears to know little about) or is he being a typical dishonest AGW denier? In either case he is spreading misinformation and obfuscation on the reality of AGW.

  7. William S, just want to explore further your claim that

    Climate models have built into their programs unverified assumptions, which are not empirical. For example:
    (1) CO2 is the primary driver of climate.
    (2) The Sun has no really significant effect on climate.
    (3) There is a strong net positive feedback.
    (4) All of the 0.7ºC of warming that occurred in the late 20th Century was due to human emissions of CO2.

    Can you please provide some evidence to back this up? Here is a list of the GCMs used in the IPCC AR4. Which of these models exclude solar variability as an input, for example? The NASA GISS model, for example uses empirical observations of TSI as the driver for solar input.

    There are many cases where different models produce different results, for example in their treatment of clouds. Some models produce negative feedback from clouds, some produce positive feedback. There is no evidence for your claim that all models assume a net positive feedback.

    Most of what you are claiming are assumptions of the climate models are in fact results – the output of the models. The skill of a model is determined by its ability to recreate observed climate responses to the observed forcings. In the latter part of the 20th century, the forcing with the greatest change was CO2, so naturally the climate models reflect that. Or perhaps you think that climate models should not reflect reality?

    1. Those claim that the models presuppose these ‘unverified assumptions’ is simply ludicrous, and ought to embarrass you. As CTG says – these are mainly the outputs! But, since according to your overwrought interpretation of Popper you – by dint of mere possession of your own counter ‘theory’ – have the same chance of being right as the merely qualified: proof, please

      1. The wikipedia page on models makes this assertion:

        “Water vapor feedback

        If the atmospheres are warmed, the saturation vapor pressure increases, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere will tend to increase. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, the increase in water vapor content makes the atmosphere warm further; this warming causes the atmosphere to hold still more water vapor (a positive feedback), and so on until other processes stop the feedback loop. The result is a much larger greenhouse effect than that due to CO2 alone. Although this feedback process causes an increase in the absolute moisture content of the air, the relative humidity stays nearly constant or even decreases slightly because the air is warmer.[38] Climate models incorporate this feedback. Water vapor feedback is strongly positive

        and this article in Nature:

        Positive water vapour feedback in climate models confirmed by satellite data

        both these seem to suggest that positive feedback from water vapour is a input to the models, not an output.

        1. The physics of water vapour’s behaviour is included in the models, yes. But the WV response in any given situation depends on lots of (modelled) factors. It’s not a look up table.

        2. Yes, andy, water vapour is one of the positive feedbacks, as verified by empirical observations. That’s very observant of you. There are other positive feedbacks in the models as well, for example CO2 is a feedback as well as a forcing, due to the outgassing of CO2 from the oceans as they warm.

          William’s specific claim was that climate models assumed a net positive feedback. He has not presented any evidence to back up this claim, nor have you. If you have any evidence that any of the 23 listed AOGCMs have this assumption, please do share it.

    2. The models only reflect the modellers interpretation of reality, not reality itself.

      For a start, the IPCC hasn’t taken into account its new figures for aerosol forcing into its estimates for climate sensitivity to CO2 which, as a result, Nic Lewis calculates should be a lot lower.

      This would appear to be consistent with the under-performance of surface temperatures vs the model predictions

    3. William S from his first gish gallop here has been exploiting for all his worth the negative hypothesis – there is no evidence claim, much repeated, for example. If you indicate any evidence it will be dismissed no doubt as this together with proclamations about science is just posturing, presumably for the confusion of those who look on. Politicians use this negative hypothesis ploy a lot. I will use an example.

      I used to tell children at school a story, a real one, concerning an imaginary tiger behind a school shelter shed and the difficulty encountered by the lone victim in proving it wasn’t there. After telling the story and just to drive the point home I would challenge the class to prove to me that Santa is not real. They would go at this with relish but when it came down to it none could prove the negative proposition. So what if their parents were pretending to be santa? He is somewhere else.

      Wherever William S chooses to look there is no evidence because his own model will not permit him to see it. Everyone has some kind of model of the world, often called a world view.

