Agreeing(?): Part II

by Judith Curry

Part one has engendered considerable discussion.  In addition to the discussion at the Blackboard, Roger Pielke Sr. has written an essay entitled “Missing the point of sensitivity” which is discussed at WUWT.  Josh has prepared a cartoon:

One point that strikes me is that people at level 2 in my epistemology ranking are making very solid arguments.  I agree with Shewonk that level 1 are making most of the fundamental contributions in terms of the peer reviewed literature (but level 2 people are increasingly submitting papers to journals).  If climate scientists can’t convince level 2’s and also level 3’s, people who are looking at the arguments carefully, reading the primary literature, and analyzing data,  then it seems to me that the arguments can’t be that strong (or the confidence levels can’t be that high).  This just isn’t an issue of “communication” (communication is more relevant for level 4’s).

546 responses to “Agreeing(?): Part II

  1. Respectfully resubmit my question from the first comment to Agreeing Part I, along with my hopes that the family emergency has turned out will.

    • “…well.”

      • Likewise.

        Identifying a few elements of fact in a fabric of distortions is useless.

        The question is why were public funds spent to purchase distortions?

      • I agree with you 100% Oliver. You are an important voice in the climate debate, and I urge all readers to look at your ‘iron sun’ theory.

      • Thank you for your kindness.

        May I ask Professor Curry and advocates of AGW to take the time to address the issue that concerns ordinary taxpayers and their Representatives in Congress ?

        Why did the scientific community weave threads of factual information into the fabric of AGW deceit promoted by Al Gore, world leaders, the US NAS (National Academy of Sciences), the UN’s IPCC, the UK’s Royal Society, once-respected research journals, the news media, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, etc. ?

      • Oliver,

        Yes. As a taxpayer, I demand to know why the Agencies which handled and wasted our hard-earn money into these non scientific non-sense. The science community is held accountable for “the fabric of AGW deceit” for wasting so much funding.

      • Unless that issue is address, we are wasting time.

      • The central issue for the American public and their representatives in the new US Congress is just this, and nothing less:

        Why have public tax funds – intended for factual information – been used for purposeful misinformation?

        If that issue is not addressed now, the US Congress will be justified in slashing budgets for scientific research until the the issue is addressed.

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA Principal
        Investigator for Apollo

      • The End is FAR

        Because the Federal Gov’t is not LIMITED in its Scope nor is it accountable for its Wrongs.

        I worked for the HHS for 3 years and all we did was generate Mountains of paperwork to explain to the CBO why our project was behind. Magically, a 500 page book of fluff got us more funding the next year. 2nd Year, 1,500 pages, still no progress, sure we prototyped the hell out of dozens of ‘ideas’ but we got even more millions for the next year. SAP consultants are expensive. 3rd Year, we got about 10% of the functionality Live with 160 of the 72,000 Users. Still more millions. I quit. I am a results based person who cannot stand to grind the Gov’t Wheel.

        If you want you money to not be wasted you have to severely restrict what it can be used for. Period.

    • pda, not sure what question this is at this point, post it again and i may catch it in the incoming comments. emergency is ongoing, i’m checking in when i can.

      • Understood, I posted this comment quickly in hopes of getting your attention. The question is “I’d be curious to hear your source for confidence on <2° C climate sensitivity. The lower bound seems much more well-defined than the upper."

        I hope you're able to find some time for yourself during this stressful period.

      • PDA, look at the figure in zeke’s original posting. there are a number of estimates in the distribution that are less than 2C. and thanks for your kind wishes

      • What?

        JC says: PDA, look at the figure in zeke’s original posting. there are a number of estimates in the distribution that are less than 2C.

        This is unresponsive – but you don’t have to/can’t be responsive to every poster. But, more disturbingly, it’s non-scientific. So what if there are “a number” of estimates below 2. There are “a number” above 2 as well. And?????

      • PDA’s question was why I think the lower bound for a specific confidence level should be below 2C (with upper bound above 4.5C, which i said in my original statement, read the fine print.) PDA will probably regard this as responsive to his question, since he seems to be reading the fine print.

      • Oh that’s right – the scientists have to provide evidence and you guys just make shit up. Postnormal and all that…


        You might want to have a look at some references:

        Anderson, K. & Bows, A. 2008 Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000
        emission trends. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 366, 3863–3882. (doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0138)

        Anderson, K. L., Mander, S. L., Bows, A., Shackley, S., Agnolucci, P. & Ekins, P. 2008 The
        Tyndall decarbonisation scenarios—part II: scenarios for a 60% CO2 reduction in the UK.
        Energy Policy 36, 3764–3773. (doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.06.002)

        Allen, M. R., Frame, D. J., Huntingford, C., Jones, C. D., Lowe, J. A., Meinshausen, M. &
        Meinshausen, N. 2009 Warming caused by cumulative carbon emissions towards the trillionth
        tonne. Nature 458, 1163–1166. (doi:10.1038/nature08019)

        Schneider, S. H. & Mastrandrea, M. D. 2005 Probabilistic assessment of ‘dangerous’ climate
        change and emissions pathways. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 15 728–15 735. (doi:10.1073/

      • You do know there are studies which show a low climate sensitivity right? No ones making #### up

      • I do find it as responsive, but not especially instructive. I can see how the presence of outlier studies can indicate that the range of 1.5° K and 4.5° K should be included in the 66% CI bound, but widening it to 1° K – 6° K just because “there are a number of estimates” seems arbitrary.

        Setting the 90% bound at 0° K – 10° K, on the other hand, seems like nothing more than a WAG. This means that we have no ability to say with any confidence whether the next century will be “slightly cooler” or “an Early Triassic hellhole.” Which is the same as saying “we know nothing.”

        And if that’s your assertion, I think you should state it more boldly. I doubt you’ll receive any criticism here, and now that even Keith Kloor thinks you’ve gone off the reservation, I don’t see what you would have to lose.

        Let Judy be Judy!

      • 90% confidence is a WAG

      • Wildly flailing around, picking numbers from thin air…not science. Not even close.

        A small reality check for these chum infested waters:

        “The analysis within this paper offers a stark and unremitting assessment of the climate change challenge facing the global community. There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2◦C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2◦C have been revised upwards (e.g. [20,21]), sufficiently so that 2◦C now more appropriately represents the threshold between dangerous and extremely dangerous climate change.”

        “Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world”
        Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2011 369, 20-44

      • I’d bet a fair portion of my mortgage that that paper is pure junk.

      • ferd berple

        “sufficiently so that 2◦C now more appropriately represents the threshold between dangerous and extremely dangerous climate change”

        7.5 C represents the threshold between current global temperatures and the average household thermostat. with 2C of warming you still need a warm coat just to stay alive. the only reason we can live outside the tropics is because of fire, it is too cold for humans otherwise. yes, fire creates CO2. it is the price of survival.

      • That is not a good reference, because the article takes the 2C value as given without justifying it, and then proceeds to use it.

        The only reference to support the claim is the 2009 PNAS paper of Smith, Schneider, Oppenheimer and 12 more authors

        (and a comment of Mann based on this article). Thus it is better to give this reference, I can only guess your motives for the choice.

        The paper states in its abstract:

        “This is based on our expert judgment about new findings in the growing literature since the publication of the TAR in 2001, including literature that was assessed in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), as well as additional research published since AR4.”

        The problem is that the 2C threshold is still something that cannot really be justified by anything better than an expert judgment. In this case that is a serious limitation, because the uncertainties are far greater than in climate sensitivity.

        Why 2C?

        My feeling here is that the only real reason is that it appeared to be the smallest value that could be construed to have any credibility as a goal. On this point I join with the skeptics in thinking that the scientists presenting the value have gone far beyond what they can conclude based on science. They just think, that the smaller the safer and pick the smallest value available.

        This way of thinking appears to follow from the precautionary principle, but only when it is not combined with the caveat that the conclusion should represent risk weighted balance of costs and benefits, not something out of thin air.

      • There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2◦C

        Let us do this estimation step by step, not just unverifiable claim.

        Here is the decadal global warming trend:

        This data gives a global warming rate of 0.03 deg C per decade or 0.3 deg C per century.

        That is the global temperature increases in 10 years by 0.03 deg C. If this trend continues until 2030, the temperature will increase by only 0.06 deg C.

        How do you get 2 deg C warming by the end of this century when the warming rate is only 0.3 deg C per century?

      • for the responses to this post that make comments about the Anderson & Bows paper, it might be best to give an overview of the two key points here.
        The argument is that policy makers have set 2 degrees as a goal (associated with 450ppm), even though the evidence suggests 1 degrees is likely to be dangerous (the opposite of the point Pekka makes below); however, the policies being introduced are more likely to fit a 4 degree stabilisation level. The paper actually shows that many of the models used to make policy assessments fudge the data and also shows that specific papers use emissions peaks that were out of date even when the paper was published. Its a good analysis, but, ironically the “pure junk” it includes are other climate economics models (I’m not sure if this counts for Labmunkey to keep their mortgage). As an asside, Anderson and Bows paid for the paper to be open access out of their own earnings, so you can download it for free even if you are not from a university (or a member of the Royal Society)

        As for Girma’s comments
        “How do you get 2 deg C warming by the end of this century when the warming rate is only 0.3 deg C per century?”

        The trend is based on the WHOLE of the data, as obtained by the Hadley Centre’s HADCRUT3 dataset. It does also imply a (near) Business as Usual CO2 emissions trajectory. There are also graphs in the paper to support this.

      • ” sufficiently so that 2◦C now more appropriately represents the threshold between dangerous and extremely dangerous climate change”

        In a Northern European perspective one degree would approximately return climate to what it was at the peak of the MWP, 2 degrees would almost, but not quite return it to what it was during the first half of the Holocene. Neither seem particularly horrific.
        Two degrees globally would more or less mean a return to the climate during the previous interglacial (MIS 5e). This would have considerable local impact in some areas (temperatures in northern Siberia were >10 degrees warmer than at present, the Greenland icecap was appreciably smaller than at present and the Sahara practically disappeared), but still does not seem “extremely dangerous”.

      • And iirc this all relies on some undefined tipping point for the 2-4 ‘C scenarios to even be close.


      • Paul,
        My comment is not really opposite, rather it is neutral concerning the direction of uncertainty. When I stated that 2C is the lowest credible goal, I was mainly meaning that it is not excessively below the optimistic estimates on what can be achieved in practice.

        On the point that achieving 2C is not likely, if the climate sensitivity is not in the lower part of the uncertainty range, I seem to agree with the article of Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows.

        It is true, that I am not convinced about a threshold of 2C, and even less of a lower one, but that is not my point. The point is that whatever value is stated, it is a subjective judgment and that the judgments of different scientists vary widely, when no convincing evidence can be presented on any of them. All very serious consequences remain narratives or speculation on what might happen.

        Another related point is that the consequences of strong mitigative actions are also very unknown, both what applies to their actual effectiveness in mitigating climate change and what applies to the other influences that the actions have on human well-being in near and distant future. The uncertainties are overwhelming, but not so simple that the precautionary principle alone could act as a perfect guide.

      • Peri good post

      • Pekka even. sorry.

      • And that paper most probably assumes that limiting CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 450PPM is no longer an achievable goal.

        Which means it must also assume a greater then 2C sensitivity, as 450ppm is less then a doubling.

        Also please define the word ‘dangerous’. An awful lot of children have received minor burns by something called a ‘stove’. Is a stove ‘dangerous’? Should we consider banning them?

  2. The Devil is in the details. I think this is partly the reason why more general statements are more easily agreed upon, but when we descend to particular quantifications, balances of feedbacks, certitude about reconstructions of past climate, levels of uncertainty of specific model outcomes, and the like, the extent and frequency of disagreement increases. Thus “level 2” people are not easily moved by the fact that they agree on some or most “level 1” theses: if their particular Level 2-3 doubts are effectively sustained in the increasing peer-reviewed literature their preoccupations are generating, then some of those “highly likely” level 1 statements may turn out to need some refinement (or modification) as well. And, of course, the actual teeth of climate science are not in those general statements but in the more detailed assessments of how climate is changing or will change, and why.

  3. Here is another thing we can agree on:
    The Muir Russell investigation was a whitewash:
    Bought and paid for.

    • the denial is strong in this one…

      • Latimer Alder


        It was a report dripping denial of any wrongdoing. And covered in whutewash.

        And it cost them £300,000! No wonder Sir Russell was eager to do the University’s bidding.

      • Lol, you haven’t even read it – as per normal.

      • Latimer Alder

        Yes I have.

        It was big news in UK when it was released.

        There are numerous critiques available – all of which show that a very superficial job was done. Even by the low standards expected of ‘independent enquiries’ commissioned and paid for by the ‘accused’, it was a sham.

        Interested readers can follow the story at Bishop Hill’s excellent blog.

        For those unaware, BH is the pseudonym of Anthony Montford who wrote the best-selling book ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’, which describes McIntyre’s travails and excursions in trying to understand and reproduce the (in)famous hockey stick of Mann et al. The runaround they gave him – contrary to the tenets of free and open science – and his eventual successful demolition of it as complete nonsense driven by the use of a ‘unique statistical algorithm’ known only to climatologits, but unheard of among professional statisticians.. Absolutely chocked to the gunwales with verifiable references. Great story …and very well told by Anthony.

        Here’s the link to the Bishop’s website and the latest discussion of Russell’s exercise in whitewash.

        Read and enjoy!

      • Latimer,

        Montford’s first name is Andrew not Anthony.

        I agree his book is well worth reading.

      • Latimer Alder

        Thanks for the correction. I really should have noticed that. Especially as the book is on my desk as I write! :-(

      • I’ve been known to make similar errors. I look at it as just one of those annoying reminders that I’m no spring chicken anymore. :)

  4. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    I’m sorry but the Blackboard is too biased a site and should not ever be approached about agreeing on anything. Lucia does not take scientists at their word, she just makes something up in her head that she can agree with. I hope that Judy has some more guts. Again Judy, could you please comment on your thoughts about Dr. Happer being fired by Al Gore? Ignoring this issue sends a very bad signal to your readers.

    • Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd., you say …
      Lucia does not take scientists at their word …

      Does that mean she requires peer review? References? Data? A down payment? Computer code? A notarized signature? Advanced degree? A refundable deposit? Flowers, dinner and drinks? Cross my heart and hope to die?

    • David L. Hagen

      Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. (sic.)
      Refreshingly, Lucia actually tests the temperature statistics against IPCC projections, and finds them increasingly lacking. e.g. see
      Hadcrut January Anomaly 0.194C

      Have you anything quantitative on which to differ with her analyses?
      (besides claiming to be an expert at something by Dr. phd.) Otherwise you but proclaim your own bias.

    • Sorry Shoosh, or Dr. C or whatever ;) Your question is entirely off topic. Move along now.

    • Jay does it mean you are an MD and a phd (sic)? Or are you making your PhD do more work than just make reservations at a restaurant.

  5. It is my firm belief that if you really understand something you can explain it to a qualified audience (well, not everyone is good at explaining, but in principle). In this case, to scientifically educated, stats people, and engineers. Often alarmists resort to arg from authority, which my suggested audience here just laughs at as an argument. The next level is an attempt at argument, such as Chris Colose, Fred Moulton or others here, but at some crucial point, some critical assumption, there is just hand-waving. Technical people immediately notice handwaving more than many academics do, and find it unacceptable. I think this accounts for much of the difficulties in the discussion, because only a complete arguement is a … ehem, complete argument. “and then a miracle occurs” is a fine punchline from an old cartoon, but not a good discussion tactic. Much of what “everyone agrees” is merely plausible, a hypothesis, and not proven (in the strong sense of being well-qualified).
    To return to an earlier post here as an example, if tree growth is assumed to be a linear function of temperature, but is not (and is upside down quadratic), this is fundamental, and not a trifle to be waved away. But if you accept the overall story it doesn’t bother you that there are big gaps, whereas the skeptics find these very troubling. Psychology again.

  6. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    Nice post Craig. And I don’t know why we’re starting with the climate sensitivity, which is currently being challenged anyway (Lindzen and Choi 2009). You can’t even get people to agree about the MWP. I have only spoken about the MWP with 1 scientist, Dr. Happer from Princeton. But his conclusion is that the MWP was substantially warmer than current temps. I have to take him at his word, he is an excellent scientist.

    • Sir, you do not have to take him at his word. Ask him why he reached his conclusion and try to use his guideposts to perhaps do the journey yourself.
      As Craig says, whenever I try to do that with folks who believe in AGW we can at least discover the areas where miracles have occurred. It does not mean that one knows more than an expert, but one can get a sense of the uncertainty.
      Your purported degrees indicate that you could be Dr C’s level 2 or 3 so stop behaving like you are 4 or greater.

  7. “If climate scientists can’t convince level 2′s and also level 3′s, people who are looking at the arguments carefully, reading the primary literature, and analyzing data, then it seems to me that the arguments can’t be that strong (or the confidence levels can’t be that high).”

    Sorry Judith, but I smell a non-sequitur hidden around somewhere in that paragraph.

    First, you are making a small sub-sampling of said “level2” blokes, and cherry picking at it. There are others in the internetz who apparently were convinced (Lucia for one?).

    Second, it may simply be not that the arguments are “good” or “bad”, but that the people listening are not… ahhh.. bright, or are confused, etc.

    Having said this, I also think that the focus on a single variable that almost pretends to sum up the environmental troubles with the planet and call it “climate sensitivity” is beyond silliness. Why does this happen?

    I think it has to do with (1) our willingness to better memorize sound bytes, but also to do with (2) the characteristic of “CS” to encapsulate a numerical number that can be mathmatically related to another number, the carbon output by mankind. And this direct simple relation that everybody can understand – more CO2 -> more temperature – is what is driving the discussion. Out stay the more complex issues of local temperatures, of water systems, of what is best to Russia vs what is best to Australia, or the Sahara vs the Arctic, and for the simplest of reasons: if we have enough troubles predicting global climate, imagine the issues of local climate! So this absence of ability to produce quality predictions of local climates (what really matters to people), pushes scientists to speak about this rather simple to understand “number”.

    And if you check all the forums out there, you’ll see that people tend to think this way too. “It’s all simple, more CO2, more temperature, bad bad bad. What’s there more to understand? We need a stop to it, period”

  8. I notice that there has been a lot of interest, both by posters here and on skeptical science, in Judith’s claim that the confidence interval for climate sensitivity should be 0-10C.

    Most of these comments revolve around a basic error in understanding what a confidence interval is. Essentially they believe that a probability for an event might be 1-a, where a is the confidence interval. This is quite incorrect, as explained by Wikipedia here.

    The confidence interval is an expression of the uncertainty in the measurement. A change in the accuracy of the measurement does not represent a change in probability of the object being measured. The object being measured is what it is; the measurement has some unknown accuracy, and it is simply not correct to convert the CI into a probability distribution. From the wikipedia article:

    The calculated interval has fixed endpoints, where μ might be in between (or not). Thus this event has probability either 0 or 1. One cannot say: “with probability (1 − α) the parameter μ lies in the confidence interval.”

    Hopefully this puts to bed the misconception that a 90% CI of 0-10 suggests there is a 5% or 10% chance that sensitivity is greater than 10C, because that is not what is being expressed. Although being the blogosphere, I suspect that will not be the end of it…

    • Confidence intervals cannot be assigned to hypothetical ranges at all. This is a basic confusion between objective and subjective probabilities. The confidence interval is a property of sampling of an existing population, balls in an urn being the classic case. It is defined by the probability distribution of all possible samples. The error in question is called the pure error of sampling and the math is pure probability theory.

      There is no sampling of a real population in these sensitivity ranges. Some people do try to argue that the model runs are somehow sampling reality, so their results create a probability density function, but that is a wild argument. The fact is that these sensitivity confidence ranges are subjective probabilities. That is, they just reflect a range of expert opinions. Indeed, the models are nothing but expert opinions at this point.

    • It’s curious that the meaning of a confidence interval (CI) is raised here, because I mentioned it briefly in the other thread. You cite the standard view that a CI of 90% does NOT mean that there is a 90% probability that the parameter of interest lies within the CI. Despite the near universality of that view in standard descriptions, I believe it is wrong, at least in a practical sense, because it misconstrues the meaning of probability.

      Typically, a CI of 90% is described as meaning that if multiple samples were drawn and a CI appropriately calculated from each, about 90% of the CIs would include the parameter of interest. Why is this not the same as stating that any single CI from a single sample is likely to contain that value with 90% probability?. The standard explanation is that the value either is within the CI (P = 1) or outside it (P = 0), and is not ordinarily a variable that sometime finds itself within a given range and other times does not.

      The reason this argument is fallacious, in my view, is that it perceives probability as an inherent property of a quantitation (e.g., climate sensitivity), outcome (heads or tails), or other event. To me, this misses the essence of probability, which is that it is instead a description of our level of knowledge about the item of interest, and so two different observers may correctly arrive at different probabilities for the same item if their knowledge is different. In fact, Bayesian analysis captures this principle well. For example, if a coin is tossed, I might estimate the probability that it will come up heads as 0.5, but a different person who was aware that it had been tossed 99 times previously and come up tails on each occasion would place the probability close to zero. We would both be right – my estimate would be based on the set of all coins, whereas the estimate of the other observer would be based on the subset of coins that came up tails 99 consecutive times. This example also illustrates the principle that the greater our knowledge, the more likely we are to be right in predicting an outcome.

      In light of the dependence of P on our level of knowledge, we can rephrase the 90% CI statement to state, “for this one sample with a CI of 90%, if we conclude that climate sensitivity lies within those limits, our probability of being correct is about 90%. This in no way contradicts the assertion that the true value is a fixed quantity that is either within those limits or outside them. I find this reasoning a useful means of estimating climate sensitivity or other items of interest. If the semantic quibble is that we are only calculating the probability that we are correct rather than the probability that a fixed value is one place instead of another, I have no problem with that, because the probability of being correct when we assign a putative range of values is what is of most practical interest. If we are 90% likely to be correct in concluding that climate sensitivity lies within the canonical 2 to 4.5 C range, that has significant implications for how climate responds to CO2.

      Of course, the basis for arriving at that CI is a matter of disagreement in its own right, as discussed on the “probabilistic estimates” thread regarding the justification for assigning particular priors to a Bayesian analysis as they relate to observational data vs subjective judgment (I wrote this addition to all the above commentary after seeing Dave Wojick’s comment, which involves an issue different from the one I address above.)

      • Fred Moolten

        I’d like to restate, for all us 3-4’s. Please correct if I’m wrong in the way I set this out.

        In many introductory Statistics courses, students are told to describe their results as such and such probability, “19 times in 20.”

        90% CI is a probability.

        “19 times in 20” describes that we are ‘fairly certain’* the CI is truly 90% for 19 out of 20 situations we see. This meta-estimate can be based on semantics (what do we mean by ‘all liquids’?) or observer issues (the shaking hand) or limits of technology (the shaking table) or framing issues or ‘other’ and is our safety valve for describing what happens in the reality we don’t control.

        *’fairly certain’ being, my first Statistics professor asserted, “someone’s SWAG at a truly impossible to name figure.”

        That is, it’s still 90% in those 19ish cases, and unknown in that one (or so) case in twentyish.

        That is, our Uncertainty is small (5% or less of the situations we see will be ‘different’ from this majority ‘fairly certain’ situation).

        The standard is that Probability is described within the CI, as the Probability outside the CI must be unknowable. (Why, if we could know, would we ignore the data?)

        Also, that case outside the 19 times in 20 may be associated with something truly experiment-ending, so we count this separately. “A comet hits the Earth Thursday,” isn’t reflected in your odds of winning the lottery Friday.

        So we don’t speak of 90%, 19 times in 20 as being the same as 85.5% or in the range 85.5% to 90%.

        Now, in Climate Science, we’re looking at things between 99 times in 100 (or greater) for very, very few parts of the field — which no one says, going with the conservative 19 times in 20, to 5 times in 10, or less for much of what researchers are asked to consider.

        It’s not really much worth discussing Probabilities on Uncertainties of 5 times in 10 or less.

        Most prefer not relying on Uncertainties of worse than 9 in 10.

        Is this about right?

      • Doh.

        Can’t even keep track of my edit changes.

        Please substitute:

        “The standard is that Probability is a CI described within the estimated certainty range, as the Probability or CI outside the estimated certainty range must be unknowable.”

      • Bart – I’m not completely sure what you are asking, but my point is that a 90% confidence interval tells us that if we conclude that the value of interest lies within than interval, we will be correct about 90% of the time and wrong about 10% of the time. In the latter circumstance, the confidence interval doesn’t necessarily tell us how far outside the interval the value will lie with any particular probability, although those figures can sometimes be calculated separately, based on the available evidence.

        I know I’m belaboring the point, but it’s probably necessary to state again that if the calculated CI is based on unreliable data, better data might have yielded a different CI, but that doesn’t contradict the principles I’ve tried to outline. Also, unless the data are totally worthless (not the case with the dozens of climate sensitivity studies if one reads the journal articles where they appear), CI intervals are an informative means of narrowing the range of possible values within which an unknown parameter may happen to lie.

      • Ah.

        I’m suggesting that, as an Uncertaintist, it’s possible Dr. Curry’s figure of 0-10C may, like the 85.5%-90% figure in my example above, may be trying to ‘count in’ Uncertainty.

        Which is the only interpretation I can come up with that makes sense, given what you’ve said.

        Perhaps I’m overreaching.

      • for this one sample with a CI of 90%, if we conclude that climate sensitivity lies within those limits, our probability of being correct is about 90%.

        No, once again, you cannot do that. It is the equivalent of arguing that by measuring something less accurately, it increases the range of values the thing you are measuring could take. That is an absurd claim to make. Increasing a conventional CI does not make it more likely that an extreme value is possible. In fact, it shows a lack of evidence, quite the opposite of evidence that a more extreme value could be correct. But it is a common mistake to make.

        Of course, I am referring to conventional frequentist CIs, and as David rightly points out, the numbers being quoted here are subjective opinion and not quantitatively derived, which makes the whole discussion an exercise in futility anyway. And I believe others here have pointed out on previous threads that this also renders your attempt to construct a Bayesian model moot as well. These things are only really useful when something can be meaningfully quantified and built into a formal analysis.

      • But what does the frequentist CI mean in case of a parameter like climate sensitivity. Climate sensitivity is not usually considered to be a random variable, but a parameter that has one specific, but unknown value. For the climate sensitivity we have only the Bayesian subjective probability distribution or some values that describe our confidence to the estimates of this parameter. (It is also possible that the climate sensitivity is not a valid parameter at all. As far as I understand Tomas Milanovic argued that this is the case and this is indeed possible even on a Earth whose radiative energy balance stays within fixed limits.)

        In addition we may have frequentists probability distributions for each method of determining the value of the climate sensitivity. These PDF’s can be defined either for each assumed value of the climate sensitivity or based on our present Bayesian subjective probabilities of the values of the climate sensitivity. But all these frequentist PDF’s are PDF’s of the measurements, not of the real value.

        There are no fundamental problems in defining the Bayesian subjective probabilities, but there may be practical problems that make the determination of these probabilities so difficult that they have little practical value. On this point the view expressed by Judith Curry differs significantly from that presented in the IPCC AR4. I tend to think that presenting numerical values for the confidence limit goes beyond the well understood scientific knowledge, or in other words, such values are too highly subjective and the legitimate differences of opinion are large.

      • Pekka Pirilä you say

        “Climate sensitivity is not usually considered to be a random variable, but a parameter that has one specific, but unknown value.”

        It strikes me, albeit as a layman, that this is fundamental to the CO2 AGW hypoyhesis. However I have been unable to find a basis for why this is “usually considered” to be so. Could you please provide an explanation or a link explaining as to why it is so, it would be much appreciated.

        Thank you

      • The standard reasoning is that keeping all forcings the same for a very long time and calculating the average temperature from all that interval the result will approach some value and stop there. Future oscillations will not any more change the average significantly, because they will not last long enough to influence the average of much longer period. The only alternative is that the duration of future deviations in one direction are not limited, but the distribution of the durations has a very long and fat tail. This is not in contradiction with conservation of energy as indefinitely large fluctuations are. The ice age fluctuations are not far from the behavior that doesn’t ever give a well defined average. Thus this is not a possibility that can be excluded.

        Still the standard assumption that constant forcings lead to a well defined long term average, is also reasonable. If that is true then the climate sensitivity is also well defined as the difference of the average temperatures resulting from forcings that differ only because of different CO2 concentrations.

        Even if the forcing is not well defined over very long time, it might be well enough defined for periods of 100-300 years starting from the present conditions to allow considering it as a unique fixed, but unknown value.

      • Spence – What I stated above is correct, but you misrepresented it. I did not say that measuring something less accurately increases the range of values it can take, but it is certainly true that increasing the range of values increases the probability that a true value will be found within that range – indeed, we can be 100% confident that a value will lie between plus and minus infinity. My point was, and correctly remains, that a properly calculated interval gives us the probability that a value of interest will lie within the specified range, as long as that is understood to mean that if we take the value to be in that range (e.g., within 90% confidence limits), we will have drawn a correct conclusion about 90% of the time.

        I don’t think that you have quite grasped the principle that probability is a measure of our knowledge. A broader range does in fact increase the probability of both higher and lower values than a narrower range, but that is simply a way of stating that the less we know, the less we can exclude the more extreme values. It does not change the location of the true value, but only our ability to pinpoint it.

        The issue of the reliability of the data is separate, but even if the 2 to 4.5 C range for doubled CO2 can be challenged on the basis of the data, it turns out that the more uncertain value is the upper limit (4.5 C), and that the lower boundary of 2 C is less subject to uncertainties regarding particular sources of evidence. An even lower boundary of 1.5 C is even more secure, although among the dozens of relevant studies, there are individual reports that arrive at lower figures.

      • Fred,

        Unfortunately, frequentist CIs do no such thing. Here is an example. Say I ask a friend to toss a coin. He does so five times, and each time it comes up heads. Based on those results, I can say, with 96% confidence, that the coin is double-headed. Does that mean I will be correct 96% of the time if I go around claiming such a result is caused by a double headed coin? No! Not at all. If I go around making such a claim, I will almost certainly be wrong most of the time. So it is not true that I end up drawing the correct conclusion 96% of the time, most of the time I would be quite wrong in making this claim. But my confidence interval is correctly calculated (i.e. one minus the probability that such an event could occur by chance with a normal coin).

        Furthermore, I was trying to interpret Dr Curry’s position in the context of frequentist confidence intervals – just trying to observe what was most likely meant. But it seems the whole debate is a confused mess of confidence, probabilities, and whatever anyone else cares to throw in. But at the end of the day they are just subjective opinion anyway.

        FWIW, my view is probably most closely aligned with Dr Pielke Sr, or Tomas Milanovic, which is that it is extremely unlikely that the complex climate system can be reduced to such a simple relationship.

      • “Say I ask a friend to toss a coin. He does so five times, and each time it comes up heads. Based on those results, I can say, with 96% confidence, that the coin is double-headed.”

