Prat watch #7: the unbearable rightness of being wrong

The carefully cultivated cocoon of ignorance over at New Zealand’s own tiny corner of the climate crank echo chamber has been glinting in the harsh light of reality in recent weeks, as a number of climate realists (that is, people who have a realistic appreciation of what climate science is all about, not cranks attempting to purloin that term) have taken to bringing uncomfortable facts to the commentary under Richard Treadgold‘s strange little posts. It’s been a most amusing sight, watching the blizzard of misdirection and misunderstanding attempting to counter persistent reality. But Treadgold, bless his possum-merino socks, is undaunted and recently addressed this year’s dramatic Arctic sea ice melt with the determined insouciance of one terminally disconnected from reality.

Why does everyone feel guilty about the disappearance of the Arctic ice? All it proves is a bit of warming; it most certainly does not prove a human cause for that warming.

As seasoned Treadgold watchers might expect, it gets worse…

If people only stopped for a moment and thought clearly, they would see no evidence in the mere melting ice of a human hand warming it.

Stopping for a moment, and thinking clearly, we can see that there is clear evidence of rapid warming in the Arctic region, accompanied by a strong decline in the surface area, extent and volume of the sea ice, at a time when the planet as a whole is warming because of a rapid build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Arctic is expected to warm rapidly — that’s what the modelling suggests, and that’s what the observations show. However, Treadgold routinely denies that there’s been any global warming at all for the last 15 years — a trope of his I conclusively dealt with in these two posts earlier this year. To meet the need for some sort of internal consistency in his world view he therefore has to deny the obvious.

But obvious to the rest of us it is, as this recent paper by Notz and Marotzke demonstrates:

The most likely explanation for the linear trend [in sea ice decline] during the satellite era from 1979 onwards is the almost linear increase in CO2 concentration during that period.

Never mind. Treadgold now dons his industrial grade blinkers/blinders/welders goggles/rose-tinted glasses:

For if such evidence was detectable at the North Pole, it would be equally detectable at the South. But in Antarctica, evidence of human warming is so completely absent that the place is cooling.

The Antarctic peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. Ice shelves have crumbled and retreated, glacier mass loss has increased, and there are clear signs that the continent as a whole is losing ice mass.

It is true that the majority of Antarctica is not warming as fast as the Arctic, but that comes as no surprise. Models have projected slower warming down south, and the effects of the ozone hole have acted to slow that down even further. But for those who are prepared to look, the reality of warming is all too obvious1.

Finally, what possible harm could it cause? Since it’s happened naturally before, there’s no cause for concern.

And so to Treadgold’s closing paragraph, and the reason I bothered to write this post. Based on his motivated rejection of the evidence, he asserts there’s no cause for concern. This is nonsense of the first order, and here’s why.

The last time there may have been similar amounts of sea ice in the Arctic would have been in the immediate aftermath of the last ice age, about 9,000 years ago, during what’s known as the Holocene climatic optimum. The world was a very different place then, the causes of the ice reduction were different, and there wasn’t much in the way of advanced civilisation around. We can draw no reassurance from the state of the Arctic during the Holocene climatic optimum.

The current reduction in Arctic sea ice should be a matter of grave concern to us all, as this recent guest post from the founder of the Arctic Sea Ice blog argued persuasively2. The ice is acting as a bellwether for the planetary scale changes we have in store — but it’s more than that. It is itself a change in the northern hemisphere climate system, and it is already having impacts on the weather and climate being experienced all round the Arctic and down into the middle latitudes3.

What’s worse, even conservative projections for the likely timescales involved in moving to ice-free summers fall near to or within the 30 year climate commitment4, which means that ice-free summers are — literally — inevitable.

What that means for northern hemisphere climate is currently unknown. There are intriguing hints that Britain’s recent run of dismal wet summers might be related to changes in the Arctic, and recent sharp cold spells in winters in Europe and North America could also be the result of changes in atmospheric dynamics caused by the loss of ice. Unfortunately, the climate models we rely on to peer into future possibilities are not tracking Arctic ice loss well, and therefore can’t offer much help on what this means for the rest of the system.

That’s real uncertainty, and it’s dangerous. No amount of ill-founded and ignorant handwaving by people who reject the basic evidence will make it go away. Treadgold and his ilk, by ignoring the obvious and campaigning on that basis, are helping to make matters worse. For that, history will judge them harshly. I’ll pre-empt history, and express my utter contempt for the hubris that raises ignorance above knowledge, and prefers ideology to evidence.

  1. For a nicely nuanced look at the recent data, see this Eric Steig article at RealClimate. []
  2. And see this Scientific American blog post for more. []
  3. See here for a discussion of what’s going on by Jennifer Francis, a leading researcher in the field. []
  4. The time it takes for the ocean/atmosphere system to reach initial equilibrium after greenhouse gas levels stabilise. []

181 thoughts on “Prat watch #7: the unbearable rightness of being wrong”

  1. Canadian pollster Allan Gregg describes the mind set and ignorance of those wallowing in that thread in a speech he recently made at Carleton University. Here is a quote from that speech:

    we now live in a digital world where there is “evidence” for every and any view one might want to embrace. If I believe the world is flat, the internet now puts me in touch with legions of fellow flat earthers and reams of pseudo science to support that belief. As importantly, if I am so inclined, I never have to be exposed to any contrary views and can find total refuge in my community of flat earthers. The Internet therefore, offers me the opportunity to have a completely closed mind and at one in the same time, fill it full of nonsense disguised as fact. In a brand new way therefore, the internet democratizes not just individual opinion but legitimizes collective ignorance and spreads a bizzaro world of alternative reason. When this occurs, prejudice and bias is reinforced and the authority of real science and evidence is undermined or even more likely, never presented.

    Yes birds of feather, AndyS, Richard C and other deniers love to pat each other on their backs and boast about their nonexistent knowledge of science but are only embarrassing themselves.

    The speech can be found here:

    I wonder if well known deniers Timothy Patterson and Tom Harris were in attendance.

    1. Thanks Ian, that’s a great description of the process that can be seen so clearly around the climate crank web. Much of the activity around the crank web centres on providing their audience with “deniability” – mostly specious lines of argument (like Treadgold’s no warming for 15 years mantra) designed to support their world view.

      It’s beginning to look like there’s no climate disaster big enough to shake their world view…

      1. i agree, Gareth; arguing science with these guys is like moving water with a pitchfork – most of their “arguments” are little better than numerology crossed with glossolalia.

        The combination of willful ignorance and ideological blindness is bad enough, but then add in mathematical incompetence and sheer stupidity and the “conversation” quickly becomes surreal. Some examples –

        Bob Dedekind, NZCSET’s “statistician” regularly gets his powers of 10 confused:

        As Andrew W pointed out below, this should read 0.09°C/decade, not 0.9°C/decade. In the NIWA work everything is per century, here we are talking per decade, it gets confusing sometimes.

        Richard Treadgold opines on the sheer Biblical inevitability of climate disasters:

        But this is Mother Nature. This is God’s will. There’s nothing new here – not for thousands of years. This is life. This is how it goes.

        Here is NZCSET’s “chief scientist” Manfred (Bob) Dedekind again:

        Ignorance is acceptable, Rob. Science progresses steadily, but not all things are known. I haven’t yet seen a proof of what causes these cycles, if you have please let us know.

        But, best of all IMHO was the following observation from Richard Treadgold:

        The sun is the hottest object for miles around… Has the sun magically lost its ability to warm the Earth?

        1. Yep, we know it’s all natural cycles, but we can’t tell you what those natural cycles are. The burden of proof is on you to rigorously counter any imbecility I just pulled out of the air, bearing in mind I’ll only respond using the exact same magical thinking.

  2. This phenomena – ‘I reject your reality, and substitute my own’* – has become epidemic (if not endemic!) on the Right.

    The Epistemic Closure process keeps sealing the bubble tighter and tighter, creating a sort of black hole of Stupid.

    The really scary thing is that this is precisely what the GOP now is – the voice of the bubble – and it’s little wonder that nowhere in the world (except, maybe, Israel) isn’t terrified at the prospect that it might actually gain control of the most powerful nation on Earth.

    Fortunately, despite the Koch billions and the Super-PACs, this is looking less-and-less likely. Certain products are so innately defective they actually can’t be sold, no matter how much cash you throw at them. I find this reassuring.

    *H/T Adam Savage

    1. But John the Babylonians understood that the Earth was hemi-spherical. 🙂 They could also calculate pi to at least 2 significant figures and root 2 to 7 sig figs, amongst many other achievements, that are obviously way beyond the capcity of those who today chose to remain in ignorance. Admittedly they didn’t chisel onto stone, just used clay tablets instead.

  3. This reaffirms Einstein’s claim regarding the infinity of human stupidity.

    Does anyone have a reference to the likely possibility that warming oceans will lead to significant outgassing of CO2?

    Also, can anyone confirm how to convert Gt Carbon to ppm?

  4. I think RT must have reading comprehension problems. He attempts (and fails) to deliver a stinging response to my criticism – Renowden’s foot again finds his mouth – in which he claims:

    He maligns me for saying the ice didn’t melt until winds pushed it away into warmer water.

