The Climate Show #32: a Cook’s tour of the Aussie heat

At long last: John Cook from Skeptical Science rejoins the Climate Show team for the first show of 2013. He hooks up with Glenn and Gareth to review Australia’s big heatwave, and stays around to dig into the new Greenpeace report on dirty energy, discuss Obama’s inauguration speech and Boris Johnson’s climate blunder, the latest scary news on sea level rise and the implications for the future. Plus much much more…

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Story references


Australia bush fires and temperature records: For the first image used in the show and further background, see The Conversation.

Bushfires captured by satellite: NASA Earth Observatory

Global Warming Has Increased Monthly Heat Records Worldwide by a Factor of Five, Study Finds

If global warming continues, the study projects that the number of new monthly records will be 12 times as high in 30 years as it would be without climate change. “Now this doesn’t mean there will be 12 times more hot summers in Europe than today — it actually is worse,” Coumou points out. For the new records set in the 2040s will not just be hot by today’s standards. “To count as new records, they actually have to beat heat records set in the 2020s and 2030s, which will already be hotter than anything we have experienced to date,” explains Coumou. “And this is just the global average — in some continental regions, the increase in new records will be even greater.”

A new report commissioned by Greenpeace says the world could be locked into dangerous levels of global warming if 14 planned fossil fuel projects get the go ahead. The projects in the Point of No Return report include the expansion of Indonesian and Australian coal exports, a tripling of production from the Canadian tar sands and extensive offshore drilling in Brazilian waters.All in all, the 6,340 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020, more than the total output of the US.
RTCC news, full report pdf.

US media coverage of Climate Change in 2012 fell by 2%! This despite the devastating drought and Hurricane Sandy.

But if Obama has his way that’s all about to change: Youtube video here.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says his top hopes for 2013 are to reach a new agreement on climate change and to urgently end the increasingly deadly and divisive war in Syria.

Dispatch from London…. Shock! Horror! Boris says something really stupid! He says this week’s snow casts doubt on Climate science. Of course, as Leo Hickman points out in The Guardian he’s only trolling BUT it still matters because he could be Britain’s PM one day…

Jason Box’s Dark Snow Project. He is also going to be speaking at a Climate Desk Event in Washington next month. See also: SkS and HT.

Sea level rise: a sequence of stories…

Natural Relationship Between Carbon Dioxide Concentrations and Sea Level Documented

The researchers found that the natural relationship displays a strong rise in sea level for CO2 increase from 180 to 400 parts per million, peaking at CO2 levels close to present-day values, with sea level at 24 +7/-15 metres above the present, at 68 per cent confidence limits.

Richard Alley lecture – final section on the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica.

Which leads us to the ultimate paradox: Sea level rise could lead to cooler, stormier planet, says Jim Hansen.

A catastrophic rise in sea level before the end of the century could have a hitherto unforeseen side effect. Melting icebergs might cool the seas around Greenland and Antarctica so much that the average surface temperature of the planet falls by a degree or two. This is according to unpublished work by climate scientist James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

Plus: Gareth being gloomy.

And this from The Climate Desk: they report that a group of researchers and educators based at San Jose State University think climate science needs a superhero. And they have: Supermandia!


Scott A Mandia’s blog is here.


Sprinkling billions of tonnes of mineral dust across the oceans could quickly remove a vast quantities of climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a new study. The proposed “geoengineering” technique would also offset the acidification of the oceans and could be targeted at endangered coral reefs, but there’s a downside — it would require a mining effort on the same scale as the world’s coal industry and would alter the biology of the oceans.

Thin Film Solar Cells: New World Record for Solar Cell Efficiency

UK scientists bid to mimic plant energy creation

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are embarking on an £800,000 project to replicate photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into sugars to help them grow.

The process will be used to create hydrogen, which can be used as a zero-emission fuel for cars, or converted into green electricity.

It is hoped the method, which involves placing tiny solar panels on microbes to harness sunlight and drive the production of hydrogen, will be a more efficient way of converting the sun’s energy than currently exists.

We have an email!

Thanks to our media partners: Idealog Sustain, Sciblogs, and Scoop .

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

100 thoughts on “The Climate Show #32: a Cook’s tour of the Aussie heat”

  1. Here’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness response while watching the show:

    Ooh – a Paul Simonon poster. Guns of Brixton link, Gareth?

    Ooodnadatta is the place up north where you couldn’t buy petrol after midday.

    That’s ‘Ood’ (as in food) – ‘nah’ (like, no way) – ‘dat’ (just like dat!) – ‘uh’ (wha’?). (According to Wikipedia the name is derived from Arrernte utnadata, meaning “mulga blossom”.)

    Speaking of great-big FF projects that threaten the world: guess what I found in our local media this morning?

    $20 trillion shale oil find surrounding Coober Pedy ‘can fuel Australia’

    (That’s just up the road from Oodnadatta, BTW)

    Here’s an idea of Arckaringa, at the heart of the target area, incidentally. I think I now know what I’ll be doing for the next few years!