        No you can’t. The probability that the coin is double-headed based on that observation is very small, well under 1%, because the prior probability of 5 consecutive heads is 1/32 but the prior probability of a two-headed coin is almost certainly less than 1/10,000.. If you correctly calculated the value, based on an accurate prior probability that a coin is double-headed, then you could in fact expect to be correct with the calculated frequency. You might want to try this out with a set of assumed priors.

        More generallly, I don’t see any way you can argue that a probability accurately estimated for one instance ceases to be true when applied over multiple examples of the same circumstance. If it is true for one set of 5 tosses, it will be true for multiple repetitions as well, but it has to be calculated accurately.

      • The 1/32 applies to a “fair coin” – i.e., one balanced for heads and tails.

      • Nope – my statement is based on a single coin, no prior knowledge assumed. That is a valid calculation of the single coin for a naive position. Your probability of a two-headed coin is also likely missing the point – you really want the probability that your friend is a confidence trickster, but that is something almost impossible to quantify on prior evidence, as your friend will go to great lengths to hide it.

        Of course, it is not a true reflection of the real world, because the real world is more complex and my model is missing an important feature of the real world – just like climate models are missing important features of the real world, making any such confidence interval technically computable and correct *for that one case* but entirely arbitrary and meaningless back in the real world.

        What we have in climate science is a case where we have counted six heads (the consensus) and four tails (the sceptical position). The likes of Fred Moolten refuse to count the four tails, insisting that they were tossed incorrectly and don’t count. Fred then declares effectively 6/6 heads or 98.4% confidence. The sceptics claim that the people who have tossed the six heads are tossing the coin behind closed doors and not showing us exactly what they are doing, and that is a breach of traditional methods of coin tossing. The real question is whether the coin actually tells us anything about climate or not.

      • Spence,
        You insist on the results of frequentist probabilities, but that does not make sense, because a frenquentist cannot make any inferences about the true values. He cannot make any inference about the type of coin, he just observes.

        Bayesian approach is in practice the only one that is generally used for connecting statistical results to inferences without obvious logical errors.

      • Pekka,

        The frequentist approach and Bayesian approach are simply different approaches. When correctly applied, both are valid. The problem is that people tend to misunderstand them.

        You are correct in saying that the frequentist approach to confidence intervals infers no probability distribution on the value itself. But that does not render confidence intervals meaningless or worthless – in fact they provide a valuable insight into the uncertainty of a measurement, but only if the people using them know what they mean. The problem is, most people get the meaning confused.

        Bayesian approaches are not without their problems, either, but can also provide useful information. Just different ways of looking at a problem.

        Of course the frequentists and Bayesians can argue at one another until the cows come home. Once we move on to Dempster-Shafer and evidential reasoning, give me a call :)

      • Spence, I have been trying to move this towards evidential reasoning, few takers.

      • I know that there is also the frequentist approach, but it is more limiting. It cannot give reasonable answers to many questions of inference without some kind of stealth Bayesian extensions.

        The way you used the frequentist approach was direct evidence on its limitations, which are overcome in the Bayesian approach, although not without the introduction of subjective priors. To me it is much more fruitful to discuss the problems of the Bayesian inference than to deny the related concepts.

      • Dr Curry: I had a quick search for evidential reasoning, and stumbled across your Italian flag post – I’ll have a look at it.

        My comment was slightly tongue-in-cheek, partly because I don’t think people will agree on a formalism of the problem. It is difficult enough with the frequentist vs. Bayesian arguments (a topic second to only climate change and which games console is best in terms of knee-jerk reactions). Arguably, extending these techniques to include uncertainty might be interesting, through Dempster-Shafer or trivalent/polyvalent logic systems, but people are then so far out of their comfort zones they will either not engage or dismiss the ideas out of hand.

      • ferd berple

        Mainstream climate science assumes natural variability is a random distribution around a mean. However, this is an assumption. Weather is chaotic, and climate is a time series analysis of weather. Using the wrong assumption to calculate confidence levels leads to the wrong answer.

    • Not from me.

      When I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

      • Jeffrey, thanks for that – I took some time out from our previous discussion (I felt the discussion wasn’t constructive), only to find that in fact we were probably converging on some common ground when I dropped out. It would probably be beneficial if I were to chill out more on these topics :)

      • I’m often wrong and possibly the only man on the internet to ever admit it, but my problem is that I like to talk and (like the bullied kid in Stalky&Co) I’m not naturally clever. A terrible combination. But I’ve discovered the one key thing about political discussions — and climate change denial is a political discussion not a scientific one: in politics one lies by making true statements. Just incomplete truths or irrelevant statements: suppresio veri and suggestio falsi.

        10C. My God. As I said, not even Hansen predicts 10C. Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand what Curry’s range meant. I thought only of the million year graph of temps and CO2 — 12C of rises primed by teeny Milankovich forcings.

      • Jeffrey, based on rustneversleeps quote below, I’m starting to wonder whether I got what Judith actually intended. I assumed she had meant her range as a confidence interval, but in that case the way in it was expressed it makes no sense. So it may be here that I’ve jumped to conclusions. Or it may be that the comment below was not clearly conveyed. Maybe the comment was intended to mean that 10C is a real possibility. As you say, not even Hansen would claim that.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        My (naive) understanding is that we humans won’t be around — or at least won’t be belching carbon in prodigious amounts — after around 3.5C of warming, so 10C of sensitivity seems like a merely theoretical number. A mathematical artifact. As does 0.

        If there’s a real possibility for that degree of sensitivity, we need to ask the question about time frames and tipping points. There are days (no more than 2 out of 3) when I fear that the tipping point came when James Watt demonstrated what a nifty thing coal could do to make steam. Letting the Pennsylvanian Period do our work for us is a wonderful luxury.

      • Latimer Alder

        You mean a change of 3.5C in global temperature is going to kill us all???

        How on Earth do you get to that conclusion? What dreadful consequences are going to cause that? A bit of sealevel rise? Like a foot or so?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “You mean a change of 3.5C in global temperature is going to kill us all???”

        For a species that went to war over an ear, you seem to take widespread famine and unrest pretty blithely. Are you under the impression that I thought we were going to bake to death?

      • Rob Starkey

        Jeffery– LOL again– any why exactly would food production be lower if the world was 3.5 C warmer? Would it no longer be possible to build dams and water distribution systems???

      • Latimer Alder

        I dunno You just said that if it gets to 3.5C warmer we won’t be around. I assumed that you had some mechanism in mind for the mass extinction of 10 billion sentient and capable souls. So wondered what it is.

        But you haven’t. ‘Widespread famine and unrest’ are lovely scary concepts, but little more. And no evidene presented as to why 3.5C is an appropriate scary point.

        I think you have very little evidence to back up your view. I might equally posit that a warmer world will mean longer growing seasons and more rainfall, leading to more abundant crops and a cure for famine worldwide. Happiness among all nations and a true land of milk and honey for all. Sweetness and light all round.

        There is just as much evidence for my prediction as for yours.

      • Latimer Alder

        I do not get your reference to a species going to war over an ear? The human species?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The War of Jenkins Ear.'_Ear

        As for an earlier suggestion that we’ll be able to build dams to move water around, I love to imagine us building dams ad hoc.

        All of this schwärmerei just so ~1000 super-rich won’t have their fabulous wealth menaced by the user paying for carbon externalities. Not even them paying! The ordinary schmoe.

      • Holly Stick

        The War of Jenkins’ Ear. Google it.

        “I… might equally posit that a warmer world will mean longer growing seasons and more rainfall, leading to more abundant crops and a cure for famine worldwide. ..” Ignorant crap. Higher temperatures mean more droughts.

      • Rob Starkey

        Jeff– in case you did not notice, we actually build dams and water distribution systems today. The point being that even in a warmer world, water availability is far more important than temperature. If we water crops they will grow quite well when it is warmer. Most of the proposed “solutions” of those who fear a warmer world will impact the poor far more than they would impact others. Poorer people in the US are hurt by an increased gas tax for example, but such a tax does decrease consumption.

      • Latimer Alder


        Well this is quite remarkable. Only a few days ago we were all asked to believe that higher temperatures meant more floods. Because warmer air holds more water (higher svp) and so there is more rainfall.

        And how are we to explain the Tropical Rain Forest? Which as it’s name implies is hot (tropical), rainy, and full of abundant growth (forest)?

        Y’see for every prediction that you have saying there will be less rain, there are an equal number saying it will be more. So even as an alarmist , you can’t have it both ways.

      • Rob Starkey

        ok, technically you could have it both ways. you could have longer periods of dry weather followed by short periods of extremely wet weather. If that were the case, it would still not really be a problem. To adapt you would need additional water storage capacity to last through the dry spells and water drainage systems to get the water to the storage locations when it is wet. We call these concepts infrastructure, and it is massively reconstructed by humans every 100 years or so regardless of climate change

      • Holly Stick

        Tell that to the people in Queensland, who had drought for years, then floods, neither of which are good for growing crops.

        In case you have not figured it out yet, extremes of all sorts are bad for crops: too much water, too little water, too much heat, not enough heat, bad storms, etc.

      • Holly Stick

        That post was aimed at Latimer. I don’t have time to spend on Rob’s naive and unrealistic dependence on technological fixes. Technology could have saved News Orleans from Katrina, if it had been put into place, but the technology wasn’t was it.

      • John Carpenter


        Agreed, what the GCM set is pushing is a non-falsifiable theory. The GCM’s predict that more droughts, more floods, less snow, more snow, warmer temps, colder temps, more rain, less rain…etc etc… more weather that we have already endured for millenia are now all the results(evidence) that CAGW is happening. Weather is not climate. We heard that time and again when the last few winters in the NH got more severe and ordinary folks began to think maybe AGW is more hype than reality. It didn’t take long before we heard that this is exactly what AGW looks like and so weather is evidence, proof that the GCM’s are right. I would like to know what type of weather patterns we should expect if the GCM’s are wrong. 75 degrees and sunny with a few light showers every now and then?

      • Latimer Alder


        And the cycle of drought followed by floods has been going on in Queensland since before AGW is ever though to have been a problem. It was noted way back in the 1800s when the first settlers arrived.

        I really fail to understand the point you are making.

    • @ Spence in UK,

      It seems to me you are making a distinction without a difference in this case. But in any event – note well what Dr. Curry actually said:

      curryja | February 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
      That there is a 33% probability that that actual sensitivity could be higher or lower than my bounds. To bound at a 90% level, I would say the bounds need to be 0-10C.

      (Highlights mine.)

      She is quite clearly saying that the probability of the ACTUAL sensitivity being outside of 1 to 6 degrees C is 33%. And then extends that to the 90% / 1-10C case.

      Capiche? And hence the, um, interest… Nice try, though.

      • Interesting point. I just noticed Zeke also used the term probability. But Zeke also claimed he was referring to these as per the IPCC – but the IPCC report explicitly refers to confidence, not probability – these are not the same thing at all.

        I guess it just goes to show everyone is using sloppy language while trying to put on a false veneer of some kind of technical aspect to the whole thing. With hindsight, I would say that David Wojick’s observations are probably the most sensible here. Nothing here amounts to more than expert opinion and applying some kind of confidence or probability makes no sense whatsoever.

  9. ” If climate scientists can’t convince level 2′s and also level 3′s, people who are looking at the arguments carefully, reading the primary literature, and analyzing data, then it seems to me that the arguments can’t be that strong “

    You make these kinds of statements regularly and I find it perplexing, particularly given your experience with the “sky dragons”.

    There are people who will never be convinced that something they don’t want to be true isn’t. The reasons for them not wanting it to be true vary wildly from personal attachment to a particular idea to incompatibility with other beliefs.

    What’s supposed to make science different to a simple collection of talking heads is that those with the strongest argument and the best data win the day.

    You seem to want to redefine this standard such that an idea becomes strong simply because people believe it and weak because people argue against it. You stated before that there are questions and concerns relating to temperature data yet failed to analyze the relevance and quality of them.

    Here again we’re back to “Well those people don’t seem to to be convinced therefore…” which is frankly the most foolish and lazy of all available means to evaluate an argument. If someone mentions creationism of course you’ll say that’s different which is just special pleading that avoids you having to explain why your criteria doesn’t open the door to any and all arguments that any two idiots can manage to agree on.

    When Dr Spencer (for example) comes up with a mechanism for his cloud theory I’ll start to consider his ideas as having merit, otherwise he simply has an opinion that climate sensitivity is low and he’s entitled to it but it’s just an opinion. When all the others who think “Well X, Y or Z must be true! Evidence that show X, Y or Z to not be true is simply treated with too much confidence!” start producing testable theories and data which moves the field forward such that X, Y or Z being true represents a better explanation than at present I’ll start listening seriously.

    So in short, I don’t think there’s anything notable about the existence of people who “aren’t convinced”.

    • You seem to want to redefine this standard such that an idea becomes strong simply because people believe it and weak because people argue against it.

      Yep, this is Climatology II: science as a popularity contest.

      • Yes, how utterly different from the ‘consensus’ that ‘the science is settled.’

      • Yes, science done by the people who currently choose the winner of American Idol could not be more different than a consensus of scientists who actually know what they are talking about.

      • The consensus is simply the distillation of what experts in the field consider to be the case. It’s a coherent and complete statement of the minimum that the vast majority can agree upon such that if you make the statement that “Science says X is the case” it can be affirmed or refuted such that “Science says X” or “Science does not say X”.

        Something being the consensus does not make it true. It makes it only what is supportable by the best data analysed with the best methodologies and integrated into the best theories available.

        Nobody needs to accept anything because the experts think it so but they do need to explain why the experts think that without invoking conspiracy theories. There is no need to explain why non-experts think something is so, we already have a perfectly good explanation: They’re not experts. If they want attention for their ideas then they have to do hard work and show something is the case.

        Example: An overwhelming number of scientists think the greenhouse effect is real. A small number of people on the internet don’t see how it can work and therefore consider it to be not real. That small number of people need to explain how it does work and why the experts are fooled – there may be excellent explanations for why depending on what the reality is but it’s not nearly good enough to say “It just doesn’t make sense!”.

      • And your definition of an expert in this connection is exactly what?

        For example – is Mann an expert statistician? Or McIntyre? Or Keenan? Is Lindzen an expert in his field?

        If so, and they say they are unconvinced, how are their criticisms to be handled? Ignored, dismissed or just derided as ‘not part of the consensus’

      • Agreed,

        I dont think one can infer anything from the failure to convince. There are a variety of explanations for why I may fail to convince you, from my explanation is bad, to my explantion is wrong, to you are stupid, to well anything.

        More interesting are the requirements for sustained skepticism.

        at what point should one become skeptical of their own skepticism.

      • Agreed regarding the limits of scepticism. Obviously, there would come a point when the science is conclusive.

        Climate science and climate science groupies (above) need it to be conclusive Right Now. I don’t see much evidence that it is. Lots of evidence that they wish it were, but that’s not the same thing. The probabilities that a noted climate scientist has attached to the questions that started this thread seem to me to bear that out.

        In the end, if the climate refuses to warm for another 15 years, they’ll just say ‘oh, well, other factors intruded, we had to modify our theory’. That’s fine, that’s how science works. And those modifications would be seamlessly added to the science, as though they’d always been there. But the predictions would change completely.

        You don’t have to postulate conspiracies or be a flat earther or nut job to be sceptical that we have sufficient understanding of climate to be unable to make forecasts good enough to base very expensive policy on.

        Make these predictions in 20 years’ time with decent data and a change of the guardians of the various data sets. We’ll see.

      • Ceri

        Believe you have described what Nassim Taleb referred to as the “my prediction was right except for…” phenomenon in his brilliant book, The Black Swan.


      • Exactly (Steven Mosher).

        The failure to convince can have many reasons.

        Here’s another one:
        ( )
        People with different political viewpoints respond very differently to climate information:0
        “It reflects the efficacy of media campaigns that provide scientific-sounding arguments against taking climate change seriously, which disproportionately reach educated but ideologically receptive audiences”

      • Bart Verheggen-

        Lets not forget that forming mass opinions is only possible through mass media / mass communication channels. That’s whether it’s for or against any proposition. Information and opinion forming are also very context sensitive.

      • Oh come off it! There’s a huge chasm between agreeing that the greenhouse effect is real, and accepting that [insert your favourite scare story here]

      • [insert your favourite scare story here]

        Maybe, instead of desperately wishing people were discussing scare stories, you should try reading and arguing against what people are actually saying.

      • sorry, my bad.
        I’ve now read your whole post instead of just the first sentence of the last paragraph, and I’ve seen that I was a bit out of line. :-(

      • sharper00,

        ‘Example: An overwhelming number of scientists think the greenhouse effect is real. A small number of people on the internet don’t see how it can work and therefore consider it to be not real. That small number of people need to explain how it does work and why the experts are fooled – there may be excellent explanations for why depending on what the reality is but it’s not nearly good enough to say “It just doesn’t make sense!”.’

        Assume “small number of people ” and “An overwhelming number of scientists ” are correct, why “An overwhelming number of scientists ” are unable to account for the 324W/m2 back radiation as shown in K&T’s 1997 Global Annual Mean Energy Budget?

      • John Costigane

        Thanks for the plug, PDA.

        The whole idea is to start again from scratch, with no penalties for past sins. Have reliable outside people, like Steve McIntyre, redo all the data.

      • ferd berple

        A collection of various criticisms can be found in the book “Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein” (Hundred authors against Einstein), published in 1931. It contains very short texts by 28 authors, and excerpts of publications of other 19 authors… Einstein is reported to have said with irony, that one author alone would have been sufficient to refute him.

    • To sharper00: What you are missing is the concept of rationality. In fact you seem to dismiss rationality as a factor when you say “There are people who will never be convinced that something they don’t want to be true isn’t.”

      The point here is that the argument for AGW is not that strong because a lot of people do not believe it FOR GOOD REASONS. The 50,000+ comments on this blog are full of excellent reasons for doubting AGW. The medium is the message. The debate is rational.

      • You keep using this phrase, “the medium is the message.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

      • “The point here is that the argument for AGW is not that strong because a lot of people do not believe it FOR GOOD REASONS. “

        The point I’m making is that Dr Curry is pushing the idea that the reasons don’t matter all that matters is that people disagree.

        If you want to say there are good reasons that’s a different argument. The reasons can be debated (and are endlessly) but there’s something to debate.

      • i don’t think that was what Dr Curry was actually driving at- i think she was trying to infer that a lot of qualified (though not necesserily in the same field) specialists did not agree that the cAGW theory was sound on the current presented evidence.

        Thats not like saying X number of people think Y so Y must be true (as in the laughable consensus example you gave wrt cAGW- best methods and best data; what a hoot), but rather that if a large group of very qualified people cannot reconcile the claims of a theory with the evidence, then there MAY be something worth discussing about the theory.

      • Craig Goodrich

        Dr Curry is pushing the idea that the reasons don’t matter all that matters is that people disagree.

        That’s true in some threads here but not others.

        I do agree, though, that “reconciliation” and “resolving differences” threads on a science blog are somewhat cognitively dissonant, since science itself is nothing if not “a means of resolving differences.” That’s what complete openness, explicitness, and reproducibility are all about. If two scientists propose conflicting hypotheses to explain some phenomenon, the difference is resolved by evidence and experiment — it is irrelevant to the scientific undertaking whether when these scientists meet, they share brandy and cigars, throw bricks at each other, or perform the Norwegian Fish-Slapping Dance.

        So I confess I tend to regard all this “reconciliation” and “communication” discussion as a) an effort by soft academics to get in on AGW grant money, and b) an effort by PR-obsessed scientists to distract from the manifest lack of evidence for CO2-driven AGW.

      • No I am pushing uncertainty. When uncertainty is large, there are numerous interpretations that are not irrational. List all the uncertainties and unknowns and describe the quality of each piece of information, then we can understand the source of the disagreement.

    • Sharperoo:
      “There are people who will never be convinced that something they don’t want to be true isn’t. The reasons for them not wanting it to be true vary wildly from personal attachment to a particular idea to incompatibility with other beliefs.”

      This could apply equally to the proponents of CAGW. There are extremes and biases on both sides of the argument. That’s politics.

      • “This could apply equally to the proponents of CAGW.”

        No it couldn’t. Last I saw Mann no longer uses the same methodology is in MBH 98. GISS no longer uses calculations with the Y2k flaw. Dr Spencer has properly corrected his temperature data to account for various cooling biases.

        The proponents of AGW correct their claims according to new data all the time. I see little evidence of this for climate change skeptics.

        “That’s politics.”

        Well you use the phrase “CAGW” so I think it’s very unlikely you’re able to see anything other than politics.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        No it couldn’t. Last I saw Mann no longer uses the same methodology is in MBH 98

        This is an ironic comment. The problem with MBH was never that the particular methodology used by it was wrong. The problem was it used a incorrect methodology which gave undue weight to a small subset of its data (bristlecones).

        Now then, Mann08 didn’t use the same methodology as MBH. On the other hand, if you removed the unjustifiably used Tiljander series, it’s entire conclusion once again rested on those tree rings.

        The problem is the same. It’s just cropping up in a different form.

      • I see little evidence of this for climate change skeptics.

        Dr Spencer is a skeptic and you just noted him as someone who ‘corrects’ as new information becomes available.

      • “Dr Spencer is a skeptic and you just noted him as someone who ‘corrects’ as new information becomes available.”

        I should correct that, I was referring to the ones who do their work via think tanks and blogs. You can find stuff like “No global warming for 15 years!” repeated factually here on every post and it doesn’t matter how many times it’s refuted. Fred Singer is still pushing the idea that “Hide the decline” refers to a real decline in temperatures that was hidden and so on.

    • “There are people who will never be convinced that something they don’t want to be true isn’t.”

      You are making it much too easy for yourself starting off with this simplistic assumption. Sorry. Not credible.

    • “I don’t think there’s anything notable about the existence of people who ‘are not convinced’.”

      I am as good a scientist as any I have seen arguing in the climate debates. I don’t think there is anything notable, or defensible, in the existence of an incompetent consensus.

  10. Judith, you say …
    If climate scientists can’t convince level 2′s and also level 3′s, people who are looking at the arguments carefully, reading the primary literature, and analyzing data, then it seems to me that the arguments can’t be that strong (or the confidence levels can’t be that high).

    Steve McIntyre has said repeatedly,
    I’ve been seeking an engineering-quality exposition of how 2.5 deg C is derived from doubled CO2 for some time … By “engineering quality”, I mean the sort of study that one would use to construct a mining plant, oil refinery or auto factory – smaller enterprises than Kyoto.

    To date, no such exposition has been put forward. Its absence makes thoughtful technical people suspicious.

    • Well done indeed for linking this back to Steve’s long-term plea for an ‘engineering-quality exposition of how 2.5 deg C is derived from doubled CO2’. You found a quote from 2008 but I’m pretty sure it could be 2005 or earlier. The fact that this critique from the outside has been ignored by the climate cognoscenti for so long is for me a much bigger issue than the hockey stick will ever be. But you can always tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back.

      • Steve was harping on that for several years and finally decided to fry some different fish … or work on his squash game instead.

        I think often about the study and documentation that Boeing and Airbus require before their respective boards start signing checks for development of a new airplane. Normally there are one or more sophisticated and experienced “launch customers” that commit to purchases at about the same time and they require in-depth technical and feasibility studies before lending their names to the effort.

        There is no magic or hope in those studies. They can be read and understood by engineers inside and outside the aerospace industry who can see where the risks are and follow developments closely. And when there are problems, they are of a few percent, are anticipated and fallback strategies are part of the plan.

        There is no equivalent in the climate business and it makes people wonder. Kind of like “economic stimulus.”

        In anticipation of comments about Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, yes it’s about three years late. There were some things that didn’t work as planned with outside vendors (I’m being simplistic here) but the fundamental aerodynamics and physics of the airplane, engines and electronics were and are sound.

      • You mean that the engineers and launch customers and manufacturers all put their cojines on the line when they sign up for something?

        Where is the equivalent level of commitment shown in ‘climate science’?
        We know from recent history that incompetence does not adversely affect one’s career in academe. So what would a climatologist have to really mess up to be dismissed or downgraded?

      • Well, to break the confidentiality of a peer reviewer and make sleazy personal attacks on him would do it.

        To publish dishonest incompetent crap on blogs instead of writing credible papers to publish in peer-reviewed journals would do it.

      • Examples please where it *has* happened.

        Climatologists are great at predicting things, but appallingly bad at verifying those predictions.

      • Why shouldn’t bloggers publish dishonest incompetent crap on blogs? It is still a major improvement over the dishonest, incompetent crap that passes for climate science. I’ve never seen anything on a blog that is as bad as the CRU mess that poor Harry had to deal with. Or the laughable garbage that Rahmstorf and a parade of climate luminaries put out with “worse than we thought!” I’ve never observed any of the climate blogs I read produce the kind of outright fraud that Jones’ UHI study was.

        I’ve never seen a climate blogger try to argue that readings of several hundred degrees in Wisconsin are normal temperatures. To screw up that royally takes a gen-u-wine climate scientist.

      • Citations?

      • Holly Stick asks for citations. I wouldn’t think that any knowledgeable observer is unaware of the Harry-Read-Me file. Or the takedown of the “worse than we thought!” mess. Or the UHI farce of Jones and his mysterious China data. So I’m guessing Holly isn’t aware of the temp readings like 604 in Egg Harbor WI. Or the fact that scientists were notified by amateurs of serious problems and denied them (not surprising since it has been a common refrain for years).

      • Read the “Harry-read-me” file from the climategate “emails”

        Or Google “Harry-readme” .

      • Stan,
        Tell me about the paper you linked from . The link to Dr. Christy’s work on the satellite problems is broken.

      • Sorry, I’m not familiar with all the denialist fantasies. Nor do I want to waste any more times on paranoid conspiracy theories.

      • What she just said is: “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts.”

        Which is what she’s been saying all along.

      • On reflection it seems that the two really bad things that you describe are really just a form of apostasy. Both of them involve breaking away from the norms of the climate tribe.

        To the outside world, neither of them appear to be particularly heinous. The first is a bit discourteous, the second blameless. Bu to true climatologists, these are the Bad Sins!

        I’m no anthropologist, but to me this reveals a great deal about what the tribe thinks is important and its values – consensus, unity of message, mutual support, conformity.

        Fantastic qualities for infantrymen in battle. For the pioneers circling the waggons in the Westerns, for cult members everywhere.

        But really, really lousy ones for good scientists. Ho hum.

      • It cannot be derived.
        The best you can do is estimate it.

        I suppose step one might be starting here

        But lots to do after that.

      • I don’t think you’ll find any Judith Curry Epistemic Level one, two or three readers that disagree with ” … the exact impact of CO2 – prior to any feedbacks … ” as presented at Science of Doom (for the record, a 1.1 degree C increase). But from there to 2.5 degrees C and higher it gets quite murky.

        Steve McIntyre recommended Science of Doom to his readers
        (to the apparent surprise of its proprieter. … the blog has recent new found interest thanks to the very kind and unexpected words of Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit.

        Steve McIntyre: My own sense – a view previously expressed at CA – is that in order to provide the appropriate food for a scientist from another field, there is a pressing and long overdue need for exposition somewhere between a primary school cartoon and merely reporting the results of GCM runs, meritorious as they may be.

    • All current estimates of climate sensitivity in terms of the doubling of CO2 run afoul of the Venus/Earth data (see my site), which shows that precisely none of the 17% greater warming of the Venus atmosphere, with 96.5% carbon dioxide, can be laid to that carbon dioxide, but only to the relative distances of the two planets from the Sun (how many doublings, from 0.04% to 96.5%, does it take to penetrate the skulls of consensus climate scientists?). In the face of that overwhelming evidentiary finding alone, climate science as it is now defended should be laughed out of court. Not to mention the further evidentiary fact of no global warming for the past ten to fifteen years. What obvious buffoons are the climate “experts”, whose best efforts only paper over a 20-year old, unconfronted incompetence.

    • Thanks, Speed, for mentioning McIntyre. I was getting depressed by the comments on this post, which seem to be doing a lot of disagreeing and not much agreeing.
      I suspect that we are almost all amateurs in much of the subject matter of this blog, even Dr Curry, so we have to take a lot of things on trust. Whether we are going to agree or not often depends on whom we feel we can trust, rather than on our own knowledge of the issue.
      Some of us, for example may trust McIntyre on the question of whether Mann, Bradley and Hughes can be relied on. Others of us may trust Mann et al on the question of whether McIntyre can be relied on. The McIntyre-Mann dispute was not, as far as I can judge, about anything particularly obscure or complex, although it was long drawn out, so there should be some of us who have the time, inclination and skill to make an independent assessment and tell us about it. Not all of us have the statistical skills, or the time, to assess the matter for ourselves. So we rely on others to do it for us. I think Andrew Montford has done something along those lines. Having read Montford’s book, I see that he has made a strong case in favour of McIntyre. Is that the end of the story? Not if someone else can replicate Montford’s work and come up with a different answer. Perhaps someone will. But shouting at Montford won’t help anybody.
      Much of the discussion on this post has emphasised the disagreement about attaching various numbers to an unknown quantity, which is (IMO inappropriately, but there it is) labelled ‘climate sensitivity’. Some of us are seem quite perturbed that others might set a particular lower limit to that quantity, and vice versa. Clearly there is disagreement. Who can we trust? Shouting at (or gratuitously insulting) the opposition won’t help here either.
      I look forward to reading an independent review (or rather, several independent reviews) of the abundant literature on the relation between changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and changes in average surface temperature. And I mean something covering all the relevant literature, not just that which supports a particular viewpoint. Perhaps such a review already exists, in which case I’d be grateful if somebody could direct me to it. But don’t bother suggesting IPCC WG1 TAR and AR4 reports. They don’t cut the mustard.

  11. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    I agree with you on a lot of those points sharper00. I am waiting for a mechanism to explain global warming theory. Considering that the earth is in a cool phase (that is, if you don’t start at 1979 and actually use the historical record) I think the evidence for co2 induced warmth is horribly low.

    • “I think the evidence for co2 induced warmth is horribly low.”

      You’re perfectly entitled to think that, if you want.

      What you’re forced to accept, assuming you’re rational, is that your judgement of climate science is severely wanting. While you might believe the evidence is low relative to some other more satisfactory state where the evidence is high that’s for you to demonstrate with hard graft not to simply declare as truth.

      • NO i’m going to go with Dr Jay on this one.

        There isn’t ACTUALLY that much ‘hard’ evidence that CO2 causes the warming put forward by the cAGW theory.

        note- not debating ghg effect here

        We have correlation, models and ‘guesses’ on the background of a world that is warming for which we cannot exclude natural factors- as we don’t know them all. We have ‘expert opinion’, but no, real ‘killer’ data or experients (as this debate would simply not exist were they to exist).

        additional note- i’m being VERY strict here- i’m not saying this as a with my skeptic hat on, but with my ‘auditer’ hat on. the cAGW ‘may’ be true- there just isn’t the evidence to prove it.

