Overstretching Attribution

by Judith Curry

Attribution of climate change and its impacts has been a recurring theme at Climate Etc.  The first issue of Nature Climate Change  has a provocative article entitled “Overstretching Attribution.

Overstretching Attribution

Camille Parmesan, Carlos Duarte, Elvira Poloczanska, Anthony Richardson, Michael Singer

Abstract. The biological world is responding rapidly to a changing climate, but attempts to attribute individual impacts to rising greenhouse gases are ill-advised.

Nature Climate Change 1, 2-4 (2011) doi:10.1038/
Published online 20 March 2011
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Link to article [here]
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Here is a biosketch of the first author, Camille Parmesan. An excerpt:

She has also been active in climate change programs for many international conservation organizations, such as IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), and the National Wildlife Federation, and served on the Science Council of the Nature Conservancy. She was a Lead Author and Contributing author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (2001), as well as a Co-author of the Uncertainty Guidance Report and reviewer for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007). 

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The paper starts with this rather astonishing paragraph (astonishing in the Nature venue):
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Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was once quoted in NewsMax magazine saying: “Climate change is the norm. If you want something to worry about, it would be if the climate were static. It would be like a person being dead.” Lindzen is that rare but conspicuous animal: a bona fide climate scientist who rejects the scientific consensus that current climate warming is largely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. 
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The Introduction further states:
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As biological impacts provide evidence of climate change independently of temperature measurements, they have successfully bolstered ‘detection’, strengthening the scientific consensus that Earth is warming. However, now that warming is “unequivocal”, contrarian arguments have shifted from whether warming is happening to whether it can be attributed to human activity. In this context, biologists are now expected to shift away from detection towards attribution — that is, assessing the extent to which observed biological changes are being driven by greenhouse-gas-induced climate change versus natural climate variability. This expectation is formalized in a guidance paper for scientists taking part in the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)1.

In theory, this is a scientifically sound approach. In practice, we argue that these expectations are misguided when applied to most biological data. It is rarely possible to attribute specific responses of individual wild species to human-induced climate change. This is partly because human forcing of the climate is only detectable on large spatial scales, yet organisms experience local climate. Moreover, in any given region, species’ responses to climate change are idiosyncratic, owing to basic differences in their biology. A further complication is that responses to climate are inextricably intertwined with reactions to other human modifications of the environment. Even where climate is a clear driver of change, little insight is gained by asking what proportion of the overall trend is due to greenhouse gases versus solar activity. From the perspective of a wild plant or animal, a changing climate is a changing climate, irrespective of its cause.

The section on biological complexities states:
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The IPCC guidance paper states that attribution seeks to determine whether a specified set of drivers are the cause of an observed change in a specific system1. However, the probability of successfully attributing climatic trends to greenhouse gases declines sharply at spatial scales smaller than 106 km2 and at temporal scales shorter than 50 years. Therefore, studies linking biological changes to anthropogenic climate change are likewise most robust at continental to global scales. A corollary of this limitation is that it is inappropriate to attribute single events to anthropogenic climate change.

Another challenge for biological attribution is that global average trends in impacts camouflage a striking diversity of responses, even among species living in the same area and subject to the same climatic changes. 

Some of this diversity stems from basic differences in species’ sensitivity to climate. However, there is also a complex interplay among habitat destruction, land-use change, exploitation and pollution, in addition to climate change. The emerging view is that interactions among drivers of change are the norm.

From the section on anthropogenic attribution:
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The IPCC1 believes that it is, and advocates an ever-more-detailed approach to attribution. We disagree. We argue that ‘chained-attribution’ assessments from greenhouse gases to climate change to biological change, as called for by the IPCC, are largely inappropriate, principally because our understanding of the biological impacts of climate change cannot aspire to the level achieved in physical climate science. This is not simply a matter of further research, for there is no common biological response to a single climate driver, and no simple biological metric analogous to global temperature rise. Each ecosystem, species, or even population can respond differently to climate change, and there are an estimated 30–100 million species. Thus, we are far from being able to achieve realistic coupled climate–biological models, and in an attempt to reach this goal, we risk taking research effort away from the critical issue of adaptation.
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From the concluding section entitled A way forward:
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What, then, are the most productive avenues for biological attribution research? We propose concentrating on assessment of the interacting roles of climate and other environmental factors, regardless of the causes of the climate events or trends. Such ‘attribution’ assessment would involve synthesizing multiple lines of evidence linking climate drivers with species’ responses, such as empirical studies on physiological thresholds and preferences for thermal environment, precipitation or ocean pH. It would also include palaeontological evidence for correlations between species’ changes and climate drivers in the past, and tools such as species niche models that can link observed changes in distributions to particular environmental drivers. Although this approach has been advocated in earlier IPCC reports, the importance of multi-faceted empirical assessment has been recently de-emphasized in favour of model-based approaches.

By over-emphasizing the need for rigorous assessment of the specific role of greenhouse-gas forcing in driving observed biological changes, the IPCC effectively yields to the contrarians’ inexhaustible demands for more ‘proof’, rather than advancing the most pressing and practical scientific questions. This focus diverts energies and research funds away from developing crucial adaptation and conservation measures.
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JC’s comments:  More of this please!  I wish someone would write an analogous article on the attribution of extreme weather events.  It seems that the same kind of arguments could be made for attribution of human stresses.  The broader implications of this paper is that it has seriously undercut the rationale for the entire IPCC WG II Report.

190 responses to “Overstretching Attribution

  1. “Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was once quoted in NewsMax magazine saying: “Climate change is the norm. If you want something to worry about, it would be if the climate were static. It would be like a person being dead.” Lindzen is that rare but conspicuous animal: a bona fide climate scientist who rejects the scientific consensus that current climate warming is largely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases”.
    Dr. Curry,
    Do you really think this is astonishing? Why can’t the climate be what it is? Why does it have to be that “we” are causing something? Maybe, just maybe, this earth works just fine.
    I was wondering how much change in the earths orbit, closer or farther, from the sun it would take to make it impossible for us to live here? Not much in galactic perspective. How lucky we are, huh? To get to live on an earth that is “exactly” perfect for us to thrive. Just by happenstance.

    • I find nothing astonishing prima facie about Lindzen’s quote. What is astonishing is that this quote appeared in a paper published by Nature whose first author has been an IPCC lead author.

      • Do you find it astonishing that Lindzen would analogize environmentalists and some unspecified % of climate scientists to Eugenicists?

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Joshua | April 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

        Do you find it astonishing that Lindzen would analogize environmentalists and some unspecified % of climate scientists to Eugenicists?

        Considering that many people in all three groups show an astonishing disregard for such fundamental things as falsifying the null hypothesis and supporting claims with actual observations, I don’t find it even mildly surprising that Lindzen would say that.

      • The present politicization of science is unprecedented but people look for precedents.

      • That is astonishing and refreshing!

      • Wow, yes, that’s quite something. Who would of thought :) I really need to read your whole article that you post before commenting. I’m relatively old and reading time is precious but not an excuse. I really appreciate the opportunity to share my views and for your comments.

      • Dear Professor Curry,

        Did Camille Parmesan and the IPCC perhaps overlook the evidence for

        Evolution: Continuous changes in the biological world induced by continuous changes in Earth’s climate induced by continuous changes in the solar activity induced by continuous changes in interactions between the Sun’s dense, energetic neutron core and the continuously changing positions of the orbiting planets?

        “Earth’s Heat Source – The Sun”,
        Energy and Environment 20, 131-144 (2009);

        http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

        “Neutron Repulsion”, The
        APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011);

        http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Oliver, you say:

        Did Camille Parmesan and the IPCC perhaps overlook the evidence for … [your usual solar rant snipped].

        Did you perhaps overlook the evidence that people have had it up to here with you relating everything from the length of the day to the prevalence of hemorrhoids in armadillos to your theories about the sun?

        Truly, my friend, you are losing adherents every time you do this. Go start your own blog, or find a thread that is actually about the sun, please.

        Because as you can see by the responses to your single-interest-fanatic posts, not many people believe you … and lots of folks are really bored with you.

        w.

      • Willis

        It is not right to tell people to go away.

        Respect their right to say it!

        It is not expected from you!

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Girma, clearly you don’t know Oliver Manuel. He haunts climate blogs, and paying no attention to the subject of a thread, fills it with his endless ideas about how the sun is made out of iron … he might be right about the sun, but almost always it is the wrong thread.

        After months of this, of him clogging up my own and other folks totally unrelated threads with his monomania about the sun, I’ve taken to asking him to find an appropriate thread. You know … a thread about the sun? That’s just common politeness.

        I will continue to ask him to post in an appropriate forum, and I encourage you to do the same, until he stops being the OT ghost at the wedding …

        w.

        PS – I do respect Oliver’s “right to say it” … but there’s no “right to say it” wherever and whenever he wants to.

      • Willis,

        Do you seriously believe that you can understand current changes in Earth’s climate without understanding changes in Earth’s heat source – the Sun ?

        Those changes are recorded in the Earth’s geologic record and in the biological record of the evolution of life.

        Meteorites formed and started recording events almost immediately after a supernova produced our elements.

        Nature published early findings [1-4] that eventually convinced us the Sun:

        a.) Gave birth to the Solar System five (5) billion years (Gyr) ago in a supernova explosion that produced many extinct radioactive species, like I-129, Pu-244, Pd-107, etc;

        b.) Sorted elements and isotopes by mass (mass fractionation) and covered the top of the photosphere with lightweight elements like H and He and with lightweight isotopes of each element, e.g., 3.5% per mass unit from Xe-124 to Xe-136, and

        c.) Reformed on the pulsar from which circular polarized light had separated d- and l- amino acids.

        These and later surprising observations on Earth’s heat source are summarized in this new paper [5].

        References:

        1. “Nuclear fission in the early history of the Earth,” Nature 187, 36- 38 (1960).

        2. “Mass fractionation and isotope anomalies in neon and xenon,” Nature 227, 1113-1116 (1970).

        3. “Xenon record of the early solar system,” Nature 262, 28-32 (1976).

        4. “Isotopes of tellurium, xenon and krypton in the Allende meteorite retain record of nucleosynthesis”, Nature 277, 615-620 (1979).

        5. “Neutron Repulsion”, The APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011):

        http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

      • Oliver

        Willis is right. You have become a broken record. Think about it.

      • I respect Willis Eschenbach contribution to the global climate debate, and I admit I sound like a broken record:

        Repeatedly trying to communicate the fact that we cannot understand the causes of climate change by blindly accepting misinformation that government agencies have fed the public about Earth’s unstable heat source – the Sun – since the time of the 1969 Apollo Mission.

        The success of NASA, EPA, DOE, NOAA, NSF in manipulating and hiding experimental data are directly refuted by changes in the Sun that are recorded in:

        a.) The geological record,
        b.) The evolution of life, and in
        c.) Separated d- and l-amino acids in meteorites and in life forms on Earth, including you and me.

        On 17 Jan 1961 former President Eisenhower warned about the danger to our free society if “public policy” became “captive of a scientific-technological elite” in his farewell address:

        http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

        Despite President Eisenhower’s warning, Professor Matthew Nisbet has recently documented that “the effort by environmentalists to pass cap and trade may have been the best financed political cause in history and that news coverage of climate change overwhelmingly reflected the consensus view among scientists.”

        http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-cap-environmentalists-edge-opponents.html

        Again, I respect Willis Eschenbach contribution to the global climate debate and I hope that we can both teach by example the wisdom of the Desiderata:

        “Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
        and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant;
        they too have their story.”

      • A much better explanation of the Sun’s impact on Earth’s climate is given in today’s news story by Dr. David Whitehouse:

        “Is It The Sun Wot Done It?”

        http://thegwpf.org/the-observatory/2864-is-it-the-sun-wot-done-it.html

      • There is nothing remarkable in the use of the quote or where or how it appears here. The quote is used to reinforce the reality of consensus as opposed to suggesting anyone take Lindzen (or ‘contrarians’) seriously. They are criticizing Lindzen and using Lindzen’s own view, expressed in his own words, to represent what they are criticizing and reacting to.

        Has it really been so long since you attempted intellectual honesty here on this blog that you no longer even know what it looks like? Seriously.