    Wow – a world without Boris Johnson – how pleasant! As a Guardian regular and big fan of cartoonists Rowson and Bell I’m only too aware of him, even from the other side of the world. The fact that he’s consciously playing to the peanut gallery is rather disturbing.

    Yep, I thought Gareth’s piece was about Al Gore! (Someone will be along shortly to point out he’s fat…)

    Re the benefits of magic dust (just don’t worry about the side-effects!): ‘She swallowed the spider to catch the fly…’

    It’s worth noting that the bloody awful Cane Toads, slowly making their way into my home state, too, had little impact on the cane beetles they were brought in to control in the first place!

    I can still remember the ‘Water Watchers say don’t waste water / Water Watchers say drips waste water’ jingle from here in SA in the early 70’s(?) (no rappers about then, Glenn!), so, yeah, these thing stick!

    Thanks guys.

    1. So several years of harsh winters in the UK (and elsewhere) is “just weather”, but the Australian heatwave is “climate change”.

      Maybe Boris and his “peanut gallery” are getting a bit cynical?

      [Close to being snipped for strawman/trolling argument. You well know that links between cold outbreaks and Arctic sea ice loss are being actively researched. In a general sense, both the Aussie heatwave and the cold spell in Europe are “just weather”, but one and perhaps both show evidence of the impact of warming. GR]

        1. At 28:44 John Cook says “confusing weather with climate” was what I was referring to.
          It has been cold and snowing in the UK in the last week, but they have had several cold winters in a row now.

      1. Your obtuseness is touching. Like a lobotomised puppy. Remember your pathetic ‘thousands of frozen boats’? You’ve had this explained to you multiple times; I won’t be wasting my time doing it again.

        Speaking of frozen – I saw ‘Chasing Ice’ last night – highly recommended for those with functioning cerebral cortexes. I’m sure few inches of snow in the UK somewhere will turn it all around – don’t you worry about that.

        We are drowning in an ocean of morons.

          1. Let me see, andy, one of us is arguing that these morons are located in the CSIRO, the BoM, NOAA, NIWA, NASA, the NAS, AAAS, and, indeed, all the world’s Academies of Science, and the educated section of the public that takes them seriously; and the other thinks the morons are Daily Telegraph/Mail readers and writers, semi-educated contrarian bloggers, hacks from right-wing and/or oil-funded thinktanks, and Dunning-Krugerites in general circulation.

            Now, you have to be one of the latter, at least, not to see the joke here.

            Again, in the golden words of Damon Runyon –

            It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.

            1. Oh, and I’m pleased to see that it’s now Distinguished Professor Michael Mann.

              Much wailing and gnashing of teeth to ensue, one predicts, particularly among the acolytes of The Sticky Bishop.

    2. By the way, I see that the Potty Peer is on a plane bound for Aussie and starts his tour in South Australia, so get your tickets and rotten tomatoes ordered now.

    3. The shale oil bonanza (if it is holding true to its promise) will be the proverbial nail in our coffin. It threatens to bring the sledge hammer of our consumer society full swing into the glasshouse that our planetary ecology is rapidly becoming.
      It also will put us on notice: Its not the convenient “we will need to become sustainable due to peak oil cop-out” which might have saved us from ourselves, no, it will be a conscious decisions to leave the hydro-carbon systems of our Earth alone for the sake of our future. A much tougher task, like convincing a kid away from the lolly bin…

      The frick’n Fracking is serving us the real test of our intelligence and morality. Interesting times indeed! Survival of the fittest on a planetary scale…
      Only societies that self regulate greed efficiently will have any chance to advance to the next level and make it onto the score board of the Drake Equation. The others join the dustbin of the galaxy’s “could have been” planets and “not intelligent enough” species…

  2. Near the end of the above show, John Cook mentioned a new textbook intended as a synthesis of modern climate science with a unique aspect discussing climate change denial and the psychology behind it. I was coauthor on the textbook with John and we hope the text will lead to universities and colleges, that haven’t done so already, introducing a course in climate change science. The main idea behind the text was to create a survey of climate change, why it is happening, the empirical evidence for it, its effects including health and other effects on humans, and what to expect in the future with various scenarios. The book is published by Springer Publishers and is available through them and also and Barnes and Noble.

    The Climate Show #32 is up to its usual high standard in spite of Gareth’s video and audio problems. Thanks for all you do! Tom

  3. Yes sorry Tom you were mentioned at the end of the show but the audio was just a bit too patchy at that time so it got snipped. Appreciate your work and thanks for the extra information about the book. We’ll get John to mention it again on the next show.

  4. With a bit of luck `The potty peeer` will try eating his passport in flight (cause the pomme`s wont want the embarrassing sod back), choke on it and then flush himself away at 30000ft. Reminds me of a Monty Python character and has an an equal amount of relevance to climate science.

    1. Yeah, I’m hoping we’re all going to go for the ‘who cares?’ line and the dotty little schmuck will get just as much attention as he deserves.