  12. I suspect there are some other aspects to this beyond communication and technically convincing level 2/3’s.

    Many people have extremely good experience-based, seat-of-the-pants “common sense” about topics ranging from numbers (in general) to statistical patterns to various aspects of How Nature Works. They are able to sense something out of whack just by looking at it.

    Now of course, such informed common sense can be wrong. But if “reality” does not fit informed common sense, the job of convincing others will be all that much harder.

    Craig Loehle’s example of inverted quadratic growth response to temperature is a good illustration. Any experienced gardener knows this innately — too cold OR too hot and the plant doesn’t grow properly.

    All of us have enough experience with weather prediction that we innately understand climate is complex. Overly simplistic answers are thus unconvincing.

    • Fully agree that this is more than a level 2/3 problem. For another eloquent exposition of the wisdom of the unwashed in this area see ‘geronimo’ on Bishop Hill here.

  13. Unfortunately ‘level one people’ are producing a lot of level 3 evidence and they dont seem to have the slightest notion of how to grade the evidence/literature they produce
    Hence it is very easy for ‘level 2 and 3 people’ to critique ‘level one climate people.
    Its not ‘the people’ its the science, and however much the higher echelons of climate scientists confuse people re the nature of evidence, literature published in a peer review journal does not necessarily equate to ‘evidence’

    • The scientists should not be required to dumb things down for bloggers, who often criticize what they have no hope of understanding because of their own inadequacies.

      • When you get below level 2, ideology overwhelms epistemology. Talking about as an epistemic issue conveniently ignores the obvious fact that you can’t see what you won’t see.

      • What does that say about the poorly-educated masses who accept AGW without question?

      • They have better judgment than the ones who cover their eyes and say ‘I don’t see any convincing evidence.’

      • I rest my case

      • As well you should Peter317

      • Craig Goodrich

        Bearing in mind, Holly, that scientific computer models are only rigorous restatements of a hypothesis and by themselves produce no evidence for anything, and that the only correlation between surface temperatures and CO2 concentration is the two decades between the mid–1970s and the mid-1990s, while for example US First Class postal rates correlate with HadCRUT3 very well for the whole 20th century and cosmic rays correlate with temperature on scales from weeks to millions of years, precisely what convincing evidence do you see when you uncover your eyes?

      • Oh FFS!

        You are trying to pretend that ‘climate science’ is some vastly new difficult and challenging area, accessible only to those on a completely different plane from the mere mortals here who just have masters degrees or doctorates in other sciences. And/or maybe years of practical experience in engineering or metrology or any other relevant area.

        Quantum theory is mentally and conceptually difficult, astrophysics is difficult and challenging.

        But there is little to climate science beyond a lot of number crunching and subsequent wild speculation. Plus a bit of basic spetrocscopy. We can see that is not a difficult science just by looking at the qualifications people need to become ‘climate scientists’.

        If you truly believe that we are all just too stupid to understand – because otherwise we would all be in total agreement with you, then you delude yourself greatly. Bit about the intellectual powers of the climatologists and about the quality of the ‘science’ that they present.

      • Last sentence should read

        And also about the intellectual powers of the climatologists and about the quality of the ‘science’ that they present.

        Sorry for the typo.

      • You think that because you do not understand the basic issues in climate science. If you have not worked in that field, you will not know much about it.

      • I stand corrected. My intellectual inadequacies are revealed in the full glare of my fellow bloggers. My ‘career’ here must come to a premature and tragic close. You have got me bang to rights. I leave a sadder but wiser Latimer….a broken man. (insert pause for optional sobbing from the multitudes).

        But just before I slink off into humiliated silence, pray do me just one last favour and give me a wee hint about what topics I have missed from the ‘basics of climate science’. I know I won’t understand a word of them, but it’d be nice just to be able to mumble the sound of them to myself as I shuffle into the library to keep cool in the Hot Days to come. And maybe think back to the halcyon days before this tragic – but inevitable – outcome.

        So – what are these basics of climate science that we all fail to understand? Let others know so that they too may avoid my sad and ignoble fate……..

        (PS Does a Masters in Atmospheric Chemistry count as being even a bit related to climate science… close as a Chemist can get before he stops doing Chemistry, I think?)

      • So why aren’t you doing science instead of wasting your time on this blog. You seem to write more blog posts smearing other scientists than talking about the science itself.

      • You still haven’t told everyone about those basics of climate science that were just on the tip of your tongue………

      • You can read my bio – and that of many others here – on the Denizens thread.

        Please put yours there too.

      • I’m not a climate scientist or a scientist or a statistician or a nathematician. My education is in other areas. But I am smart enough to recognize that I need to rely on the judgement of people with more knowledge and experience in a matter as important as climate change. I have certainly observed climate change happening over decades around my own home and I am intelligent enough to face the reality that things are changing, and the implications that we humans need to adapt our behaviour or die..

      • “…the implications that we humans need to adapt our behaviour or die..”

        Your other education wasn’t in drama was it?

      • ‘I am intelligent enough to face the reality that things are changing, and the implications that we humans need to adapt our behaviour or die..’

        Wow! How on earth did you arrive at that conclusion? Even the most fervent alarmist probably wouldn’t go quite that far.

        It can’t be from your study of climate science, since you have loudly asserted that if you don’t work in climate science, you can’t understand it. And you don’t work there by your own admission.

        So how did you get to that conclusion?

      • Holly- with kindness, i think you need to re-asses your position, badly.

        Not because you happen to sit on another side of the fence to me (at present, who knows how that will change when new info comes to light), but because your reasons for your stance are untennable and incredibly (with kindness) naive.

        Your stance is an ‘appeal to authority’. Unfortunatley science is littered with examples of when the establishment was 100% sure, but also 100% wrong. The starkest example being the stomach ulcer issue; ever (establishment) scientist in the world, barring two though stomach ulcers were cuased by excess acid. These two thought otherwise, proved it and in the process not only won the nobel prize (iirc) but disproved the entire scientific establishment.

        If you come to your position through your own research- then that is a defendable position. If you come to you position because someone told you it was the case, then i’m sorry, but it is not defendable.

        What, pray tell do you do if your ‘experts’ turn out to have lied? Would it not make sense to check- just in case?

      • Holly: try actually reading the IPCC report–they forecast 8.7 inches of sea level rise, for example–we are all going to die from that? They forecast a few more floods and droughts–so what? It isn’t even close to the sci fi movies or al gore.

      • All the IPCC discussions of solutions assumes that they can be supported by vibrant economies, especially the US’s. Want to place bets that there is another economic disaster before there is a climate disaster? I’d put that at 99+% probability.

      • Craig Goodrich

        No bets. In the modern developed world, politicians control economies (or try to), while the God of Physics (or Mother Nature, or Gaia) controls the climate.

        So far, with the possible exceptions of the mosquito and the platypus, the latter has made no mistakes, whereas the typical politician makes half a dozen catastrophic mistakes every morning before his breakfast martini.

      • Well, Nature can’t make mistakes in the same way that the house can’t cheat: you’re playing by its rules. The question is more whether you can keep doubling down and figure things will turn out OK in the end.

        Uncertainty on that proposition looks more like a Chinese flag than an Italian one.

      • @PDA,

        Having lived in Vegas, it would seem to me that the situation is more like after winning several hands in a row, a hippie chick grabs my elbow and says I have to give back all my winnings or the whole casino will collapse. Then I notice she’s wearing diamond earrings…

      • I think the initial dumbing down began with the climate scientists(for political reasons) and the very determined effort to explain the future of the planets climate in terms of co2(only) with an unknown sensitivity (relative magnitude 1-4) and an endpoint of double the level in an unknown timeframe. Now if thats not rather simplistic….
        There is also quite a difference between the way probability is expressed between climate science and other fields. The suggestion that less than 90% probability(IPCC c/o Zeke at The Blackboard) is worth discussing seems especially strange given the size of the unforced variations (less than decadal or not)

      • Holly—you are actually completely wrong on your point.

        Scientists as well as senior engineering fellows absolutely MUST be able to clearly communicate the salient issues and the expected performance against those issues to their respective managements in order to be able to continue working on a project. I personally work in the aerospace industry and go through this process several times a year as we review and approve/reject funding requests for R&D or IR&D projects.

        Bottom line- it is essential for a scientist to be able to explain all the key parameters of any project they want funded. Those approving the projects in industry are almost never as skilled in the specific field as the person conducting the research. That really doesn’t matter. Often, less actual specific technical expertise on a specific technical detail is less important than understanding broader issues such as applicability to the marketplace (or society in general in this case)

      • Rob,
        Your message is too limiting. Not all science is project based. A very significant part of basic science is organized and funded on a different basis, where much less prior knowledge about the research to be done exists at all.

        It is essential that scientists can communicate their results afterwards and that they really do that, but that may be limited to the publications understandable by a small number of specialists only.

        Again few rules apply to all science.

      • Pekka– would you agree that what you describle is the same percentage of all science? In the overwhelming percentage of cases, a scientist or senior needs to be able to effectively summerize what they are doing, why, and the key chacteristics being studied. This must be done in order to obtain and maintain funding.

        In the case of Climate science, this attribute is especially important since in this case a small group of individuals is proposing to change the basic ecomomy of the entire planet.

      • I should proof prior to hitting enter. it should read small percentage not same percentage

      • Dumbing down?! How could it get any dumber than it already is? If it was any dumber, poor Harry would have had a stroke. Rahmstorf’s mess was due to his making up pretend numbers to smooth with the real data. Do you want him to just use all pretend numbers? Jones has already done that.

        Climate scientists have been making predictions that will look as foolish in a couple of decades as Erlich’s do today. How much dumber can it get?

  14. Judith,

    You wrote “If climate scientists can’t convince level 2′s and also level 3′s (…), then it seems to me that the arguments can’t be that strong ”

    That sounds convincing at first glance, but I think it omits the many other potential reasons for skepticism (e.g. ).

    Plus it leaves us with the obvious question of how/why the level 1’s (i.e. professional scientists) are by and large convinced that the arguments are strong. To me the most likely answer to that question is that the evidence, *taken together*, does paint a convincing picture of what’s happening and why. It’s the lack of that helicopter view, of seeing the pieces of evidence in combination with other things that are known, that imo lead many technically savvy people astray in opining about these issues. The other explanation would be that climate scientists, in a collective manner, manipulated the evidence in their strive for a world government (or various less extreme versions thereof).

    • So you’re level 1 in all areas of climate science, then, Bart?

      Or are you like us great unwashed level 2’s in just one or two teeny areas, maybe?

    • Bart, I think the level 1 agreement is largely a response to the perceived “war on science.” there are many scientists that are level 1 on several topics, but level 2-3 on other topics. This is another factor that I believe is quite important in understanding the level 1 support.

      • Steve Reynolds

        Might another reason for level 1 agreement be that level 1 people have self selected to study climate and are therefore likely to think climate research is _very important_. Conclusions confirming the self-selection are almost by definition subject to strong confirmation bias.

        Does your experience (personal and with your students) agree at all with this speculation?

      • well among senior people, i would say this is not the case. But among young people wanting to enter the field, they are probably not wishing to enter the field because they are skeptical of the IPCC.

      • Judith,

        I think that the consensus amongst experts (“level 1 agreement”) is primarily due to the consilience of evidence painting a coherent picture of what and why it’s happening. I agree that in response to the perceived “war on science” many scientists got more defensive and more careful in their communciation (e.g. considering how some message may be spun by skeptics and adapt it accordingly). I don’t think that they changed their view of the science in response to skeptic attacks.

        Ceri, I have made no such claim. But I’m not claiming either that the vast majority of level 1’s are radically wrong. Such an extraordinary claim would require extraordinary evidence, which is sorely lacking.

      • Craig Goodrich

        As to the “coherent picture”, much of that coherence can be accounted for by publication bias (and the maneuvering exposed by Climategate). Research which disturbs the “nice, tidy” [Briffa] IPCC narrative simply has had a much harder time seeing the light of day.

        Fortunately this seems to be (very) gradually changing; witness Susan Solomon et al‘s recent paper on stratospheric humidity variation.

      • Extraordinary evidence? Why?

        It’s one of the grand traditions of science that the considered views of the elder statesmen are utterly wrong. You know: phlogiston, the luminiferous aether, that sort of thing. No particular reason why these climate luminaries should be infallible, that I can see. When all’s said and done this is an extremely immature field, and I don’t think it would shock any of us who read this blog if its basic precepts change considerably over the next 50 years.

        There is (BTW) no such thing as extraordinary evidence, just evidence. Carl Sagan was wrong about that. You prove and disprove things by the preponderance of evidence not its extraordinariness. Typically, the evidence is ignored until a changing of the guard – people retire or die – and then is ‘found’ and interpreted correctly.

        You should recognize your own argument as the ‘argument from authority’ – that puts you in the same camp as our beloved Holly. Doesn’t that make you just a tiny bit uncomfortable?

        (I mean, being on roughly the same side of the debate as Glenn Beck makes me extremely uncomfortable…).

      • The idea that an argument from authority is always fallacious is one of those debate club memes that has reached epidemic proportions with the Internet. Argumentam ad verecundiam describes as fallacious arguments like “The King is an authority, the King says it will rain, therefore it will rain.” It doesn’t follow that “The King says the Queen is sad, therefore she is sad” is of necessity fallacious.

        The fact that I might weight the King’s opinion higher than the Knight’s (or, say, that one that looks like a tower) doesn’t mean I’m right, any more than three out of four dentists saying something about a particular brand of toothpaste makes it unassailable truth. But it’s reasonable for non-experts to give credence to the opinions of people in the field.

    • Latimer Alder

      We hear a lot about ‘climate scientists’ having this wonderful ‘helicopter view’ that is lacking to us level 2s 3s and 4s. And we also hear about the need for indepth study to PhD level before we are even qualified to hold an opinion about any of it.

      But is there any evdience for this view?

      For a few very senior guys like Lindzen or Judith who can work on what they like – and may have both teh time and the inclination to fly the helicopter perhaps. But for the ‘grunt researcher’ working away at his or her own specialty – let’s pick measuring tree rings as a random example. They may be extraordinarily knowledgeable about that tiny little part of the picture. And work hard and be diligent at it and all those good things.

      But does it automatically give them any special insight into how to estimate climate sensitivity or a deep understanding of hurricanes or sealevel rise?

      I;d submit that it is the sceptics -who are able to ‘read around the subject’ without deadlines or papers to write or citation indices to worry about – who are more likely to get the general overview than the in-depth tekkies who compose the vast majority of climate research.

      I also note that even in the IPCC report, each subtopic (Chapter) is written in isolation from the whole and it is only at the end of the process that it all comes together as a “coherent whole”. No individual has oversight of the lot.

      So, absent any other evidence, I take leave to doubt that your supposition is true,

      • Additionally it is very easy for one to become too, for lack of a better word, too-engrossed in ones work. It sometimes (and frequently does in science) take an outsider to push past these collective blindspots that are know to frequent the more specialised aspects of science.

        Assumptions are all too easily made and then ignored. It is these assumptions that require outsiders to assess.

      • Latimer Alder

        So my tree-ring measurer cannot see the wood for the trees? :-)

      • Badum-cha…. I’m here all week, try the viel…

      • Latimer, Labmunkey,

        “But is there any evidence for this view?” (level 2-3-4 skeptics lacking a helicopter view).

        I think the stark differences between level 1 and level 2-4 people in how they view climate change is at least an indication of such. Plus from what I’ve seen many skeptical arguments center around a very specific issue and then extrapolate the significance of the perceived flaw way out of proportion to its actual significance. The hockeystick comes to mind. From my experience discussing with skeptics the lack of a helicopter view of the science is striking.

        In fact, I view it as the most important factor in distinguishing who’s more likely correct about a complex topic: Nitpicking on small details, and then claiming or insinuating that it somehow challenges the foundation or trustworthiness of a whole scientific field.
        Observing a bird in the sky doesn’t disprove gravity.

        You’re also right though that being too focussed on one’s own specialty can actually be an obstacle from taking a helicopter view, esp if that specialty is only tangentially related to the big picture:

        Of course this can also be the case for “level 1” climate scientists.

      • I see your point.

        However i would add that in my field, due to the stringent QC controls a single erroneous result or record is sufficient to call the ENTIRE set into doubt. Though this is not the same as say using the hockey stick dabacle to discredit the work on climate sensitivity for example.

        This approach, though strict, certainly gaurantees good quality data.

        I think the issue you may be conflating is that due to the abject QC involved in this science (specifically by the core scientists, i cannot comment on the peripheral ones) these errors abound. They do not necesserily destroy the theory- but from a QC point of view- they DO cast doubt on the rest of the work in that area.

      • Bart Verheggen,
        “… with skeptics the lack of a helicopter view of the science is striking…” Just curious if you have a helicopter view of that K&T’s 1997 Global Annual Mean Energy Budget? Of course 324W/m2 GHG back radiation is a very special issue, has any skeptics extrapolate the significance of the perceived flaw way out of proportion to its actual significance? Are you able to account for this 324W/m2 which has misled the general public for over a decade.

      • with the internet, a PHD has no better access to information than anyone in business. the difference is a PHD’s idea’s can be completely wrong, but they can still receive grants from government, while the person in business will quickly find themselves looking for a new profession. As a result, a lot of level 2 and 3 people in business have better research skills than level 1 people.

        the question of co2 causing warming, or being caused by warming is irrelevant until and unless it can be shown that today’s warming is any different than past warming.

        the confidence levels being suggests by the IPCC and others are not mathematically sound. they are based on the assumption that natural variability is random – ie normally distributed around a mean. thus the obsession with determining the global mean.

        this assumption has never been proven. weather is chaotic and climate is a time series analysis of weather – a climatic time series analysis. Our present statistical techniques are not able to deliver reliable estimates of confidence for chaotic series.

        Quite simply, a random series like a coin toss is much more predictable than a chaotic series like climate. As such, the current confidence levels in climate prediction have been overstated.

        climate science assumes the warming must be due to co2 because it cannot be explained any other way. this is not correct. it can be explained in that they have used the wrong statistical techniques to estimate confidence.

      • Craig Goodrich

        … many skeptical arguments center around a very specific issue and then extrapolate the significance of the perceived flaw way out of proportion to its actual significance.

        Some “perceived flaws” are in fact enormously significant, in ways that scientists immersed in the field may have trouble recognizing. The “hockey stick” controversy is a prime example. Looking at the case for AGW, a crucial assertion is that the (mild) late-20th century warming was completely unprecidented. (Thus “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” — Overpeck.) What M&M showed was that the poster-boy MBH98 study was both so flawed as to be meaningless and tendentious to a degree that bordered on outright fraud.

        Then Climategate showed that many of the central figures in modeling and “fingerprint” studies were engaged in practices that are at the very least academically unethical and which might reasonably be described as corrupt.

        Then the IPCC’s claims for rigorous scientific review of everything in their reports was shown to be inaccurate.

        Now, one hears over and over again that none of this affects the underlying science. Perhaps not. But when basic dishonesty and unethical practices on the part of crucial sources of authority in the field are revealed for all to see, and when the average person is well aware that 90% of the iceberg is hidden below the waterline, are you really surprised that an outside observer might wonder, “If the science is so solid, what are these guys so afraid of?”

      • Latimer Alder

        Excellently put!

        The general demeanour, approach and actions of many climate scientists under even the mildest of questioning or criticism does not suggest that they are confident in either their work or themselves. And the more we see of the way they work, the less we like.

        In UK a famous (and feared) TV interviewer (*) is said to begin any interview with the mental approach:

        ‘What is this lying bastard sitting opposite me lying to me about this time?’

        It is sometimes helpful to remember his wise words.

        * Jeremy Paxman

      • Bart,
        I think the helicopter idea can be powerful but I have a few concerns. In discussion on a particular subject the helicopter idea can be powerful in countering a specific doubt. But have discussions on 5-10 different subjects and have it raised each time to counter each doubt and it starts to lose its impact. It starts to look like a way to avoid the details.
        Look we could agree that people overstate the significance of the hockey stick but unfortunately that isn’t the full extent of the disagreement between the two camps. Data is horrible; much of it is derived from tools that were designed for other jobs, I recently watched a Joel Norris presentation that suggest the cloud observing satellites are good for spotting hurricanes in the Atlantic. The helicopter view allows us to ignore these facts. A few that are getting me worked up are OHC, clouds and TOA energy flux, I think we can all agree these are more significant than hockey sticks.
        ( The Joel Norris presentation )

    • It seems to me that ambiguous reference by the word “science” to the associated ideas is a major factor in the maintenance of conflict over whether the claims of IPCC climate “scientists” should be believed. One idea that is referenced “science” is that of “demonstrable knowledge”; if a “scientist” is a producer of demonstrable knowledge, the IPCC’s climate “scientists” aren’t scientists for they perenially fail to make their claims falsifiable. The other idea that is referenced by “science” is that of “the process that is operated by people calling themselves ‘scientists’.” Under the latter definition of the word, the IPCC’s climate “scientists” are scientists because they operate a process and call themselves “scientists.” It is the ambiguity of reference that keeps the conflict alive.

      In the U.S., the federal courts were faced with the question of the circumstances under which testimony could be represented to be scientific testimony. The answer that they came to was to reference “science” to “demonstrable knowledge.”

      This answer is called the Daubert Standard. If the Daubert Standard were to be adopted by climatologists, this would put the issue to rest. In particular, the IPCC’s climate “scientists” are not scientists.

      • John Costigane

        Well stated, Terry!

        Have you given any thought to a new algorithm for climatology which again relies on disambiguation to provide the rigorous clarity essential to proper science, the last term as you described of course?

  15. Roger Pielke Sr.’s argument seems to be somewhat tangential; I wasn’t intending my definition of sensitivity to reflect how the total impacts of a particular forcing are communicated to the public, rather I was just discussing the standard definition of climate sensitivity, which focuses on the equilibrium surface temperature response.

    I do agree with him that sensitivity alone is a poor frame for discussing climate impacts, though I take some issue with his argument that “surface temperature anomaly expressed by climate sensitivity is grossly misleading the public and policymakers” given that the majority of the public and policy makers that I’m aware of live on the surface.

    Also, when discussing sensitivity, doesn’t the difference between the surface temperature and the (currently unmeasurable) “global annual average climate system heat anomaly” just reflect the transient vs. long-term equilibrium sensitivity? E.g. if forcings are held constant long enough, eventually the ocean and atmosphere will reach an equilibrium of sorts given that what matters is the total surface long-wave radiation? Granted, I’m the absolute temperatures will remain different, but the changes (anomalies) will be similar.

    • I agree with Zeke here that “the difference between the surface temperature and the (currently unmeasurable) ‘global annual average climate system heat anomaly'” appears from my perspective as an epistemic level 2 with an engineering background, to be mainly a difference between assumed transient and long-term effects.


      Wouldn’t the ideal global temperature monitoring network have nodes (thermometers) spaced at regular intervals proportional to the heat storage capacity of their measured medium (surface, atmosphere at varying densities, ocean water, etc.), to allow for the best possible interpolation short of counting every molecule? It doesn’t exist yet, right?

      Can the difference between transient and long-term (quasi-equilibrium) effects be truly determined in a system as potentially chaotic as Earth’s climate? If so, when is enough data enough? How many years of record?

      If we don’t know with any great uncertainty the magnitude of the feedbacks , how can we hope to know the dynamics of the system in terms of a “time to equilibrium”, if equilibrium is possible? I.e. when will the missing heat show itself?

  16. Schrodinger's Cat

    I initially supported the proposal in this thread until I started reading your responses to Zeke’s assessment of what is agreed or not agreed. I found that I stongly disagreed with some beliefs that you felt to be true with a high level of confidence. This made me think more about the whole approach.

    In a way, climate science is like an onion, there are lots of layers with lots of details and if you start with a primary proposition, such as the GHG effect then most people will agree. If you ask if it will lead to significant warming on a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration, then there will be endless debate with no agreement. The judgements that people make on each scientific layer of the argument between these two points will depend on their specific knowledge, experience and belief pattern .

    In other words, an uncertain scientific fact becomes a point on a scale between a calculated probability and a faith. The probability can be calculated if the system is well understood. If it is not understood, the judgement becomes a matter of faith. If I ask ‘Does God exist?’, the probability end of the scale becomes meaningless and at the faith end, scores would range from a definite yes to a definite no with every shade of opinion in between.

    The problem we have with climate science is that the system is so complex that every primary proposition has a mass of secondary and tertiary possibilities that constitute the difference between a model and the reality.
    So, I’m afraid, Zeke’s idea will not take us beyond the current status of the debate. The reason for this is that we do not have good scientific information on which to make solid decisions with universal agreement. The output of models is totally dependant on the assuptions made, so models do not provide scientific facts and have lost credibility because of the way they have been used to generate alarming scenarios.

    Finally, to get more controversial, I suspect that climate scientists are more likely to be warmists than other scientists – and for several reasons. Time for me to be quiet and let others debate this.

    • Finally, to get more controversial, I suspect that climate scientists are more likely to be warmists than other scientists – and for several reasons.

      I agree. I think it has to with what one could call the reward system in climate science.

      From the time students enter university, there will (more often than not) be rewards for supporting warmism and (sometimes quite harsh) penalties for doubt.

      This is compunded through exams, appointments as research assistants and the possibility for embarking on an academic career.

      Once a scientist, there are new rewards/penalties in terms of grants, the access to publication in journals, scientific positions, attention from the press, IPCC affiliation, etc,etc.

      And the climate scientist who is not a full fledged warmist by this stage, is probably no longer a climate scientist.

      • The greatest reward for a scientist is to prove current understanding wrong.

        I remember a talk I attended about cloud formation. I asked the speaker if they had found any relationship between cloud formation and cosmic rays. The speaker replied: “No, unfortunately not”. I was slightly bemused by that reply. Why would he have wanted to have found such a correlation? I think the most likely answer is that it would have meant a good chance for a high impact article, since it would have strengthened a hitherto weakly supported theory.

        ( )

      • They have since found a correlation though no?

        It’s really interesting stuff- a ‘hobby’ subject of mine now.

      • the truth be told, the greatest reward for many a scientists is to get a big fat research grant and tenure.

        have you ever gone fishing? have you ever gone to the store to buy fishing lures? have you ever considered how fishing lures are designed? fishing lures are designed to catch fishermen (and fisherwomen). they are designed to appeal to the person who buys them. if they catch fish that is simply a bonus. scientific papers are sophisticated fishing lures.

  17. Regarding Pielke’s critique of the concept of sensitivity, it is indeed probably incoherent along the lines he suggests. But there is a deeper problem, namely that it presents climate science as some sort of simple minded experiment in classical physics.

    First we ignore everything that is actually real and going on. Then we ask an abstract question of this unbelievably simple and abstract system. The answer is claimed to be fundamental, in the sense that anything else that is going on is merely an add-on to our simple model, something that is literally to be added or subtracted.

    Non-linear feedback systems cannot be approached this way. It is a logical (and mathematical) fallacy of the first order. It is a 17th century approach to a 21st century problem.

  18. That picture from Josh is priceless! :D
    But what about the things we disagree to agree on? I could dig into many examples… >:}

  19. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    Mr. Speed, it is quite a simple acknowledgement I want Lucia to make. Dr. William Happer (fired by Al Gore) testified before congress and stated he was fired by Al Gore. You can easily google his testimony and find the transcript. So, Lucia will not admit that Al Gore fired Dr. Happer. Don’t you find that to be quite ridiculous and indicative of bias?

  20. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Okay sir, I would like to know where you are disagreeing with me. Recently, Dr. Easterbrook posted a topic about the past 10,500 years of temperatures. He concluded that 86.6% of the last 10,500 years were warmer than 2010. Also, we know that historic GAT is currently below average and historic atmospheric co2 content is also below historical average. So my question, Sharper00, is shouldn’t the temperature be warmer now than it was those past 9,093 years, factoring in global warming theory? Please, tell me where I’m wrong.

    • Easy Shoosh/Dr. C: “shouldn’t the temperature be warmer now than it was those past 9,093 years, factoring in global warming theory? Please, tell me where I’m wrong.”

      The ice core analysis was sound but Easterbrook’s conclusions were wrong. Dr. E thought “present temp” meant 2010. In the ice core analysis “present” means 1850. (at the end of the LIA and before the current warm period).

      • What a bizarre mistake to make. Do you have a reference, please? Preferably something not paywalled.



        “Easterbrook plots the temperature data from the GISP2 core, as archived here. Easterbrook defines “present” as the year 2000. However, the GISP2 “present” follows a common paleoclimate convention and is actually 1950. The first data point in the file is at 95 years BP. This would make 95 years BP 1855 — a full 155 years ago, long before any other global temperature record shows any modern warming. In order to make absolutely sure of my dates, I emailed Richard Alley, and he confirmed that the GISP2 “present” is 1950, and that the most recent temperature in the GISP2 series is therefore 1855.”

      • I’ll have a look at this, thanks.

    • “He concluded that 86.6% of the last 10,500 years were warmer than 2010. “

      I provided a reference for why this is wrong already but I also want to go through a few other points:

      1. Easterbrook said 2000 not 2010 but what you took away was current temperatures not temperatures from a decade ago

      2. If you thought about it for a bit the idea of using ice cores to measure temperatures for either last year or 10 years ago is extremely problematic.

      3. All the other problems with what Easterbrook said above.

      So in short you both failed to apply any skepticism to what Easterbrook said or to the conclusions you reached concerning what he said. Any investigation at all would have revealed at least one of the problems above.

      • Thanks for the link. What jumped out at me – other than the confirmation of Easterbrook’s error – is the massive (>2C) offset between the proxy temps and the actual temps in 1855. Unless I’m mistaken, we need massive error bars on those proxy temps.

        Another poxy proxy.

      • No, I don’t think the calibration error is meaningful and JC at SkeSci is grandstanding a bit with it. The GISP2 ice core proxy is one of the very best, most high definition historical temp records we have. It remains extremely useful as long as it is not misused by claiming it represents something it does not (Dr. E), or claiming it is useless due to a simple calibration issue (SkeSci).

      • ivp0-
        I am with you. I don’t think there is a calibration error in the proxy data. I think SkeSci erred in the way they compared the temperature reconstruction (they are not “actual temps”) for the GRIP site to proxy-derived temperature estimates at the GISP site. From the period of overlap, it is clear that there is approximately a 2.5C offset between the ice core temp estimates at GISP and the temperature reconstruction estimates at GRIP. SkeSci should have used this offset when ploting the last graph rather than the 0.9 offset used (which I guess comes from the temperature field reconstruction in Box’s paper (behind a paywall)

      • “2. If you thought about it for a bit the idea of using ice cores to measure temperatures for either last year or 10 years ago is extremely problematic.”

        Why? It would actually seem a very sensible methodological check, and technically simple.

        By the way most of the last 11,700 years have been warmer than the present as anybody familiar with paleoclimate is well aware.

      • “Why? It would actually seem a very sensible methodological check, and technically simple.”

