Risible Rodney rides again

Rodney Hide’s regular opinion slot in the Herald on Sunday has often provided the former ACT Party leader with a platform to spout his trademark climate denialist nonsense, but yesterday’s has to take some kind of biscuit1 for purveying unsubstantiated, completely made up nonsense. He starts by riffing on new research that suggests that an increase in Pacific winds has acted to slow down global temperature increases, and then goes completely off his trolley:

Scientists predict that when the Pacific trade winds slow global warming will take off with a bang. Armageddon remains on.

Climate scientists say the best policy is still one that bombs us back to feudal times.

Not to put too fine appoint on it, that is distasteful nonsense; a misrepresentation at best, a lie at worst — but either way the opinion editor of the Herald On Sunday should be ashamed for permitting it to appear in the paper.

Hide’s statement is wrong on many levels. Climate scientists seldom directly advocate for policy (beyond the need for urgent cuts in carbon emissions). And nobody outside of a looney right-wing think tank has ever suggested that cutting carbon will “bomb” anyone back to the middle ages. It’s cheap and easy rhetoric from a man with a column to fill, and no fact checker on duty at his newspaper.

To get a better perspective on the research Rodney is attempting to spin to his cause, check out this commentary by Mike Mann, or Dana Nuccitelli’s excellent explanation at The Guardian. It’s fascinating stuff, and deserves better than a once-over lightly from an ideologue with an agenda.

Hide then hops onto another pseudo sceptic hobbyhorse: the climate models:

One hundred years is a long time to have to wait to see if the models are correct.

The poor results so far don’t prove anything. And none of us will be alive to see if the models are actually correct.

He’s wrong about that, too. For an example of just how good the models can be, check out this blog post by professor of computer science Steve Easterbrook which compares the EUMETSAT year of weather video noted at Hot Topic recently with a visualisation of a year’s weather patterns from the atmospheric component of NCAR’s CCSM climate model. Run the the two animations side-by-side.

That’s how good our general circulation models are, and that’s how wrong Rodney Hide is. Again2.

  1. Girl Guide, perhaps, or Garibaldi? []
  2. Construction adopted to please @davidslack []

59 thoughts on “Risible Rodney rides again”

  1. The boys of the right wing ACT party desperately need to rally their troops… as their ship is listing badly.
    ACT supporters never cared about being correct, they don’t need to, as they know they are RIGHT…. year RIGHT… and who knows that he (mostly he’s in there…) is RIGHT does neither need an education (risk of actually learning that one might be wrong) nor the council of those who have one (risk being told by respectable individuals that one is very wrong) as being RIGHT and knowing it and making sure that rest of us HEAR about it is all that ACT is and ever was about. Small incidents such as fibbing about election donations (don’t mention the War Fawlty Towers episode comes to mind again) not withstanding…..

    Yea Right…. 😉

  2. Looks like a pretty good model to me (attached link). This does not change that fact many of the other models have been found seriously wanting, not lest the IPCC global surface temperature models that so much policy is based on. It’s all very well saying the ocean buried the heat but if they truly understood the climate system they would have included this factor in the models or atleast increased the 95% confidence interval.

    From a scientific perspective does this deep ocean heat theory not throw up all sorts of other issues? Ie. can we prove the ocean has not been releasing heat that has contributed to previous warming? This would undermine the role of carbon.

    Serious thoughts please, I think we are all beyond the childish name calling now aren’t we.

    1. Jimmy, NCAR’s CCSM is one of the models that contributes to the IPCC process. Other models are equally impressive. All have their strengths and weaknesses, but all are useful.

      You need to do some reading on ocean heat. Please read the references you were given in the open thread and attempt to understand them. You need to take the science seriously if you want to be taken seriously.

  3. “And nobody outside of a looney right-wing think tank has ever suggested that cutting carbon will “bomb” anyone back to the middle ages.”
    I think you are wrong there in so far as those who are advocating reduction in green house gases are dishonestly implying that compliance will be easy.
    If you are going to get serious you would look at things like tourism which waste energy (and employs one in 10). So far the people banging on about climate change are just posers.

    1. Jimmy t

      No Rodney Hide is just scaremongering to claim we are going to be bombed back to the stone age.Plenty of research suggests we can reduce global warming to the required levels at the cost of 1% of global gdp per year. Hide knows it but would rather spread inflammatory comments.

  4. According to the references mentioned the next La Niña event could be very telling. This would be when much of the ‘trapped heat’ will be released to the atmosphere. Gareth do you support the idea that this will result in record global surface tempretures?

