Extreme testimony

by Judith Curry

In today’s Hearing on “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations,”  John Christy and Francis Zwiers both presented testimony that focused on extreme events,  climate sensitivity and warming trends.

Their respective testimonies provide starkly different perspectives on these subjects, with Zwiers representing the “convinced” perspective and Christy representing the “skeptical” perspective.  By all accounts that I’ve seen in the blogosphere, Christy and Zwiers each did a good job presenting their oral testimony.  Lets take a look at their respective arguments and how they were presented in their written testimony.

Francis Zwiers

Francis Zwiers’ written testimony can be found here.   Excerpts from Zwiers’ arguments related to extreme events:

Recently we have seen a spate of extreme climate and weather events that have drawn intense media interest, including this winter’s intense storms affecting the US and Canadian eastern seaboard, similarly extreme winter storms last year, the Russian heat wave and Pakistani flooding of summer 2010, the extraordinary Australian flooding event of this past January. These events have certainly tested our ability to cope with weather and climate variations, have had significant negative impacts, and pose the question as to whether human influence on the climate system has played a role. While the research required to answer this question specifically in the context of recent events is yet to be completed, two new papers in Nature (Min et al., 2011; Pall et al., 2011) have presented evidence that changes in the intensity of extreme precipitation since the middle of the 20th century may be linked to human induced global warming, and that in at least in one instance, that human influence on climate had likely substantially increased the risk of flooding.

Changes in extreme temperature and the intensification of extreme precipitation events are natural consequences of a warming climate. A warmer climate would inevitably have more intense warm temperature extremes than the present climate, including longer and more intense heat waves, and less intense cold temperature extremes.

The clear answer to this question, and one that is underscored by the Meehl et al. (2009) study of the occurrence of record breaking temperatures, is that individual extreme events cannot be ascribed to human influence on the climate system in the sense that the event could not have occurred if it were not for human influence. It is, however, possible to assess how human influence on climate may be “loading the weather dice”, making some events more likely, and others less likely.

The weather events that do most damage are very often those that are most difficult to predict: we can, however, assess the impact of an external factor like human influence on climate on the odds of a weather event occurring, even if we cannot predict when it will occur (if you load a dice to double the odds of a six, you still cannot predict precisely the result of any particular roll). Hence the fact that seasonal forecasting of extreme weather is clearly very difficult does not prevent us from assessing the role of long-term drivers in extreme weather risk or attempting to predict seasonal variations in risk.

Any human influence on extreme weather risk combines with these episodic variations and the chance fluctuations that are inevitable when dealing with rare events: hence we should not assume that, if human influence is making a particular event more likely on average, it will necessarily do so every year.

However, the “smoking gun” evidence from these studies suggests that human influence is now affecting the frequency and intensity of high impact events that put people and their livelihoods at risk. While assessments of the abilities of climate models to simulate temperature and precipitation extremes (e.g., Kharin et al., 2007) are sobering, there is a firm physical basis for the expectation that increasing greenhouse gases will intensify warm temperature extremes, moderate cold temperature extremes, and intensify extreme damaging precipitation events.

John Christy

John Christy’s written testimony can be found here.  Some relevant excerpts regarding his comments on extreme events:

What this means today should be considered a warning – that the climate system has always had within itself the capability of causing devastating events and these will certainly continue with or without human influence. Thus, societies should plan for their infrastructure projects to be able to withstand the worst that we already know has occurred, and to recognize, in such a dynamical system, that even worse events should be expected. In other words, the set of the measured extreme events of the small climate history we have, since about 1880, does not represent the full range of extreme events that the climate system can actually generate. The most recent 130 years is simply our current era’s small sample of the long history of climate. There will certainly be events in this coming century that exceed the magnitude of extremes measured in the past 130 years in many locations. To put it another way, a large percentage of the worst extremes over the period 1880 to 2100 will occur after 2011 simply by statistical probability without any appeal to human forcing at all. Going further, one would assume that about 10 percent of the record extremes that occur over a thousand-year period ending in 2100 should occur in the 21st century. Are we prepared to deal with events even worse than we’ve seen so far? Spending resources on creating resiliency to these sure-to-come extremes, particularly drought/flood extremes, seems rather prudent to me.

A sample study of why extreme events are poor metrics for global changes.  In the examples above, we don’t see alarming increases in extreme events, but we must certainly be ready for more to come as part of nature’s variability. I want to illustrate how one might use extreme events to conclude (improperly I believe) that the weather in the USA is becoming less extreme and/or colder.

For each of the 50 states, there are records kept for the extreme high and low temperatures back to the late 19th century. In examining the years in which these extremes occurred (and depending on how one deals with “repeats” of events) we find about 80 percent of the states recorded their hottest temperature prior to 1955. And, about 60 percent of the states experienced their record cold temperatures prior to that date too. One could conclude, if they were so inclined, that the climate of the US is becoming less extreme because the occurrence of state extremes of hot and cold has diminished dramatically since 1955. Since 100 of anything is a fairly large sample (2 values for each of 50 states), this on the surface seems a reasonable conclusion.

Then, one might look at the more recent record of extremes and learn that no state has achieved a record high temperature in the last 15 years (though one state has tied theirs.) However, five states have observed their all-time record low temperature in these past 15 years (plus one tie.) This includes last month’s record low of 31°F below zero in Oklahoma, breaking their previous record by a rather remarkable 4°F. If one were so inclined, one could conclude that the weather that people worry about (extreme cold) is getting worse in the US. (Note: this lowering of absolute cold temperature records is nowhere forecast in climate model projections, nor is a significant drop in the occurrence of extreme high temperature records.)

I am not using these statistics to prove the weather in the US is becoming less extreme and/or colder. My point is that extreme events are poor metrics to use for detecting climate change. Indeed, because of their rarity (by definition) using extreme events to bolster a claim about any type of climate change (warming or cooling) runs the risk of setting up the classic “non-falsifiable hypothesis.” For example, we were told by the IPCC that “milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms” (TAR WG2, After the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11, we are told the opposite by advocates of the IPCC position, “Climate Change Makes Major Snowstorms More Likely” (http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/climate-change-makes-snowstorms- more-likely-0506.html).

The non-falsifiable hypotheses works this way, “whatever happens is consistent with my hypothesis.” In other words, there is no event that would “falsify” the hypothesis. As such, these assertions cannot be considered science or in anyway informative since the hypothesis’ fundamental prediction is “anything may happen.” In the example above if winters become milder or they become snowier, the hypothesis stands. This is not science.

As noted above, there are innumerable types of events that can be defined as extreme events – so for the enterprising individual (unencumbered by the scientific method), weather statistics can supply an almost unlimited set of targets in which to discover a “useful” extreme event. Thus, when such an individual observes an unusual event, it may be tempting to define it as a once-for-all extreme metric to “prove” a point about climate change. This works both ways with extremes. If one were prescient enough to have predicted in 1996 that over the next 15 years, five states would break record cold temperatures while zero states would break record high temperatures as evidence for cooling, would that prove CO2 emissions have no impact on climate? No.

Extreme events happen, and their causes are intricately tied to semi-unstable dynamical situations that can occur out of an environment of natural, unforced variability.

Science checks hypotheses (assertions) by testing specific, falsifiable predictions implied by those hypotheses. The predictions are to be made in a manner that, as much as possible, is blind to the data against which the prediction is evaluated. It is the testable predictions from hypotheses, derived from climate model output, that run into trouble. Before going on, the main point here is that extreme events do not lend themselves as being rigorous metrics for convicting human emissions of being guilty of causing them.

JC’s comments: Apart from the issue of the relevance of Christy’s and Zwiers’ testimony  to the issue at hand, which is the EPA CO2 Endangerment ruling.  My take on the attribution of extreme events is laid out on several previous threads (see here and here).  I don’t agree fully with the statements by either Christy or Zwiers, although my own take on this is much closer to Christy’s.

So what are the Congressmen and their staffers to make of these two different statements on the same topic?  The statement from Congressman Inslee is apt: “folks in the press report this like a divorce trial. He said she said.”  Apart from the divorce trial issue, the two testimonies were very different in style.  Zwiers’ statement was in the style of the IPCC assessment, focusing on conclusions and citations of peer reviewed papers to back them up.  Christy focused on making common sense-style arguments (with fewer journal article citations).  In the context of Congressional testimony, I suspect that Christy’s style is more effective (independent of the relative strengths of the actual science on each side).

Your take on this?

Moderation note: this is a technical thread, and comments will be moderated for relevance.

341 responses to “Extreme testimony

  1. Zwiers seems to assume that human influence is at work and then explain why such influence will not always manifest. So, it seems that if there is an extreme event that is evidence of human influence and, if there is not, that is also evidence of human influence albeit in abeyance.

    It really does not matter how many peer reviewed papers he cites supporting, or at least not contradicting this bit of fluff – not even politicians are dumb enough to miss the “heads I win, tails you lose” premise Zwiers is propounding.

  2. Being able to speak to the level of your audience is a very good point. Christy’s common sense approach is very effective and his conclusions pragmatic. His examples highlight the traps that people can fall into which I think is sorely needed.

    Now I will look forward to what will surely be an exciting discussion.

  3. Why is Francis Zwiers’s claim that warmer weather naturally causes more extremes sound so much like a massive assumption, rather than something that has ever actually held up under any sort of scrutiny?

    • The End is FAR

      Not sure about your region, but here in Atlanta the more extreme weather occurs in the Spring and Fall when there are wide temperature fluxes that occur rather than a steady increase in temps.

      The summers can be hotter than Hades, but uneventful as far as ‘extreme weather’ is concerned.

      • Yes, it’s slope and contrast that creates extreme events.

        Which is one reason that “warming of the poles” is a negative indicator for extreme climate events and changes.

    • Holly Stick

      Because you just don’t like what he is saying? I think it is much more convincing to listen to a scientist who cites peer-reviewed studies which back up what he’s saying. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/going-to-extremes/

      • Holly Stick,
        You are not answering my point. You are dissembling.
        Please be responsive.
        Dr. Christy is a peer reviewed scientist quoting peer reviewed studies.
        So please stop playing your game.
        I asked a specific question about his assertion that warmth equals stronger storms.
        Your RC quote is simply circular, and is not relevant to my question.

      • “Why is Francis Zwiers’s claim that warmer weather naturally causes more extremes sound so much like a massive assumption, rather than something that has ever actually held up under any sort of scrutiny”

        Hunter, it is you who shows no signs of doing any thinking.

        The research affirms human-caused warming and a resulting increase in extreme weather events . By citing this body of science as a whole but especially current studies, Zwiers and others find an observed increase in events that cannot be explained by natural internal fluctuations of the climate system. The newest studies are very important, along with the older studies, since we have just come through the warmest decade on record.

        National and international science, engineering and technical bodies overwhelmingly affirm both the homegrown science and IPCC science that Zwiers and most scientists cite. There are over 6 million science and engineering professionals represented in the world, and with respect to Judith Curry’s epistemic levels, it is absurd to think that only less than 2% of these 6 million have the expertise and interest (or professional role) of reading and evaluating climate change science and climate change-related issues.

        You prefer to go with citizen scientists? Public polls show that awareness is the biggest problem with public perception of climate change but of those who are aware, most say they accept the basic science and want mitigation. Of the public input represented in these polls, it is absurd to think that only a few are ‘citizen scientists’ or citizens with the critical skills to pragmatically evaluate information and consider rational responses.

        Need more? Climate change related policy formation requires scrutiny by multidisciplinary panels that consider many things, including scientific uncertainties and economics in addition to other aspects of the human dimensions of the problem.

        More? Industry employs independent scientists and panels of multidisciplinary experts who have the capacity to review and evaluate science, economics, and the social context. Guess what? The science is affirmed by industry scientists.

        By comparison with the world’s scientists, engineers, climate scientists, and citizenry, Christy does not represent significant or meaningful dissent – except in realm of Republican politics. Scientists, citizen scientists, and climate scientists who have studied Christy’s work do not find it to have quality and persuasiveness. You project a much higher value onto this dissent (and Judith Curry’s) than it objectively warrants.

        Actually, even Christy does not believe himself, anymore – as you can see from his written testimony. John Christy’s position used to be that he denied that global climate change is happening; then as the scientific community gained evidence, he admitted that it is happening but was not caused by humans; now he admits it is happening and there is human causation, but the impacts will not be catastrophic.
        A rational response is not going to involve reducing irreducible uncertainties of complex systems. We all understand that a good model of a complex system may indicate how it will respond to a given hypothetical situation and that we need engineers and physical scientists to be helping to improve modeling; but narrowing communication of risk to prediction and uncertainty is actually based on assumptions about the role of policy, and who and what about the human and ecolological dimensions matter to those setting the parameters of discussion, to this. Try to begin to understand this, instead of pretending you are working on science issues.
        There is very obviously a range of rational responses to what we presently do know, as well as what we don’t, that is not communicated when a scientist like Christy so narrowly limits communication of risk.

        There is arguably as much need or greater to communicate to decision-makers the sensitivity of outcomes to small changes in the current variables, and uncertainty arising from policy or decisions that are not made (or have not yet been made). That is arguably Zwiers’ position on policy.

        If you think it through, you can undersand why the majority of people interested in the fullest communication possible about both what we do know and what we don’t know, have no interest in Christy.

      • But notice the modifiers to the in-press citations he uses:

        “…two new papers in Nature (Min et al., 2011; Pall et al., 2011) have presented evidence that changes in the intensity of extreme precipitation since the middle of the 20th century MAY be linked to human induced global warming, and that in at least in one instance, that human influence on climate had LIKELY substantially increased the risk of flooding.”

        So what are the boundaries of uncertainty in relation to these studies? By saying observations “may be linked” and “likely…increased…flooding” he doesn’t really exude confidence in the citations.

      • Holly Stick

        Those papers are discussed here. If you go read the link with an open mind, it may clarify things for you.

      • Martha,
        Since not one historic graph of weather shows anything other than trendlessness, I am simply pointing out the truth.
        You can bloviate 10,000 words to try and hide that for all I care.
        Also, your increasingly tedious habit of assigning motives that impugn the character of our host, and now Dr. Christy, is rather transparent on your part, and only succeeds in placing you into a an even poorer light.

      • Martha,
        I am merely pointing out that the historical record, for as long as it exists in any place in the world, shows that there is no significant trend in storm, drought, hot or cold worldwide.
        If you do not like that, so be it.
        Attributing motives to Dr. Christy frankly says more about your state of mind than that of Dr. Christy.
        Frankly your attempt to dismiss him reeks of intellectual cowardice.

      • Richard Wakefield

        I think it is much more convincing to listen to a scientist who cites peer-reviewed studies which back up what he’s saying.

        Only if those papers are valid in the context they were supposed to be used in. Zwiers is flat wrong about increasing heat waves, and there are peer reviewed papers to support that (as well as the actual data).

        Interesting you prefer peer reviewed papers, yet you reference the RC rag.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Well, first. it’s by definition: more energy in the system means more variety. Entropy is dark gray.

      • charles the moderator

        No, more (thermal) energy means warmer by definition, anything else at this stage is arm waving, without being very very specific.

        The climate systems is not a big ball of springs that vibrate more if you bang on them harder, but this seems to be the underlying subconscious interpretation that many people seem to use in their thinking.

      • Just to amaze the easily lead, here is the Dallas theory of Extreme Weather Events related to Anthropogenic Global Warming.

        The polar regions are more susceptible to the warming due to CO2 increases due to dryer air and more space for warming (i.e. it is colder at the poles, so they can warm more). The tropical regions are less susceptible to the higher CO2 concentration since water vapor is by far the dominate GHG in this region, so proportionally, much lower warming will be evident. The impact will be a reduced temperature differential between the poles and equator, which will reduce the strength of atmospheric oscillations, there by reducing the frequency of extreme weather events in the higher latitudes.

        Tropical cyclones will become more limited to lower latitudes as the polar/equatorial differential decreases. By the year 2125, blizzards will become a rare and exciting event.

        What would falsify that hypothesis?

      • FYI *laughter expected now*=*crickets by mid April*
        Spring tornado outbreak forecast posted on the 2nd, Cost to public a couple clicks of the mouse, http://www.aerology.com/national.aspx
        to check the results you can compare to ^my sites^ maps to so far;
        2-27=18 tornadoes http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/110227_rpts.html
        2-28=18 tornadoes http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/110228_rpts.html
        3-05=10 tornadoes http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/110305_rpts.html
        3-06=3 tornadoes http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/110306_rpts.html
        3-08=3 so far today http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/110308_rpts.html
        Richard Holle says:
        March 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm
        Tornado production is a result of Lunar declinational tides pulling air masses from more equatorial areas into the mid-latitudes, so the peak production times when they form can be predicted as the periods from Maximum North culmination to three days after, a couple of days when the moon crosses the equator headed North, and as the moon reaches maximum South declination and several days after.
        These effects are due to the production of the primary and secondary tidal bulges in the atmosphere, that arrive at the same time as the ion content of the air masses reaches a local maximum. Between the induced charge differential between the +ion concentrations riding on the more equatorial sourced air mass, established ahead of the dry line front of -ion concentrated more polar air mass, that sweeps in from the West, forcing the precipitation into the rapidly moving narrow band of severe weather from which the tornadoes form on the trailing edges.
        The periods when these effects will be most likely to occur this spring,
        2-25/28 for three days, which we just had, around max South.
        3-5/7 slight chance of small outbreak
        3-12/17 starting in Arkansas through Kentucky and the Ohio river valley
        3-25/30 Starting Texas/Oklahoma/Arkansas through Ohio river valley the beginning of a long period of very wet activity most of April.
        4-5/8 start up of activity
        with the re-enactment of the 1974 outbreak most possible in the period
        4-8/13 Maps of the expected precipitation can be found on my site, bearing in mind that the tornado and severe activity usually forms in the fast moving part of the frontal and not usually in the areas of heaviest total daily precipitation.
        On the maps show on my site you can expect to see the tornado development in the areas with the “netted” looking precipitation patterns due to the usual nature of the part of the front where they occur.
        1974 is one of the analog years for my forecast method, which is why I mention we may see a replay of that out break. It is also why I am in Mesa Az., instead of Kansas this spring.