        Technically simple? That’s like it saying it should be technically simple to carbon date a person who’s still alive and walking around. Ice cores don’t form that quickly.

  21. Science is not a democracy. When practicing any form of science, stupid people are not equal to smart people, ignorant people are not equal to educated people, people who have no experience in a field are not equal to those who have spent years in study and practice in that field, people who are obsessed with one nitpicky detail are not equal to people who have a broader understanding of the whole field.

    No matter how many people vote for a flat earth, earth is still roundish; not an exact nitpicky perfect sphere, but round enough to be called round.

    • So your point is simply

      ‘Trust us, We’re Climate Scientists’

      and that gives them complete immunity from any criticism in your eyes?

      No matter what they do, nor how badly they do it, their work remains inviolably correct. And it is just so flaming difficult that nobody who hasn’t paid their dues working for years in the field is capable of understanding even a smidge of it.

      Interesting viewpoint.

    • So, when someone like Mann tries to use statistics and programming, neither of which he is expert in, then we should regard his results with suspicion, and give greater weight to properly qualified in statistics (e.g. Steve McIntyre) or proper programmers for the modelling software.

      And when someone with a broad view of history and geology can see that things like the MWP etc have a historical basis we should look at that rather than Mann’s nitpicky focus on dodgy proxies (where he literally cannot see the wood for the trees).

      Thanks for clearing things up.

      • In an ideal world, yes.
        At the very least, researchers should get others with the relevant expertise to check their work or advise them.

      • Yup and we know how well that works.

        McIntyre – “I want to check your figures”
        “Scientist” – “No you only want to try to find something wrong with them!”

        McIntyre – “Oh, and I need your computer code too, just so that we can verify that they work too.”

        “Scientist” – “No, its mine I tells you, mine. My PRECIOUS”

        McIntyre – FOI



        Yeah, that is how we got here in the first place. Sigh.

      • You mean you believe McIntyre’s version of events? What about when he complained about not having Briffa’s data, when McIntyre had already had it for years?

        Are you guys gullible or what?

      • Are we gullible? Nope.

        You are a bit naive however if you don’t understand the distinction between ‘a version of the data’ and the data itself. If I give you a telephone directory with every other page missing, that is ‘a version’ of the telephone directory. It may be good for some things. But if I want to count the exact number of entries in the book – to make sure that the number of those that I have been given is correct, it is useless. If I want to check that there are no duplicate entries it is not a lot of help. And if I suspect that it was n out of date copy to start with, it is even less help.

        So to check somebody’s work – in the true scientific spirit of free access and replication, you need the exact data that was used.. Not just ‘a version’.

      • McIntyre called it a “version” but since he got it from the original source that Briffa got it from, why would he call it a “version”? Just covering his butt, I’ll bet.

      • But science does not work that way: you do not generally “check” somebody’s work – You replicate it. I.e. you get the same data from the sources, you do your own analyses and see if you get the same result. If, then it strengthens the conclusion. If not, somebody has made a mistake, and it’s time to find it.

      • Reazon –
        You also need the code.

        Keep in mind that part of the Wegman report was based on the fact that he could not replicate Mann’s work – even when given the data and the code -AND running it on Mann’s own machine. It takes more than just the data.

      • Holly Stick

        “…Today I continue my examination of the key analysis section of the Wegman report on the Mann et al “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction, which uncritically rehashed Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick’s purported demonstration of the extreme biasing effect of Mann et al’s “short-centered” principal component analysis…”

        “…Indeed, the real reasons Wegman et al never released “their” code nor associated information are now perfectly clear. Doing so would have amounted to an admission that the supposed “reproduction” of the M&M results was nothing more than a mechanical rerun of the original script, accompanied by a colossally mistaken interpretation of M&M’s methodology and findings…”

        “…So there you have it: Wegman et al’s endorsement of McIntyre and McKitrick’s “compelling” critique rests on abysmal scholarship, characterized by deliberate exclusion of relevant scientific literature, incompetent analysis and a complete lack of due diligence. It’s high time to admit the obvious: the Wegman report should be retracted…”

      • Holly says: “characterized by deliberate exclusion of relevant scientific literature, incompetent analysis and a complete lack of due diligence. ”

        Wow! Sounds just like Mann 98. “Mikes Nature trick to hide the decline” What divergence? We don’t need no stinking divergence. Lets just paste in the temp record to replace the tree ring proxies we don’t like. hmmmm…

      • Holly Stick

        Keep on projecting there.

      • Holly,
        When your data does not support your hypothesis, you don’t just throw out the data you don’t like and replace it with something you like better. That is not science. The question now is, why doesn’t it match?
        Three possible choices, there may be others.
        1. The data is contaminated
        2. Trees make poor thermometers.
        3. Our hypothesis is flawed
        See M&M for a highly detailed analysis of Mann 98.

      • Latimer Alder

        Because climatology is riven with people making ‘adjustments’ to data – and who seem to think that it is an enitrely normal thing to do.

        Unless you get the absolute exact copy that was used, you have no guarantee that it hasn’t been changed, modified or otherwise messed around with.

        Data handling in climatology is typically abyssmally badly done. And Keith Briffa works at CRU whose truly appalling data handling standards are well documented in the famous Harry_read_me file.

        That’s why ‘a version’ isn’t good enough.

      • Jim Owen: No, you just need the method. If you use the same code you run the risk of missing a bug in your review of it, and then just repeat the same errors in the analysis. If you do your own implementation then we get a separate confirmation of the result. (Or not. In which case we typically need a third part, which repeats it all again.)

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “Keep in mind that part of the Wegman report was based on the fact that he could not replicate Mann’s work – even when given the data and the code -AND running it on Mann’s own machine. It takes more than just the data.”

        Q. Does your report include a recalculation of the MBH98 and MBH99 results using the CFR methodology and all the proxies used in MBH98 and MBH99, but properly centering the data? If not, why doesn’t it?

        Ans: Our report does not include the recalculation of MBH98 andMBH99. We were not asked nor were we funded to do this.

        Q = Bart Stupak
        Ans = Edward Wegman

      • Latimer Alder


        I haven’t been following this closely, but the quotation you used was about ‘replication’ .i.e doing it exactly the same.

        Your quotation is about ‘recalculation’ which is a very different thing And would certainly have required extra programming work – which presumably was not funded or required.

        I don’t think that your argument here is correct.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        There is another exchange in Stupak directly asks

        9. Your analysis seems to show that, at least in some instances, when you use the same methodology and the same data, a graph of the results will look like a hockey stick when the data is decentered, but not when the data is properly centered.
        a. Is that a correct statement?
        Ans: Yes. We explicitly looked at the first principal component of the North American Tree Ring series and demonstrated that the hockey stick shows up when the data are decentered, but not when properly centered. We also demonstrated the same effect with the digitized version of the 1990 IPCC curve.

        b. Does your analysis prove that every time you use improperly centered data and the climate field reconstruction methodology (CFR) and get a hockey stick, the hockey stick will disappear when the data is properly centered? Or does the shape of the graph with properly centered data depend on the data?

        Ans: The shape of the graph will depend on the underlying data.

        Wegman was able to use Mann’s methods and data. I find no indication from Wegman that implementing Mann’s methodolgy was ever even an issue..

        It seems to be the case that the accusation against Mann keeps changing with the telling.

      • Latimer,
        Lets not using words like “gullible” or “naive” which are childish inappropriate here.
        The article you googled is the same I have in hand for months. I re-read that part explaining TABLE 2. No substantiation of the 278W/m2 nor the 46W/m2 and no discussion. If 324W/m2 back radiation is that important to be taxed and affecting billions of people globally, should you not seek clarifications? Should the climate community seek clarifications? If you think that AGWers are making irresponsible claims (324W/m2, 278W/m2, 260W/m2 from Modtran3 v1., …), the Deniers are equally irresponsible for the past decade. How do we, the general public rely on your judgements or the climate community to tax us and grab our bread money on the edge for the sake of our future generations?

      • I did say, “in an ideal world” ;-)

      • Peter –
        At the very least, researchers should get others with the relevant expertise to check their work or advise them.

        Mann did exactly that – they were all his friends. “Pal review” makes life so much easier.

    • Carrick Talmadge

      Holly Stick:

      Science is not a democracy. When practicing any form of science, stupid people are not equal to smart people, ignorant people are not equal to educated people, people who have no experience in a field are not equal to those who have spent years in study and practice in that field, people who are obsessed with one nitpicky detail are not equal to people who have a broader understanding of the whole field.

      This is a way overused argument.

      To start with, there is no such thing as the “science of climate”:

      There are many sciences involved: meteorology, atmospheric physics, radiation physics, solar physics, oceanographic physics, geophysics, biology, ecology, etc, etc etc. not to mention economics, market dynamics, international policy and a host of other things one has to be good at to apply the findings of the various sciences to the practical work of developing a coherent strategy to tackle anthopogenic-forced climate change.

      There simply is nobody “there” who has a broad enough understanding of the full field. It requires “trust” amongst the cooperating partners to come to an accurate consensus, but each group has an incentive to exaggerate the importance of their own work. So what you do end up with in cases like this is a consensus that is bigger than the sum of its parts (not a good thing in science).

      This is why it requires the IPCC and bodies like that to oversee the development of consensus statements, and guess what… there are people in those groups with zero science backgrounds mixed in with people who are specialists, who end up writing up the various findings.

      It’s not a democracy maybe, but technocracy, probably.

      • You mean like the scientists who write the scientific parts of the IPCC reports and the policy people who write up the policy parts of the IPCC reports? You do realize there is a distinction, don’t you?

      • The question is: do you?

      • Yes indeed, which is why I do not attack the science based on whether or not I like the policies which humans need to follow in order to respond to the changes which the science says are happening. But many people do attack the science for their own political reasons.

      • And many people question the ‘science’ for other reasons.

        If you read the discussions here I estimate that they split is about 95%-5% between scientific disagreements and political discussions. Despite the propaganda you may have been given elsewhere, this is not a political meeting place.

      • Sorry, there are too many commenters here who smear climate scientists and assume that they are dishonest without ever having considered the full evidence in its context. No, it is mostly political here, with a few attempts at science.

      • Neil Fisher

        “Sorry, there are too many commenters here who smear climate scientists and assume that they are dishonest without ever having considered the full evidence in its context. No, it is mostly political here, with a few attempts at science.”

        I would make two points:

        1) If you bother to read the corpus of posts at CA, you will also see a over-arching “context” – and it’s not particularly flattering to climate scientists;

        2) there are many posters here (more at RC) who smear (real) sceptics without bothering to consider the real meat of their arguements.

        Which, in my opinion, goes to show how political and polarised the whole “debate” has become.

        Consider too, that even in cases where “the Team” make cogent arguements that some particular mistake “doesn’t matter”, they fail to correct it. Why? If it doesn’t make a difference, then what harm in correcting it? I would posit that it does make a difference – it detracts from the body of supporting evidence that they rely on to suggest other mistakes “don’t matter”! So each piece “must” be right because it supports all the others that also “must” be right. You’ll forgive me for being suspicious of people who appear to take this attitude I trust.

      • Carrick says: “and guess what… there are people in those groups with zero science backgrounds mixed in with people who are specialists, who end up writing up the various findings.”

        Yes indeed. Like the bulk of AR4 WG2.

      • Unlike WG1 which is about the physical basis for the science.

      • Holly look at the panel that was selected.
        Some curious choices there.

        Still my point wasn’t actually to criticize the people chosen so much as to point out there are other things at work here than “science as usual.” I’m not trying to set any gotcha! traps here, but it is what is is.

      • Exactly. Give it a look sometime.

      • Craig Goodrich

        Speaking of WG1, Holly, where in AR4 Chapter 9, which deals ostensibly with evidence pinning the temperature rise on CO2, is some actual evidence presented?

        I’ve read that chapter twice now (terrible prose style) and must have missed it. Thanks.

      • Holly Stick

        “…9.7 Combining Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change The widespread change detected in temperature observations of the surface (Sections 9.4.1, 9.4.2, 9.4.3), free atmosphere (Section 9.4.4) and ocean (Section 9.5.1), together with consistent evidence of change in other parts of the climate system (Section 9.5), strengthens the conclusion that greenhouse gas forcing is the dominant cause of warming during the past several decades. This combined evidence, which is summarised in Table 9.4, is substantially stronger than the evidence that is available from observed changes in global surface temperature alone (Figure 3.6)…”

        Think you can manage to click on the rest of the links and check the references yourself?

        Maybe this would help:

      • Latimer Alder

        For somebody who has never worked in climate science and so – by your own argument only yesterday – does not understand even the basics of climate science. you have suddenly become extraordinarily expert in the works of the IPCC!

        Good on you for such dedication in such a short time on such a tedious document.

        But are you sure you’re not getting some external help?

      • Holly Stick

        No, I am just good at researching things. It helps to look at the Table of Contents.

      • Such miraculous progress from innocent questions to elaborate details appears to be common on these pages.

    • Holly said,

      “Science is not a democracy.” Very true. The first sensitivity range I saw for IPCC was 1.5 to 4.5, the Charney range I call it. Hansen defended 4 C, Manabe defended 2 C, Charney split the difference and called it 3 C with at range from 1.5 to 4.5 C. So it was an authoritarian (ala Soloman the king not the climate scientist) decision, not democratic.

      James Annan’s Bayesian approach to authoritarian reasoning gives a range of 1.3 to 4 C. (I may be taking some liberty here, but it was in his paper. He only highlighted the upper limit of 4C though.)

      So if you average the guesses you seem to approach a consensus. A very unique approach to science.

    • And you, given your extraordinary intellect and pertinent experience, can tell the difference between the stupid ones and the smart ones. Or maybe you are saying, in effect, dummies, like me, should realize they are dummies and let the smart people tell me what to think. Unquestioning acceptance of authority is neither good science nor evidence of intelligence.

    • everyone is stupid, just in different subjects. when like minded people organize to promote a policy goal that is not science, no matter how many scientific degrees they hold.

      • ferd & Holly Stick,
        “scientific degrees they hold” so that they can be ignorant and arrogant self-proclaimed experts in the climate community over the general public.

  22. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    And I really don’t understand why in climate science that the reasoning “history started when we were born” is applicable. The world didn’t come into existence in 1979. It has gone through many changes throughout history, and these are our clues. Hiding them or denying them will result in less precise predictions for the future.

  23. This has been an interesting couple of threads and I think it’s helpful that those on the warmist side of things can see that most of those they refer to as “deniers” in fact don’t deny that the climate is warming and that man has had some level of impact. Interestingly, there are some skeptics that don’t “deny” anything other than the relative value of different policy actions. Is someone who merely feels that cost-effective adaptation strategies would be a better use of limited resources than drastically reducing global economic activity, is that person actually “denying” anything or just disagreeing about policy? Perhaps “Disagree-er” isn’t quite pejorative enough? At least this thread may serve to demonstrate that painting people who occupy a vast range of positions with the one-size-fits-all “denier” brush is simply and obviously inaccurate.

    Seriously. Does anyone in the warmist camp really, really believe that everyone whose opinion differs about relative levels of certainty (such as Zeke has outlined) and perhaps which policy actions are reasonable should be labeled a “denier”? What exactly are they “denying”?

    The warmist side certainly doesn’t have one universally agreed position on the science and confidence levels either. There is a huge range of differing positions and confidence levels across a variety of related topics (paleo, dendro, atmospheric, etc). Even those on the Team seem to have a range of differing opinions or certainty levels on some issues. If “Denialism” is defined as disagreeing with any of the positions held by whoever is doing the labeling, it appears that it would be just as accurate for some warmists to label each other as “deniers”?

    If Zeke’s opinion and confidence assignments agree exactly with yours except for one item being higher or lower by one confidence level, is Zeke a “denier”? If not, then where is the bright dividing line? Is it no more than three confidence level and two topic area differences? I’m seriously asking…

    • Mark
      An excellent comment and I am really looking forward to the replies. In my view it’s about the politics not the science. Most warmists, especially the more vocal ones would say that if you disagree with the policy then you must deny the science. That’s why they came up with the D Word in the first place. As you observed, there are only a very few skeptics who deny that the world is warming. The so-called ‘denying’ skeptic is a strawman really.

      • As long as Claes Johnson is out there it is actually not a proper strawman – there are people out there, vocal people, who are denying a lot of well established science, such as the greenhouse theory. So the real deniers do certainly exist.

      • They do exist, but my point was that they are very few in number.

      • And my point being that the “denying skeptic” thus is a reality, and not a strawman at all. (Although an uncommon one.)

      • You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

      • How about commenting on Mark’s points, Holly? You seem to have a lot to say this evening.

      • A trite and superficial remark. But how is it relevant here?

      • If you do not like being considered deniers, why do you hang out with deniers?

      • Perhaps you had better tell us your understanding of what a ‘denier’ is and what they ‘deny’.

      • It would include people who claim you canot trust climate scientists because of “climategate”, a trumped up scandal based on a few cherry-picked stolen personal emails.

      • Holly, why on earth are you here? You’re just making yourself unhappy.

      • ‘It would include people who claim you canot trust climate scientists because of “climategate”, a trumped up scandal based on a few cherry-picked stolen personal emails’

        And if somebody were to make that claim, what, exactly, would they be guilty of ‘denying’?

        Or if they saw Climategate not as the only reason to mistrust climate science but, along with other incidents as strong circumstantial evidence that the barrel ahs at least a few rotten apples, would they be ‘dnrs’ or half-deniers?

      • Ok, so based on Reazon’s comment, if a person denies greenhouse theory then they are accurately labeled a “Denier”. Is that all or does anyone else think there are there other worthwhile criteria?

        As people who value science, I think we can all agree that clearly defining common terms is essential. “Denier” is certainly common but I’m not aware of *any* definition. Using terms with no generally accepted definition should be simply unacceptable to anyone that respects science. So I respectfully ask warmists to please define it.

        Furthermore, if a sizable group of warmists can define what criteria correctly earn a person the label “Denier” and what criteria would prove the label incorrect, then I will personally agree to accept the scarlet “D” without complaint and even use it when referring to myself and others (if I/they fit the criteria as defined).

        I’m quite serious and would really appreciate thoughtful warmist perspectives on this. If you’ve ever labeled a person (or group) with the term “Denier” please agree, disagree, add or subtract to the list below to help establish a consensus definition of the word as you’ve been using it.

        Here are the criteria so far:
        Any person who does not accept any of the following is a Denier:
        1. Greenhouse theory: defined as “adding a significant amount of CO2 to an experimentally controlled greenhouse environment does not cause any warming.”

        No person who accepts any of the following is a Denier
        1. ???

      • Mark,
        It is interesting why in this there has been such a strong need to label poeple, especially with the perjorative, ‘denier’.
        As a skeptic I have no trouble with the idea of CO2 as a ghg.
        I also reject the Trenberth rewrite of the null hypothesis that ‘man is influencing the climate’.
        Denier, with its holocaust over tones, is just offensive.
        I would say that those who seriously believe there is no CO2 interaction witht the radiative properties of the atmosphere are no worse off than those who think we are facing a runaway greenhouse on Earth.

      • Hunter,

        My sense is that there were a fair number of warmists who weren’t fully comfortable with Trenberth’s proposed switch of the null hypothesis if only because it would be entirely unprecedented in the history of science. No one feels the need to switch the null hypothesis around for evolution despite a few creationists still questioning it.

        To me that speaks to the fact that evolution rests on such overwhelming, entirely independent natural evidence and consistently replicated experimental proof. I saw Trenberth’s proposal as a lack of similar confidence in the state of climate science. In fact, the comparison between evolution and CAGW is quite interesting. The leading scientific proponents of evolution such as Dawkins do not hide behind censored sites and one-sided op ed articles but rather show up to engage in spirited open debate both online and in person. They invariably win such debates and in the process manage to do a wonderful job of science outreach and education. That is what real confidence looks like.

      • Craig Goodrich

        This is the reason that many — perhaps most — of us hidebound troglodyte deniers believe that publication of the Dragon book did much more harm than good to us. Probably a secret conspiracy of the David Suzuki cabal…

    • Does anyone in the warmist camp really, really believe that everyone whose opinion differs about relative levels of certainty (such as Zeke has outlined) and perhaps which policy actions are reasonable should be labeled a “denier”?

      Anyone? I’d stipulate that yes, there is such a one. I’d say that their number is as few, if not fewer, than the number of people who outright deny that there is warming.

      I personally don’t have much use for the term. My interest in the whole not-agreeing-with-some-or-most-elements-of-the-mainstream-science-viewpoint subculture is anthropological in nature. I think there are some people in the field with rigorous arguments -and additionally a number of people without a formal background in the topic – who have real questions that I am not qualified to answer. Some of those are in the published literature. I do think, though, that the broad majority of these disagreers/doubters/questioners came to their position for ideological and cultural reasons first and foremost. I also think this is true for most laypeople who support the mainstream view.

      Lastly, I think there is a small but vocal group of people who know exactly what the science says and does not say, and who actively seek to sow doubt and confusion in order to advance their political argument by other means.

      I don’t see people as groups, though, but as individuals. If I’m going to argue with someone, I’m going to argue with “Mark” rather than a cardboard cutout I’ve created in my head. This is more interesting, in addition to being more intellectually honest.

    • Mark,

      Excellent question. I for one rather dislike the baggage associated with the term “denier”, though it is useful to establish a term for those whose initial position is so far from your own that engagement isn’t particularly useful (perhaps contrarians?). Where to draw that line is difficult, though I’d probably say that I would consider a contrarian as someone disputing the “very likely” items I outlined in the original post. That said, I should avoid making a blanket statement, because there are plenty of nuanced positions folks could take that aren’t “the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist” or “atmospheric CO2 increases are not primarily anthropogenic”.

      I could categorize a contrarian as someone who seeks out talking points that fit his/her preconceptions, but thats both difficult to identify, potentially insulting to those whose motives you are maligning, and it can cut both ways (hello Joe Romm).

      • Zeke,

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I generally agree the position you are defining as “Contrarian” although “Ideologue” might be a good candidate as well. I think we can all agree that having a dialogue with someone who is unwilling to ever consider modifying their position is a waste of time.

        In discussions on other topics that seem to also attract some element of ideologues (ie religion), I’ve found it useful to ask “What would you accept as sufficient evidence to cause you to change your position?” Personally, I’ve changed my opinion about a couple of significant things in the climate debate and think it’s entirely possible I’ll do so again. A couple of years ago John Brockman asked a long list of intellectual and scientific luminaries the question “What have you changed your mind about in the last year?” and published the replies in a fascinating issue of his publication The Edge. It would be interesting to ask that same question of leading thinkers on both sides of the climate debate.

        What got me on this thing about defining the term “Denier” is that I was recently accused of being one. As I opened my mouth to reject the label, I realized that I honestly couldn’t respond because I didn’t even have an approximate working definition for the term. Maybe I am a “Denier”. I honestly don’t know . That’s why I’m asking for help from those that do have a working definition of the term.

    • what I deny is that limiting access to fossil fuels (cheap coal) is a good idea. that compared to any future harm you might imagine from warming, shutting down the global economy by denying access to low cost energy will most certainly kill billions and doom billions more to a life of poverty.

      now, there are many in high office that have stated many times that the problem with the earth is that there are too many people. killing billions of people through limiting access to fossil fuels would certainly solve this problem.

  24. Reading Hiding the Decline Part I-V and now Agreeing(?) Part I and II, I can’t help getting a vision of this:

  25. Schrodinger's Cat

    We have reached the peak of multidecadal warming and who knows how long the cooling will last. What will happen to the warmist argument? Cooling is the new warming? They have already started on that…

    • Craig Goodrich

      No, no, it’s “Climate Disruption” now. “Cliumate Disruption” is the new name for what used to be called weather.

  26. Robert A. Jones

    Please excuse a newbie, but am I missing something?

    Might the real issue be: So what if it becomes warmer. Colder can kill us.

    E.G., Yes. The Maldives may drown. But sea levels were 10 meters higher than now during the previous interglacial. If it happened then, it will again no matter what we do. Islands drown, so what?

    In contrast, what happens to us in an Ice Age world? Things much worse.

    • The Russian heat wave killed some 15,000 people last summer. Heat kills.

      • JFI how did that compare with the number of people who die each summer in Russia (big place!!) in a normal year. Is it 0.1% 1%, 10% , 100% more?

        15,00 as an absolute number doesn’t tell me much..about as many as Reading get at a home match I think.

      • Citation for 15000 deaths please. Scientists cite their sources. I seriously doubt it.

      • Robert A. Jones

        Craig L. Thanks for requesting a citation. The 15K is likely bogus.

        Elderly French died in a heat wave. In closed houses. And kids locked in summertime, closed cars. Misdirections.

        Cold is dangerous. Is the greatest climate threat facing us a summer cooler than 1816? How many third world people will die in such a summer, if we lost much of one annual grain crop?

        But people swoon over carbon capture & sequestration nonsense.

      • Explorer40503

        It’s only a reference for ~11,000 deaths but then again it is only Moscow: linky

      • Holly Stick

        It seems I underestimated based on guesses people had made before the end of August perhaps. This says there were almost 56,000 deaths due to heat and smoke in Russia in July and August 2010. That is 55,800 more deaths than during the same period the year before. In Moscow the death rate had doubled to 700 per day. Less than 60 died from actual fires.

      • Holly Stick

        Oh look – more deaths in the US from heat than from winter:

      • Well Holly, as usual with preliminary statistics published by those who have an agenda… stepping back to look at the context shows that the data you provided doesn’t necessarily prove anything at all.

        1) Here we find the historical picture of death rates in Russia. Note that ever since the upheaval in the mid 1990’s, the death rate has varied from 14 to 16 per 1000.
        2) Here we find the 2010 data: 14.3 per 1000. Right in line with recent history.
        3) Here (thanks Google!) is a detailed chart comparing 2009 and 2010. Overall, a small increase. Respiratory deaths? Down bigtime. Not up. Sounds like they decided the attribution to heat and smoke was perhaps premature?

        Plenty of well-informed people argue both sides of this issue (and therefore the uncertainty is probably greater than many here would like.)

        here is a reasonably neutral science article that presents some of the biological basis for both heat and cold-related mortality. Enjoy!

      • Holly Stick

        You need to explain your links more clearly, and they don’t all work. My link says:
        “…About 374,000 Russians died in July and August this year, up 17.5 percent from 2009, the report said. In August 2010 alone, about 192,000 died, up more than 27 percent from August 2009. ..”

      • Holly Stick

        “…There was much anger among the Russian public over the authorities’ handling of the heat crisis, amid suspicion that the Kremlin was trying to play down its full extent. ..”

      • The ratio of people killed by heat waves and cold waves is about 1:10, see:
        and many more…

      • Craig Goodrich

        Which, of course, explains why masses flee overheated New Jersey as soon as they retire for cool, temperate Florida…

        How many Russians die from the cold every winter, Holly?

    • Rob Starkey

      Robert’s point is extremely valid. Take a look at the IPCC’s 2007 AR4 report. This is where the potential problems associated with a warmer planet are identified. Problem such as:

      1. Ocean Acidification-

      2. Weeds and disease moving into new warmer climates.

      3. The extinction of species that will be unable to move further north in the Northern Hemisphere and further south in the Southern Hemisphere and those species that will be unable to go higher in altitude.

      4. The inability of some crops to cope beyond a limited temperature range. Go ahead and look up what the optimum temperature is for a good rice harvest is, for example.

      5. The increased frequency of extreme rain patterns and drought in different areas.

      6. The movement of precipitation patterns further North in the Northern Hemisphere thus disrupting agriculture practices.

      7. The diminishment of glacial run off for drinking, industrial and agricultural purposes.

      Do any of these potential issues warrant the degree of concern expressed by some? Do these issues make you want to shut down power plants or have carbon taxes levied? Really????

      Given the degree of uncertainty regarding climate change and the low probability (imo) of the world actually reducing GHG’s in the foreseeable future, why isn’t more discussion about building better infrastructure and not about locally reducing CO2 emissions???

  27. What is it that I’m missing that I need to re-read to identify all these 1s and 2s and 3s and 4s talk :-) … Man, walk away from the computer for a few days…

  28. This is a point that cuts both ways.

    There are some deeply, profoundly, religious Christians who have become biologists. It would indeed be difficult to say only ‘some’ as opposed to ‘many’ or perhaps even ‘most’. Some have become evolutionary biologists, and some have advanced to the highest levels of the field. Or if not, pretend this is plausible. And they haven’t lost their faith, and they have faithfully done science within the framework of Evolution.

    But there is a question raised, that again cuts both ways. Does what they believe more deeply than science, and before they came to science, diminish their capacity to consider all alternatives in science, or does the fact that they demonstrate this capacity despite their beliefs make them better and more convincing scientists?

    My general test of whether someone has earned their epistemological level is whether based on evidence that would convince another qualified candidate but which opposes their original beliefs, they can change their mind to form a new qualified opinion.

    We sometimes see people profess to this test voluntarily, eg “I believed Al Gore, until I looked at X..”

    But this isn’t what I mean.

    What I mean is, “I believed Al Gore, I came to be recognized for my accomplishments by suitable measures, and now when I look at X and apply my expertise, I judge it thus, ..”

    No one issue is going to be a turning point for all other issues in Climate Science. It’s a complex arc of interrelated and somewhat disjointed elements. Though I have found some arguments more significant than others, this still doesn’t mean that all parts of the field flow the same way.

    A strong temperature case on land would not make a strong ocean acidity case, would not make a strong antarctic polar ice case, would not make a cosmic radiation case.

    It’s not like there’s some fashion designer who thought, “Climate Change is the new black.”

    There are some few parts of Climate that do make the policy decisions, such as the Chaos nature of climate, the perturbation power of CO2, the politics of who owns the air, but those too don’t tell us how all the rest of all of climate science ought conclude the data means.

    Sure, there are general principles that do apply broadly, like the scientific method, scientific skepticism, thermodynamic laws (sort of), and so forth, but it’s easy to distinguish these from a priori logic.

    Those who seem convinced before judging all, either based on a belief prior to coming to the science, or based on a single part of the whole, simply are betraying their biases.

  29. What some sceptics would like to see is for the IPCC advocates to “agree” on what is the “greenhouse effect”.

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner pretty much demolished all variations of the troposphere greenhouse effect.

    However more perceptive IPCC advocates say that the real greenhouse effect is above the troposphere, what is commonly called the TOA greenhouse effect.

    If we can all agree that is is the area of uncertainty we can focus our attentions there.

    • Interesting. The TOA “greenhouse effect” I believe is dry gases or X appreciable water vapor radiative response. The poles should approach the TOA “greenhouse effect” because of the dryer air. Below the tropopause, water vapor and clouds over shadow the dry green house gases. That is why I find it odd that convective clouds are considered neutral feedback. They move a great deal of energy from the near surface to TOA. Why would they be neutral?

    • “Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner pretty much demolished all variations of the troposphere greenhouse effect.”