      We know that if CO2 is a main driver in this time of climate change then certain things follow which we call finger prints that can be empirically observed and they tend for example to falsify such oft repeated memes as “its the sun”. That the stratosphere cools as the troposphere warms is a good example of a validated prediction refered to by CTG. Jim Salinger has made a post here to which I made a comment just to draw attention to another fingerprint of the action of greenhouse gasses in raising temperatures – warming of nights and winters, this is the first time I have seen the numbers for NZ. I wonder who understands their significance?

      Finally, years ago I read a comment “There is no reply to be made to ignorance”. How often I’ve seen the truth of that.

    4. Here’s one for William: BEST has now published:

      … solar forcing does not appear to contribute to the observed global warming of the past 250 years; the entire change can be modeled by a sum of volcanism and a single anthropogenic [human-made] proxy.

      Please explain this result in the light of your claims about the models. Ta.

    5. Phil, CTG etc.

      This will have to be my last response to all those who have directed comments to me, it has been interesting and stimulating. The comments have covered so many topics that I simply can’t maintain the momentum and time required to provide the response I would like and fullfill the demands of my occupation and family commitments.

      So Phil, I’m glad you agree that if there is no significant warming for the next 4 years that would be an issue. The Argo network is so extensive that if warming was global it would be detected in the surface ocean temperatures. Since the Argo data shows there has been no statistically significant ocean surface warming, then according to Trenberth’s explanation of the “missing heat” the IR radiation must somehow bi-pass the upper ocean layers and warm a region of water below the surface without being detected by the surface temperature monitoring. This does not seem to have any foundation in Physics. The possibility that any heating of this deeper water is due to human influences is purely speculative.

      With regard to Arctic warming – It is well documented that Arctic sea-ice area varies in a 60 to 70 year cycle that correlates with ocean currents which in turn may reflect solar cycles. The main current appears to be the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) which transports water from warmer to colder regions and cooler water to warmer regions. I perfectly accept criticism for lack of references but I simply haven’t got the time to search, they are there if you look.

      Historical records of Sea levels show that they have been rising ever since that last Ice Age and there has been no significant acceleration in this rise. The recent historical sea-level records also show that the present rate of rise, about 3mm per year, started around 1860 at the end of the Little Ice Age long before human emissions of CO2 could have been the cause.

      Climate modellers assume that the 0.7C warming since 1750 has been caused by the known increases in atmospheric CO2. This idea has not been verified. Most scientists agree that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will bring about 1.1ºC of warming. However, computer models have a built in assumption that CO2 is the primary driver of the climate and is causing dangerous global warming by strong positive feedbacks which will triple this value. Without this tripling effect there is no problem. You say that “in the latter part of the 20th century, the forcing with the greatest change was CO2” and this is built into the models to reflect “reality”. This is an assumption, it has not been verified.

      Climate computer modellers use the output ‘predictions’ of their models to verify their assumptions. They build into their models the assumption that CO2 is the primary driver of the climate and is causing dangerous global warming by strong positive feedbacks. They adjust the various input parameters so their outputs match the 20th Century warming and then use these outputs to demonstrate that their assumptions are true.

      Since their models do not include the effects of known solar cycles, they also use these outputs as evidence that solar cycles have no significant effect on global temperatures.

      Computer modellers also say that their models have retrospectively predicted past climate changes quite accurately. However, by adjusting selected input variables, models can be tweaked to match any desired outcome for past or future climate scenarios.

      These are clear examples of the logical fallacy of ‘circular reasoning’ and therefore not valid evidence.

      The assumption that all the late 20th Century warming was due to human emissions of CO2 is often justified by saying that no other known forcing can explain the temperature rise – so CO2 must be the cause. This is another logical fallacy of ‘argument from ignorance’. Just because no other explanation of the warming has been found is not valid evidence that CO2 must be the direct cause of the warming.
      Computer models are interesting but prove nothing!

      1. William, you are simply arguing by assertion. None of the things you say are remotely true, so endlessly repeating them won’t make them true.

        Greenhouse theory is a well established theory that explains how the atmosphere works. There are no scientists who dispute this. According to this theory, the global climate will not wobble around on it’s own – it will only respond to forcing. There are several known forcings – GHGs, water vapour, aerosols, solar irradiance, orbital variance etc.

