The method of multiple working hypotheses

by Judith Curry

With this method the dangers of parental affection for a favorite theory can be circumvented. – T.C. Chamberlin

In a remarkable interview, Presidential candidate Jeb Bush made the following statements about climate change:

As he has before, Bush acknowledged “the climate is changing” but stressed that it’s unknown why. “I don’t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted,” he said at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire.

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he continued. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even. The climate is changing. We need to adapt to that reality.”

Jeb gets it exactly right. There are two broad hypotheses for recent climate change: human causes and natural causes (with numerous sub-hypotheses contained within).  The climate debate is dominated by the premature carving in stone of a theory that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change.

Clyde Spencer has brought to my attention a remarkable essay published by geologist  T.C. Chamberlin:  The method of multiple working hypotheses, first published in 1897 and re-published in Science in 1965.  This is an amazingly eloquent and insightful essay that provides some important insights into the scientific debate on climate change, and addresses the concerns raised by Jeb Bush. Excerpts:

There are two fundamental classes of study. The one consists in attempting to follow by close imitation the processes of previous thinkers, or to acquire by memorizing the results of their investigations. It is merely secondary, imitative, or acquisitive study. The other class is primary or creative study. In it the effort is to think independently, or at least individually, in the endeavor to discover new truth, or to make new combinations of truth, or at least to develop an individualized aggregation of truth. 

JC comment: this illustrates the consensual versus dissension theories of scientific inquiry, discussed in my paper No consensus on consensus.

Premature theories

The habit of precipitate explanation leads rapidly on to the development of tentative theories.  For a time the theory is likely to be held in a tentative way with a measure of candor. With this tentative spirit and measurable candor, the mind satisfies its moral sense, and deceives itself with the thought that it is proceeding cautiously and impartially toward the goal of ultimate truth. It fails to recognize that no amount of provisional holding of a theory, so long as the view is limited and the investigation partial, justifies an ultimate conviction. 

JC comment: the time of the IPCC FAR (circa 1990) reflects this state, with a relatively tentative spirit and a measure of candor.

It is in this tentative stage that the affections enter with their blinding influence. Love was long since represented as blind, and what is true in the personal realm is measurably true in the intellectual realm. Important as the intellectual affections are as stimuli and as rewards, they are nevertheless dangerous factors, which menace the integrity of the intellectual processes. The moment one has offered an original explanation for a phenomenon which seems satisfactory, that moment affection for his intellectual child springs into existence; and as the explanation grows into a definite theory, his parental affections cluster about his intellectual offspring, and it grows more and more dear to him, so that, while he holds it seemingly tentative, it is still lovingly tentative, and not impartially tentative.

JC comment:  By the time of the IPCC SAR (circa 1995), not only did ‘parental affection’ set in, but the whole issue became politicized in Madrid, with the political need to find at least ‘discernible’ evidence of a human cause for warming.

So soon as this parental affection takes possession of the mind, there is a rapid passage to the adoption of the theory. There is an unconscious selection and magnifying of the phenomena that fall into harmony with the theory and support it, and an unconscious neglect of those that fail of coincidence. The mind lingers with pleasure upon the facts that fall happily into the embrace of the theory, and feels a natural coldness toward those that seem refractory. There springs up, also, an unconscious pressing of the theory to make it fit the facts, and a pressing of the facts to make them fit the theory. When these biasing tendencies set in, the mind rapidly degenerates into the partiality of paternalism. The search for facts, the observation of phenomena and their interpretation, are all dominated by affection for the favored theory until it appears to its author or its advocate to have been overwhelmingly established.

JC comment:  Written well over a century ago, this describes current climate science to a T.

The theory then rapidly rises to the ruling position, and investigation, observation, and interpretation are controlled and directed by it. From an unduly favored child, it readily becomes master, and leads its author whithersoever it will. The subsequent history of that mind in respect to that theme is but the progressive dominance of a ruling idea.

JC comment:  Government research funding, journal editorial practices and professional recognition related to climate research are all working in the direction to control research to support the theory of human caused climate change.

Briefly summed up, the evolution is this: a premature explanation passes into a tentative theory, then into an adopted theory, and then into a ruling theory. When the last stage has been reached, unless the theory happens, perchance, to be the true one, all hope of the best results is gone. To be sure, truth may be brought forth by an investigator dominated by a false ruling idea. His very errors may indeed stimulate investigation on the part of others. But the condition is an unfortunate one. Dust and chaff are mingled with the grain in what should be a winnowing process.

JC comment: In the case of climate change, this argues for industry funding of more diverse perspectives, given the bias introduced by politicization and federal funding.

A family of hypotheses

The working hypothesis differs from the ruling theory in that it is used as a means of determining facts, and has for its chief function the suggestion of lines of inquiry; the inquiry being made, not for the sake of the hypothesis, but for the sake of facts. Under the method of the ruling theory, the stimulus was directed to the finding of facts for the support of the theory. Under the working hypothesis, the facts are sought for the purpose of ultimate induction and demonstration, the hypothesis being but a means for the more ready development of facts and of their relations, and the arrangement and preservation of material for the final induction.

The method of multiple working hypotheses idiffers from the former method in the multiple character of its genetic conceptions and of its tentative interpretations. It is directed against the radical defect of the two other methods; namely, the partiality of intellectual parentage. The effort is to bring up into view every rational explanation of new phenomena, and to develop every tenable hypothesis respecting their cause and history. The investigator thus becomes the parent of a family of hypotheses: and, by his parental relation to all, he is forbidden to fasten his affections unduly upon any one. In the nature of the case, the danger that springs from affection is counteracted, and therein is a radical difference between this method and the two preceding. The investigator at the outset puts himself in cordial sympathy and itn parental relations (of adoption, if not of authorship) with every hypothesis that is at all applicable to the case under investigation. Having thus neutralized the partialities of his emotional nature, he proceeds with a certain natural and enforced erectness of mental attitude to the investigation, knowing well that some of his intellectual children will die before maturity, yet feeling that several of them may survive the results of final investigation, since it is often the outcome of inquiry that several causes are found to be involved instead of a single one.

JC comment:  It should be obvious that climate change has multiple causes, although the political definition of climate change  has attempted to define natural causes of climate change out of existence.

The true explanation is therefore necessarily complex. Such complex explanations of phenomena are specially encouraged by the method of multiple hypotheses, and constitute one of its chief merits. We are so prone to attribute a phenomenon to a single cause, that, when we find an agency present, we are liable to rest satisfied therewith, and fail to recognize that it is but one factor, and perchance a minor factor, in the accomplishment of the total result.

JC comment:  BINGO

A special merit of the method is, that by its very nature it promotes thoroughness. The value of a working hypothesis lies largely in its suggestiveness of lines of inquiry that might otherwise be overlooked. Facts that are trivial in themselves are brought into significance by their bearings upon the hypothesis, and by their causal indications. But a single working hypothesis may lead investigation along a given line to the neglect of others equally important; and thus, while inquiry is promoted in certain quarters, the investigation lacks in completeness. But if all rational hypotheses relating to a subject are worked co-equally, thoroughness is the presumptive result. In the use of the multiple method, the re-action of one hypothesis upon another tends to amplify the recognized scope of each, and their mutual conflicts whet the discriminative edge of each. The analytic process, the development and demonstration of criteria, and the sharpening of discrimination, receive powerful impulse from the co-ordinate working of several hypotheses. Fertility in processes is also the natural outcome of the method. Each hypothesis suggests its own criteria, its own means of proof, its own methods of developing the truth; and if a group of hypotheses encompass the subject on all sides, the total outcome of means and of methods is full and rich.

JC comment:  I can’t imagine stating it any better than this.

Imperfections of knowledge

The imperfections of our knowledge are more likely to be detected, for there will be less confidence in its completeness in proportion as there is a broad comprehension of the possibilities of varied action, under similar circumstances and with similar appearances. So, also, the imperfections of evidence as to the motives and purposes inspiring the action will become more discernible in proportion to the fulness of our conception of what the evidence should be to distinguish between action from the one or the other of possible motives. The necessary result will be a less disposition to reach conclusions upon imperfect grounds. So, also, there will be a less inclination to misapply evidence; for, several constructions being definitely in mind, the indices of the one motive are less liable to be mistaken for the indices of another.

The total outcome is greater care in ascertaining the facts, and greater discrimination and caution in drawing conclusions.  The remedy lies in correct intellectual habits, in a predominant, ever-present disposition to see things as they are, and to judge them in the full light of an unbiased weighing of evidence applied to all possible constructions, accompanied by a withholding of judgment when the evidence is insufficient to justify conclusions.

JC comment:  Mr. T is well pleased.

JC reflections

It’s hard to imagine that I’ve never before come across Chamberlin’s essay; it seems that it has been published a number of times (most recently 1965).  I recommend that you read the entire essay, it is a classic.

The implications for climate change research are profound.  Not only is there arguably at least two meta-hypotheses for recent climate change [link], but the sub-hypotheses within each meta hypothesis illustrates the complexity of the causes of climate change, which are not easily separable.  By considering all of the causes of climate change, our interpretations of evidence is enriched and so our understanding.  The climate change issue is complicated in a manner unforeseen by Chamberlin — political preference for one particular theory that torques the direction of the research through funding.