      So, they’ve addressed all the many problems in their huge, rambling ‘dissertation’ and addressed their critics on the fundamental and major problems with their arguments, then?

      Cite for this new work?

  30. MY SOLID ARGUMENT (I think)

    To make the solid argument regarding man-made global warming, you don’t need to be a science graduate. You don’t need to be even a university graduate. What you need to be is just a high school graduate.

    You high school or higher graduate, look at the following global mean temperature pattern.

    Don’t you see a cyclic pattern?

    Does not a cyclic pattern preclude man made global warming?

    Does not the pattern indicate global cooling until about 2030?

    I know your answers are YES for the above questions, showing the solid argument that man made global warming is not supported by the data SO FAR.

    • Girma

      I look at clouds and see faces, and bears, and unicorns.

      Doesn’t make them really faces, or bears, or unicorns.

      Graphical analysis is one of the most difficult disciplines to get right, has many counterintuitive elements and traps, and often misleads the wary as well as the unwary.

      Selling this as something any high school graduate can do may be endearing, but it is also somewhat pandering to the audience.

      Here, tell me how many high school graduates agree

      0.999… < 1

      (where the ellipses indicate the 9’s repeat forever)?

      • Bart R

        Does not the global mean temperature anomaly pattern shown below

        agrees with the following observation?

        The “Pacific Decadal Oscillation” (PDO) is a long-lived El Niño-like pattern of Pacific climate variability. While the two climate oscillations have similar spatial climate fingerprints, they have very different behavior in time. Fisheries scientist Steven Hare coined the term “Pacific Decadal Oscillation” (PDO) in 1996 while researching connections between Alaska salmon production cycles and Pacific climate (his dissertation topic with advisor Robert Francis). Two main characteristics distinguish PDO from El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO): first, 20th century PDO “events” persisted for 20-to-30 years, while typical ENSO events persisted for 6 to 18 months; second, the climatic fingerprints of the PDO are most visible in the North Pacific/North American sector, while secondary signatures exist in the tropics – the opposite is true for ENSO. 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.

      • Bart R

        I look at clouds and see faces, and bears, and unicorns.

        Bart, I am not looking at the clouds.

        I am looking at the sea:

      • You’re dodging direct questions, and you’re dodging or missing because you do not recognize, direct arguments of graphical analysis.

        Which is it, do you not acknowledge the principles of graphical analysis, or do you not recognize them at all?

        Oh, sorry, that’s a direct question. I forgot, you’re constitutionally incapable of addressing such.

      • 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

      • Girma

        And again, you’re nonresponsive.

        Why would anyone ever bother to read what you say, when you won’t address simple, direct questions seeking explanation of what you mean?

        It’s pointless to begin to read anything past “Girma” in your posts.

      • Latimer Alder

        Pots and kettles.

      • Bart T

        In response to my posting of the following graph:

        you comment was the following.

        I look at clouds and see faces, and bears, and unicorns.

        Doesn’t make them really faces, or bears, or unicorns.

        In response to this ridiculing, I posted the following abstract by another researcher that supports ther result of my graph.

        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

        How do you expect me to respond to your ridiculing?

      • Girma

        Reductio ad Absurdum is a technique of logic used to demonstrate the flaw with an argument by reducing it to a state all, even the originator of the argument, must agree (as you have done) is ridiculous.

        In that, by your admission, I have succeeded, and you can consider your original point countered and disposed of. You can stop making it. To continue amounts to Argumentum ad Nauseum — a logical fallacy that by repeating a statement previously established to be false, you can make it true.

        Please, respond to the questions asked, don’t repeat the statements disproven or provide new versions of them until you have answered the questions asked.

        An interlocutor has proven worthy of this much regard by proving the original argument so obviously false.

  31. Judy – You claim that convincing arguments should be persuasive for epistemic levels 1-3, each of which, as you suggest, requires one to read the primary literature. This involves well over a dozen climate journals, as well as the general science journals that publish climate-related articles. I would also argue that it requires some experience with basic information sources on radiative transfer and other foundational climate principles, but for the moment, I believe familiarity with the literature deserves focus as a criterion. By this, I mean first-hand familiarity rather than awareness of only those papers cited in the blogosphere as evidence for a particular viewpoint

    With that in mind, do you think it might be worthwhile for individuals who comment here to volunteer information about which journals they regularly follow? My own credentials in this regard are fairly good, but not ideal. I follow all or almost all the relevant journals. In most cases, I am able to access salient articles that are behind a paywall via a variety of mechanisms, including university affiliation, but on a minority of occasions, I have been forced to rely on the abstracts.

    I certainly don’t claim that having read primary sources such as textbooks on basic principles, combined with a good awareness of the literature, qualifies me to issue dogmatic pronouncements on climate. I do believe, however, that if these requirements are not met, those who comment should express themselves in a more tentative manner than we sometimes observe. To me, there is an element of hubris in assuming that if one is expert in an area outside of climatology, he or she can be confident of extrapolating from that area to climate science; there are too many pitfalls along the way to justify that confidence. I would apply that principle to engineering, information technology, chaos theory, models outside of climate models, and science philosophy. It’s not that those areas are irrelevant, but rather that applying their relevance should be done with appropriate awareness that the analogies are not always as exact as some commentators assume.

    I have read a number of assertions in these threads that appear plausibly argued, but which I knew were refuted by specific evidence in the literature. Familiarity with the published literature is only one critical source of appropriate information, but a lack of familiarity is a serious handicap to adequate understanding.

    • You’ve got this kinda backwards.

      If you assert that (C)AGW is true, I agree that you need to effectively turn into a full-time climate scientist to do it. You need to convince yourself that every link in the causal chain has been correctly identified, understood, modeled.

      If, on the other hand, as a person with other interests and a full-time job, you want to make your own assessment of climate science – since it’s in the news a lot & all that – you can restrict yourself to looking at one or two areas in that chain of reasoning.

      I don’t need to be an expert in radiative physics to be pretty sure that the temperature changes over the last century have not been explained, but ‘explained away’. I don’t need to be an expert in anything to see that the gatekeeping conduct of some scientists has been repellent, and makes me think it likely that they have something to hide. I have enough experience of academe to be, er, realistic about how much scientists know versus what they think they ‘know’.

      Where my expertise and experience does coincide with areas of climate science (that would be PCA) I find it to have been risibly poor.

      And to top it all off, anyone who reads a newspaper can see that none of this science makes a ha’pence of difference to what will actually happen in the world. Atmospheric CO2 will go on rising (assuming, as we do, that it’s anthropogenic), and after that que sera, sera.

      • If you are not willing to do the work to learn about it, you are certainly not able to dismiss it or to judge how significant it is. Your opinion becomes meaningless and you may as well revert to complaining about the local sports team’s coaching and tactics.

      • Pingback Holly,
        I suggest you abandon self described non-experts in climate science as your scientific reference (John Cook at Skeptical Science) and go back to AR4 Wg1. Read slowly and carefully paying particular attention to uncertainties regarding paleo evidence, aerosols, solar variability, oceanic variability and sensitivity to changes in atmospheric CO2. After taking this step the phrase “still poorly understood” should become very familiar to you and give you a deeper perspective into what we really know/don’t know regarding climate change. Enjoy!

      • “Skeptical Science is maintained by John Cook. He studied physics at the University of Queensland, Australia. After graduating, he majored in solar physics in his post-grad honours year. He is not a climate scientist. Consequently, the science presented on Skeptical Science is not his own but taken directly from the peer reviewed scientific literature. To those seeking to refute the science presented, one needs to address the peer reviewed papers where the science comes from (links to the full papers are provided whenever possible)…”

      • So you get your “science” second-hand. And this makes you an expert?

        BTW, I’ve read some of the “peer reviewed papers” that he uses. And I’ve seen the conclusions he (or others) draw from then. I’m not impressed.

      • John Cook is a loyal AGW soldier defending those positions to the last man. Bravo! It is pretty amazing the um… stuff that manages to get through pal review/peer review in journals like Nature. Mann 98, Mann 08, and Steig 09 are some of my personal favorites. Yikes!

      • Holly Stick

        Whereas the crappy Wegman Report was not peer reviewed…

  32. Sometimes, reading these comment threads makes me think of the bar scene in Good Will Hunting: a couple of self-important, over educated, under experienced, over inflated egos whipping out their pocket protectors to see whose is larger.

    How’s them apples?

  33. On a moderately serious note:

    Dr. Curry (when and if you find time), you wrote: “If climate scientists can’t convince level 2′s and also level 3′s, people who are looking at the arguments carefully, reading the primary literature, and analyzing data, then it seems to me that the arguments can’t be that strong (or the confidence levels can’t be that high).”

    I read with interest the extended dialogue between yourself and Gavin Smith at Collide-a-Scape last year. At the end, you both still disagreed. Since you are both “types 1’s or 2’s” in the areas you discussed, how do you account for your inability to convince each other?

    I think we can rule out “in the pocket of big oil,” “stupid,’ “evil,” and even that “the arguments can’t be that strong.” Plus you are both relatively liberal so it isn’t an issue of politics.

    Why is it so difficult to understand that in such a complex area, two people can both be intelligent, honest, and well informed, but still disagree? Isn’t it at least possible that the disagreement is not one that is subject to being “argued away” because their subjective assessments of the evidence (which are inevitable when dealing with such large areas of uncertainty and unknowns) are the real cause of the dispute?

    The inability to understand that others can disagree with you without being dishonest or stupid is a characteristic of the vanity that has become the norm in modern culture.

    • Gary, when there is disagreement among scientists, this is a sign that one side or both is probably over certain/confident (not dishonest or stupid) . I am basically saying Gavin is over confident in some of his pronouncements; he may be right but I argue that there is sufficient uncertainty out there, or counter arguments/evidence, that a high level of confidence is not warranted by the evidence.

      • Here’s a recent pronouncement by Gavin:

        “…But to ascribe a difference of opinion to dishonesty is to remove yourself from any sensible discussion on the topic…”

        You were less willing to listen to him not long ago.

      • Gavin Schmidt and I have very different ideas on how to engage in the public dialogue on the issue of climate change.

      • Speaking about you and Gavin and public dialog on the issues of climate change, I’d be very curious to hear your reactions to this:


        And most interestingly this – which speaks very directly to my impression that the views that you have expressed on the roots of scientific “tribalism,” and how tribalism negatively affects building bridges to sound science, are problematic in not being sufficiently comprehensive:

      • re the realclimate post: they doth protest too much

        re the climateprogress post: this was back when joe romm and I will still talking to each other and trying to engage constructively. See his subsequent posts on me, they are totally bizarre pitbull attacks

        re guardian article, hadn’t spotted that one previously. santer et al. just need to give in, admit errors in judgment and move on, and make everything as transparent as possible.

      • But Judith – there is relevant information in the Guardian article re: the roots of the tribalism you describe; why don’t you address it, why be so casually dismissive? I’m really perplexed by your continued lack of response on that issue.

        As far as I can tell, as an outsider, there seem to have been significant errors and “bad behavior’ on both sides of the fence. You seem to be believe that McIntyre, Watts, and the like have had no role to play in contributing tothe problem of tribalism- and that that the “dishonesty” on the other side is all simply based in CYAism over bad science.

        I fail to see how anyone could expect to build bridges to good science if she doesn’t hold both sides equally accountable. Perhaps you’ve addressed both sides comprehensively before I started reading your posts. If so, I’d appreciate a link and I offer an apology. Perhaps the one-sidedness of the bad behavior is so obvious that it needs no further explication (and I just can’t see the obvious out of ignorance); but if not, then if you haven’t laid out all of the perspectives on the issue, how am I to accept your thesis? A thesis must be arguable, which means that you must recognize and convey both sides in a way that at least seems to the readers as objective, and then explain your logic in drawing your conclusions.

        I have read quite a bit from both sides but see no clear indication of one side standing on higher ground. Am I just supposed to take your word for it that this is a black/white, good guy/bad guy issue? By not laying out the full argumentation for your conclusions about the tribalism you fail to create an objective space to locate your science. I would assume that I’m not alone in having difficulty in seeing where some measure of objective truth lies here, and the questions about behavior spill over into the questions about scientific integrity. The fact that this blog and most other climate blogs are filled with comments from partisans does not mean that most affected stakeholders (Americans and citizens all over the planet) feel they have a firm grasp on the nature of the full conflict (let alone the climate science).

        And please, don’t answer the question speaking about vast inequities in research funding. Whether that characterization is accurate or not, it not really germane to the questions about who is or isn’t being tribalistic.

        I was very interested in your discussion of tribalism when I first heard it a while back (after “Climategate” exploded), and at that time you spoke of “tribalism” on the “warmist” side as a reaction (not necessarily a justified reaction, but a reaction) to attacks from the “denialist” side. Given how your position relative to the other players in the debate has shifted since then, IMO your thesis has become less “robust” because you haven’t updated it correspondingly. Is it now your conclusion that what you see as tribalism on the “warmist” side was only self-generated? Why would that have changed? It can’t just be climategate because I first hear you speaking about the tribalism post Climategate.

      • In particular, Judith, I would find it interesting to hear your response to this excerpt:

        Santer’s paper was published online, with 16 co-authors, in October 2008. And the two papers appeared together in the same print edition the following month. So, though both papers took about four months from submission to publication online, Douglass’s paper took 11 months to get from online to print publication, while Santer’s paper managed it in 36 days.

        Nobody told Douglass and his colleagues about any of this. When the emails were published in November 2009, Douglass and Christy reacted angrily. They complained in the American Thinker in December 2009 about a surreptitious strategy involving the authors of the paper and the editors of the journal of “delaying [our paper] and not allowing [us] to have a simultaneous response to Santer et al.”

        At one level this is a matter of publishing etiquette. When is a response a paper? And what rules should govern responses to papers? But at another it is about power over the crucial scientific journals and the wider media.

        There is no doubt the Santer and his colleagues sought to use the power they held to the utmost, albeit in a cause they regarded as in defence of good science. On the other hand, whatever the attempts to stage-manage publication, it was nothing compared to the stage-management of Douglass’s paper in the media. It gained far more, and far more prominent, coverage than Santer’s paper. In the world of science, Santer’s team had the last word. Their charge that the statistical analysis in Douglass’s paper was badly flawed and led to incorrect conclusions has, so far as the Guardian can establish, not been refuted. But Douglass got the publicity.

        Also – as someone who is removed from the professional and scientific playing field of this debate by many levels of degree – I greatly appreciate the chance to engage with you directly about these questions. I am quite sure that you are extremely busy with your scientific work, with handling the massive volume of contributions to your website from bloggers who have expertise in the questions at hand, let alone your personal life – and I am just a commonplace “consumer” of all of this information. So I hope that you don’t think that my haranguing you for more information indicates that I’m not highly appreciative of the responses you have made to my comments. I am appreciative – but the limited range of your responses stands seems to stand in contrast to your goals of zeroing in on scientific integrity.

      • Joshua, this isn’t a case that I have looked at closely. The publishing etiquette definitely flunks. But who is “correct” in this matter is something that I haven’t personally investigated closely. My recollection is that Douglass et al. did have some problems with the statistics. I saw a draft of a revised paper by Douglass et al. that just plotted the data (no statistics), with essentially the same conclusions, I don’t know if this has been published yet. So this topic is under dispute, may need a few more rounds before it is resolved.

      • Joshua
        You may not have seen her post elsewhere, but Judith is currently dealing with a family problem so it may be a few days before she replies to you (if she manages to catch up that is).

      • I did see that, Rob. I certainly hope that those issues are resolved as well as one could expect. And it is clear that independent of those personal issues, she has many demands on her time.

        I’m a patient person. I’ll be happy to wait. I would just like to have some answers, eventually.

      • Judith – again, thank you for responding.

        (I don’t know how you managed to nest your reply directly beneath mine as I seem to have limits in how far I can go into a thread’s “hierarchy”)

        I was afraid by pointing to that excerpt I posted above, it would be misleading as to my concern. With respect to your response:

        The publishing etiquette definitely flunks. But who is “correct” in this matter is something that I haven’t personally investigated closely.

        It seems that the “war” between Douglass, Christy, Santer, etc., extends well beyond the question of who was “correct,” at many levels. Even if Douglass were to be validated by subsequent rigorous science, there is much in the Guardian article that begs explanation.

        Please read the article and tell me whether you see elements of “tribalism,” in the charges of “scientific cleansing.”

        What about in the FOI requests from McIntyre for data given that the Santer says that:

        Ten days after the online publication of our International Journal of Climatology paper, Mr. Steven McIntyre, who runs the “ClimateAudit” blog, requested all of the climate model data we had used in our research. I replied that Mr. McIntyre was welcome to “audit” our calculations, and that all of the primary model data we had employed were archived at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and freely available to any researcher. Over 3,400 scientists around the world currently analyze climate model output from this open database.

        My response was insufficient for Mr. McIntyre. He submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for climate model data – not for the freely available raw data, but for the results from intermediate calculations I had performed with the raw data. One FOIA request also asked for two years of my email correspondence related to these climate model data sets.

        I had performed these intermediate calculations in order derive weighted-average temperature changes for different layers of the atmosphere. This is standard practice. It is necessary since model temperature data are available at specific heights in the atmosphere, whereas satellite temperature measurements represent an average over a deep layer of the atmosphere. The weighted averages calculated from the climate model data can be directly compared with actual satellite data. The method used for making such intermediate calculations is not a secret. It is published in several different scientific journals.

        Unlike Mr. McIntyre, David Douglass and his colleagues (in their International Journal of Climatology paper) had used the freely available raw model data. With these raw datasets, Douglass et al. made intermediate calculations similar to the calculations we had performed. The results of their intermediate calculations were similar to our own intermediate results. The differences between what Douglass and colleagues had done and what my colleagues and I had done was not in the intermediate calculations – it was in the statistical tests each group had used to compare climate models with observations.

        The punch-line of this story is that Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests were completely unnecessary. In my opinion, they were frivolous. Mr. McIntyre already had access to all of the information necessary to check our calculations and our findings.

        When I invited Mr. McIntyre to “audit” our entire study, including the intermediate calculations, and told him that all the data necessary to perform such an “audit” were freely available, he expressed moral outrage on his blog. I began to receive threatening emails. Complaints about my “stonewalling” behavior were sent to my superiors at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at the U.S. Department of Energy.

        A little over a month after receiving Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests, I decided to release all of the intermediate calculations I had performed for our International Journal of Climatology paper. I made these datasets available to the entire scientific community. I did this because I wanted to continue with my scientific research. I did not want to spend all of my available time and energy responding to harassment incited by Mr. McIntyre’s blog.

        Mr. Pearce does not mention that Mr. McIntyre had no need to file Freedom of Information Act requests, since Mr. McIntyre already had access to all of the raw climate model data we had used in our study (and to the methods we had used for performing intermediate calculations). Nor does Mr. Pearce mention the curious asymmetry in Mr. McIntyre’s “auditing”. To my knowledge, Mr. McIntyre – who purports to have considerable statistical expertise – has failed to “audit” the Douglass et al. paper, which contained serious statistical errors.

        Apparently you see evidence of “tribalism” in the politicization of climate science by “warmists,” and indeed, as an outside observer that determination seems to have solid grounds for merit – but do you also you see evidence in “tribalism” that the work of Douglass, et. al. was heavily promoted by Fox, the Heartland Institute, and “denialist” blogs even though it certainly seems that the veracity of their findings would have been improved with greater scientific scutiny – indeed, did McIntyre have the same interest in scrutinizing Douglass’ data as he did in scrutinizing Santer’s?

        To the extent that tribalism exists on both sides of the fence, to the extent that “bad behavior” or “bad science” exists on both sides of the fence, are you as interested in subjecting “denialists” to scrutiny? Saying that that is some larger inequity in the overall balance of funding for research, or even in influence on policy development – even assuming that is in fact true – would not address a problematic imbalance in your approach to the “war” (if there is an imbalance in your approach):

        (1) Although your qualifications give you weight, it is highly disproportionate to the overall size of the war. Yes, we all have to do our part, but you would be sacrificing the balance inherent in your own work to make a marginal difference in the larger context

        (2) They (the questions of tribalism and the questions of overall balance in the larger war) really are at some level separate issues – and I would suggest should be argued separately at some point. I would suggest that the time to evaluate their aggregate effect is after their importance has been examined as entities unto themselves. You can’t evaluate their aggregate balance until you’ve defined your terms.

        A final note – I apologize for my wordiness. I greatly appreciate conciseness in writing – but can only produce concise writing myself after long periods spent editing, and I want to respond to your posts quickly because I am guessing that the likelihood of hearing back from you is greater the sooner I respond.

      • Incidentally the last word on the Santer Douglas controversy in the peer-reviewed literature at present seems to be McKitrick, Ross R., Stephen McIntyre and Chad Herman (2010) “Panel and Multivariate Methods for Tests of Trend Equivalence in Climate Data Sets” in Atmospheric Science Letters. This finds, using the correct statistical test which neither Douglas nor Santer used (Santer used the inadequate “effective degrees of freedom approximation” rather than the fully specified general formulation) and data up to 2009, that there is indeed a significant difference between model forecasts and observations. Article etc available here
        and interesting background discussion including of the peer review process can be found here

      • Thanks Mikep.

      • Yep.

        As a lurker and poster on both sites, it is real obvious to me that you and Gary ” have very different ideas on how to engage in the public dialogue on the issue of climate change”.

        I’d say you are open and participative, while Gary tends to be more rigid and dogmatic.


        PS I like your style better.

      • Judith says:

        Gary, when there is disagreement among scientists, this is a sign that one side or both is probably over certain/confident (not dishonest or stupid)

        If we can get to the point where there is mutual respect among equally-well-informed parties, then by definition if they are in disagreement there is a significant uncertainty concerning the topic of disagreement.

        If either side is determined to hold to a “not so uncertain” line, they are forced to take a stance that the other side either misunderstands, is misinformed or is dishonest.

        It is fascinating to see how great is the fear of uncertainty. It’s as if not already having The Answer is simply horrific.

      • Mr Pete – you are right. The fear of uncertainty is great indeed because much rests on it: ego, personal credibility, scientific reputation, funding, politics. It has always been like this in science, though and Climatology is no different. It’s just the political domain is a bit more heated than usual, and there are modern and very public mechanisms for expressing instant opinion and criticism (ie internet) rather than the slow plod of exchanging letters in an obscure publication/journal.

  34. David L. Hagen

    Emissions closely linked to Economy
    One critical issue is that “CO2 emissions” are closely related to economic activity – since oil has been the cheapest transport fuel and coal power the cheapest electricity.
    U.S. Envoy for Climate Change: Carbon Emissions ‘Very Linked’ to ‘Economic Growth’

    Tad Patzek shows global manufacturing intensity declining from 800 to 550 Barrels of Oil Equivalent per million dollars of manufacturing.

    The only way to change that is by commercial economic drivers of making alternative liquid transport fuels cheaper than petroleum fuels, and by making renewable energy cheaper than coal fired power.

    Otherwise you just force “We the People” into bankruptcy.

  35. As a layman with a long interest in this field, I agree with points 1 through 4 in the original post. As to number 5, if we are in a natural warming cycle (or at the end of one), release of CO2 from natural sinks could be the majority of the increase. The remaining points are all of interest, but not established facts in my opinion.

    There is much to do. I hope this field and its supporters can get out of panic mode and provide the public with the facts needed to settle these issues.

    As a first time commenter, I’d like to express my admiration of Dr. Curry and add that I’ve enjoyed many considered and educational comments posted at this site.

  36. The real cost of ‘global warming’

    “…….Meanwhile, this country [Britain] will soon be facing a colossal energy gap, while relying on politically unreliable countries such as Russia and Algeria for gas supplies.

    What we are seeing, in short, is the price we are beginning to pay for the past two decades, during which our energy policy has become hopelessly skewed by the siren calls of the environmentalists, first in persuading our politicians to switch from coal and not to build any more nuclear power stations, and then to fall for the quixotic dream that we could gamble our country’s future on the ‘free’ and ‘clean’ power of wind and sun.”

    • Well said, Kate. My frustration boiled over yesterday and I wrote to my MP (William Hague) to vent my spleen on the same subject. It won’t do any good of course but it made me feel better for a little while :)

      • Joe Lalonde


        Your right, it will not do anything.
        You’ll just get back a letter quoting the use of the IPCC reports to their decisions.

  37. Robert A. Jones

    Craig L.: Thanks for your request for a citation. The 15K is likely bogus.

    Remember the elderly French that died in a heat wave. In closed houses. And we shouldn’t forget the kids that are left in summertime, locked cars.

    The point is that cold is dangerous. I sincerely wonder if the greatest climate threat facing us is not a summer worse than 1816. If we lose a large fraction of one annual grain crop, how many third world people would die?

    Yet some people swoon over carbon capture & sequestration nonsense.

  38. Brandon Shollenberger

    I have had a couple questions for some time, and they aren’t directly relevant to this post, but they do go to the spirit of it. Perhaps someone could help me out with them.

    First, I’ve always wondered about the amount of energy needed to heat the Earth. Specifically, is the relationship between the amount energy needed and heat produced linear? A warmer object radiates more heat, meaning it loses more energy. Because of this, the amount of energy needed to increase the heat of the object is not constant. You can’t just look at temperature anomalies because of this. The baseline actually matters. Is this effect relevant and/or considered in temperature calculations?

    Second, atmospheric methane has a much shorter lifespan than atmospheric carbon dioxide. This helps counterbalance the fact methane has a far stronger influence on temperature per molecule. However, atmospheric methane breaks down through a variety of reactions, some of which result in carbon dioxide production. My question is simple. How much carbon dioxide is generated from the breakdown of methane? Is it significant enough to need to be considered, and if so, how has it been handled?

    I’d love any help on understanding these two topics. I don’t think they are hugely significant, but they seem like they could have some effect. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen either discussed, and internet searches haven’t turned up anything.

    • Brandon – Here’s is my perspective. The amount of energy required to heat the Earth to a higher temperature is a function of heat capacity. Most of the heat is stored in the oceans, which have an enormous heat capacity, and so enormous energy is required. Given that the sun supplies a large quantity of energy every second, the demand is ultimately met, but for more than a small temperature change, equilibrium is approached slowly – i.e., asymptotically over many centuries, although with much of the total change occurring within the first century.

      The Stefan-Boltzmann law tells us that warmer objects shed more heat (in proportion to the fourth power of temperature), and so the net gain in energy declines as equilibrium is approached. It is therefore non-linear. Within the current range of foreseeable temperature increases, however, the amount of extra energy required for a given temperature change will not vary greatly with small differences in starting temperature. If the Earth were very much hotter, the difference might be substantial.

      Methane is converted into CO2, but the concentration of methane is so much smaller (measured in parts per billion rather than parts per million), that the net effect of the conversion is to reduce the methane concentration by a large percentage while increasing the CO2 concentration much less proportionately. The conversion therefore reduces greenhouse warming.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Thanks for the response Fred Moolten, but it isn’t satisfactory for me (through no fault of yours). It is easy to say something would be too small to matter, but without some sort of calculation, it is hard to trust the claim. This is especially true since what doesn’t matter to one person may matter to another.

        Moreover, even if something didn’t matter at a global level, it could matter at a local level. For example, does a five degree change in temperature observed in Phoenix mean the same thing as a five degree change in temperature in Green Bay? The average temperatures of those two areas can vary by 20 degrees (Celsius). Has someone published the calculations to see what sort of difference this makes?

        As for methane levels, it is obvious the concentration of methane in the atmosphere would be far smaller than the concentration of carbon dioxide. Methane has a far shorter lifespan. However, it is not sufficient to simply say methane is measured in ppb rather than ppm. That gives a grossly distorted view of the effect. If methane leaves the atmosphere 10 times as quickly as carbon dioxide (I think it is closer to 12 times?), you can’t compare their concentrations directly. At the very least, you have to divide by a factor equal to the difference in lifespan.

        If you do that, you only have a difference in factor by 100. Then you have to consider the fact methane levels are over 1,700 ppb as opposed to carbon dioxide’s approximate 400 ppm. This drops the difference in factor to around 25 (dividing by four). That opens the possibility of methane being responsible for a few percent of carbon dioxide levels (though I doubt it would actually be that high).

        Now then, I don’t think either of these issues is going to overturn any conclusions. However, I think they are both issues which merit analysis. They certainly deserve more than vague and dismissive statements. For a comment on a blog, it may be enough to simply say they don’t matter (I see no fault in your comment). For documents used to shape policy, it isn’t.

        Considering how serious an issue global warming is, I expect there to be actual analysis of issues like this. I don’t know if there has been, but I haven’t seen any. That bothers me.

      • Molecule for molecule, the warming efficiency of methane and CO2 are about equal. The reason methane is more potent in the atmosphere is that its concentration is much lower, so that a given absolute increase in methane has a proportionately far greater effect than the same increase in CO2. That is why conversion of methane to CO2 substantially reduces the warming potency of methane while only minimally increasing CO2 warming. The reason the concentration is lower rests in part on the shorter lifetime. If you want to do the calculations, using observed values for each, an assumption of ~equal molecular warming potency, and a logarithmic warming effect from each, I believe you’ll confirm this, but I think the typical estimate that the various combination of factors (lower concentration, reduced lifetime) imparts about a 23-fold greater potency to methane indicates why the conversion has a net effect of reduced total greenhouse warming. It’s also relevant that CO2 concentrations have been rising consistently, while methane has been relatively flat in comparison.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        This response makes no sense. Sure, it’s good to know why methane has a larger influence molecule-for-molecule. However, I already knew that, and it is completely irrelevant. Nothing I have said involves the amount of warming caused by methane levels. I think you must have misread my comment.

        My question about methane has been entirely one of how it influences carbon dioxide levels. It’s effect on temperature is completely irrelevant for this issue. The issue I have is methane levels have just about tripled since pre-Industrial times. Carbon dioxide levels haven’t even doubled. I think it is reasonable to expect an analysis which covers how much of an impact this has. This is especially true since any carbon dioxide generated from methane will accumulate in rates different than that of methane due to the difference in lifespans.

        Methane in the atmosphere reacts with a hydroxyl radical forming a methyl radical. This reacts with another hydroxyl radical to to form formaldehyde which can then react with another hydroxyl radical to form carbon dioxide. I don’t know enough to be able to tell how much carbon dioxide is produced from how much methane through this reaction chain, so I can’t tell how much of an impact there is. That’s what I’d like to know.

      • Methane should influence CO2 levels only minimally, because CO2 concentration is a few hundred times higher to start with and its rate of rise is greater than that of methane, which had been flat since the late 1990s, but has risen again recently. You may be right that the rate of rise decades ago or earlier was greater, but that does not appear to be the case currently.

        In general, the known sources of methane are not expected to lead to a rate of rise exceeding that of CO2. An important exception to this trend would be a massive methane release from permafrost or from undersea clathrates triggered by CO2-mediated warming. The probability of such an event in the near future is considered unlikely.