    Nope. Nowhere in the post above do I mention his mistaken interpretation of NASA’s reports on the August storm that helped the ice reach a new record (a contributing factor, not a sole cause, and never hidden or glossed over by anyone watching the ice this year). Still less did I “malign” him for it.

    I saved my malignity for his vapid grasp of the facts evident in the rest of his post, and his willingness – nay, eagerness – to grasp the wrong end of the stick and beat around the bush with it.

    1. All poor old ReTread needs to understand is that removing an impermeable layer from the surface of a water body enables water to evaporate from that surface.

      Think of pool covers, guys, then ponder again on RT’s post and the monumental pompous idiocy it reveals:

      he asserts that, with the ice gone and the sea surface exposed to the air, “more moisture off the ocean’s surface” will “get into the atmosphere”, making for more violent storms.
      Remarkable. Here’s a geographer who doesn’t know that the amount of water vapour in the air depends on the temperature. I learnt that in high school but somehow he missed it at university.

        1. Frankly I find their idiocy, simply boring in the extreme – I seldom visit their world. I believe it’s on Planet Key. The non-science, the irrationality of argument, the foaming at the mouth, the blather, the inability to put one thought after another, makes one wonder where these people were “educated”. The illogicality is simply astounding. Of the majority of comment one is reminded of that old adage – “well he could chew gum and walk at the same time!”
          I can’t be bothered with them anymore. They will never understand. They have no wish to. They have their little church, and their “faith” would put to shame a fundamentalist of any religion. It’s their evangelicalism that is worrying, however. andy represents the missionary out to spread the good news. A false prophet, if ever there was one. There is little one can do with these sort of people, once lost to “the cause” . I’m not a fan of deprogramming.

          1. andy represents the missionary out to spread the good news

            I have no good news to spread. I am completely 100% pessimistic about the human race.
            We have managed to turn our society from being an optimistic creative one, into a negative, nihilist doom-laden bunch of whiners.

            “Universities” are part of this culture. They and the rotting society they represent all deserve their fate

  5. Dan Kahan has a Letter in the latest Nature Climate Change. Here’s some of it:

    “Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled…”

    “We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare.”

    Kahan is affiliated with the Yale Law School. Chris Mooney at Point of Inquiry has done two podcasts with him that are extended interviews.

    I’ve found it interesting to try to learn from what Kahan has discovered.

    BTW. Converting Gt Carbon to ppm:

    Hansen wrote in his “Game Over” op-ed in the NYTimes that burning the 240 GT in the Alberta Tar Sand deposit would add 120 ppm to the atmosphere. I.e. 2 Gt CO2 = 1 ppm CO2. Although he wrote: “The tar sands contain enough carbon — 240 gigatons — to add 120 p.p.m”. I think he means CO2. In his Target CO2 paper when he discussed what removing CO2 from the air means he wrote: “At $100/tC, the cost of removing 50 ppm of CO2 is ~$10 trillion”, which works out to 2GT CO2 -= 1 ppm.

    Because CO2 added to the atmosphere doesn’t all stay there because a fraction goes into the ocean, and removing an amount from the air won’t reduce the total in the air by exactly that amount because some will come out of the ocean in response, you have to be precise in how you talk about this stuff.

  6. “2GT CO2 -= 1 ppm”

    Thanks David. Are you sure that this is correct? I understood that there is over 750Gt carbon in the atmosphere which is now over 390ppm CO2. So on that basis I would have said 2Gt carbon = 1ppm CO2. We need to double check.

  7. The area of Anarctic sea ice has just set an all-time record:

    The world’s aggregate sea ice coverage has risen, not fallen. That suggests overall cooling of sea and air temperatures on a globally-averaged basis. The much trumpeted reduction in Arctic sea ice coverage is simply a regional effect.

    Tis bi-polar see-sawing is interesting in terms of currents and winds, but not in terms of average temperature levels.

    1. Bull shit.

      Tis bi-polar see-sawing is interesting in terms of currents and winds, but not in terms of average temperature levels.

      You really do not possess the ghost of a clue, do you? This is ‘magic pony’ level stuff you’d fail a high-school assignment for.

    2. Australis, please read at least the first of bill’s links. Then ponder the differences between a polar ocean and a polar continent.

      The behaviour of Antarctic sea ice is fascinating, not because it somehow offsets the situation in the Arctic, but because the processes driving the increase in extent despite ocean warming are complex and interesting.

    3. Actually Australis, an increase in Antarctic sea ice in a global warming scenario was projected around 20 years ago. It’s yet another thing the climate models appear to have correctly predicted.

      The calving of land-based glaciers, and melt, mixes more fresh water into surface waters around the Antarctic continent. This lowers the temperature of surface waters, and results in an increase in sea ice around Antarctica.

      The increased sea ice is an indicator that the continent is shedding substantial amounts of land-based ice. Which is what the satellite-based observations show too.

    4. Further further.

      [Insert Denier’s name here] is typical of the vast majority of fake skeptics about climate science. He really, really isn’t qualified to discuss the subject. But not only does he do so, he tries hard to influence public policy about it. This is why governments worldwide have been so effectively paralyzed — because there are so many voices, speaking so loud, whose influence (on both politicians and the general public) is way out of proportion to their qualifications even to understand, let alone advise, on the subject.

      Exactly. And to see truly moonumental (i.e. both lunar and highly significant!) ignorance, go to RT’s ‘Riposte’ discussion. That these people with their easily-refuted-by-a-high-school-text-book level howlers feel they may claim superior knowledge to the actually-qualified and extensively trained is truly astonishing! But less so if you’ve been following the debate…

  8. Treadgold has written an update to his little “riposte”, which is, well, words almost fail me, but… breathtaking for the hubris of ignorance on display. He accuses a geography professor of making two “howlers”, apparently unaware that the howlers are his own. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to spot his mistakes, but I’ll make one confident prediction. None of his regular commenters will point out his mistakes…

    1. Those guys are comedy gold! Seriously, I’m still laughing.

      And fans of hypocrisy can always check out that multiply-aliased vituperative friend of ours complaining that Rob T is a big meanie who’s deliberately attempting to disrupt their learned discourse. As Rob says, he learned it all from ‘Andy, who has taught me all that I know about blogging.’

      Let’s face it, they’re all flogging a dead dog (sic: h/t ‘Flipper’!)

  9. Gareth, there’s a problem with this Notz & Marotz attribution:

    The most likely explanation for the linear trend [in sea ice decline] during the satellite era from 1979 onwards is the almost linear increase in CO2 concentration during that period.

    What N&M overlook is that without a corresponding DLR increase, that subjective attribution is void.

    The obvious exercise is to compare observed Arctic DLR with say, aCO2 (or all CO2) forcing ising the IPCC’s forcing expression. If there is an Arctic DLR increase, the aGHG component must be separated from the other DLR components: clouds, precipitible water and natural GHGs.

    First the DLR:-

    Figure 8. Annual averages of the downwelling longwave fluxes (W m–2) from 1980 to 2004 for the 60°–90°N region.

    From ‘Aerosol climate effects and air quality impacts from 1980 to 2030′, Menom et al 2008

    Next the separation (DLF = DLR):-

    ‘Changes in the fabric of the Arctic’s greenhouse blanket’ [spring only (MAM) 1979–2005]

    Jennifer A Francis and Elias Hunter

    Table 1. Linear decadal trends in atmospheric and surface parameters for six Arctic seas during spring (MAM) derived from satellite sounder retrievals from 1979 to 2005.

    Parameter (units dec-1) Barents Kara Laptev E. Siberian Chukchi Beaufort
    DLF (W m-2) 6.4 6.4 5.8 8.2 8.7 5.7

    If we take the average DLR per decade trend for the 6 Arctic seas as 6.9 W.m2 1979 to 2005 (2.7 decades), we can compare that to the CO2 forcing using the IPCC expression:

    dF = 5.35 ln(C/Co),

    1979 336.78 Co
    2005 379.80 C

    dF = 5.35 ln(379.80 /336.78)
    dF = 0.6 W.m2
    0.6/2.7 = 0.2 W.m2/decade

    6.9 W.m2/decade observed average Arctic Ocean DLR
    0.2 W.m2/decade calculated CO2 forcing using IPCC expression

    Total CO2 forcing only contributes 2.9% (0.029) of the measured average Arctic Ocean DLR.

    We then have to separate that 0.029 CO2 contribution into a natural : anthropogenic ratio. Using the Skeptical Science post figure linked below, the ratio seems to be about 96.2 : 3.8 (natural : anthropogenic).

    So that reduces the 0.029 total CO2 contribution to 0.001 anthropogenic (0.029*0.038) and the forcing to 0.0002 W.m2 (0.001*0.2) .

    6.9 W.m2/decade observed average Arctic Ocean DLR
    0.0002 W.m2/decade anthropogenic CO2 forcing (0.00003 or 0.003%)

    So how can CO2 be the “most likely explanation” for Arctic SIE decline?

    Apart from all that, an SIE oceanic/ENSO forcing attribution was made years ago.