Returning to Jeb Bush’s statement, it clearly recognized that both natural and human causes contributed to climate change, these causes are convoluted with one another, and there is no agreement as to what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. While the IPCC says more than half is human caused (not very precise), but its not clear what this even means [link] in terms of Bush’s question as to what percentage is man-made versus natural.

232 responses to “The method of multiple working hypotheses

  1. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve never before come across Chamberlin’s essay; it seems that it has been published a number of times (most recently 1965).

    Just about the time science began to become dependent on government money?

    These are all very good points, I do think that some careful thought is necessary how to fold in the observations of Thomas Kuhn, such as where a theory going through that process fits into the gradation between the fundamental level of “paradigm”, and working hypothesis.

    It’s also interesting that the most recent publication of Chamberlin’s essay was at just about the time that Kuhn’s work was maturing, as well as when the Plate Tectonics Revolution was getting under weigh.

    • good observation

      • Thanks. To (hopefully) start a discussion off, I’ll mention the debate over the Minimalist Program (MP), which seems to me to roughly represent two semi-mature paradigms growing together from the same root scientific field (neuro-linguistic theory). Wiki (linked above) starts off:

        Chomsky presents MP as a program, not as a theory, following Imre Lakatos’s distinction.[2] The MP seeks to be a mode of inquiry characterized by the flexibility of the multiple directions that its minimalism enables. Ultimately, the MP provides a conceptual framework used to guide the development of grammatical theory. For Chomsky, there are minimalist questions, but the answers can be framed in any theory. Of all these questions, the one that plays the most crucial role is this: why language has the properties it has.[3] The MP lays out a very specific view of the basis of syntactic grammar that, when compared to other formalisms, is often taken to look very much like a theory.[citation needed]

        I’ve passed through Wiki’s link to the Lakatos page, narrowing it in on the description of “research programs”.

        A major alternative to the Minimalist notion of innate grammar involves generic learning, perhaps based on Probabilistic
        Modeling and Frequency
        . (Disclosure: I’m a proponent of “deep grammar” explanations, so I may not be able to describe the generic side of the divide fairly.)

        As far as I can tell, there are at least two fairly coherent programmes (sensu Lakatos) working side-by-side in the study of language and its acquisition. An advantage of using this field as a comparator, and perhaps a model, for how Climate Science might achieve multiple simultaneous “programmes” based on different “paradigmatic” is that it has suffered much less pressure from tendentious political ideologies, and those it has suffered are probably different enough to provide illuminating contrast.

      • interesting, thx

      • The reality of a universal language faculty?

        An argument is often made that similarities between languages (so-called “linguistic universals”) provide strong evidence for the existence of an innate, universal grammar (UG) that is shared by all humans, regardless of language spoken. If language were not underpinned by such a grammar, it is argued, there would be endless (and extreme) variation, of the kind that has never been documented. Therefore — the reasoning goes — there simply must be design biases that shape how children learn language from the input they receive.

        There are several potentially convincing arguments made in favor of innateness in language, but this, I think, is not one of them.


        I would like to turn to a contemporary argument Steven Pinker and Ray Jackendoff make for universal grammar on the basis of linguistic universals. P&J — in response to the BBS article “The Myth of Language Universals” — argue that the sheer diversity of natural languages is not particularly impressive when we “consider the larger design space for conceivable languages.” They then describe six hypothetical languages that they claim are not “obviously incompatible with cognitive limitations or communicative limitations,” but which, of course, do not exist. That they do not exist, they imply, is evidence that there must be strong innate constraints on language learning.

        This argument is weak for several reasons:

        First — the percentage of human languages carefully studied by linguists is vanishingly small (particularly when we think about this from a historical perspective). Making an argument on “what might be possible, but has never been found” on the basis of a highly restricted data set is not particularly convincing.

        Second — and this is crucial — the argument seems to presume that languages develop in isolation. Yet the opposite is true. Most languages that have been studied are fairly easily classified in historical family trees, and share common origins with a large cluster of related others. What’s more, as the English language so aptly illustrates, many languages have seen ‘incursions’ from other languages, which promote language change and borrowing. Stealing a page from the biology book, we can safely conclude that most extant human languages share both homologous and analogous features with other languages : that is, they share features that likely evolved in parallel, and they share features that they derived from common origins, or from each other. But these broadly defined structural similarities bring us no closer to the question of whether or not there is a universal grammar. Certainly their existence does not necessitate one [1].

        It goes on, and so could I. What I observe is that despite my strong tendency to think that some innate UG(s) exist, I find arguments like this making a good deal of sense, and to be entirely consistent from the starting point of view.

        Perhaps we could say the same thing about “climate science”: a “programme” based on assuming some sort of quasi-equilibrium could probably explain almost all of the observations. But, a “programme” based on assuming high levels of apparently random variation, with manifold “phase changes” among different quasi-stable pseudo-states, could also explain almost all of the observations.

        Perhaps, by developing alternative explanations for observations based on each “programme”, there could develop a system of comparing the “artificiality” of explanations for specific observations that don’t fit one or the other programme, without any scientific need to commit to either.

        Of course, that would make things more complex from a policy side…

      • The subject of “language instinct”, innate “deep grammar”, and the relationship with “generic learning” is complex, but one very important input (for me) on the subject was Evolution in Four Dimensions by Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb. When I tracked it down (it took me a while to remember the title), I discovered the whole thing appears to be available as a PDF (link above).

        A wonderful book which I highly recommend. (I may have recommended it here before, don’t recall.)

      • AK, Steven Mithen had some related material on language in his “The Prehistory of the MInd” (1996). But I read it a long time ago, and would need to spend some time with it before I could link it to your posts.

      • I read it a long time ago, and would need to spend some time with it before I could link it to your posts.

        Well, it’s changed a lot. In fact, it had changed a lot since 2010-2011, when I saw it as an almost equal competitor to the UG “programme” (when I went searching for links and quotes).

        But my real point is that, however the strong proponents argue against one another, both “programmes” seem to be flourishing, probably because both can explain most of the observations. Despite the fact that those explanations may be very different, couched in terms of different symbols with different meanings.

        This coexistence is in sharp contrast to how most of the “climate science” consensus treats any questioning of their dogma.

      • There are cycles in climate data. There is no quasi-equilibrium, there is a very regular cycle of warm to cold to warm to cold to warm to cold. It has been in place for millions of years.

        There is also no dominate random variation. There is a very regular cycle of warm to cold to warm to cold to warm to cold. Random variation would do warm warm or cold cold sometimes.

        The cycle is simple and easy to understand. In every warm phase of a cycle, it melts polar oceans and it always snows more and it always gets cold. In every cold phase of a cycle, polar oceans freeze and it always snows less and it always gets warm.

        The bounds have changed a lot over the past 50 million years, but the cycle has always been there. During the most recent ten thousand years, the bounds have been extremely well regulated. The Solar in to the north and south have changed a huge amount and the temperatures have been regulated inside the same bounds. The IR does not work right to explain this.

        There is only solar in, IR out and Albedo out. If IR does not work right, the Albedo must be used in the regulation. More clouds, more snowfall, more ice extent causes the cold. Less clouds, less snowfall, less ice extent causes the warm.

        It is that simple.

      • The cycle is simple and easy to understand.

        Yes, if you start by squinching your eyes tight closed to the real complexity of the data.

    • It work be better if they were just married to their theories than have the parental attachment.

  2. Thanks for this, Judith. It was a remarkable read.

    I also enjoyed the “BINGO”. It fit.

  3. Another classic Dr. Curry.
    Thanks for fighting the good fight!

    In the light of the recent POTUS speech this could not be more timely.

  4. khal spencer

    Chamberlin’s essay and the notion of multiple working hypotheses are especially common, dare I say gospel (to mix science and religion for a minute) in geology, where one is often working with imperfect data sets, proxy measurements for processes (i.e., trace element and isotope systematics for magma processes deep in the earth), and where one has limited ability to collect samples, i.e., from small samples of sea floor, the outcrop that is available after aeons of erosion and new deposition, etc. One postulates various hypotheses that are initially consistent with or could explain the data one has, and then finds out how to test and eliminate, often with new data or techniques that arise due to the inability to eliminate some of the hypotheses in the first place. Wonderful example of the scientific method.

    In the case of the climate question, one could argue that we have far more “outcrop” than I did in my work in Proterozoic granites, for example, and far more ability to measure the entire system, but perhaps we have not measured all the right things for a long enough period of time to fully test and reject ideas that don’t work. Plus, we work with proxies for paleoclimate. The recent dustup about “the pause” and the resulting inquiry about how heat is stored in the oceans that came out of the failure of our existing models to predict “the pause” should be seen as a success of science to test and reject existing models and call for their improvement or replacement.

    None of that means that one side or the other should throw up their hands and cry success or failure. We ain’t there yet.