        Climate models are based on this theory, using well established physics – verified by empirical observation – to control the reaction of the model atmosphere to changes in forcing. When the known values of these forcings are put into the models, they reproduce the changes in global temperature that have been observed. If the models didn’t do that, they wouldn’t be any use, would they?

        There is no assumption that any particular forcing is ‘the’ driver of climate. It is the empirical evidence of changes in CO2, and lack of changes in other forcings that leads to the conclusion that CO2 has primarily been responsible for the recent warming. Funny how you ignore empirical evidence when it is contrary to what you want to believe.

        It is certainly possible that there are other forcings which are not yet known, but there is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest such a forcing. You cannot therefore insist that it must be something other than CO2 just because you don’t want it to be CO2. As you are so fond of quotes, here is one from Isaac Newton:

        In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or very nearly true not withstanding any contrary hypothesis that may be imagined….…This rule we must follow, [and] may not be evaded by [speculative] hypotheses.

        So unless you have evidence of a different forcing that could have caused the warming, you cannot discount CO2. What evidence is there of an unknown forcing?

      2. Ocean heat content is increasing, significantly. The only source of 0-2000 heat is radiative heating from surface, transported lower down by normal heat transport processes. Its not speculative – its basic physics, text book stuff.

        Your “well documented” seems to mean “I’ve read it on multiple disinformation sites which somehow dont reference the science”. The problem with cycles is that if surface temperature is changing because heat is coming from ocean, then ocean heat content should drop – it doesnt. OHC is increasing. Nice empirical test.

        Your sealevel data is wrong too – funnily no reference either. So here is one. Figure for last 2000 years., source Kemp et al 2011

        In a science discussion, you really must reference sources. You have numerous assertions, demonstrably false, without anything to back it up but your beliefs. We give you the references to show that you are wrong but its seems you just ignore them. Your comments about models are comic. Are your echoing from somewhere or just making this up? Even the most cursory look at the modelling process would show this is wrong.

        Earlier, you effectively claimed I was close-minded for not being interested an EIKE video. In fact I have read every mainstream skeptic paper in hope of something interesting. In contrast, you do not seem to have read any science at all. Instead of accusing me of confirmation bias, how about you sit down and actually read the WG1 report to find out what is really says instead of what some denier claims it to say.

        I’m out here. Only so much nonsense I can stand.

        1. “I’m out here. Only so much nonsense I can stand.”

          Sadly William S is not alone. I am aware of scientists who should know better, completely switch off when it comes to climate science, cannot discern the unreferenced lies perpetrated by denialist sites, bring up sunspots, talk of fear of a pending ice age… and these are scientists with otherwise sound credentials, just not in climate science. They don’t like to hear of any talk that might threaten their comfort zone.

          On ocean heat, it seems to me that the ocean is taking a battering, by absorbing most of our CO2, more than it can handle. Is it likely that as ocean warms there will be signfiicant outgassing of CO2 adding to atmospheric GHG burden?

          1. Net CO2 outgassing from the ocean? No. Warming and stratification of the surface will diminish the uptake of CO2 in the future, but not in any dramatic way. The ocean would have to warm spectacularly to release large quantities of CO2 sufficient to add to the atmospheric burden, and they just don’t operate that way. There is a discussion on this in one of the chapters of the OA not OK series at Skeptical Science, but I don’t remember which one.

            The failure of CO2 fertilization, on the other hand, is a whole different ballgame. Carbon cycle models assume a huge benefit from land-based plants sucking up extra CO2 and thereby putting on carbon weight. Around 6 billion tons of carbon by around mid century – about two thirds of current emissions.

            Problem is that it may not be happening. The current drawdown is possibly due to regrowth of secondary forest in the tropics, former Soviet Union, and China. If so, more and more of human fossil fuel emissions are likely to remain in the atmosphere in the future, once those forests mature – making it much warmer than current climate model projections.

      3. Gee, William S’s references turn out to be – cut-and-paste chum straight from Denier blogs! A veritable gish-gallop of multiply-debunked zombie talking points. What a waste of time, and an education.