        Unbelievable.

      • Unbelievable.

        The real unbelievable is not to question consensus when it was arrived by hiding, deleting and adjusting data.

      • Martha, maybe you need stronger reading glasses. The Lindzen quote is used because the authors agree with it, as is borne out by the rest of their paper.

      • Why no comment on whether you are astonished that Lindzen would analogize environmentalists and some unspecified % of climate scientists to Eugenicists, Judith?

        Lindzen wrote his article comparing climate scientists to Eugenicists in 1995. He didn’t clarify which climate scientists he was referring to (as if doing so would make the analogy acceptable).

        In other words, you were probably included in the group he was referring to when he made that statement.

        Not being an expert, I can’t really analyze Lindzen’s science (although a recent post at Skeptical Science seems to make a pretty thorough criticism), and so there’s no way to know whether Lindzen’s over-the-top tribalism affects his science, but it is astonishing to me that a well-credentialed scientist would make such a facile and obviously-flawed analogy.

        So, how do you feel about Lindzen’s tribalism, Judith?

      • Um, describing the climate as having a pulse sounds more like a Lovelockian reference than any allusion to eugenics. The link is in your mind, and your projection of it is disturbing to the rest of the filmviewers.
        ===============

      • I beg your pardon, Joshua; I’ve reread your comment and it seems you want to fight old, forgotten far off wars, and battles long ago.

        Well, gird, I guess.
        =======

      • Not an old war, kim
        asymmetrical attacks
        birthed anew by Jude

      • Since you want to fight that war, Joshua, why don’t you refute Lindzen’s points – in detail?

        You keep insinuating that he’s wrong, but you fail to present any proof or logic to back up your argument.

        I believe this is not Climate Progress or RealClimate where that kind of blindfolded handwaving in the dark argument is acceptable to or respected by the denizens.

        BTW – your deceptive hype answer is here –

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/04/19/climate-shift/#comment-64718

      • Jim, I’m not “insinuating” that he’s wrong.

        I’m stating that his analogy is pure tribalism. Anyone can select a limited set of characteristics and subjectively argue why they might apply to a vastly heterogenous group of people. That doesn’t make it valid.

        There is no purpose in Lindzen’s analogy other than to be tribal. Here is one of the subjects in his comparison.

        The “interventions” advocated and practiced by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals and entire racial groups — such as the Roma and Jews — as “degenerate” or “unfit”; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination.

        Not one of those policies advocated by eugenicists resembles any policy advocated by any significant number of climate scientists or environmentalists.

        You will notice that Judith fails to comment on Lindzen’s analogy. Could the reason be that even she can’t rationalize away that kind of tribalism by a leading “denier/skeptic” scientist?

        What other explanation could their possibly be?

      • Jim, Linzen’s analogy is pure tribalism. Anyone can select some attributes of one group and subjectively argue that it applies to another. That doesn’t make the analogy valid.

        The “interventions” advocated and practiced by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals and entire racial groups — such as the Roma and Jews — as “degenerate” or “unfit”; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination.

        Not one of those policies advocated by eugenicists resembles any policies advocated by any representative number of environmentalists or climate scientists. Please note that Judith was a member of the group Lindzen was referring to when he wrote his article comparing climate scientists to eugenicists.

        You will notice Judith hasn’t commented on Lindzen’s analogy. Could that be because even she can’t rationalize away such an obvious example of tribalism from a leading “denier/skeptic” scientist?

        Curious, isn’t it? Perhaps I should ask her about Linzen’s tribalism some more to make sure it wasn’t just that she missed the question?

      • Looks like I’m going to have to post this in segments to see what is snagging on the filter.

        Jim, Linzen’s analogy is pure tribalism. Anyone can select some attributes of one group and subjectively argue that it applies to another. That doesn’t make the analogy valid.

      • Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about policies advocated by eugenicists:

        The “interventions” advocated and practiced by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, [non-heterosexuals] and entire racial groups — such as the Roma and Jews — as “degenerate” or “unfit”; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination.

      • Found the snag – it was that “non-heterosexuals” part:

        The rest of my original post:

        Not one of those policies advocated by eugenicists resembles any policies advocated by any representative number of environmentalists or climate scientists. Please note that Judith was a member of the group Lindzen was referring to when he wrote his article comparing climate scientists to eugenicists.

        You will notice Judith hasn’t commented on Lindzen’s analogy. Could that be because even she can’t rationalize away such an obvious example of tribalism from a leading “denier/skeptic” scientist?

        Curious, isn’t it? Perhaps I should ask her about Linzen’s tribalism some more to make sure it wasn’t just that she missed the question?

      • Then prove it, Josh. Without the hot air and handwaving. Saying it doesn’t make it true.

      • Sorry, Josh but that won’t cut it –
        First because you made no direct comparison to Lindzen’s article. Point by point. So you failed the first test.

        Seconly, you used Wikipedia rather than any authoritative text on the subject. Wiki is the “short-cut” version of the world and doesn’t cover it all. For example, you failed to cover the attitudes, beliefs, background, politics, extent of the virus, intended (and executed ) actions and the pseudoscientific basis of the illness.

        So far you’ve “proved” nothing except that you want to get away easy and that you’re willing to smear others in order to “win”.

      • Joshua-
        “There is no purpose in Lindzen’s analogy other than to be tribal.”

        Tribalism has objective features, but you don’t point to any to support your assertion. An example would be sharing your paper details only with members of your tribe – an asymmetric view of what is acceptable and unacceptable which depends on tribe status of the individuals involved. I don’t see tribalism in Lindzen’s analogy, but I’m not likely to see things that aren’t there.

      • M, they show how the consensus fooled themselves into believing a reality that just ain’t so. Read it again.
        ==============

      • So what you’re saying is that they’re changing the consensus and pretending that it’s always been that way. And hoping that nobody will notice.

        And this is intellectual honesty HOW?

        Would you know intellectual honesty if it bit you on the ….?

        Typical.

      • steven mosher

        “The paper starts with this rather astonishing paragraph (astonishing in the Nature venue):”

        the claim is made that this is astonishing in the nature venue.
        One way to test this claim is to do the following.

        Count the article’s in nature that cite Lindzen’s views.
        Count those that support his views and those that oppose his views.

        we can get a bit more detailed in how we do the math but what I take Judith to be saying is this. She is personally astonished at the appearence of such a quote. meaning she was surprised to see it. On its face such a report cannot be easily challenged, since it is a report of her astonishment. We can test whether this is objectively a surprising occurance with some rather rudimentary statistics. Hint: seeing a “u” after ‘q’ is not surprising. Seeing Lindzen’s words used in a positive fashion may be a rare event.
        At this stage I would tend to give some credence to Judith’s report since she reads Nature more frequently than I do. If a person is a tuned in reader, over time, they will absorb what is usual for a text and what is surprising for a text. Changes in the statistics of texts, particularly in texts which are governed by an editorial process ( an accepted style) are important. In fact you can find some editorial practices which require writers to insert specific language in order to bring a text into alignment with editorial positions on climate change. I can hunt up a very specific example of this in the climategate mails regarding EOS and Mann’s response to the Soon paper. If you doubt it.

    • Kent,
      it is exactly this isssue we are all interested in assessing (from different perspectives). This isn’t the end point it is the very first question considered. The tens of thousands of scientists working on the topic include those who have examined the relationship between climate and the sun and much of that research factors out these forces (hence suggesting there is something else, such as CO2 increases associated with, for example, the burning of fossil fuels). As for your final point, this is an interesting issue. One response is that only by the fact that at the moment it can support life are we arround to ask these questions (thus to be able to ask the question the condtions MUST exist) or other views about multiverses, in which we are in one that has the appropriate perameters. There is a whole literature on it that covers maths, physics and philosophy.

      http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

    • This statement by Judith seems to need repeating, and repeating, over and over. She said it at the beginning: “The paper starts with this rather astonishing paragraph (astonishing in the Nature venue):” and then again here: “I find nothing astonishing prima facie about Lindzen’s quote. What is astonishing is that this quote appeared in a paper published by Nature whose first author has been an IPCC lead author.”

      I am sure most registered that and understood it from the first, and I feel it both unfair to Judith, and a useless (perhaps even mildly harmful) diversion to use it in comments as an issue which simply is not there.

      • Sam the Skeptic

        … a useless (perhaps even mildly harmful) diversion to use it in comments as an issue which simply is not there.

        As good a definition of ‘trolling’ as I have seen in a long time!

    • Staying with the paragraph on Lindzen, I understood and accepted Judith’s astonishment at once – as Mosher says, she reads Nature more than me. But despite that and other hopeful signs in the article this still grated:

      Lindzen is that rare but conspicuous animal: a bona fide climate scientist who rejects the scientific consensus that current climate warming is largely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

      For Lindzen makes the far more important point that even if current warming is largely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases – what he calls the ‘iconic statement’ of IPCC WG1 – it is no basis for alarm of any kind. This points directly at all the problems with attribution Dr. Curry, unlike so many, has been so honest about.

      This article is indeed remarkable for starting with a quote from Lindzen with which they agree. I don’t wish to be discouraging but real progress would be to do justice to the views of such an important communicator of climate science – right or wrong.

  2. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, I too found it encouraging that they would give that much. However, they are still among the alarmists. What I absolutely loved was this statement, given without the slightest attempt at a citation:

    However, the probability of successfully attributing climatic trends to greenhouse gases declines sharply at spatial scales smaller than 10^6 km2 and at temporal scales shorter than 50 years.

    They claim this why? Because they’ve been so successful at falsifying the null hypothesis at larger scales? Because the models are so good at predicting global rainfall, crucial for all of life?

    And I love the accuracy of their dividing line, a million square km and fifty years … so they can “attribute climatic trends” for Alaska, but not for Texas? They’re good on trends in Bolivia, but bad in Argentina?

    Again I say, I weep for science. AGW supporters keep wanting to declare victory (that they can “attribute climatic trends”) when they have never been able to take the first step in that direction, they’ve been unable to show that the trends are anything but normal climate variation?

    Judith, you’ll have to explain how that works, ’cause I don’t get it.

    w.

    • However, the probability of successfully attributing climatic trends to greenhouse gases declines sharply at spatial scales smaller than 10^6 km2 and at temporal scales shorter than 50 years.

      The question that arises is a probalistic description possible ,there are a number of constraints eg Nalimov.

      We can say that the nature of change in biology is random, since it is impossible to find an expression for a sufficiently detailed description that is considerably shorter than the “most complete” description of the observed phenomenon. In other words, it is not possible to construct a model of a generator of mutations in terms of ordinary cause-effect relations, i.e., it is not possible to find the causes that unambiguously generate the full diversity of observed mutations. Having found that the nature of change is random, we are greatly surprised that there does not exist an ordinary probabilistic description of the observed phenomena. An ordinary statistical description of phenomena is possible if, on the basis of the results of observations carried out on a small sample, we can
      calculate the distribution parameters which make it possible to obtain an idea of the behavior of the complete sequence of phenomena. In the case of biological changes, observations made on a small sequence of phenomena do not yield information about the subsequent behavior of the system. In such a case, averaged characteristics have no significance.The individual manifestations of the phenomena are important, irrespective of their probability of occurrence.

    • >and fifty years 20/30 years to keep the devil-CO2 narrative alive … and so it came to be. Very quickly, too

      Soooo predictable – much easier than predicting actual climatic events :)

  3. A biological effect that is of relevance is why those pine trees declined (as in hide the decline). One idea is that they had reached a stress level they hadn’t encountered in their previous centuries of history due to the warming that had already occurred by the 60’s. More of that research would be useful, so that we can understand the proxies better.

    • Yeah. Don’t hide the decline, ride the decline.

    • That’s bull, Jim.

      You haven’t paid sufficient attention to McIntyre and Briffa’s deletion of dendro data prior to 1550 because it didn’t calibrate against the temps. If it didn’t calibrate prior to 1550, then blaming the same kind of non-calibration after 1960 on human generated CO2 effects is a non-starter (IOW – illogical).

      • Your logic is that the reason for deletion prior to 1550 has to be the same as that for post 1960. Are you sure of that? The climate by 1960 was quite different from anything prior. I hope these are the questions the biologists can get a better handle on, because, as I say, we don’t know, and pro-AGW hypotheses can be made consistent with the decline with our current biological knowledge of those pines, as I pointed out in my example.