        Both methane and CO2 have one carbon atom, and so the conversion is a 1:1 conversion.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Fred Moolten, I just did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation assuming a 1:1 conversion of methane to CO2. It says of the 110ppm increase in CO2 levels we have seen, 4-5ppm would be from methane. That means it could bias estimates by 4%. This is not minimal.

        Fortunately, there is no 1:1 conversion. That is the largest possible conversion. It is not the actual conversion. The reaction chain I described is a possible reaction chain, not one which is guaranteed to happen every time. As such, the conversion must be below 1:1.

        If you don’t want to take the time to look into the questions I ask, that’s fine. Just please don’t give off-the-cuff answers which you haven’t even checked.

      • Brandon, your original question was how much CO2 “is generated” from the breakdown of methane. If you are interested in the “breakdown” in terms of conversion of methane to CO2, it’s a 1:1 relationship for all practical purposes. Methane has some other sinks, but the chemical breakdown almost entirely consists of the CH4 to CO2 conversion through a series of oxidations via OH radicals. The intermediates in the process have lifetimes too short to make a difference.

        Regarding the contribution of methane to CO2 levels, if methane is about 1.7 ppm, and if about 8.3 percent or less is converted to CO2 annually – Methane – the conversion rate due to methane breakdwon should amount currently to about 0.036 percent of total CO2 and about 0.12 percent of the CO2 rise of 110 ppm since pre-industrial times. These percentages of total CO2 and industrial era rise will change depending on the relative changes in the rate of CO2 and methane increase, but based on recent years showing smaller percent increases in methane than CO2, the values are likely to decline. If methane starts to rise more rapidly, the values might increase, but they are unlikely to amount to more than a very minor contribution, barring the methane releases I referred to earlier.

        I have a sense we’re spending too much time on this, but if you have other data that throw a different light on the subject, they would be worth seeing.

      • Fred,
        A rough calculation based on the anthropogenic part of methane (1000 ppb), the lifetime and a rough guess that we have left CO2 from anthropogenic methane corresponding to 50 years worth at present rate, gives 4 ppm. Thus your numbers and those of Brandon agree at this level of accuracy.

        Whether that is little or much is perhaps more semantic than substantial.

      • I forgot to adjust for the fact that only about 45 percent of CO2 entering the atmosphere adds to the atmospheric burden. The rest is distributed into oceanic and terrestrial sinks. The ongoing methane contribution to rises in atmospheric CO2 is therefore less than half of the estimates cited above.

      • Although the answer is already given after your correction, I add another way of expressing it.

        The anthropogenic annual release of CO2 to the atmosphere corresponds presently to about 4 ppm including land use effects. As you calculated, methane adds about o.o8 ppm, or 2% of that.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Fred Moolten, do you have some source or knowledge which supports the idea “it’s a 1:1 relationship for all practical purposes”? Simply saying it is doesn’t do me any good, especially after first saying it is a 1:1 conversion without any qualifier. I mean no offense to you when I say this, but you are just a person posting on a blog. I can’t simply take your word as the answer to a question. You may be right, but I need a way to verify this.

        In regards to your calculation, I don’t know why you would think 8.3% of methane converts to carbon dioxide each year. That would seem to imply you think methane has a lifespan of 12 years (even then, annual methane levels come from emissions over multiple years, so a flat percentage is questionable)? Maybe I’m missing something. Anyway, your result is only for a single year. If you extend it (and possibly correct the ratio?) to the decades, you’ll see much higher numbers.

        For a simpler way, here is the method I used to look at the issue. First, I grabbed a data file for methane levels in the past. Next, I looked at the time period from 1900-2000 (I used the last value to infill 2000), subtracting off the baseline methane value. Assuming a 1:1 conversion, a 10 year lifespan of methane and a 100 year lifespan of carbon dioxide, practically any methane above the baseline in that period would have been converted to carbon dioxide. This means you can take each ten year anomaly and add it together to give an estimate of carbon dioxide levels conceivably generated from anthropogenic methane. Doing this results in a value exceeding 4ppm. All you need to verify these results is Excel (or pen and paper) and ten minutes.

        This is a very rough estimate, but it is sufficient to give a sense of scale. That scale is methane can conceivably explain about 4% of the trend of rising CO2 levels. It isn’t an earth-shattering value, but it is far too high to simply be waved away.

        If the conversion really is practically 1:1, the issue needs to be analyzed and dealt with by scientists.

      • Brandon,

        You write

        If the conversion really is practically 1:1, the issue needs to be analyzed and dealt with by scientists.

        It has been done. The issues are discussed in the IPCC, TAR, WG1 Chapter From there you can find also original publications.

        The quantities are certainly close to what we have discussed here, but the actual number depends essentially on, whether we look at the total amount of CO2 originating from methane or the the contribution to the additional CO2 that originates from the additional methane compared to preindustrial levels. The final numbers of Fred and myself are for the addition, yours might be close to the total contribution. In addition it must be remembered that the addition to CO2 levels stays in the atmosphere equally independently of the source. Thus roughly half of it has gone to other reservoirs, most notably to the upper ocean, whose concentration follows rapidly that of the atmosphere.

      • Brandon – I’ll probably refrain from further comments on this topic unless new information is provided. I originally tried to be helpful in answering your question, without realizing you would want me to document the precise details of every point I made. In any case, I cited in my above comments a reference for an estimated 12 year chemical mean lifetime of methane. This, along with the other values I cited, comprises the evidence that at current levels and trajectories, methane is currently contributing very little to atmospheric CO2.

        I also reviewed the chemical processes, to determine whether they might lead to some other atmospheric constituent than CO2 at a discernible level. They don’t, but you are welcome to look into this further. Since such alternatives would further reduce the estimated contribution, it would further support conclusions based on the 1:1 ratio as a maximum.

        Finally, I pointed out that more than half of the CO2 that enters the atmosphere from any source, including methane, will fail to add to the atmospheric CO2 concentration. This further reduces the rate at which methane is contributing, by more than 50 percent. I have not tried to calculate how much of the current CO2 level is attributable to past methane, but if it involved 4 ppm CO2 originally that you calculated, you would have to divide that by about two to get the actual contribution that remained in the atmosphere. My focus was more on the extent to which methane is currently contributing to the observed rises in CO2. That appears to be very small.

        Finally, we may agree on one way of calculating this. The contribution of CO2 emissions to the rise in atmospheric CO2 is probably about 1.5 ppm/year, which is about 0.38 percent, and does not appearing to be changing very much. The contribution of methane is probably about 4-5 percent of that 0.38 percent (after adjusting for the redistribution to oceanic and terrestrial sinks). As Pekka indicated, it is a matter of judgment whether to call any of these estimates large or small.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Pekka Pirilä, I appreciate your attempt to help, but the IPCC Third Assessment Report does not do what you claim it does. In fact, the IPCC reports were the very first spot I looked when this question first occurred to me. If you go to the source you referenced, you will quickly see the fact methane breaks down into carbon dioxide isn’t even mentioned. I have no idea where you got the idea that section dealt with the issue I have been discussing. Carbon dioxide is only mentioned once in it, and that is when it says, “CH4 varies with climate as does CO2.”

        Also, you compare the numbers you and Fred Moolten generated but contrast them to the numbers I generated. This makes no sense. The number you generated is practically the same as mine. The value I estimated was 4-5ppm, approximately 4% of the increase in CO2 levels we have observed. I don’t know how this could be contrasted to the value you estimated, 4ppm.

        Now then, I am grateful for both you and Fred mentioning the issue of CO2 sinks. I hadn’t considered that, and that would certainly affect the issue. I am also glad to report I found this document (part of a textbook) which discusses the full range of possibilities of methane’s reaction chains. This shows divergent paths in the chain can result in the same carbon dioxide production. That makes the idea of a 1:1 conversion far more sensible to me. Unfortunately, the formula R20 produces CH3O2, and no information is given on what that breaks down to. Even so, I am now much more confident in the conversion being stated as 1:1.

      • Brandon,
        It is true that I didn’t check, whether the whole issue was discussed in TAR. I noticed that the critical first step, which is the reaction with OH was discussed. It is critical, because methane is rather stable and not easily oxidized at low temperature, but the CH3 is not as stable and reacts further. That the final result is CO2 is unavoidable, as that is the stable result in absence of rare elements (for atmosphere) like Cl.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Fred Moolten, in your latest comment you say “[I] would want [you] to document the precise details of every point [you] made.” I think this is a misrepresentation, but if you feel that way, you have no obligation to respond to me. Ideally, there would be no need for either of us to examine details, and instead we could simply look at some source which discussed the issue. If that isn’t possible, I think it is appropriate to consider the minimal level of detail I have sought here.

        Incidentally, you could easily have avoided any requests for detail by not stating things as facts. If you tell a person a fact, they can reasonably ask you to support that fact.

        As for methane, I’ll admit I didn’t realize your link was meant to justify the 8.3%. That was my mistake. I looked at it, I didn’t see the number, and I closed the tab. However, that link doesn’t provide any source for its number that I can see, so my point still stands. I simply don’t know where your source got it, rather than you. It does mention a 1996 report from the IPCC, so maybe that is where the number came from? If so, it is notably higher than the estimates from the latest IPCC reports, so it should be updated.

        In any event, it seems there isn’t anything left to discuss. My current estimate, perfectly in line with what both you and Pekka Pirilä have said, is methane is responsible for slightly more than 2% of the increase in CO2 levels since pre-Industrial times. Furthermore, it would seem this issue hasn’t been analyzed or discussed in peer-reviewed literature. Instead, it has been completely ignored.

        Personally, I think that’s absurd. I understand 1/50th of something is a small value. However, when I consider the fact people are asked to spend billions, if not trillions, of dollars to combat global warming, I expect “small” things to be investigated. This is especially true since this issue could quite possibly affect things like GCMs.

        But hey, maybe things aren’t so bad. Maybe this has been considered, and the three of us just don’t know about it.

      • technically, the body of the Earth is where most of the heat capacity resides, along with temperatures about the same as the sun’s photosphere.

        Have you noticed the ground glowing even red hot? Large heat capacity is not relevant when heat flow is seriously limited. Sure, you can tank up the oceans over a century with heat – assuming you had a mechanism working against the predominant physics of the situation. What you’ll get in the end will be an equally small flow rate of heat, practically insignificant to that of the daily toasting from Sol. Translation, what you see already is just about all you’re gonna get so far as what has transpired.

    • Yes, the baseline temperature matters. For earth it radiates as much as it absorbs from the sun. Radiation depends on temperature, and the sun is constant. From this its radiative temperature has to be about 255 K, which is the baseline. This is the average temperature of the earth as seen from space. Of course it is warmer than this at the surface, and that is because of the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect gets the baseline up to 288 K at the surface.
      Methane: those amounts are small compared to CO2, so even if it converts to CO2 it is a minimal amount compared to other sources.

      • Neil Fisher

        “The greenhouse effect gets the baseline up to 288 K at the surface.”

        No, this is not quite correct. The GH effect helps get the baseline up to 288K. But even a completely non-radiation-interacting atmosphere would produce a temperature greater than 255K – that really is basic physics. Perhaps you would care to estimate the approximate surface temperature of Earth if it’s atmosphere was 100% nitrogen to see what I mean.

      • Joe Lalonde


        Our we not moving away from the sun slightly each year?
        As our planet moves away, the concentrated radiation waves disperse.
        Also our planet is close to the sun and and furthest away from the sun at two points of the year.
        How accurate is that baseline?

      • Neil, how would you suggest a pure nitrogen atmosphere warms the surface using basic physics? The surface would still be 255 K.

      • Jim – Yes, you’re right. The only caveat is that we must assume an unchanged albedo, which is not realistic. But strictly from the point of view of the relevant physics, with albedo ignored, a surface temperature of 255 K is correct.

        The only reason I mention this is because the same issue comes up from time to time, based on confusion about the role of the atmosphere in determining the surface temperature. Only atmospheric components capable of radiating at atmospheric temperatures make a difference, and nitrogen’s capacity to do this is too small to exert a discernible effect.

      • Thanks for clarifying that, Fred. Yes, both these temperatures implicitly assume albedo is about 0.3, so that we keep the solar forcing constant while only looking at IR effects.

      • Neil Fisher

        So such an atmosphere would have a zero lapse rate? Such an atmosphere would be completely isothermal?
        No convection, no weather?

      • Convection, yes, but the warmest air would be at the surface and the lapse rate would depend on the convection and diurnal cycle. A convective balance is isentropic rather than isothermal, so it would have a lapse rate.

    • Joe Lalonde


      Science and climate science has missed many, many small details for a general consensus on what they think they know.
      There are probably about 20 details to factor in to have a reasonably good guess as to the energy amount to heat the planet.
      Remember, all planets and suns are surrounded by a vacuum, so no actual physical energy of the suns motion is an effect. The sun generated electro magnetics and radiation. Our planets own rotation generates the wind energy and energies for circulation.
      So separating energies into their categories and understanding the planets movement needs to also be included. The suns equator is the warmest area compared to the poles for many factors again. Planetary drift, tilting of axis, proximity to the sun(different each day of the year), etc.

      Climate science is not near ready to answer that question, even though they may sham you with an answer.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joe Lalonde, listing confounding factors without discussing the potential impact of them means little. You may be able to list a hundred confounding factors, but if they all have a maximum impact of .01%, they “don’t matter.” In that regard, it is important to figure out the approximate scale of confounding factors. My instincts say none of the things you listed would alter conclusions by a meaningful amount. The same is true of heat differences between locations. On the other hand, it is still necessary to detail the scale of these factors.

        On the other hand, there does seem to exist the potential for methane levels to meaningfully impact carbon dioxide levels. A change of 4% is not trivial. It seems important to address this. This is especially true since all it would take to resolve is knowledge of a single value. Even an extremely rough estimate of methane to carbon dioxide conversion in the atmosphere would be enough to tell if this is a factor we need to consider.

        Vague claims with no scale requiring large amounts of knowledge will do nothing to advance understanding. Specific questions requiring simple answers can often do a great deal to advance it.

      • Joe Lalonde

        In other words….

        Planetary mechanics have no bearing on this planet only gases we want to put all our time and research into as we can put measuring numbers to them rather than the hard job of massive calculation of energy interactions.

  39. Zeke,

    If you believe that “the majority of the public and policy makers that I’m aware of live on the surface” is an adequate comment, perhaps you need to devote a bit more time to understanding the vulnerability approach Pielke proposes.

    If you think the distinction between atmospheric temperature and ocean heat content is tangential, perhaps you should try a simple calculation of the amount of heat stored in the atmosphere compared with the heat stored in the upper 700 m of the oceans.

    Your breezy dismissal of Pielke’s post raises suspicion that you may be touched by the Dyson effect – too much familiarity with the models leading to confusing models with reality.

    • Apologies for commenting at the wrong level, my comment above was in reply to Zeke’s comment of February 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

  40. Judith

    Some comments to go along with what I wrote on the earlier thread.

    The premises in Zeke’s assessment were pretty basic.

    Most everyone with a technical or scientific background or who has studied the literature can understand these well enough to form a qualified opinion.

    What we are trying to establish here is the overall likelihood of the premise:

    AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause of past warming and represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment

    I would agree with statements made here and on the preceding thread that applied scientists or engineers might be a bit more skeptical of the above premise than climate research scientists, for the many reasons that have been cited.

    And it is also quite clear that no “level 1” scientist will have a complete grasp of all the scientific questions related to the above premise, so I do not believe that the “epistemic level” approach you have suggested is really meaningful. In fact, it risks smacking of “elitism”, which I believe should be avoided.

    Don’t worry about “nut cases”. From what I have seen on your various threads, you have been able to attract pretty solid posters and there are very few “nutters” around

    IMO, Zeke has worded his premises in such a way that already tilts the conclusion toward acceptance of the above “dangerous AGW” premise, in that, like IPCC AR4 WG1, it concentrates on the impact of CO2 without going into any real discussion of natural factors (other than a fleeting reference to direct solar irradiance).

    It fails to address the key point made by Willis Eschenbach on the previous thread, namely whether or not there are natural factors, for example from clouds, that act as a thermostat to keep our climate from becoming unstable. Is this >95% “probable” (or >90%, >66%, >50%)? One could start out putting it in the top category and seeing how the responses come in. But I agree with Willis that it is a mistake to leave this off of the list. This could be worded:

    Observation of past records shows that climate fluctuations have remained within a fairly narrow band; this has led to the suggestion, that there are factors, such as changes in cloud cover, which act as a natural “thermostat” to stabilize our climate.

    A second point that should also be added to Zeke’s list (in view of the temperature oscillations physically observed since the modern record started):

    An analysis of the surface temperature record shows multi-decadal cycles of warming and cooling with an overall cycle time of around 60 years and an amplitude of ±0.2°C, all superimposed on an underlying warming trend of 0.04°C per decade, much like a sine curve on a tilted axis. As there have been no such cycles in atmospheric GHG content, it is likely that natural climate variability or forcing is partly responsible for these observed oscillations.

    I’d put the second point at the >95% probability level (all you have to do is look at the HadCRUT record); the first could be either >95% or >90% (Willis’ postulation sounds well based and credible to me). We could then see how bloggers react and justify their position.

    Natural variability (or natural forcing, if one wants to call it that) is the “800-lb gorilla” in the room, which Zeke (like IPCC) has ignored.

    I think you will agree that it has a major impact on the validity of the “dangerous AGW” premise and should not be ignored.

    Just my thoughts on this, but I’d appreciate your reaction. Thanks.


    • Thanks for adding these points. What is left out in this debate is as important as what is “agreed to”. It is supreme hubris to assert that we have a sufficient grasp of the issues to say that all factors are understood and covered (and even in the IPCC reports many factors are explicitly given large uncertainties). I would also assert that there are many implicit assumptions which are very very important and not examined or proven, involving clouds, climate sensitivity, water vapor, ergodicity, numerical stability of models, the sun, and on and on. These are the points where critics are most likely to get hand-waving answers or simple dismissal.

    • manacker

      An analysis of the surface temperature record shows multi-decadal cycles of warming and cooling with an overall cycle time of around 60 years and an amplitude of ±0.2°C, all superimposed on an underlying warming trend of 0.04°C per decade, much like a sine curve on a tilted axis. As there have been no such cycles in atmospheric GHG content, it is likely that natural climate variability or forcing is partly responsible for these observed oscillations.

      Here is the above statement shown in a graph:

    • A lot of the uncertainty in CO2 effects has come from the uncertainty in aerosol effects that can’t be completely separated from cloud effects. Clouds come into it in two ways, one as part of the direct feedback, that may be positive or negative, the other as part of the aerosol effect that is another anthropogenic component that is hard to quantify and predict, because it is not necessarily correlated well with CO2, but could have offset up to half of the CO2 effect in the last half century. I would suggest that the aerosol effect (e.g. global dimming) is much greater than natural variability, and is the main uncertainty to quantify. I find that skeptics rarely talk about global dimming (or even deny it), mainly because accepting it means that warming effects have to be even stronger to counter it, and only CO2 would be strong enough.

      • What should one expect as a skeptical position on aerosols when they are reported as poorly understood? Also there is black carbon to take into account and Ramanathan has stated that may contribute as much as 60% of the warming as co2 does.

      • So, if aerosols can more than cancel the black carbon effect, doesn’t that mean they should be considered?

      • Everything should be considered. I’m just having trouble formulating a potential skeptical argument against we undertsand that topic poorly. I suppose you understand that topic very poorly would qualify?

      • I found this reference to be informative and understandable even to people outside the field such as myself. It describes many of the problems in modeling the effects of aerosols.

      • Re skeptical position on aerosols:

        Some skeptics (e.g. Lindzen) claim that aerosol forcing is overestimated, while others (e.g. the NIPCC) claim that aerosol forcing is underestimated. Even so, they arrive at the same conclusion…

      • One should be skeptical of their positions. I’m not clear on why it is important that two skeptics may disagree on something even mutually exclusive in nature (if they are I haven’t read them myself). It is equally unlikely that the entire range of estimates for aerosols from slight warming to considerable cooling can also all be accurate.

      • Some peculiar things about these diametrically opposed positions are:

        – The fact that they still arrive at the same conclusion is very odd; each argument could of course be used to counter that of the other.
        – Since their argument is built on a specific and very improbable (range of) values, they implicitly assume high certainty where such does not exist.
        – Lindzen signed a letter which endorsed the NIPCC report.

      • Latimer Alder


        How many times do we have to tell you? You are arguing with the wrong people. And p….g them off mightily.

        Wizz over to RC or somewhere where the warmists hang out and beat them up about your point. Maybe they know. Bit we don’t. Nobody here wrote the frigging paper, nobody here is defending it. It is not our problem.

        There is no point in you standing outside a Coca Cola bottling plant and shouting ‘Pepsi is crap’ until you have driven everybody inside witless with boredom and prepared to do unspeakable things to get rid of you.

        And it is pointless and a waste of everybody’s time because it is not within the gift of those you harrangue so interminably to answer your question, even if they wanted to. And having tried to be helpful once, receiving just more harranguing for my pains, I am not inclined to take anything else you say seriously.

        Otherwise, have you consulted anyone for your OCD?

      • Latimer Alder,

        I thought you have music all ears.
        “How many times do we have to tell you? You are arguing with the wrong people.”No need to tell me anything except if you know 324W/m2. You have already declared you don’t know, fine, full stop in replying me.

        ” And p….g them off mightily. ”
        Your assumptions, not them. They will make a choice whether they want to know the details of the 324W/m2 back radiation here.

        “Wizz over to RC or somewhere where the warmists hang out and beat them up about your point. Maybe they know.” You know them warmists websites, right? Why you are here at Climate Etc is why I am here – tolerant of different opinions.

        “Nobody here wrote the frigging paper, nobody here is defending it. It is not our problem.” I am capable of understanding it, so why its bothering you when I am here? Just ignore me when you see any comments I made here tired you. Someone else may know an answer here eventually.

        “There is no point in you standing outside a Coca Cola bottling plant and shouting ‘Pepsi is crap’ until you have driven everybody inside witless with boredom and prepared to do unspeakable things to get rid of you” Nice forewarned. I see the shadow of Gavin and the peer-review process here – only welcome to see what appeals them get published. When this Climate Etc eventually delete my responses, by that time, I am sure Dr Curry is like Gavin, no point to stay.

        I have faith in Dr Curry, fortunately.

      • Latimer Alder


        I shall take your good advice about ignoring you.

        But if you really want an answer to your question rather than just to feed your OCD, you are going about it a bizarre and completely counterproductive way IMO.

      • @Latimer Alder,
        “I shall take your good advice about ignoring you.” Yes, you’ve got better thing to do if you cannot appreciate the importance of the 324W/m2 back radiation.

        “But if you really want an answer to your question rather than just to feed your OCD, you are going about it a bizarre and completely counterproductive way IMO.”
        “bizarre” because you don’t understand the importance of that 324W/m2 back radiation. You have not yet taken a serious attitude, so far. It might turn out to be most important in climate community. It might turn you to be an AGWer instead of a superficial sceptic. You have a good Master Degree and failed to grasp the importance of it even I repeatedly mentioning it. If you have spare time do try to find out how this 324W/m2 back radiation was accounted and the meaning. You might have a complete different view that you might be barking at a wrong tree since your Master Degree study. You are welcome back when you have grasp some idea the importance of the 324W/m2 back radiation.

      • steven & Bart V,
        Trace CO2 Vs Trace aerosols, non-helicopter views, or views at the tip of a leaf not the jungle.

      • Sam NC

        Trace CO2 would be on the order of 0.05 ppmv or lower, no?

      • Bart R,
        “Trace CO2 would be on the order of 0.05 ppmv or lower, no?”
        I like numbers, not pencil and papers. You are correct that 0.005ppmv is trace. At 390ppmv, CO2 is still a trace gas when compared with the mass of the Earth (including the atmospuere) and its IR radiation compared with CO2’s 15um can do with the warming of the atmospheric temperature.

      • As far as I use it in meaningful discussions, ‘trace’ means insignificant relative to the topic at hand.

        We’re way past considering CO2 trace for discussions of climate.

        We simply have to decide between significant, increasingly significant, important and pivotal.

        I’m surprised I can’t find any follow-up, by the way, on last week’s promise from you in the thread following

        How is the reading going on that?

      • Bart R,
        OK, I replied and I said that update really was just unfounded 324W/m2. So you still had notbeen able to figure out how 324W/m2 back radiation was arrived at. Is it not too immature to arrive at significant, increasingly significant, important and pivotal. Your definition or the climate community of these terms are not precise, increasing non specific, trtivial and pivitol to beyond trivial, lol.

      • Bart R,
        “I’m surprised I can’t find any follow-up, by the way, on last week’s promise from you in the thread following

        How is the reading going on that?”
        Did you read that link that Chief Hydrologist posted? As Chief Hydrologist said it was an update from 324W/m2 which I knew months ago that there were updates which did not account for that 324W/m2 back radiation. I guess you did not read that linked content at all. So still owe me an account of that 324W/m2 back radiation that PDA, Latimer, Pekka, Jim D found tiresome. Be a good smaritan, get an account of that 324W/m2, they will be very grateful for not seeing this fititious number again here.

      • Sam NC


        I don’t owe you or anyone any explanation at all of something I don’t myself see as very important or conclusive.

        Do you have that 324 thing set up as a macro, or cut and paste it?

        So far as I can tell, it’s made up the focus of the majority of your correspondence for much of the past 13 years.

        You demand explanations. You demand numbers. You demand convincing. You demand others spoon feed you and hand you your bottle and coddle you.

        That’s fine. Whatever.

        You take anything said by anyone on the topic that is not an attempt to mollify your infantilized demands — hypocritically, without an even standard of evidence equally applied both ways — as proof that you are right and excuse to let you out of the obligation of a skeptic to attempt and demonstrate the work yourself of your own counter case.

        You claim ipsedixitly over and over you have never been answered.

        It is clear you have been answered many times even only at Climate Etc. in ways that would require you to ask better, more thoughtful, more insightful questions by evolution of understanding if you were truly skeptical.

        You demonstrate some sort of 324 Challenge Big Lie.

        With this Trace CO2 meme, you repeat your Big Lie tactics.

        Why should anyone have patience with your habitual insult to our intelligence?

      • @Bart R,

        “I don’t owe you or anyone any explanation at all of something I don’t myself see as very important or conclusive.” Yes you do, I provided you with full explanation why this is not a fact, your pencil and paper is illogical example, beyond capable of reasoning.

        “Do you have that 324 thing set up as a macro, or cut and paste it?” This 324W/m2 is the most absurd number in the climate community for over 23 years and you believe it without questionini it the validity, you are obviously a gullible believer, lol.

        “So far as I can tell, it’s made up the focus of the majority of your correspondence for much of the past 13 years.” So far you are igoring that this 324W/m2 back radiation, you are ignorant not just gullible, lol.

        “You demand explanations. You demand numbers. You demand convincing. You demand others spoon feed you and hand you your bottle and coddle you.” Quite correct, you were not capable of doing anything I demanded, sad.

        “That’s fine. Whatever.” So you agreed, lol.

        “You take anything said by anyone on the topic that is not an attempt to mollify your infantilized demands ” That is an infantized statement you typically made in Climate Etc.

        ” hypocritically, without an even standard of evidence equally applied both ways —as proof that you are right” You choose to ignore my calculations. Thats your ignorant.

        “… and excuse to let you out of the obligation of a skeptic to attempt and demonstrate the work yourself of your own counter case.” Do I said I am a skeptic? No. They are equally ignorant in this 324W/m2 back radiation conception for over 13 years or actually more. Skeptics or AGWers are equally ignorant in this 324W/m2 back radiation and were incapable to clarify this trivial number and misled the general public for over 13 years.

        “You claim ipsedixitly over and over you have never been answered.” True, did anyone (in the whole climate community, AGWers or Deniers) provide any answer at all, none. Just ignorants throwing irrelevant links without actually reading the details of links themselves. Did you ever find a link that accounted for that 324W/m2 back radiation. The best they can do revolving around from gullible accepted 324W/m2 and making trivial adjustments without even questioning that 324W/m2 to suit their purposes. Sad climate community for over 13 years, wasting the public’s funds.

        “It is clear you have been answered many times” Not even once close to any answers. You made things up like K&T’s 324W/m2 back radiation.

        “even only at Climate Etc. in ways that would require you to ask better, more thoughtful, more insightful questions by evolution of understanding if you were truly skeptical.” You were not thoughtful and ignorant when providing an answer you thought as an answer. You did not even read those links other people provided. Your typical pen & paper is illogical example. I am not a skeptic nor an AGWer, I am a general tax payer demand to know why these crooks wasted mytax money producing garbage in formation.

        “You demonstrate some sort of 324 Challenge Big Lie. ” you cannot account for 324W/m2, big ignorant.

        “With this Trace CO2 meme, you repeat your Big Lie tactics.” Thats your big ignorant tactics.

        “Why should anyone have patience with your habitual insult to our intelligence?” Your intelligent is as good as incapable of accounted for the 324W/m2 back radiation and believe it.

        Do come back when you are capable account for the 324W/m2 back radiation, lol.

      • Sam NC

        I believe it?

        I haven’t questioned it?

        Why would you leap to those assumptions?

        What lazy thinking leads you there?

        Because you and your Big Lie find it convenient to forget that you did not maintain a logical argument on the pencil per square inch analogy is just more Big Lie.

        If you can deconstruct the pencil, do so for me. I’ve laid out that math – it is dog simple, mass over area.

        Another very kind skeptical poster has reproduced exactly my results on mass over area using a different method.

        Independent confirmation by mathematics that agree on different bases.

        I’ve laid out the evidence of spectroscopy, with links to credible sources. You can do the experiments yourself if you doubt their figures.

        I’ve laid out the optics. You can look out on a foggy day to a far landmark to confirm the optics argument for yourself.

        One. Two. Three. It’s that easy, and you did not refute an atom if it.

        Three. Two. Four. That’s your Straw Man. You’re so engaged to it we can expect wedding bells and little straw kids any day now.

        The only gullible here would be believing your disengenuous act.

        It’s stale.

        It’s gone off.

        It stinks.

        You’re still ranting about something almost 14 years later as if on the day it was first published.

        No development, no evolution.

        Branch out a bit.

        Question it with more insight.

        Question some specific part of it.

        Tell us what you’re really thinking in particular and in detail.

        Show these calculations, here and now, that you always claim you have made but somehow never ever fully lay out.

        Provide links to credible technical sources for the data you have.

        We won’t laugh at you for being honest about what exactly you mean when you slap down your 3:4 talking point.

        Unless it’s just a talking point, and that’s all.

        Unless it’s just a Big Lie.

        Then, I understand Dior has a new opening for someone just like you.

        Hold up your end, prove your claims, proportionally and validly meet the evidence you have been presented with anything more than Big Lie.

        If you do, I’ll give you a cracker.