      He’s arriving in an Australia where this and this are happening, and where this is now a public discussion.

      This nutter has had his – unmerited – day. May he return to richly-deserved obscurity.

      Awaiting only his day in court.

      Perhaps he’ll resort to that parachute jump stunt when he and the fellows at the League for the Public Promotion of Profitable Lunacy couldn’t get attention previously? He clearly really enjoyed that. (Not.)

      1. The Lord himself will be visiting NZ after his Australian visit (Monckton that is, not Jesus Christ in case you were confused)

        I did actually see one of his presentations in Auckland and it was just like the videos. I guess if you haven’t actually seen him it is ok, and a bit boring really since it is all pink portcullis and terribly boring mainstream lukewarmer stuff.

        1. Lord Mocnckton – lukewarmer! Quitter!…

          Good grief!

          Anyway, what’s of most interest is that the only reason I know anything about his tour is due to andy’s updates. One hopes the low profile persists…

          1. Monckton has claimed that he thinks climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is around 1 degree C, which maybe makes him a “lukewarmer”

            Perhaps you could familarise me with the arguments that you have to suggest I am a “hard core denier”.

            By the way, I generally associate the odious term “denier” with bigoted people who have no arguments of any merit.

            1. I can easily find the Skydragon book, and the O’Sullivan link does put me off a bit I must admit.

              However, without trawling through screeds of posts and forums, I really don’t see an “executive summary” of the Skydragon argument. Is it that they claim that the direct effects of CO2 are exaggerated? (as opposed to the “lukewarmer” position, that accepts the IPCC view on radiative effects of CO2 but disputes the sensitivity of the climate to this)?

              There are a lot of posts on this at Judith Curry’s blog and elsewhere, but I haven’t paid them a lot of attention

            2. By the way, it is not me that is making this thread unintelligible by littering it with acronyms only known to the insiders.

            3. As far as I can tell, the Skydragon “position” seems to be that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, but each Skydragon has a different idea about why that is the case. You might want to consult that most voluminous of commenters at Treadgold’s place, because he seems to have swallowed that nonsense wholesale.

              Do please note that any discussion of Skydragon ideas is likely to end up in The Twilight Zone…

            4. I am intrigued by the term too Andy, but wonder that you do not know that it has been used in denialist book titles to refer to the greenhouse gas theory.

              However it’s origin intrigues me more. If you saw on a cave wall or saw in any image from a distant human past (well not very distant in some instances) a depiction of a dragon in the sky with fire in its mouth you could use it to date an instance where a small asteroid large enough to be visible during daylight occured. High altitude winds breakup the meteor trail to produce a dragonlike appearance with fire in its mouth. I’ve seen photographs illustrating this.
              A dragon is often referred to as a worm;
              an image here

            5. Yes, Noel, I am aware that the term was used in “denialist” (sic) books, but I was unaware of the specifics of the theories expounded.

              However, it doesn’t surprise me that climate activists are unable to answer the question.

            6. I posed a simple question. Let me try again: If you position Monckton as a Lukewarmer, where do you place yourself on the scale?

            7. where do you place yourself on the scale?

              I don’t “position” myself anywhere on the scale

              I don’t have a “position”. I consider climate to be primarily a mathematical issue and look at the arguments via that perspective.

              However, Monckton has stated several times that he accepts basic CO2 physics and that climate sensitivity is around 1 degree C, so it seems common to call people who make these claims “lukewarmers”.

              I don’t make claims like this.

            8. I don’t make claims like this.

              You are an agnostic on the base physics? Golly!

              Bonckers refuses to credit the rest of the calculation – i.e. + feedbacks. 3C best estimate and unlikely to be less than 1.5, or more than 4.5, (with higher temps ‘not able to be excluded’)

              Can it really be true that you don’t know all this?

            9. Andy said

              I consider climate to be primarily a mathematical issue and look at the arguments via that perspective.

              Seems strange coming from you, as you steadfastly have looked the other way each time others point you to the mathematically framed diagnoses of our climate state and trend.
              It would however be entirely consistent with the evidence of your massive trail of posts to conclude, contrary to your assertion, that your perspective is simply a dogmatic libertarian one (Act party hard core equivalent) which denies any causal link between our consumer society and its exploitation of the carbon stores of the planet and the projected disastrous trends towards a hot-house climate despite the mathematics and physics that demonstrate otherwise.
              Nice one!

            1. Sam’s your comment is complete gibberish to me. What is a Skydragon?

              This is a genuine question. I don’t actually know what the “skydragon” position is

            2. You know, andy, I know that google searches are individually tailored, but if I put a magic word – like, say, ‘climate’ – after ‘skydragon’ I am drowned in relevant links.

              Even without the additional clues the book is the second link in any search I’m doing – are you seriously telling us that’s not what you’re seeing?

              (Or you could even try adding the term ‘O’Sullivan’; we’ve discussed him several times, after all. As ‘Skydragon O’Sullivan’)

              I.e – this is shorthand for the anti-physics brigade. This was intended as a joke – as in, “just who would think Lord ‘Concedo’ Monckton was a piker?”