      • charles the moderator

        With this kind of post-hoc cherrypicking and discarding of adverse data:

        the “….pro-AGW hypotheses can be made consistent with the decline…”

        becomes:

        the….”pro-AGW hypotheses can be made consistent with the conceivable observation(s)…”

        The pro-AGW vs. skeptic paleoclimate argument in a single two comment exchange. He’ll likely go on but I won’t.

      • Grow up Louise.

      • Gosh, what a witty response.

      • Didn’t Obama promise us that this was going to be the point when the seas were going to stop rising?

      • ‘rise of the oceans begun to slow and our planet begin to heal’.

        He’s good, isn’t he?
        ============

      • Yikes, ‘began’ not ‘begun’ and ‘begin’. It’s on a paper napkin. Not on my palm, but that would be a goooooood excuse.
        ===========

      • I advocate understanding all the data, not cherry-picking. For this we need biological research into tree rings growth and the extent to which climate or other factors affect them. Then we would have an objective idea of when to use or discard them, rather than the current subjective approach.

      • There are too many variables, in too many places, and too many unknowns. Pssst. Can I interest you in a little larch I have that is all grown up, now?
        =========

      • Presume said biological research will also explain pre-1550 exclusion. BUt until such theories buy their way in, the exclusionary action was sh** science.

      • Jim D –
        Your logic is that the reason for deletion prior to 1550 has to be the same as that for post 1960.

        No – My logic is that since neither pre-1550 nor post-1960 dendro calibrates against temps, then the 1550 (or 1880, as the case may be) to 1960 dendro/temp calibration is based on corelation rather than causation. And using the dendro data for the purpose it was (is?) used for would be one of the several forms of voodoo science.

        The climate by 1960 was quite different from anything prior.

        So what? Neither end fits. So while the climate may be different, all that says is the trees respond to some aspect of the climate other than temperature or in addition to temperature or possibly in ways that we don’t yet understand or are ignoring.

        I hope these are the questions the biologists can get a better handle on, because, as I say, we don’t know

        You know, once in a while it’s a good thing to hear someone say “we don’t know”. Thank you.

        and pro-AGW hypotheses can be made consistent with the decline with our current biological knowledge of those pines, as I pointed out in my example.

        Maybe. We’ll see.

    • Sam the Skeptic

      More research into a phenomenon that we cannot explain but goes against what we are expecting is always useful, JimD, but I’m not sure where the idea that the divergence was due to a stress level caused by warming came from. 1960 was in the middle of a 30-year temperature decline and the fact of the divergence itself must have cast doubts on the accuracy of the overall proxy relationship.
      How many times do we have to hammer away at the same simple argument?
      If the relationship was good for 100 years and then can be proved to have gone bad all claims that it was good in the times before a proper comparison between proxy and observed temperature was possible must be thrown into doubt.
      That’s not climate science; that’s logic and common sense.

      • That particular line had reached its highest point in history before the decline started, so it may have gone into a new regime, as the speculation about it suggests. I think it came from D’Arrigo et al. (2007, Global and Planetary Change). Search for ‘D’Arrigo stress’ with Google.

      • “That particular line had reached its highest point in history ”

        How do you actually know that?

        The argument relies on an assumed knowledge of the rate of change of temperature at a point in history where there were no direct (thermometer) measurements.

        If the rate of change then exceeded the current rate, then this “switch” would have happened with less of a peak in the line.

        Were there only one divergence, the argument you put forward might have some merit, but two known ones? The default assumption has to be not only that the reasons are probably the same, but that it will have probably happened on other occasions that we don’t know about as well.

        I think the reluctance to ditch the proxy as completely unreliable is more based upon an emotional attachment because of the time & effort that its construction has obviously taken than any actual legitimate argument for accuracy.

      • Peter –
        I think the reluctance to ditch the proxy as completely unreliable is more based upon an emotional attachment because of the time & effort that its construction has obviously taken than any actual legitimate argument for accuracy.

        Those who have built their lives and reputations never give up easily. Most of them never give up at all. That’s why it’s said that science is built on the graves of those who came before.

  4. Just as wet is an inherent component of water, change is an inherent component of climate. It is just so.

    And yet “Water Wet” sounds really dumb but we have come to accept “Climate Change” as credulous.

    Now that is the power of marketing over common sense.

    • “Climate change” surely is the first manifestation of kickback from the quiet scientific climate scientists. It means nothing and is scientifically correct and prevent major egg on face when the previous “global warming” turns out not to be.

    • Exactly right.

      Actually, I think that when all the cAGW debris is removed, we will learn that the 20th century saw the least climate change compared to the last 1000 years and that last millenium was the most stable climate compared to the last 10 000 years.

      Now, that will be ironic!

  5. Climate change was the norm until humans invented farming some 14,000 years ago. Antarctic ice core data show this very clearly. Before farming was invented, surface temperature fluctuated between 14 and 6 degrees centigrades, and climate change was part of the natural laws. After farming was invented, surface temperature fluctuated between 14 and 12 degrees centigrades, virtually steady and no significant climate change. The difference between the distant past and now is that our civilization and way of life must be accounted for and factored in the present climate change.

  6. Stephen Pruett

    This is indeed encouraging. However, the aspect that is still troubling is that it has taken so long for someone in climate science to actually articulate that which has been painfully obvious to informed outsiders (particularly biologists) for a long time. The local and regional records I have seen often indicate no trend at all, and making conclusions on the basis of tenths of a degree change in 1200 km grids is just ridiculous. Why has this only now become obvious?

  7. Thanks Dr curry for your blog.

    What i understand is that many “mainstreamers” use AW as solution to explaine thinks and then they forget that to think with their brain!. Here is bias…

  8. Having a look at “Nature Climate Change”, it looks like the article on “overstretching attribution” is about as close as it will get to the skeptical scientific argument. The mainstream media and major science journals have been overwhelmingly warmist in perspective and unlikely to lead in challenging thought on climate change.

  9. Very encouraging indeed. It would be great not to have the weekly tale of some species in local peril. Probably too much to hope for, but useful quotations.

  10. A NEW “CONTRARIAN ARGUMENT”

    If the global mean temperature anomaly (GMTA) pattern of the 20th century repeats in the 21st century, unlike the GMTA increase of about 1 deg C in the 20th century, why is that there will be nearly zero increase in the GMTA in the 21st century?

    Study of the GMTA pattern for the 20th century (http://bit.ly/cO94in) shows the following patterns:

    1) During the global cooling phase, the GMTA decreases by 0.42 deg C in 30 years.

    2) Global cooling and warming phases alternate with each other.

    3) During the global warming phase, the GMTA increases by 0.77 deg C in 30 years.

    According to the data shown in the graph above, it is true that the global warming of the 20th century was large. As a result, it is true that the corresponding sea level rise, melting of sea ice or the corresponding climate change in general were also large. However, this was because the 20th century started when the oscillating anomaly was at its minimum near 1910 with GMTA of –0.64 deg C and ended when it was at its maximum near 2000 with GMTA of 0.48 deg C, giving a large global warming of 0.48+0.64=1.12 deg C for the 20th century. This large warming was due to the rare events of two global warming phases of 0.77 deg C each but only one cooling phase of 0.44 deg C occurring in the 20th century, giving a global warming of 2*0.77-0.42=1.12 deg C.

    In contrast to the 20th century, from the graph above, there will be nearly no change in GMTA in the 21st century. This is because the century started when the oscillating anomaly was at its maximum near 2000 with GMTA of 0.48 deg C and will end when it is at its minimum near 2090 with GMTA of 0.41 deg C, giving a near zero change in GMTA of 0.41-0.48=-0.07 deg C. This near zero change in GMTA is due to the rare events of two global cooling phases of 0.42 deg C each but only one warming phase of 0.77 deg C occurring in the 21st century, giving the near zero change in GMTA of 0.77-2*0.42=-0.07 deg C. As shown in the graph above, note that this little change in GMTA for the 21st century is identical to that from 1880 to 1970 (90 years), which made the global warming from 1970 to 2000 by 0.77 deg C appear to be abnormally high.

    If the period for a century had been 120 years instead of 100, we wouldn’t have this conundrum of nearly 1 deg C warming in the 20th century but nearly none in the next!

    • Does somebody who considers themselves a skeptic want to take a crack at explaining what’s wrong with this argument? (hint: it’s not that the global mean temperature in 2100 might not be pretty close to the global mean temperature in 2000, because – on the arguments made here – it might be.)

    • Girma, good observation.

      This is an important issue that is all too often glossed over. The 60-65 year climate cycle means we have 1.5 oscillations per century. As they are currently alinged very closely with the century boundary, this leads to a statistical problem.

      We either get 2 warmings and 1 cooling per century, or 2 coolings and 1 warming. In the past century we had 2 warmings and 1 cooling, and temperatures increased.

      However, in this century we are liokely to get 1 warming and two coolings, and temperatures will not increase, similar to what happened 2 centuries ago.

      This then is a basis for testing the GHG theory. If temperatures in this century remain relatively flat in the face of incresing CO2 levels, CO2 is not the primary driver of climate.

      Unless and until temperatures return to their rapid rate of increase, there would appear to be no case for drastic action. It has been said many times that 15 years without significant warming would be sufficient to falsify the GHG theory.

      We have now had about 12 years without significant warming. Does this means that we can expect the IPCC to delare the GHG theory falsified if we do not see significant warming by 2014? Or, can we expect to see the IPCC move the goal posts? Any wagers?

      • We have now had about 12 years without significant warming

        And cooling since 2002!

        http://bit.ly/fWxIYn

      • steven mosher

        “It has been said many times that 15 years without significant warming would be sufficient to falsify the GHG theory”

        Not really. the closest thing you might find is gavin acknowledging that 15 years of cooling ( but how much?) would require us to revisit certain aspects of our understanding. So for example, today we might argue that 75% of the warming we have seen since 1950 is due to GHGs and 25% due to internal variability [ for example]. A prolonged period of some cooling ( but how much? .02C? .0001C? .2C??) would probably force people to look at the 75% number. That doesnt falsify a theory.
        the theory is falsifiable in principle which is all that is required philosophically for it to be meaningful, but 15 years of cooling would most likely lead to theoretical adjustments rather than a wholesale rejection of the theory. That’s the way it goes with theories that are ground in fundamental physics.

      • You’ve actually got two knobs; the attribution, and the feedback. You can leave the attribution alone if you’re willing to back down on the feedback, and vice-versa. But the longer the cooling goes on, the more the attribution*feedback product gets constrained.

      • Scratch that. Note to self: don’t comment on blogs under the influence of cold medicine.

      • Yes, I always warm my medicine.

      • Won’t buy it, Steve. A theory is falsifiable when it makes specific predictions that can be verified. If those predictions fail verification then the theory is falsified and must be modified or discarded.

        Einstein made predictions – that were as difficult of verification as anything related to climate should have been if AGW were what it’s been advertised to be. And Einstein’s predictions were verified in detail. And still – Einstein’s theory is known to be incomplete if not wrong.

        What, then, is there to be said about climate science, which cannot make reasonable, verifiable predictions. Strictly speaking Hansen’s 1988 predictions have already falsified AGW. As have the multitude of predictions of sea level rise, Arctic ice melt, extreme temperatures, desertification, biological extinctions, and a host of others.

        But since actual “science”, ala Einstein, is no longer practiced……

      • steven mosher

        theories are neither verified or falsified. they are confirmed or disconfirmed.

      • Hmm – theories can only be falsified – never verified. But predictions can be verified – or falsified. Agreed that for predictions one could also use the words confirmed or disconfirmed.

        All this, of course, is only the result of the last 2500 years of evolving science. Perhaps we’re still evolving?

      • steven mosher

        theories are not really falsified. abandoned and modified who be a bteer desription of what actually happens

        start here.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Duhem

        and this might help you.

        http://www.ecclectica.ca/issues/2003/1/lewthwaite.asp

      • I started with a course in Philosophy of Science. Went on to a series of 5 on Science History. Over the last 3 years.

        Still don’t trust Wiki – it’s too much shortcut and too little reality.