      • Bart R,

        “I believe it?” Yes, you do.
        “I haven’t questioned it?” You never did.
        “Why would you leap to those assumptions?” You never question that 324W/m2 and you never question it.
        “What lazy thinking leads you there?” Yes, you were lazy and still are lazy.
        “Because you and your Big Lie find it convenient to forget that you did not maintain a logical argument on the pencil per square inch analogy is just more Big Lie.” Your pencil & paper was proven irrelevant.
        “If you can deconstruct the pencil, do so for me. I’ve laid out that math – it is dog simple, mass over area. ” No, you have a pencil over a paper which was non scientific, non engineering, non rational example … you were informed so many times, thats Bart R, here.
        “Another very kind skeptical poster has reproduced exactly my results on mass over area using a different method.
        Independent confirmation by mathematics that agree on different bases.” No he was helping you as you have no idea what the pencil and the paper mean anything in any relevancy of that 324W/m2 back radiation. If you still have any correlation, get it out and lets examine your correlation. I bet you can’t because a pencil and a paper is irrelevant to CO2 or 324W/m2 back radiation.
        “I’ve laid out the evidence of spectroscopy, with links to credible sources.” I have seen better spectroscopy results and H2O has many wavelengths (almost a complete spectrum of IR radiation) of absorption, CO2 has only a few wavelengths (14-16um) that are effective. As compared with H2O alone, CO2’s absorption is IR trivial and have trace effect on warming. I told you many times. How many times do I need to repeat myself. You were a bad student.
        “You can do the experiments yourself if you doubt their figures.” No they have to had data to support that 324W/m2 back radiation because it was an imaginary number, no one was able ever to prove it.
        “I’ve laid out the optics. You can look out on a foggy day to a far landmark to confirm the optics argument for yourself.
        One. Two. Three. It’s that easy, and you did not refute an atom if it.” What are you talking about? Another pencil & paper like example? Give me a break!
        “Three. Two. Four. That’s your Straw Man.” No, you are ignorant in this though you might have talent somewhere else, like, bs.
        “You’re so engaged to it we can expect wedding bells and little straw kids any day now.” See thats your talent, did you not this talent yourself?
        “The only gullible here would be believing your disengenuous act. ” I thought this applies to you 100%.
        “It’s stale.” Yes, 324W/m2 back radiation and your pencil and paper example.
        “It’s gone off. “Yes, 324W/m2 back radiation and your pencil and paper example.

        “It stinks.” Thats your talent again.
        “You’re still ranting about something almost 14 years later as if on the day it was first published. ” Yes the Sun was revolving the Earth for thousands of years before Galileo.
        “No development, no evolution.” So now you’ve made sense
        “Branch out a bit.” Why you prefer branch out like the pencil and paper example is beyond me.
        “Question it with more insight. ” You have not yet question that 324W/m2, lack of insight?
        “Question some specific part of it. ” So the account for the324W/m2 is not specific? Wow you are intelligent, then!
        “Tell us what you’re really thinking in particular and in detail.” I repeated many times here, I need that 324W/m2 to confirm existense of AGW hypothesis. If you cannot account for it, the climate community cannot account that 324W/m2 and the K&T cannot account for that magic number, then, its fititious, no AGW, just climate community’s CO2 fantasy.
        “Show these calculations, here and now, that you always claim you have made but somehow never ever fully lay out.
        Provide links to credible technical sources for the data you have.” The calculations were at the pencil and paper example that the guy/bloke wrote up the calculation for you and then my calculation followed. You were not paying attention, bad boy.
        “We won’t laugh at you for being honest about what exactly you mean when you slap down your 3:4 talking point.” I never doubt your honesty being a gullible AGWer. I only doubt that if you are capable of critical thinking of that 324W/m2. You might have the capability but evidently you did not pay attention.
        “Unless it’s just a talking point, and that’s all.” 324W/m2 back radiation is a talking point! You insulted K&T’s work in 1997, now I doubt you are really an AGWer!
        “Unless it’s just a Big Lie.” You think that 324W/m2 a Big Lie?
        “Then, I understand Dior has a new opening for someone just like you.” So you are all ears music now? Maybe thats causing your distraction. Pay attention, bad boy.
        “Hold up your end, prove your claims, proportionally and validly meet the evidence you have been presented with anything more than Big Lie.” I repeated many times, you need to pay attention to my calculations previously. Music all ears and years distracted you, won’t help you reasoning.
        “If you do, I’ll give you a cracker.” Keep it for yourself, you need it most.

      • In case anyone’s interested, here’s the thread we’re colleagially discussing like gentlemen:

        I appear to have missed one of Sam NC’s later posts in this very long (Feb. 17-22!) string of exchanges, his last to that thread, after some of the most patient and diligent posters to Climate Etc. gave up on Sam NC’s recidivism to his Big Lie tactics a day earlier.

        I’d believed that I had addressed all his questions about my particular pencil-per-square-inch-of-sky analogy completely, fairly, and logically before he took to his counterargument by assertion method so openly, and that I had answered too Willis Eschenback’s very nicely framed and correct questions about the details of my work.

        Sam NC’s non-optics questions, I left to others, and at the time affirmed I would not address them as they were irrelevant to my point.

        Are Sam NC’s questions important, and worth answering?


        I base this on the high quality and high number of answers he has received in the past, yet never acknowledges until closely questioned on in his claim that he has never had an answer.

        I feel for the guy and all, but, really, no more time for this sort of thing.

        If I’ve left any legitimate questions unaddressed about my pencil per square inch of sky metaphor, please let me know.

        Well, unless you’re Sam NC.

      • Interesting linked piece. You can see why they can’t go with the middle-0f-the-road aerosol ideas, which are that aerosols have already had a significant effect (global dimming), but can’t continue to increase their effect at the rate CO2 will.

      • Exactly.

      • Bart,
        What you forget to mention is that the NIPCC claim is about natural aerosols, while Lindzen’s is about human induced aerosols. That is not contradictory at all.

      • It is contradictory when one claims that aerosols have no net cooling effect whereas the other claims that the net cooling effect is greater than commonly thought.

        You’re right though that the NIPCC speculates that natural aerosol (precursor) emissions will come to the rescue (in the future), whereas Lindzen talks about the effects of past anthropogenic aerosol (precursor) emissions.

      • Except that most (all?) natural aerosols have a cooling effect, while human aerosols may be cooling (SO2) or warming (brown/black soot). Question is if the overall sign of human aerosols is cooling or warming…

      • To explain the difference in their position (net aerosol effect zero vs underestimated) by the warming effect of anthropogenic soot requires a ridiculously high positive forcing from soot.

        The details you bring to the table are valid, but they don’t change the fact that the respective positions of Lindzen and NIPCC are inconsistent with each other.

      • What I have read is that where brown/soot aerosols are involved, mostly India, the direct temperature effect is huge, besides soot on glaciers of the Himalayas, thus affecting albedo. The same for soot on (NH) polar ice sheets/glaciers. On the other side, the impact of human induced cooling (SO2) aerosols is highly overestimated, see my comment at RC, referenced a few comments down from here. Thus I am far from sure what the overall sign of human aerosols is.

      • JimD

        Adding anthropogenic aerosol effects to the equation, as you suggest, could be a good thing, but I think you’ll have to agree that these are less significant than natural effects (just look at the past decade, in which natural variability overwhelmed the record increase of CO2, according to the UK Met Office).

        One could get into the weeds here by putting in all the factors that could have a local or continental effect, but I believe that in the interest of keeping it simple and straightforward, it would make more sense to concentrate on the main factors. And natural forcing (or variability) is definitely one of these, despite the fact that it has been essentially overlooked by IPCC.

        But, hey, if you have a specific proposal, go ahead and make it, and let’s see what Judith says.


      • One explanation for the past decade is increasing cloud cover. The question of whether that is some kind of spontaneous natural effect, or haze from newly growing industrialization in Asia is an important one.

      • Jim D,

        First, you are mixing aerosols and global dimming, but there is no correlation between the two: 90% of human aerosols are emitted in the NH, but global dimming was a global phenomenon, also measured in Australia and Antarctica. That has probably more to do with cloud cover than with aerosols.
        Moreover, there was a huge shift in human aerosol production from reductions in Europe and North America to large increases in SE Asia, but the total human emissions increased until 2000 and remained about equal since then. In contrast, global dimming changed into global brightening around 1990. See: and especially the (free) online supplemental material with several graphs showing that even China, Singapore and Malaysia show brightening (with increasing SO2 emissions!), while India has not (brown aerosols?).

        Further, the influence of human aerosols is largely overestimated, and thus is the sensitivity for CO2, as both react in tandem. I have written some overview in the early days of RC, before the censor devil deleted about halve of my contributions there, although always on topic: comment #6.

        Main points:
        – Compared to the Pinatubo SO2 releases, human aerosols represent a maximum cooling of about 0.025 K.
        – The huge reduction in SO2 emissions in Europe and their short lifetime, should have had a huge impact on regional temperatures at the places of highest impact, but that isn’t observed
        – As 90% of the aerosols are emitted in the NH, the past increase in ocean heat content should be less for NH oceans than for SH oceans (if corrected for differences in area). The opposite is observed.
        – Aerosols over land in the free troposphere are mainly natural. Chemical transport models underestimate natural aerosols with a factor 2 at the boundary layer and up to 10-100 times in the free troposphere.

        For links, see the RC link given before.

  41. It seems to me that you can comment on various elements of climate science and the policy which it may breed without having level “1” credentials in climate science. For example, if a paper uses a statistical technique which is maladapted to the data being analyzed a non-climate scientist with a familiarity with that technique is certainly worth hearing from.

    Ceri Reid above makes the excellent point that

    If, on the other hand, as a person with other interests and a full-time job, you want to make your own assessment of climate science – since it’s in the news a lot & all that – you can restrict yourself to looking at one or two areas in that chain of reasoning.

    And this is particularly true as the conversation moves away from hard science issues such as radiative physics toward policy issues. In particular, while a climate scientist may be required to deliver the final word on the sensitivity issue, if that word turns out to be “1.5 degrees” there will be plenty of room for discussion as to what, if anything, is worth doing about such a result.

    Similarly, keeping good records in a retrievable form is not so terribly complicated. Nor is a PhD required to form a response to a discovery that records are less than perfect or “lost”. In fact these are not scientific questions at all but they underpin any science which purports to use temperature time series or which corrects for UHI effects based on Jones 90.

    We may not be able to achieve agreement on any but relatively trivial, if well settled, scientific issues; but I suspect that we can all agree that record custody is important. That full and clear disclosure of method is important. That peer review should not be about the suppression of the work of people with whom the reviewer has a political rather than scientific disagreement. That data and code should be archived at time of publication. That scientists working for government have a duty to obey the law and that includes Freedom of Information requests. That conflicts of interest should be fully disclosed.

    Agreement on these, non-scientific, basics would, I suspect, go a long way to restoring the reputation of climate science as a legitimate discipline.

  42. Epistemic Level 3.

    This is my first post here, although I have been lurking for months – daily reading nearly everything, here and elsewhere, both warmist and skeptical.

    I have a couple of questions I would like to prevail on the level 1 or 2er’s here if they would be so kind.

    Before I continue, some background which is relevant but feel free to skip:

    I initially got involved in trawling the blogs in order to challenge my fathers skepticism. He is a retired engineer and followed Climate Audit for a long time. Through CA, he felt that assertions made on AGW were not warranted by the voracity of the evidence. I of course invoked the precautionary principle, was aware of the work of Jarod Diamond and am strongly inclined to the left in my politics.

    However the more I read, weighing up the competing arguments, I found that the scientific skepticism of the AGW orthodoxy presented better, and was more compelling. I regard myself as the sort of “punter” who should be easy to convince given sound arguments and good evidence, but the nature of the argument from climatologists on the CAGW side that dismisses the uncertainties and (genuine) skeptical arguments out of hand, leaves me distrustful of their judgement. Which isn’t the same as saying they are wrong…

    To my questions:

    1. The great duality in the debate is Man vs Nature. Variability versus Anthropogenic GHG. What I would like is some quantification in percentage terms recent rise in temperature. How much of it was natural variability, how much Anthropogenic forcing?

    To do that it must mean there should be some idea of what the climate should be like if we weren’t around to influence it. Would it be possible to look at the instrumental record, look at the greatest degree of variation over 10 or 20 year period and use that as a maximum natural trend line, which we could subtract from the most recent maximum increase in warming? The difference implying that it’s us.

    That way I would get a proportional representation of the difference between variability and anthropogenic forcing that I could understand. I just don’t have the skills to do it myself I think.

    From there it might say something about climate sensitivity in the past. The discussion between Fred Moolten and Kai in previous posts regarding sensitivity if the MWP had been warmer than now, was extremely interesting. Surely if sensitivity was high, then the last 10-15 years of relatively flat trend would not be possible, OR it may say something about the proportion of variability against Anthro FX, since CO2 levels have continued to rise?

    2. My problem with the suggestion that current warming is extreme and alarming also stems from the previously natural differences in climate. Occasionally the Malankovich cycle is invoked which I understand (roughly), but doesn’t really explain short burst of warming and cooling such as the LIA and Roman (and possibly) MWP. If we don’t know what mechanisms caused those changes, how can we be sure that a large part of the warming we are experiencing in modern times is not caused by the same, as yet undetermined mechanism?

    I am sure that these things have been discussed a lot at level 1, and I have encountered some novel theories here and there but this is not really discussed/debated very much generally. If they have I have missed them. I would love to hear more about; “The Things That Might Have Been Missed”. :-)

    3. I have always wanted to know this, but I’m afraid it is a stupid question:
    When you guys talk about temperature, how is it recorded? Do you take the maximum and minimum temperature each day and average them? Or are they taken every minute and then averaged? The reason I ask is I wonder about the density and measurements (because obviously a days temperature may look like a thin bell or a flat bell) and whether the same is done at every station and whether this matters at all.

    • A thoughtful and intelligent comment – a real rarity on this thread. Your story matches that of many others (see the denizens thread).
      1. Many climate scientists would claim that over half of the recent warming is man-made, but many people at levels 1 and 2 dispute this. Claims that recent warming is unprecendented have been refuted, most recently by professional statisticians McShane and Wyner. It is easy to see just looking at the graphs, that the warming 1970-2000 is no greater than that from 1910-1940. Again, many climate scientists would claim that one can be explained by natural variations but the other can’t, and again many of us level 1-2’s regard this claim with skepticism.
      As you say, the last 10+ years are a problem for those who claim man-made CO2 is the dominant effect.
      2. Yes, again, good question. Complicated systems like weather and climate can fluctuate in an irregular way without each variation having a specific ’cause’ – see the spatio-temporal chaos thread.
      3. Yes there are different ways of doing it but usually it is an average of a daily max/min. But these temps are subjected to a large number of adjustments which tend to introduce a net warming effect. Also the data used by the IPCC is produced by Phil “hide the decline” Jones, which raises further doubts, hence the new Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.

      • Thankyou for your reply. If I could pester you a little more….

        1. I am aware of and actually have skimmed the McShane and Wyner paper. I have read some rebuttals and can only assess their relative merits based on my the character, not the substance of the replies. That they tended to be dismissive rather than exploratory leads me to feel suspicious. (This is why I am enjoying our host Dr Curry so much; she actively explores the uncertainties, even giving time to radical hypotheses such as the “Sky Dragon” that she strongly disagrees with. This to me is a sign of some one not ruling anything out and taking us, the great unwashed, with her. I can understand her reasoning, and her willingness to consider all views and possibly change her own despite the hostility she faces in her profession, makes me feel more confident that in her judgement – that’s based on the evidence presented to her rather a pre-existing bias.)

        “the warming 1970-2000 is no greater than that from 1910-1940. Again, many climate scientists would claim that one can be explained by natural variations but the other can’t”

        Well that would be fine if there was a mechanism to invoke the earlier warming that wasn’t present now. I’m aware of the arguments about the instrumental temperature record and I do find them somewhat compelling. That they are looking at the anomolies – ie the trend from year to year is fine – I understand that is the more important point, but all the same in the light of the evidence of their poor quality and distribution I would hate to part with money based on that alone.

        So if it is 50% man made forcing, what does it say about climate sensitivity since CO2 has been increasing during a period of almost zero trend? I need help to understand this…hence posting.

        If the argument is that the MWP shows the climate to be more sensitive (I can just about understand that reasoning although Kai’s counter about non-linearity in feedbacks impressed me) then how does that tally with the divergence of CO2 increase and temperature? Is it possible that CO2 forcing wiped out what should have been a period of cooling from other climate drivers? If so what were those other factors in total? It sort of flies in the face of CO2 being as dominant as I feel I have been lead to believe.

        2. “see the spatio-temporal chaos thread” I’ll check that – thank you. It’s one of the few I haven’t read. I was really thinking about climate fluctuations on a 100-year scale such as warm optimums and cold minimum’s, rather than variability within the 100-year timescale. Perhaps that’s dealt with there….

        3. I feel really naive on this point; Is it really ok just to take a maximum and a minimum and average them together do you think? I know in Perth WA where I grew up, really hot days were caused by cooler inland desert. The temperature may not necessarily peak to be very high, but the lack of sea breeze kept the average day temperature very high. By contrast, normally when the desert heated it cooled the coastal temperatures by sucking cooler sea air starting about 11am-1pm so we might have a very short peak of over 40C. Likewise, the cold desert at night could give us pretty cool minimum temps as well (easterlies). I just wonder how representative averaging a minimum and maximum. I am sure this has been considered, but I wondered how it was done.

        Thanks for the link btw. I am aware that certain homogenisation processes and statistical ‘in-filling’ of missing data. This sort of thing cuts to the heart of Judith’s comment regarding convincing level 2 and 3er’s. I feel pretty uneasy about the potential for bias, over-confidence and errors about doing this sort of thing to already suspect data, and with everything else taken into consideration I am not prepared to take it on ‘faith’. With legitimate and plausible skepticism about this, I simply have one persons word against another. I feel like a better job should be done to convince me that it is sufficiently reliable – that ‘due-diligence’ has been taken as Steve McIntyre might put it. Otherwise it’s just level 1ers talking amongst themselves.

      • Gary Mirada


        if you want a good insight of how non-scientific the whole surface temperature charade is try musings by the Chiefio – E M Smith. Google it. Hours of fun!


    • Agnostic,

      You may like to read:

      Above link is a contribution from Girma.

  43. Zeke – Thank you for your feedback.

    Regarding your comment

    “….the majority of the public and policy makers that I’m aware of live on the surface”, this is, of course, certainly correct. However, the public and policy makers are directly affected by their local temperature and humidity. An annual average global surface temperature anomaly is inadequate as it is so far disconnected from the temperatures that we actually experience.

    Secondly, the “global annual average climate system heat anomaly” is measurable as reported by Hansen (see and myself (e.g. see

    Third, the climate forcings are never a constant. The annual cycle results in large monthly variations in the heat content of the climate system (e.g. see The longer term temporal variations in human and natural forcings are less understood, but is clearly not a constant either. In fact, these forcings on the time scale of decades is smaller than the global average intrannual forcing as shown in .

    • Roger – I have a sense we’ve seen this discussion before a number of times. OHC as a metric is certainly valuable, as you have reminded us, but weakened by problems of sampling, measurement accuracy, and change in technology over time. Surface measurements are more relevant to our daily lives, but represent a far smaller slice of the overall heat budget. These approaches are complementary, and should be expected to reinforce each other over sufficiently long intervals. During shorter intervals, they are likely to agree less due to different sources of variation.

      I’m not sure that comparing intra-annual global temperature variation with long term trends is particularly meaningful. Much of the variation simply reflects the greater land mass of the Northern Hemisphere, with additional contributions from seasonal change in Earth/sun geometry and ice/albedo effects as mentioned by Ellis et al. It is therefore theoretically conceivable for seasonal variation to be large even if all temperature anomalies at every location from one year to the next are exactly zero.

    • Joe Lalonde


      Do you not find it strange that what you are measuring to the planets age is less than .0001% in that time line?

    • And even if the forcings were constant, there is no reason to believe that the climate would be.

  44. Stephen Rasey

    On the subject of “Disagreed Disagreement”…
    I am uncomfortable with Zeke’s questions on Agreeing(?) Part 1. in several respects.

    First, I believe there are some very important questions that are completely missing from Zeke’s list. I suggest a blog topic be devoted to identifying those issues — a brainstorming session where debate, argument, and defense are deferred and getting the question right is more important. Nothing controls a debate more than controling the questions on the table. There should be more question on the table.

    Here are just two examples of missing questions:
    A. Assuming that CO2 increases cause a 1degC increase in global average temperature, How would we expect it to manifest itself?
    1. Uniformly?
    2. More at the Poles? More at Mid Latitudes, More in the tropics?
    3. North and south hemisphere equally?
    4. Effects on Summers and winters equal?, More warming of winter? Or summer?
    5. Nights get more warming than Days? Days more than nights? Equal?

    B. Assuming that CO2 increases cause a 1degC increase in global average temperature,
    1. what percent of the worlds human population would welcome the net effects?
    2. What percent of the world’s human population would not notice the change?
    3. What percent of the world’s human population would dislike the change?
    3b. and what would be the level of compensation where they would be indifferent?
    (I think 3b is a fair question considering what was on the table at Kyoto and Copenhagen that implied trillions paid by billions.).

    Second. Far too many of Zeke’s points, and JC’s replies, were qualitative, yet superficially labeled with a confidence label. This, more than anything else made me cease my lurking. If you are going to throw around confidence and probabilities, then make quantifiable (or universal) statements that can be tested with the possibility of falsification.

    Third. I am really uncomfortable with Zeke’s approach to categorizing questions by levels of confidence.

    Maybe variable confidence ranges are common in your science. Not in mine. In the oil exploration business, we deal with uncertainty all the time, but for 35+ years the standard practice is to lock down the confidence range and estimate the range of uncertainty (with an implied distribution), such as a P90-P10 range of a lognormal distribution. (Sorry, in the O&G world P90 is the small number, P10 is the big on… long story.). When you think about it, estimating the confidence level and the uncertainty range for the quantity under question is literally doubly confusing. Lock the confidence interval down, then debate the range.

    Also, I don’t think you can, nor should, get away with saying a range, say for climate sensitivity is 1.5 to 4.5 , even if it is an 80% confidence (P90-P10). I think best practice would be to use a P90-P50-P10 so that you can explicitly state the median point. For instance using 1.5 to 4.5 kind of implies a P50 of 3. But if it was lognormal, and the vociferous objection to any possibility it could be <= 0 would argue lognormal instead of normal, then the distribution would be 1.5-2.6-4.5. And you then you face the Peer Review [we have them too.] question, “So you think the P99 is as high as 0.96? There is less than a 1/100 chance it is less than 0.95? ”

    Fourth and finally, our in our practice we very much try to avoid the trap of “anchoring”. That is the natural trait to adjust an existing number proposed by someone else, rather than independently coming up with your own. Ideally, each peer independently estimates the necessary parameters. They cannot help but be anchored by their own experience, but by committing their estimates in private and then open discussion, anchoring is diluted.

    In fact, in the best exploration peer reviews, the outliers get the greatest debate: someone saw something they either misunderstood or everyone else missed! Extreme estimates are not dismissed, they are challenged and defended. “Why is your P10 Area so small?” “Because you don’t have enough overburden to get the seal capacity you want for a larger area and taller column.” (I remember that one well.)

    Hey, I’m just an outsider here, but I see this business of the range of Climate Sensitivity as a textbook case of anchoring. In 1979 Manabe had a model that said “2”, Hansen said “4”, Charney split the different, added some error bars and presto: 1.5 to 4.5. [1] Everyone happy? In thirty years of study, has it narrowed much?

    (Yea, I know it is Wikipedia. But this is trustworthy because there have been only seven edits to this article since William Connolley brought so much quality and objectivity to Wiki during his stint as editor.)

    • Bruce Stewart

      Anchoring – not a bad choice of word to describe Kelly’s “tendency of beliefs to serve as agents in their own confirmation.”

      Re Manabe and Hansen, I would only add that the first ice core data, misunderstood as showing CO2 driving temperature (instead of the other way around), sealed the deal.

      • Bruce Stewart,
        “… as showing CO2 driving temperature (instead of the other way around), …”
        Neither is correct if there is no theory or mechanism to back them up in a still “don’t know” situation.

      • Bruce Stewart

        Mechanism for ocean temperature driving CO2 is well known to oceanographers and is well accepted, e.g.

        Simulating low frequency changes in atmospheric CO2 during the last 740 000 years
        P. K¨ohler and H. Fischer
        Clim. Past, 2, 57-78, 2006

        from the Abstract:
        We here use dust and the isotopic temperature proxy deuterium (D) from the EPICA Dome C Antarctic ice core covering the last 740 kyr together with other paleo-climatic records to force the ocean/atmosphere/biosphere box model of the global carbon cycle BICYCLE in a forward mode over this time in order to reconstruct the natural variability of pCO2.

        (Note this is the wording of the submitted manuscript; the version accepted has the phrase “dust and the isotopic temperature proxy deuterium” replaced by “various paleo-climatic records “: more concise but less informative.)

        Note that the journal is open access.

      • Bruce Stewart

        The funky symbol before the D should be a Greek lower case delta.

      • &delta; = δ

      • Bruce Stewart,
        Thanks for the link to the paper and also the discussion paper.
        I have not yet gone thru these 2 papers. As I skimmed thru the paper, no theoretical mechanism of temperature driving CO2 levels in atmospere. All I have seen from the graphs are CO2 in atmosphere is in phase with Carbon in terrestrial and out of phase with total carbon. I am confused and the temperature did not seem to have any place.

        Perhaps, you may like to correct me.

    • Latimer Alder

      And could I point out also that thirty years of climatology hasn’t come up with anything much different for the temperature rise due to increasing CO2 from Arrhenius in 1906/7. You can plot it in graph paper with a ruler and a pencil and get just as good a result as with all of today’s models.

      The field of ‘climatology’ has all been a complete waste of time, effort and money. Nothing interesting or new has been learnt in thirty years. Even the MWP, known about by historians since it happened 600 or 700 years ago is gradually being reinstated into the ‘agreed narrative’ among climatologists.

  45. A cartoon by Josh? That settles it, I guess. Can’t beat that durn Josh, he’s a whiz at this climate science. Yessirreeee. A real whiz.

  46. If anyone disagrees with the consensus, The Carbon Brief offer instan rebuttals.. Seriously what hope is there for a debate.

    I wonder what their thoughts on Judith Curry will be.

    The Carbon Brief’s thoughts on the Freeman Dyson ‘climate heretic’ interview in the Independent

    Verity wont’put her full name to the article.
    (EU NGO PR/Media team funded by Europe Climate Foundation – goal is 85-95% reduction CO2 by 2050)

  47. Craig Loehle

    On the question of outside –climate technical/literate people being critics (where it is asserted many times that they have no right to have an opinion): If a statistician sees absurd uses of statistics in a critical area like the hockey stick (to “make up” an example), and no one seems to be disturbed by this, it suggests a deeper problem of competence, collaboration, and reasoning ability. If Harry_Readme reads as it does, it does not inspire confidence in the end product. If people like Gavin want to assert that a wider spread of models means more confidence in “consistent with” the tropical tropospheric hot spot, then such people may wonder eh? what? What sort of logic is that? If the input historical data for sulfate aerosol effects into GCMs is an obviously fake function (check it out) with no audit trail, then…well, you get the idea. All these things suggest casual rather than rigorous reasoning, exploratory rather than reliable science, advocacy rather than hard science. Which casts doubt on the entire enterprise. I have mentioned before the almost complete lack of any engineers that I have seen defending AGW, and this sort of thing may help explain why. While not an engineer myself, my field is also applied (Forestry/nat resource mgt and modeling), and I also focus on practicality and the details.

    • Joe Lalonde


      Your right. Science has gone on the concept that this planet was simple and generalized science to follow. Only when you really try to breakdown all the different energies and the physical evidence that is missed do you find how actually hugely complex it is. But like a politician, climate science committed itself to the science and physics of the time to strictly follow temperatures with no concern that temperatures are not climatic event. Only a recorded air temperature over an extremely small period of this planets life time so far.

    • the almost complete lack of any engineers that I have seen defending AGW

      Um yeah, except for the report prepared by the National Academy of Engineering’s research arm.

      Lot of high-powered engineers on that panel, including the head of Boeing’s Phantom Works and lead engineer on the B-2.

  48. Judith,

    I disagree.

    In fact, climate scientists are convincing level 2′s and also level 3′s – those reading the primary literature, and analyzing data.

    Most level 1’s, 2’s and 3’s understand that the IPCC (U.N.) framework guides but does not control international decision-making. And that domestic decision-making by both government and business is based on homegrown science.

    In the U.S., major science and policy institutions are independent of the IPCC. NRC/NAS has been transparent about past industry ties that might have biased their reports, and is now providing leadership for best practices in science. It has reviewed the science.

    Your homegrown science knowledge in the U.S. affirms both IPCC science and policy recommendations using its own panel of experts, not the IPCC’s, in both science and policymaking:

    (For people who have too much free time and like to spend it shadowboxing, WWF is not the point. The link offer an accurate summary for anyone who does not wish to actually read the full reports.)

    In your country, as in most, climate change related policy formation is done by multidisciplinary panels of level 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s that understand many things, including scientific uncertainties and economics.

    Just staying in your own country, never mind the rest of the world – the U.S. already has some relatively strong domestic policies on climate change, in the commercial, agriculture, housing and energy sectors, with voluntary multilateral and bilateral agreements in place to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The U.S. also has some voluntary bilateral and multilateral agreements in place in response to both commercial and humanitarian concerns.

    Industry delayed many aspects of domestic policymaking, and that is well documented; but it has not ignored climate change, and this also well documented. They, too, employ independent scientists and panels of multidisciplinary experts who have the capacity to review and evaluate science, economics, and the social context. To remain competitive, big companies need to remain realistic about the future. Many corporate giants have developed climate change related policies. It is not only good PR that assumes an informed citizenry; it represents the knowledge base (level 1’s, 2’s and 3’s) employed by these companies.

    Taken all together, in both the private and public sectors, it is strong evidence that level 2’s and 3’s with any accountability for decisionmaking (as opposed to personal opinion posted on a blog) are increasingly convinced.

    • Martha, there are a heck of alot of skeptical 2’s and 3’s that hang out at Climate Etc., Climate Audit, the Air Vent, etc. There aren’t all that many 2’s and 3’s (as I describe them, who put alot of effort into investigating this topic) that are decision makers. Some of the skeptical people posting here are in decision making positions. Many decision makers (in public and private sectors) have decided that it is good policy to deal with climate related issues (this does not necessarily make them 2’s or 3’s). Some of the skeptical 2’s and 3’s are environmentalists. All this still doesn’t mean that the IPCC confidence levels in the science are appropriate and justified by the scientific evidence. It is this latter point, justification of the science by evidence, that is my concern and interest.

      • “There aren’t all that many 2′s and 3′s (as I describe them, who put alot of effort into investigating this topic) that are decision makers.”

        Maybe you’re right. I’m wondering on what basis you make such a sweeping dismissal of the quality and nature of the effort of scientists, economists, business stakeholders, civic organizations, government representatives, etc., that work together to make policy.