    1. So how can CO2 be the “most likely explanation” for Arctic SIE decline?

      The most likely explanation, Dick, is that:

      a. the paper’s authors know a lot more than you do about this subject, and

      b. unlike yourself, they are not relying on garbled information from fake-skeptic amateurs like Tallbloke and Bishop Hill.

    2. So how can CO2 be the “most likely explanation” for Arctic SIE decline?

      Because it is, at a planetary scale, responsible for the accumulation of heat in the atmosphere/ocean climate system. As I’m sure you understand, the atmosphere and oceans work as a heat engine, moving energy from the tropics polewards, where it radiates out to space. Accumulating CO2 in the atmosphere has increased the amount of heat available to flow polewards, and we see that expressed as a reduction in the volume/extent/area of sea ice (and in mass loss on Greenland, general Arctic warming etc).

      As you note, ocean warming has been playing a key role in ice loss, but the overall Arctic energy budget is complex and multifactorial and so your thoughts on downwelling radiation make no sense without a consideration of all the various items in the budget – ocean currents, atmospheric transport, albedo etc etc.

      1. >”Because it is, at a planetary scale, responsible for the accumulation of heat in the atmosphere/ocean climate system”

        There’s no physical mechanism for atmospheric gasses heating the ocean and neither is there observed DLR forcing (which includes CO2) outside the Arctic to produce the heat (see below), nor is there observational evidence of accumulating heat mid-troposphere (see below)

        >”Accumulating CO2 in the atmosphere has increased the amount of heat available to flow polewards”

        In a similar but ground based study to Francis and Hunter, Gero and Turner found no annual DLR increase at U.S. Southern Great Plains:-

        Neither is there observational evidence of heat accumulating mid-troposphere:-

        1. Hmmm – I believe we’ve been here before, RC2. The observed accumulation of energy in the climate system is what we expect from well-established theory. If you believe you have an alternative explanation for all of the observations that show heat accumulating in the system, and that is more powerful than our current understanding, then I urge you to write it up in a scientific paper, submit it to peer review at a respected journal, and see how you get on.

          In the meantime, you’ll forgive me if I accept the mainstream view, based as it is on 150 years of scientific research, and accepted by all but a tiny fringe group of “physics deniers”. I do hope you’re not one of those, Richard.

          1. >”…what we expect from well-established theory”

            What we expect from well established theory must then be matched by observational evidence to validate the theory. The DLR and mid-troposphere observations don’t support the theory.

            >”I urge you to write it up in a scientific paper, submit it to peer review at a respected journal”

            With respect to ocean heating, there’s no atmosphere => ocean mechanism presented by the IPCC, neither do they cite any papers of the kind you require of me. Neither does Dr James Hansen of NASA or Drs Meehl and Trenberth of NCAR detail a mechanism so why should I publish anything contrary?

            But the Arctic SIE ocean/ENSO forcing attribution is already documented, driven by natural cycles, predominantly AMO and AO. Just do a Google Scholar search arctic+sea+ice+ENSO then see this 2006 AMS presentation ‘Causes of Changes in Arctic Sea Ice’ by Dr Wieslaw Maslowski:-


            From the presentation:-


            2. Combined atmospheric forcing (winds, advected heat,
            radiative flux) can explain only ~50% of sea ice extent
            variability (Francis et al., 2005)

            Since atmospheric forcing can explain only ~50% of the
            recent sea ice melt the remaining forcing must originate from
            the ocean

            Pacific Water forcing of sea ice in the western Arctic Ocean

            > Increased northward heat flux off the Chukchi Shelf coincides with the sea ice retreat in the 2000s
            > Oceanic forcing can explain ~60% of sea ice melt (both extent and thickness) in the western Arctic Ocean


            Up to 60% of recent decrease of sea ice in the Western Arctic can be due to oceanic forcing:

            > northward inflow of Pacific Water increased inflow of warmer water
            > Less ice allows more solar absorption, which leads to warmer ocean, which in turn will melt more sea ice (the so-called ice-albedo feedback)

            The increased heat fluxes via Pacific/Atlantic Water explain the lack of correlation between sea ice and atmospheric forcing in the 2000s

            Where’s the anthropogenic attribution?

            1. Oh dear. You really don’t get it, do you? To persuade people that your arguments have merit, you have to make them in the right arena. That’s the peer-reviewed literature, not lengthy comments on blogs. Until you do that, you’re just another fringe voice claiming that everybody else has got it all wrong.

              As for Maslowski, his study says nothing about anthropogenic attribution because that’s not what it’s about. His high resolution sea ice/Arctic ocean model allows him to look at the effects of warm water influxes, and he finds that this allows him to better account for recent ice volume losses. He’s looking at the Arctic energy budget, and pointing out that if you don’t account for ocean warming you can’t get it right. (Maslowski’s views on the future of Arctic sea ice have been covered several times at HT (he expects the decline to be much steeper than most, based on his modelling), and I’ve corresponded with him on the subject. Nice guy, very helpful.)

              You might ponder where the heat that warmed the ocean that melted the ice came from. Hint: see my earlier comment about the climate system as heat engine.

              Your stuff about ENSO/AMO etc is just handwaving. It has little or no support in the literature (and in fact is specifically rejected by the Notz and Marotzke paper I referenced above and which you don’t like).

            2. >”You might ponder where the heat that warmed the ocean that melted the ice came from”

              Solar activity:-


              >”Your stuff about ENSO/AMO etc is just handwaving. It has little or no support in the literature”

              ”Recent Arctic Sea Ice Variability: Connections to the Arctic Oscillation and the ENSO’

              Jiping Liu, Judith A. Curry and Yongyun Hu


              ‘The Influence of Atmosphere-Ocean Teleconnections on Western Arctic Sea Ice and Surface Air Temperature’

              Ballinger, Thomas Justin


              Contrary to previous studies, a multidecadal teleconnection presence, in the form of the seasonally-composed (winter, spring and summer) Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), is found to be the initial predictor for ten of the longitudes. The AMO generally explains an increasing amount of the variance across the study (r2 = 0.41) of the poleward ice retreats to a longitude of approximately 146.05°W (L146) before it decays. In fact, the AMO combined with other multi-seasonal teleconnection predictors, most notably AO/NAO in spring, accounts for approximately half of the explained variance for L151, L146 and L141 sea ice longitudes. A similar pattern with weaker r2 values persists for the summer-only teleconnection and sea ice analysis. Barrow annual SATs are more robust than Uelen in summer and annually, but not during the seasonal analysis. The most robust temperature returns occur in the annual analysis where the AMO explains only a slight portion of the explained variance (r2 = 0.19) in conjunction with the PDO (r2 = 0.11), though these connections pale in comparison to the aforementioned sea ice studies.

              ‘Barents Sea multidecadal variability’

              S Levitus, G Matishov, D Seidov, I Smolyar

              We present area-averaged time series of temperature for the 100–150 m depth layer of the Barents Sea from 1900 through 2006. This record is dominated by multidecadal variability on the order of 4°C which is correlated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation Index.


            3. Come on Richard, you can do better than this. Are you saying that recent warming is down to changes in solar activity – linking some blogger’s unreferenced and unexplained chart? You’re straying a long way into crank territory there…

              Do ENSO and AMO have impacts on sea ice? Perhaps, but they can’t be used to explain the decline in sea ice volume & extent over the last 20 years. They are patterns overlaid on the steadily rising trend of heat accumulation – they cannot themselves be responsible for that accumulation.

            4. You asked me to ponder where the oceanic heat came from which I assume you mean to be the sudden El Nino West Arctic Ocean influx 1997/98 followed by the ice/albedo feedback (as per Maslowski) that set off the recent SIE declime.

              But to find the original source of the heat transported to the West Arctic Ocean by currents and oscillations requires a type of study like this:-

              ‘Coupled Response of Global Climate to Solar Cycle Forcing’
              Yafang Zhong


              Page 14:-

              “Meanwhile in North Pacific, the solar signals propagate along the subtropical gyre. Negative anomalies emerge with Kuroshio extension at lag 25-year (fig. 13c). They start
              to travel northeastward, and turn southward at lag 30-year (fig. 13d) after bumping onto the eastern boundary. ”

              The “solar signals” originate from cycles described page 4:-

              “The appreciable role of solar forcing is most clear in upper 450-meter ocean heat content in case of Gleissberg cycle. The correlation between Gleissberg cycle and HC450 is high up to .6, in other word, 36% of total variance is attributable to solar forcing. This fairly high correlation is a hint for a plausible role of slow solar variations in ocean-atmosphere coupled system.”



              Shahinaz M. Yousef


              From the abstract:-

              “The Solar Wolf-Gleissberg cycle stimulate solar forcing on terrestrial phenomena’s as evident from the pattern of Global temperature (both air and ocean temperatures). Solar Wolf- Gleissberg periodicity is marked in a wide range of terrestrial evidences since millions of years and is still at work. It is found that climatic fluctuations are induced at the turning points of such cycles.”

              Fig 13: a) Eleven yr. running means of the annual sunspot number (i.e Wolf-Gleissberg cycle) and mean global mean sea surface temperature shown as departures from the 1951-80) average in units of 0.01k (lower light curve). Heavy curves are least squares 7th degree polynomial fits to the data. b) Same as (a) for the three major basins ( after Reid 2000).
              Note the striking control of the solar Wolf- Gleissberg cycle on SST of major oceans as well as global mean SST.