  5. Judith. I’m surprised that , being a Geologist that you were unaware of Chamberlin’s thoughts on Multiple Working Hypotheses. One of the first ideas I was presented with at an undergraduate tutorial at Oxford in the 1950s was this very concept and its value in scientific investigation.
    For a complete discussion of the uselessness of the IPCC’s modeling approach to forecasting climate see Section 1 at
    Here are the conclusions
    “In summary the temperature projections of the IPCC – Met office models and all the impact studies which derive from them have no solid foundation in empirical science being derived from inherently useless and specifically structurally flawed models. They provide no basis for the discussion of future climate trends and represent an enormous waste of time and money. As a foundation for Governmental climate and energy policy their forecasts are already seen to be grossly in error and are therefore worse than useless. A new forecasting paradigm needs to be adopted.”
    Some think that the IPCC reductionist approach is the only one available -that that is all we reliably have. That is patently not the case. Quasi- repetitive patterns are clearly present in the changing temperature data which we use as the symbol of climate change, We can think of these emergent patterns as the product of the real world as a virtual computer if that makes the numerical and digitally minded more comfortable. Similar patterns are seen e.g. in the solar data ,the ocean data (PDO AMO etc) and as you well know in the planetary orbits and the Milankovic cycles,. The human brain is at this time superior to computers in seeing these patterns . Think about it – computers cannot produce ( see )patterns unless they have been fed the input data and algorithms on which they run . Computer outputs at the core are always tautologous ie circular in the sense that they depend upon what was fed into them by human programmers.
    I think that if we stand back and view the climate data with the right time scale perspective and have a wide knowledge of the relevant data time series so that we can judge its reliability, that patterns are clearly obvious ,that their period and amplitude ranges can be reasonably estimated and projected forward and that the relationships between the driver and temperature data may be reasonably well inferred without being necessarily precisely calculated..
    The biggest mistake of the establishment was to ignore the longer term cycles and to project forward several decades of data linearly when we are obviously approaching, at or just past a peak in a millennial cycle. This is more than scientific inadequacy – it is a lack of basic common sense. It is like taking the temperature trend from say Jan – June and projecting it forward linearly for ten years or so.The modelers approach is analogous to looking at a pointillist painting from 6 inches – they simply can’t see the wood for the trees or the pattern for the dots. ( In a recent paper Mann has finally after much manipulation managed to discover the 60 +/- year cycle which any schoolboy can see by looking at Fig 15 at the linked post above).
    The same post also provides estimates of the timing and amplitude of the coming cooling based on the 60 and especially the millennial quasi- periodicity so obvious in the temperature data and using the neutron count and 10 Be data as the most useful proxy for solar “activity”.

  6. Very interesting.

    I was listening to Minnesota Public Radio this morning – they have a segment called Climate Cast. They stressed how on public radio they do not permit any “false equivalency” – which is their definition for anything which doesn’t agree with the consensus or 97% position.

    Very dangerous – as they actively censor any viewpoint which disagrees with the paternally adopted pet theory.

    I have often wondered why the consensus position is so sure they are correct.

    From my point of view, the sea level has risen 120 meters over the last 20,000 years – so clearly it has been warming for a long time. All but the last 8 inches or so of this warming is by definition natural.

    As Jeb Bush points out – we really don’t know how much of the last 8 inches or so of sea level rise is caused by humans or is natural. It could be 100% human caused or it could be 50/50 – we really don’t know yet.

    It is premature to state that we know the answer with no uncertainty when the error bars are so large.

    Of course we know we have been pumping CO2 (and Methane) into the atmosphere (since the industrial revolution). What we don’t know is how much of an impact that has had on the .8C of warming.

    The consensus side wants to say that 1C of warming is down to humans (and net .2C of black carbon or aerosol against it to get to .8C). But that is assuming the conclusion – and for all we know it could be .4C natural and .4C human caused.

    The models are demonstrably wrong (on the hot side). And that has to be troubling to any climate scientist. Lets continue to make the models better – but don’t spend trillions of dollars on faulty output.

    Climate sensitivity has been coming down for years – from 3C to 1.8C or even smaller.

    The direct warming effect (which everybody pretty much agrees with) is about 1.2C.

    What most skeptics and/or lukewarmers object to is doubling or tripling the direct effects with the indirect feedback amplification warming – which has not been observed.

    More data is necessary – gathered over much more time – in order to state with absolute certainty what effect human emissions are having on the warming we have seen since 1750.

    In the meantime – why not invest more money in research for non-carbon energy production, in an effort to invent new technology to generate power cheaper than oil, natural gas and/or coal.

    Or invest in generating more power with nuclear – in particular recycling our existing waste with passively cooled reactors.

    Why not increase our nuclear power output from 20% of all power generated in the USA to perhaps 50% or even 75%?

    That is a no regrets approach – especially if building nuclear power plants can be made as cheap or cheaper than mining coal and transporting it to the plants to burn it (or oil or natural gas).

    Lets engage in good solid cost benefit analysis and not make decisions based on emotion.

    • Richard Arrett,

      Can you provide a good solid cost benefit analysis for the subsistence farmer (rice, terraced) in Nepal?

      He hasn’t got a pot to pi** in, no cash, no credit, and lives a life of grinding poverty.

      Education will do him no good, nor will ensuring that more of his children will survive their early years. Electricity, even if provided at no cost at all, will only result in increasing deforestation and misery.

      If you wish to discuss the matter, I will be happy to accommodate you. I have some practical experience of the situation. I presume you are more knowledgeable than me. I am always happy to learn.

      • No – I cannot.

        I am asking for cost benefit analysis to be performed by the policy makers, in connection with their proposed actions.

        So I would expect Nepal to offer a cost benefit analysis for any action they propose.

        I would say that making the food, fuel and energy more expensive, that the subsistence farmer in Nepal uses, in exchange for slowing the rate of growth of global warming by .01C per century (just an example) and slowing the Nepal government from slowly providing electricity to their citizens would not be good idea (on a cost benefit analysis).

        No benefit and huge cost.

        But I am expecting each government to do its own cost benefit.

        What is your cost benefit for the farmer?

      • Mike asks– “Can you provide a good solid cost benefit analysis for the subsistence farmer (rice, terraced) in Nepal?”

        My question– As an American, why is the cost benefit analysis for actions in Nepal of great concern to me? Are we somehow responsible for their policies? Their culture is much older than ours.

  7. It’s the Sun, stupid!

    Just kidding, however I do think it’s mainly the Sun. Any global anthropogenic effect is very unlikely.

    The essay by T.C. Chamberlin is excellent.

    • human1ty1st

      It appears here that you’ve done exactly what Chamberlin is arguing against. You’ve picked one favoured offspring, only one different to the concensus. You appear to have learned nothing.

      • Human1ty, not really. The Sun being the main factor influencing climate change is a no brainer with a lot of evidence too. I am also not paralysed by solar hypotheses/theories – I will accept proper evidence against it.

    • Actually, to use Mosher’s term, it’s the same “ruling theory”. Basically, perturbed equilibrium, whether perturbed by CO2 or solar changes.

      By contrast, a paradigm/programme based on modern non-linear dynamics would be very different.

  8. I have at least half a dozen of those, no political just ‘pocket money allowance’ financing. For the latest with lot of trivia (“Facts that are trivial in themselves are brought into significance by their bearings upon the hypothesis, and by their causal indications.”) see:

  9. Pingback: The method of multiple working hypotheses | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  10. I would also like to point out that the very definition of natural warming and anthropogenic warming is not very well defined. For a length discussion of this see the thread called “Quantifying the anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2”.

    In the mass balance formula discussed in that thread – we very carefully define anthro land use changes and anthro emissions – but very carelessly ignore anthro sink increases.

    Humans are pumping out 8GT of CO2 emissions per year and 1/2 of them are being absorbed by sinks – sinks which have increased over time to absorb 1/2 of what humans are pumping out.

    But, by definition (per the consensus side) the increase in sinks is defined as “natural”.

    Yet even though the sea level rise is “natural”, being merely caused by the natural warming effect of extra CO2 in the atmosphere – humans are surely blamed for this anthro effect.

    Humans are blamed for ice melting – even though this is merely a natural result of warmer oceans.

    Ditto for glacier melt.

    Yet – sinks increasing is not anthropogenic – even though but for the increased human emissions the sinks would not have increased. Or perhaps the sinks have increased because of increased crop planting and increased forests worldwide? I don’t know – but it seems that the advocates of consensus climate change define things to make humans look as bad as possible and fail to take into consideration the positive results of increased warmth, the enhanced crop growth, the lower cost to heat a home during winter, the increased CO2 sinks which are absorbing 1/2 of our emissions and so on.

    The advocate scientists only want to focus on the bad effects of warming, some large percentage of which is naturally occurring at a background rate anyway (6mm/year background rate of sea level rise given 120 meters over 20,000 years – that is double the current rate of 3mm/year rise and how much of that is natural?). So they look at glaciers ruching into the ocean and disease moving north and projected model driven species extinction rates and so on – most of which don’t really pan out or are adjusted 10 years hence.

    So we also have to keep our eyes on the definitions being imposed on us by the climate consensus as to what is “anthro” and what is “natural” and make sure we are really looking at all the pluses and minuses caused by humans and not entangling them with the natural pluses and minuses.

  11. It is summarized as a “Method of Muitiple Working Hypotheses” but we are also dealing with multiple phenomona. Thus many hypotheses to explain many things.

  12. Pingback: Jeb Bush On Climate | Transterrestrial Musings

  13. What I found strange was the response to Jeb Bush’s comments. Several people seemed to have difficulty accurately reporting what he said.

    The Chamberlin article is perhaps more relevant today than when it was written. I confess I had never heard of it.