            3. Oh, and to anticipate the next big-eyed cheeping demand for feeding, ‘concedo’ refers to the PP’s characteristically pompous method of declaring that he does indeed acknowledge that CO2 warms the atmosphere; rather akin to generously granting one the impact of gravity…

            4. Can it really be true that you don’t know all this?

              I do know this but I haven’t seen any empirical evidence to support it

            5. Gee: basic 1C included?

              Paleo not ’empirical’ enough, then? Get a lot of ’empirical’ material from the future, would you say?

  5. For anyone interested in geoengineering:

    This January 2013 Youtube video originally created by the American Meterological Society with support from the AAAS, is a good presentation, by two of the leading geoengineering researchers, i.e. Ken Caldeira, and David Keith. These two have thought about geoengineering and its implications for many years.

    Caldeira has done top flight research in a number of areas connected to climate change. His pioneering and top flight work on ocean acidification, for instance, led the AGU to choose him to address their 2012 Fall Meeting in one of their special highlighted lectures, on ocean acidification. I believe it was Caldeira who coined the phrase “ocean acidification”. His research interest these days appears mainly to be the study of what happens if someone tries geoengineering.

    David Keith has been at the forefront of research into removing CO2 from the atmosphere for several decades. One of his current projects is his work with Anderson. Anderson is the guy who nailed what was causing the ozone hole in 1987. He’s discovered water vapor in quantities no one knew were in the stratosphere that is increasing as the planet warms, that he says rules out the most often mentioned solar radiation management geoengineering proposal, i.e. imitating a volcano by injecting sulphur into the stratosphere, because when the sulphur meets the extra water it will cause catastrophic ozone depletion. So Keith and Anderson are preparing to deploy an experiment that will attempt to determine how valid Anderson’s ideas are.

    The Richard Alley presentation you discussed on the show is great.

    Alley is an entertaining master of the material, but his perspective starts with what is happening to the great ice sheets of the planet. The best analysis I’ve read from people with a somewhat opposite perspective, that is, who are focused on what will happen to the oceanfront land as a result is in The Rising Sea, by Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young. Their emphasis is the US, where, they explain, an efficient economic system that could theoretically limit the cost of sea level rise of the type Richard Alley says the economic literature says exists simply does not exist in large part because of legislation and longstanding expectations and practice which causes no end of resources to be wasted in a doomed attempt to preserve the coastline where it is. The idea that rising seas will slowly and gradually move the coastline, again as Richard Alley stated the economists assume, is preposterous – what will happen is shown by the extreme event such as Katrina or Sandy.

  6. From the intro to that book on rising sea levels:

    “residents are either moving or preparing to move to higher ground before their homes get swallowed by the sea. “

    I have been struck in the past by how few take into account that erosion with rising sealevel extends the sea surface far beyond any relevant contours in sedimentary regions. I have not seen maps of SLR that include erosion effects. Those who live in or near Auckland may be aware of how rapidly the sea is chewing away the cliffs of Takapuna surmounted by palatial residences that every now and then get undermined. On the Tasman coast of the Awhitu Peninsular former trails end in cliffs where people still living can remember land now gone. For a quick look check out Clarkes Beach or take a walk around the Matakana cliff top reserve if it is still there, washed by the Nor-easters crossing the Manukau harbour.

    The chief source of this erosion is wave action. It replenishes beach sand except where stronger currents run, the beach sand taking most of the anger out of the waves. Putting in walls only increases scouring resulting in larger seas reaching cliffs and even breaking walls.. I’ve often wondered if possibly floating, seaward reefs, would be better protections. An analogy would be the effect of trees or a lattice fence in quieting wind as compared to a solid wall.

  7. “I do know this but I haven’t seen any empirical evidence to support it”

    So how hard did you look? The usual step would be check AR4. Gee, how about AR4 WG1, Chpter9.6? Handily comes with tables referencing the source papers. “Standard” reference these days would be Annan and Hargreaves 2006 and follow cites.

    And then of course there is the temp/co2 since 1970. Broecker 1975 made a pretty good prediction for temps in 2010 35 year ago based on TCS of 2.4 and ECS of 3. The prediction slightly overestimated CO2 (guessed it would be 400pm) and probably underestimated sensitivity to hit the actual temp pretty well.

    1. How do your 3 degree estimates of CS pan out give that we have had no warming for 16 years, and the Met Office expect this to continue for at least another 5? None of the models predicted this.

      All the observation data is tracking below the models, as shown in the graphs in AR5 community preview edition.

      1. More dishonest rubbish from andyS:

        give (sic) that we have had no warming for 16 years

        He will probably claim that he is not dishonest but that excuse does not stand up since anyone who is following climate science understands that temperatures have been rising over the past 16 years. Thus to claim otherwise is to be dishonest.

        See here for data on the temperature increases, shown by a number of data bases, for the past 16 years:

        The fact that someone who professes to have a degree in Maths cannot find such easily accessible data just confirms what I said in my opening sentence.