      • Yikes. That’s some interesting thermodynamics.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        More work gets done when there’s available energy. What’s odd about that? It looks to me like you’re just objecting to the novel phraseology.

      • More energy will be available, but the mixing that generates the more extreme events will be reduced (in this hypothesis). Tropical cyclones generate themselves, thanks to the extreme low pressure created by rising warm air and the boost given by Earth’s rotation. Steering currents vary with the location of pressure regions, which are influenced by local temperature and temperature differences.

        I didn’t mention shearing. What would happen to the average TC?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The issue of Hurricanes and AGW is an unsettled one.

        A paper or two submitted on the subject doesn’t make the science “settled”. There are several reasons why Atlantic hurricane frequency could be negatively hit by AGW — changes in winds, decrease in the temperature gradient, changes in dust in Africa and … I can’t remember what the others were.

        Anyhoo. The issue was variety and energy. More energy. More variety. That seems to me to be true by definition. From the Big Bang to a child’s nursery.

      • “From the Big Bang to a child’s nursery”

        lol. nice analogy.

      • There are several issues unsettled to differing degrees. What is going to happen with hurricanes is one and clouds is another one. More energy doesn’t mean more work or imply what kind of work or how efficient that work may be performed. A larger percentage could remain as potential energy, “it’s hotter or it’s more humid”. It is likely, that there will be more extreme rain events since more water vapor will be available.

        Where the more extreme rain events happen matters for several reasons. One is the closer they are to the equator the more impact they will have on radiation balance. All clouds, whether they may be considered positive, negative or neutral feedbacks, reflect sunlight. More sunlight is incident on Earth at the equatorial regions, so changes in cloud cover will have more impact on radiative forcing the closer they are to the equator.

        Hurricanes as ChE stated are massive heat engines using on the order of Terrawatts of energy, based only on latent heat removal. As huge as a terra watt is, it is small compared to the energy reflected by the clouds, often a thousand kilometers in diameter, associated with an average named storm. Size matters, location matters and numbers matter not only for hurricanes, but for all convective activity. A one to two percent increase in tropical cloud cover is a big deal. If there is one feedback or thermostat that limits global warming it will probably be convective clouds.

        Figuring out how that extra energy may be used is key to predicting future climate. It is a complex, multiscale problem, ill suited for Principal Components Analysis, the stats are a touch more complicated.

      • Mr. Second Law says that the total thermal energy doesn’t mean poop without a temperature differential. It’s the differential that allows you to convert heat into mechanical energy. A hot thing is just hot.

      • Excellent! There is still a temperature differential vertically, that will reduce as well, but won’t be eliminated. More localized thunder storms?

      • Exactly. A Hurricane is the world’s largest heat engine. Warm at the bottom, and frigid at the top. And lots of horsepower.

      • It looks like the remarks thing ran out. The first thing one should do to falsify my hypothesis is say, “You’re just a fishing guide! ” Chunk out the Ad hom first, worry about the facts later. :)

      • Joe Lalonde


        Without planetary rotation, there is no physical energy to harness.
        The sun and planet are wrapped in a vacuum.

      • ???

      • Latimer Alder

        A temperature difference of 10K is a temperature difference of 10K whether it starts at 100K, 1000K or 1000000K.

        And the work (‘amounmt of weather) that can be done is determined by the difference, not the absolute value.

        If everything heats up by 0.9K the capacity for work is not increased.

      • Phillip Bratby

        It is the energy difference that allows work to be done, not the absolute value.

      • And the energy difference or differential can be a temperature (heat, zeroth law), pressure, …..

        The Hypothesis I described is a boundary. Uniform surface temperature eliminates one degree of freedom. It will never be absolutely uniform, but it can provide insight into the scale of other things. Remember, that is coming from a fishing guide and not a theoretical physicist are anything.

      • It’s actually the temperature difference, not the energy difference:


      • What definition is that?

      • What! You question Jeffery’s metaphysics? It’s a gray day for entropy.

      • I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the color of entropy.

      • ChE, I put the climate puzzle on my blog if you have any metaphysicists you wish to toy with.


      • Jeffrey Davis

        Really? Figurative language is that much of a stumper for you?

        I drew the image from the language of nano-technology. “Grey goo” is the result of the nano-machines running amok. (There’s no one here who’s interested in nano-technology?)

      • Dallas,
        It seems as if this warmth = more storms is a deep tenet of the AGW dogma.
        And is completely unproven and unsupported in any study of actual evidence.
        If we have had, as the AGW community claims, unprecedented, anomalous significant warming these past 150 years, the record should show a trend in extreme weather, if more energy = more danger..
        Instead there is no trend anywhere on Earth of more extreme weather, in either strength or frequency, when the known historical record is compared to current events.
        Now do our AGW believer friends rethink their premise or models?
        They just yell louder that sky is falling.
        And their opinion leaders fib to pretend the evidence is other than what it is.

      • Well, the louder you are the smarter you are :) Increased storms is likely, but there of a lot of scenarios where that is not a bad things. Microcanes are impressive as all get out, but likely to do much less damage. Massive rain events like Fay are more impressive to me. That was the only tropical storm name retired. Where I live, Fays just mean more internet time. Up north it is a whole different story. I have been through a bunch of storms and they all are impressive.

      • Hurricanes are an ion driven electro mechanical motor, that uses heat and moisture to transport the spring/summer buildup of pole to equator ion charge gradient that starts to discharge the global circuit, at midsummer.

        With the weaker solar activity and resultant weaker geomagnetic field strength, there will be less energy to drive storms, as we saw last season lots of tiny Tims, even though there was plenty of SST heat and moisture available. You need both to get intensity that drive hurricanes above cat 2, this 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will be a repeat of last year lots of little and only a couple bigger ones.

      • Hmm, I haven’t spent a great deal of time studying the geomagnetic relationship with atmospheric ions that impact TC formation and intensity. Probably a fascinating study. What atmospheric ion concentration is needed to produce a 1 terrawatt ion engine in Earth’s average geomagnetic field?

      • Ricjhard,
        No, hurricanes are driven by heat, evaporation and the corriolis effect.
        Please go away.

  4. “Zwiers’ statement was in the style of the IPCC assessment, focusing on conclusions and citations of peer reviewed papers to back them up.”

    But we all know the problem with “peer reviewed papers” these days.

    And specifically noting “two new papers in Nature (Min et al., 2011; Pall et al., 2011)” is particularly enlightening, given this for example:



    Seems they simply want to ignore all critiques while at the same time drumming their scary but, shhh, ‘may’ or ‘likely,’ scenarios. Like in the comment about the two Nature pieces:

    “may be linked… had likely substantially increased the risk…”

    Or maybe not. Doesn’t seem remotely convincing enough to support this draconian EPA policy, particularly given the kind of zealous green missionaries working at the EPA now.

    So, I agree, Christy’s common sense should be much more effective than Zwiers’ reliance on the now dubious reputation and authority of what passes for “peer reviewed” papers these days.

    That said, OJ was found innocent so anything is possible.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Al Gored wants to ignore all the previous discussions about uncertainty.

      So, where are we exactly?

      If the paper draws a firm conclusion, complain that ignores uncertainty.
      If it doesn’t, complain that it’s wishy-washy.

      Sounds like Al Gored is going to be a busy, busy little denier.

    • Yeah. But OJ was not on trial by a Republican House committee.

      But, still, I agree with you that anything is possible.


  5. Once when very young made the mistake of programming a ‘self-correcting’ graphic to plot a curve at increasing resolution over time, the idea being that as the pixel size decreased, the routine would ‘carve away’ the pixels not on the plot with background color.

    Silly notion. I was young, and had been programming for 80 hours straight at the time, so my reasoning was impaired.

    There are infinite ways to not see the actual function by focusing on the background, as Dr. Christy has discovered.

    The disproof of a claim is to disprove the claim, not to propose a straw man and disprove that.

  6. However, the “smoking gun” evidence from these studies suggests that human influence is now affecting the frequency and intensity of high impact events that put people and their livelihoods at risk.

    Kind of hard to interpret that without the studies. Sounds a little funny that smokings guns suggest, though. I thought smoking guns, by definition, were rigorous proof.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Argument from ignorance

      “But I thought … ”

      As near as I can tell, this has become a popular way of argument via Rush Limbaugh. It isn’t a logical argument, and it persuades only the already persuaded.

      Smoking guns are still only evidence. There is no “proof” in science.

      • You are being deliberatley obtuse.

        The papers Zweirs cites say that humans MAY be resoponsible (but can’t prove it) and HIS post is chock FULL of qualifiers.

        This isn’t science, it’s twisting things to fit a pre-concieved idea.

        If all you can come out with are ‘may’s’ and ‘coulds’ and ‘probablies’ then a) your research is useless and
        b) any papers stemming from it are also useless.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        So, we’ve gone from dissing papers for their lack of qualifiers to dissing papers that qualify.


      • sigh.

        There is a difference between aknowledging uncertainty for scientific reasons and using qualifiers to exploit uncertainty for positionl reasons. You know this, you’re arguing a really daft point here.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        You know this, you’re arguing a really daft point here.

        There are whole threads of hand-wringing about how climate scientists just ignore uncertainties etc.

        Where was your “daft point” then?

      • Your conflating ignoring the uncertanties with the incorrect use of qualifiers. It’s quite a straightforward point.

        On one hand you have the underplaying/ignoring of important uncertanties (equipment variations, error limits, calculation spread, statistical quirks etc etc), on the other hand you have the use of qualifiers to allow conclusions to be drawn that are not immediatley apaprent from the data.

        These are two distinct matters.

  7. The End is FAR

    The non-falsifiable hypotheses works this way, “whatever happens is consistent with my hypothesis.” In other words, there is no event that would “falsify” the hypothesis. As such, these assertions cannot be considered science or in anyway informative since the hypothesis’ fundamental prediction is “anything may happen.” In the example above if winters become milder or they become snowier, the hypothesis stands. This is not science.

    This sums it up quite nicely. Climate Science it seems has become a victim of a form of dialectical materialism. The more evidence that is collected that supposedly supports it, the more the theory hypothesis decays.

    This is why consensus is quite useless in science, the term ‘scientific consensus’ is an oxymoron just as a ‘non-falsifiable hypothesis’ is. If you disagree that it is an oxymoron, then you at least should agree that it is useless in science. It is however quite useful in public relations and misnomers.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Christy mis-characterizes the evidence. (By accident or design?) A rain of frogs as beset Egypt, for example, is something outside the AGW hypothesis.

      • Perhaps, but if it did happen, you can bet your bottom dollar that the usual suspects would be claiming on the front page that it was proof of AGW.

      • lol.

      • What “evidence” did he mischaracterize? He didn’t say there was nothing “outside the AGW hypothesis,” which I can only take to mean irrelevant to it. He said “there is no event that would ‘falsify’ the hypothesis.” (Although as I commented below, Zwiers may finally have given an example.)

        I can see how frog precipitation would be irrelevant to AGW, but how would it falsify it? Or did you mischaraterize his testimony?

      • Jeffrey Davis,

        You have compared John Christy’s argumentation to a strawman, but where is the good evidence that Christy has missed? Christy’s argument was certainly not a proof, and his wording didn’t indicate that he would have presented it as a proof. To me his examples presented quite properly the difficulties in collecting evidence on changes in the frequency of extreme events.

        There have certainly been many papers presenting some evidence, but as far as I have noticed, the papers do not usually draw strong conclusions, but admit weaknesses in their analysis and present the results as tentative. Then one can ask, whether there are sufficiently tentative confirmations to build a strong case. To me the situation appears highly inconclusive in this respect, because this state of research is bound to be strongly influenced by the publication bias. The number of possible hypotheses is huge, some of them have been confirmed tentatively, far more have not been confirmed at all, and who can tell, how many of these have been analyzed preliminarily and dropped, when nothing appears to come out.

        The argument that more water and latent heat in the air can produce more extreme events is plausible. Some atmospheric models have this plausible effect, as the models are in part constructed to include plausible effects (I refer to details and equations not fully determined by basic theory). But again, do we have an unbiased estimate of the strength of the argument?

        In comparison with the apparent weaknesses of the opposing arguments, the argument of John Christy is well justified, not a proof of anything, but worth considering.

        If you think that the evidence is stronger than my impression from reading several papers and overviews of the state of knowledge. If you think that there is convincing evidence to the support your view, please tell, where it can be found.

        I would still add that modest and even significant changes in the frequency of extreme events doesn’t represent such catastrophic outcome that gets strong extra weight from the precautionary principle, until one considers really major changes in the frequency and severity of the extreme events. Justifying the risk of such shifts in weather patterns is a different issue than lesses changes in extreme events.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Climate Science it seems has become a victim of a form of dialectical materialism.

      [insert Michel Palin’s response to John Cleese asking for a fish license]

  8. Alexander Harvey


    “My point is that extreme events are poor metrics to use for detecting climate change.”

    In the way I see them touted about the answer is I think I concur.

    But a measure of the extremity of events may be one of the few ways that we will be able to get prior warning of dramatic climatic shifts.

    I know that this is an area that is being actively pursude and it is not trivial in my opinion.

    It seems that the answer is nothing definite so far.

    In a way, gentle warming temperatures combined by seemingly excessive record lows, would be a potential telltale, were this happening, but teasing out real evidence of this sort of thing needs a properly constructed study as Christy indicates, going on a fishing expedition for anything that is out of the oridnary from any available metric is to muddy the waters for better thought out efforts.


    • Alex,
      Strengthening of fluctuations in large scale weather patterns is perhaps a better indicator of approaching climate shifts. Extreme weather events are mostly local phenomena and as such perhaps too indirect to serve as such indicators even if there may be a connections between extreme events and fluctuations in large scale weather patterns. Having a hypothetical connection through one intermediary factor is likely to make the correlations too weak for significance.

      Both of the connections are possible and to an extent plausible, but concluding that we have an indicator here, seems to me far fetched.

  9. ” Zwiers’ statement was in the style of the IPCC assessment, focusing on conclusions and citations of peer reviewed papers to back them up. Christy focused on making common sense-style arguments… I suspect that Christy’s style is more effective…”

    I agree. We all know the problems with the chosen “peer reviewed papers” these days, including the two Nature paper which Zwiers specifically noted.
    Common sense should prevail given the makeup of this audience.

    P.S. This in a condensed version of a more detailed post which now seems lost in the ether, so this may be redundant if it reappears.

  10. Christy’s core message, that our “impression” that current extremes are more frequent and worse than previous eras’ is simply false, is very potent. It reveals the fear-mongering for what it is: data manipulation and hype.

    I suspect the Congressmen are like most of us: we deeply resent efforts (successful or otherwise) to sucker us.

  11. My thoughts are Dr. Christy hit the nail on the head. He took a common sense approach, because when ascribing extreme weather events to “climate change” isn’t scientific.

    Dr. Christy’s money quotes…….“As such, these assertions cannot be considered science or in anyway informative since the hypothesis’ fundamental prediction is “anything may happen.”……..and “…so for the enterprising individual (unencumbered by the scientific method), weather statistics can supply an almost unlimited set of targets in which to discover a “useful” extreme event.

    It is of note, that Dr. Curry stated “…..although my own take on this is much closer to Christy’s.”

    It is in my recollection that Dr. Curry did, indeed, study such things in a time that seems so long ago.

    While it may be anathema for many here, it would be worthwhile for people to go to Goddard’s site. http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/
    At this site (jaded as it may be to many people’s sensibilities) is a literal treasure trove of extreme historical weather events. Often, he’ll state the assumed atmospheric CO2 level while posting the articles. Anyone believing recent extreme weather events are out of the norm are either being deluded or deluding themselves. You don’t have to agree with the commentary, in fact, it is an unmoderated site, but the facts are there if one wishes to see.

  12. In regard to Zwiers testimony referring to the UK flooding intensity paper by Pall et al, the subject of a recent scathing review by Willis Eschenbach in WUWT.


    More disturbingly, a MSM comment article by Booker in the Telegraph, on the same paper hints at the possibility of a connection with the insurance industry and suspicions regarding increased insurance premium justification.