  14. Steven Mosher

    “It is in this tentative stage that the affections enter with their blinding influence. Love was long since represented as blind, and what is true in the personal realm is measurably true in the intellectual realm. Important as the intellectual affections are as stimuli and as rewards, they are nevertheless dangerous factors, which menace the integrity of the intellectual processes. The moment one has offered an original explanation for a phenomenon which seems satisfactory, that moment affection for his intellectual child springs into existence; and as the explanation grows into a definite theory, his parental affections cluster about his intellectual offspring, and it grows more and more dear to him, so that, while he holds it seemingly tentative, it is still lovingly tentative, and not impartially tentative.”

    Reading this, and then reading later when you conclude “BINGO”
    kinda illustrates the point he is making. you like his writing because it fits your theories about climate science gone wrong.

    I think you are mis applying his text to the climate science problem.

    The issue you and Bush are talking about is Attribution. What % human versus what percent natural.

    That question happens WITHIN the ruling theory. Suggesting, as you do, that the natural number may be higher than the human number, Doesnt give you a new theory. You’ve misappropriated his essay.

    Here is the difference: you operate within the ruling theory, but you are at the edge. Someone like Willis, operates in an entirely different theoretical space.

    • Belongs here.

      Steven Mosher: That question happens WITHIN the ruling theory.

      Why is that necessarily so? The “ruling theory” fails to explain the oscillations that have appx a 950 year period, oscillations that may inform the attribution.

      • Ruling theory also fails to account for 60-70 yr oscillations in attribution arguments.

      • To use a temporally stratified approach between temperature inflection points in 1944 and 1998 – a full cold and warm regime – we get some 0.4 degree C residual at 0.07 degree C/decade. Assuming all of this is anthropogenic – we get a low sensitivity and a moderate rate of warming.

        Theory 3 would suggest we not take this as a serious projection.

    • The ruling theory remains unproven. Yes CO2 levels are rising, yes the greenhouse effect is a plausible mechanism … but there is too much variability, too much thermal inertia, too little shift, too poor models, too little time passed … to claim proof that GW/CC is undesirable/unavoidable/irreversible/catastrophic.

      All the huffing and puffing is directed at the catastrophic consequence of CO2 emissions. The push of wishful thinking to assert the demonization of anthropogenic CO2 emissions is enormous.

    • Forcing agents such as carbon dioxide can directly affect cloud cover and precipitation, without any change in global temperature.

    • That question happens WITHIN the ruling theory. Suggesting, as you do, that the natural number may be higher than the human number, Doesnt give you a new theory.

      Actually, the “ruling theory” doesn’t take an appropriate attitude towards “natural variation”. Based on analogies with other hyper-complex non-linear systems, the default assumption for the new programme/“ruling alternate theory” should be a high level of natural variation. There is plentiful evidence of such natural variation at the regional scale, the default assumption should be that it usually doesn’t cancel out.

      Starting with this prior, examine the paleo evidence, and treat everything that doesn’t contradict it as supporting that programme/“ruling alternate theory”. What are you left with?

    • Actually the “ruling theory” doesn’t include significant natural variability because the “ruling” theory isn’t a theory it is a scientific compromise. There is a “ruling Theory” for part of the situation, the no feedback “sensitivity”, but the theory then leaps to include less than scientific guesses.

      So you have a Theory, CO2 and equivalent “greenhouse” gases will have a warming impact on climate that allows for approximately 0.8 to 1.2 C of warming and biases guestimates that it could be umpteen times larger. Then you apply, poorly, a precautionary principle a bit like one would expect during the various inquisitions.

      • Have you read Bill Gray’s recent release? He discounts the water vapour aloft above storms, showing that the rising air is strongly cooled and “wrung out”. The net effect is a negative feedback resulting in ECS of about 0.3K. AGW falls, crashes, and burns.

      • BrainH, An ECS of 0.3 is possible, but unlikely and not all that useful since it only considers about half to 2/3 of the overall changes. For just CO2 equivalent gases and with a 1980 to 2010 reference, “sensitivity” to CO2 equivalent should be about 0.8 C and depending on what time period should be considered “climate” have a range of uncertainty of about +/- 0.2 to +/- 0.8. If you are a JCH kinda of micro trend watcher, there is about 0.8 C of uncertainty thanks to the extra noise. A 100 year climate watcher would have about 0.2 and a 30 year watcher should have about 0.3 C. Then Gray’s 0.3 +/- 0.3 would put him the the lowest of the low end.

        ESC isn’t that useful though because it requires a reference that isn’t set in stone. If you add CO2 in the depths of a glacial period you would have a higher sensitivity and at the peak of an interglacial a lower sensitivity. To add to the fun, the depths and peaks really depend on the average ocean temperature not the average surface temperature. Since the ocean appears to have a roughly 1700 year equalizing time frame, ECS has a value close to teats on a bore hog without some killer paleo ocean data.

        That is part of the reason why the “ruling theory” has a small T.

    • “The issue you and Bush are talking about is Attribution. What % human versus what percent natural.

      That question happens WITHIN the ruling theory.”

      Not in the real climate debate. The (as yet unknowable) answer to that question is essential to the CAGW political movement. It has been taken as a given since the SAR.

      The ‘ruling theory’ in CAGW is:

      “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

      According to CAGW orthodoxy, once you accept that as revealed truth, the precautionary principle tells you that nothing else matters – decarbonize the planet.

      • Actually, the “‘ruling theory’ in CAGW” is something more like:

        Whatever we see will turn into bad consequences, and it’s all our (humanity’s) fault!

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Perhaps we should apply the Precautionary Principle to the consequences of implementing the precautions advocated for addressing CAGW. Such as turning over control of our energy supply to government regulators led by politicians.

    • Well I think the point here is to name all the hypothesis. We just had three big volcanic eruptions in Chile. Are they as potent than human emmisions? We are in the first stage of an El Nino ( some say the second of a double El Nino) Is that as potent than human emmisions? Solar strength is diminishing and may stay that way for several cycles. Will that be as potent as ghg and cause lower temperature? Was the solar maximum as potent as ghg in driving the recent warm up? There’s a few more Milankovitch etc.

      I guess the point is do you give equal weighing to all the suspects? I know I do because at this point I don’t know much. But the Consensus science seems to have a favorite child and it seems to me it’s a bully.

    • Hang on Mosher, isn’t the ‘ruling theory’ that:
      – Changes that occurred in climate since the late 20th C are unprecedented.

      It’s only from that baseline belief – the precipitate explanation – that we can then get into multiple climate science concepts – the tentative theories:
      – Being unprecedented, changes must therefore be alarming, and since they are occurring since the late 20th C they must have been primarily caused by man, so man must be responsible for some % for alarming climate change i.e attribution man v nature.

      I don’t think Prof Curry, and it seems Jeb Bush, are just arguing attribution man v nature.

      I think they’re going bigger than that – they’re arguing about the unprecedented as well.

    • The ruling theory is intimately about attribution.

      It has a simple and relatively ancient underlying premise – the CO2 theory of climate change (see for example Plass (1956) “The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change” Tellus Vol 8 No 2).

      If it ain’t CO2 you find it hard to attribute to humans (although Heartland offers “Human forcings besides greenhouse gases” as another theory that would support attribution but in the context one can be forgiven for putting it to one side).

    • Maybe if the “ruling theory” started from a point other than “the only possible explanation for gw/cc is the level of co2 in our atmosphere” it would have some credibility. As it stands, the ruling theory, as defined by the alarmists, has little to none.

    • Mosher. Read up on quantum mechanics. There are several “theoretical spaces” in play. The science isn’t settled.

  15. I have thrown this into the mix several times. It is simply a visual representation of Judy’s three climate ‘meta-theories’.

    The following is from the US Academies of Science in 2002 – from doyens of climate science – and can be taken at face value as a description of real world data.

    ‘Recent scientific evidence shows that major and widespread climate changes have occurred with startling speed. For example, roughly half the north Atlantic warming since the last ice age was achieved in only a decade, and it was accompanied by significant climatic changes across most of the globe. Similar events, including local warmings as large as 16°C, occurred repeatedly during the slide into and climb out of the last ice age. Human civilizations arose after those extreme, global ice-age climate jumps. Severe droughts and other regional climate events during the current warm period have shown similar tendencies of abrupt onset and great persistence, often with adverse effects on societies.’ Richard Alley, Jochem Marotzke, William Nordhaus, Jonathon Overpeck, Dorothy Peteet, Raymond Pierrehumbert, Roger Pielke Jr, Thomas Stocker, Lynne Talley, J. Michael Wallace.

    Theory 1 is obviously insane – theory 2 has some obvious attractions but it fails to explain abrupt shifts in climate. At some stage you just need to decide which theory fits the facts best. Climate is wild as Wally said.

    ‘One of the most important and mysterious events in recent climate history is the climate shift in the mid-1970s [Graham, 1994]. In the northern hemisphere 500-hPa atmospheric flow the shift manifested itself as a collapse of a persistent wave-3 anomaly pattern and the emergence
    of a strong wave-2 pattern. The shift was accompanied by sea-surface temperature (SST) cooling in the central Pacific and warming off the coast of western North America [Miller et al., 1994]. The shift brought sweeping long-range changes in the climate of northern hemisphere. Incidentally, after ‘‘the dust settled,’’ a new long era of frequent El Ninos superimposed on a sharp global temperature increase begun.’