        “All this still doesn’t mean that the IPCC confidence levels in the science are appropriate and justified by the scientific evidence. It is this latter point, justification of the science by evidence, that is my concern”

        I am not clear what it is about NRC (not the IPCC) that you feel prevents it from having a confidence level justified in the scientific evidence, and sufficient self-consciousness based in skills for critical analysis. You recommend NRC/NAS guidelines for best practice, yet you feel their recommendations are not a rational response based in the science. Can you tell me why?

      • What might be interesting to the “denizens” is that the NRC is the research arm of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering. This is a report that was prepared and approved by some of the most eminent members of the engineering profession.

        For the commenters who say things like “I would certainly have more faith in the opinion of a relevantly qualified and experienced engineer who has studied climate science literature, rather than a career academic in that field,” here ya go.

      • The link you provided parrots the IPCC in most cases.
        See e.g.

        It is NOT an engineering quality assesment of e.g. the influence of aerosols and their impact on the sensitivity for CO2. Neither a discussion on sensitivity/feedbacks in general.
        But it has interesting items, like the graph of impact from temperature on mortality:

      • Right, so if the IPCC and an independent panel of the nation’s scientists and engineers come to the same conclusions, that can only be because the IPCC is corrupt, right?

        Someday, someone may be able to explain to me how proceeding from the conclusion to the evidence came to be called “skepticism” in the early 21st century.

      • PDA, as a retired engineer, I am skeptical to anything said by both sides of the fence, until I am satisfied with the explanations of what they did, what they found and how they reached their conclusions.

        In the case of aerosols, I am not satisfied at all (even the IPCC says that the impact of aerosols has low confidence). But a huge difference in aerosol forcing has a huge impact on the sensitivity of CO2 and other GHGs, because aerosols and GHGs are closely opposite linked to the 1945-1975 cooling episode in all GCMs. Without aerosols, no cooling (the GCM’s don’t reflect any natural internal cooling like the negative PDO in that period).
        See the difference between a high impact (as implemented in GCM’s) and a low impact of aerosols:
        One can simply halve the impact of CO2, and still reproduce the previous century by assuming a lower forcing from aerosols. That has consequences for the future “projections” too.

        The same aerosol – climate sensitivity tandem was discussed at RC some years ago:

    • Martha,
      “… the IPCC (U.N.) framework guides but does not control international decision-making. And that domestic decision-making by both government and business is based on homegrown science.”
      Beaucrats will not shoulder any responsibilities of their decisions in case anything goes wrong. They will be glad to be misled by IPCC and no regret for wasting the public funds. They cannot shoulder any responsibility in climate policy.

      • Hey, Sam. :-)

        I don’t disagree with you about the tendencies of highly bureaucratized decision-making, or the need for accountability.

        But decision-making is not limited to top-down bureaucrats, and neither is accountability (or lack of it).

        1) In the U.S. and many other countries, public policy is increasingly required to be a more broadly engaged activity of multidisciplinary investigation and research, and decision-making that is influenced by civic knowledge and engagement. A smart public supports smart processes and demands smart decisions.

        2) Responding to climate change risk, and mitigation, is something that not only government and business, but also the public, are responsible for. Business wants to be profitable in a changing world that increasingly knows about sustainability; government, especially in some type of democratic party system, wants to stay in power (if nothing else) and must maintain legitimacy for its decisions to do so; and the public wants to ensure the basics, of access to adequate food, clean water, and livelihood, for future generations. Since those most negatively impacted, and with the fewest resources to cope, will suffer the most, there may be more responsibility, at least initially, on the part of developed economies to show leadership and possibly assist others.

        So, I think there is probably plenty of accountability, to go around.

      • Martha,

        “A smart public supports smart processes and demands smart decisions.”
        No doubt that Al Gore, James Hansen, Michael Mann … are smart in getting NASA, NOAA, AMS, AGW climate articles published and the influence of the mass media propaganda reaching the general public in believing in the AGW hypothesis. Politicians are smart people know the smart process well to make smart decisions which do not need the truth of science or non-science part, especially the climate policy.

      • Martha,

        You speak my language and you are an insider.

    • “Most level 1′s, 2’s and 3’s understand that the IPCC (U.N.) framework guides but does not control international decision-making. And that domestic decision-making by both government and business is based on homegrown science.”

      I find this a mischaracterization. Context is everything in decision making, and the UN / IPCC framework attempts to control context. It’s a trivial point that nobody controls the decision making process except the decision makers. If I told you someone was behind you with a baseball bat, you may make one decision. If I told you Derek Jeter was behind you with an autographed bat, you’d probably make another.

      As for the reports underlying your link, this isn’t homegrown or science. They take the IPCC AR4 as a starting point.

      • Harold,
        “It’s a trivial point that nobody controls the decision making process except the decision makers”
        I didn’t make anything like such a point. Etc., with most of the rest of your comment.

        “They take the IPCC AR4 as a starting point”
        Correction: they take the scientific literature (on climate observing, models, research, etc.) as the starting point.

        And they include research papers that came after AR4 (several years of new science).

        Your apparent assumption that the majority of thousands of climate science papers are conducted under IPCC ‘control’ of the ‘context’ and that the majority of NAS scientists are unable to critically assess this context and arrive at objective assessments of research (or policy options) in the interests of science and public and federal accountability, requires some explanation. But maybe you’re right. Stranger things have happened.

        I hope you will explain this remarkable state of affairs.

      • “Your apparent assumption that the majority of thousands of climate science papers are conducted under IPCC ‘control’ of the ‘context’ and that the majority of NAS scientists are unable to critically assess this context and arrive at objective assessments of research (or policy options) in the interests of science and public and federal accountability, requires some explanation. But maybe you’re right. Stranger things have happened.”

        There was no majority of NAS scientists involved in the technical part of climate science. They didn’t assess all the literature. They did an update of what came before – pretty hard to come up with something much different.

  49. The Berkely project and Judith Curry get a mention at the Carbon Brief

    an inevitable linking to Koch brothers.

    They make this statement:

    “Given the team’s ambition and the reams of data they will be working with, it’s surprising that not one qualified climate scientist has been employed to oversee the analysis closely.”
    “Judith Curry is the only climatologist named as taking part in the study and she has stated that her role in far from central. She said on her blog: “I’m not exactly sure what my originally intended role in this was…. As they have begun analyzing the data, I have completely refrained from commenting on the process or preliminary results”.

    Judith Curry is a controversial figure, known best for testifying to US congress as a Republican witness on climate science. Curry holds the view that doubt and natural variability make it hard to anticipate whether C02 is responsible for climate change, an opinion also shared by the oil industry.”

    paid PR media profesionals at work, spot the oil link/smear/innuendo


    • Barry,

      Have you figured out the 324W/m2 back radiation yet? If yes, please provide a detail account, tia.

      • What does that have to do with the article I linked…..
        typical distraction technique.. well done for making it so obvious.

      • Barry Woods,

        So you admit you don’t know anything about that 324W/m2 back radiation from K&T’s 1997 Global Annual Mean Energy Budget which has misled the general public and the climate community for over a decade. Poor understanding of AGW hypothesis.

      • Latimer Alder

        Hey Sam

        I admit it too. Your point being?

      • Latimer,

        If you have a copy of the Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget (1997) at your hand 342W/m2 is the incoming Solar Radiation and within this 342W/m2 Solar Radiation 77W/m2 reflected by the clouds to the space, 30W/m2 reflected by the Earth Surface to the space. The best the atmospheric gases can absorb is 342-77-30=235W/m2 assuming that IR radiation does not pass thru the transparent sky. (Modtran3 v1.3 is at flawed with 260.12W/m2 at 300ppm CO2). You will immediately noticed that the 324W/m2 back radiation is a fabricated number if there is no account for where this magic number comes from. AGW hypothesis based on this magic number that GHG have absorbed and back radiated to the Earth and AGWers believe blindly there is such a back radiation number, i.e. misled. If the AGW community or the climate community can account for the 324W/m2 back radiation, I will be glad to be corrected.

      • Latimer Alder


        See Table 2 in the paper. and related discussion. It is derived there. 278 +46 =324 ==> supposed radiative energy from sky to earth on a cloudy day.

        I do not propose to nominate the authors for the ‘Clear Writing to be Clearly Understood’ prize for 2011. But it is there if you look hard enough.

        So now you know.

      • Barry Woods,

        Not playing, its a serious question if you can account for that 324W/m2.

      • Latimer,
        “See Table 2 in the paper. and related discussion. It is derived there. 278 +46 =324 ==> supposed radiative energy from sky to earth on a cloudy day”
        My version of the article did not have any discussion about this radiative energy. Can you link to that discussion? Besides, a cloudy day at a particular spot cannot be construe to be “Global”, “Annual” and “Mean”, kind of cherry picking to me. Will really be glad to be corrected.

      • Latimer Alder

        You’ll need to take up the detail with the authors, not me.

        I typed

        Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget

        into Google and downloaded the whole article from the link at psu. 3rd one on my list of google hits.

      • Latimer,
        “You’ll need to take up the detail with the authors, not me. ”
        I did not see any discussion about that 278W/m2 or the 46W/m2 were accounted in the AMS article.
        You believe in 278W/m2 clear sky back radiation without critically analysed it whether it had any sound basis of these data that makes you a gullible no better than any AGWers or deniers. Correct me if I am wrong.

      • Latimer Alder

        I make no judgment at all about it. I profoundly don;t care one way or another. You have been wittering on about this for so long that we are losing patience with it. So out of the goodness of my heart I showed you where the reference came from.

        I do not endorse it; I do not not endorse it. I merely point out that it is discussed in Table 2 and the accompanying discussion.

        A street scene

        Sam: Hi dude. Do you know the way to San Jose?

        Latimer : Hi stranger. Yes its a song by Bacharach and David

        Sam: You must know that San Jose is a dreadful sink of iniquity and depravity. And you even know a song about it. You too must be an evil sinner! To the fires of hell with you!

        Latimer: No, I just have an album by Dionne Warwick. Now b…r off!

      • Latimer,

        “Now b…r off!”

        Now I understand and know you, lol.

      • Sam NC:324 W/m2::Oliver:Iron Sun

      • PDA,
        “Sam NC:324 W/m2::Oliver:Iron Sun”
        So, your point being?

      • PDA,

        You mean AGWers 324W/m2 Vs Iron Sun. Have you figure out how K&T get this magic number 324W/m2 back radiation yet?

      • It’s the standard form of depicting an analogy: “Sam NC is to 324W/m2 as Oliver Manuel is to Iron Sun.”

        My implication was that people find it tiresome when you make the same comment over and over again, regardless of context.

        Kind regards,
        Paul Daniel Ash
        Never Worked at NASA

      • PDA,
        “My implication was that people find it tiresome when you make the same comment over and over again, regardless of context.”
        If you find tiresome about that 324W/m2, why don’t you give an account of that 324W/m2, because you don’t know.

      • Latimer Alder

        @Sam NC

        Just read the frigging paper and address your concerns to the authors. It is not our problem that you couldn’t find it. Nor that it was badly written (if indeed it is).

      • Latimer,

        “Just read the frigging paper and address your concerns to the authors. It is not our problem that you couldn’t find it. Nor that it was badly written (if indeed it is).”
        So wishy washy here and thats not you from what I have read from from all your other responses. Its the key whether AGW hypothesis is sound or completely garbage.
        I am not a memebr of the AMS nor a climate community member. I will not be able to clarify with them. If you and anyone, AGWer or Denier can get these persons here, will be nice to ask them directly. I will bet 50 quids (or US$80) they will not dare to face the challenge of explaining that 324W/m2 here.

      • Latimer Alder


        For the first – and maybe the last time – we are in complete agreement :-)

        Latimer S Alder
        Not worked at NASA either

      • Latimer,
        “For the first – and maybe the last time – we are in complete agreement ”
        Could be your worst agreement in your entire life, lol.

      • Could be your worst agreement in your entire life, lol.

        (cue scary music)

        “The Laughing Out Loud Killer strikes again!”

      • @pda,

        I was laughing at the understanding of 324W/m2 back radiation and apparently you did not appreciate and wasn’t killed by my 324W/m2 clarification with you. Nice understanding of AGW hypothesis, both of you. Perhaps, now you can learn from Latimer, use music, whenever I write to clarify that 324W/m2 back radiation with someone, to cover your ears or really should be eyes.

      • What are you playing at.. that sort of game is what I’m complaining about, with respect to The Carbon Brief.

      • that was directed at Sam NC

      • Barry Woods,
        My response was here:
        I don’t know why it got there.
        “The Carbon Brief”! A propaganda needs not to be taken seriously. You do need to be serious about the about the understanding of 324W/m2 back radiation.

    • How about Novim, Bill Gates & DOE?

      For the time being, Muller’s project is organised under the auspices of Novim, a Santa Barbara-based non-profit organisation that uses science to find answers to the most pressing issues facing society and to publish them “without advocacy or agenda”. Funding has come from a variety of places, including the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (funded by Bill Gates), and the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab. One donor has had some climate bloggers up in arms: the man behind the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation owns, with his brother David, Koch Industries, a company Greenpeace called a “kingpin of climate science denial”. On this point, Muller says the project has taken money from right and left alike.

      Where does government funding comes from? Do governments refuse to collect tax from a certain individual or company? NEVER!

      How irrational!

    • The well poisoning of the Berkely project by the AGW promotion industry makes me think it will be a really good study.

  50. As usual the Devil is in the details and/or the details are Devilish.
    CO2 is an atmospheric gas: agreed
    CO2 is subject to the same constraints as other atmospheric gases, namely, it follows the Ideal Gas Equation: Standard Pressure, Volume, Temperature: agreed.
    CO2 influences the other atmospheric gases proportional to its concentration; ie, 390 ppmv.
    Argon is more abundant at 9340 ppmv or 20 times more abundant than CO2.
    Water vapor, on a cloudless sunny equatorial day, at least within the first 2 meters of the ocean surface is 100% saturated: 60,000 ppmv or 150 times more abundant than CO2.
    Oxygen at STP is 209,000 ppmv or 500 times as abundant as CO2.
    Nitrogen at STP is 780,000 ppmv or 2000 times as abundant as CO2.
    According to the Ideal Gas Laws, CO2’s thermal influence on the more abundant atmospheric gases, Argon, Oxygen & Nitrogen is through mechanical interaction; very very small.
    The influence of CO2 on Water Vapor is in the postulate stage.
    The quantitative science that CO2 is the Atmospheric thermal driver, and that CO2 is the finger on the Thermodynamic trigger, is, well…trace.

    • RiHo08,
      The Climate Community does not know all these physical properties. All they know is some imaginary 324W/m2 GHG back radiation and CO2 is myterious having 1/3 of the total surface IR radiation involved whereas CO2 is only efficient at 14~15um IR radiation. K&T’s 1997 Global Annual Mean Energy Budget is just beyond believe on radiation numbers for over a decade like that they cannot do add and subtract properly even a grade 4 student does better.

  51. I can not for the life of me understand how AGW has not been rejected long ago!

    Any scientists or engineer who sees the following data will reject it immediately.

    Global Mean Temperature Pattern:

    Ocean Cyclic Pattern:

    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

    • Thanks, Girma, for posting experimental data.

      Of course, AGW is totally immune to observations, just as AGW promoters claim Earth’s climate is totally immune to Earth’s heat source – the Sun.

      What a sad, sad state of affairs for science.

      • Oliver

        I do not see where your statement “AGW promoters claim Earth’s climate is totally immune to Earth’s heat source – the Sun” is supportable. I have not read any AGW supporters making such statements. I do read AGW supporters stating that “they see no evidence that the sun’s output has changed enough to account for observed climate change”

        You keep posting the same information, but what evidence do you submit to demonstrate that the sun’s energy has changed, and that those changes relate to climate changes. In what wavelengths are you seeing changes?

      • Long before climatology became a tool of government propaganda, many careful and detailed studies of Earth’s changing climate noted the link with cyclic changes in the Sun.

        Such studies were referenced in these two papers:

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

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

      • I am confused: Your first link confirms that the science behind the IPCC report takes solar variability into account. (And then proceeds to propose a new theory of the composition of the sun.) The second article proceeds to develop this new theory.
        In conclusion they show that the climate scientist already are taking solar variability into account. (And they seems to indicate that in order to explain all climate changes by variability in the sun we need to have a totally new theory of the origin, composition and workings of the sun?)
        As I said, I am confused as to what point you intend these two articles to illustrate?

      • Sorry, Reazon, that I overlooked your question earlier.

        What point do these two articles illustrate?

        The first paper [1] shows that although the IPCC reports dismiss the Sun’s influence on Earth’s changing climate, in fact, the link of Earth’s changing climate with cyclic changes in the Sun was well known before the merger of climate science with politics [e.g., Jose, P.D., “Sun’s motion and sunspots”, Astron. J. 70 (1965) pp. 193-200; Fairbridge, R.W. and Shirley, J.H., “Prolonged minima and the 179-yr cycle of the solar inertial motion,” Solar Physics 110 (1987) pp. 191-220].

        The second paper [2] notes that solar cycles and Earth’s changing climate are unexplained by the SSM (Standard Solar Model) of a giant, homogeneous ball of hydrogen. Neutron repulsion in the tiny compact solar core (a neutron star about the size of a large city) is the source of nuclear energy that a.) powers the Sun, b.) generates hydrogen, and c) heats planet Earth. “Earth is connected gravitationally, magnetically and electrically to its heat source – a neutron star that is obscured from view by waste products in the photosphere.” Those waste products are 91% H generated by neutron decay and 9% He generated by H-fusion.

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

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

    • BBC pension funds invested $33bln in climate change. Other government and academic organizations: “The group currently has over 50 members, including some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, and represents assets of around €4trillion. A full list of members is available on the membership page”.
      The IIGCC are not alone. And UNEP have their fingers in that as well.
      The world’s largest investors released a statement calling on the U.S. and other governments to quickly adopt strong national climate policies that will establish a stable investment climate and thus spur low-carbon investments to reduce emissions causing climate change. The Investor Statement on Catalyzing Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy calls for rapid action on carbon emission limits, energy efficiency, renewable energy, financing mechanisms and other policies. The statement was endorsed by four groups representing more than 190 investors with more than US$ 13 trillion of assets – Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI.)

    • Nebuchadnezzar

      Hi Girma,

      Global Mean Temperature Pattern:

      But if we extend the analysis back to 1850:

      • Hi Nebuchadnezzar

        But if we extend the analysis back to 1850:

        Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century.

        The verification period, the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all. This makes criticisms of the “antis” difficult to respond to (they have not yet risen to this level of sophistication, but they are “on the scent”).

      • Nebuchadnezzar

        Thanks Girma,
        Globally, the uncertainties aren’t that much larger in the 1860s and 1880s than in the 1890s, 1900s, 1910s. See here:

  52. Bart Verheggen,

    Sorry my reply seems to be malfunctioning. My reading on aerosols leads me to agree that a high degree of confidence in aerosol forcing is misplaced so, without reading for myself and based on your description, I would agree with you on that point. I don’t see a great deal of significance in who signed the report since a comparison would be the IPCC report where many individual contributors did not agree with specific sections of that report yet agreed with the report as a whole. My view is when things are uncertain you get a wide range of views from both the skeptical and mainstream sides of the argument and it is no more logical to expect all skeptics to agree on all topics as it would be to expect all mainstream scientists to agree on all topics.

  53. Steve McIntyre

    the Santer situation is worse than you think. Key Santer results do not hold up using up-to-date data. Key Santer results use data only up to 1999. Ross and I submitted a comment to IJC showing that results were overturned with up to date data.

    Our comment was twice rejected, with Team reviewers apparently involved. In the first submission, the editor said that the reviewers refused to allow him to provide us with their reviews and he thus paraphrased their comments.

    No reviewer contested any of our calculations. One reviewer argued that Santer’s methodology was wrong and showing that the results were wrong was “descent” into nothingness.

    I gave up running the gauntlet.

    Ross recast the analysis using a different methodology and got something published in a statistics journal, but the compelling point against Santer’s results using his own method remains unpublished in the IJC and unreported otherwise by the community. Santer’s incorrect results have been cited approvingly by the US CCSP after they were known to be incorrect.

    • Right, Steve ….

      So, Santer is REALLY wrong, because, you say so. And, of course you could prove it, if only that pesky peer review wasn’t so corrupt. Undoubtedly the TEAM (boy that TEAM sure has grown, of late) is in charge of all relevant peer review, so you stopped running that gauntlet. Sheesh, what a victim narrative you have going there …. nothing new here, yawn ….


      • Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !

        What is different now?

      • Girma,

        Thanks for the link:

        Wow, they are shameless indeed. Ordinary persons involved have any shame capability will bury their heads in sand like ostrich. Corrupted Pseudo-Scientists manipulated climate papers at their hands. Sad.

        I demand my tax money back from these crooks and the agencies beaucrats be fired of mishandling my hard-earned money.

    • Craig Loehle

      To me it is appalling that it is so hard to get a paper published that is a refutation of an important result. The paper Steve refers to was quite straightforward and it strikes me that there was gatekeeping going on that is shameful. It is also improper for people to keep referencing a paper (like Santer) when a refutation does come out (they should at least mention the refutation even if they don’t like it or believe it).

      • Holly Stick

        Why would any reviewer ever again let McIntyre, O’Donnell et al see their remarks after the dishonourable, unethical and disgusting way they attacked and smeared Eric Steig?

      • Steve McIntyre

        The Santer review was in early 2009, two years ago.

      • Latimer Alder

        Now I really don’t believe that you haven’t had external help. You know far more than a mere ingenue would or could.

        And your adherence to the party line – not only about what to say but what to say it about – down even to the words and phrases that you use is quite extraordinary. The stilted phraseology and repetitive adjectival strutcures would not come naturally to somebody who was just taking an interest,

        Anyway, wrt your comment about Eric Stieg above, are you sure that the operative word that has got you (and your ‘mentors’) all excited isn’t ‘refuted’?

      • Holly Stick

        When did I claim to be an ingenue? I wrote that I am not a scientist, statistician or mathematician. (I do have a BSC in Biology, but I had mediocre marks, it was long ago and it is not my main area of study.) However, I have been reading several good science blogs for years, including RealClimate, Deltoid, Rabbet Run, Deep Climate and others. Unlike many deniers, I am capable of learning. And I’m good at research.

      • Latimer Alder

        Great. So you *can* tell me about the basics of climate science that you felt I don’t appreciate when you wrote on the topic yesterday. Looking forward to your answer.

      • Latimer Alder


        Very droll. I’m sure you found it very helpful so that you could understand the discussions at the other blogs you mentioned.

      • c’mon

        own up somebody

        this most be some sceptic messing around…
        No one could surely be like this, all those science blogs..

        Someone is just trying to make some ‘alarmists’ look bad…

        Aren’t they ?!?!!!!!!!

      • holly,
        how do you think you could fare with real “back of the envelope” reasonableness checks on the level and similar to Khiel & Trenberth ’97 energy balance in order to show high sensitivity?

      • Of interest to me is the number of very strange people that populate the CAGW advocate ranks. None more weirdly fascinating than the groupies like Holly and Little Ms. Smartypanties-with-a-blog who seek out and treasure every group-thought of certain pudge-bucket, peer-reviewed, father-figures who hang out on Holly’s favorite blogs. Mind-blowing!

      • Latimer Alder

        There does seem to have been an outbreak of them recently.

        Since they all write in exactly the same way about exactly the same issue s- even down to the same words and phrases – it’s a wonder that they can tell each other apart.

        Perhaps they are clones?

      • Rob Starkey

        Personally I enjoy discussing their views on actual policies they propose implementing as a result of their opinions on the climate. That is where the talk must get down to defendable specifics. So far there have been few willing to discuss the issue at that level.

      • Latimer –
        13 years ago I was on a forum where “someone” decided they didn’t like my views. So they attacked me under their own name and then some of their ‘friends” showed up to assist. The problem with their attack was that the forum owner was a friend as were some others on the forum. And, independently, three of us determined that all of the “friends” were operating from the same computer. IOW – all of them were the same person.

        The showdown was interesting.

      • Latimer Alder

        @jim owen

        As we say in London – you got my drift then!

      • Rob Starkey

        LOL – if you only discuss things with those whom you agree with, you wil not make much progress in resolving disputes. Kind of like the folks at Real Climate being afraid to allow posts that disagree with their positions. Something tells me you also think that is a good practice

      • Holly Stick

        Why should I waste my time reading denier websites which are full of envious, bigoted, smearing comments? Does McIntyre ever write a post without implying that someone is doing him down or being dishonest? Ever?

        Good science blogs talk about science without denigrating people.

      • Rob Starkey

        Holly– if you do not find the censorship at Real Climate disgusting than you are certainly less “science oriented” than you profess. I would be interested in the policies that you believe should be implemented as a result of your views regarding a warmer world.

        Are you for shutting down coal fired electrical power plants?

        Are you for cap and trade legislation?

        carbon taxes

        Sending money to countries to offset them for “carbon damage”

      • Holly Stick

        Start with energy conservation. Back in the 1970s, Canada, the US and other countries had well-publicized energy conservation programs. Where are they now? There are lots of ideas out there; but you won’t find them on denier blogs.

      • Rob Starkey

        Holly–it seems really silly to label a site a “denier” or “alarmist”.

        Regarding the links you posted- they all seem pretty reasonable, but their impact would be very virtually zero when you consider global CO2 emissions. I assume you know that.

      • Please, please everyone. Let’s stop feeding the troll.
        Anyone that’s been following the the CAGW debate for any length of time is well aware that the positions Holly stakes out are not even supported by many ardent warmists. It’s just posturing to churn up the appearance of debate for casual readers around long-resolved issues that no serious warmists defend (except for Team members, Joe Romm and Al Gore).

        Someone apparently doesn’t like the progress being made toward retiring these old canards so we can focus on the real and interesting issues still in contention.

      • Well said. Occasionally these folks even get stuck on long-outdated talking points that were silly to start with; over at the Independent (UK) one of them is going on and on about the cooling stratosphere, as though that proved AGW. Silly.

      • Holly Stick,

        “Good science blogs talk about science without denigrating people.”

        Have you ever tried to figure out K&T’s 1997 Annual Global Mean Energy Budget GHG 324W/m2 back radiation? If you have, please give an account how that number is accounted, thanks.

    • Have you closely examined the findings of Douglass et. al? And if so, did you find any problems with their paper?

  54. Schrodinger's Cat

    It is clear from this debate (and every other debate) that the two sides cannot or will not reach agreement on the science. It seems that the science is certainly not settled and much of it is not trusted by one side or the other.
    Where to go from here? This blog has made some progress by taking a concept and debating it until the key disagreements are identified. This maybe needs to be more systematic and the key points of disagreement listed in a clear manner for all to see (and maybe even agree!). That would be a good start. Such a post would need strict control, but it would be an interesting exercise.

    • This section of Professor Curr’s blog tried to identify parts of the AGW story that both sides agree to be factual.

      I don’t think that the public – or members of Congress are looking at the next fiscal budget – care what elements of fact were woven into the fabric of distortions used by Al Gore, world leaders, the UN’s IPCC, EPA, etc.

      The key question is just this: Why were public tax fundsintended to generate factual information used instead for purposeful misinformation ?

      If that issue is not addressed, the US Congress will be justified in slashing budgets for scientific research until the the issue is addressed.

      • Yes and unless those darned biologists explain Piltdown Man we might have to cut their funding too!

        And NASA need to explain exactly WHY they faked those moon landings.

        If that issue is not addressed, the US Congress will be justified in slashing budgets for scientific research until the the issue is addressed.

      • fhtagn!

    • It would be a big project as there are thousands of specific disagreements and these are tree like, not list like (the issue tree to be exact). The question is who would pay? Neither side wants the other illuminated.

    • Schrodinger’s Cat

      I agree fully with your conclusion.

      “Agreement on the science” will be very hard to reach as long as “politics” are guiding the “science”.

      Judith has tried to cut out the “politics”, but that seems impossible to do.

      Then there is the basic problem that the supporters of the “dangerous AGW” premise refuse to look at natural forcing (or variability) as a possible major factor, which may be influencing our climate on a decadal, multi-decadal, centennial or even longer period, and instead (like IPCC) fixate myopically on anthropogenic factors, primarily human CO2.

      This may not be driven by “politics”, but I sense an almost “Kuhnian” rejection or even denial of data points that lie outside the accepted AGW paradigm, particularly among the Level 1 group.

      As a specific example, Zeke Hausfather’s opening “assessment” ignored these, as has most of the blog exchange here.

      It appears we are quibbling about the chimpanzee in the corner, but ignoring the 800-lb gorilla in the room.


      • You are exactly right,

        The missing “800-lb gorilla” is Dr. Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

        NAS is the private group that reviews the budgets of federal research agencies (NASA, DOE, EPA, NOAA, etc.) for Congress and decides the areas to be funded to protect national security.

        Dr. Cicerone’s “research in atmospheric chemistry, climate change and energy has involved him in shaping science and environmental policy at the highest levels nationally and internationally.”

        Dr. Cicerone is the one qualified to answer the basic question:

        Why were public tax funds – intended to generate factual information – used instead for purposeful misinformation ?

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel
        Former NASA PI for Apollo

      • Thanks, PDA, for the usual signal to let everyone know that we are getting close to the root of the Climategate problem.

      • Dr. Ralph Cicerone is probably the only person who can explain:

        Why public tax funds – intended to generate factual information – were used instead for purposeful misinformation, after President Eisenhower specifically warned in 1961 that one day a “scientific technological elite” might take control of public policy.

      • If Restoring Integrity to Federal Science Is Our Goal

        We will be courteous and respectful if NAS President Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone accepts the invitation to join this discussion group.

        Although he had responsibility for directing public research funds to the “scientific-technological elite” that Eisenhower warned about in 1961, Dr. Cicerone was also caught in the web of events that caused lessor pawns to manipulate data and “Hide the Decline.”

        If Professor Curry wants to submit questions for Dr. Cicerone to study before responding here, I recommend that he start by responding to an unanswered question asked of him, Congressman Alan B. Mollohan [Chair of the Subcommittee on Science for the US House Appropriations Committee], and members of the Space Studies Board on 26 June 2008 in the NAS Office Building:

        “Why did UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – and US federal research agencies like NASA, DOE, NOAA, NSF, etc. – work together to promote this web of mis-information:

        • CO2 from the tail pipes of Western economic engines caused global warming.

        • Earth’s climate is immune from the cyclic changes in sunspots and solar activity.

        • Hydrogen fusion in the Sun bathes planet Earth in a steady and unchanging flow of heat.

        • Solar neutrinos from Hydrogen-fusion in the Sun oscillate away before reaching our detectors.”

        Information on the meeting at the NAS Office Building is available here:

        Oliver K. Manuel
        Emeritus Professor
        Nuclear & Space Studies
        Former NASA PI for
        Apollo Lunar Samples