    1. I don’t find Greg Laden funny at all. Watts was quite clear that he was very sceptical about the extraterrestrial life story, Laden had chosen to make this into a big deal.

      Laden also made libelous accusations against Rog Tallbloke viz the seizure of his computers and his role in Climategate. I think, like the watts story, might have involved lawyers at 10 paces.

      Greg Laden needs to take some chill pills and stay off the invective.its not doing him or his supporters any good at all.

      1. ‘if it holds up’.

        Yep, that’s all the skepticism you’d ever need right there, for sure.

        ‘There are reports that a small herd of Unicorns has been found in a forest in a remote peninsula in northern Finland. This story, if it holds up, could revolutionize the science of mythic equine geo-biology…’

        How’s Rog’s lawsuit going, incidentally?

        1. That reminds me of a statistics lecture that showed how you could use random data and some carefully selected statistical tests to show that Unicorn breeding cycles were related to lunar cycles. William S would be utterly convinced by those statistics as they were as empirical as you can get.

      2. Watts has a long history of being “skeptical” about the stories he posts. For example, this story about the role played by GCRs in the ozone hole. When this story was originally posted, it had a very short and cryptic comment from our Tone: “The Antarctic Ozone Hole is said to be caused only by Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). According to this new study, perhaps not.”, plus the abstract.
        This very quickly got about 100 responses which were variants of “Those bastard scientists were lying to us all along”. A couple of comments then pointed out that the abstract said that the proposed mechanism involved GCRs interacting with halogenated molecules, i.e. CFCs.
        The woo-hoo brigade shut up pretty quickly, and then a couple of days after it was posted, the story was updated by Willard, claiming that he had been alerted “by email” that the story was being misinterpreted. We are supposed to believe from this that Master Tony does not read the comments on his own blog, because it was clear from the get-go that the peanut gallery thought that Tony said GCR were causing the ozone hole instead of CFCs.
        In fact, it is pretty clear from the title of the story, “Galactic Cosmic Rays May Be Responsible For The Antarctic Ozone Hole”, that Tony was (intentionally or otherwise) portraying GCRs as the sole cause of the ozone hole. He made some lame excuse for not changing the title of the article, but it seems more likely that he just couldn’t work out how to get WordPress to retrospectively change the title and URL. When he posted the apologetic update, it appears he also deleted some of the more vituperative anti-science comments.
        A lot of people were prepared to give Watts the benefit of the doubt on this particular story – perhaps he just badly worded his original comment – but taken with his subsequent behaviour (e.g. in relation to BEST), it’s pretty clear to me that Watts knows exactly what he is doing.
        Ridicule is good, but Watts deserves a lot more than that.

  8. I’m looking for a favour.

    Over at Deltoid there’s an ongoing problem with a self-admitted troll who claims to have a masters in Atmospheric Chemistry (though he’s prepared to run with the ‘it’s not acidification because the pH of the ocean is still alkaline’ argument) who is persistently arguing from his own ignorance re OA –

    ‘ No, it’s a scientific certainty that it is a consequence of increased CO2. No if’s but’s or maybe’s, it’s been scientifically proven that the acidification, that is, becoming more acid, of the ocean, is due to CO2.’

    Please show the observational data that proves that this theoretical effect is actually occurring. in practice in the oceans.

    No argument that if you increase the partial pressure of CO2 over a jar of pure water, you will end up with a solution of carbonic acid that will be slightly acidic. Basic physical chemistry.

    But pure water is not at all the same thing as seawater – a not very well mixed solution of all sorts of inorganic ions surrounded by huge quantities of rocks of CaCO3 and others. It is not at all obvious that the weak carbonic acid like carbonic will overwhelm the buffering effect of the solution and surrounding rocks

    For such a complex and varied system. the only way to show that the pH is actually decreasing is to go out and make the measurements over a long period of time.

    By analogy, to show that the GAT was actually increasing took the analysis of somewhere between 10 and 100 million temperature records taken from thermometers all over the world (and later by satellite ) over a period of several decades..

    Can you show me a similar set of observations of ocean pH that will hep to turn a lab based theory into the same ‘scientific proof’ that you claim?