    1. Wrong Jimmy.

      El Nino is when anomalous ocean heat is released to the atmosphere – the trade winds weaken and buoyancy moves the heat in the subsurface layer in the western tropical Pacific back towards the surface. The “piling up” of water there relaxes and kelvin waves smear the heat across the surface of the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

      A sizeable El Nino (this year going into next) will result in global surface temperature records being smashed. Of greater concern is a decadal-scale weakening of the trade winds – we’ll experience more anamalous heat coming back out of the ocean to haunt us. Mass coral bleaching will return with a vengeance once this weakening takes place, and the Amazon Rainforest will experience extreme once-in-a-century drought for the 3rd time is less than 10 years.

  5. Sorry, my typo.

    Good on you Rob, now we have some solid predictions to monitor. I agree, if the ocean cycles change and the weather suddenly starts warming will give the ‘hidden heat’ theory serious credibility. If not, that must be the last throw of the dice before the forcing attributed to carbon needs to be revisited.

    Now the waiting game……….

    1. Hardly Jimmy, factor in all the Earth’s reservoirs of heat (oceans, land, atmosphere & ice) and 2013 was the warmest year ever recorded.

      Which is what climate science has long maintained – slow the loss of heat from the Earth and the planet will build up heat.

      The climate models do get a lot of features right, but the trade wind intensification doesn’t appear to be among them. As England et al (2014) demonstrate, when you account for this trade wind intensification the global surface temperature projections move back toward the middle of the range.

    2. You’ll need to rewrite quantum physics to change the forcing attributed to CO2. Good luck with that.

      Meanwhile, please confine your obsession with ocean heating to the open thread. This thread’s for Rodney.

  6. “now we have some solid predictions to monitor”

    You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that predictions are somehow cast in iron or engraved upon tablets of stone.

    You should bear in mind that any prediction of future events may or, importantly, may not, actually come to pass.

    If a predicted event does not eventually turn out as expected this in no way annuls or disproves the theory underlying it. This is especially important to keep in mind when discussing systems as complicated as the climate which is inherently chaotic in the mathematical sense.

  7. Well if the catostrophic predictions do not come true, we a wasting a awful lot of money on carbon prices and renewables. It’s not the sceptics that are running around telling everyone to change their ways. Surely the public deserves scientific predictions that are verified by actual evidence. The chronic failure of the vast majority of the climate models does nothing to give the public confidence that any changes or taxes are required. Why should the public still believe the models?

    1. Jimmy… “The chronic failure of the vast majority of the climate models ….” wow!
      How about you rephrase this: “In my (Jimmy’s) humble opinion, the vast majority of the climate models fail chronically….”
      At least then you would actually express a fact: The state of your personal conviction on the matter.
      The fact, Jimmy, is rather different than the Mythology you are regurgitating here.
      Have you actually ever taken a close look?
      Further – and this is the main problem with your stance: the variations between our best effort model predictions and observations can go both ways! For example models have in the past severely underestimated the rapid melting of the arctic sea ice.
      Errors in our ability to forecast climate change factor in on both sides of the argument and renowned climate scientists have repeatedly warned that the IPCC consensus trends are too conservative.

    1. Jimmy: No model can and ever will be 100% correct nor will any honest scientist ever claim to be able to do generate models without flaws. Further, natural variation from unpredictable events will always change the variables and often model precision is established by hind-casting such variables into the equation to see if the responses of the models are able to reproduce the outcome.
      So far, climate models have done very well, given the complexity of the matter.




      Plus, as said above: errors in models sway both ways. You may find – an scientists have frequently warned about this – that our models may be too conservative when it comes to the predictions for the later part of the century, when the chickens will truly come home to roost.
      Our actions today could still make a significant impact on that outcome. By the second half of the century, our ability to have an influence about the development of the climate going forward may be very limited.

  8. This is like arguing with a door knob.

    Models wrong on tempreture, hurricanes, tornados, warmer winters, dryer winters, etc etc etc. models will be right on continual heat build up if it is proved that the oceans are absorbing heat. No one credible would suggest data from only as far back as 2003 would confirm this. The ocean might have been warmer in 1930’s? How do we know it wasn’t? A few thermometers dropped from ships back then won’t prove much. If you are making a case the ocean is warming you need a good data set over a long period to confirm this.

    I’m very supprised by the lack of evidence you guys require to be convinced of something. If this ocean ate my heat thing gets debunked you will all just search for any paper that can find an excuse for the missing heat! Never will you be prepared to ask the question if carbon sensitivity has been exaggerated? There is still much to learn in the field of quantum physics I might add.

    1. Yes indeed. You are the door knob as you repeat the myth that the models are wrong. The models have been very good actually and the observed temperature trends are well within the range the models predicted. Did you read none of the references you were given?

      BTW sea level rise – observed very well and for a very long time now, is a good indicator for ocean heat content. The thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm is a well understood mechanism.