    I found Zwiers maybes and coulds suspiciously evasive, but was refreshingly comforted by the logic and common sense of Christy’s reasoning, and indeed his whole polished performance and apparent sincerity, but recognise my personal bias in that.

    • incidentally- two of the extreme floods in the north of the UK were caused by poor water-management by the relevant water boards- not anything to do with the weather (though i hear the rain MAy have helped)- i think they were still included though.

  13. Sorry for going off topic, but obviously, anyone who wants to can ignore my off-topic post.

    Personally, I thought that Roberts’ testimony, blaming the EPA (and by extension governmental environmental regulation) for millions and millions of cases of disease and deaths was rather extreme, given that from what I’ve read:

    (1) Prevalence of malaria was increasing prior to the diminished use of DDT

    (2) DDT resistant mosquitoes were present even prior to the diminished use of DDT (as early as 1956).

    (3) The EPA regulates environmental issues in the U.S., and not in countries with a high prevalence of malaria (although, no doubt, the EPA does influence environmental regulations in other countries)

    (4) It was the unregulated overuse of DDT for agricultural purposes in the first place (and not the subsequent regulation by the EPA) that caused the dangers of continued use of DDT.

    (5) Despite misleading rhetoric that states otherwise, while DDT was banned for agricultural use in the U.S. and most developed countries, it was not banned in many other countries with high prevalence rates of malaria until 2004, and even still that ban was on agricultural use and not “vector control” – allowing for the continues use against mosquitoes while helping to control the development of resistance.

    I would greatly appreciate anyone providing information or links that contradict any of those statements.

    • Joshua,
      The ban in the US caused DDT to become unavailable world wide.
      It was this unavailability that killed so many.

      • The ban in the U.S. for agricultural usage, not vector control, in 1972 (after other countries had already banned it for agricultural use), made it “unavailable “in other countries that banned it for agricultural usage, and not vector control, in the Stockholm Convention of 2004?

        Malaria was on the increase in some areas in before DDT was banned for agricultural usage, and not vector control, usage in 1972. DDT resistant mosquitoes were developing as far back as 1956 – because a lack of regulation let to it being overused for agricultural purposes.

        Think about it, if DDT had not been regulated and not overused for agricultural purposes, it might have been used properly to eliminate malaria.

      • er…. If DDT had been regulated and not overused……

      • Anecdotal – my father served in the Solomons campaign during WW2: Guadalcanal, Gavutu-Tanambogo, Florida Island. The USMC sprayed the DDT like crazy. They also washed their clothes and bedding in DDT, and they smeared it on their bodies. After one year of this, he caught malignant tertian malaria.

      • Joshua,
        Please no more revisionst history on DDT.
        We get enough of that from AGW promoters.
        DDT effectively went away, and millions died because of it.
        It is coming back as a much more carefully applied poson, and is saving people.
        deal with it.

    • Pathetic, you are asserting stuff and asking people to prove it wrong. Sort of like no one has come out with a better explanation that GW is AGW and is CAGW, all because of CO2.

      • Actually, I’m saying that I have seen references that support the statements I’ve made and I’m seeking to ascertain if anyone has conflicting information.

        I’ve seen where people make a broad charge that the EPA was responsible for killing millions and millions due to malaria, and someone could choose to believe that charge or not, but none of the people I’ve come across who make that charge have provided any evidence that conflicts with the statements I made. The statements I made undermine the conclusion about the EPA’s culpability in those millions of deaths.

        Here’s one link with evidence for the statements I listed.


        If you have contradicting information, I’d love to see it.

      • DDT was very much overused causing egg thinning in raptors – indeed the impact on birds was the meaning of the books title. I would assume that essentially all birds are vulnerable – but that concentration in the food chain saw birds of prey succumb first.

        This is what Rachel Carson said – ‘No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story—the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting … What is the measure of this setback? The list of resistant species now includes practically all of the insect groups of medical importance … Malaria programmes are threatened by resistance among mosquitoes … Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than ‘Spray to the limit of your capacity’ …, Pressure on the pest population should always be as slight as possible.’

        The 2007 WHO approval for DDT is for internal surfaces and so keeps to Carson’s advice given as early as the 1950’s. There is no one solution for malaria – certainly not widespread indiscriminate spraying. Mosquito nets are the best solution and could eliminate malaria easily. DDT on mosquito nets is a perfect combination.

        But there was a fear campaign – and there was and is true about every environmental issue. And most of it is out of fear for the future. I came across a quote this morning about fear of extreme weather being just the thing to motivate change. It is not true but I think it says something about the current technological capacity of humans. We have the ability to create powerful technologies – split an atom or a gene, change the composition of the atmosphere, create black holes that will swallow the planet – these fears are mostly absurd but we really are at the stage of creating extremely powerful technologies and do need to think carefully about applying new technology.

  14. There seem to many knowledgeable people here.

    How about some thoughts on framing a falsifiable hypotheses about AGW?

    I await with great anticipation and patience.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Extra energy doesn’t warm something.
      CO2 doesn’t “trap” LW radiation.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Oh, yeah. 2 minutes. You were very patient.

      • A chain of mostly falsifiable links doesn’t make a falsifiable chain. A chain of all falsifiable links does. Now are we sure we even know what all the links are?

      • lol, yeh Jeff, but that isn’t the theory in its entirety, is it?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        lol, yeh Jeff, but that isn’t the theory in its entirety, is it?

        It’s the foundation. You want to debunk AGW, it’s a place to start.

        You can also try to show that when people burn carbon fuels that the cO2 doesn’t go to the atmosphere. That’d work, too.

      • How do you get from the “foundation” to reality. Your grasp of climate science is notcoming through.

      • Here come the straw men…

        The “foundation” is necessary but not sufficient. A falsification of the foundation would falsify AGW (which was the original question), but proving the foundation doesn’t prove AGW.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        That’s an interesting idea.

        Proving the GHGs trap heat in the atmosphere, that the amount of heat is a function of the amount of GHGs , and that humans are providing the bulk of the increase doesn’t prove AGW?

        What would it take to demonstrate the reliability of the theory if those elements don’t?

    • The “falsifiable hypothesis” thing has been covered pretty well. Claims that English snows with become a rare and exciting event in the 1990’s and now explaining than the heavy snows are not inconsistent with AGW predictions. The original statement was ill advised which quite a few AGW proponents admit.

      If you back up a bit and look at the comments as unbiased as you can you will see there is a lot of hype and truth on both sides.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The original hypothesis was that the snow line would move north. The hypethesis didn’t anticipate the change in circumpolar winds that has been knocking the big cap of arctic air south. Due to stuff like Hudson Bay freezing late. etc. Christy (et al) are attempting a to finesse a charge about a specific aspect (snow) to cover all of AGW. It’s a purely rhetorical charge.

        Spring is still changing its arrival times. Phytoplankton blooms 50 days early in the Arctic, for example. (50 days! “They have Moses and the Prophets. If they don’t believe these they won’t believe even if a man comes back from the dead.”)

      • Very good! So there were unknown or ill considered factors that negated a perfectly good sound bite. Perfection must truly be blissful.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Amazing. You know. It’s sort of like … wait for it … science.

        Where new information gets considered.

      • Jeffery,

        This might come as a shock, but… I think you may be missing the point. If you advocate radical change by making claims like, “Snow will become a rare and unusual event” then have to explain record setting snow fall a decade or two later, credibility tends to suffer.

        Then if you say that anything is possible to advocate radical change, your sanity tends to be questioned.

        There is a middle ground where the information is useful, even if the information is “I don’t know”.

      • Creditability is a hobgoblin of small minds. Apologies to Oscar.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Of course, there’s the point that you’re quibbling over details. AGW does not stand or fall on the number of snowy days in England. You’ve elided a political issue (what do we do; the “credibility” of scientists) with a scientific one.

        A pretty common thing around here.

      • So they has a great theory except that it was wrong.

      • lol, no, not wrong! Just ever changing to fit the theory to current events! Next year, if it is mild and no snow, they will state, “this is consistent with what the models told us.”

        And then, people like Jeffery will say, this is what was stated all along.

      • Yep, interesting that they’ve devolved to this point. Rain…..CC…..drought…..CC…..Snow……CC……no snow….CC……
        This winter…….cold….CC……previous winters, mild…..CC. on to ad nauseum.

      • Predicting increasingly severe winters as evidence of CAGW is science. But pointing out the fact that the prediction was wrong is rhetoric. Riiiight.

    • Richard Wakefield

      How about some thoughts on framing a falsifiable hypotheses about AGW?

      Easy, Zwiers claims AGW predicts more heat waves. The actual data of summer TMAX disputes this. There is no over all increase in that measure. In Canada heat waves are FEWER today than in the 1930’s.

  15. Hmm, my post seems to have hit the nether world. Dr. Curry, was it too much or did it simply fly off into space? If it was too much, I’d be much appreciative of someone letting me know what it was, so that I’d not do it again.

    • I had one wander off myself that was not particularly controversial. May be the Goolims are restless tonight.

    • hyperactive spam filter, for some reason.

    • I had an unremarkable one vanish earlier today. WordPress does that. I know that from having admin privileges at another WP blog. No rhyme nor reason.

      Which is not to say that there aren’t specific reasons that trigger the spam filter as well. It’s one of these AI things. Just does weird stuff for no apparent reason.

  16. There’s no good place to put this post, but wow, Climate Etc. is outpulling its weight as climate blogs go.

    Well done, Dr. Curry.

    Thank you.

  17. Anything is possible

    Extreme weather events are an integral part of the Earth’s climate system. They’ve happened in the past, they’re happening today, and will continue to happen in the future, regardless of what the overall climate is destined to do.

    Any objective assessment regarding the frequency of such events has to account for the fact that the world’s ever-increasing population and infrastructure, means that there are more people and property out there to be affected by them. Add in in the fact that a 24-hour media now has the ability to report such events in full, and sometimes gruesome, detail then it is easy to see how our perceptions may be warped into believing that these events are becoming more frequent and more extreme, even if they aren’t.

    The bottom-line is, despite the efforts of Francis Zwiers and his ilk to spin it otherwise, this is NOT a global-warming issue. It is a human development issue.

    • This very true for Flood events in developed countries. I live on a 100 year flood plain. That map was drawn before 3 flood control/hydro dams were built up river. If the dams fails or by other human error they release too much water too fast, a Flood event will occur. I predict somewhere in North Dakota or Minnesota or downstream in on Missouri or Mississippi this year there will TV ‘personalities’ reporting on the high school students filling sandbags to keep some river within its man made natural boundary.

  18. Richard Wakefield

    there is a firm physical basis for the expectation that increasing greenhouse gases will intensify warm temperature extremes, moderate cold temperature extremes, and intensify extreme damaging precipitation events.

    “intensify warm temperature extremes” Not happening, in Canada the number of hear waves have been dropping since 1900. Elsewhere in the world I have checked, summer TMax has been flat, no change. The “Russian heat wave” wasnt. It was localized to the Moscow area (Siberia was cooler than normal), and was only the last week of July and the first two weeks of Aug. http://cdnsurfacetemps.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/moscow-1949-2010/

    “moderate cold temperature extremes” Yes, this is happening. Winters are less cold. And that is bad how? Using less FF for heat is bad how?

    “and intensify extreme damaging precipitation events” Again, that is not happening. There is no over all increase in precipitation trends, With shorter winters, what would have come down as snow is now rain, but the over all yearly total trend is flat.

    The Berkely data once up will allow anyone to check this out.

    Does this mean Zwiers lied? Looks like it.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      “Does this mean Zwiers lied? Looks like it.”

      Well, you’ve narrowed it down some.

    • The End is FAR


      Winters are less cold.

      This makes sense in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth is near perihelion during the NH’s winter solstice which would indicate a warmer and shorter winter. In another 13,000 years the opposite will hold true. Also interesting is that if the current interglacial lasts as long as the last interglacial, it should last another 10 – 12 thousand years.

      Coincidence? Are we at the halfway point for this interglacial?

      • Richard Wakefield

        Likely, not our concern.

      • The End is FAR

        Would be interesting to map the length of interglacials with past orbital, obliquity, and precession conditions that are similar to today’s.

        If the current interglacial is at its halfway point, then we should expect to be at or near the highest temps scene in previous interglacials. The last one for instance saw temps higher than we see today with sea levels higher than we see today without the influence of AGW.

        Occam’s razor comes to mind.

      • Actually the data shows that the interglacial periods are warmest in the start, and slide colder till the next ice age starts again, this one is cooling slower than the last interglacial, that gives hope that it might last longer than before. In the end it will be the astrological effects from the solar systems movement through the galaxy, and the resultant orbital changes that determine how this one goes.

      • The End is FAR

        Can you please reference your source? I’m using EPICA 2004 and Petit 1999.

        While the trend towards the glacial peak is less sloped than the rise towards its minimum, it looks more like the Ice Age ends at about -3 to -5 C rather than the beginning of temps rising after a glaciation peak.

        I can see no slowing in the cooling as it appears that we are just reaching the halfway point. Perhaps your source shows otherwise.

    • I don’t think Zwiers lied, he let his methods lie to him. It happens all the time in every profession. It seems climate scientists expect too much from “magic” canned programs and forget any instrument or statistical method can lie to you. A lot more information is available from tree rings if you figure out the right method or combination of methods to tease the information out. That is why I find “hide the decline” so stupid. Divergence is another clue, not a flaw.

    • Holly Stick

      Richard Wakefield, about 56,000 people died from the heat and smoke in Russia in July and August 2010, the majority in August. It definitely was not confined to just the Moscow area. (See the map of the fires) Rain on August 13 helped but there were also some fires in September:

      “…The 2010 Russian wildfires were several hundred wildfires that broke out across Russia, primarily in the west, starting in late July 2010, due to record temperatures (the hottest recorded summer in Russian history[3]) and drought in the region.[4] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared a state of emergency in seven regions for the fires, while 28 other regions were under a state of emergency due to crop failures caused by the Russian drought.[5] The fires cost roughly $15 billion USD in damages…”


      Does this mean Wakefield lied? Looks like it.

      • Holly Stick

        Furthermore, there were heatwaves all over the Northern Hemisphere in 2010.


      • oh good Lord Holly, you act as if this world had never seen a heat wave or forest fire before.

        Shock news!!! This just in today! Bad things happened even when CO2 was below 350 ppm!
        1910 – Low CO2 Forest Fires Devastate The US!!!


      • Jeffrey Davis

        Are you under the impression that there’s supposed to be novel kinds of weather? Heat-induced vampirism? Actual rains of cats and dogs?
        Melting automobiles? (novel in Non-NOLA parts of the world only)

        It’s merely rhetorical to point to dire stuff in the past. The IPCC is predicting 1.5C-3.5C of warming. It isn’t predicting novel forms of weather. More bad weather is what’s predicted.

      • Holly Stick

        Like Terry Pratchet’s books, where the rains of fish aren’t so bad, but the rains of bedsteads are a problem.

      • lol, yeh, its rhetorical for me to point out past events which rise to the level of significance with current events.

        So, how is it not rhetorical to point out events that occurred last year as evidence of the current theory? Every year it is expected to have a number of significant climatic events. If what I’m doing is rhetorical, then what Holly is doing is irrelevant…….unless someone is prepared to show a significant increase in events for a trend longer than a few months.

        Maybe you guys can re-read what Dr. Christy had to say?

      • Sigh, my post went to the nether world.

        Long story short, if what I’m stating is reduced to rhetorical then bringing up last years events is irrelevant. Unless you or anyone else is prepared to do an apples to apples comparison to demonstrate increase rate of extreme events or intensity beyond a few months.

        Maybe you guys could re-read what Dr. Christy was stating?

      • Furthermore, there were heatwaves all over the Northern Hemisphere in 2010.

        Like there never has been before 1998, right. Record hot days in Canada are all still before 1955. Very few today compared to then. It’s an accounting issue not a trend in temps. Do you know why?

      • Do you have a point besides the fact that AGW believers chase weather and claim that whatever the weather event, it is *proof* of AGW?

      • Tragic no doubt.

        “The swamps and bogs surrounding Moscow had been drained in the 1960s for agricultural use and mining of peat to generate energy.[82] In 2002, a series of hard-to-extinguish peat fires led the government to the recognition that peat fields needed to be rewatered to prevent wildfires.[82] By 2010, however, large peat areas that had not been rewatered contributed to the wildfires. Government officials said they could not have anticipated the heatwave that caused the fires. However, critics have blamed complacent officials for ignoring warnings of blazes near villages.[83] Sergey Robaten, Vadim Tatur, and Maksim Kalashnikov argued that the fires and the inability to contain and extinguish them was due to “the inaction of bureaucrats” and Putin’s elimination of the national fire service in 2007. Putin had transferred responsibility for fighting fires to those renting state property and the subjects of the federation, with the assumption that owners or renters would spend the money necessary to prevent forest fires. However, the reality in Russia was that companies were seeking to make quick profits and so neglected forest fire fighting. Putin’s spokesman stated “this is a well functioning system which only needs some minor adjustments” Wikipedia article you linked.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The world is going to be the home to human beings. We’ve done terrible stupid things in the past and survived. If AGW means that in order to survive, people are going to have to be perfect in the future, well, we won’t be.

        All so we won’t pay for the externalities of carbon pollution.