    Nor does theory 2 provide an adequate basis for determining the risk of climate change. The risk is for more or less extreme climate change every few decades – whether anthropogenic or natural.

  16. Working Hypothesis (by way of hindsight and deconstruction)

    CO2 levels are rising because of human activity. This will result in catastrophic GW/CC/hardship. This is evil and humans must desist.

    Yes. CO2 levels are rising and are assisted by human activity. Furthermore, the GG effect is a plausible mechanism by which the climate catastrophe can arise. Yet it is undemonstated/unproven/undiscernable that the current rates of rising CO2 (extrapolated forward) will result in severe CC/GW/hardship.

    The failure at connecting the dots between increasing CO2 levels and CC/GW/hardship is not a failure of science, nor a disavowal of the GHG hypothesis. It is simply too early know. There is too much variability to make forecasts meaningful at present.

    The settled science assertion that rising CO2 will quickly and assuredly result in cataclysmic consequence is necessesary so as to demonize human carbon emission.

  17. khal spencer

    Speaking of Chamberlin, this is funny…

    An Attempt to Frame a Working Hypothesis of the Cause of Glacial Periods on an Atmospheric Basis (Continued)
    Author(s): T. C. Chamberlin
    Source: The Journal of Geology, Vol. 7, No. 7 (Oct. – Nov., 1899), pp. 667-685

  18. Steven Mosher: That question happens WITHIN the ruling theory.

    Why is that necessarily so? The “ruling theory” fails to explain the oscillations that have appx a 950 year period, oscillations that may inform the attribution.

  19. Prof Curry, thank you for the essay by Chamberlin.

  20. > The remedy lies in correct intellectual habits, in a predominant, ever-present disposition to see things as they are, and to judge them in the full light of an unbiased weighing of evidence applied to all possible constructions, accompanied by a withholding of judgment when the evidence is insufficient to justify conclusions.

    Not sure Mr. T would be pleased by this.

  21. Judith,

    Thanks for another very interesting post.

    JC comment: In the case of climate change, this argues for industry funding of more diverse perspectives, given the bias introduced by politicization and federal funding.

    I think you are implying that because government funding of climate science has so perverted the incentives of scientists working in the field that there is a need for counterbalancing funding to set things right. I don’t think “industry” funding is the right answer as that would set up more biased research leading to a p – ssing contest between scientists controlled by their funders. The industry funded scientists could never win this contest because the government holds all the cards.

    Seems to me that President Eisenhower’s warning has materialized in spades.

    Government funds, for the most part, applied science. During the wars (WWI, WWII, Cold War) the application was winning the wars and national defense. It doesn’t get more applied and urgent than that.

    The problem with the climate science discussion is that to many scientists have abrogated their responsibilities as scientists to follow the scientific method because the system of rewards and advancement have seduced them to become whores. Industry funding would only exacerbate that tendency rather than fix it.

    We need a Red Team in climate science, but it’s funding needs to come from the same source as the “mainstream” Team.

    • This is a comment to the WSJ article about Obama’s Coast Guard Academy speech that was made by a reader:

      “In your camp expect there many scientists who are best described as climate change pseudo-sceptics, most do not published refereed climate change academic journals.

      Many have been financed by greenhouse gas emitting Industries and provided with moral support by anti- climate change lobby groups; with I expect you are a wannabe member.”

      The Green Mob will debunk industry funded research and the government funders will get off scot free.

    • Steven Mosher

      Red team is a great idea. But the red team bench is old and shallow.

      • Don Monfort

        I keep nominating Boeing and Lockheed as the Red team. I bet there are still some Kelly Johnson types working in the industry. Give those organizations who know how to get things done a $BILLION each and a couple of years to do the thing. A redo on the climate science. They have the technical capabilities. Surely better than more funding for the usual ivory tower navel gazers and the same ole gaggle of broken down computer models.

        The Republicans could stick the funding in any ole appropriations bill and see if the joker in the WH will have the guts to veto it.

      • Great, so I guess the blue team is young and dumb?

      • Actually the red team has a few young up and comers. Oppo, Rosenthal and Linsey are technically red teamers since the blue team is so anal. That forces Schwartz, Stephens, Stevens, Webster and a number of others into the red if you use 2.0 C as the line in the sand.

      • Who knows how many would come out of the closet if the stigma of skepticism were lifted and it became safe to do so?

        Do you consider people over 60,70 to be to old to play in this game? I think not!

      • Out of curiosity, can you describe the first team for blue?

  22. Another Chamberlin article – Investigation versus Propagandism – might also be worth a read.

    Interestingly, quite a few references to changes in sea levels over comparatively short time frames occur. The sea level apparently danced up and down without the need tor a human dance master.

    Worth investigation, perhaps? Or we can just keep accepting the propaganda, I guess.

  23. “Written well over a century ago, this describes current climate science to a T.”

    Who was it who said (repeatedly) “there is nothing new in the climate debate”?

    Oh yeah, me.

  24. The test is coming now. We shall see what the global temperature trend will do from this point on. If it declines in the face of rising CO2 concentrations even as little as .1c -.2c over the most recent 30 year trend(1980-2010) ,AGW theory will be proven wrong, solar will be in play to a much greater extent.

    This would take into account the PDO/AMO phase, ENSO variability and volcanic activity, all of which have been the factors that have governed the temperature trend against a backdrop of increasing CO2 concentrations and high solar activity for the past century. CO2 and Solar acting in concert on their possible effects on global temperatures up to year 2005.

    From 2005 through the present and going forward CO2/SOLAR have been acting in opposition to one another and we shall see if the trend in global temperature goes down taking into account the PDO/AMO phase, ENSO and VOLCANIC ACTIVITY.

    Will the trend post 2015 be .1c to .2c or greater lower then it was from the average global temperature from the period 1980-2010? If it is, then solar is going to have to be realized as a player and CO2 as a non player.

    NOTE – a strong case can be made for solar /volcanic activity correlations and to a lesser degree for ENSO correlations, which is part of the case to be made for solar/climate connections.

    I will add I am quite confident the global temperature trend going forward will be down. To what degree is the question.

    I might add it is not total TSI that matters but rather UV light variations which act in opposition to visible light and obscure the total variability of solar activity due to small TSI changes which are due to visible light /UV light being in opposition to solar activity at least when the sun is in a 11 year rhythmic cycle.

  25. Once sunspot numbers average 40 or lower sea surface temperatures will begin to decline.

  26. AGW theory has predicted thus far every single basic atmospheric process wrong.

    In addition past historical climatic data shows the climate change that has taken place over the past 150 years is nothing special or unprecedented, and has been exceeded many times over in similar periods of time in the historical climatic record. I have yet to see data showing otherwise.

    Data has also shown CO2 has always been a lagging indicator not a leading indicator. It does not lead the temperature change. If it does I have yet to see data confirming this.






    LESSENING OF OLR EARTH VIA SPACE -WRONG? I have a study showing this to be so.




    STRATOSPHERIC COOLING- ?? because lack of major volcanic activity and less ozone due to low solar activity can account for this. In addition water vapor concentrations decreasing.

    WATER VAPOR IN ATMOSPHERE INCREASING- WRONG- all of the latest data shows water vapor to be on the decrease.

    AEROSOL IMPACT- WRONG- May be less then a cooling agent then expected, meaning CO2 is less then a warming agent then expected.

    OCEAN HEAT CONTENT TO RISE- WRONG – this has leveled off post 2005 or so. Levels now much below model projections.

    Those are the major ones but there are more. Yet AGW theory lives on.
    Maybe it is me , but I was taught when you can not back up a theory with data and through observation that it is time to move on and look into another theory. Apparently this does not resonate when it comes to AGW theory , and this theory keeps living on to see yet another day.

    Maybe once the global temperature trend shows a more definitive down trend which is right around the corner (according to my studies ) this nonsense will come to an end. Time will tell.

    Greenhouse score card showing more blunders

    Past historical data showing no correlation.

    Current data not agreeing with what AGW calls for.

    • Salvatore,

      Facts will only confuse them. Very pedestrian government functionaries just waiting for retirement.

      Not a first class mind amongst the lot of them, I dare say.

      Maybe we could complain about the death rate due to cold weather, and demand some warming. Sue them if they can’t provide what they promised.

      Give me warm! Give me warm! Give me warm! I’m freezing!

    • Just one of those failures is fatal. If a consequent is logically entailed by a postulate, and it fails to occur, the postulate is disproven. Even if there are n others which do happen! Successful predictions merely fail to falsify; but only one successful falsification is enough. And, of course, you have many listed. An embarass de richesse.

    • Pooh, Dixie

      Given these failures, perhaps we need a new formula:
      “Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
      Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
      Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
      Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
      For a charm of powerful trouble,
      Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.” – Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1

  27. ”The method of multiple working hypotheses” is FOR GREATER CONFUSION of the Urban Sheep and the Dung Beetles on the net, NOT TO INFORM!!!

  28. First there was the Anthropocentric Universe (was wrong).

    Then there was Anthropocentric Quantum Mechanice (was wrong – as if an observer was needed for the Universe to function).

    Now we have the Anthropocentric Climate. And it is also wrong.