        But I’ll try the other one tonight.

      • .. and there is no independent theory of AGW or even of climate.

        The fundamental theory for these phenomena is physics. Estimating the significance of AGW is an application of physics supported by a wide pool of information about the atmosphere, oceans and other systems of significance for the problem

        Comparing to the theories of Einstein is totally out of place, unless we are looking what we learn about the fundamentals of physics when we study climate.

        It’s known that all physical phenomena related to climate cannot be taken into account. It’s also known that everything we can say on climate is incomplete and imprecise. Some results may be good enough for their intended use, some others not, but nothing in this either verifies or disproves A Theory.

        Popper’s criterion for science is always problematic, here it’s totally out of place.

      • That is a whole lotta assumptions and excuses to grant climate science some sort of special status to not be falsifiable or provable.

      • The fundamental theory for these phenomena is physics. Estimating the significance of AGW is an application of physics supported by a wide pool of information about the atmosphere, oceans and other systems of significance for the problem

        Hmm. Here is a no doubt incomplete list of things that we currently have very little understanding of, or even little data on, all of which affect climate and which may (indeed probably do) interact:

        * the dynamics of multi-dimensional turbulence
        * the dynamics and drivers of oceanic cycles
        * the dynamics and drivers of clouds

        Each one, on it’s own, could produce the climate patterns we have witnessed over the 20th century. IF they interact (which seems likely to me – no cite, no evidence, just my belief) and if such interactions are non-linear (there is no a priori reason to suspect that such interactions would be linear, or even predictable) THEN a chaotic interaction between just these three could easily produce a random walk of climate that produced the observed 20th century changes. Lindzen has shown (not all agree with him, but he makes a logical arguement) that just one of these may have been badly misunderstood by climate science – that the assumptions of the main-stream could be incorrect.

        I guess the point of this rant is that “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. If you are only focused on using what you think you know and ignoring, guessing at and making assumptions about what you don’t know, you will be surprised if, as and when those guesses and assumptions turn out to be incorrect.

        I do not recall too many main-stream climate scientists suggesting over a decade of stagnent SAT and OHC, but there were quite a few outlier climate scientists who did, and some have shown to be quite accurate to date. That’s concerning, especially when such theories that produced more accurate predictions of just these climate metrics than the mainstream are still regularly dismissed by the mainstream as “crackpot” or similar.

        It is not what we “know” that concerns me – it is that this appears to me to be a dangerously small amount and that we are making decisions based on such a tenuous grasp of the drivers of climate. That we have the hubris to believe that, with at best several centuries of reasonably solid data of just one metric of a system we can reasonably suspect of containing several semi-cyclic variations at time scales of decades to millenia – none of which we can reasonably say we understand well – we can project the state of the climate out to a century in the future. I do not believe that this is reasonable, although I would be happy for anyone to suggest how it is. Here’s a tip if you want to try – climate is significantly more complex than gravity, yet a three body problem in gravity is fiendishly difficult to calculate, even where we have extremely accurate information on the relevant variables and the “drivers” are well quantified. If there are more than two interacting drivers of climate (which seems so likely that one could not easily, if at all, dismiss it) and we are uncertain of even one of them (again, this seems so likely that one could not easily, if at all dismiss it), how much faith would you put in predictions of our climate’s future path? Yet that appears to me to be the current state of affairs – that we are relying on such predictions.

        Tell me it ain’t so…

      • I agree with Pekka here. As to Neil’s argument, it is a variant of the old “climate is unknowable” argument. There are fundamental reasons to dismiss most of it having to do with time scales: a century is a very long time compared to the time scales of turbulent mixing, so any nonlinearities should long since have averaged out. But this is a side show. The main issue is that Neil is arguing that the system is in some sense completely unknowable (despite the fact that medicine makes recommendations on a far more complex system that he is likely to take seriously).

        The thing is that most people making this argument get the practical conclusion backwards. If you really don’t know anything about something that all life depends on, is it really reasonable to keep changing its properties? If climate science is on reasonably firm ground, we have some estimates of how bad things will get and how soon if we change its radiative properties. But if we know nothing, things could as easily be even worse as even better. Accordingly, the rational basis for restraining greenhouse gas emissions is even stronger, as the risks are unconstrained!

        You would think that the argument from atmospheric ineffability would be associated with alarmism, not insouciance!

      • Pekka –
        Comparing to the theories of Einstein is totally out of place, unless we are looking what we learn about the fundamentals of physics when we study climate.

        You missed the point. The comparison to Einstein was valid in terms of how science should be conducted. Comparison in terms of content is a different discussion.

      • The main issue is that Neil is arguing that the system is in some sense completely unknowable

        Straw man noted.

        I have not and do not make such an arguement. I am saying “we DO not know” not “we CAN not know”.

        Please cite a paper in any field of science that shows measured data covering less than 20% of a semi-chaotic systems known states, then extrapolates to at least 40% of the length of that data and finally has been shown to be even remotely accurate in it’s predictions. I don’t believe you will find a single one, but by all means prove me wrong.
        As to the numbers, they relate to changes of 4C in GMST (IIRC approx the difference between glacial and interglacial, 20% approx is 0.8C, approx the change over 20th C) and 40% of 150 years of thermometer data is 60 years (we see predictions for 100 years or more), so I suspect I am erring in your favour. However, I will allow some movement of the numbers if you so desire – just find the smallest sample and the longest prediction and see how close you can get.

      • Neil and Jim,
        There are very many systems that are physical by nature and which are believed to follow laws of physics or more specifically the laws of non-relativistic quantum mechanics and electromagnetism (or some other well defined set of known physical theories).

        Very many of these systems are too complicated for being described by practical calculations starting from the fundamental equations. In some cases additional well defined laws have been found to apply. The classical thermodynamics developed to be a powerful theory before its relationship with the fundamental laws of micro-physics were understood and before it could be derived from these laws and mathematical theories of statistics (the laws of statistics are the most important component, the details of micro-physics come up less in thermodynamics).

        Another important area is fluid dynamics. Here the calculations starting from micro-physics fail to explain turbulence quantitatively. A multitude of models of turbulence have been developed allowing them to be without full theoretical backing, but making them as closely follow various conservation laws and other basic laws of physics as practical, while forcing the models to agree also with experiments as well as possible. We may say that these models constitute a theory of turbulent flow, or we may think that its not really a theory but rather a set of models useful for practical calculations. When these models fail to explain well some particular flow pattern we do not say that we have disproved a theory. We say rather that we have found a case where our models are not good enough.

        The climate system is a very much more complex extension of what I wrote above about fluid dynamics. Nobody really pretends to have a theory of the climate system, while many think that they have climate models built on theories of physics, but containing many additional inputs of other nature. Observing that one of those models fails to produce correct results tells that that particular model was not good enough for the task, but does not disprove any theory.

        AGW is a property of climate, very likely to be true at some level. Saying that AGW exceeds some specific strength is a hypothesis, but its not a theory. We can choose the details of the hypothesis linked with AGW in any number of ways. Some of these hypotheses can be disproved by empirical data, others cannot, but any of the hypotheses is just a chosen case not forced by a theory.

        Disproving such an hypothesis is something totally different from disproving the theory of General Relativity or some other real theory. This is the reason for my statement that comparing with Einstein is not justified.

        The ideas of philosophy of science are always restricted to some specific issues. The statement on the falsification by a single disagreement applies to a very small subset of scientific knowledge. Even the best theories of physics are known to be incomplete and to fail when applied beyond their limits of validity. A well confirmed failure of a prediction within the expected range of validity is a very rare occurrence that may lead to such a scientific revolution as the development of Quantum Mechanics or the Relativity, but how many of those surprises do we have?

      • Pekka, thanks for the post – very clear.

        I would like to point out that your post pokes large holes in the idea that the models are correct because they are based on solid physical priciples. If what you say is true (and I believe from what I have seen and read of them that it is) then the idea that we would adjust data based on the output of the models becomes even more farcical than if the models were full ground-up simulations from basic physics – they are, according to your post, heuristic models and only useful for predictive purposes once they have proved themselves so and even then only under quite specific circumstances.

        That the models are useful tools was never in doubt as far as I am concerned, however I do not believe it is fair to say that these models have made a sufficient number of correct predictions under a wide enough range of conditions to be considered accurate enough to base wide ranging policy on. Would you agree that it would be fair to classify them as indicative rather than informative at this point in time? That is to say, we should not consider them as evidence that AGW is significant, but rather as support for the possibility it is significant. And if you do indeed agree with that classification, what does this imply about attribution studies relying on them? “Highly speculative” to be kind, I would think!

      • Neil,
        My position is that the evidence is not clear and simple enough to allow a two step procedure:

        Step 1. Conclude that the threat is so serious that drastic measures are required.

        Step 2. Choose the most effective of the measures available.

        That would leave aside the comparison of benefits of the chosen measure and its costs of all types (not only economic).

        Instead I see it necessary to ponder many alternatives with different expected influence on climate change, different timing and certainty of these influences, and very different economic costs, collateral damages and risks of their own. Unfortunately following this approach is very demanding, and decision makers on both political and other arenas have difficulties of acting wisely, but that cannot be helped, as all easier approaches are illusory.

        I do certainly agree that much of the attribution is on a very weak basis. I have been particularly critical on WG2 exactly, because it overstretches attribution even, when reservations are stated. The knowledge is even weaker that these reservations imply. There is strong evidence for very few damage estimates, but that doesn’t unfortunately prove that the estimates would necessarily give an overly pessimistic overall assessment.

        While there is very little real evidence there is much more plausible argumentation. We really do not know, but have reasons to be worried. This observation leads to the next big problem: What we are capable of doing at what we should do, when the picture is so opaque?

      • “the theory is falsifiable in principle which is all that is required philosophically for it to be meaningful,”

        but then:

        “theories are neither verified or falsified. they are confirmed or disconfirmed.”

        and

        “theories are not really falsified. abandoned and modified who be a bteer desription of what actually happens…”

        and then back to:

        “AGW is falsifiable.”

        All within a little over 2 hours.

        Disagreeing just to disagree can lead us to strange places.

      • All this shows me is how bored everyone here gets when new threads aren’t forthcoming. We’re arguing like a bunch of sophomores over stuff that doesn’t really matter.

        Now watch the dog pile.

      • ok ok i’ll try to come up with something new tonite :)

      • Even when I am bored I don’t contradict myself with such regularity, in such a short span of time. And I would disagree that the issue of whether AGW is falsifiable qualifies as “stuff that doesn’t really matter.” That is one of the central issues regularly debated on this blog. One would expect more consistency or clarity on such an issue, not less.

      • An actual falsification would require a pretty dramatic turn of events. How long and dramatic a cooling trend would we need to get Jim Hansen to throw in the towel and stop expecting a rebound? See the problem? Falsification is airtight. Never going to happen. Even if a new ice age comes, you still haven’t falsified the AGW premise, it was just overwhelmed by other factors.

        It’s kind of like the Great Pumpkin. If it didn’t come, it’s your fault.

      • ChE,

        I wasn’t debating what would constitute falsification of AGW, I have no idea. I was simply making the observation that Steve Mosher seemed to be taking both sides of the debate on WHETHER AGW can be falsified, depending on what point he was trying to make at the time.

        My point is about consistency and clarity, or the lack thereof. And I think that is a point that applies to many issues that are raised in the climate debate.

      • John Carpenter

        ChE,

        I don’t think Jim Hansen will ever throw in the towel… but he may have to revaluate the role of CO2 as the primary forcing for observed climate changes.

        “Even if a new ice age comes, you still haven’t falsified the AGW premise, it was just overwhelmed by other factors”

        This is correct if a new ice age were suddenly to happen, CO2 induced AGW would not be falsified… it would be shown to be insignificant compared to presumably other “natual variations” or perhaps other “anthropogenic forcings” not considered (such anthropgenic examples escapes me). The theory would still stand, but have to be largely modified as not very significant in order to fit with the new ice age observations.

      • Yes, but the more you have to “look at the 75% number”, and reduce it, the less a catastrophic projection you get. And that’s a travesty.