        Well, imperfection comes in all sorts of ways.

      • This is scary, I kinda agree with what you typed. Are you sure you don’t want to edit that a little?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        In more ways than you can imagine.

      • For Holly and Jeffery about the Russian Heat Wave

      • Holly Stick

        “…While a contribution to the heat wave from climate change could not be entirely ruled out, if it was present, it played a much smaller role than naturally occurring meteorological processes in explaining this heat wave’s intensity.

        The researchers cautioned that this extreme event provides a glimpse into the region’s future as greenhouse gases continue to increase, and the signal of a warming climate, even at this regional scale, begins to emerge more clearly from natural variability in coming decades. Climate models evaluated for the new study show a rapidly increasing risk of such heat waves in western Russia, from less than one percent in 2010, to 10 percent or more by the end of this century…”

      • This is a most amazing bit of doublespeak:

        The deadly Russian heat wave of 2010 was due to a natural atmospheric phenomenon often associated with weather extremes, according to a new NOAA study. And while the scientists could not attribute the intensity of this particular heat wave to climate change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to become increasingly frequent in the region in coming decades.

        The Great Pumpkin will come…

      • When I was a kid, me and my friends would camp out in the woods on the hills above our village. We’d sit around our camp fire and eat barely-cooked sausages off sticks. And we’d hold flashlights under our chins and talk of headless horsemen, and the ghost of a woman running down the hill in the dead of night, raising the alarm after a bell mine collapsed in the 1800s, trapping dozens of miners. That’s how Bluebell Woods became known as Hunger Hills.

        We used to scare each other absolutely shitless. It was hilarious, looking back.. such good times.

        You guys remind me of me and my friends. When we were 9.

      • “Does this mean that Wakefield lied? Looks like it.”

        No it means Holly Stick lied (as usual).

        From NOAA:

        “Despite this strong evidence for a warming planet, greenhouse gas forcing fails to explain the 2010 heat wave over western Russia. The natural process of atmospheric blocking, and the climate impacts induced by such blocking, are the principal cause for this heat wave. It is not known whether, or to what exent, greenhouse gas emissions may affect the frequency or intensity of blocking during summer. It is important to note that observations reveal no trend in a daily frequency of July blocking over the period since 1948, nor is there an appreciable trend in the absolute values of upper tropospheric summertime heights over western Russia for the period since 1900.”

        It goes on

        “The indications are that the current blocking event is intrinsic to the natural variability of summer climate in this region (Figure 11), a region which has a climatological vulnerability to blocking and associated heat waves (e.g., 1960, 1972, 1988)”

        href=”http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/moscow2010/”>full NOAA reference here

        Why don’t you stop making things up?

      • Sorry, try here

      • Holly Stick

        Point out exactly what lie you think I told. Use exact quotes.
        Read your link again, especially this sentence:

        “…It is not known whether, or to what exent, greenhouse gas emissions may affect the frequency or intensity of blocking during summer. ..”

        So they are saying maybe global warming had an effect, maybe it didn’t, THEY DON”T KNOW.

      • Holly Stick

        Here’s a recent report, page 10:

        “…The absence
        212 of long-term trends in regional mean temperatures and variability together with the model results
        213 indicate that it is very unlikely that warming attributable to increasing greenhouse gas
        214 concentrations contributed substantially to the magnitude of this heat wave. Nevertheless, there
        215 is evidence that such warming has contributed to observed heat waves in other regions, and is
        very likely to produce more frequent and extreme heat waves later this century…”

      • Holley, I ‘ve done digging into the claims that there are more heat waves. It’s not true anywhere on the planet.


        See this about the Paris heat wave claimed to have been from AGW:

        Now ask your friends at RC why there are no increases in heat waves.

      • Holly stick,
        Where do you pull this bs about heatwaves from?

      • The lie that you tell is to peddle the idea that events like the Russian Heat Wave are attributable to AGW. Take your activist nonsense back to RC or wherever you normally tell your tales. You are getting very boring.

      • Holly Stick

        I did not peddle that idea. You are either lying about what I wrote or too bigotted to actually read what I wrote carefully.

      • What was the summer temps in the Poland? Serbia? Finland? Nothing unusual, normal summers. It was a localized hot spell. Wnna bet what it will be this year? See http://cdnsurfacetemps.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/moscow-1949-2010/ Notice that heat wave was a one off fluke.

        BTW, far more people die every year from cold than heat waves. Yet not a peep out of people like you about that.

  19. Judith,

    Most of us who have more faith in data (especially unaltered as is the case of the city and state record highs and lows) than models would find John Christy’s presentation more convincing than the ‘convinced’ Zwiers.

    See this graph which John refers to which clearly shows that the 1930s as the most extreme (in terms of warmth) decade and the 2000s unususually benign as John said.

    The studies that show increasing heat that Zwiers and Somerville relied on began their analysis in the 1950s.

    UM’s Knute Nadelhoffer started his trend for the Great Lakes 30 years ago, discussing the warming observed for Michigan and Lake Superior. Had he viewed the long term record from NCDC for the Great Lakes (Upper Midwest) region he would have likewise seen his rapid warming was just another multidecadal leg due to a warm PDO and more El Ninos (now beginning to reverse).

    The arctic too exhibits the same multidecadal 60 year cyclical behavior.

  20. Richard Wakefield

    Christy is absolutely right about record setting events. It’s an issue of accounting, not trends in climate. Soon as records started to be kept every day was a record setting day. As time progresses, fewer and fewer days are record setting because there are fewer slots available to fill. What Christie didn’t say was that record setting high temps in the last 50 years are cooler temps than those set prior to 1955. See example in Figure 1C here: http://cdnsurfacetemps.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/more-heat-waves-expected/

    At 1/10th C slots still to be filled, it would very likely take a thousand years or more to fill them all, after which no more record setting hot days would ever happen again.

  21. Zwiers’ tstimony included this:

    “A warmer climate would inevitably have more intense warm temperature extremes than the present climate, including longer and more intense heat waves, and less intense cold temperature extremes.”

    If warming would “inevitably” lead to “less intense cold extremes,” do we finally have something identified as capable of falsifying CAGW? I have never before seen an advocate admit that there is anything that is INconsistent with CAGW, but is there any other way to read that?

    Now we just have to establish how long a period, with what degree of reduced cold temperature extremes, would be inconsistent with global warming.

    • :) “less intense cold extremes”

      • Richard Wakefield

        That would be nice, wasn’t the case this year.

      • That last paragraph should read “what degree of INCREASED cold temperature extremes…” in the last paragraph.

      • Richard Wakefield

        I have only looked at Canadian winter TMin so far. It’s increasing. For example there’s 1/3 fewer days blow -20C in Southern Ontario since 1900.

      • Increased Tmin without an equivalent increase in Tmax would be suggestive of an increasing urban heat island effect. An increase in the mass of concrete and asphalt would cool more slowly at night.

      • Oh, yes. And that is the problem isnt it.

  22. I think the testimony of both witnesses was directly relevant to the issue of the EPA’s endangerment finding. The EPA based its finding not just on the assertion that CO2 is a greenhouse gas/pollutant, but also on its acceptance of the IPCC consensus. All aspects of the CAGW hypotheses are thus relevant to that finding.

    (1) Human emitted CO2 has to be causing (2) warming on a (3) global scale that is (4) potentially catastrophic. Absent any one of those factors, the endangerment finding falls. Therefore evidence attacking or defending any element of that consensus is relevant. Their testimony as to extreme events being evidence or not of the severity of current warming goes to the C of CAGW.

  23. AGW_Skeptic

    Dr. Curry,

    I watched on-line until the early start of the questioning period.

    Why didn’t anyone challenge the premise of CO2 being a pollutant?

    Perhaps I missed it later on, but to allow some members opening statements (as well as some of the experts) call CO2 a pollutant without any challenge is a travesty!

    This should be the focus of the entire debate on EPA regulation of CO2.

    Your thoughts?

    • The question of whether CO2 is a pollutant was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that the EPA could find it to be. The merits of the case aside, the congress does not need to address that issue head on to reach the correct result.

      This is a most likely a strategic choice (and a good one). If the Republicans go after the finding that CO2 is a pollutant, the Dems will characterize it as Republicans trying to overturn a Supreme Court decision, and the issue will be an argument regarding AGW (it is AGW that makes CO2 a pollutant).

      By targeting the endangerment finding, Reublicans make it a fight between a bureaucracy and the congress, and more importantly, they make it about the C in CAGW. While AGW makes CO2 a pollutant, only CAGW justifies the endangerment finding.

      It is about framing the issue and setting the terms of the debate. Quite well done I would say.

      • Agreed. What ever the final decision, it should not be left to a single agency.

      • Without changing the Clean Air Act, challenging the definition of a pollutant is a non-starter. From Wikipedia (bolding is mine):

        The Act defines “air pollutant” as “any air pollution agent or combination of such agents, including any physical, chemical, biological, radioactive . . . substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air”.[9] The majority report commented that “greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of air pollutant

        Note that even the majority found the definition “capacious”. Scalia’s dissent put it a bit more pithily, saying that under it everything from “frisbees to flatulence” could be a pollutant subject to EPA regulation.

        I doubt the Supreme Court would see tightening that definition up as an attack on their ruling…my impression is that both the majority and the minority on the court felt their hands were tied in that regard.

  24. Richard Wakefield

    Looks like one of my new posts dissappeared into the ether too.

    Christy is right about the stats of extreme events. It’s an accounting issue not an indication of trends in climate. Each day after records where first kept were all record setting days. As time goes on, fewer and fewer days can become record setting days because slots have been filled.

    For example, Figure 1C here http://cdnsurfacetemps.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/more-heat-waves-expected/ you can see there are still a number of available slots of 1/10th C yet to be filled making record highs. It could take 1000 years or more to fill all those slots. Doesn’t mean the climate is doing anything.

    • An excellent post on the subject is here:

      It’s a record!


      • lol, ctm, stop with using stuff like that!!!

        If some were to click on that link their synapses and ephaptic coupling would go haywire!

        I can just see the headlines now! ctm causes mass strokes and seizures!

      • I don’t know. Is it just me, or shouldn’t that be obvious?

      • I mean, really. I’ve lived in the Puget sound area all my life, and in my lifetime, I’ve experienced one record low and two record highs. Since records only go back a little over 100 years, it’s obvious to me why that’s not remarkable. Isn’t it obvious? If we had 1000 years of data, it would be different.

      • People are egocentric. It is a compulsion to believe that everything that happens in our lives is unique and significant. Its just the way we’re wired, and to an extent, it is true. …….. so much more to add……so little words to express….. I’ll leave it at that.

      • I saw a statistic once that in any give year, something like 30% of the public believe that the rapture was going to happen in that year. People don’t seem to understand that interesting times aren’t a good thing.

  25. Christy did not directly address Meehl’s result that in the 2000’s US record highs occurred twice as often as record lows, and that this is an increasing trend. Instead he picked dates going back to the 50’s, and statewide records instead of US individual station statistics. These are sufficiently rare records that they can’t be statistically robust.
    Given the Meehl statistics directly alongside Christy’s, Meehl’s look much more robust and convincing.
    If Christy wanted to say that statistics can be misleading, he should have directly addressed Meehl’s rather than inventing his own strawman.

    • Christy pointed out the arbitrary an ex post nature of Meehl.

      Meehl found the specific climate characteristic and metric that gave the desired result.

      How many times does it need to be repeated. Specific ex ante predictions are what need to be tested, not some arbitrary, ex post mined metrics.

    • Richard Wakefield

      Meehl’s result that in the 2000′s US record highs occurred twice as often as record lows, and that this is an increasing trend

      I do not see that at all in summer TMax. Most of the records set today are far fewer in number than before 1950, and are of lower temps than those set prior to 1950.

      Besides, recordsetting temps doesnt mean anything. It’s an accounting issue, not a climate trend issue.

    • Meehl shows 290,000 record highs to 140,000 record lows in the 2000’s alone. This looks like it is not just a statistical aberration. You can work out the odds of that for a non-warming climate. It is robust enough for me.

  26. Winters are getting colder in the NH?

    Hmm, well, I haven’t seen entire NH winter temp records. I’ve seen NH records,


    Here’s a GISS map of the last decade’s temp trends


    And I’ve seen U.S. winter records……



  27. A science-free Congress?
    By: John Abraham and Michael Mann and Michael Oppenheimer and Peter Gleick
    March 8, 2011 04:35 AM EST

    To our dismay, and the nation’s detriment, self-described climate change deniers – strongly supported by fossil-fuel interests — continue to mislead Congress and the public.

    In late January, we joined 14 other leading scientists in writing a letter to every member of Congress, asking our elected representatives to separate science from policy. We called attention to the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, urging Congress to “address the challenge of climate change, and lead the national response…” We want Congress to understand that, with each passing day, the problem worsens.

    Our letter was certainly not the first plea to Congress to address climate change, and it won’t be the last. An open letter just last May from 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences urged similar actions. But the race to run away from the problem is nothing short of staggering.

    Nothing exemplifies this more than a bill by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), to overturn the scientific finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that greenhouse gases are harmful to human health.

    We are saddened and disturbed that Upton is apparently planning to hold a vote in committee very soon to overturn a science-based determination absent any scientific justification for doing so.

    This science-free approach serves only the interests of oil and coal producers and other big polluters who don’t want Congress — or the American people — to know what decades of scientific research have revealed about current climate trends and the growing future risks we face.

    Science is the Achilles heel for those who try to perpetuate the myth that climate change is not occurring, or that the massive build-up of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is not the main reason the climate is changing. There is no serious disagreement in the scientific community that global temperatures are increasing, sea levels are rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic and that fossil fuel combustion is the primary cause.

    In addition, the rapid shrinking of Arctic sea ice and the pattern of extreme weather and climate — including widespread drought, extraordinarily intense rainstorms, heat waves and wildfires — reflect more than just natural climate variability.

    These findings have been confirmed by all the leading scientific academies around the world, most prominent among them, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which last year issued a series of four comprehensive reports that were unambiguous. The academy stated, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities … and in many cases is already affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.”

    Like the tobacco industry before them, fossil fuel interests regularly trot out discredited voices, false and disproven arguments and selective and misleading evidence to generate doubt. Their goal is to create the perception that fundamental aspects of climate science are controversial. They are not.

    All their claims, all the studies they cite and all the evidence they have presented has been thoroughly reviewed by climate scientists. There is no scientific basis for contesting the academy’s finding. But that doesn’t stop fossil fuel interests from pouring millions of dollars into distorting, misrepresenting and, at times, falsifying the science.

    We are disheartened that many in Congress choose to be guided by those who profit from pollution. Now we learn that Republicans in the House are proposing to cut more than $170 million in climate change programs, as well as to compromise the EPA’s ability to carry out its science-based mission. Given the staggering costs of disaster response and the financial ambush awaiting us if we fail to anticipate the risk of massive climate disruption, such action can only be labeled irresponsible.

    These same Republicans pledged no cuts to national security. Yet the growing risk of climate change has been clearly identified as a national security threat by top military experts and analysts.

    If Congress turns a deaf ear to science, it would be up to mayors, city planners, the building trades, transportation officials, health care workers, small and large businesses, universities, city councils, agriculture interests, water management officials and many others to take the lead in laying out the risks. We are grateful that many already are.

    John Abraham is an associate professor of thermal sciences at the University of St.Thomas. Peter Gleick is the president of The Pacific Institute. Michael Mann is the director of the Earth Science Center at Penn State University. Michael Oppenheimer is a professor of geosciences at Princeton University.

    • In late January, we joined 14 other leading scientists in writing a letter to every member of Congress, asking our elected representatives to separate science from policy.

      That’s baffling. Aren’t these the guys who are demanding that their science drive policy? Isn’t that the entire mission of the IPCC?

      And how, pray tell, does congress separate the science from policy? Congress isn’t creating science, these guys are.

    • Translation: “There’s a congressional hearing today; we’re the only experts worth listening to, (because we said so) and we weren’t invited. And it’s all because of those evil ‘deniers'”

      When will they ever learn?!

    • ish, lol, leading scientists? Laughed at scientists. Was there a fallacious argument tactic they didn’t use in their whine?
      ish, I’m gonna help you and your cause, only because if it weren’t for you guys, I’d be reduced to laughing at people with robes and tambourines at airports. And after a while, that gets boring. I’m going to tell you why your friends are losing the argument.

      The reason why your friends are losing the argument is because they live in a box and they, including yourself, operate under assumptions that aren’t based in reality. More, they’re calling upon history when history doesn’t serve them well. Have you notice how the numbers expressed in the overwhelming scientific consensus have diminished? 2500, wasn’t that the first number used? IPCC version whatever? Now you’re reduced to 255 and 14 and what 75 out of 77 for the 97%? (chuckle)

      They babble about “no serious disagreement” when congress just witnessed a serious disagreement. Then they laughably squeeze in sea-level and ocean acidification. Its not like the members of congress will know, but, sea-levels have risen since the last ice age and nothings changed about that, and ocean acidification has already been cast aside as a laughable unintelligible alarmist blathering. What’s the ph of the pacific ocean 600 miles north of Honolulu? phhhttt But, I digress.