    ‘Of the 1500 or so articles I found on the Web of Science that pop up under the key words “ocean acidification”, you’ll be hard to find a single one which does not agree that there is a strong link between atmospheric C02 concentrations and declining marine pH levels’

    I’m sure I’d find that all of them *state* that there is a strong link. But very few of them provide any data to back up this claim.

    You may have missed our littel crowdsourcing exercise earlier thsi week when e actually went and looked for the published data itself. Not just what other people said about it..but for the actual confirmatory data.

    It is surprisingly scant. – Only collected in 5 locations (one of these only by proxy) and only for short periods (< 20 years).

    You can try it yourself. Take any one of your 1500 papers, and try to trace back to the original source. If you find it not to be one of the original five we've found (see earlier in this thread for details) then I'll be very surprised.

    So now we can see how a 'consensus' can be arrived at with hardly any actual work being done. Somebody publishes results that may just be interpretable as 'ocean acidification' (eg Hawaii). Another paper referneces it as fact. Number 3 chimes in. Paper 4 sees three papers all saying OA is real and adds its own voice…….it snowballs.

    Within a few publishing cycles, you have a huge consensus that OA is real and that it is a big problem. Indeed there are 1500 papers that say so! Every 'scientist' agrees.

    But the actula data n which this edifice rests is very very scanty. [all sic]

    Note the weak-version of the conspiracy theory at the end there.

    There’s a persistent pattern I’ve noted where trolls who know a little about some subject find a venue where they’re confident that others know less, and proceed to claim authority while simultaneously claiming that others are arguing from the authority of others – hence the above.

    If, say, Doug M, or Keith Hunter, or anyone else who’s involved in the field, was to read this, and could make a quick observation and/or suggest resources, I’d appreciate it.

    1. Bill – Doug used to be like the Candyman, mention ocean acidification 3 times and he would appear from nowhere. Let’s try it: ocean acidification (that’s two). ocean acidification……………

      Hmm…that didn’t work.

      I don’t really see the point in engaging your troll too much, given the lax approach taken in moderation over at Deltoid – the comment will just get lost in screeds of contrarian drivel.

      It’s very apparent your troll, has no expertise in ocean chemistry. For example:

      No argument that if you increase the partial pressure of CO2 over a jar of pure water, you will end up with a solution of carbonic acid that will be slightly acidic”

      Gibberish. Because of other reactions, very little carbonic acid remains in the oceans (less than 1% IIRC). That’s the first giveaway you’re dealing with a ‘pretend’ expert. Only complete noobs make the mistake of thinking ocean acidification means the oceans are chock full of carbonic acid. Check!

      But pure water is not at all the same thing as seawater – a not very well mixed solution of all sorts of inorganic ions surrounded by huge quantities of rocks of CaCO3 and others. It is not at all obvious that the weak carbonic acid like carbonic will overwhelm the buffering effect of the solution and surrounding rocks”

      Sounds ‘sciencey’ but, again, is just pseudoscientific bafflegab. Ocean chemistry experts fully appreciate seawater is vastly different to freshwater. Neutral pH is only brought up as a strawman argument, or “Look Squirell!” distraction. Acidification refers to the process of increasing the concentration of hydrogen ions dissolved in a solution. Contrarians typically react to the scary connotations. OA is scary.

      Nor does your troll understand the buffering capacity of the oceans. We don’t expect the dissolution of calcium carbonate forms to buffer (act against) the acidification of the oceans, not only because of complicated calculations, but because they haven’t done so in the past when atmospheric increased in a geologically-rapid manner. See the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) for instance – when the oceans acidified.

      Although personally irritating, I wouldn’t waste too much time with the troll. I have a number of posts coming up at SkS over the next 2-3 months which deal with the real-world effects of OA (deeply disturbing stuff), and also explain the chemical (silicate) weathering process.

      There is also the repeated extinction of ancient coral throughout Earth’s evolution which highlights the huge threat posed by ocean acidification and ocean warming (mass coral bleaching).

      One last thing; have you seen the photo in this SkS post?: Frequently Asked Questions About Ocean Acidification. That little critter is a cornerstone of the Antarctic food web, and it is already being affected by corrosive seawater. OA is happening today bro. It’s going to be bad. How bad? Don’t yet know.