              Fig 14 : The effect of Wolf- Gleissberg cycle (continuous line)on the modulation of El Nino frequency(broken line) for more than 300 years.

              The solar cycles are the explanation of recent ocean heat accumulation AND the explanation of El Nino modulation, a large amplitude occurrence of which set off the recent Arctic SIE decline.

            5. Dear me. You are dredging the barrel, aren’t you? One 12 year old paper from Egypt and another that finds a tenuous correlation (36% of variance explained) in one Pacific Ocean metric.

              None of this is in any way persuasive, Richard. I’m afraid it’s not a good look for your credibility. You might want to start with a basic climate text, and try to understand some of the basic physics involved. If that sounds harsh, I’m sorry. But really, life is too short to waste trying to provide you with an education you seem unprepared to provide for yourself. If you put half the energy into reading real science that you seem to put into hunting around the crank web, you’d be far better placed to argue the science of climate.

            6. I challenge you Gareth, to produce a correlation of the anthropogenic component of DLR to any climate metric you choose e.g. SAT, mid/upper troposphere AT, SST, OHC, PDO, AMO, ENSO etc that betters Zhong’s Gleissburg cycle/OHC450 correlation of 0.6 or an SAT/PDO+AMO+Sunspot Integral correlation of 0.96.

              The meaningless SAT/CO2 concentration correlation is only 0.4 – 0.44 but concentration alone is useless unless corroborated by empirical observations of DLR. That hasn’t turned out so well (Francis and Hunter, Gero and Turner) but feel free to come up with something yourself

          2. Sorry mate, you don’t get to issue challenges based on your worldview. Your real challenge, as Rob suggests, is to persuade me/us/the world that you have good reason why we should ignore the overwhelming balance of evidence and 150 years of scientific endeavour and do nothing about climate change. For a man with your internet research skills, that should be a doddle. Just remember you have to persuade the experts through the peer-reviewed literature, not just Treadgold, Dedekind and Scrace.

            Do let me know when you’ve done that.

          1. And I’m going to quote myself from that very page.

            Because I’m inclined to suspect, doubtlessly churlishly, this is all just half-digested bafflegab churned up into a sciencey gish-gallop… à la Monckton.

            You may see yourself in the brilliant raiments of some manner of intellectual Emperor, and the CC courtiers might well concur, but absent the willing audience you’re really just embarrassing yourself.

            But – prove me wrong. Publish!

    1. Another gaping flaw in your argument, RC2, is that, if it is not anthropogenic greenhouse warming that is causing the rising temperatures and ice melt, etc, then just where is that surplus AGW heat going?

      You have “double trouble”; not only do you have to find another source of heat (volcanoes / the sun / unicorns), but you also have to magic away the heat trapped by the enhanced greenhouse effect.

      Thus, you have to come up with, not just a huge heat source that everyone else has missed completely, but an equally huge heat sink, also unknown to anyone but you…

      I hope you can see where this is going. If not, it suggests that you may need help with more than just your understanding of physics.

      1. 90 percent of Co2 is produced naturally each year. It constitutes 0.04 percent of the atmosphere. We are currently at only nearly 400 ppm of Co2 in the atmosphere. Historically this is nothing. Now, if you wish to argue that striking a match by a bonfire adds to the heating then you have an argument for the surplus heat. Adding heat is one thing; quantifying its net effect is something else altogether.

        1. You obviously haven’t bothered to understand the science before commenting. I suggest reading Spenser Weart’s book on the history of climate science and then WG1 reports of the AR4 before making a fool of yourself again.

          And 400ppm is very much something, historically. It has never happened before in our history i.e. the last 10,000 years, which is the bit we are interested in.

          1. Hypothetically, even if you completely removed the 10 percent that is produced by humans, the remaining 90 percent, IF it is causing a warming will still be present and affecting our planet.

            1. GIving you the benefit of the doubt for the time being (though you haven’t got off to a promising start), you should appreciate that all of the 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last 150 years is anthropogenic. I suspect you’re confused by the difference between fluxes (the movements of CO2 into and out of sinks) which are large, and the bottom line – the concentration of the gas in the atmosphere, which is what’s left after all the fluxes are taken into account.

            2. Hypothetically, even if you completely removed the 10 percent that is produced by humans, the remaining 90 percent, IF it is causing a warming will still be present and affecting our planet.

              Yes, just as it did before the anthropogenic component was added to the atmosphere.
              Is there any point to this observation?

  10. Just registered to the site after reading it for quite a few months now. One thing I have found with AGW is that you will never win the argument in favour of or against the subject. All you can put forward is empirical evidence or a view; and it is up to the people that view this to decide the credibility or not. From my reading, it is evident that this forum firmly hold the view that AGW is occurring and is causing a threat to our planet and it is quite evident that alternative opinion is not welcome. I would suggest that if this site wishes to gain respect and credibility as a serious climate site perhaps it should focus upon general discussion and debate. Because if you do not allow alternative views then you may as well just post your thoughts without allowing people to reply. I have many opinions on Climate change, but they would be wasted given the hostility shown towards people that are entitled to question the current warming.

    1. At this stage, debate should be centred on what we do to address climate change (adaptation, mitigation, economics, strategies etc), not on whether it exists. The only vaguely credible question left in the scientific debate is “how bad will it get?”

        1. Well done, Andy, that is the best summation of the case for climate change denial – including the side-step and the complete reversal – that I’ve ever seen!

      1. Gareth wrote: ‘The only vaguely credible question left in the scientific debate is “how bad will it get?”’

        Well..that’s a bit peremptory, I think. There are lots of interesting science questions still to be settled. Our understanding of climate is significant but incomplete. There’s still lots of really interesting and important stuff going on… eg two very recent examples (chosen for no better reason than because they were open on the screen in front of me): here’s an interesting new paper on the Earth’s radiation balance, for instance: . Here’s another on interesting links between Atlantic climate and the stratosphere:
        Both papers are interesting and seem to me scientifically significant: neither is really about “how bad will it get.” The overall scale seems pretty well-understood, but within that aggregated, global mean sort of understanding there are still fascinating science questions about how the climate works and about how parts of it interact with each other.

        PS: Makka Pakka definitely the pick of the ITNG cast. Once when I had food poisoning (summer, lunch, salmon) I had nightmares about being trapped with the Pontypines and the Hahoos in one of those surreal vehicles that judder and bounce around. Horrible stuff. Makes me queasy just thinking about it.

        1. There’s certainly loads of fascinating science to be done/being done – a huge amount to learn about the climate system, but at the level our commenter seems to be operating, there really shouldn’t be much debate. We know the direction we’re heading. We shouldn’t be arguing about the signpost, just trying to work out how far our destination might be.

          1. Well Gareth, you are very quick to draw your conclusion about my merits. I introduced myself to the forum by indicating my observations on how opposing views are dealt with and whether or not based on that there would be any real point in getting into that discussion on here. I agree that the climate is changing, and I know that Co2 in the atmosphere is being increased by humans. If I were in complete denial and said that Co2 is not increasing because of humans I would not expect to have a voice here. But I don’t believe that. I am however extremely unsure of the total net effect. You speak about a 40 percent increase in Co2 caused by humans alone in the last 150 years. That MAY be the case ( as we can never say for sure when we talk about empirical evidence). However, is it coincidence that this rise coincides with a change in how the data is sourced; i.e 150 years of recorded data. Is it also coincidence that arctic sea ice melt has suddenly become so catastrophic during an era of satellite imagery. Perhaps, perhaps not. You do not know for sure, nor do I. Furthermore, what is an acceptable level of Co2 in the atmosphere? One that suits you and I for example, or one that perhaps reflects the Carboniferous period, or perhaps the Jurrasic, or even the Cambrian when other animals thrived? And IF Co2 is causing the warming, why is that happening – because Co2 is being released by nearly 7 billion humans into the atmosphere, Co2 that was once in the atmosphere before it was sequested during the Carboniferous period. As for my responsibilities in all of this in reaching the correct destination; I believe we have scant regard for resources and a head in the sand approach to our ever increasing population, of which Co2 is just a by product.

            1. I think you had better go back to the night garden. Yes a burgeoning population is a major worry – but your analysis of the massive increase in GHG’s in the recent past is completely off key. You completely ignore the contribution of humans burning vast quantities of fossil fuels to power a 20th C Western Lifestyle – and yes we do have the empirical evidence. Lots of it. Ever heard of the Keeling Curve?

            2. I’ll echo Macro, and add that it does sound as though you need to get up to speed with what we actually know (not what you might have been told we know, or think we know). I strongly recommend you spend some time with Spencer Weart’s superb history of the science associated with climate: The discovery of global warming. It’s long and detailed, but very well written. It will bring you up to speed with what we understand.

    2. You are entitled to your own opinions, MP, but not your own facts. Anthropogenic global warming has been firmly established by 150 years of scientific observation, experimentation and theory. It is based on standard physics and chemistry, and is consistent with both the paleoclimate record and observations of other bodies in the solar system, including the sun.

      I suggest that you familiarise yourself with the usual “sceptical” memes and not bother repeating them here.