        Gavin:
        Q) If 1998 is not exceeded in all global temperature indices by 2013, you’ll be worried about state of understanding?
        A) Yes

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/a-barrier-to-understanding/comment-page-2/#comment-78146

      • steven mosher

        yes, first I use the 75% just as an example. i’ve never seen a precise number put on it. Second note gavins exact words.

        The problem is fundamentally this. People have a difficult time stating exactly what the theory predicts. Let’s just take the simple example of IPCC projections. The projections state something like this:
        In 2001, when the models were run
        If we assume forcings will evolve like so for 2001 through 2020
        If we assume models with climate sensitivities of X-Z are accurate
        Then, the trend in average temperature between 2001 and 2020 will be .2C/decade +- p.

        That is a conditional prediction. It must be conditional because we dont know what the forcings are, and because we know there are certain features of the earths climate that models dont represent with ultra high fidelity.

        So we take our observation and the result is .175 C/decade.
        And we note that this is outside the 95% confidence interval
        what can we conclude?

        1. We got a rare event. they do happen.
        2. we got the forcings wrong, we emitted less C02 than assumed.
        3. The models need adjusting.

        Or some combination of all three. So it’s not like a logical syllogism.
        We might even conclude that the model is innacurate, but the best we can do. Think about it the other way around. Suppose we saw 1C of warming? would we conclude that the theory is falsified? No, we’d check our assumptions. did we emit more C02? did the sun increase more than expected ( most models use a flat TSI for projections ) what process did our models miss? oh, ice melted more rapidly than expected.

        The notion that the “theory” stands or falls on one observation is simply misguided. That is not the way science works

        First understand that we talk about INHERENT falsifiability

        http://www.experiment-resources.com/falsifiability.html

        Even poor old wikipedia recognizes that falsification is not that straight forward. even popper acknowledged that theories are often amended rather than junked.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

        so “Naïve falsificationism is an unsuccessful attempt to prescribe a rationally unavoidable method for science. Sophisticated methodological falsification, on the other hand, is a prescription of a way in which scientists ought to behave as a matter of choice. The object of this is to arrive at an evolutionary process whereby theories become less bad.”

        faced with disconfirming evidence, scientists have a choice: disregard the evidence (could be a fluke), or improve the theory, or replace the old theory with a new theory that explains the data.
        the notion that a theory just falls in the face of one bit of data isn’t really the way science in fact works.

      • Steven Mosher’s comment is full of question marks, indicating he doesn’t know what specifically would falsify Global Warming.

        That’s the what ‘unfalsifiable’ means, Mr. Mosher.

        Andrew

      • Falsifying or de-confirming AGW is impossible as long as there is an increasing temperature trend from circa 1950, when man’s contribution to CO2 became significant. The degree of warming due to Anthropogenic greenhouse gases is of course debatable. So falsification is a bit of a red herring unless you can prove that greenhouse gases aren’t. Good luck with that.

        For the degree of warming, it is pretty obvious that the 1950 onward tread is decreasing. That has to be due to natural variability, overestimated CO2 doubling sensitivity or some of both, which is very likely.

        If you think that discrediting the model accuracy is equal to “falsifying”, that will take a few more years. The current near neutral climate trend should continue at least another 3 to 5 years. The next La Nina which should tell the tale. Still, it is unlikely the CO2 doubling sensitivity will be much lower than 2.0.

        I predict that once realclimate has to say their quick and dirty calculated sensitivity is 3 or less, communications will become more cordial.

      • steven mosher

        no unfalsifiable refers to a condition where no possible observation would change the theory. like statements of religion and metaphysics.

        AGW is falsifiable.

      • OK, what observation would falsify AGW?

        Andrew

      • For example observation that adding CO2 to the atmosphere is actually cooling rather than warming the climate.

        How could this be observed?

        Through improved understanding of the workings of the climate that show that some presently overlooked effect leads to that together with much new empirical data that supports strongly that better theory.

        Its would not be enough to observe a cooling trend until it can be concluded that it’s not due to a combination of AGW and natural cooling that wins over the period of observation.

        Something much less could convince almost everybody that AGW is not a serious risk, but something like I described would really falsify the hypothesis (not the theory, because AGW is not a theory).

      • Steven, I think my criterion for falsifying is valid. Unless the warming temperature trend from 1950 on becomes insignificant, it is not falsified. That is not saying it is not falsifiable, I think it indicates it is not easily falsifiable in the near term. The models can be discredited as over-estimations, that is looking more likely, but not a done deal.

        So why I think “falsification” is a red herring, is because I see no alternate theory that completely falsifies the radiative effect of CO2 doubling. Even if we entered a new ice age, you could argue it is warmer than it would be without CO2 doubling.

  11. By over-emphasizing the need for rigorous assessment of the specific role of greenhouse-gas forcing in driving observed biological changes, the IPCC effectively yields to the contrarians’ inexhaustible demands for more ‘proof’, rather than advancing the most pressing and practical scientific questions. This focus diverts energies and research funds away from developing crucial adaptation and conservation measures.

    Yes, “More of this please!”

  12. Roger Andrews

    “We argue that ‘chained-attribution’ assessments from greenhouse gases to climate change to biological change, as called for by the IPCC, are largely inappropriate, principally because our understanding of the biological impacts of climate change cannot aspire to the level achieved in physical climate science. ”

    If our understanding to the biological impacts of climate change can’t even aspire to this low a level of understanding we can make a strong case for not discussing them at all in AR5.

  13. I was pretty struck by the Parmesan et al essay and discussed it here several weeks ago:

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2011/03/22/on-climate-change-attribution-and-a-big-shiny-bow/

  14. Willis Eschenbach

    Oliver K. Manuel | April 24, 2011 at 12:12 am |

    Willis,

    Do you seriously believe that you can understand current changes in Earth’s climate without understanding changes in Earth’s heat source – the Sun ?

    Of course I don’t believe that, Oliver. I also don’t believe that every thread on the web is about the sun. Finally, I don’t believe that people on threads that are definitely not about the sun want to hear about the sun.

    See, here’s the deal. Various people on the web discuss various things. There’s a host of threads out there about the sun, along with every other topic under the sun.

    But despite the fact that the web covers “every topic under the sun”, despite the fact that the sun shines on the rich and the poor alike, despite the fact that many things on this planet are peripherally or directly related to the sun, NOT EVERY BLOG THREAD IS ABOUT THE SUN. And as a result, your comments are often as out of place as a paean to shortribs on a vegetarian site …

    So once again, I encourage you to post things that are on topic to the given thread, and stop bothering people on threads that have nothing to do with your monomania. You may be right in your claims, Oliver, and I hope you are … so go tell some people about them that actually care about your ideas. Threads that have the word “sun” or “solar” in the title are probably a good place to start.

    w.

  15. Roddy Campbell

    Judith, “hear hear” for your last comment re WGII. So much time is spent arguing about WGI – WGII is by far the most annoying and unconvincing part of the IPCC ARs. Bogus projected impacts drive me nuts!

    • If you follow the science news reports you will see that, unfortunately, biological impact assessment of assumed large AGW is a major research area. The US State Dept funds these in many developing countries, as do other developed countries, and they serve to spread the AGW scare. These will continue as long as the funding continues, which is a far more serious problem that IPCC WGII.

  16. “Your logic is that the reason for deletion prior to 1550 has to be the same as that for post 1960. Are you sure of that? The climate by 1960 was quite different from anything prior. ”

    Does it ever feel to you that you’re doing quite a lot of heavy lifting to make it all come out the way you’d like?

    Ever hear of Occam’s Razor?

    • the simplest explanation for why the data was removed is that it did not support the point of view they were trying to advance. that the purpose of the paper was not science, it was environmantal advocacy disguised as science.

      the simplest explanation of why the data didn’t fit is that the proxy is not a good proxy for what they were trying to measure. in this case they were using trees as a proxy for temperature, but we know that trees also respond to rainfall and many othe factors. Also, over time living organisms will genetically select out to match long term climate changes, which will tend to hide long term climate variability.

  17. The more people are “painted into a corner” the less room they have. The more their blood pressure rises. The more likely they are to get ticked off. The more possible it is that someone is going to explode and say things that make other people mad… anyway, you get the idea.

    If people aren’t being “painted into a corner” but are getting high blood pressure, getting ticked off, getting close to exploding, and are saying things that make other people mad… consider them stupid or crazy and simply avoid them as much as possible.

    When people change their tone, listen.

  18. I’m a little surprised that anyone here is so completely unfamiliar with Camille (she has the ear of policymakers – not Judith Curry) that they pretend they can’t understand the link or the purpose of the quote by Lindzen. Since Judith cries ‘more, more’ to Camille, and Camille is actually relevant and active in policy, my guess is that she will get more. :-)

    Camille has for some time been highly critical of the continuing ‘we need more research’ approach to delaying serious policy on emissions reduction. She supported Kyoto targets. She talks publicly about the realities of climate change science repression in the United States during the Bush era, and how Bush ignored climate science and recommendations in the 2001 IPCC report.

    What Judith Curry cites is from the perspective of a team of conservation biologists with a focus on saving species and they make that very, very clear. Funding is limited. What is said, and why, is synonymous with saying that at a soup kitchen, you are going to focus on people’s immediate needs and on feeding them, rather than trying to address the range of social issues that cause the people at this particular soup kitchen to be hungry. Saying you are going to focus on feeding people does not mean that the issues that cause hunger do not exist, are not known, and can’t be addressed at other levels – never mind, that they shouldn’t be.

    In other words, it is not a discussion at the level of intervention on global climate change, and is not a rejection in any way of the primary policy action of emissions reduction. Quite the opposite. And while they acknowledge that reducing uncertainties and increasing regional prediction are goals of the science and will be possible in future and this will help with risk management, they argue that we know more than enough to demand that research dollars go to local action to avoid species extinction in specific areas already known to be vulnerable or affected.

    Camille has led important research showing climate change impacts on natural systems i.e., on plants and animals, due to GHG’s and how biological trends match predictions for global climate change. She does not pretend that threshold effects are unlikely, that loss of species will not occur, or that the coral reefs are not close to a point of no return. She considers scientists’ predictions regarding threats of extinction due to climate change and interaction of climate change with other issues such as habitat loss and pollution, to be seriously underestimated.

    So her policy focus is no surprise and is in fact (correctly) understood by most people familiar with the current, fast moving issues in climate science and policymaking, and political discourse.

    I have to wonder why anyone thinks this blog is going to influence policymaking in 2011 by being so uninformed and clearly intellectually dishonest. I do thank House of Curry, however, for helping to keep denialists off the streets. We’re all a little safer, now. :-)

    • Climate change increases biodiversity.
      ===========

      • kim

        In the best tradition of Willis Eschenbach, I ask could you provide a cite supporting that claim?

        It need not rhyme.

      • Climate
        Changes
        Bio Niche
        Changes
        Press of
        Evolution.
        =====

      • Climate change and evolution!

        Now you’re onto something kim.

        Climate change
        Made Adam lose his body hair

      • kim

        Big wheels spin in little wheels.
        Cogs trundle and turn.

        Evolution takes a hundred generations or more;
        Niches come and go on the turning of the tide.

        Climate change, love it or hate,
        Without man moves at a far slower rate.

        Niches nickled and dimed by weary Nature’s time,
        When fossils are spent by the trillion,

        In too sudden short generations,
        Pay Extinction’s whole freight.

      • Hold that crystalline object up high
        A slight perturbation and you will cry.
        ===============

      • Evolutions compete,
        To blaze the course and complete,

        To win the cup,
        To lift it up.

        What perturbation smash my prize?
        What hand decides who lives, who dies?

        If biodiversity have that Grace,
        Then CO2E limitation is the race.

      • Climate’s evolving,
        Carbon-based life evolves, too.
        Quel coincidence.
        ===========

      • kim

        Plus ça change, plus c’est la même kim;
        Quelle surprise!

        Beaucoup d’erreurs cependant ont gêné la compréhension de la théorie de Darwin.

        When everything revolves, what the turning of the Earth, and what is just more spin?

    • Thanks, Martha, for pointing out that “we know more than enough to demand that research dollars go to local action to avoid species extinction in specific areas”.

      Thanks, also for helping to keep such all-knowing people off the streets until evolution produced you and me.