        1. I deliberately didn’t point anyone to the thread – because Deltoid is a bit inclined to be a zoo, and that goes for that thread in particular (I’m not claiming that I’m not also responsible for the, um, tone, I’ll add.)

          But, yeah, people just making stuff up based on a little knowledge from years ago and bandying around outrageous allegations (Merchants of Doubt is ‘an anti-Semitic pamphlet’! – a new low even by the standards of Denial) really p*sses me off

          1. Ah, held up in moderation when there’s very little ‘moderation’ around! I assume it’s just a ‘new poster’ thing. (I get the same thing at Tamino’s.) The trouble is if it does appear it’ll be on the thread timeline where you originally posted it, so will be lost in the bunfight. I’ll keep an eye out, though.

            I think Tim had a health issue last year and during it the blog slipped away from him a bit.

    1. More intense floods & droughts are a robust expectation in a warming world. It will become ever worse the warmer the Earth gets. We’re working on a post and animation for that too at SkS. It’s not clear to most people why this should be so, but when the fundamentals are understood, I think the penny will drop.

      1. l
        Lets hope so :).

        Have just finished reading ‘the Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. No not climate tipping points, but societal tipping points – when an idea catches hold and change can occur. What must underlie all societal change is a bedrock belief that change is possible, and that people can change their behaviour, or beliefs, in the face of the right kind of impetus.

        Another important factor is understanding our world view, and that of our target audience. A multimedia campaign may well fail where a simple person to person conversation multiplied many times succeeds – or a quirky symbol catches peoples attention and directs them to investigate further. The way we relate to new information, and to each other, require us to frame our information of such, in innovative and idiosyncratic ways. Who would have have thought that Hair Saloons for example were the most effective vehicle for informing women on the benefits of breast cancer screening.

        Keep up the good work Rob. I read all your postings with much interest.

      2. What some need to consider is this: Australia is a wealthy first-world nation and has emerged from the GFC about the least-scathed of any such nations – partly due to its resource economy and trade with China, and partly due to being fortunate enough to have genuine Keynesians in charge when the crisis hit.

        Now there’s another flood disaster in Queensland. Hard on the heels of the last one. The odds of this happening in a non-warming world are ludicrously low. And no amount of highly-selective ‘I’m not looking’ ‘skepticism’ [*cough*] can save you from knowing that elementary physics means that these events must increase, both in intensity and frequency.

        Have the insurance issues been resolved from the last flood? Have the infrastucture issues? What now happens to premiums? Disaster levies? (Speaking of the other type of levy, as I type it appears that the levee in Maryborough is not going to be high enough to stop the town from being inundated.) Who’s going to pay for the new-improved disaster-proofing infrastructure?

        OK – so what happens if this happens again in 1, 2, 3, 5 years? Shortly after the remainder of the unburnt sections of Australia have been reduced to cinders in another 1 in 50 or 100 or 1000 year heatwave a few years after the last?

        OK – that’s Australia. We can sort of afford it. Probably. For now. What does a succession of such climate disasters mean for non-wealthy nations?

        Misery? Chaos? Failed states?

        Where will those people then attempt to escape to?

        Seriously, the notion that the ‘conservative’ position on all this is to defy the CSIRO, the BoM, the security establishment, and all the world’s academies of science and deny the problem out of existence is just about the blackest joke humanity has ever played on itself.

        They’ve already distorted the future irretrievably. We have to fight now to stop them twisting it out of shape altogether.

        1. Ah – how topical – Peter Sinclair’s latest for the Yale Forum.

          If Jeff Masters is the new face of the insidious global Commun!st plot – or Katherine Hayhoe, for that matter – then all we can do is submit to our new overlords as they’re the most brilliantly manipulative actors I’ve ever seen.

          That’s the other great black joke – those two monsters are part of the monumental and ruthless conspiracy – but this one doesn’t exist!

        2. Perhaps some folks at the Murdoch Press are quitters, too?*

          All emergency personnel are descending on Bundaberg as an unexpected wall of water descends on the town.