      If you want the rest of the world to doubt the stated rise in ocean heat content then please provide reputable references to make your case. Just repeating the blatant misrepresentation and mythology that climate models are rubbish is risible and demonstrably wrong.

  9. Yes, you can’t understand the basics of climate science by regurgitating climate myths from denier blogs. Try something new – read the scientific literature and get back to us with that which supports your claims.

  10. I guess that 95% confidence thing it not that important, and more hurricanes can actually mean less, when the models say less snow, that is code for more snow.

    In that case, they are pretty good. I understand now, I will not try and criticise the models again.

    Clearly genuine scientific debate is long dead on this blog.

    1. No Jimmy, you are not a genuine scientific debater. You are spouting the mythology of denier blogs. You have not made a single sensible citation of any scientific research here. All you have done is to make statements of fact about matters where you seem to have a strong opinion but no evidence to support you case.
      And I really doubt that you have any interest to actually understand how models work and what they can and can not do.

  11. And on the oceans.

    Are you guys happy to conclude the oceans are getting warming without having really good data of how warm it was in the 1970’s or say 30’s?

    1. Given that the addition of meltwater from mountain glaciers cannot account for the observed sea level rise earlier in the 20th century, they must operating according to voodoo then.

      Either that or the sparser observations back then are sufficient to inform us of the bleeding obvious – the oceans warmed and thermally expanded.

    2. Jimmy: Have you read the paper
      “World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level
      change (0–2000 m), 1955–2010”
      That I linked you above?
      I guess to save yourself from digging your reputation deeper with each of your comments you should read it. Then come back here with a concrete critique of the paper – cite which paragraph and which argument you have issue with and why. Then we can – perhaps – have a debate over matters of science.

  12. But not obvious enough to include in the climate models!?!

    It if far from conclusive, but let’s say this 0.06C of heat is being trapped in the deep ocean. What evidence is there to suggest it will suddenly appear again and effect the surface climate in any noticable way?

    1. Thermal expansion and meltwater most certainly are included in the models. Please go and educate yourself by reading the excellent section on the development of climate models in Spencer Weart’s history of the science of global warming – the Discovery of Global Warming. The link’s in the blogroll.

      Re: the deep ocean heat. It’s not so much that the heat will return from the deep, it’s more that the amount of heat that’s currently going there will be reduced, leaving more to raise surface temperatures. Think of it as a bath tub. The tap’s flowing at a steady rate, but the size of the plughole is changing. The water level in the bath goes up faster when the plughole’s smaller…

  13. So if the trades winds slow down and stop hiding the heat in the ocean, we will get a measurable increase in surface temperature? If the temperature pause continues even after the current cycle of la Nina’s cease will this be evidence that global warming has stopped?

    1. And you point being? We know the heat is coming in and not all of it leaves. So what is your explanation? A Nobel prize could be yours and we would all be eternally grateful if you have an alternative explanation.

  14. It just seems that climate scientists are frantically trying to find excuses for the lack of surface warming, which let’s be honest is the whole basis of the global warming scare campaign. Currently they are pointing at the oceans, but if for whatever reason does not check out ie. the pause continues after La Niñas stop then surly they will have to revisit their calculations on carbon forcing. It’s basic science right? If the evidence does not support your theory, go back and look at your theory. Which ever way it goes a change in trade winds will hopefully support or dismiss global warming as an issue. I hope the people on this site will be big enough to change their minds if the evidence does not go your way. Not holding breath.

    1. Jimmy you are missing the point entirely!
      The fact that only a few percent of the Earths heat energy imbalance are stored in the atmosphere and the other 9x% in the oceans is neither new, nor controversial. It is simple physics, and high school level physics at that, that the huge thermal mass of the oceans will always contain the lions share of our heat imbalance.
      It is also simple physics to calculate back from sea level rise over the past century to the thermal expansion and therefore heat content of the oceans and its change.

      It should be obvious to you that small changes in the exchange of heat between oceans and atmosphere due to ocean currents and wind patterns (some of which show decadal rhythms) will have a strong effect on atmospheric temperatures due to the much smaller heat capacity of the atmosphere compared to the oceans. The dynamics of the ocean/atmosphere heat exchange has been a research focus over the last decades and new understanding is being added constantly on this end.
      But nobody is questioning the relentless rise of Earth’s heat content and with that (9x% of that) the rise of the oceans heat content.

      Nobody that is, besides people like yourself, who willfully deny the science and the evidence to seemingly forward some wicked agenda of derailing public decision making on a matter that is of grave importance to our species. What actually do you want to achieve Jimmy? The destruction of the planet as we know it perhaps so that you can enjoy the spoils of the fossil fuel powered 20th century exuberance a bit longer? Myopic and stupid at best, criminal more likely!