    • Oh great! Now they’re going to get their way without first having to justify anything. This is just reinforcing the view that they’re little more than advocates dressed in scientist’s clothing.
      Imagine if that mindset spreads to other areas. Pretty soon I’ll be able to walk into my bank and borrow a million without having to present a business case.

    • Thank you for your explanation as to what Dr Parmesan does and does not think. Shouldn’t she run her papers past you, just to ensure that she stays on message.

      Save you having to post.

    • Martha, glad to hear that Camille is so influential, especially since her paper was so critical of the IPCC.

    • WOW! MArtha I really miss your useless short comments

    • Martha

      I do thank House of Curry, however, for helping to keep denialists off the streets. We’re all a little safer, now.

      Phil wrote the following famous statement:

      The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.

      http://bit.ly/6qYf9a

      When he made this statement in 2005, about 6 years ago, the global mean temperature anomaly trend was +0.070 deg C per decade as shown in the following graph.

      http://bit.ly/eamQJA

      Now, in 2011, the trend is +0.007 deg C per decade (1/10th of the above one) as shown in the following graph.

      http://bit.ly/dSA3Ly

      Martha, who is the real “denialists” here???????

      The sceptics, or the “scientific community” & you?

      Or do we live in a world where its “scientific community” ignores its own data?

    • Sam the Skeptic

      Anyone who “supported Kyoto targets” needs to take a few lessons in simple mathematics.
      The cost of implementing Kyoto in full, if put into effect, would have had the effect of reducing the earth’s temperature by somewhere between 0.06 and 0.2C depending on the scenario applied at a cost of $550 trillion (according to some authorities).
      To describe this as cost-effective us playing fast and loose with both the English language and simple economics.
      If this sort of money were ever to become available it would be far better spent on providing Africa (especially) and Asia with clean drinking water and proper sanitation which it could do several times over and still leave more than enough for Camille Parmesan to interfere in the lifestyles of various dumb creatures which are probably nowhere near as threatened as she makes out.

      • But, but, but, Sulphates, and, and, and, those Halogenated Refrigerants! Just look, wouldya?
        ==============

  19. “Climate change increases biodiversity.”

    If it weren’t for climate change we’d all be parameceum. Or is it paramecia?

  20. Harold Pierce Jr

    RE: What Climate Change?

    After watching weather reports on the TV for over 60 years, I have concluded that there is no “climate change”. That is to say, the patterns of weather in the various regions of the earth are about the same.

    Weather can can vary quite a lot over the short term and there can be such extreme events such as prolonged drought. But over the long term like a 100 years, there really has not been much change at all except perhaps in urban areas with high population densities and extensive modification of local land.

    The climate is some deserts such as Death Vallely has not changed for centuries.

  21. If my insurance adjustor said to me, “that rock is unfinished natural limestone, we don’t cover natural hazards,” after a blasting incident sent it crashing through my roof and destroyed my home, I’d be.. skeptical.

    If there is a substantial effect of CO2E emission, and the effect makes the weather substantially other than what it would have been, how does any weather event escape some attribution to CO2E emitters?

    You couldn’t foresee the extent of the results of your actions? Look up the law on liability sometime, to see what it has to say about this topic.

    You want to know how to get the best ROI on your efforts when auditted by external reviewers who do not care whether you believe in AGW or not, any more than they care whether you believe in the principle of permanence of methods, they’ll apply it to your books regardless of your beliefs?

    Well then, you’ll want to take into account the Risks, and attribute not by the hand that can be proven to have acted, but by the neglect that can be shown to have occurred.

    Sure, as has been previously held, Science has some influence on policy. But it’s a dwarf compared to the influence of Accounting.

    • If there is a substantial effect of CO2E emission, and the effect makes the weather substantially other than what it would have been, how does any weather event escape some attribution to CO2E emitters?

      You’d have a very hard job showing that any weather event would otherwise have been substantially different.

      • Peter317

        I’ve never heard of a case where a plaintiff has had to prove some random natural event wouldn’t have done them as much harm as they ended up suffering through the neglect of the defendent.

        Suppose for the sake of argument that according to a wide range of credentialed expert witnesses there’s perhaps 20%-80% of enough temperature rise to convincingly argue by the standards of evidence of civil courts — which I understand are generally lower than criminal courts and believe to be different from scientific proof — that AGW is real and affects the weather.

        Not to say that it’s true, but that these statements would be agreed by sufficient expert witnesses to convince a judge.

        A judge just might find a CO2E emitter 20%-80% liable for weather.

        Ridiculous example, I realize.

        That’s what Devil’s Advocate arguments are for, no?

  22. “After watching weather reports on the TV for over 60 years, I have concluded that there is no “climate change”. ”

    The language has changed. Every time there is a storm it sounds like the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse have arrived. Hawaii has a cloudy day and the news report makes it sound like Armageddon.

  23. Climate changes always and it is natural variability. AGW theory has not stood up to empirical evidence. People promoting it and defending it are not scientists. They are scamsters.

  24. Judith,

    We loose water to space at a overall rate of .ooo25 mm.
    This translate into 2.5 mm over 10,000 years.
    You should see how many meters that is over 1,000,000,000 years.

    • Judith,

      Forgot to mention that this figure then can project to the beginning of this planet.
      Also the timeline between the 1 billion years can accurately map the date wanted to know what the planet looked like at any given time.

  25. Re:Parmesan et al, and attribution,
    Have we not always known that unambiguous attributionof a specific event to climate change was impossible. And isn’t that why we predominantly look for statistical trends and (ecologically), engage in large meta-analyses that aggregate data from many sources?

    To take a medical analogy, is there a Doctor anywhere who could unambiguously attribute a case of lung cancer to smoking? Sure, Uncle John smoked like a chimney, but he also lived near a paint factory by a major highway etc etc.

    As I understand it, climate science, like many sciences that have to cope with multiple simultaneously operating variables, will only ever be able to offer empirical eveidence based on statistical analyses – and that, of course, means having to live with a measure of uncertainty.

    So the fact that we can not attribute a single event to AGW does not mean that it did not occur in response to AGW. Nor does it mean that it did. It just means that we lack the tools to make a definitive attribution. On the other hand, massive efforts to track the phenology of European trees have shown definitive trends in earlier bud break and flowering. These results are a lot more suggestive since Spring phenology is absolutely known to depend on temperature.

  26. On the other hand, massive efforts to track the phenology of European trees have shown definitive trends in earlier bud break and flowering. These results are a lot more suggestive since Spring phenology is absolutely known to depend on temperature.

    When we reframe the problem from antropocentric to geometric (from who is causing it,to what is causing it ) there are now more solutions to the problem ie an additional null eg Vecchio et al 2010

    Abstract. The dynamics of the climate system has been investigated by analyzing the complex seasonal oscillation of monthly averaged temperatures recorded at 1167 stations covering the whole USA. We found the presence of an orbit-climate relationship on time scales remarkably shorter than the Milankovitch period {related to the nutational forcing}. The relationship manifests itself through occasional destabilization of the phase of the seasonal component due to the local changing of balance between direct insolation and the net energy received by the Earth. Quite surprisingly, we found that the local intermittent dynamics is modulated by a periodic component of about 18.6 yr due to the nutation of the Earth, which represents the main modulation of the Earth’s precession. The global effect in the last century results in a cumulative phase-shift of about 1.74 days towards earlier seasons, in agreement with the phase shift expected from the Earth’s precession. The climate dynamics of the seasonal cycle can be described through a nonlinear circle-map, indicating that the destabilization process can be associated to intermittent transitions from quasi-periodicity to chaos.

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/10/9657/2010/acp-10-9657-2010.html

  27. We are all given to overstatement at times – Judith Curry less often than most of us – but this may have been one of her less representative moments, as evidenced by her conclusion that “The broader implications of this paper is that it has seriously undercut the rationale for the entire IPCC WG II Report.”

    I would be inclined to ask Dr. Curry whether she thinks that if she wrote to first author Camille Parmesan, Parmesan would agree with her. I don’t think the correspondence is necessary, because I believe she already knows the answer to that question.

    The paper made a number of distinctions, including those involving attributable physical consequences (temperature, sea level, etc.) as opposed to biological consequences – the authors perceived attributing the former to anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic factors to be easier than for the latter. The paper also reminds us of something we already knew – attributing individual consequences to anthropogenic climate change is impossible for particular events (a dry spell, a heat wave, or a flash flood, for example) – and has extended that concept to particular biological species. Neither the paper nor its authors would suggest that anthropogenic climate change does not contribute to impacts on species merely because we can’t identify the contribution in individual cases, but rather argues that attempts at attribution might be beset by enough obstacles to be wasteful of resources better spent on addressing conservation and adaptation issues.

    This is a reasoned and well articulated opinion, but is it justified? If one reads the article and also compares it with the guidance paper for AR5 authors, certain nuances emerge. Aside from the obvious considerations involving differences among species and among regions, a difficulty perceived, I believe by the authors in disentangling natural and anthropogenic influences, involves timescales. Over a century, an anthropogenic warming trend can be identified, but during any interval of one or even a few decades, the relative roles of anthropogenic and natural influences are less easily resolved. For adequate attribution applicable to individual species, one would need a sufficiently long and accurate history to determine whether observed changes in the behavior or threats to a species reflected a centennial process or one operating on a more periodic basis. The authors appear to judge the data inadequate for that task. They may be right, but whether that excludes attribution across the board is something that might be disputed by other knowledgeable observers, and their views would be worth knowing.

    For each other element of the forthcoming WG2 report, judgments must appropriately be made on the basis of the particular impacts that are likely. As an example, the human impact of floods and droughts – i.e., physical phenomena – should be relatively easy to correlate with the incidence of floods and droughts and the extent to which these phenomena reflect anthropogenic influences. This differs from the potential difficulty of evaluating the impact of temperature increases on other biological species, even when we think we know what caused the temperature to rise.

  28. “By over-emphasizing the need for rigorous assessment of the specific role of greenhouse-gas forcing in driving observed biological changes, the IPCC effectively yields to the contrarians’ inexhaustible demands for more ‘proof’, rather than advancing the most pressing and practical scientific questions. ”

    Here, I think she’s got it backwards. It was the constant stream of negative attribution studies publicized in the media that first made me skeptical of the consensus. How could it be possible that a slight increase in temperatures across the entire planet would always and everywhere be a bad thing? Why was it that there was not a single study coming out asserting a positive result from increased temperatures?

    It was the flood of ‘proof’ studies that made me a skeptic – I didn’t start demanding ‘proof’ in order to be perverse. From my time in grad school, I knew that publishing is a bandwagon thing – when a hot topic develops, everyone jumps on. And I knew no one would get funded for proposing to show the positive effects of global warming – we were past the point of balance.

  29. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has been described by some as a long-lived El Niño-like pattern of Pacific climate variability, and by others as a blend of two sometimes independent modes having distinct spatial and temporal characteristics of North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability. A growing body of evidence highlights a strong tendency for PDO impacts in the Southern Hemisphere, with important surface climate anomalies over the mid-latitude South Pacific Ocean, Australia and South America. Several independent studies find evidence for just two full PDO cycles in the past century: “cool” PDO regimes prevailed from 1890–1924 and again from 1947–1976, while “warm” PDO regimes dominated from 1925–1946 and from 1977 through (at least) the mid-1990’s. Interdecadal changes in Pacific climate have widespread impacts on natural systems, including water resources in the Americas and many marine fisheries in the North Pacific. Tree-ring and Pacific coral based climate reconstructions suggest that PDO variations—at a range of varying time scales—can be traced back to at least 1600, although there are important differences between different proxy reconstructions. While 20th Century PDO fluctuations were most energetic in two general periodicities—one from 15-to-25 years, and the other from 50-to-70 years—the mechanisms causing PDO variability remain unclear.

    http://bit.ly/fInRbC

    Why do some want to “attribute” the effects of the oceans on fossil fuels?

  30. Has anyone addressed a change of climate rather than climate change?

    We imported UK rabbits, and they so enjoyed the hot and dry climate they found here that they came close to destroying the entire Australian economy.

    • On a recent trip to Oz, I was able to visit the natural history museum in Canberra. It mentions the plague of rabbits and commented that this plentiful and readily available food source saved many lives in the depression.