  29. ‘We develop the concept of “dragon-kings” corresponding to meaningful outliers, which are found to coexist with power laws in the distributions of event sizes under a broad range of conditions in a large variety of systems. These dragon-kings reveal the existence of mechanisms of self-organization that are not apparent otherwise from the distribution of their smaller siblings… We emphasize the importance of understanding dragon-kings as being often associated with a neighborhood of what can be called equivalently a phase transition, a bifurcation, a catastrophe (in the sense of Rene Thom), or a tipping point.’

    The rational actor is a catastrophist – in the sense of Rene Thom. We should expect surprises.

    But the ruling theory seems to be divination by auguries.

  30. It lacks any examples of this working in the physical sciences. Who has multiple physics-based competing theories? Where is one other one? Physical science is highly constrained by what is known about energy budgets, paleoclimate and radiative transfer in gases, and alternate hypotheses are hard to come by as the skeptics well know by now after a decade of trying. They still don’t even have a conceptual model that works unless you disregard some known data or invent things that have eluded measurement.

    • Physical science is highly constrained by what is known about energy budgets, paleoclimate and radiative transfer in gases, and alternate hypotheses are hard to come by as the skeptics well know by now after a decade of trying.

      Not really. It’s (climate science, which I’m sure you mean) mostly “highly constrained” by fossilized artificially manufactured paradigms, political manipulation, and the occasional dash of bureaucratic hooliganism.

    • Jim D,

      Try the differing physical explanations offered for the Mpemba effect. Is one example enough?

      Of course there are more, but you may find them as easily as I, so I won’t bore you.

    • Let me help you out there Jimbo.

      Consider the following three hypotheses that explain 20th century climate variability and change, with implied future projections:

      I. IPCC AGW hypothesis: 20th century climate variability/change is explained by external forcing, with natural internal variability providing high frequency ‘noise’. In the latter half of the 20th century, this external forcing has been dominated by anthropogenic gases and aerosols. The implications for temperature change in the 21st century is 0.2C per decade until 2050. Challenges: convincing explanations of the warming 1910-1940, explaining the flat trend between mid 1940’s and mid 1970’s, explaining the flat trend for the past 15 years.

      II. Multi-decadal oscillations plus trend hypothesis: 20th century climate variability/change is explained by the large multidecadal oscillations (e.g NAO, PDO, AMO) with a superimposed trend of external forcing (AGW warming). The implications for temperature change in the 21st century is relatively constant temperatures for the next several decades, or possible cooling associated with solar. Challenges: separating forced from unforced changes in the observed time series, lack of predictability of the multidecadal oscillations.

      III: Climate shifts hypothesis: 20th century climate variability/change is explained by synchronized chaos arising from nonlinear oscillations of the coupled ocean/atmosphere system plus external forcing (e.g. Tsonis, Douglass). The most recent shift occurred 2001/2002, characterized by flattening temperatures and more frequent La Nina’s. The implications for the next several decades are that the current trend will continue until the next climate shift, at some unknown point in the future. External forcing (AGW, solar) will have more or less impact on trends depending on the regime, but how external forcing materializes in terms of surface temperature in the context of spatiotemporal chaos is not known. Note: hypothesis III is consistent with Sneyers’ arguments re change-point analysis. Challenges: figuring out the timing (and characteristics) of the next climate shift.

      Technically synchronisation and coupling strength increased around the turn of the century.

      But when did the shift happen? Short answer – the big ENSO fluctuation in 98/01. It marks a transition to more upwelling in the eastern Pacific.

      Oddly – I think the capacity to ignore it is not the same as there not being abundant and utterly convincing science.

      • The AMO warming since 1995 is associated with an increase on negative North Atlantic Oscillation, increased GHG forcing increases positive NAO. That is how to separate them.

      • ..with an increase *of*..

      • These other hypotheses appeal to random chance that this part of the millennium is somehow special and not because of all the forcing we have added. So while the forcing easily accounts for the warming and the remaining imbalance, skeptics continue to look for some coincidence, anything, as an alternative. The same thing as the CO2 outgassing argument, just built on one big natural coincidence that is anything but manmade despite its happening at the same time. Looks like denial.

      • The essential idea is the underlying dynamical mechanism of climate change.

        ‘Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small.’

        It has significance for the persistence of the current temperature trajectory and for future shifts in climate. As the NAS said – we should expect surprises. But it is a completely different theory and brings into sharp relief the importance of internal chaotic processes. Like it or nor – understand it or not – this is the new and powerful climate paradigm.

        BTW – the 20th was special with peaks in all sorts of things – including El Nino.


      • How can there be surprises when you rule everything out?

      • Rule twice. Cut once.

      • ulriclyons

        Chief Hydrologist refuses to accept that an abrupt warming during an interglacial is not physically possible.

  31. The CO2 hypothesis is over-rated IMO and the fixation of climate science research on this hypothesis to the exclusion of others have effectively put us all down a bore hole.

  32. Brian G Valentine

    How many AGW academics will say the following before their retirement or passing? Statistically, very few in the history of Western science since the Enlightenment:

    – “I jumped on the bandwagon and accepted authority without thinking it through.”

    – “This same thing had been debunked years ago.”

    – “An hypothesis cannot be sustained if evidence of the contrary is stronger.”

    There has been adequate analysis of “climate” to conclude that AGW is not meaningful. There has been inadequate analysis of the human propensity to reverse a previously held belief.

  33. This method of research that Chamberlain is talking about exemplifies the instinctive genius Dr. Roger Revelle. He had the courage to second-guess his original theory about global warming and he had the honesty to acknowledge his uncertainty and withhold judgment. He wasn’t senile: Revelle changed his opinion. Revelle’s example sets the standard by which scientists’ integrity and honor can be compared and unfortunately for America, Revelle’s student, Al Gore, fails to measure up. Instead of appreciating the example of his mentor. Gore decided instead to engage in climate science’s first act of McCarthyism and drag science through the mud to achieve his political objectives.

    • Gore is talking his book.

    • Brian G Valentine

      Gore sat in his class and received a C or D from Revelle.

      Next thing you know, Roger had celebrity status for his discussions of Callender’s musings.

      Revelle had sense enough not to let it go to his head, Gore had no clue that such people existed.

    • According to Wikipedia Revelle never changed his view. He was tricked by Singer to sign onto an article Singer had written a year earlier. He just didn’t want to spend ‘trillions’ on the problem but had his own ideas of mitigation.

    • Follow the money. Every major special interest is aligned with the global warming mongers. Only the world’s poor line up against them. And they don’t donate to the Clinton Foundation slush fund, the treasuries of environmental groups, or the campaigns of politicians; or provide profits to the money interests in Silicon Valley, Wall Street or DC.

  34. May 20, 2014

    May 19, 2015

    • Brian G Valentine

      Next year they will be complaining of too much rain on the West Coast and taken as further evidence of Climate Change.

      • The alarmists will use the drought for propaganda purposes:
        “This is hardly a radical position. Our Department of Homeland Security has urged citizens to report anything dangerous they witness: “If you see something, say something.” We scientists are citizens, too, and, in climate change, we see a clear and present danger. The public is beginning to see the danger, too — Midwestern farmers struggling with drought, more damaging wildfires out West, and withering record summer heat across the country — while wondering about possible linkages between rapid Arctic warming and strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States.”

        But once the drought abates, they will say it doesn’t matter to the big picture because it only regional.

      • Maybe one day a climatologist will come up with something as useful as a dung beetle.

        Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

      • La Nina dominance, which is speculated, would mean persistent drought in much of the American West. When there is an occasional El Nino, it will rain.

      • And yet, the 1998 El Nino marked what appears to be a climate shift to higher temperatures. A Conundrum.

      • By 1999, the GMST was back to pre-1998 temps. It is the back-to-back El Nino events in the early 2000s from which the GMST has never retreated.

      • JCH,

        And of course, both La Niña, and El Niño, are caused by increased levels of that evil CO2 in the atmosphere, are they?

        Don’t tell me nobody knows! How can this be?

      • How can it be? Easy.

  35. Jim D’s taunt about an alternative shows total non-comprehension of scientific hypothesizing. The Null Hypothesis is always accepted until disproven, and then all individual alternatives must be individually put to falsification tests before one is accepted. None of the above has occurred, except that AGW has been comprehensively falsified. The Null stands; this is somehow construed by JD as backhanded proof of AGW, as though it was itself the Null!


    • The warmest position is based on the exact opposite of the null hypothesis – that is, co2 drives climate change and by golly, I will build models to prove it!

  36. The main impediment is the reluctance to consider natural variability being largely solar forced rather than internal and chaotic. Open that path of investigation, and it provides the ideal evidence to show that natural variability powerfully overrides any increases in GHG forcing. Simply because increased GHG forcing should have inhibited the warming of the AMO and Arctic since the mid 1990’s.