          1. No, he did not. Hansen was careful to refer only to temperature. Warming encompasses much more than just one average temperature. It will have stopped when we see no further ice loss, for example.

            1. I was referring to temperature. Hansen was referring to temperature. Ian Forrester was referring to temperature.

              If the IPCC or anyone else has other metrics to measure warming (i.e a measurable quantity that we can plot on a graph) then I’d be more than happy to use that instead of GAT if that becomes the standard

            2. There are plenty of other metrics of the energy accumulating in the system. Pretending otherwise amounts to wilful ignorance.

            3. Quite possibly, but Hansen wasn’t referring to these metrics, neither was I, and neither was Ian Forrester. So how come I am the “dishonest” one?

            4. andyS asks what he hopes will be a rhetorical question:

              So how come I am the “dishonest” one?

              However there is a simple answer as to why he is being dishonest. He stated that “we have had no warming for 16 years”. As I showed, there has been consistent warming over the past 16 years and he was not referring to Hansen. He was trying to get away with his dishonest lies and realized that he was caught out, once again, so introduced the Hansen excuse. However, Hansen was not referring to “16 years” so two lies for andyS, I wonder what his total is but I’m too lazy to keep count but it must be a very large number by now.

            5. I think there’s a very real chance he’s merely stupid. I don’t think andy has any ideas on this issue that he hasn’t neurally outsourced via cut-and-paste from CC and BH. I honestly think the apparent ignorance of the basic issues he’s displayed above isn’t.

              One side of this ‘debate’ is full of people with ‘write only’ brains.

            6. When I joined the RNZN as an education officer in the 70’s I was requested to bring with me to my interview my degrees – not copies or even certified copies – but the documents handed out at graduation – you know the ones you labour for and maybe put on the wall for a few years and then – well I think I know where they are now.
              It transpires that just prior to my joining the Navy a certain gentleman by the name of “trigger” – the Navy has a habit of giving nicknames to certain characters – had joined; stating that he held a BSc from Auckland – and indeed he presented a photocopy of a degree which appeared to have his name on it. But after a few months, things that trigger said, and his apparent grasp of matters scientific, caused others in the office to wonder just how good a degree he had. So they did their own investigation. It transpired that trigger had attended one year and failed. -The “degree” he had presented was a photocopy of someone else’s with his name superimposed over the original recipients. There is a court case I could refer you to – was it fraud or not? But it is of no matter.

              The point is, I now never take what someone claims as their qualifications as a matter of fact. What is more informative is whether or not they have a grip on the subject they are debating.

            7. I do hope our Cambridge graduate andyS is on a Koch-funded retainer, else his inability to learn simple concepts repeated ad-nauseum must indicate neurological issues; early-onset dementia, perhaps?

            8. “I was referring to temperature. Hansen was referring to temperature. Ian Forrester was referring to temperature.

              If the IPCC or anyone else has other metrics to measure warming (i.e a measurable quantity that we can plot on a graph) then I’d be more than happy to use that instead of GAT if that becomes the standard”

              andy that reply is just facile! ie “appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial.” There is more than one metric for the measurement of warming – and if you had ANY understanding of the topic you would know that to be the case. Lose of ice mass is one indicator, and measured.You can look up the references yourself there is plenty about.

              Ocean heat content is another, and measured.
              See fig 2 here for instance:

              Now stop being an idiot, average Global temperature, as you well know (or should if you’ve been paying attention) is only one part of the whole thing.

            9. if you had ANY understanding of the topic you would know that to be the case

              Indeed. From which we can conclude? I.E. is andy just playing dumb – or living it?

        1. Strangely enough, when you include the Earth’s main reservoir of heat – the oceans, you find that the rate of global warming actually increased in the last 16 years! Completely the opposite of the contrarians claims.

          This is suggested in Nuccitelli (2012). See Figure 1 & especially Table 1. No one seems to have pointed this out until now.

      2. What Ian says, plus: the ensemble of model runs for AR4 covers the observed global average temperature (GAT) trajectory, and GAT does not equal “warming”.

        The Met Office projection is experimental, and will change. Strange how that one model is suddenly regarded as reliable…

        There is one graph in the leaked AR5 draft which has a baseline error that’s being fixed. Let’s wait until the final’s published, shall we?

    2. “Standard” reference these days would be Annan and Hargreaves 2006

      From Annan’s homepage

      Another major interest of mine is the use of paleoclimate simulations to assess and evaluate climate models. According to the climate models, we can expect our current climate to change substantially through the current century (and beyond, for as long as we keep on emitting large quantities of CO2). Paleoclimates provide the only opportunity to actually evaluate the models’ ability to simulate substantially different climates to today’s, through the comparison of these simulations with proxy data

      So not much mention of empirical evidence there. Models and Paleoclimate, plus his interest in subjective Bayesian techniques to “Bet on climate change”

      All very interesting I must admit, but it is not the “empirical” evidence I was hoping for

      1. Sorry, after my last encounter, I should have known better.

        However, with patience. AndyS – Annan and Hargreaves compare MODEL to DATA (the paleo evidence). Have you some special meaning for the term “empirical”.