  31. I’m baffled by the idea of “attributing” any biological change to specifically anthropogenic climate change. Let’s say we know that a warmer temperature has caused some shift in habitat, say. What possible evidence from biology could work backward to parse the temperature change into anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic components? It seems like the very idea of a biological attribution study is a logical fallacy–the biome doesn’t care if a climate change is anthropogenic or not. (If you assume a specific parsing into man-caused and “natural” based on a climate model or physical theory, then you could logically raise the counterfactual of how much the habitat would have shifted without the anthropogenic component, but that doesn’t sound like what the paper is talking about.)

  32. ‘Over a century, an anthropogenic warming trend can be identified, but during any interval of one or even a few decades, the relative roles of anthropogenic and natural influences are less easily resolved.’

    Is this the new paradigm? The world shall perhaps not warm for a decade or three but warming must emerge in a century? Flying blind in the face of dynamical complexity? Interacting parts with tremendous energies cascading through powerful systems of ice, cloud, dust, vegetation, oceans and atmosphere? Such touching faith – incapable of distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic change yet continuing the farce of attribution. A strange and perplexing mental aberration – the climate equivalent of waiting for the spaceships to arrive. So much nonsense spoken by so many in such earnest and idiomatic scientific terminology. A mere distraction of the chattering classes.

    Ironically, I endorse the goal of limiting the great atmospheric experiment through multiple goals and multiple objectives. Including biological conservation and restoration. I have been told here that it is a good approach thus not likely to be implemented – but it is not an idea I need to sell. It is instead relentlessly inevitable. The idea of restoring Australian agricultural soils by rebuilding soil carbon stores is recognised as one of the few paths available to Australia to reduce carbon emissions – along with ecosystem restoration. It goes without saying that restoring agricultural soils in Australia goes a long to building global food security. Other ways and means are equally obvious and inevitable.

    There is only one key to a worthwhile global future and that is in economic development in this make or break century. More money, much more energy and tremendously more food – first and foremost. There is no alternative worth discussing in the very least aspect.

    If ending the great atmosphere experiment and world hunger seem contradictory gaols – it is rather that this has been framed that way by Earth first activists over a couple of decades. These people need to have a dire and certain climate emergency to justify political goals that would have no place otherwise in any sane mind or polity. They have taken what was a noble expression of humanity in the Brundtland report – economic development and sustainability at the same time – and corrupted it to give primacy to the environment in theory but rarely in practice as anything other than being opposed to economic development. Nothing more than a distraction and a waste of time.

    The world is cooling for a decade or three – as shown in the peer reviewed scientific literature. Surely you don’t imagine for a moment that the politics of catastrophic global will survive this? Surely it will not be before time that the clowns are relegated to the circus and we can concentrate on a serious, pragmatic, effective and inclusive, and integrated development and environment agenda? Multiple paths and multiple objectives to bring us to an ideal future of understanding, compassion and prosperity.

    Oh – and the rabbit plague in Australia was not primarily about climate but the lack of disease, competition and predation. It was stopped by introducing a disease specific to rabbits. Populations and ecologies are dynamically complex as well.

  33. Here is the latest example of US taxpayer’s funding so-called climate impact studies on local biological systems:

    http://climate.bna.com/climate/document.aspx?ID=161086

    NASA has the lead apparently. In science policy this is called “mission creep,” in that it has nothing to do with space systems.

  34. “Biological attribution research” is a misnomer to start off with, as the authors point out:

    In theory, this is a scientifically sound approach. In practice, we argue that these expectations are misguided when applied to most biological data. It is rarely possible to attribute specific responses of individual wild species to human-induced climate change.

    In AR4 WG1, IPCC already stretched credibility with its Table SPM.2., in which it speculated that an increasing trend of severe weather events was likely (>66%) to have occurred in the late 20th century, with a (>50%) likelihood of a human contribution of some undefined magnitude, based on “expert judgment rather than formal attribution studies”, with a resulting very likely (>90%) likelihood that there would be an increasing trend in the 21st century.

    Now we want to carry this kind of (il)logic one degree further to “biological attribution”?

    Gimme a break.

    The authors are right in pointing out how silly this is.

    IMO they would be wrong if they went along with the game anyway, rather than simply stating: “biological response cannot be differentiated between natural and anthropogenic climate changes, so it is not possible to attribute any suggested biological responses to any postulated anthropogenic climate changes” [end of report].

    I would say that the whole section of “biological response to AGW” should simply be left out of AR5 as too far removed from reality to be of any scientific value (or informative to any “policy-maker”). “Hype” would be the only reason for keeping it in.

    Max.

  35. Here are some attribution issues, as well as a way to look at the impact of the AGW community on the public sqaure:
    “• “…civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind,” biologist George Wald, Harvard University, April 19, 1970.

    • By 1995, “…somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.” Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Look magazine, April 1970.

    • Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor “…the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born,” Newsweek magazine, January 26, 1970.

    • The world will be “…eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age,” Kenneth Watt, speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970.

    • “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” biologist Barry Commoner, University of Washington, writing in the journal Environment, April 1970.

    • “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from the intolerable deteriorations and possible extinction,” The New York Times editorial, April 20, 1970.

    • “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half…” Life magazine, January 1970.

    • “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.

    • “…air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone,” Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970.

    • Ehrlich also predicted that in 1973, 200,000 Americans would die from air pollution, and that by 1980 the life expectancy of Americans would be 42 years.

    • “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

    • “By the year 2000…the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America and Australia, will be in famine,” Peter Gunter, North Texas State University, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.”

    Scientists + Agenda + Credulous press + social standing (profit) = Crap science.

    Crap science + profit motive + power of belonging = compelling social movement

    compelling social movement + popularity + crap science = Bad politics

    Bad politics + compelling social movement = bad policy

    bad policy + compelling social movement + profit motive = more money for bad science

    more money for bad science + credulous press = compelling crap stories

    compelling crap stores + compelling social movement + bad policy = bad laws

    bad laws = waste of public money + bad outcomes

    The quoted predictions are copied from a WUWT comment. I do not have the link to it, but if I find one will post it. The little math work is from some notes I am working on.

  36. Craig Loehle

    In addition to the points raised in the Nature article, I am submitting an analysis showing that impact studies of climate change on ecosystems tend to leave out factors that can completely reverse their conclusions, such as spatial heterogeneity or positive effects of rising CO2 for plant growth. It is worse than we thought [smily face].

  37. The 15 year period I am aware of states: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”
    page 23

    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/bams-sotc/climate-assessment-2008-lo-rez.pdf

  38. The great thing about Camille is that she thinks for herself. I’m not sure why she chose to quote Lindzen at the top of her article, but I don’t think it’s because she is a Lindzen sympathizer.

    I saw a recent talk she gave here at Texas on conservation biology in a time of rapid climate change. See for yourself whether she is a Lindzen acolyte; much of the thrust of her talk is based on climate model projections into the future.

    You can watch the talk here.

    Although she did her best to put a positive spin on things, I would add that my wife and I left the talk feeling less than reassured about the future. If we stay on the current emissions trajectory, extrapolating from Camille’s various ecological insights, one sees a world with very little resembling healthy ecosystems in the future.

    This is not to take away form her point about IPCC and WG II. Indeed, the whole attribution issue is something I have felt was stale and sterile for over a decade now. It is only the fringe skeptics within science, and their very large following outside science that keep the yes/no question alive.

    IPCC no longer merely reports science. To some extent it sets the agenda. To set the agenda to address points of interest primarily to skeptics that the mainstream considers settled may not be the best way to advance knowledge.

    I agree with Judith that the attempted attribution of individual extreme events carries some of the same problems that Camille alludes to here. I would except, though, persistent events on the very largest scales in exactly the way Camille does.

    That is, last summer’s blocking event in central Asia, or the summer of ’08-’09 in Australia, or the odd hemispheric flow of this past winter, may indeed be events which would have vanishing likelihood in the preindustrial Holocene and may indeed mark the beginnings of a destabilized climate. I think the jury is out on those.

    • MT,

      That’s an interesting point. While attribution of local effects may be beyond the scope of current biologists and ecologists, they are still looking into what the future may hold for the world.

      However, you end on an odd note, to me at least. With respect to the attribution of recent regional weather phenomena to climate change,

      ‘I think the jury is out on those.’

      A sentiment with respect to attribution of ‘odd’ events with which I would agree.

      But if that’s the case, then why say

      ‘…may indeed be events which would have vanishing likelihood in the preindustrial Holocene and may indeed mark the beginnings of a destabilized climate.’

      ?

      If the jury is out, and we both think it is, then why conjecture on these events being the beginning of a ‘destabilized climate’? Moreover, what is a ‘destabilized climate’, functionally?

      I think it’s this type of speculation that’s getting more and more scientists in trouble, and not just in climate science. In the research world, it’s very hard to predict where the next turn is and in which direction it goes. Why put fodder out there for people to use to validate their dire predictions of the future with absolutely no scientific evidence to justify it?

      I don’t understand that.

      • Because persistent events on large spatial scales are closer to the domain where climate is predictable. Because the trajectory space in the prior quasi-stable regime was relatively small. On hemispheric scales it is conceivable to identify configurations that are dynamically not supportable with the preindustrial climate. At present people are only addressing these things statistically, but I think eventually they will come round to applying dynamics.

        As Camille said, “However, the probability of successfully attributing climatic trends to greenhouse gases declines sharply at spatial scales smaller than 10^6 km2 and at temporal scales shorter than 50 years. ” This directly implies that the probability of successfully attributing climatic trends to greenhouse gases increases sharply at spatial scales larger than 10^6 km2 and at temporal scales longer than 50 years.

        I am saying that there is an analogy to this observation in climate as well. It appears that we are seeing novel hemispheric flow patterns, particularly in the post-solstice seasons. Perhaps it’s just coincidence, and this tendency will subside, but I for one think these will continue, and will indeed turn out to be attributable to anthropogenic forcing. Because they occur on large time and space scales, the usual arguments against attribution of individual events don’t apply as well. The complexities of individual watersheds or biomes “come out in the wash”; they average out, leaving you with a clearer signal.

        Another way to put is that large scale droughts and floods and heat waves are not individual events, but a sequence of similar events. If you roll boxcars, hard luck, but if you roll them twelve times in a row, you have a basis for wondering about the dice.

      • Cherry-picking, boxcar picking, proxy-picking. Start before the MWP and LIA, or after? Or deny their existence? Hot spot? Paleo? You pick yours, I’ll pick mine, and so far, I find none of your any more credible than any of mine, so I remain unconvinced. And all I have at stake is the safety of my property and retirement fund. Stay the effing heck away from both! If I can borrow from your lexicon.

      • MT,

        I think I agree with the general principle that you’re using.

        But still, that these types of events can be attributed to a globally averaged increase in the greenhouse effect necessitates their happening more often in the future. That’s how you beat down the noise.

        So the conjecture has now gone from ‘these types of events could be due to human emissions’ to two conjectures. One already stated and the other being ‘these events will become more frequent’.

        As the climate is sifting through the available phase or trajectory space of possible configurations, I agree that there is a smaller subspace that it has explored more regularly than the entire possible space. But that fact has little bearing the question of whether the fluctuations in the edges of that phase space we have witnessed so far are ‘dynamically not supportable with the preindustrial climate.’ It’s on that notion, that we could one day we able to tell whether a specific event would be possible under any other scenario (which I might say seems like a really hard problem to solve), that all of this rests.

        We’ve got a few decades worth of really good data on this. Especially the larger scale patterns that are harder to quantify without satellites. I have a hard time understanding with that much data how we can begin to discuss which events are and are not possible under any scenario of climate.

        Maybe it is a tractable problem for which I am very poorly informed. But if the three body problem in quantum mechanics tells me anything, we’ve got a long way to go before the stage you seem to presume.

        You can feel free to correct me where I have gone astray of your main point, if that’s happened.

      • Maxwell, I see no explicit disagreement with what you have written.

        I think we do have a disagreement, though.

        I think it more likely than not that these (Russia/Pakistan, Australia, Baffin Island) are signs of the beginning of climate disruption. I certainly cannot prove it statistically at a 95% confidence level. As you suggest, the record is far too short for that to be compelling.