    • philsalmon

      I would argue for an interaction between both of the above – solar and astrophysical forcing interacting with internal chaotic dynamics. Not a black and white either/or. Such false dichotomies are not helpful in research debates such as climate. When a system is directly forced like the ocean tides this is strong forcing. No-one doubts that the sun and moon drive tides (or maybe I’m out of date – someone somewhere is claiming CO2 for this as well?). However a much more complex relationship arises when you have weak periodic forcing of a nonlinear oscillator – here it becomes more difficult to link the frequencies of the forcing to the forced system. The forcing is still real – but can be really hard to prove. An example of this might be the “mid Pleistocene revolution” 1 million years ago, 2/3 of the way through the current glacial period, where the timing of interglacials changed from 41,000 year spacing aligned with the obliquity cycle to an approximately 100,000 year spacing involving apparently a more complex interaction between precession and eccentricity. See for instance:

      Click to access manuscript_maslin_and_ridgwell.pdf

      Its easy for a lot of folks to say “its always the sun”:

      As if the earths atmosphere and (especially) ocean were passive systems driven intirely by “forcing”. This is probably the most profound mistake in climate research and the CO2 CAGW advocates are the principal exponents of this spectacular error. However the “solar brigade” run the risk of sharing in the same error when they too consider the climate passive and every wiggle of temperature attributable to some discreet external forcing. It is beyond any doubt that a large dissipative open system with obvious chaotic dynamics such as the climate, is subject to internally driven nonlinear oscillations over a wide range of time scales. The important point however is that to argue this non-passivity of the climate does not rule out an astrophysical forcing role. The system could well be a “weakly forced nonlinear oscillator” in which a range of external forcings (solar, tidal, Milankovich etc.) interact with the systems own nonlinear oscillations and resonances to yield the end result of an almost intractably complex climate system.

      • Agree with Chamberlin,
        and like-wise Socrates,
        never dig-in.

      • Very well done – a breath of fresh air. You too Beth. Hate the song btw.

      • ulriclyons

        phil said
        “However the “solar brigade” run the risk of sharing in the same error when they too consider the climate passive and every wiggle of temperature attributable to some discreet external forcing.”

        I have been forecasting those little wiggles in the NAO and associated regional temperatures since 2008. The error is in assuming that they are internal.

        phil said:
        “It is beyond any doubt that a large dissipative open system with obvious chaotic dynamics such as the climate, is subject to internally driven nonlinear oscillations over a wide range of time scales.”

        Not so as the ocean modes are driven by atmospheric teleconnections that are solar forced at down to daily scales.

      • My explanation philsalmon. Commentary appreciated. I was impressed with your post..

        Here is what I have concluded. My explanation as to how the climate may change conforms to the historical climatic data record which has led me to this type of an explanation. It does not try to make the historical climatic record conform to my explanation. It is in two parts.

        PART ONE


        Below are my thoughts about how the climatic system may work. It starts with interesting observations made by Don Easterbrook. I then reply and ask some intriguing questions at the end which I hope might generate some feedback responses. I then conclude with my own thoughts to the questions I pose.

        From Don Easterbrook – Aside from the statistical analyses, there are very serious problems with the Milankovitch theory. For example, (1) as John Mercer pointed out decades ago, the synchronicity of glaciations in both hemispheres is ‘’a fly in the Malankovitch soup,’ (2) glaciations typically end very abruptly, not slowly, (3) the Dansgaard-Oeschger events are so abrupt that they could not possibility be caused by Milankovitch changes (this is why the YD is so significant), and (4) since the magnitude of the Younger Dryas changes were from full non-glacial to full glacial temperatures for 1000+ years and back to full non-glacial temperatures (20+ degrees in a century), it is clear that something other than Milankovitch cycles can cause full Pleistocene glaciations. Until we more clearly understand abrupt climate changes that are simultaneous in both hemispheres we will not understand the cause of glaciations and climate changes.

        . My explanation:

        I agree that the data does give rise to the questions/thoughts Don Easterbrook, presents in the above. That data in turn leads me to believe along with the questions I pose at the end of this article, that a climatic variable force which changes often which is superimposed upon the climate trend has to be at play in the changing climatic scheme of things. The most likely candidate for that climatic variable force that comes to mind is solar variability (because I can think of no other force that can change or reverse in a different trend often enough, and quick enough to account for the historical climatic record) and the primary and secondary effects associated with this solar variability which I feel are a significant player in glacial/inter-glacial cycles, counter climatic trends when taken into consideration with these factors which are , land/ocean arrangements , mean land elevation ,mean magnetic field strength of the earth(magnetic excursions), the mean state of the climate (average global temperature gradient equator to pole), the initial state of the earth’s climate(how close to interglacial-glacial threshold condition it is/ average global temperature) the state of random terrestrial(violent volcanic eruption, or a random atmospheric circulation/oceanic pattern that feeds upon itself possibly) /extra terrestrial events (super-nova in vicinity of earth or a random impact) along with Milankovitch Cycles.

        What I think happens is land /ocean arrangements, mean land elevation, mean magnetic field strength of the earth, the mean state of the climate, the initial state of the climate, and Milankovitch Cycles, keep the climate of the earth moving in a general trend toward either cooling or warming on a very loose cyclic or semi cyclic beat but get consistently interrupted by solar variability and the associated primary and secondary effects associated with this solar variability, and on occasion from random terrestrial/extra terrestrial events, which brings about at times counter trends in the climate of the earth within the overall trend. While at other times when the factors I have mentioned setting the gradual background for the climate trend for either cooling or warming, those being land/ocean arrangements, mean land elevation, mean state of the climate, initial state of the climate, Milankovitch Cycles , then drive the climate of the earth gradually into a cooler/warmer trend(unless interrupted by a random terrestrial or extra terrestrial event in which case it would drive the climate to a different state much more rapidly even if the climate initially was far from the glacial /inter-glacial threshold, or whatever general trend it may have been in ) UNTIL it is near that inter- glacial/glacial threshold or climate intersection at which time allows any solar variability and the associated secondary effects no matter how SLIGHT at that point to be enough to not only promote a counter trend to the climate, but cascade the climate into an abrupt climatic change. The back ground for the abrupt climatic change being in the making all along until the threshold glacial/inter-glacial intersection for the climate is reached ,which then gives rise to the abrupt climatic changes that occur and possibly feed upon themselves while the climate is around that glacial/inter-glacial threshold resulting in dramatic semi cyclic constant swings in the climate from glacial to inter-glacial while factors allow such an occurrence to take place.

        The climatic back ground factors (those factors being previously mentioned) driving the climate gradually toward or away from the climate intersection or threshold of glacial versus interglacial, however when the climate is at the intersection the climate gets wild and abrupt, while once away from that intersection the climate is more stable. Although random terrestrial events and extra terrestrial events could be involved some times to account for some of the dramatic swings in the climatic history of the earth( perhaps to the tune of 10% ) at any time , while solar variability and the associated secondary effects are superimposed upon the otherwise gradual climatic trend, resulting in counter climatic trends, no matter where the initial state of the climate is although the further from the glacial/inter-glacial threshold the climate is the less dramatic the overall climatic change should be, all other items being equal.

        The climate is chaotic, random, and non linear, but in addition it is never in the same mean state or initial state which gives rise to given forcing to the climatic system always resulting in a different climatic out-come although the semi cyclic nature of the climate can still be derived to a degree amongst all the noise and counter trends within the main trend.


        Why is it when ever the climate changes the climate does not stray indefinitely from it’s mean in either a positive or negative direction? Why or rather what ALWAYS brings the climate back toward it’s mean value ? Why does the climate never go in the same direction once it heads in that direction?

        Along those lines ,why is it that when the ice sheets expand the higher albedo /lower temperature more ice expansion positive feedback cycle does not keep going on once it is set into motion? What causes it not only to stop but reverse?

        Vice Versa why is it when the Paleocene – Eocene Thermal Maximum once set into motion, that being an increase in CO2/higher temperature positive feedback cycle did not feed upon itself? Again it did not only stop but reversed?

        My conclusion is the climate system is always in a general gradual trend toward a warmer or cooler climate in a semi cyclic fashion which at times brings the climate system toward thresholds which make it subject to dramatic change with the slightest change of force superimposed upon the general trend and applied to it. While at other times the climate is subject to randomness being brought about from terrestrial /extra terrestrial events which can set up a rapid counter trend within the general slow moving climatic trend.


        Despite this ,if enough time goes by (much time) the same factors that drive the climate toward a general gradual warming trend or cooling trend will prevail bringing the climate away from glacial/inter-glacial threshold conditions it had once brought the climate toward ending abrupt climatic change periods eventually, or reversing over time dramatic climate changes from randomness.

        NOTE 1- Thermohaline Circulation Changes are more likely in my opinion when the climate is near the glacial/ inter-glacial threshold probably due to greater sources of fresh water input into the North Atlantic.

      • The system could well be a “weakly forced nonlinear oscillator” in which a range of external forcings (solar, tidal, Milankovich etc.) interact with the systems own nonlinear oscillations and resonances to yield the end result of an almost intractably complex climate

        My reply is yes, I agree with this. When the climate is in a given regime randomness can cause small fluctuations within that climate regime. Maybe plus.5c to -.5 c

      • philsalmon

        I agree with the general drift of your overview of the climate system.
        The stability of earth’s climate over at least the last half billion years (history of multicellular life) is remarkable and makes it clear that there are negative feedbacks operating on a wide range of timescales. I agree that it is the oceans and the THC both where climate “memory” resides and where the processing of climate and climate forcing history take place. The end result, as you nicely describe, is a kind of “le plus ca change, le plus c’est la meme chose”. (“The more it changes, the more it stays the same.”) There is always change – slow and fast, but in the final analysis and longest timescales, there is attraction toward a very limited set of quite narrow temperature ranges.