        Also, as I am quite sure you know but for the purposes of rhetoric are choosing to ignore, models dont predict the ins and outs of ENSO and the flat SURFACE temperature record does not any way contradict models nor estimate of sensitivity.

        If you are only interested in winning an argument through rhetoric and misinformation, then I sure you are welcome on many debating teams. I would like to think you actually would prefer to discover the truth and that means understanding the science not wilfully misrepresenting it.

        1. However, with patience. AndyS – Annan and Hargreaves compare MODEL to DATA (the paleo evidence). Have you some special meaning for the term “empirical”.

          Yes, empirical is using devices to measure parameters in the world as we currently see it. Not to make a bunch of prior assumptions (e.g that tree rings are a proxy for temperature)

        2. Yes, Phil, don’t you know this? Anything which says CO2 is not responsible for global warming is empirical. Anything which says CO2 is responsible for global warming is not empirical.

          Obvious, really.

        3. The Annan and Hargreaves paper was known particularly for placing a very low probability of ECS being above 4.5 deg C, for which it received some criticism.

          The Forster and Gregory paper had a value of ECS in the one degree ballpark, based on observational data alone. I think this is one of the few, if not the only, paper that estimates ECS without models.

          1. Forster and Gregory give range 1 – 4.1, (actually 95% limits are 1.2 to 14.2) however they were also upfront in the paper about the issues with their method. Both are authors of the IPCC section. Not quite sure what you mean by “estimating ECS without models”. If you think “model” means “GCM or ECIM”, then look again They necessarily must use at least an Energy balance model, even if implied.

  8. I was referring to temperature. Hansen was referring to temperature. Ian Forrester was referring to temperature

    Hansen was refering specifically to global surface warming and used the word ‘standstill’ to refer to temperatures in the decade in which we moved from El Niño dominance to La Niña dominance i.e. a period of warming even if the numbers were flat but NASA goes on about the decade being warmer than the previous decade so your repitition of a denialist meme plainly attests to wilful ignorance.

      1. Because ENSO IS noise to climate. A mode of internal variability. It emerges in models but is not capable of being predicted by them. Remove the effect of ENSO and it shows warming continuing. Not news to you I am sure.

        As to “previous” encounter – well your post ended up in Twilight zone. I seriously get that you dont like windmills. I would also appear that you are prepared to any argument, any source and any debating trick in your crusade against them and would ignore any evidence to the contrary.

        Tree-ring analysis is empirical data. (Proxy results without tree rings give same picture by way). O18 measurements (which is what LGM studies depend on) is empirical Ice-core data is empirical. IF you had looked at the IPCC section on empirical determinations that I referenced then you would have seen a whole lot of others. Most in fact are from instrument data, two that I could see use millennial proxy data. The attitude of “I dont like tree-rings, so I can ignore all models that fit tree-ring data” is bogus. Scientific models (using the word in its formal sense) strive to account for everything that can be measured.

        And subject of rhetoric. In a comment I ignored at the time, you questioned IPCC use of gray literature. Surely that comment was made purely for the purpose of trying to undermine references to the IPCC? The discussion was about science where the relevant report was IPCC WG1. This has around 6000 references. More than 90% are from traditional peer-reviewed sources. The remainder are mostly either textbooks, previous IPCC reports, conference proceedings and phD thesis. (There is necessarily far more gray literature in WG2 and WG3). Now it seems to me that either you are parroting an aspersion you got elsewhere without checking it or you decided to repeat a half-truth to score points in an argument. I find it hard to respect either position.

        1. Now it seems to me that either you are parroting an aspersion you got elsewhere without checking it or you decided to repeat a half-truth to score points in an argument.

          Further to my previous comment, the numbers on non peer-reviewed literature are taken from the IPCC “citizen audit” of which I took part. I agree with you that the majority of WG1 papers are peer-reviewed, but it is not some information that I got from some “denier site” (sic)

          You can download “The Delinquent Teenager who thought it was the world’s top climate scientist” and find my name hyperlinked in there if you want.

          Whether you agree with me or not, at least I got of my butt and bothered to check the literature

          1. So therefore you made that comment to score a debating point as you admit that you knew that “majority” (90% is quite a majority) were peer-reviewed?

      2. Utter nonsense from andyS (but that is what we have come to expect from this AGW denier troll). Here is what Hansen actually said in the paper that it seems andyS has not read:

        Indeed, the current stand-still of the 5-year running mean global temperature may be largely a consequence of the fact that the first half of the past 10 years had predominately El Nino conditions, while the second half had predominately La Nina conditions (Nino index in Fig. 1). Comparing the global temperature at the time of the most recent three La Ninas (1999-2000, 2008, and 2011-2012), it is apparent that global temperature has continued to rise between recent years of comparable tropical temperature, indeed, at a rate of warming similar to that of the previous three decades. We conclude that background global warming is continuing, consistent with the known planetary energy imbalance, even though it is likely that the slowdown in climate forcing growth rate contributed to the recent apparent standstill in global temperature.