          Additional swiftwater rescue and emergency choppers have been despatched to the city to help evacuate residents from areas at risk.

          Mr Newman said the situation in the city was extremely serious because of a record flood.

          He said the velocity of the water flowing through north Bundaberg meant houses could be swept from their stumps.

          “Some estimates have put it at 40 knots,” he said.

          “The velocity of the water, and the rises in the water levels, means that literally houses, particularly in north Bundaberg, and maybe other locations, could be swept away.”

          Mr Newman said level of the Burnett River was at nine metres, and rising.

          Authorities are saying the Burnett River is expected to peak above 9.15m during late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
          Flooods Bundaberg rooftop rescue

          “These are record floods. We are in uncharted territories,” Mr Newman said.

          He said more than 2000 properties were affected in Bundaberg, and that had impacted on thousands of people.

          Mandatory evacuation orders were issued earlier on Monday for people in north Bundaberg, and some other low-lying parts of the city.

          Mr Newman said people should not risk their lives.

          “If it is safe for you to do so, get out now,” he said.

          Campbell Newman: alarmist! But, never mind: it’s all just an amazing freakin’ coincidence…

          (*Fans of Prince Rupert and Everything He’s Doing for Climate Science [*Cough*] need not despair: this sure won’t have any affect on his minions at The Oz – except, maybe, to make them even more feral, but that’s probably impossible now anyway…)

        3. BILLIONS of dollars worth of repairs completed on Queensland’s damaged public infrastructure after the 2010-11 floods will have to be redone.

          And now there’s another major bunfight over who pays.

          Further to my comments above – people who just can’t imagine how a ‘mere’ 2C warming could cause large chunks of civilization to collapse in a heap need only look to the outcome of QLD’s latest round of devastating floods.

          Since some people can apparently only see the world from the perspective of their hip-pockets here’s a simple message – the future: you can’t afford it!

          And this is Australia – a wealthy first-world nation – imagine the impact on a third-world nation, or even a probably-not-really-a-first-world-nation-anymore, like Britain.

            1. “I reckon it’s pretty amazing to see the Fitzroy in flood again for the third or fourth time in the last five years,” …

              … And I thought that Andy assured us all that Global Warming had stopped 16 years ago? 😉
              What if Andy is wrong and the darn energy imbalance is continuing to heat the planet? What if these storms are the new normal? Can people afford to rebuild year after year? Will they want to hold somebody accountable for the loss of their property? Sure Andy will know the answer…

            2. Thomas – but contrarians never explain why sea level keeps on rising. The glacial meltwater contribution to sea level rise has been revised downwards due to better gravity-based estimates, so why does sea level continue to rise if global warming has stopped?

              Furthermore, why does the ocean heat content appear to have grown in the last 16 years, compared to the previous 16? That suggests a planet that is moving further from equilibrium. Yes, I know the OHC data prior to ARGO is less robust, but hey that’s what the observations indicate.

            3. I have to admit that I laughed sufficiently loudly to startle the rest of the household when Gina Rinehart appeared…

              I’ll point out that Harper significantly styled himself on John Howard. Ah, the black jokes that we wealthy former colonies play on ourselves… and everyone else, sadly…

            4. Thomas, I do have some answers for you.
              If you have insured your house against a natural disaster, whether it be a flood or an earthquake, the insurance company will do their utmost. to pay you not a penny,

              They will commission Science reports from the Potsdam Institute or whichever fashion house of modernist thought fits their agenda, but when it comes to paying out, they won’t.

              I can introduce you to hundreds of ChCh residents who will tell you this.

            5. Yep Andy, that’s right. Of cause Chch and the “new normal” of flood ridden or fire ridden or ocean inundation threatened areas are two entirely different agendas.
              While I agree with your lament over the unacceptable delays and the general attitude of the insurance companies in Chch, I have full sympathy with them if they withdraw future coverage from areas where flooding is not a 1/100 years risk but now a regular occurrence. Otherwise – as insurance companies don’t print the money they pay out – we will all pay for the folly of few and the folly of councils and governments to not prevent people from investing in hopeless properties as we progress through the predictable and predicted phases of the AGW disasters to come…
              And rather than pointing to insurance companies, why don’t we take the fossil fuel industry to task? Tobacco has shown us the way!