      Did you read Christy’s testimony? Refute it. Post it anywhere and show me the scientific refutation. But, back to the box and my help to the alarmist cause. History teaches us many things and many lessons applied in one area also applies in another later.
      “Know your enemy”, a saying derived from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

      The fossil fuel industry doesn’t run the skepticism. Indeed, with the exception of one major oil company, they are fully for a CO2 cap. This is why alarmists are failing. They don’t even know the most base part of the argument; they don’t know with whom they’re arguing. I’m not saying the oil companies don’t hedge their bets, they do. But they’re not important to the skeptical community.

      Shell, BP, and Conoco are all affirmed to be fully for capping CO2. Takes about 15 minutes and Google. If someone gave this a thought for more than just 2 seconds, they’d realize why.

      The interpretation of “The Art of War” is a worthwhile read even if one doesn’t intend to physically participate in war. Learning isn’t confined to reading Malthus and Paul R. Ehrlich.

    • Bless, you’re persistant at least.

    • Thanx ianash for letting us know that these so called scientists are actually advocates.
      Then again, many of us already knew this and the emails confirmed it.
      p.s. Do you think maybe WWF or Greenpeace drafted that letter and asked a bunch of snouts to sign it?

      • p.p.s. has anyone else found it interesting that these alarmist activists seem to always get together in a bunch when submitting opinions?
        It’s like…”hey guys, lets get a letter into congress before this thing gets out of hand, contact everybody, the more signatures we get the better we can influence.”

        Does anyone else find that…ummmm…unsettling.. from a science perspective?

      • You prefer gigantic fake scientific petitions signed by weathermen and other denialists?

      • Weathermen at least know “weather”. Haven’t noticed that a lot of scientists do. Nor a lot of alarmists.

    • keep the troll on a diet.

  28. John Trigge

    Zwiers’ reference to the recent Australian floods proves nothing regarding AGW and lends more credibility to Christy’s position.

    During the floods in Brisbane, there were many TV shots showing a tree with the flood levels from previous years. One, from decades ago, was 2 to 3 metres ABOVE the recent level.

    The Oz BOM shows many floods far worse going back to the late 1800s (http://www.bom.gov.au/hydro/flood/qld/fld_history/brisbane_history.shtml).

  29. leftymartin

    Zwiers states “two new papers in Nature (Min et al., 2011; Pall et al., 2011) have presented evidence that changes in the intensity of extreme precipitation since the middle of the 20th century may be linked to human induced global warming”.

    Computer model output is not evidence – it is computer model output, full stop. Herein lies the great schism between the global warmers and rationalists – the warmers cling to computer model output, while the rationalists (such as Christy), dare to point out that there is nothing unprecedented about the events being discussed, other than the level of hysteria being ratcheted up by the likes of Zwiers, Sommerville, and their ilk.

    Christy was dead on – there can be nothing so sobering to the alarmists seeking to blame every extreme event on anthropogenic interference with the climate system as a little real world evidence and history.

    Off topic, nice to see Mann still has time to write letters proclaiming the consensus, chastising the Republicans, and inferring the likes of Christy and Pielke Sr. are “deniers”. I suspect his attention over the coming weeks may be somewhat diverted given the news today – time to lawyer up, Dr. Mann, if you haven’t already.

    • andrew adams

      Well the Russian heatwave was unpreceded, at least in the last 1,000 years, but extreme events don’t have to be unprecedented to indicate that there is something unusual going on, they just have to occur more often than would normally be expected. For example last year’s Amazon drought wasn’t unprecedented – but it was a once in a century event which happened for the second time in five years.

      • Because the Czar kept such meticulous records?

      • The Russian heat waves come about every 18 years or so, almost as regular as the tidal effects that cause them, by setting up the enhanced meridional flows that create the blocking highs in regard to the topography of the Urals to the East. The zonal flow that usually flushes out the stagnate air and building high temperatures, just doesn’t form when periods of atmospheric circulation patterns driven by changes in the lunar declinational tides repeat.

        To say these effects that happen repeatably, and predictability are unprecedented, is quite a stretch.

      • andrew adams

        The head of the state weather service, Alexander Frolov, said on Monday that the heatwave of 2010 was the worst in 1,000 years of recorded Russian history.


        He should be a reasonably reliable source I would have thought.

      • No comment.

      • Tell you what, I’ll sell you my system for playing the lottery. I can show that, in theory, it doubles your chances of winning the lottery.
        Of course, it can be neither proved nor disproved. Even if you win the lottery twice in your lifetime, that’s not proof that my system works – equally, if you fail to win at all in your lifetime, it’s still consistent with my theory.
        So, how much are you willing to pay?

  30. Dang…..lost another post to the nether world…… I thought it interesting…..too bad, ish could have learned something. All for the best, I guess.

  31. @Judith

    After going through both statements, I would agree with others here that Christy did a better job of getting his message across.

    He also covered a broader scope than Zwiers, who essentially limited his discussion to the observed warming of the planet, which he has referred to as human induced global warming, the observed extreme weather events in recent years and the postulation that these may be linked to the warming.

    He steps on thin ice, as far as I can judge, with his statement that the climate models predicted warming in the first decades of the 21st century, and that this prediction has been borne out by the temperature record (i.e. the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s), adding the statement:

    The fact that this prediction has turned out to be correct provides independent confirmation that most of the observed warming on global and continental scales can be ascribed, with a high level of scientific certainty, to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

    I believe this is a bit of a stretch, in view of the fact that the record has shown no warming trend over the past 10 years (in fact, slight cooling, compared to an IPCC projection of 0.2C warming), and the “high level of scientific certainty” (that the observed “warming” can be ascribed to increased GHGs) sounds like a “leap of faith”.

    It also appeared to me that Christy did a more thorough job on his “homework” than Zwiers.

    OK. I’m skeptical by nature (rationally so, I hope). But I think the score here was:

    Christy: 1
    Zweirs: 0


  32. spam filter still appears to be in overdrive.

  33. Judith

    The material you quote here merely demonstrates that there is not a level playing field in climate science, and as a result more papers can be published by ‘professionals’ using research funding to ‘prove’ the establishment view of AGW hypothesis, than by amatuers who only can fit these things in -unpaid-amongst their day to day life.

    Given time, I could completely deconstruct Francis Zwiers assertions about modern climatic events being due to man. We have a vast amount of material-scientific and anecdotal-that demonstrates that modern day events are nothing out of the ordinary when comsidered against the background of history. As Christy observes, if you look at a short historic record-such as a century-it is likely that many modern events will fall out side of the available records, but a deeper examination-such as those studies compiled by Hubert Lamb- would reveal many similarities between today and the past.

    Much material was never gathered in the first place-there were far fewer humans to observe events- and many records that were taken exist in such places as diaries or chronicles by land owners. Hence they were never digitised and therfore don’t exist to many modern researchers used to getting stuff instantly from the internet.

    If amatuer sceptics could tap into a source of research funds you would see very many more credible papers that would address the current imbalance.

    My first piece of research, if I were funded, would be to amplify my work on Global temperatures. SST’s are little short of nonsensical and the land ones are little better.


    • Tonyb

      We have a vast amount of material-scientific and anecdotal-that demonstrates that modern day events are nothing out of the ordinary when considered against the background of history.

      Here is data that supports your statement

  34. Congratulations to Judith Curry for hosting this Thread.

    One or two points re the Francis Zwiers Testimony seem worth making.

    The first is that it is time it was generally understood that while Zwiers has co-authored with Hans von Storch a huge textbook (Statistical Analysis in Climate Research CUP 1999, pp.484), he has never so far as I can see used any of those techniques, and least of all in his testimony to the House Committee. The most glaring omission from all his work and Testimony is the complete absence of any reports of regression analysis by him of the proximate causes of temperature change.

    Secondly, clearly his textbook show he can do regressions, so why does he not? Could it be that they would not support his claims (p.6 of Testimony) that the temperature data he does report are not at all correlated with CO2?
    Here is the direct quote: “Figure 2 also shows the prediction that was made by the IPCC in 2001 that the decade of the 2000s would be 0.1-0.2oC warmer than the 1990s, primarily because of the influence of rising greenhouse gases”.

    If Zwiers has statistical evidence for the attribution of just 0.1-0.2oC to rising atmospheric CO2, why does he not show it? It is also telling that his Figure 2 does not include the linear regression trend lines for the temperature data used there , as they are of course derisory, even though naturally he uses 2000, a La Nina year as his start year:
    y = 0.0015x + 0.151
    R² = 0.1073
    (UAH Global temperature anomalies January 2000 to October 2010; I left out the very cold La Nina November and December 2010 just to be helpful to Zwiers).

    That trend yields an increase of 1.8 oC by 2110, well below the IPCC’s 3-4, but then Zwiers would not have wanted to tell the House Committee about that would he? I apologise for the sarcasm, but it seems justified.

    Perish also the thought that Zwiers might have shown the trends in increases in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 for 2000 to 2010! But it is easy to see why he never would, because the trend is actually negative (albeit not significantly so) for that period:

    y = -0.0035x + 1.998
    R² = 0.0009

    Comparing the two trends helps to explain why Zwiers does not choose to perform regressions on his data. With more apologies to all, I have and here are the results:
    (1) Constant = 0: UAH anomalies = f(increases in CO2)
    Adj R2: 0.014; Coeff. on CO2= 0.035; t = 1.68; p = 0.096
    (2) Constant not zero:
    Adj R2: 0.0004; Coeff. on CO2= 0.0116; t = 0.97; p = 0.33

    Setting the constant (y-intercept) at zero gives Zwiers his best chance, but it does not help. In both cases there is NO statistically significant correlation at all between the increases in CO2 and the UAH anomalies (for that the t stats should be >2, the p < 0.15, and the R2 should be at least 0.5).

    Ever helpful, I also report a regression of the total atmospheric CO2 concentration against the UAH anomalies, and while the R2 remains absurdly low (0.057), the t- and p- stats look good, but then if we regress sales of mobile phones against UAH we will also find a stunning correlation.

    Zwiers has forgotten if he ever knew the Durbin-Watson statistic which tests for spurious correlations like that for mobile phone sales and temperature anomalies, and at 0.593 (should be over 2.0) it shows the correlation between total, rather than changes in, atmospheric CO2, and UAH anomalies, is indeed spurious.

    Perhaps there is somebody at the University of Victoria who can explain these results to Dr Zwiers, as it appears he has forgotten whatever statistics he once knew. For clearly these regressions provide no support whatsoever for the large claims he made to the House Committee.

    I leave readers here to draw their own conclusions concerning the competence of Francis Zwiers to inform the House Committee on anything except Canadian ice rinks.

    • Jim Cripwell

      I wish I could write this well. One of the things that has been obvious to me for 10 years or more, is that there is little or no observed data that supports the hypothesis of CAGW. Dr. Zweirs testimony, and your criticism of it, confirms this fact.

      Unfortunately, the proponents of CAGW have painted themselves into a corner, and can no longer admit that there is not enough observed data to support CAGW. So we get testimony like that which Dr Zweirs has given. I wonder when the bulk of scientists will wake up and realise that the statement in the SPM to AR4 that it is “very likely (90% probability)”, that the recent warming was caused by CAGW, is just plain nonsense; that proponents of CAGW can no longer admit that we just dont know what happens when we add CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels.

    • Straw man

      There’s no good correlation between two trends there’ll never be good correlation between, so there’s no connection!

      Regression analysis is an important tool within the constraints for which it can provide meaningful results, and is a waste of time elsewhere.

      Correlation between first order effects, ie simple geometric relations with only one cause and only one result on only one field is a very useful and meaningful statistic, well-understood enough that an ape could lecture on things like Durbin-Watson tests for spurious correlations.

      Higher order, multivariate relations are not susceptible to this sort of analysis and it is mere trollism to accost an analysis for not using it.

      Zwiers uses other tools and techniques, ones appropriate to his conclusions, subject to peer review and apparently correct.

      Why not comment on those directly?

      If we start using regression analysis the way you propose across the board, I guarantee your insurance rates will go up and your stocks will tank as actuaries and financial analysts will get things just plain wrong. Wronger.

      This is like going to a dentist for a toothache and having him recommend a proctological examination.

  35. Suyts maybe this one won’t get lost. Ish, I complement John Christy on speaking to his audience. That is pretty important. One of the problems with blogs is the audience is pretty diverse. There are a pretty fair number of engineers and statisticians in this particular audience. These professions know that they can and will probably screw up. Good ones know how to minimize their screw ups to maximize their success. It is not if they will screw up, but how bad and how well they deal with it, that makes them good at their professions.

    I used to have so many double and triple checks to avoid screw ups it was remarkable. A screw up embarrassed the heck out of me, so the times I did, I dealt with them quickly and humbly. Luckily, none were ever major screw ups. I did get hired every once in a while to evaluate the screw ups of others. Most were architects that thought they were good engineers.

    So when a climate scientist makes a fairly large and obvious mistake, I judge them on how they deal with their mistakes. “He got the right answer even if he used the wrong methods.” Does not impress and audience of engineers. Luck is nice in Vegas, but not something an engineers counts on.

    So if you want to have your desired impact, you really should consider your audience. Now repeat after me Ish, “PCA and nonstationary is a poor mix.” When a statistician, especially one famous for developing a method, calls the amateurish use of his method, “Dubious Statistics”, perhaps a little humility is in order. There are tests to verify results Ish. Publishing a “Seminal” paper full of mistakes because you don’t know how to test the validity of your results, is called a screw up. Screw up = humility and fix the problem. I know that is a foreign concept, but remember your audience. Calling a screw up, evidence don’t cut it. So pick carefully what you lump in with your conveincing evidence.

    • The End is FAR

      “He got the right answer even if he used the wrong methods.”

      This will inevitably lead to a wrong answer. Repeatable results are what engineers strive for, not one expected result. Sounds a great deal like the scientific method.

      Publishing a “Seminal” paper full of mistakes because you don’t know how to test the validity of your results, is called a screw up.

      While in school I was taught to rigorously attempt to break any hypothesis I was charged to draw conclusions on. Once I could not break (falsify) the statement, I was to get a colleague/peer (fellow student) to break my/the hypothesis, and all methods/steps, data, and conclusions were to be made available. This was described to me as ‘Peer Review’. Once my colleague/peer could not break my/the hypothesis, using my methods, data, etc and anything they could come up with, only then was it safe to publish (turn in for a grade) to be Critically Reviewed. Peer review, proof reading, Quality Assurance, etc, call it what you like, but it was a step to find mistakes and exclusions.

      In the workforce it saves embarrassment (possibly a pink slip), in the classroom it saves your GPA. What I see today is that many climate scientists are stopping the scientific method at the Peer Review stage and then publishing rather than allowing and expecting a formal and extremely rigorous Critical Review. The actual last stage in the scientific method which can be repeated as often as any skeptic sees fit. If the now Theory is strong, then skeptics, no matter how hostile, will grow tired of trying to falsify that which no one else has been able to do.

      Screw up = humility and fix the problem.

      Seems saving face has replaced humility.

      I know that is a foreign concept, but remember your audience.

      Friendly colleagues/peers are not the audience to persuade/convince, the most capable and ardent skeptics are the most important to persuade. If you don’t want your audience to include skeptics, those most apt to truly verify your work, then don’t publish it. If you do publish, then expect someone with at least the same level of ego to attempt to find your mistakes.

      • “While in school I was taught to rigorously attempt to break any hypothesis I was charged to draw conclusions on. Once I could not break (falsify) the statement, I was to get a colleague/peer (fellow student) to break my/the hypothesis, and all methods/steps, data, and conclusions were to be made available. This was described to me as ‘Peer Review’. Once my colleague/peer could not break my/the hypothesis, using my methods, data, etc and anything they could come up with, only then was it safe to publish (turn in for a grade) to be Critically Reviewed. Peer review, proof reading, Quality Assurance, etc, call it what you like, but it was a step to find mistakes and exclusions.”

        My sentiments exactly and what i have been ahrping on about for ages now. This and climate science peer review are distant cousins, at best. And even then they only met at a wake. Next to the punch. But didn’t actually talk.

  36. batheswithwhales

    “two new papers in Nature (Min et al., 2011; Pall et al., 2011) have presented evidence that changes in the intensity of extreme precipitation since the middle of the 20th century may be linked to human induced global warming”

    How can it be called “evidence” if it has to be moderated by the word “may”?

    ev·i·dence   /ˈɛvɪdəns/ Show Spelled
    [ev-i-duhns] Show IPA
    noun, verb, -denced, -denc·ing.
    1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
    2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.
    3. Law . data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.

    There is no evidence if it is unclear if it proves anything. It is a willfully deceptive choice of words.

  37. David Bailey

    I think there is a fundamental reason to doubt the concept that the global warming so far can be causing extreme events.

    The level of CO2 that we have at present, or that which we had before industrialisation, is arbitrary. Therefore, the current global temperature is arbitrary – set by the CO2 concentration and other factors.

    Given this, it is unreasonable to expect the response to a small change (and nobody could argue the global warming so far has been large) to be other than approximately linear.

    I am curious to know if there is a valid counter-argument to this.