        Too bad that andyS always gets his “science” from junk science sites such as as Bishop Shill and WTFUWT.

        1. From page 5 of the document you cite, Ian,

          The more important factor in the standstill is probably unforced dynamical variability, essentially climatic “noise”.

          1. The more important factor in the standstill is probably unforced dynamical variability, essentially climatic “noise”.

            Indeed Andy, indeed. The result of the combination of the underlying warming trend and this “noise” produces exactly this:

            Climate Elevator

            You can see that sideways and even temporary downward periods in the temperature data have been a common “noise” signal overlaying the trend. The Climate Elevator shows this rather clearly.

          1. Phil, perhaps you’d like to comment on the issues raised by Nic Lewis on Forster and Gregory, specifically with the IPCC’s alteration of the results by applying a uniform prior pdf of S in the range 0-18.5 degrees C

            As you know from your reading of Annan and Hargreaves, the use of a uniform prior is inappropriate.

            So why do so many IPCC cited papers on CS use uniform priors when they are deemed inappropriate by one of the most cited papers in the IPCC literature?

            There is a thread on RC about this too, if you are interested.

            1. How about because they IPCC’s job is review the scientific literature and it certainly made note of those using non-uniform priors.

            2. If they made a “note” of those using uniform priors, why did they apply a uniform prior to Forster and Gregory after the paper was published, thereby inflating the central estimate of CS and increasing the size of the tail of the pdf?

              The before and after graphs are here

              Is this a valid technique?

            3. My amazing psychic powers reveal that we’re going to get a lot of this ‘statsisticsy’ rather than merely ‘sciencey’ stuff from andy.

              Ho hum.

              I also predict that when it gets really tiresome we’ll suggest he takes it up with, say, Tamino, or the folks at RC, but he won’t. The hallmark of the truly mediocre intellect is to find an arena where you can be reasonably confident that the generalists there won’t be more au fait with your Idée fixe than you, and then play at All Conquering Genius.

              Because simply being slaughtered by the truly proficient is no fun.

              Also, Bayes Bugaboo be damned: Arctic sea-ice, 1 in 100 year weather events every few years, heat accumulating in oceans, etc. etc..

              But that’s all merely empirical, of course.

            4. The hallmark of the truly mediocre intellect

              I did leave a comment on SkS on this topic, and the RC thread already has comments by Nic Lewis and Steve Jewson, so minds far greater than mine.

              I do apologise if I am getting all “sciency” but when Mr Scadden starts lobbing “peer reviewed” references at me then I feel obliged to respond in kind.

              Of course you’d probably prefer I knew my place – in the kitchen.

            5. I think we’d prefer you stay out of the kitchen, Andy. You’d never be able to stand the heat.

    1. No. I presume that this is a cheap rhetorical trick to prove how superior you are in your debating skills.

      Why don’t you tell us what Forster’s comment is and why you think hat a uniform prior is justified in CS studies

      Steve Jewson, a statistician who has published with many climate scientists, claims that a uniform prior is inadmissible under any circumstances.

      His comment is on the RC thread on CS

      1. Piers Forster replies on the Curry thread you pointed at. As author of the paper and author of IPCC chapter, he seems rather uniquely placed to comment what happened and why. I would guess that given the way science has moved on, the same would not be done in AR5 but this was state of play in 2006.

        Here is link to his comment.

        As for all the sciency stuff, then when science is disputed, I think it not only appropriate but de rigour to be citing papers in support of the argument. That’s how science works. Then its easy to check whether the claim is correct, and on what data it is based.

        1. The comments below Piers Forster tell a tale too. You can read them for yourself. I am not going to cut and paste

          However, this topic has gone way off the original question.
          Thomas asked me where I stood on the :scale” (if one exists) of opinion on climate (sceptic, lukewarmer, whatever)

          As I said, I don’t have a “position”. My job and career doesn’t depend on it, so I don’t need to. I think CO2 has some effect on the climate. I think mankind definitely has an effect on the climate. If I were a betting man, I would bet on low climate sensitivity. I also think that reasonable measures to reduce dependencies on fossil fuels are pragmatic on a number of levels

    2. Andys – did you happen to read Forster’s comments on the matter then?


      Love the ‘No. I presume that this is a cheap rhetorical trick to prove how superior you are in your debating skills’ response. Followed by ‘why you think hat[sic] a uniform prior is justified in CS studies – a uniform prior is inadmissible’. Teh irony, it burns!

      (To be clear – and, let’s face it, I’ll need to be, as certain parties specialise in never making undue haste to catch the lift to the Uptake Department – I think that all your bruiting about of ‘invalid uniform priors’ is a cheap rhetorical trick as outlined here, andy.

      I’m not doubting Phil’s abilities, I’m just deeply suspicious of people who want to hand-wavingly deploy high-falutin’ arcana into general forums.