    3. I have many opinions on Climate change, but they would be wasted given the hostility shown towards people that are entitled to question the current warming.

      So what. Everybody has opinions.
      The science is what counts,
      Of course, you could submit your ‘opinion’ to a credible journal and see how it stands up to the accumulative mountain of knowledge that many, many millions of dollars of research has gathered over the past 150 years.
      Or you could just go on the internet and trash that knowledge and then appear offended when it’s pointed out to you that that’s exactly what you are doing.

      1. 150 years, as much as that. Unfortunately here lies the problem. We are bombarding ourselves with physical data which when compared with empirical evidence demonstrates amplified data sets that are not comparable. But we are making comparisons. And this is the basic problem with the climate change debate and the data. You can argue that you have 150 years of data, but you neglect to mention to what this is being compared. Comparing empirical evidence to measured values would be like asking me to work out PI to 200 decimal places in my head and then do it on a computer. There would be errors by me. And there are errors in climate data. As for the future, any climatologist will admit that future modelling is a guess only at what will happen. Should we really be changing the present now for a ‘possible’ future? I think we should, but for the right reasons. Co2 levels are not the right reason. This site or any other site that supports AGW has at their disposal a wealth of information that has been provided to them by climate scientists. It doesn’t by association mean it is correct. It is easy to quote other people’s work and then ask for counter evidence. It’s rather counter productive when the original evidence is very much in doubt and can’t be proved in the first place. There is no evidence because there is no proven physical evidence on your part, only theory. This is why I said in my first post that you will never win the argument over AGW. You can only put forward either empirical evidence or a view. It is not for me to tell you that you are wrong, nor for you to tell me I am wrong.

        1. It is not for me to tell you that you are wrong, nor for you to tell me I am wrong

          You are wrong. Spent less time writing, and more time reading and learning. You are arguing from a position of ignorance.

          The increase in the absorption of longwave (heat) radiation leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, by carbon dioxide, has been measured. This is to be expected given our understanding of physics and the enhanced (increased) Greenhouse Effect.

          Future warming is guaranteed because of the Earth’s continued energy imbalance. It will not warm monotonically, just as it hasn’t throughout the instrumental record.

          And your comment about the carboniferous etc is just plain silly. The Earth has never seen an increase of atmospheric CO2 at a rate faster than present, for at least 300 million years. That’s why the oceans are acidifying at such an alarming rate.

          Overfishing, pollution, eutrophication of coastal waters, ocean acidification, marine heatwaves & mass coral bleaching, ocean de-oxygenation. The oceans are having a hell time at the moment, and this will eventually affect every man,woman and child on the planet. Worse yet, the chemistry of the ocean is being altered such that this depauperate state will linger for many tens of thousands of years – until chemical weathering, and the dissolution of ocean carbonates, can restore alkalinity back to the oceans.

          Please spare us your regurgitated contrarian myths.

          1. So what kind of hell were the oceans experiencing when atmospheric Co2 was 7000ppm then? I suppose none of that Co2 was sequested into the oceans for example and acidified them at that time. Or is acidification of the oceans the new fashion, like global cooling was a few years ago. Why is it that we as people seem to adopt this given right to decide what level of temperature, sea level, glacial extent, ocean acidity, level of Co2 is normal for this planet. Co2 may well be at its highest rate of rise for 300 million years, but 90 percent of that is not anthropogenic, nor is the level of Co2 at an historically high level – far from it. In fact historically, and this is fact, Co2 levels have been 20 times higher than they are now but the global mean temperature was similar to what it is now. This perfectly demonstrates how other drivers cause climate and temperature change. This is a climate fact that you cannot refute. Simply saying that we are adding to the levels of Co2 is not the relevant point here. The relevant point is why are we adding it to the atmosphere. Consider that and we may both find ourselves on the same page.

            1. Makka Pakka – your comment about ocean acidification only underscores your ignorance.

              Ocean acidification only occurs when the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase overwhelms the rate at which it is drawn out of the atmosphere by chemical weathering. Clearly you have not bothered to read even one scientific paper on this topic.

        2. It is not for me to tell you that you are wrong, nor for you to tell me I am wrong.

          Good grief, somebody has invited the balance fairy into the conversation.

          1. Absolutely. You can’t have debate unless you accept the basic fact that nothing is fact about theory or empirical evidence. People on here speak about AGW like it is written in stone and is not for debate. If that is the case it just becomes a one way conversation of rhetoric which I fear is exactly what is happening. There is a lack of balance in the climate change debate that is becoming more and more biased, despite the available data actually becoming less reliable with methods changing and goal posts moving on a regular basis. Many of the public and a few respected climate scientists do not believe that the current warming is anthropogenic.

            1. Let’s get specific, MP – just which “respected climate scientists do not believe that the current warming is anthropogenic.”?

              Otherwise, you’re nothing more than a concern troll spouting meaningless postmodern-ish rhetoric such as:

              You can’t have debate unless you accept the basic fact that nothing is fact about theory or empirical evidence.

              Says who?

            2. You can’t have debate unless you accept the basic fact that nothing is fact about theory or empirical evidence.

              MP you confuse fact and data with proof.

              Science deals with evidence and probabilities. mathematics, logic and philosophy deal in proof.

              There is a lack of balance in the climate change debate ….

              Good, you are catching up. There is indeed an overwhelming imbalance in the evidence weighted toward the existence of AGW.

              …that is becoming more and more biased,

              Nonsense, unless you confuse bias with increasing levels of certainty.

              despite the available data actually becoming less reliable with methods changing and goal posts moving on a regular basis.

              You are embarrassing yourself. Where do you get this from? Whats Up With That? or some other science denying ghetto? Have you any clue at all about how the data is interpreted?

              Many of the public… do not believe that the current warming is anthropogenic.

              Scientists have not been as successful as they might have been at countering ideologically motivated attacks on science.

              and a few respected climate scientists

              Name them and count them. Then ask yourself if are they representative of the field?

              So many PRATTs, so little time.

    4. MP from your comments so far you appear not to be qualified to have opinions on the validity of climate science. Your opinions on this matter can therefore be dismissed out of hand until proven otherwise.

  11. As for Treadgold’s comments about a bit of warming and the disappearance of the sea ice – I believe he is attempting to demonstrate perspective in the same way that I would ask what is the right level of anything on this planet. We go through regular ice epochs which cause regular and predictable changes to our climate, affecting temperature, which has the knock on effect of determining how much sequested Co2 can be held in the oceans. This also changes the level of Ph of the water, which is still to this day alkaline. Before the Industrial revolution the ph of ocean water was 8.2. It is now 8.1. It has been lower than that historically and the rate at which that fall has occurred historically has also been quicker at times. And all this without the influence of human input. Volcanoes increase acidity and rocks free up bases through weathering. When Co2 levels were massive, plants benefited, absorbing the huge levels of Co2. When these died prior to the Carboniferous period the Co2 was sequested into the earth during that process. There is always some part of the ecology system that benefits from either high or low levels of Co2 and also higher or lower levels of acidity; temperature too. Crustaceans are or were here because they are remnants of what still remains an alkaline environment in the oceans. The chalk cliffs of Dover are an example of a previously prolific existence of alkaline lovers. They died, fell to the sea bed, were sequested and then re-exposed during weathering. Like Treadgold may be sorry to see the arctic sea ice decline, I am also sorry that the great barrier reef is disappearing. But I can promise you this, it wasn’t always there, and it won’t be again. And long after we have gone it will come back again. Climate change is a human inconvenience, nothing more and nothing less. So when it comes to perspective people should consider our history before putting their arguments forward.

    The other side of the debate is what we should be doing and why we should be doing it, but for as long as people are banging on about AGW or climate change, the reason why we find ourselves where we do will not be resolved people. AGW is the wrong motive and always has been.

    1. So when it comes to perspective people should consider our history before putting their arguments forward.

      OK, so if the sun were to explode tomorrow, destroying the Earth in the process, that would be OK with you, ‘cos stars have exploded before, and will again?

      Would Earth’s destruction be “a human inconvenience, nothing more and nothing less”?

      1. On a personal level of course it wouldn’t be OK. I have spoken about perspective only, comparisons with our history, not what might happen if our world implodes. What’s your own view on the level of sea ice. What’s a right amount? Climate change is a personal thing. If I lived on the barrier reef and ran a business that did tours I might be a little disgruntled. People in other parts of the world conversely benefit from or simply enjoy a warmer climate.

        1. MP, you should educate yourself re the consequences of climate change – it’s not exactly a lifestyle choice, unless you consider starvation and war to be a choice.

          The core problem with climate change is not sea level rise or biodiversity; it is food supply. We are just barely able to feed the current six-and-a-half billion people on the planet. At 2 degrees hotter, many hundreds of millions are at risk but, with global cooperation and a switch away from meat production (let people eat the grain, not cows), they wouldn’t have to starve.

          At 5 degrees hotter, there are no good options left. What makes this a political and potentially a strategic issue is the fact that the misery will not be equally shared. As rainfall patterns shift, some countries lose most of their best croplands while others come through the change unharmed or even gain new food-growing areas in the sub-Arctic. There is a bitter irony here, for the list of beneficiaries includes most of the countries that industrialised early and caused the problem to grow to its current size.