    • David Bailey

      To amplify – the response might be chaotic – but there is no way to avoid the consequences of choice in a chaotic system, because an arbitrarily small change can have a large effect.

  38. Beth Cooper

    ‘May,’ or ‘Possibly,’ are the weasel words of pseudo science. Popper had a term for the process: ‘Theory inoculation.’

  39. This whole thing is sounding more and more like sports talk radio. Everyone’s an expert when in fact, nobody knows.

  40. Science checks hypotheses (assertions) by testing specific, falsifiable predictions implied by those hypotheses

    IPCC Falsifiable Predictions:
    For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2 deg C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios.

    Testing predictions:

    Global warming rate from 1990 to 2000=> 0.25 deg C per decade
    Global warming rate from 2000 to 2010=> 0.03 deg C per decade

    The above data shows IPCC’s hypothesis is falsified

    • heh, nice.

    • For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2 deg C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios.

      From Wikipedia …
      Weasel words is an informal term[1] for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated.

      • andrew adams

        This is really desparate stuff. Unless the model projections were exactly 0.2C per decade then the word “about” is perfectly appropriate.

      • Does “about” include 0.22 deg C per decade? 1.6 deg C per decade? Does it stretch to 3.1 deg C per decade? How about 0.0 deg C per decade?

        Do you see the problem? At what observed value(s) of warming would the IPCC agree that their prediction was wrong?

      • The End is FAR

        I’m reminded of when Eddington sought to verify or disprove Einsteins claims during a solar eclipse. If the curvature of space varied from expectations even a small fraction, Relativity would have been falsified and a new explanation would be needed and sought after.

        Perhaps it would not have been falsifies altogether, but a more complete understanding would be necessary to have a sound Theory.

        Where is the innovation in trying to explain AGW in detail, without ‘almost, highly likely, except for, adjusted for, averaged out, etc’? If it exists it is not being shared.

        How often are good Theories and Laws ‘almost’ correct? Sure there may be exceptions, but when there are many, it is time to tighten things up and pay even more attention to what is being claimed, beginning with the original claim as all others depend upon it.

        When a new hypothesis is based upon an almost conclusion and comes up with another almost conclusion, the second almost conclusion is even less conclusive than the first. Nested Almost loops (if/almost then statements that vary in results) are like spaghetti code that are full of bugs, it is always quicker to throw it all out and start over rather than trying to work out the bugs. Rube Goldberg comes to mind.

        This presents a conundrum for those who wrote the spaghetti code if they insist on continuing using lots of if/almost then statements in the future. I’ve seen more than one developer insist on their value due to the mess that only they can interpret.

      • andrew adams

        You just need to look a bit deeper. For each scenario there is a best estimate and a likely range.


      • I agree with speed. the word ‘about’ has no buisness being in a scientific document- it’s purely a political modifier (in this context).

        The statment should be something like 0.2 ‘C +/- 0.02 or something of that ilk.

  41. John Whitman

    Evaluating the science in the testimonies of John Christy and Francis Zwiers?

    John Christy’s Science – Based on his written testimony he is saying the observed climate system is inconsistent with broad areas of the IPCC consensus settled science. I think he is indicating that these areas are broad enough to show the IPCC science assessment is, at the least, significantly non-applicable to the observed climate system’s behavior. Also, he indicates that extremes in weather do not fall outside of past weather extremes in our climate databases; I think he takes a somewhat basically Bayesian approach there. I would conclude from Christy’s testimony that it is advisable to deconstruct then reconstruct (or not reconstruct) broad areas of the IPCC focused climate science that does not agree with the observed climate system. I would suggest a self-governed association of academia and voluntary science societies should replace the IPCC; an AR5 has become an anachronism already within being made.

    Francis Zwiers’ Science – Based on his written testimony that Zwiers’ science is strictly what the IPCC focused consensus settled scientists say. In addition to discussion within the IPCC focused climate science body, what the IPCC says has been comprehensively discussed in the open science blog community and in the more open independent areas of the scientific body. In spite of that open discussion of the IPCC occurring outside of the IPCC focused scientific community, the IPCC process itself that generated IPCC consensus settled science was/ is not open and transparent even by its own (IPCC) rules; as found by the IAC report and other evaluations by citizens. I see that Zwiers’ testimony implies that basically everything is ok in the IPCC accepted science assessment, with some tweaks needed without any broad shift needed by the IPCC focused consensus settled science. I would suggest that Zwiers’ science, to recover from its significant and widely declining stature, needs to openly and on a level playing field, be assimilated into the independent science. That is independent science should be assigned the role of sorting out what is salvageable from the IPCC focused science.


  42. John Whitman

    Moderator / Judith,

    My comment of about 10 minutes ago disappeared into the nether regions of Climate Etc. Can you exhort the WordPress nether gods to restore it to the regions of light? Thanks.


    • John, the spam filter is hyper active, comment restored. i will have someone look into this today. Apologies.

      • John Whitman


        Thanks. I do not know how you find the energy to do all of this.

        Ahhh, I confess that I took a small poke at you in a general satire of the ‘To Serve Mann’ post over at WUWT . . . . I hope you will find it in good satirical taste and not personal. : ) I like what you do here . . . .


  43. andrew adams

    Zwiers’ statement was in the style of the IPCC assessment, focusing on conclusions and citations of peer reviewed papers to back them up. Christy focused on making common sense-style arguments (with fewer journal article citations). In the context of Congressional testimony, I suspect that Christy’s style is more effective (independent of the relative strengths of the actual science on each side).

    Well maybe you’re right, but if congress makes decisions on scientific issues based on “common sense” arguments rather than on actual published science then I find that rather worrying (or would do if I lived in the US).

    • Andrew, science, published or not, must reflect reality or its of no use. Christy used science and interjected reality along side it. Did you read his conclusions about the futility, even if one accepted the premise of CAGW/CC/whatever. of U.S. action towards that end? The only thing this could accomplish is the further impoverishment of the U.S., to the detriment of the human condition, not just here in the States, but also abroad.

      • andrew adams


        Andrew, science, published or not, must reflect reality or its of no use.

        Sure, but that’s nothing to do with “common sense”.

        Did you read his conclusions about the futility, even if one accepted the premise of CAGW/CC/whatever. of U.S. action towards that end?

        I hadn’t, I have now, but I don’t agree. I think he is overly pessimistic about the impact that the US could have and is looking at the impact of US actions in isolation whenI think we would all agree that to make a real difference global action is required.

        The only thing this could accomplish is the further impoverishment of the U.S., to the detriment of the human condition, not just here in the States, but also abroad.

        Again, I disagree (I think these are your sentiments rather than Christy’s, although I guess he probably shares them) – I think this is, dare I say, rather alarmist. Mind you, given that we disagreee on the previous point we will naturally differ on this as well.

    • A fundamental precept of US Governance is that the decision making capability of the ‘Great Unwashed’ is as least as good as the decision making capability of the ‘Great and the Good’.

      Not that the Great and the Good don’t argue endlessly that the Great Unwashed are incapable of making decisions or to imply the Great Unwashed don’t occasionally make poor decisions, they do.

      History is full of decisions taken by The Great and the Good which proved to be poor decisions.

      Of course regardless of who makes a poor decision, the consequences of those decisions are borne by the Great Unwashed rather then the Great and the Good.

      • andrew adams


        I don’t neccessarily disagree with that. Obviously in a democracy the Great and Good have to rely on the consent of the Great Unwashed so both have a role to play (and both can get it wrong). What I am saying is that in either case if they want to make an informed decision on scientific matters it is better to heed arguments based on science (whatever it’s imperfections) than those which appeal to “common sense”.

  44. Joe Lalonde


    Even NASA is looking for innovate areas in science now:

    This is from the office of the Chief Technologist:
    These three solicitations are:

    Unique and Innovative Space Technology Broad Agency Announcement. The Game Changing Technology Division, within NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist is soliciting executive summaries, white papers, and proposals for research and development for technology that is innovative and unique and promises to enable revolutionary (game-changing) improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of our country’s space capability. Novel (unique) capabilities are sought in any of the NASA Space Technology Grand Challenges or the NASA draft Space Technology Roadmaps. Responses may be submitted at any time while this solicitation is open. Responses will be reviewed and award decisions made throughout the year. As detailed in the BAA solicitation, the last dates for acceptance of each type of submission are as follows: Executive Summary Due Date is October 1, 2011; White Paper Due Date is November 1, 2011; Proposal due Date is January 3, 2012.

    NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts NASA Research Announcement. This announcement solicits multiple studies, each of which will investigate an architecture, mission, or system concept that has the potential to change the possible in aeronautics or space. NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is part of the Office of Chief Technologist. Concepts proposed for NIAC Phase I studies must be innovative and visionary, technically substantiated, and very early in development (10+ years out; Technology Readiness Level 1, 2, or early 3). Focused technology maturation and incremental improvement are explicitly not of interest in this program. Finally, while NIAC encourages great leaps and accepts the accompanying risk, all proposals must be technically credible, based on sound scientific principles. Notices of intent (NOIs) are strongly encouraged and are to be submitted by March 29, 2011. Final proposals are due on or before May 2, 2011.

    Technology Demonstration Missions Program Broad Agency Announcement. This announcement solicits proposals for the demonstration of space technologies that provide new system-level technological capabilities. The Office of Chief Technologist’s Technology Demonstration Missions Program is seeking to identify candidate crosscutting, system-level technologies to be demonstrated in the relevant environment such as ground, air, sub orbital, or orbital regimes. A key requirement in this program is that the technology under consideration must clearly be crosscutting. Crosscutting is defined as a technology with potential to benefit more than one customer, where a customer can be a NASA Mission Directorate, another government agency, academia, or the aerospace industry. Proposals will be due on or before May 31, 2011.

  45. Francis Zwiers and his fellow alarmists are in fact “cargo cult scientists”. They follow Feynman’s cargo cult model to a Tee!! The truth is coming out:
    We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out.
    Quote below from Feynman:

    “Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you
    were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll
    disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some
    temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation
    as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind
    of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to
    fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the
    research in cargo cult science. “

  46. Thanks for providing the information and I’m intrigued to see how the different experts’ testimony relate to each other, and the analysis from this forum.


  47. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    I recommend you simply not accept Martha or Holly Sticks premises. They are practitioners of the philosophy “history began when I was born”. The earth has been around for billions of years, yet in our tiny span of life on earth, these 2 clowns believe they have unlocked one of the earth’s greatest secrets. The arrogance and stupidity is astounding. Also, the earth isn’t even warming. Again, and Judy since you’re a scientist you really should be defending on this point, the earth is below it’s historic GAT and below the average atmospheric co2 content. The warming Martha and Holly reference begins at 1979. Unfortunately for them, that isn’t when the earth was created. Of course, we wouldn’t want to be objective and use all the data, no.

  48. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    If you think about it, clowns like Martha and Holly and are essentially telling us that the earth cannot return to it’s average state. The next false argument they use is “well it may have been warmer but humans weren’t around for a lot of that time.” True but meaningless. The animals on the planet at these times survived just fine, with the exception of the great extinction before the dinosaurs. We can use the fact that animals had no problems with a warmer climate and easily apply it to humans because we are the most adaptable beings on the planet. If an animal can live in warmer temperatures, it is nearly inevitable that we can as well.

  49. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Andrew Adams

    What does it matter if the science is published, if it is still wrong? Are you serious Andrew? In case you didn’t know it is now common knowledge that major science journals like Nature have been compromised by political operatives. Furthermore, Christy does cite peer reviewed literature.

    • andrew adams

      What does it matter if the science is published, if it is still wrong?

      Where did I say that?

      In case you didn’t know it is now common knowledge that major science journals like Nature have been compromised by political operatives.

      I find appeals to “common knowlege” even less convincing than those to “common sense”.

  50. Miss Judith,

    Is there any chance that BEST will have a standardize product by nation? Might be fun and stimulate a little funding.

  51. Craig Loehle

    Anecdotally, extreme events will always seem to be more common recently, because of faulty human memory. Actual trend analyses of extreme events have found no trend or trivial trend wherever people have looked. The focus on extreme events is further trivial. As Christy said, a farmer needs drought insurance no matter if droughts are slightly increasing in frequency or not, and if increasing the price is just a little higher. Slightly more common extreme events do not mean the end of the world and trying to equate the two is silly.

  52. My concern is that the EPA, in worrying about dangers from extremes on the warming end overlook the dangers we escape on the cooling end. In the Nineteenth century there was an extensive June frost in the nation’s breadbasket. Specifically on the morning of June 5, 1859. This frost is mentioned in numerous county histories as well as the Harper’s Encyclopedia of the U.S. which was published in the early 1900’s. While drought is certainly a real threat, farmers replanting their corn crops in June would put a big dent in the nation’s average and total yield. We don’t want the weather to trend back to the way things were before the 20th century, and we don’t want the weather dice that Francis Zwiers speaks of to ever roll up late-spring, early-frost. If the EPA did not involve agronomists in their endangerment finding and contemplate the nation’s crops they didn’t do the most vital part of their job.

  53. Phillip Bratby

    Zwiers is waffle, Christy is logical argument and data. No contest.

  54. ” If an animal can live in warmer temperatures, it is nearly inevitable that we can as well.”

    The current average temperature of the earth is calculated to be about 15C. The paleo record shows the typical average temperature of the earth for much of the past 600 million years to be 22C (72F).

    Is it really a coincidence that most people set the thermostats in their houses at 22C(72F)? We are a product of evolution, and most of that evolution took place at 22C(72F).

    The idea that humans cannot survive warmer temperatures is nonsense. We are adapted to very warm climates, as our lack of fur demonstrates. Our superior ability to shed heat is one of our major survival advantages.

    What humans cannot survive is cold. The reasons for this are simple. The evaporation of water provides a low cost cooling method. Except for sunlight, there is no comparable low cost heating method. Take away the warmth of the sun as can happen during storms or in higher lattitudes, humans need a sunlight replacement (fire) to survive.

    Low cost fossil fuels have allowed us to do this, without cutting down all the forests of the earth for firewood. In many poor countries, deforestation to provide charcoal remains a significant environmental problem. Until and unless a economical replacement is found for coal, this will remain the only means to improve the living standards of much of the earths population.

    Why should the poor of the earth be asked to give up the buring of coal? The developed world used coal to fuel their industrialization. Now that this process is complete, the developed world wants to price coal out of reach for the developing world.

    • The End is FAR


      If you haven’t read ‘The Rational Optimist’ by Ridley, it is an excellent read and goes into just how low cost fossil fuels are to the environment as compared to renewable’s such as wood and ethanol, and how low cost they are to our pockets as well when you compare wind and solar.

      He makes a pretty good argument that price prohibiting CO2 emissions does very little to solving any problems and does much to creating them. On the other hand, innovating low cost efficiencies for FF while searching for a similarly low cost energy source such as nuclear is more appropraite.

      Can you imagine if ‘they’ were going to solve the Social Security collapse by making it far more expensive without having a replacement. Or just providing a far more expensive replacement with less value?

      For the AGW Advocates, this is how many skeptics see Cap & Trade and the EPA’s price prohibition on energy creation. It is hard to introduce change if both the journey and the destination are both more painful and expensive.

      • Go Holly! I was saying that when the US stopped Nuclear! What we really need to do is ban cars or if I read the data right teenagers!

      • Holly

        Plese explain why you had to resort to ad hominem abuse of Matt Ridley for his role in a situation which has no bearing on this discussion? Is this another example of alarmist chumming?

      • Holly Stick

        No, I just like to enlighten people that they are being fed questionable references. After all, if they claim to be sceptics, they need to question ALL sources of information, don’t they?

      • They certainly need to question your alarmist references, Holly, or more likely yawn, and scroll past quickly in search of something more informative.

      • Holly Stick

        So RobB, you are admitting that they do not really want to learn. They just want to confirm their prejudices.

      • No – they’ve merely looked at enough of your previous citations to know what to expect. It means that you have overplayed your alarmist hand.

      • Holly Stick


      • Holly,
        You do for enlightenment on this topic what fog does for visibility on the highway.

      • The End is FAR

        I didn’t Google Ridley, I read the book. What is the last book you’ve read? Just curious.

        As for Ocean Acidification. Which is more likely to reduce the pH of ocean water, increased CO2 or fresh water from ice melting, increased stream volume, and/or rain?

        Second paper, same response.

        Third paper; 1. Enron, don’t care who they funded, are the conclusions accurate. 2. Bjorn, no links to the errors, were ‘tehy’ misspellings? 3. Credibility, useless. Let’s see unadjusted data. 4. Are the negatively affected ecosystems due to CO2 or ‘classical’ pollution?

        Forth. How is Northern Rock relevant?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        When did the US stop nuclear?

        They haven’t been banned. They aren’t built because they take too long to build, are real expensive, and nobody wants to tie up their capital that long without getting anything back.

      • “They aren’t built because they take too long to build, are real expensive, and nobody wants to tie up their capital that long without getting anything back.”

        Yep, regulated to death.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “Regulated to death.”

        And yet they were built in the past.

        Then that terrible monster “marginal utility” intruded. Power companies priced it out and found they could make more money doing something else.