        It is conceivable that it can be demonstrated dynamically, although reference to GCMs will be necessary which I suppose will moot it for some.

        As you point out, at some point we may know beyond doubt. But that point will be very, very late in the game. We will be much better off to stay in a scenario where the matter remains ambiguous. But meanwhile, it is not off limits to say things like “that is too many weird seasons in a few years and this is starting to look very spooky”, or “if it’s this rocky now, what will it look like after 50 years of business as usual”?

      • Michael, could you tell me your interpretation of “very, very, late in the game”? Are you speaking of an unrecoverable “tipping point”? If that is your thoughts and you believe it to be because of concentrations of CO2 then I wouldn’t worry.
        My understanding of tipping points (my work is process control) is that once entered, unless something in the feedback loop stops, you don’t come back.
        That being said, I don’t know the exact figure because I wasn’t there to test it, but CO2 has been multiples of what it is now, and we are still fine :)

      • Kent, the speed of climate change is also a factor.

        There are few comparable events in the paleo record to the likely rates of change over the next two centuries, and they in fact coincide with major extinction events. So there have in fact been tipping points. That life survived is encouraging in the grand scheme of things; that there are a few occasions when the survival was not by an especially comfortable margin is not going to be all that reassuring for our grandchildren.

        It’s not just ecology, of course. There is the issue of civilization, which has no paleoclimate analogs. How successful will agriculture be in future scenarios? How well will low-lying countries adapt to rapid sea level rise? How will dry countries adapt to increasing drought? How will migratory pressures increase? We don’t know these things.

        Finally, it is possible that the carbon pulse has no precedent in rapidity. (The deep time records are not high enough in temporal resolution to constrain this.) This may test the ocean with an acidity impulse greater than has ever been seen. And of course, the oceans are already badly stressed. What happens after a massive extinction in the ocean? We don’t know that either.

        The scientist in me may want to perform the experiment. But as a human being I think we are better off not finding out the answers to these questions.

      • “But meanwhile, it is not off limits to say things like ‘that is too many weird seasons in a few years and this is starting to look very spooky’, or ‘if it’s this rocky now, what will it look like after 50 years of business as usual’?”

        How about a paraphrase?

        “But meanwhile, it is not off limits to say things like ‘that is too many years of no warming/cooling and this is starting to look like the end of CAGW’, or ‘if it’s this normal now, why would it look any worse after 50 years of business as usual’?” (Remembering Gavin Schmidt’s recent admission that warming to date has been only moderate, and we have adapted well, so far.)

        Why is weather “more likely than not” climate only when it supports CAGW?

        A second question. Why, after 12 years or so of “no statistically significant warming” would you think that suddenly severe weather events can be attributed “more likely than not” to AGW? If the current state of the climate is sufficient to give rise to these events now, why weren’t there already 12 more years of such events?

      • MT,

        I think you’ve got a very long row to hoe with respect to this issue.

        I’d be more inclined to agree with your assessment that we are entering some period of ‘climate disruption’ if we weren’t discussing larger than expected intensity from atmospheric patterns we’ve mostly seen before. This winter’s anomalous circulation patterns over the US are interesting from this standpoint, but it’s hard to say anything about one data point.

        ‘But meanwhile, it is not off limits to say things like “that is too many weird seasons in a few years and this is starting to look very spooky”…’

        Of course not, but as someone who has stared at ‘spooky’ data too many times to remember, I’m beginning to wonder whether our imaginations get the best of us sometimes, even when they shouldn’t.

      • MT,
        They are predictable only if the prediction tools are useful.
        There is no evidence that the tool the climate science consensus is using are useful, once you step out of their golden circle of pal reviews and censored data.

    • Alexander Harvey

      Michael:

      Climate wierdness is something that bothers me. I would draw a distinction between wierdness and extreme events, for instance if the weather in the UK became predictable that would be wierd, extended blocking is a good example of this even if it doesn’t produce the sort of extreme that makes headlines.

      A change in any weather statistic could be an indicator of wierdness and I do believe that trying to find such behaviour is ongoing research but I also believe that their detection methodology is still at an early stage. One effort is to look for statistics that show both an increase in variance and slowing down simultaneously in the statistic. I.E. a move towards increasing amplitudes with a move to lower frequencies. Together these may warn of an approach to a bifurcation and herald a climatic shift from one regime to another. The good news seems to be that if found they give advanced warning the bad news is that it may not give much warning and that the only course of action is to avoid finding out if the warning is justified.

      I wonder if the 97/98 super El Nino was wierd as it seems to have been followed by all sorts of other going ons. The decoupling of the Land and Ocean temperature trajectories and I believe a marked and atypical effect in the rotational rate that persisted for five or more years (I cannot remember who did that work but it relied on the precession rates of satellites) indicating a shift of mass towards the equator that outlived the El Nino event by several years. I am not sure if this is still thought to have been the case or whether it was an artifact.

      Anyway wierdness troubles me perhaps more than extreme events do, little things like having a rose bloom on Christmas day and an apple tree flower twice in one year. These are not earth shattering but they are very wierd.

      We used to do a little phenology and that became troublesome when we got reports kicked back as not being possible and only getting them through with photographic evidence. Perhaps it is really just our microclimate that is on the blink or that we have become more observant or perhaps it is all just getting a little wierd (Queue the Twilight Zone music).

      Alex

  39. Michael Tobis,
    “So there have in fact been tipping points.” “Speed is involved”.

    Sure, speed of change is a factor in any control loop. I think you may of missed my point. To come back from a “tipping point” wherein you loose control of the process, something has to stop or reverse. That or you don’t think it is the concentration of CO2 that would cause the “tipping point.”
    Or, do you think after there was an enormous amount of CO2 that it just went away and things got back to normal, all by themselves?
    Orrrrrrr, climate heat drives CO2. That then would be very easy to explain.

  40. Michael Tobis,
    “What happens after a massive extinction in the ocean? We don’t know that either”.
    “The scientist in me may want to perform the experiment”.

    Pardner, the above statement troubles me on several levels. You are just kidding, right?

    • Yeah, it’s sardonic humor, standard climatologist-snark. I think I even heard Richard Alley say something like that. Look, if we put enough CO2 in the air to make life miserable for a few centuries, then we will know much better how the system breaks and when we should have stopped. It may be the only way to find out with finality.

      It is curiosity about exactly that question that drives all the conversation here. But those of us who think the situation calls for caution are the ones who act as if finding out for sure would be a bad idea.

      We perceive the alternative policy, the “hands-off-my-emissions” one, to be exactly “keep pushing the system as hard as we can until it breaks”. Practically the only silver lining to that would be that the last few scientists would know a lot more about the questions we argue about, no?

      • Ok, how much CO2 is too much? I really don’t think it matters when the amount of CO2 was at it’s maximum. If it peaked at a maximum 10,000 years ago, you would think it would still heat the planet, no? So, if CO2 is causing the planet to heat out of control, or get to a tipping point, would it not make sense that the CO2 concentration level would have to be greater than what the earth has already experienced? If levels of CO2 have never been greater than they are now, then I would worry.
        Sardonic humor aside, if somebody ever did mess with the ocean’s, I would expect a loud knock at your door :)

      • The CO2 values we have now were last matched about 20 million years ago, well before Greenland glaciated, and we are headed for values where Antarctica first glaciated. If we are running the last 40 million years in reverse in this next century, it might have an impact in terms of the long-term stability of the polar land ice.

      • Then it is a good thing CO2 is not the most important forcing, no?

      • There is an expense to actions such as carbon mitigation. Not just monetary either, but an expense in lives. To believe otherwise is living in an alternative universe. In order to justify this expense don’t you think the models should be showing a higher level of reliability then they currently show or that their predictions should be on the low side of what is actually happening? We have had no warming for a decade. The stratosphere isn’t cooling. The troposphere does not exhibit a hot spot. The oceans are not accumulating heat. The warming has been 40% of that expected. I keep hearing about how there is an abundance of evidence supporting catastrophic warming yet it isn’t in the oceans or the troposphere or the stratosphere or in global temperatures; where exactly is it? Will you be the one that apologizes to the mothers that lose their children because food prices go up with energy costs causing starvation? You can tell them better safe then sorry I suppose?

      • Well, climate policy could be designed not only to reduce carbon emissions to but to protect or even enhance the well-being of the poor. But that would require a rather different kind of social solidarity than the current neoliberal model.

        In the real world, we can’t even find the resources to meet the tepid Millenium Development Goal of halving the number of people living below $1/day in 15 years.

        It will really suck if it turns out that carbon mitigation makes people worse off than climate change would have. But at least we have some control over the distributional consequences of mitigation.

      • Ah moral dilemmas .Hillerbrand and Ghil 2008 is a good analytical paper.This was a response paper from the invited paper of Ghil to the Euler conference 2007.

        This paper considers the role of scientific expertise and moral reasoning in the decision making process involved in climate-change issues. It points to an unresolved moral dilemma that lies at the heart of this decision making, namely how to balance duties towards future generations against duties towards our contemporaries. At present, the prevailing moral and political discourses shy away from addressing this dilemma and
        evade responsibility by falsely drawing normative conclusions from the predictions of climate models alone.
        We argue that such moral dilemmas are best addressed in the framework of Expected Utility Theory. A crucial issue is to adequately incorporate into this framework the uncertainties associated with the predicted consequences of climate change on the well-being of future generations. The uncertainties that need to be considered include those usually associated with climate modeling and prediction, but also moral and general epistemic ones. This paper suggests a way to correctly incorporate all the relevant uncertainties into the decision making process.

        http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd/PREPRINTS/RH&MG-Warming_ethics-Physica_D%2708.pdf

      • John Carpenter

        MT

        The likelihood the planet will go beyond preindustrial CO2 doubling is pretty high. Probably going to happen. The developing economies of China and India will see to that.. as well as the western world despite our efforts. Just too many people are going to need more energy… not less. The easy, quick solutions to ending exponential human population growth will not be looked at as acceptable alternatives by those most likely to be affected by them… or any other sane person… right? Besides, what democratically elected leader would make those types decisions?

        So if I were you, I would start getting my head around the high probability that CO2 levels will double…. and then some. Once you have accomplished that, maybe then you will start looking less fearfully at the world and our climate b/c you will realize spending more time on best adaption strategies for all the populations around the world will be more relevant and productive than spending time on mitigation strategies.

  41. You are conflating a whole bunch of different time scales. Do some homework.

  42. “It would also include palaeontological evidence for correlations between species’ changes and climate drivers in the past, …”

    What is this ‘species change’ these authors speak of?

    Are they talking about evolution? Then why not say so! However, as palaeontologists and evolutionary scientist know, ‘climate drivers in the past’ were not the one and only reason. Certain other ‘drivers’ were just a bit more important, such as plate tectonics.

    Or are they talking about changes within one species? Well, yes, there’ such a thing. It is called ecophenotypic plasticity and can be found in all living species. Sadly, this is not driven by ‘climate drivers’ as the exclusive vehicle.

    While I applaude the call for more funding for proper biological research, i.e. research which does not start from the premise that the present ‘Climate Change’ is a ) bad and can b) be documented in whatever species under observation, leaving out all research done prior to cAGW becoming the ‘problem’, I am rather wary when I see such sentences which document a basic ignorance of both ecology and biology.

  43. This is a great article in Nature. Not many here have commented on its actual content. The first big distraction was hero-worship of the quoted Richard Lindzen (he is a hero, but fixation on his quote was none the less a diversion.)

    Perhaps this paper is born of financial recession, it is the perfect gift to cash-strapped research grant awarding bodies looking for ways to deny funding to a rising tide of CAGW grant applications. It has become a cliche that to attract funding for research onto any God-forsaken biological species in some tiny ecological niche, the default strategy is to frame it as the effect of CAGW on said organism. But this paper pulls the rug out from under such complacent tactics.

    Global climate change does turn out to be global. Local regions can give “contrarian” results – e.g. Peru, most of Antarctica, have steadily cooled over the last half century.

    Also nice that some of us have been downgraded (or promoted?) from deniers to “contrarians”!

  44. @Viv Evans

    A focus on palaeontologic evidence is also welcome. From some AGW literature you would think the world was created in 1850.