  15. Maybe?


    Or is there a negative feedback at play we don’t know about or have underestimated? The truth is as far are we surface dwellers are concerned life is coasting along nicely, no increase in temp in the last 15 years. Given that a slight warming may be beneficial to our race, it could be decades or centuries before warming becomes a problem, if at all!

    With 20 years of cooling winters in the US, it could just as easy go the other way. Have we underestimated solar? It must be time to just take a few deep breaths and relax. The sky has not fallen like we were told it would.

    1. With 20 years of cooling winters in the US….
      Dream on Jimmy boy! It must be dark and lonely for your head in your Ostrich hole…

      USA temp data from 1970 to 2014 below:

      Homework for you: Print the graph, take a ruler and draw a line of best fit through the minima to form a trend line for these then do the same for the maxima. This forms a nice channel in which natural variations have played. But what trend do you see in the two lines, what is their gradient? Will be keen to hear!

    2. Oh and one better fact check graph for you Jimmy!


      Check it out man! This is the graph of USA winter temperature trends since 1970.

      “With 20 years of cooling winters in the US….”, Yea Right!

      Jimmy stop making stuff up and stop relying on denier blogs, its demonstrably bad for you! You will just end up regurgitating the made up nonsense of others and find yourself standing in the crowd with your speedos down at your ankles and looking rather small….

    1. Last 15 years nothing???
      Same homework Jimmy:
      Print that graph. Connect a trend line though the minima from 1970 to now and another through the maxima from 1970 to now. Nice channel again in which your global surface temps dance along. What trend do you see? What patterns do you see in the ‘dance’ of the temps in that channel?
      And did you forget the earlier lessons: You are looking just at the atmospheric temps but 9x% of the added heat in the Earths climate system is stored in the oceans.
      The wiggles in the surface temp are small fluctuations between the oceans and the atmosphere of the total stored energy really! Its the trends that count!
      Now pull up the pants and go home Jimmy. No more excuses really.
      Get an education in climate science. There are good free online courses.
      This one from the University of Chicago might be good for you:

      BTW Rodney Hide: Why don’t you enroll too! That would assist you in avoiding being seen yourself with your speedos at your ankles in public in the future!

    2. You know anything about statistics Jimmy? Heard of “cherry picking”?
      READ this by a statistician who really does understand the science and learn.
      See any similarities between your link and what Rose was doing?
      I don’t expect you will – but then I’ll bet you are a “free market” advocate as well – so we can’t expect any intellectual effort on your part.

  16. You and I can trade graphs all day and waste both our time and prove nothing. The global surface temp (and yes it included ocean temps just for you) is the one to watch as it will effect us surface dwellers. You would only be embarrassing yourself to not acknowledge it has paused.

    1. The global surface temp (and yes it included ocean temps just for you) is the one to watch as it will effect us surface dwellers.

      Have you ANY idea what it is you’re talking about?

    2. OK: official warning. You are in breach of the comments policy here by not engaging in reasonable debate. Your contributions amount to the intellectual equivalent of a school kid saying “yah booh sucks” when they’re on the losing end of an argument.

      Engage with the substance of the debate you’re so keen to have by reading the material referenced for you and showing some signs of understanding it.

      If you don’t wish to do that, I will place your comments on moderation. This means that they will be vetted by me before publication, and I will only pass comments that I feel contribute to intelligent discussion.

    1. I strongly suggest you read the link I gave you – THAT explains just how you (following Rose) have made a blatant cherry pick. And furthermore, the so called “pause”, is well within the expectations of the long term trend being observed in increasing global average surface temperatures.

  17. Kevin Trenberth has just published some research on the missing heat and it appears there are not enough monitoring stations to give a clear answer. It seems to me that if 70% of the Earths surface is water and if the oceans absorb 90% of the heat then the oceans play an overwhelming part in climate change. So how much monitoring is there? A quick look at Wunderground shows tens of thousands of land weather stations but what about the oceans. We have Argo with 3500 buoys for ten years but what about the deep oceans and especially the deep trenches and the deep hydrothermal circulation flow.
    I know they are difficult to monitor because of the pressure and lack of sunlight for power but if we have satellites going every which way surely there must be some monitoring down there.
    Does any one have any ideas where I could get some information or is it still in the too hard basket?

      1. Thanks for that Gareth. I read the report (with difficulty) It is much as I thought in that there was very sketchy data before the Argo program started in 2004 and and now we know a bit about the oceans down to 2000 meters. But we still know little about the deep oceans and the trenches. I think we can expect a lot more instrumentation in the more inaccessible areas in the near future.

Leave a Reply