          There is also huge scope for conflict, including armed conflict, because nobody will sit quietly and watch their children starve when any alternatives remain, including violent ones. Some of those watching their children starve will have the resources and technology to threaten those who still have food (but just enough food).

          The only way to avoid this future, if it can be avoided, is to get greenhouse gas emissions down drastically in the next 10-15 years. But making the deal that would mandate and enforce those deep cuts in emissions, especially the part of the deal that brings the ‘new’ industrialising countries into the effort, is ferociously difficult politically, and there is no guarantee that it will happen in time. If it doesn’t, the next few generations are in for a wild ride.

          1. Rob

            I agree while sea level rise is what the media seems to focus on I agree with Joe Romm that ongoing famine is the biggest concern. Sure NZ will be the among the least directly affected but the overflow from international disruption will result in indirect effects mostly in the form of climate refugees.

            There is theory that the Arab spring was in part caused by increases in the price of staples leading to resentment, civil war and now it looks like possibly war.

            As droughts and floods increasingly occur causing decline in food production we can expect these trends to increase?

    2. Yes, the coccolith deposits, such as the White Cliffs of Dover, prove that the oceans were not corrosive to calcifiers during the Cretaceous Period.

      Which contradicts your claims about high atmospheric CO2 concentrations and ocean acidification.

      Is a penny starting to drop inside your head?

      1. Good point Dapplewater. Many people forget that net calcification in the ocean (calcification that results in CaCO3 accumulation in sediments) is accompanied by release of CO2 to the atmosphere (see our SkS series on OA_is_not_Ok). Thus high atmospheric CO2 levels are, all other things being equal, completely consistent with periods of high net calcification.

        Conversely, CaCO3 dissolution, whether on land or in the ocean, draws down atmospheric CO2.

  12. Rob Taylor October 6, 2012 at 2:41 am
    Let’s get specific, MP – just which “respected climate scientists do not believe that the current warming is anthropogenic.”?

    Otherwise, you’re nothing more than a concern troll spouting meaningless postmodern-ish rhetoric such as:

    You can’t have debate unless you accept the basic fact that nothing is fact about theory or empirical evidence.

    Says who? Your mother?

    Well Rob, for the record, my mother died in 2005. You see, that’s the wonder of the internet. Anyone can say whatever they like to anyone without even attempting to consider the context in which that is said, or how it could be received by the person it is directed at.

    Your extremely offensive comment aside, there are a percentage of the IPCC panel that do not believe AGW is occuring, along with many professors. Go and Google it if you wish to, but you know already. if that makes me some kind of troll for suggesting that this is the case then you do not understand the meaning of the word.

  13. there are a percentage of the IPCC panel that do not believe AGW is occuring, along with many professors

    Come on, MP, don’t be shy, name these luminaries and then we’ll have a look at their claims….

    1. I do find your choice of words interesting. Luminaries – how can a minority of scientists that disagree with the science ever have influence over others and become luminaries. It is a choice of word that in the context of this situation is contradictory at the very least. It is in fact the polar opposite to this. As for their claims? The only claim is that they don’t agree with the majority view that the warming is anthropogenic. What’s to look at exactly? I am not going to name anyone or any site as this will result in a rather contrived accusation that the source is anti AGW. There are already a monotonous amount of people that just quote snippets from their site of choice – one which happens to be pro their view. It’s like ping pong across a table. SkS have a go at WUWT; WUWT has a go at SkS. They are both guilty of childish obfuscation that serves only to cloud and muddy any good points that either site have. I prefer to consider how we have got to where we are in the first place. I am afraid the IPCC was set up around 50 years too late.

  14. Makka, you seem to be a bit confused about the meaning of the term “empirical evidence”. For example, you say:

    Comparing empirical evidence to measured values would be like asking me to work out PI to 200 decimal places in my head and then do it on a computer.

    Measured values are empirical evidence, so your analogy makes no sense. You also say:

    nothing is fact about theory or empirical evidence.

    This demonstrates a lack of understanding of scientific procedure. The hierarchy of scientific understanding goes as follows:
    1. Empirical evidence – data drawn from direct observation or experimentation.
    2. Hypothesis – extrapolation from the empricial evidence to form general rules about the system being observed. Hypotheses can always be tested by making predictions and running experiments to test the predictions.
    3. Theory – once a hypothesis, or group of related hypotheses, has been sufficiently tested and replicated, it forms the basis of theory – that is, the best explanation for a phenomenon for which no alternate hypothesis is equally plausible.
    4. Laws – particular statements based on a theory which can be defined in strict terms, e.g. by mathematical equations. Newton’s Laws of Motion, for example, are specific statements that be used to predict acceleration, inertia etc, based on his theories of gravity and mechanics.

    You’ll notice that the word “fact” does not appear in this list, because science doesn’t deal in “facts”. The common usage of “fact” – as you appear to have used it – means something that cannot be overturned. That is never the case in science, as even scientific laws can be modified or overturned if new evidence means that the theories need to be revised.

    I can suggest some good places to start reading if you want to find out more about the scientific process.

    1. CTG

      Nice definition.

      Explains clearly the difference between a scientific theory, a rigorously test explanation of the observed phenomenon and common usage, which is basically an idea someone had while staring into space.

    2. Hi CTG, good list. Juts a small correction if I may:
      4. Laws: Laws of Nature get established through the observation of patterns, their mathematical description and the validity of the predictions made through these. Newton’s laws of gravity are a great example. To establish a Law of Nature, you do not need a Theory or even a Hypothesis that attempts to explain “why” the laws of nature work in the way they are observed. Newton himself, the scientist extraordinaire he was, famously said – after establishing his laws of gravity – that he would not even attempt to offer any hypothesis to explain why they worked. In fact, even today a satisfactory theory of gravity is still very much a works in progress in Physics and at the focal point where Quantum Mechanics and Relativity rub against each other. Never the less, Newtons laws of Motion and Gravity is all you need to navigate Apollo 11 to the moon landing.

      For the AGW debate the relevance is that you do not need to have a theory covering every possible interaction in the complex climate system to understand and interpret successfully the patterns we observe or to extrapolate these into the future.

      When the denier camp dishes up the “the debate is not over” soup and point to still unresolved matters in our understanding of the climate then they are equally mistaken as a deluded critique of NASA might have been, pointing out that we should not fly to the moon until we united quantum mechanics with gravity….

      To our old deluded “friend” Richard C2 I might say, when he proclaims that there is no mechanism by which the atmosphere can warm the ocean, that he should observe the difference of cooking a pot of water with or without a lid or to spend a night outdoors or inside a greenhouse or to dive with and without a wetsuit and use the “data” he gathers for a meditation on what it means to be warm, stay warm or limit heat loss before polluting this blog site with his pseudo scientific drivel.

      1. Your first 2 paragraphs read quite well. But then you go and spoil it by making personal remarks to what you call the ‘denier’ camp. You then disingenuously place “friend” in brackets when addressing Richard C2.

        Do you honestly expect to be taken seriously when what could be a perfectly civil debate about climate change ultimately gets turned into an attack.

        Meanwhile, my view is that population is the Elephant in the Room. If you all wish to go around collectively patting yourselves on the backs whilst ridiculing anyone that questions AGW and calling them trolls or whichever is the word of choice – denialists in this case – carry on. But you won’t be respected for it; well, other than on here of course.

        Population is the problem with this planet – not Co2. If you or anyone honestly think that the solution to our global problem is reducing Co2, well, I think it speaks for itself.

        Gareth spoke the other day about heading down the right track. I am afraid you are all on the wrong train. And for as long as you all continue to support this intangible threat of climate change or the scientists that spoke of the warming in the first place, the real issue will remain un-addressed and will never feature in policy.

        Talk of AGW serves only to obfuscate from the real problem.

        If you honestly think that solving the global Co2 problem is the solution, and the government asking me to pay green taxes is a solution then I would suggest to you (not tell you) that your concerns are misplaced.

        The horse has already bolted. You ( AGW supporters in general) are just trying in vain to clear up a by product of the human race. I prefer to talk about why the mess is there in the first place. And if there is no place for that on here I will go on my merry way and dicuss it with people who can see beyond the end of their noses’.

        1. Makka Pakka – I’m sure there are plenty of places on the internet where your pointless pontification is appreciated – this isn’t one of them.

          I’m sure if you find some blog, where the locals are sufficiently ignorant about science, and about climate science in particular, your comments might come across as sciencey-sounding.

          And the tone trolling is just old.

  15. Oh my, a concern troll, how unusual.

    In an argument (usually a political debate), a concern troll is someone who is on one side of the discussion, but pretends to be a supporter of the other side with “concerns”. The idea behind this is that your opponents will take your arguments more seriously if they think you’re an ally. Concern trolls who use fake identities are sometimes known as sockpuppets.

  16. Listen guys, my days of being on the school playground are well and truly over. I didn’t come here to trade insults. Any answers on our population? Of course not. Speaks volumes.

    And what is this obsession with trolls.

    I offer my view in good faith, and what I say is my honest opinion.