        Now, people have drummed up a different monster. Regulation. (Quick, children, hide your ears.) What’s necessary is to make it easy to build these things. Oh, and assume the losses if they damage stuff. And, oh, can you pony up the seed money, too? And can we take all the profits?

      • Not that difficult to pony up the seed money even in a crap economy if $0.09 per KWhr is the rate. SM-LWR have jumped through the hoops and are a go even with the EPA regulating tritium levels to less than a quarter of what is in your average drinking water. Oops! I let the cat out of the bag! Your water is irradiated!

      • And why does it take so long?

      • Holly Stick

        Because nobody is willing to have a nuclear waste dump placed near their home. Just sayin…

      • You understand, of course, that this NIMBYism is why all this coal is being burned. Right?

      • Holly Stick

        So take all the subsidies your government gives to coal and oil and spend them on clean energy instead.

      • Sounds like a plan Holly, better, cleaner living through nuclear engineering.

      • Holly Stick

        How many cleanish modern nuclear plants would $39 billion over five years build?

      • in the UK, we will be forced to rely on French nuclear power if Huhne gets his way.

      • Since the 1970’s the American environmental industry has made a fortune selling their anti-science counter factual fear of nuclear energy.
        Weak minded people think that somehow nuclear waste is going to sit in a pit next to their neighborhood or child’s school.
        Greenpeace and other anti-science groups take advantage of those weak minded people to raise money and use it on political influence.

      • Nuclear plants are competitive with new coal plants today in the OECD countries, as a study has shown. This is true without any “price on carbon” (and even more so, with this tax).

        The price of coal has gone up four-fold since 2000 and the price of oil three-fold (excluding the current spike).

        France has been doing just fine with nuclear. So has Switzerland (where I live), although it also gets a lot of power from hydroelectric – in fact a new nuclear station has just been announced and existing plants are getting upgraded and expanded all the time.

        The problem comes from bureaucrats and politicians who have let themselves be taken hostage by a group of anti-nuke lobbyists and activists plus their lawyers, and have stopped granting construction and operating permits for new plants; a related problem has been bureaucratic over-regulation of the industry, leading to long new plant construction schedules.

        German politicians have taken the first timid steps, by extending the moratorium date on nuclear power. The UK has still been too afraid of the anti-nuke lobbyists to take a bold step. Several construction and operating permits are under consideration today in the USA, and some have recently been granted.

        So nuclear fission is definitely a viable alternate to coal-fired power. It will become even more viable as new fast breeder technology with thorium is commercialized, which will essentially eliminate the costly and politically sensitive spent fuel problem.

        And, most likely, we will some day have nuclear fusion, as well.

        So I’m optimistic that the lights will not go out just because the current batch of politicians of this world are still chasing windmills -that fad will eventually pass.


      • They haven’t been banned?
        What a crock of bs.

      • The End is FAR

        :) You’re awesome! Why waste any effort arriving at an understanding when you can convince yourself that Googling is equivalent?!

        First article does a little predicting, but never publishes any actual findings. Sloppy. At 13,200/310,000,000 your odds at dying from coal are less than winning at Keno.

        Second, 10,000 coal miners die per year by black lung. Not saying that’s a unexpected figure, but crab fishing has high death rates too. How many loggers die each year? How many more would die if wood was fueling our furnaces instead of coal?

        The deaths you googled about are predictions and primarily a result of voluntary actions and where they are not voluntary, it is somewhat Darwin at work. If you know living in an area is bad for your health, then move. If you know that 50% (whatever %) of coal miners get black lung, then don’t mine coal. Now will Mines offer higher wages to offset detrimental externalities? Of course they will, and they will find takers.

        I’d be more impressed with the predictions if I knew that those who died from black lung were young instead of old and if kidney disease was a product of coal rather than diabetes.

        Lastly, Life from coal should be discussed too. How many people lived because of electricity being available? Millions, Thousands? Do you care about them too?

      • The other dirty little secret involving industrial hygiene is that until a couple decades ago, essentially 100% of all blue collar workers smoked. And the effects aren’t additive; smoking will destroy your lungs’ defenses. We’ll never know what the raw effects of coal dust, fiber dust, asbestos, etc. are, because the data is so contaminated with the effects of tobacco.

      • Holly Stick

        And of course there is that close connection between Big Tobacco and AGW deniers.:


      • Hooray! Another unbiased and reliable citation from Holly. A resounding well done to Holly from all at Climate etc.

      • The End is FAR

        :) Holly, You’re awesome, at googling!

        BTW – I am a AGW or ACC skeptic, not a denier. I understand smoking, especially long term, to cause lung cancer.

        Do I need to provide a link? The connection you made is not close. One can deny two statements and only be wrong once.

        I know, I know, credibility is at stake, but credibility is very dynamic when truth is quite static.

      • well said….cold kills many more people than heat does

      • “He makes a pretty good argument that price prohibiting CO2 emissions does very little to solving any problems and does much to creating them.”

        The rational for a tax on CO2 is that we want to reduce CO2. By that same logic, we could put a tax on the poor and thereby reduce poverty.

        After all, the argument is that is we tax CO2 and thereby raised the cost of fossil fuel, people will buy more expensive renewable fuel.

        By this same argument if we tax the poor, and thereby raise the cost of being poor, then poor people will choose the more expensive option of being rich.

        Cap and trade makes sense in an orderly society. You cannot apply it across the world, there is too much corruption around the globe already. The amounts involved would corrupt almost anyone.

        Why not simply make it illegal to use fossil fuels? Why bother with a tax at all. Oops, now the cap and trade is dead, it looks like that is exactly what the EPA is proposing. You can be sure that will work about as well as making alcohol illegal. There will be gang wars in the streets over control of now illegal fossil fuels, with massive fraud and criminal activity the result.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      How many people lived on the planet 600 million years ago?

      Agriculture is the flaw in the ointment. It takes an amazingly complex, industrialized system to grow enough food for 7 billion people.

      Because we aren’t simply animals: we’re animals with houses, guns, roads, TVs, vacation condos, credit cards, etc. Much of which we’re willing to fight to the death over rather than do without. Like the right to not have to pay for our messes.

      Saul Bellow wondered if all our plenty had driven us crazy. I wouldn’t want to take the opposing position.

      • The End is FAR

        I would suggest that if plenty drives one crazy, it is plenty without effort. The ultra-rich and chronically poor fall most into this category.

        We should have the right to not pay for other people’s messes. Stimulus, another person’s mess. Chronic poverty, another person’s mess. Iraq war, another person’s mess. New Deal, not my mess. Great Society, I didn’t make the mistake. Social Security, medicare, medicaid, etc, etc. I didn’t consent to any of these messes, yet I am expected to pay for them. I’m not even granted a reasonable petition for a redress of grievances and suggest how to clean them up. Nope, somehow my representative has been granted a very broad Power of Attorney over me and all my neighbors. Oh yeah the 16th Amendment.

        What about the CO2 mess? I’d like to see a proper and detailed hypothesis that can be tested. See it tested by the most vigorous and hostile skeptics, with the AGW Advocates looking over their shoulders, of course. No cheating allowed. All other good Theories underwent the same skepticism, scrutiny, and hostility. Why is AGW any different?

        Can the AGW advocates actually describe AGW in a manner that can be tested? Just because the request has been ignored for so long does nothing to belittle the request, it only makes the request more urgent.

        There are plenty of skeptics awaiting the call.

      • “Agriculture is the flaw in the ointment. It takes an amazingly complex, industrialized system to grow enough food for 7 billion people. ”

        You have hit the nail on the heat. Human beings co-exists in population densities that would normally destroy all lie around us. Think of locust plagues. They devastate the countryside and must keep on the move to survive.

        Prior to developing agriculture humans also needed to keep on the move to survive, and our populations were by necessity very low. However, modern agriculture has allowed huge numbers of humans to live in extraordinary densities while preserving much of the environment around them.

        For example, I life in a city of 2 million people. Behind my house is a large range of mountains covered in trees. We see squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, porcupines and skunks almost every night on our street during the summer, with the occasional bear. Contrast this to the living conditions in poor parts of the world that are not industrialized. These trees would have long ago been burned for firewood, and the wildlife eaten for food. The people that once lived here would have been forced to move to survive.

        However, having built this infrastructure, 2 million people can live in relative prosperity and comfort, and coexist with wildlife, with a standard of living that rivals that of kings and queens a few hundred years ago.

        Now we did install a huge windmill during the Winter Olympics on the top of Grouse Mountain.


        I have a good view of it. It is perhaps 3 miles from my house. Almost without fail when I look at it, it is not turning. It makes more money as a tourist attraction than it saves in electricity. You could not run a modern city, businesses, hospitals, high-rise buildings, etc., etc., using an array of these windmills. Even in BC, with our hydro capacity, we also use fossil fuel for electricity.


  55. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Ferd Berple

    Excellent post, Fred. You said it much better than I can. It is very disheartening to me that Judy won’t acknowledge this fact. I understand that there is argument over the paleo record because of temperature measurement quality but there is not much we can do.

    • The three main temperature records for the planet can’t even agree on how much warming there has been in the past 10 years. Two are close, but GISS shows higher. If they can’t agree over 10 years, how much chance is there of agreement over 600 million years?

      Compare the various IPCC reports and how they report the MWP. There is no agreement even there. Some IPCC reports have the MWP warmer than today, some have it colder. So, even the top experts cannot agree from one report to the next. The result depends largely on the authors as to which interpretation gets top billing.

      The reconstructions I’ve seen of paleo temperatures mostly use 12C and 22C as the bounds for earth’s average temperature over the past 600 million years, with 22C being the more common, and 12C corresponding to ice ages.

      This suggests to me some limiting mechanism, likely based on a phase change of water, such as cloud cover and ice cover. At 22C the earth is covered in clouds preventing further warming. At 12C the earth is covered ice, which serves as a insulator to the oceans and land beneath, preventing further cooling.

      This would make sense to me, as the most plentiful organisms on earth by weight are the jelly fish and the worms, which are likely to survive either of those two conditions.

  56. John Christy, “Thus, societies should plan for their infrastructure projects to be able to withstand the worst that we already know has occurred, …”

    I’d think Chicago & NYC under a mile deep glacier would qualify as extreme. Since there’s little chance we can “infrastructure” our way around that, may as well plan for the small deviations from our current climate. Let’s face it, our infrastructure plans are only for 20-50 years into the future. The probability of seeing a 500-year event within 50 years is 10%.

  57. The End is FAR

    Bart R,

    I think it is relevant to continue our economic discussion in this thread as you appear to be implying that CO2 creation from fossil fuel energy production is a detrimental externality, or Addictive Good/Bad in macro economics. I refrain from calling macro ‘modern’ economics since I find no reason that micro does not easily and properly extend into modern times, as it also extends easily backwards in time.

    The EPA is stating that CO2 from fossil fuels is a detrimental externaility, or pollutant, in that its Bad (negative effects) overtakes its Good or usefulness. This has not been adequately nor properly presented to those of us who are not willing buyers.

    I can see where the voluntary decrease in the use of a product (FF in this case) with detrimental externalities does not bring benefit to those volunteers if the continued use by others still produces a burden or harm to the volunteers, but again, the burden of proof is on the volunteers, not the rest of us that this bad externality exists.

    So we must determine the detrimental externality exists prior to discussing removing its supposed source. The AGW community has already laid out the remedy, so spending some effort towards verifying seems prudent especially since the remedy is already being applied, even though not fully.

    As for Sampat Mukhergee, Modern Economic Theory, aka Macro Economics, is as falsifiable as AGW has proven to be. He brings up Micro, but anytime you introduce Macro, you introduce Monopoly, which prevents prediction from being accurate at the Micro Level. It is like stating you are free to do as you please except for when I decide you are not free to do as you please. The monopoly on authority prevents prediction when the monopoly is in use.

    In searching Addictive Goods, I found http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Econ/faculty/Driskill/addiction.pdf Rightly they recognize an Oligopoly or Monopoly is formed around ‘addictive goods’ and these monopolies end up controlling and profiting from these ‘bads’ greatly. It is a fairly short read, I’d like to get your take.

    • TEiF

      Continuing to talk about the intellectual foundations of relevant economic issues can do no harm.

      It is possible you have reversed ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ in what you write above. Your usage seems distinctly sideways from the usual meanings.

      I linked to Mukhergee’s massive textbook as it is available online, covers many relevant topics, and is easily readable. While it might explain to someone what macroeconomics means, it’s not really germaine to our topic.

      It’s too big and too irrelevant as a whole to really merit trying to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ in a climate blog, so I’m perfectly willing to make no more mention of it.

      I’m going to have to refrain from discussing what you mean by monopoly or falsifiable or proven, too, as these words when you use them seem again distinctly sideways from the regular definitions.

      I’d forgotten some of the issues in the Driskill paper you link to, but agree it’s a good starting point, if you’d like to offer specific comments related to the topic from references in the paper?

      • I woulkd have thought this was a micro-ecnomic discussion, to do with how individual agents act…am I wrong?

      • Graeme

        That’s what I thought it was, too. I’m still working on catching up with TEiF’s novel usage.

      • The End is FAR

        Bart R,

        It is possible you have reversed ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ in what you write above, . . . sideways from the usual meanings.

        Micro describing a individual’s free will and predictive ability, and Macro describing a central planning coercive authority. If your understanding is different, then perhaps you can describe it. If we disagree, perhaps you can simply state why you brought up addictive goods and ‘bads’.

        Monopoly – Having a significant and coercive influence over a market.

        So let’s say we have a good Y. It is sometimes or frequently addictive. I like Y and other people do to so much that they will pay anything for it. There are few producers of Y and they see that they can raise the price of why due to high demand by a certain population. The form an oligopoly and the price goes up. Now if the price goes up too much then I have to be rational and forgo Y.

        The creation of the oligopoly was a Macroeconomic exercise. The few producers collaborated and centrally planned/coerced a price increase. Now company A sees this and decides to open a Y factory since they can produce it and sell it for profit at a lower price than the oligopoly is offering. This is a microeconomic exercise.

        Let’s just cut to the chase. What are you beating around the bush about? Is CO2 a ‘bad’, an addictive good, both? Is it Fossil Fuels?

        Just as ‘goods’ are subjective, so are ‘bads’. When I say that Y is a good, and you say it is a bad, you have the choice not to buy it, correct?

        I’m truly failing to see why addictive goods and bads were even brought up.

    • TEiF

      So, to get specifically to Good vs. Bad and what they mean in economics.

      You are not using these words as economists do.

      A Good is simply any unit of economic exchange such as a product or commodity that has the property of a positive price elasticity of demand, which is to say as the price goes up the market will consume less, or the demand vs price curve is downward sloping in the short term.

      A Bad is the opposite. Price elasticity of demand is negative, when the price goes up the market will consume more (or the market will consume more regardless of price), and the demand vs. price curve is upward sloping in the short term.

      There is no moral dimension to this. There is no quality dimension to this. There is no environmental impact in this. There is no nanny state intervention implicit in this. This is not about laws or religion or personal opinions.

      Those externalities are not necessarily connected to this terminology. You do otherwise appear to use externalities within the parameters of its technical definition.

      Good vs. Bad has to do with a purely mathematical relationship between prices and amount purchased, and the individual reasons are not really relevant.

      For ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ you might have just as well said ‘Up’ and ‘Down’ or ‘Top’ and ‘Bottom’ or ‘Quark’ and ‘Mindy’.

      So what the EPA says about health or the environment or detriment has nothing at all to do with Good and Bad in economics.

      At all.

      The detriments of Bads to economists are strictly and solely economic.

      Bads increase the price of reducing misery and of creating utility, they result in inefficient allocation of scarce resources, and the diminish the democracy of the marketplace.

  58. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Jeffrey Davis

    Jeff I don’t know how many people lived on the planet that long ago but I can assure you there was plenty of food for the animals. Furthermore, I cannot even accept your premise. Jeff, has the news been reporting a starvation problem in our country or an obesity problem? Also, if you do not like the agricultural system please be sure not to eat any fruits or vegetables or drink milk for that matter. You wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite. Additionally, may I assume you are in favor of increasing co2 emissions as this would increase plant size, water efficiency use and growth rate?

  59. @Judith

    [Tried sending this yesterday, but it got stuck in the spam filter.]

    After going through both statements, I would agree with others here that Christy did a better job of getting his message across.

    He also covered a broader scope than Zwiers, who essentially limited his discussion to the observed warming of the planet, which he has referred to as human induced global warming, the observed extreme weather events in recent years and the postulation that these may be linked to the warming.

    He steps on thin ice, as far as I can judge, with his statement that the climate models predicted warming in the first decades of the 21st century, and that this prediction has been borne out by the temperature record (i.e. the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s), adding the statement:

    The fact that this prediction has turned out to be correct provides independent confirmation that most of the observed warming on global and continental scales can be ascribed, with a high level of scientific certainty, to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

    I believe this is a bit of a stretch, in view of the fact that the record has shown no warming trend over the past 10 years (in fact, slight cooling, compared to an IPCC projection of 0.2C warming), and the “high level of scientific certainty” (that the observed “warming” can be ascribed to increased GHGs) sounds like a “leap of faith”.

    It also appeared to me that Christy did a more thorough job on his “homework” than Zwiers.