  9. Tickets for the Monckton tour are now available at Ticketek:

    [Link snipped. Nice try. GR]

    Only $20, roll up roll up get your tickets ‘ere.
    One off chance to see ‘is Lordship. roll up roll up

    1. Andy S – regarding the Christchurch earthquakes. The moment that 2nd earthquake struck, I thought that there was no way insurance companies, or the Government was ever going to be able cover the costs. Who would have thought to squirrel away sufficient funds to cover that eventuality, and how would have been justified beforehand anyway?

      There is a precedent for this – look at New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Lots of poor people, but many of those that were insured haven’t seen a dime from their insurance companies. No doubt a similar scenario will play out in New York in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. The well-heeled, or well-connected, will be paid up, but those that can least afford to battle with their insurers in a courtroom, will lose out.

      1. The money isn’t squirreled away, it is covered by reinsurance companies like Munich Re.

        The retail insurers buy insurance themselves from reinsurance.

        The insurance companies are playing hardball. I am sure they have the money, but it is in their interests not to pay out.

        1. The Re-Insurers don’t print money either. Their ability to pay depends on the overall ratio of premiums paid in to damages paid out.
          As we go forward on the AGW path they will deny coverage for places that are no longer habitable with acceptable risks.

          As it is, Munich Re is actively listening to Climate Scientists and participating in efforts to build a sustainable future. I am sure they would have a word or two to offer to the denier league. The Munich-Re website makes for an interesting read indeed, especially perhaps for you!

          1. The re-insurers are able to pay. They have a contract to pay us, or at least the retail insurers do.

            If they don’t pay, they get taken to court. This process is already beginning, for those that can afford the legal costs.

            “climate change”, by the way, has nothing to do with it.

            1. Re-insurers must pay for contracts that they have signed as in Chch earthquake etc.
              But, if the risk profile for properties or whole areas changes, for example due to changes in our climate or sea level, then they will deny to offer renewal of coverage to insurance companies who then will deny renewal to their clients.
              Contracts between you and the insurance companies are subject to annual renewal as you know.

            2. Some insurance companies are repairing ChCh homes below the high water mark, because they don’t want to pay out.
              The resulting house will be uninsurable.

              Don’t think that there is any good will between home owners and insurance companies in ChCh.

              Most of us want to get the hell out of there. It is not by choice that people stay.

              Insurance companies are criminals, in my view

            3. Oh, and to add to this: Depending on the law of the country where the insured resides, insurance companies can cancel the policy even during the contract year if there is a material change in the risk associated with the insured property. For example if evidence emerges that an insured property is in-fact located in a newly discovered hazard area you might get a cancellation letter in the mail by the insurance company.

              Once more, the Tobacco precedent is interesting where states went after the companies to recoup health cost associated with consumption of Tobacco as you know.

              I firmly believe that the question of insurability of properties located in areas at-risk from climate change and sea level rise will wipe the any hope of rescue from reality through denial of science from the faces of the denileraty in the future… And those who still think its not happening can happily put their money where their mouth is and offer insurance to those rejected by the science informed companies such as Munich-Re and the vast majority of that market.

            4. Since NZ is on the boundary of a tectonic plate, and the Alpine Fault is overdue for a quake, it is fair to say that NZ would basically be uninsurable, and therefore a total economic loss.

              Thomas, you will no doubt be very pleased to hear that

            5. It would be hard to imagine that NZ as such was deemed non-insurable and most certainly I would be horrified at such an outcome.

              But the vast majority of people would appreciate if their insurance premiums remained affordable because properties that willingly and knowingly accept future high risk propositions such as developments in future ocean inundation areas or known wild fire risk zones are excluded from coverage or made to pay premiums commensurate to their risk profile.
              If health or life insurers for example would treat smokers at the same rate as non-smokers then those making healthy choices would subsidize those who don’t. I am sure you would agree that that would be a bad idea.
              But we digress. The main fact is that big insurance companies are taking climate science very seriously indeed and are well aware of the economic burden AGW is and will be placing on us all.

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