    1. The reason we think you are a troll is because we do not believe you came here in good faith. Your largely incoherent ramblings and unsubstantiated assertions lead us to this conclusion. You are not the first and your comments are textbook troll.

      However, the one point you have made that can be debated is the role of population growth as a contributing factor to AGW. Yes it is 7 billion people producing X tonnes of GHGs each is more than 1-2 billion people producing the same.

      What to do about it:

      Promote the social and economic independence of women through education, and equal economic opportunities
      Reduce poverty and increase social and economic security for all.
      Ensure the safe and economical secure and dignified retirement for all
      Free contraception and contraception advice for all and from an early age.


      1. Any other ideas?

        Well, many years ago, I heard a woman doctor (unusual in those days) suggest that all males be vasectomised at puberty, with the operation reversed when they partnered up and wanted to start a family.

        Needless to say, both partners would have to agree, which would go along way to empowering women as well.

        1. I have thought about that to, but it is my understanding that the snip is not always reversible.

          Besides I am loath to resort to any form of compulsion with respect to peoples’ bodies.

          Mind you as a teenager in the 70s having this option, assuming reversibility, may have prevented a few sleepless nights.

      2. Anyothers: Implicit in your list would be to educate people out of religious denial of reality too. We owe much of the masses inability to organize their lives according to the reality of life to the religion memes which constantly obfuscate reality with the haze of wishful thinking and such irresponsible attitudes as maximizing the number of children as some form of religious duty.

        But to “Bum ChackaLakkalakka…..” I should add that unless we want to accept a catastrophic de-population of Earth as a necessary evil (I don’t) then we must press forward with technology that can make our civilization sustain itself. This will need to combine demand reduction and low carbon technologies alike. Both will need to be supported by a legislative framework that mandates these as otherwise we will burn the last of the accessible oil, gas and coal because the short term profit or pleasure in doing so will undoubtedly weigh higher in too many people’s and company’s decision making tree than the survival of civilization as such in the time of their descendents, even as little as one or two generations ahead.

      3. Look, there is nothing wrong with pointing out what has happened historically with our climate or the levels of Co2. It does not make me a troll to suggest that what is occuring now has happened before – I am entitled to say that. Yes, Co2 is a greenhouse gas. But we have been here before at much higher levels and with not a human on the planet. Why are we trying to limit the level of Co2 in the air now. Why do you or anyone think that it is their given right to do that. Because it suits you as a human? The trees that previously relished a Co2 filled atmosphere are all being felled to make way for us. It’s all our fault. And it all comes down to space and being able to fit all those people on the planet.

        As for population, I don’t have an answer to how we address that problem. But I can assure you that for as long as the policymakers are focusing their attention elsewhere, i.e carbon reduction, another day passes where the issue goes unaddressed. You must surely all see that Co2 is just a convenient by product that allows our governments to introduce green policies. In the UK, many of the coal powered stations are being forced to close under EU regulations for reduced carbon emmissions. All at a time when we are trying to find alternatives for the current shortfall in energy needs. The effect of this is that gas will have to be imported at a vastly increased cost, not to mention the cost of transporting it here and the carbon footprint of doing it. In the absence of sustainable alternatives it is madness that will cause blackouts in the UK and force the consumer to pay more money for the gas. And all because of the idea of AGW. First it was global cooling, then we had acid rain, then we had AGW, now we have just climate change. I for one am fed up with these constant changes in direction and the financial position that we find ourselves in as a result of it.

        1. Makka –“Why are we trying to limit the level of Co2 in the air now. Why do you or anyone think that it is their given right to do that.”

          = trolling. It has already been explained to you that rapid increases in atmospheric CO2 acidify the oceans. Ocean acidification, hand-in-hand with ocean warming will destroy much marine life.

          Ocean acidification is a recurrent feature of many of Earth’s major extinction events, and now we humans are increasing the CO2 content of the atmosphere faster than has ever happened in the last 300 million years.

          The implications for present-day marine life are dire. In fact we can already see the effects of extraordinary coastal acidification along the Pacific coast of North America – oyster larvae have been dissolving and dying for the last 5-6 years. Mussels, oysters, barnacles etc are being killed en masse on Tatoosh Island, off the coast of Washingston state in the USA.

          Your trolling here, will be a waste of your time – there are plenty of knowledgeable people here to set readers straight on the scientific facts of global warming/climate change.

    2. What you have to understand Maaka is that although there are 7 B + people on this earth – not all of them contribute equally to the rapidly increasing CO2 levels. The culprits are all in developed and developing countries bar Cuba. The want of a lifestyle powered by fossil fuels is what is driving AGW and sooner – rather than later – if we wish to continue as a species we will have to deal with that.

      1. I understand that not everyone contributes equally to the net total of emmitted Co2. I am fully aware of the kw per capita that various countries and their population already draw – the US being the worst at around 11kw per day I believe and many third world countries being around 3kw. The logistics for finding the additional energy requirements for the population that we currently have are immense. You would need to build a new nuclear power station every day of the week for years just to offset the current shortfall. If we can invest billions in the LHC just to understand our beginnings we can sure as hell invest more money into realistic energy production. Nuclear is the only way forward and the sooner we get to grips with fusion reactions, the better.

        Finally, you are absolutely right about the wants of lifestyle. But threatening people with the idea of AGW is the wrong way to do it. Forcing green taxes upon people will not teach them to be more conservative with their energy needs, no more than increasing tax on cigarettes or drink does. People just pay the extra. I would rather the policy be to educate about preserving energy because supplies are running out. You start that in school. You then get governments to give proper grants that realistically allow sustainable alternatives to be put in place – solar panels, ground source heat pumps. There is space for these in most houses. But we don’t do that because the government loses the taxes that they receive or the utility companies profits drop. With the best will in the world it goes against the grain of those that make the money from us.

        I do agree with your post, but I believe the motives for why we should change are all wrong.

        1. “Nuclear is the only way forward ”

          No it’s not.

          “Forcing green taxes upon people will not teach them to be more conservative with their energy needs, no more than increasing tax on cigarettes or drink does. People just pay the extra.”

          Only on Planet Key.

          On Earth you might care to observe that Taxes on Cigarettes is the most effective method for reducing consumption – read
          (note in particular the graph on the second page.)

          1. Actually Macro the tax on carbon is not a consumer tax but a tax on producers. By the time the CT is passed to consumers even at a $100 per tonne or more it is probably not sufficient to change consumer behaviour. Sure people may complain, but in reality they face higher increases in prices in the normal course of business almost every day (look at the price of petrol).

            The real impact should be felt by the producers who having to compete with lower carbon products are placed at a greater competitive disadvantage. They will have to change or die. By change I mean become more efficient and produce less carbon or invest in alternative technologies. Also the suppliers of lower carbon technologies that have higher costs as they are less developed can gain some ground.

            1. The increasing price of petrol IS changing consumer behaviour. The use of cars for personal transport is declining with a consequent increase in public transport usage – so I don’t think your argument holds.

            2. Macro responding to your 7.16 pm comment.

              You are right there has been a travel demand response to the increase in petrol prices. My argument is not one or the other.

              My point was that at the CT levels that have been proposed (<US$100) the increment to the retail price is relatively small, much less than that has been caused by flat global production and the higher cost of scrapping the bottom of the global oil barrel.

              The intention of ETS was to change producer behaviour first. This would result in more options for users with greater choice users elasticity of demand increases and smaller price increases will have a greater impact on demand.So it is a two stage effect first producers then users.

    1. Thanks for that graph Mr F I hadn’t come across the information in quite that form before. A very pertinent demonstration of a vital point. One can’t help but note that the African countries are on the bottom.

    2. The biggest spike in the graph is China unless I am mistaken,
      The US is showing a decline in per capita CO2 emissions

      Which case are you trying to present here?

      1. As I don’t normally reply to dunderheads I will simply make the obvious observation: that of course China is spiking in its CO2 emissions whereas the USA is decreasing, because, with a moments thought, one would have realised, that the world’s centre for manufactured goods is no longer in the developed countries, but in China. Developed countries are simply shipping their Carbon emissions overseas, along with their demand for labour (you might have noticed the news recently about the 40,000 jobs lost to manufacturing in NZ over the past 4 years – that’s 40,000 more employed in China).
        Now that is the last on that matter.

        1. I don’t normally respond to dunderheads.
          However, I will make an exception in this case.

          When you have decarbonised the western economies and shipped all of the manufacturing to China and India, what have you achieved overall in addressing global emissions ?

          1. Which is why we need the UNFCCC. A global agreement with all emitters on board. Kyoto was meant to be just a step to a more comprehensive agreement. But the lack of support from key countries such as the US undermined the strength of argument to encourage China and India onto Annex 1.

            This is a classic case of we must cooperate or die (well at the very least suffer)

            1. Speaking of Kyoto, there’s only a few weeks left to run of that.

              We don’t hear much of that do we?