    OK. I’m skeptical by nature (rationally so, I hope). But I think the score here was:

    Christy: 1
    Zweirs: 0


    • Holly Stick

      So he is correct only where he agrees with you. Not sceptical enough to question your own bias, I see.

      It’s widely known that 2000-2009 was warmer than the previous decade.


      • It is also widely known that the warming ceased (temporarily?) at the end of the last century. Three of four records (HadCRUT, UAH, RSS) show a slight cooling trend from January 2001 through December 2010.

        Just the facts, ma’am…


      • Richard Wakefield

        What has changed, physically? Exactly what was “warmer than the previous decade.”? Summers? Winters?

  60. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Jeffrey Davis

    K…..what is your point? Also, I pay taxes that go to the garbage men and sewage plant so you can speak for yourself about not cleaning up your own mess. What am I missing Jeff? You said it is extremely hard to…DO WHAT WE’RE DOING RIGHT NOW? Whoops! I’ll give you a mulligan Jeff.

  61. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Great point Holly. We are still about 7 degrees Celsius below average historic temperatures. The cooling continues. Next meaningless point please.

    • Holly Stick

      False. The last decade was the warmest on record.


      • You wrote:

        “The last decade was the warmest on record” (i.e.since the “record” started in 1850).

        This is correct.

        It did, however, stop warming over the first decade of the new millennium (2001-2010), so the warming TREND reversed itself, despite that fact that CO2 continued to increase and IPCC had forecast a warming of 0.02C per decade for the first decades (which obviously did NOT occur). Trend is what is important here, Holly, not absolute temperature, as you are citing.

        So, contrary to Zwier’s claim, the model forecasts were NOT borne out by the facts on the ground.

        That’s all, Holly. No point talking around the topic at hand with discussions of “warmest decade on record” etc. – that’s all totally beside the point.


      • IPCC failed forecast should have read 0.2C per decade (not 0.02C). Sorry for typo.

      • Holly Stick

        Sorry, I’m no statistician, but even I know that you can’t claim a trend over 100 years has suddenly reversed itself.

        And again you are making a false statement. 2010 and 2005 are tied as the warmest years ever, so how on earth can you make the idiotic claim that earth has stopped warming?


      • 100 years? You mean the warming trend from 1976 to 1998 that has since flattened out and appears to be heading down again.

      • Holly Stick

        Maybe I should have said 130 years, which is what the graph at my link shows. I’m not a statistician and I don’t recall where I saw 100 years being used..

      • andrew adams

        The trend since 1998 is positive – follow suyts’s link below to Wood for Trees and try it out for the various temperature records. They all show a positive trend to varying degrees.

      • There is a defference between a warming of 0.2 deg C per decade of IPCC and the observed one of 0.01 deg C per decade shown below.


      • andrew adams


        The trend so far this century is within the range of the IPCC projections, albeit at the lower end. It neither proves nor disproves AGW.

      • For an interesting talk on the recent warming please see this video</a

      • Holly Stick

        A four year old video about “recent” global warming? You aren’t even trying, RobB. Any real sceptics reading this should check out:

      • ah 4 years old yes, but it puts current temperatures into historical perspective. Check out the Vostok/Greenland ice cores.

      • Yawn, cherry pickers accusing others of cherry picking. Holly, the fact is, no model and no alarmist predicted the lack of warming in the last decade.

        Here’s the recent warming….. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/trend

        Now, will GISS show this? No, but even they show a slope = 0.00637718 per year.


        So, what does this mean? Not much other than the tenuous tie CO2 has with global temps is being undone by reality. Quite obviously, CO2 isn’t one of the primary drivers of our temps or our climate.

      • suyts

        And what was IPCC’s projection?

        0.2 deg C per decade.

        IPCC saw the global warming rate for the period from 1990 to 2000 of about 0.2 deg C per decade, and it assumed it would continue for 2000 to 2010; it failed.

    • Dr. C.

      It might help if you clarify what you classify as historic temps.

      BTW, Holly, if you go to the AMSU-A website, you will see that this years temps, are, so far trending LOWER than 2008, which was a very bad year for global warming. If this trend continues, it will negate the El Nino induced warmth that occurred last year.

      Does this “disprove” CO2 induced global warming? Of course not! But there will have to be a whole lot of warming in the next five years to keep up with the projections laid out by the IPCC. If temps follow the same trends of the last ten year, the temp will fall out of the projected range of error in three years or less.

      I am writing a blog post about this, and hope to have it completed by tomorrow.

  62. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Nothing much more you can do Max. That was a good shot, I mean you would think Miss Consensus Holly would favor the majority of measurements but the cherry on her Sundae is very lopsided, teetering on the left edge of the parfait dish.

  63. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Sonic Frog

    Here this is from Wikipedia. Please do not get into technical details about temperature measurement quality, I am well aware.

    Phanerozoic Climate
    The establishment of CO2-consuming (and Oxygen-producing) photosythesizing organisms in the Precambrian led to the production of an atmosphere much like today’s, though generally much higher in CO2 than today. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been gradually decreasing from a concentration of 7000 ppm 530 million years ago. In fact, only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm (see article “Climate and the Carboniferous Period” Earth’s atmosphere today contains about 370 ppm CO2 (0.037%). To see a graph of the world’s average temperature and and the CO2 levels throughout the Phanerozoic, [Click this Link]
    The Earth’s temperature during the Phanerozoic has been either ~12C or ~22C, but it has seldom stayed at an intermediate value for any significant length of time. For most of the past 600 million years the world’s average temperature was about 22C. The exceptions to that are as follows. For a short period at the end of the Ordovician (~440 mybp) there was a drop to about 12C that lasted a few million years. In the Upper Devonian through most of the Mississippian (~370 mybp to ~310 mybp) the temperature dropped to about 20C. Then, during the Pennsylvanian and Permian (~310 mybp to ~250 mybp) there was a protracted period when the world’s average temperature again dropped to about 12C. For a few million years around the end of the Jurassic and the beginning of the Cretaceous there was another drop, but this time only to about 17C. For the last 40 million years or so the world’s temperature has been dropping and is now again hovering around 12C.

    • Dr. C

      I was not making any negative reference toward you. I’m a former geology major (calc killed the dream) and am well aware of the details you presented. I was asking for the reference so that Holly would understand what you were referring to. Her version of “historic” spans 160 years, ours goes a bit further back! :-)

  64. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    So temperatures have been dropping for the past 40 million years. Uh oh, Holly. I don’t think you can say that a puny 100 years erases a 40 million year trend right? How come you are dodging me? Realclimate doesn’t have anything to say about this huh? Your silence says it all.

  65. Re Bart R March 9 at 9.59 am:

    Why are multivariate relations “not susceptible to this sort of analysis”?

    I have a wide shelf of textbooks on multivariate regression analysis, the latest include Angrist & Pischke (“Mostly harmless econometrics”), and Morgan and Winship (“Counterfactuals and causal inference”).

    The truth is that Zwiers and his usual lead/co-author Hegerl have for many years (since 1985 in Z’s case) been well aware that standard multivariate regression analysis of changes in temperature as function of changes in atmospheric CO2 and natural influences (eg water vapor) does not yield their desired outcomes, and they have been very successful in developing a method that does, “detection and attribution of fingerprints (sic)”, but which does not appear in standard textbooks, as it twists the raw data into the desired shapes.

    • T R C Curtin

      My apologies for my gloss.

      Why are some higher order iterative multivariate relations not susceptible to some sorts of regression analyses?

      (Italics to expand my glosses.)

      If I poke a hornet’s nest with a stick, I can be fairly sure of two things:

      1.) I will cause a change in the path of the hornets;
      2.) I will not be able to apply regression analysis between the path of the stick and the path of the hornets.

      Does (2.) make (1.) untrue?


      Poking hornet nests with big sticks is on its face a high risk behavior.

      What incentive could possibly induce my consent to use of my share in the stick that is our common CO2 budget this way?

      • Maybe because poking the nest is the only way to get honey, and if you don’t get the honey you starve?

      • ChE

        This pretty much sums up my reason for posting.

        I’m watching a bunch of people poking hornet nests with sticks thinking they’ll get honey.

        And to explain that for ChE:

        Hornets are not a great source of honey.

        Poking with sticks not a way to get the honey even if you’ve stumbled on a beehive.

        You have plenty of honey and more coming; it will gow away if you swarm the hornets and wipe out the bees, which is what hornet swarms do if you poke them with a stick.

        Some of that honey is mine.

      • Bart: I don’t think your sticks and hornets’ nest analogy is relevant. Atmospheric CO2 is not a stick, growing at less than 0.5% p.a. on average since 1958, and temperature changes are not hornets, up by just 0.8 oC since 1950 or so. This Thread is about the work of Zwiers and Christy. I have pointed out that Zwiers chooses not to use regression analysis in any of his work, not even in the von Storch and Zwiers textbook which calls itself Statistical Analysis in Climate Research, yet its section explaining multivariate regression (8.4, p.160) avoids using as an example a regression of Temperature change as dependent on changes in atmospheric H2O and CO2, those being the main determinants of aggregate radiative forcing (including feedbacks) according to AR4 WG1. There is no shortage of data (see ESRL at NOAA), only a lack of will. My own results for doing what Zwiers does not are available on request (tcurtin bigblue.net.au).

    • TRC Curtain,
      Can you show some examples of this strategy by Zweirs et al?

  66. Doug Proctor

    The use of extreme weather events to support the theories of AGW or CAGW depend on both a clear definition of “extreme” and of a suitable time frame in which to gather this data. Christy makes the case that both of these are problematic; Zwiers makes the case that they can be defined and identified usefully, but makes no mention of how to define the EEs, or the time-frame he believes suitable to gather the statistics on them. This is the real dilemma of AGW or CAGW: the problems are on the come, not “really” here. We are not building dikes around a flooded Manhattan; we are worried that one day we might have to build dikes around Manhattan. We are not worried about what is happening. We are worried that what is happening will keep on happening for a long time and that whatever is happening now will become more of whatever it is.

    Zwiers argues, in essence, about what will be, while Christy argues about what is. The arguments need to be reframed as they are in their fundamentals: future evidence of harm (Zwiers) vs evidence of future harm (Christy). This is a no-win situation, as they are not talking about the same thing.

  67. Dr. Jay Cadbury

    Oh sorry man didn’t mean to come off sounding annoyed. Yeah I’ve had this argument with too many people and they either say the record is wrong or they say humans weren’t alive.

  68. Dr. Curry,
    Is there something wrong with blog that is keeping posts from showing up?

  69. This also seems to be held up:Bart: I don’t think your sticks and hornets’ nest analogy is relevant. Atmospheric CO2 is not a stick, growing at less than 0.5% p.a. on average since 1958, and temperature changes are not hornets, up by just 0.8 oC since 1950 or so. This Thread is about the work of Zwiers and Christy. I have pointed out that Zwiers chooses not to use regression analysis in any of his work, not even in the von Storch and Zwiers textbook which calls itself Statistical Analysis in Climate Research, yet its section explaining multivariate regression (8.4, p.160) avoids using as an example a regression of Temperature change as dependent on changes in atmospheric H2O and CO2, those being the main determinants of aggregate radiative forcing (including feedbacks) according to AR4 WG1. There is no shortage of data (see ESRL at NOAA), only a lack of will. My own results for doing what Zwiers does not are available on request (tcurtin bigblue.net.au).

    • T R C Curtain

      It appears we are each asserting the irrelevancy of the others’ position.

      You appear to me to be hammering away at regression analyses that were not done, which seems to me irrelevant as there is no valid way to apply regression analysis to some sorts of relationships.

      It seems I appear to you to be speaking in too loose an analogy for your tastes.

      CO2 since 1750 has risen to 22% higher than at any point in the past 20 million years.

      CO2 is 70% above the median of the past 20 million years.

      20 million years is based on extrapolation of best data from ice cores and proxy measures, but if we go by direct ice core measurement only, we still have 650,000 years at extremely high confidence levels and low uncertainty.

      As for temperature changes being hornets, that’s not really what my analogy was after. If climate is a hornet nest, then it stands to reason that all parts of climate might be hornets, in this metaphor.

      But I get that this is too metaphorical, so to return to terms you may apprehend.

      Where in that shelf of books of yours does it tell you when it is, and when it is not, appropriate or meaningful to use regression analysis?

      Most of the textbooks I’m familiar with would cover this in chapter three or six.

      I’d speak more to your point but I can’t imagine what you did to validate your approach before you started plugging in figures.

      What did you do by way of technique validation?

  70. I do like Christy’s phrase “unencumbered by the scientific method”.


  71. Extreme testimony, 3/8/11

    Assume that global warming is on-going and is significant. Assume for the sake of argument the worse: that floods and extreme storms of unprecedented proportions are the certain consequences. This argument still adds no weight to the proposition that the global warming is anthropogenic.

    Add that we (government) must do something about the threat. With that, we need the conjecture that man is the cause of the warming. That’s because we can control men, not nature.

    The severity of the consequences adds more than just urgency. If we make the consequences severe enough, we can overwhelm the smallest probability for the cause, not matter how small that probability is so long as its not quite zero. This is Bayes at work, where the test is built on the probability multiplied by the cost. So the smaller the estimate for the probability of the cause, the greater must be the cost.

    The severity of the warming is fear mongering. It’s the jacking up of the cost to overwhelm the slight, subjective chance the cause could be real. It gives a new meaning to “panic attack”.

    There would be no climate threat but for the IPCC. An ocean of peer-reviewed journal papers carries no weight with the public, who is being asked to fund its own social, political, and economic suicide.

    IPCC begins its mission with the assumption AGW exists. That makes the null hypothesis, H0, that AGW does not exist, and it is being ignored in what has been seen in the early testimony. Yet we have overwhelming evidence that H0 is true. The pattern of Earth’s entire temperature record since thermometers were invented lies in the best model for solar radiation, as filtered suitably by clouds and the ocean, so AGW must be rejected. This is no iron Sun.

    To the contrary, the evidence for H1 is IPCC’s reports, riddled with deceit, fatal errors, and fallacies – documented deceit, errors, and fallacies. To create a catastrophe out of the greenhouse theory, the AGW story requires IPCC and its GCMs to (1) make CO2 reside in the atmosphere from decades to centuries, when its own formula and data make it about 1.5 years; (2) make CO2 emissions less soluble than natural CO2; (3) ignore that MLO CO2 concentrations, to which all stations are calibrated, sits in the plume of ocean outgassing about an order of magnitude greater than all human emissions put together; (4) manufacture false human signatures, also called fingerprints, on the MLO record by graphical trickery; (5) apply equilibrium chemical coefficients to the surface ocean, which is not in equilibrium but rich in turbulence, life, thermal and chemical activity; and (6) ignore cloud albedo feedback, the largest feedback in climate, and that is positive to the Sun and negative to warming. This is but a sampling from the core of the AGW movement urging that the human influence on climate is beyond a doubt. It is a cause-and-effect deduced from a correlation when it should have been backed by a model that is mathematically and physically sound.

    By building upon a false premise, the current rash of Congressional testimony adds credence to the pall cast over the whole of science by IPCC.

    Science does not rely on consensus: IPCC does. Science does not rely on qualitative correlation from graphs: IPCC does. Science does not rely on discrediting skeptics: IPCC supporters do. Science does not alarm the public based on hypotheses: IPCC does. Science does not dishonor laws of physics: IPCC does. Science does not rely on belief systems, either on the science or the politics: IPCC and its supporters do.

  72. I think Jeff Glassman’s point about Mauna Loa being situated very close to the Pacific Ocean and its continuous outgassing of CO2 is striking and very pertinent – I think all the other main CO2 measuring stations are also at seaside locations (Pt Barrow, Cape Grim, Antarctic).

    Re hunter | March 10, 2011 at 8:33 am | who asked if I can show “some examples of the Zwiers strategy?”

    Well, you only have to as far as the IPCC’s AR4 WG1 Chapter 9, Hegerl and Zwiers et al, where the promise to do regressions but never do, and instead report only their bogus fingerprints, which unlike a criminal’s, do not incriminate CO2 in any shape or form.

    Re Bart R: March 10 at 5.57:

    If we cannot use regression analysis on the really quite good data sets we have on atmospheric CO2 and global temperature, when can we? In my lengthy paper on all that (email me tcurtin at bigblue dot net dot au for a copy), I go into the questions of unit roots and non-stationarity, and settle for regressing changes in temperature on changes in CO2 and other relevant variables.

    Bart, just do your own regressions on these very public data sets, then get back to me. You probably will not, because like Zwiers you will have found NO statistically significant correlations between changes in global temperatures and in atmospheric CO2.

    Bart R said on Extreme testimony
    March 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    • Sadly, I missed this reply before Muller et al. beat me to it.

      Look for the latest BEST reports on CO2 fingerprints and volcano coffin nails in the temperature trend.

      You can email Muller for details, too, I hear, or check out his website at Berkely Earth.

  73. Dr. Christy is accurate. The main-stream science has failed miserably and it is time for an alternative science. This main-stream science cannot explain any of the present climate observations. As a matter of fact, precipitation increases only in the computer models of the main-stream science, not in the real word. And resorting to few extreme events as climate metrics is a wrong scientific approach.

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