      I also have no doubt you have considerable mathematical abilities, andy, I just suspect this foray into probabilistic statistics will only prove to be yet another exposition of the perils of motivated reasoning.

      I do have to thank you for recommending that book on the Bayesians vs. the Frequentists – it’s a cracking read. What I don’t think is that merely having completed it will make me an expert on anything.

      I also had no idea how badly Alan Turing had been treated – how genuinely appalling.)

      1. Bill, I am glad that you enjoyed the book I recommended and I also agree that Alan Turing was very badly treated.

        I am not pretending to be an expert in Bayesian statistics and defer to those with greater knowledge. However, I am working on it – I have a reading list including papers and a mathematical textbook

  9. “What is more informative is whether or not they have a grip on the subject they are debating.”

    There is quite a lot behind this observation Macro. I would go so far as to say that a mind that is not aware of or refuses to allow the theory of climate change is unable to recognise the evidence.

    Theory is a word used in several ways. In science a theory is the highest state of a science, in one dictionary “a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.” Quite often I have seen a news item concerning yet another ‘confirmation of the theory of relativity’. As thinkers delved into this theory deductions were made as to various phenomna that in principle could be observed, some examples being the bending of light by gravitational wells, clock speeds changed with velocity, black holes. It took a long time to verify the existence of black holes but the theory enabled recognition of corresponding data. This understanding of the word theory should not be confused with speculation or even hypothesis but people do so all the same.

    So to climate science. I know this is already well known to most readers here but I traverse it in the hope of illustrating the above.

    Joseph Fourier, published 1827) used what was already known about the sun’s radiation, infra red radiation and other stuff I assume (I have not read his actual paper) to propose that the average global temperature of about 14°C would be about -18°C if some property of the atmosphere did not trap some of the outgoing heat. This was a testable hypothesis that directed attention to that heat trapping property of the atmosphere, setting the stage for future observation. Effectively this may have been the first science based climate model. Already we see the beginings of a theory, Energy balance at the top of the atmosphere, reflection of light as infra red radiation ( conduction and convection do not transport heat to space), and a greenhouse effect.

    Yet it was not until the 1850s that John Tyndall identified four greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, water vapour, ozone, CO2 and methane. He began his experiments on the basis of a misleading speculation. He thought that as this was a big effect it was probably due to a large component of the atmosphere so he began with nitrogen and oxygen only to find they were transparent. It did not take too much thought to suppose that CO2 was a key component, not the most powerful gas but the most persistent. Although a great deal hs been added since we see that if CO2 is the thermostat of planet earth it’s presence or absence in relation to climate change would be evident in the past and a basis of prediction too, prediction meaning that observations could be made.

    An easy example is the ‘finger print’ prediction that the troposphere would warm as CO2 rose while the stratosphere would cool as less radiation would be passing through it, confirmed by observation. This alone falsifies the notions that it is the sun that is providing the extra heat or that any ‘natural’ or earth based source is generating it.

    It is my thesis that those who claim or believe there is no evidence, if not doing so for purposes of disinformation, have been rendered unable to see the evidence through not having a basic understanding of climate theory, or refusing to consider it.

    1. In case anyone takes any notice of the above the use of the word ‘reflection’ in this sentence is quite inappropriate:
      “Already we see the beginings of a theory, Energy balance at the top of the atmosphere, reflection of light as infra red radiation ( conduction and convection do not transport heat to space), and a greenhouse effect.”
      It should have read:
      “Already we see the beginings of a theory, Energy balance at the top of the atmosphere, radiation of heat to space as infra red light ( conduction and convection do not transport heat to space), and a greenhouse effect.”

      1. Thanks for that, Noel.

        Continuing the story past Tyndall, there is an interesting series of posts at Real Climate regarding the errors made by early 20th-century scientists such as Angstrom and Koch, who thought rising CO2 levels would have little effect due to “saturation”, a mistake still trotted out by deniers (e.g. Bryan Leyland) from time to time.

        Unfortunately, this “junk science” led to a loss of interest in researching the topic for 50 years…

        1. This is however “partial saturation” of CO2 absorption bands, as reported in Hansen et al Global Temperature Update Through 2012

          The largest climate forcing is caused by increasing greenhouse gases, principally CO2 (Fig. 5). The annual increment in the greenhouse gas forcing (Fig. 5) has declined from about 0.05 W/m2 in the 1980s to about 0.035 W/m2 in recent years8. The decline is primarily a consequence of successful phase-out of ozone-depleting gases and reduction of the growth rate of methane. Also, the airborne fraction of fossil fuel CO2 emissions has declined and the forcing per CO2 increment declines slowly as CO2 increases due to partial saturation of absorption bands, so the CO2 forcing growth rate has been steady despite the rapid growth of fossil fuel emissions

            1. And your point is?

              My point is that there is partial saturation of the CO2 bands.
              This is why the apparent forcing relationship between CO2 and warming is logarithmic

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