          2. “When you have decarbonised the western economies and shipped all of the manufacturing to China and India, what have you achieved overall in addressing global emissions ?”

            andy – THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT!!! ***pulls our what remains of hair***

            1. I’m sorry that I didn’t get your point then

              At least we are in apparent agreement that any attempt to reduce or limit GHG emissions is completely pointless as China is accelerating away rapidly from the rest of the world

            2. At least we’re in apparent agreement as to who the dunderhead on this sub-thread is, more like. And ‘completely pointless’ is a damn good descriptor, too…

            3. For goodness sake andy do keep up! The main reason that China and India are rapidly increasing their GHG emissions is because the Western World STILL demands a lifestyle based on Fossil fuel burning and has chosen China and India (who also want to emulate us) to do the “dirty work” of production for them, because its cheaper.
              China, India, OECD, et al – we are ALL in this together.
              And NO I am not in agreement with you that any attempt to reduce GHG is pointless – quite the reverse. So don’t put words in my mouth. The other side of the story is that these two developing countries are probably doing as much if not more (certainly more than NZ!) to limit GHG emissions than many other developed country, obviously more could be done – see Doug’s comment above)

            4. Yes the lack of follow through on Kyoto is a huge failure of political will and leadership. So what is your point?

              Is it that the politicians have been diverted or enabled to fail by the lobbying from the FF industry and the RW think tanks, supported by a missing presumed lost MSM, while all the time accompanied by the wailing of the Greek chorus from the uninformed no-nothings on the Internet?

              If that is your point then I agree.

    3. China and the middle east are clearly the worst culprits. The irony about China is that they churn out all that Co2 through industry, but have a one child per family policy at the same time. What they appear to give with one hand they take away with the other. That aside, no-one will convince China to change their policy on Co2, nor will anyone convince the US or Canada to change their policy, especially Canada given their shale beds.

      1. Defeatist. Why bother coming here at all, Makka, if you’ve already given up?
        I, for one, believe that my grandchildren yet unborn have the right to live in a peaceful world with a stable climate, and will do whatever I can to bring that about.
        Multiply my small actions by millions now, and billions soon enough, and we will wrest control of our future from the pollutocrats whose greed and ignorance would otherwise be our doom.

      2. Makka: What counts is your own actions in your own back-yard and your own country. The time to point fingers at others and sit back to watch the climate disaster unfold is over. Unless we make fast pace towards a sustainable future we are hypocrites demanding that others go the mile first. Your arguments are simply cheep straw man points towards a lame attempt to justify inaction which we see all the time from the copy/paste denier trolls.
        BTW Richard C2 is an “old friend” (quotation marks well earned) who’s incoherent pseudo-scientific ramblings many of us have witnessed for years. The man still believes that atmospheric conditions do not contribute to ocean temperature and heat content and has evidently no mental concept of net heat transfer. He typifies the hard core ramblers from the denier circus who will simply not take a step back from their personal beliefs to see the evidence that is accumulating all the time.

    1. Richard Treadgold and company leave me largely speechless.

      They are so willfully stupid that I can’t help but openly mock them.
      Even then they can’t see the point that is being made.

      It surprises me that AndyS is associated with them, for all his faults he doesn’t display quite the same degree of stupendous idiocy.

      Rob, I don’t know how you, AndrewW and one or two others maintain the patience to continually engage with them.

        1. Oops, I’m back on moderation again at the Climate Comedy Troupe, so, for the record, here is my last attempt to get some sense through their thick skulls:

          “What am I trying to do? Simply to keep you honest, and demonstrate to whoever ventures into this sheltered workshop of denial that magical thinking, disinformation and ignorance cannot solve the problems we face.

          Here is an example: you say

          Now provide a reference to support your assertion of warming this century. You expect it of us, so you should expect it of yourself.

          yet I have already pointed out three times that the warmest years on record are in the period 2001 to 2011, which also contains 11 of the 12 warmest years on record!

          Which part of being totally and completely wrong do you not understand?”

  17. Treadgold’s response follows; regrettably, it appears that the Dunning-Kruger effect has claimed yet another victim…

    Which part of “warming doesn’t mean warmest” do you not understand? No warming has occurred this century. That means the temperature hasn’t gone up. How can he not see that warming occurs only when the temperature actually rises?

    He gave links to a Wikipedia article. Examining the graphs, it’s obvious that the “20 warmest years” achieve their position by virtue of outranking other years by merely a few thousandths of a degree. How laughable, to call a temperature a record when for all practical purposes it’s identical with many others.

    Yet he calls this science and mocks us for being undismayed.

  18. Will all Olympic medal winners please now relinquish their ill-gotten gains, as Richard Treadgold has determined that such concepts as “first”, “second” and “third” have no meaning…

  19. There’s an appalling letter from Bryan Leyland in this week’s Listener. He makes 5 substantive points, and remarkably manages to get every single one wrong. I suggest that as many people as possible write to the Listener to set the record straight.

    1. The Listener’s letters pages are here. Unfortunately, Leyland’s letter is in the new issue, and the letters for that are not yet on the web. We might have to wait a week… In the meantime, if someone would like to send me a scan, I’ll post it here (my copy won’t arrive ’til Monday).

            1. Leyland states that “we’re just over the peak of a warming period”.
              What is he on record as saying over years of the interval he now acknowledges?
              Just wondering, .

          1. Don’t you just love the list of credentials to make it sound like he is Really Important? All engineering credentials of course, of absolutely no relevance to climate.

      1. Best to ignore the dolt; anyone who claims that “warming doesn’t mean warmest” is out for a very long lunch indeed.

        I can see why Andy hangs out there, though; next to the likes of Treadwater and RC2, he looks like a veritable Leonardo!

    1. That’s pretty disgusting. There is no such thing as a free court case, never has been. If they were not prepared to face the consequences of losing, they shouldn’t have brought the case in the first place.
      I know how much time the NIWA people spent on this, and how much anxiety and stress it caused them. Of course, that was all part of the plan, to harrass NIWA so they are unable to get on with the science.
      What a small-minded pathetic individual Treadgold is.

      1. Small-minded and pathetic? Certainly. Long winded? Indubitably.

        As an attempt to rewrite history, Treadgold’s post is a classic. And a classic failure. The fact is that they formed the trust solely to bring the case in order to protect themselves against an order for costs, as was noted at the time. It’s worth remembering that their trust did not formally exist when papers were first lodged in its name at the High Court!

          1. And having lost, it can’t be their fault for presenting an ill-conceived and legally deficient case – it has to be a failing of the system.

            That’s what happens when you live inside a bubble. The world outside looks very distorted – and probably very colourful, what with all the iridescence you see on soap bubbles.

    1. For the record here is a comment that Treadgold refuses to allow through moderation.Bullies and cowards.

      Aw, spare us the tears.

      The trust was obviously set up solely to avoid liability in the case of loss.
      I hope you don’t think Venning J is as gullible as your readership.

      …NIWA ignored us, refused to answer our questions and insisted on going to Court.

      Yeah right.

        1. Poor NZCSC, forced to go to court at the insistence of NIWA.

          Just as a burglar is forced to shoot the homeowner he unexpectedly encounters while out thieving, at the homeowner’s insistence of course.

      1. The puppeteers behind the NZCSET deserve every bit of the cost awarded against them. They and they alone caused this debacle and should be liable, personally, for the cost. In fact I think they got off very very lightly indeed with just over $100K.

        1. I presume the $118K figure is NIWA’s costs, I assume court costs will be additional.
          It would also be very interesting to read NIWA’s submission on this, being a Crown entity I assume it’s available via an OIA request.

          1. Good idea, but it might be sub judice until the Court rules. What would be even more interesting would be attending any hearings called to argue the matter…

  20. I have just come across this splendid 3 part BBC series by geologist Dr Iain Stewart:

    “Earth the climate wars”

    Part 1 here:

    It goes through the evolution of climate skepticism from the earth is actually cooling, to the earth is warming because its the sun, to the earth is warming due to man-made greenhouse gases but so what, how bad can it get?

    There is even a segment where Dr Stewart is having an amusing discussion with our favourite Lord Monckton. Overall a very entertaining and well presented documentary. Perhaps we should make it mandatory viewing before resident trolls be allowed to post on this forum. It would save alot of time and misinformation.

    Interesting that Leyland never has trouble getting into the New Zealand media. One would assume that the Flat Earth Society should have equal opportunity to present their case.

  21. See and scroll down or search for “Global warming’. Good letter CTG. (I am assuming that letter is the one you refer to)
    As Murphy’s law would have, the letter immediately below it is from some visiting technology professor hosted at the MacDiarmid Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, who wraps up “No warming” , “No CO2 effect” with some Club of Rome bashing.

    1. the letter immediately below it is from some visiting technology professor hosted at the MacDiarmid Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, who wraps up “No warming” , “No CO2 effect” with some Club of Rome bashing.

      Don’t forget the string of strawman-style false analogies.

      That second letter proved to me that one can be a Cambridge professor of technology but have a didley squat grasp of how science is done.

    2. No, that wasn’t me. The letters don’t appear online until the following week, so I’ll link my one next week.

      They also published another letter requesting that they don’t publish any more denialist nonsense – and fortunately they didn’t see the need for “balance” this week.

      I note that the said visiting professor also felt the need (like Leyland) to include a long list of credentials – not remotely related to climate science of course – as if that somehow makes them more credible. I could have listed my qualifications, but as none of them relate to climate science I left them out. The media really need some lessons in how to deal with science issues.

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