    • ulriclyons

      SdP said
      “The climate is chaotic, random,”

      Teleconnection variability is solar driven down to daily scales, it is not chaotic, and can be predicted at any useful range.

  37. Judith

    Excellent digging. Here is a book you may like. It is about a global society under control of the news media that in order to distract from internal divisions, the media cooked up a false war against the Moon. It has many parallels with the political AGW movement.

    I scanned it myself as the copyright has expired. It was written in 1923.

    • dennis

      looks like an expanded version of this;

      ‘The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

      H. L. Mencken’


  38. ““It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

    Right. Being interviewed on CNfreakinN is proof that you can’t “have a conversation.”

  39. Pingback: El analfabeto republicano y el intelectual demócrata intercambian los papeles cuando del calentamiento global se trata |

  40. Interesting comments about T.C. Chamberlin and his role in American science. Naomi Oreskes devoted 20 to 30 pages to Chamberlin scattered throughout her book The Rejection of Continental Drift.

    She showed that American scientists, at least geologists and other Earth scientists, prefer multiple working hypotheses because they were suspicious of “grand theories” and wished to guard against deductive approaches to Earth science, preferring inductive methods.

    The Epilogue, entitled Utility and Truth, began with a reference to Rollin Chamberlin (T.C.’s only son) and ended, “And we are placing responsibility for making new knowledge in the hands of those who have the most old knowledge to unmake. The recognition of scientific expertise — the very stuff that enables scientists to build on prior results — at the same time makes scientific judgments inescapably personal and historical, undermining our deepest wishes for knowledge that might somehow be transcendent.”
    Naomi Oreskes, The Rejection of Continental Drift, Oxford U Press,1999, p. 318.

    I share with Dr Oreskes her admiration of T. C. Chamberlin and what he stood for as well as the views she expressed in her paper, Verification, Validation, and Confirmation of Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences. Naomi Oreskes; Kristin Shrader-Frechette; Kenneth Belitz. Science, New Series, Vol. 263, No. 5147. (Feb. 4, 1994), pp. 641-646.

    Quotation from the concluding sections:

    “A model, like a novel, may resonate with nature, but it is not a “real” thing. Like a novel, a model may be convincing–it may “ring true” if it is consistent with our experience of the natural world. But just as we may wonder how much the characters in a novel are drawn from real life and how much is artifice, we might ask the same of a model: How much is based on observation and measurement of accessible phenomena, how much is based on informed judgment, and how much is convenience? Fundamentally, the reason for modeling is a lack of full access, either in time or space, to the phenomena of interest. In areas where public policy and public safety are at stake, the burden is on the modeler to demonstrate the degree of correspondence between the model and the material world it seeks to represent and to delineate the limits of that correspondence.”

    “Finally, we must admit that a model may confirm our biases and support incorrect intuitions. Therefore, models are most useful when they are used to challenge existing formulations, rather than to validate or verify them. Any scientist who is asked to use a model to verify or validate a predetermined result should be suspicious.”

    I am therefore puzzled how, as an author of the book Merchants of Doubt, Dr Oreskes managed to juggle these views with her critique of those who are skeptical about climate alarmism.

    • I am therefore puzzled how, as an author of the book Merchants of Doubt, Dr Oreskes managed to juggle these views with her critique of those who are skeptical about climate alarmism.

      Perhaps we can find the answer here: Continental Drift by Naomi Oreskes (2002):

      Three factors contributed to the American animosity to continental drift. One, Americans were widely committed to the method of multiple working hypotheses, and Wegener’s work was interpreted as violating it. For Americans, right scientific method was empirical, inductive, and required weighing observational evidence in light of alternative explanatory possibilities. Good theory was also modest, holding close to the objects of study. Most closely associated with the University of Chicago geologist T.C. Chamberlin (1843-1928), who named it, the method of multiple working hypotheses reflected American ideals expressed since the eighteenth century linking good science to good government: Good science was antiauthoritarian, like democracy. Good science was pluralistic, like a free society. If good science provided an exemplar for good government, then bad science threatened it. To American eyes Wegener’s work was bad science: It put the theory first and then sought evidence for it. It settled too quickly on a single interpretive framework. It was too large, too unifying, too ambitious. In short, it was seen as autocratic. Features that were later viewed as virtues of plate tectonics were attacked as flaws of continental drift.


      Third, Americans rejected continental drift because of the legacy of uniformitarianism. By the early twentieth century, the methodological principle of using the present to interpret the past was deeply entrenched in the practice of historical geology. Many believed this the only way to interpret the past, that uniformitarianism made geology a science, for without it what proof was there that God hadn’t made the Earth in seven days, fossils and all? Historical geologists routinely used faunal assemblages to make inferences about climate zones, but according to drift theory, continents in tropical latitudes did not necessarily have tropical faunas, because the reconfiguration of continents and oceans might change matters altogether. Wegener’s theory raised the specter that the present was not the key to the past—that it was just a moment in Earth history, no more or less characteristic than any other. This was not an idea Americans were willing to accept.


      IV Lessons from continental drift: The tortuous development of scientific knowledge

      Most people believe that when the weight of evidence becomes sufficiently great, scientists accept the reality of new phenomena and the truth of new theories. The case of continental drift suggests that reality is more complex. Scientific theories are not judged only in light of evidence, but also in light of methodological standards and epistemic preferences. Because these standards and preferences are forged prior to the onset of any theoretical debate, the legacies of past intellectual debates may weigh heavily in the outcomes of new ones.

      The problem with continental drift was not a lack of evidence, nor a lack of causal explanation. The evidence presented by Wegener and du Toit has been largely confirmed by global plate tectonics, and Holmes’s causal account—mantle convection—is now generally accepted as the cause of plate tectonics. The problem with continental drift was a conflict with prior intellectual commitments. Between the 1920s and the 1960s, these earlier commitments—to Pratt isostasy, to the method of multiple working hypothesis, to uniformitarianism—were loosened, modified, or abandoned altogether. With this, the debate could be re-opened on the basis of new evidence, and a previously discarded idea resurrected.

      I’ve never read Oreskes’ book; I lived through the Plate Tectonics revolution, and had never seen the point of reading a “history” of it written by the author of “Merchants of Doubt”.

      But in light of your question, and the subject of the main post, I’m wondering whether her book, as well as the piece linked and blockquoted here, were designed as “hit pieces” against her primary villain: “the method of multiple working hypotheses”. That, and any sort of “uniformitarianism”, are difficult stumbling blocks for IPPC “science”.

      Besides, her account doesn’t seem to hold water: “continental drift” could easily have been adopted as one of several “working hypotheses”. The reality behind that rejection is probably much better explained by Kuhn, while Oreskes is re-writing history (in semi-Kuhnian fashion) to justify enshrining a single hypothesis for IPPC “science”. (Look at the timing, too.)

      • philsalmon

        So Oreskes’ subtext is to argue for a return to autocracy in science to support CAGW on the basis that “US science rejected continental drift due to being too democratic “? Well she’s got what she wants already.

        Her argument is flawed. It was entrenched interests that opposed Wegener and these are not democratic.

      • Her argument is flawed. It was entrenched interests that opposed Wegener and these are not democratic.

        Yeah. Pretty much what I said.

        One thing that I thought of: appeals to “the method of multiple working hypotheses” seem most likely, to me, to come from proponents of minority theories against an overarching dominant paradigm. It’s hard for me to imagine that proponents of the “stable earth hypothesis” (or whatever the previous non-paradigm was called) would have made such an appeal against a newly arrived “continental drift” hypothesis.

        OTOH by the end of the process, when just about everybody was signing on to some version of “continental drift”, it might make sense that the last-ditch holdouts would make such an appeal. Perhaps Oreskes is confusing the ideas at the end of the process with the beginning.

        And perhaps she’s doing so deliberately, in an attempt to portray opponents of the IPCC “science” as equivalent to the last hold-outs against “continental drift”.

  41. A statement before Dr. Curry’s BINGO! statement caught my eye: and fail to recognize that it is but one factor, and perchance a minor factor, in the accomplishment of the total result.

    In numerous media venues, Dr. Curry has stated (where I hope I’m paraphrasing correctly): “My guess is that human influence is probably about 50%.”

    In my personal layman’s journey to try and understand this wicked problem, I’ve “framed” this human influence question to be somewhere between ~50% (Curry) to ~100% (Schmidt).

    Now I don’t really know what this “framing” actually means — as scientists spend 99% of their media effort arguing about problems, rarely talking about what they can probably agree on.

    Both Dr. Curry and Schmidt agree that human influence is probably at least50%. What’s the significance of this?

    Recently we saw a consequence of this, where Dr. Curry posted an OP/ED by Republican Congressman Laudermilk. In his OP/ED he heavily cited Dr. Curry (she was the only scientist he cited). In talking about human influence, Rep. Laudermilk inserted the phrase if any.

    And this illustrates the problem, where many Republican leaders (Senator Inhofe being the Poster Child) and Others (Rep. Laudermilk) are “framing” the lower boundary of human influence to be zero or something insignificant.

    So, I really have no idea what Jeb thinks in tackling AGW. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) appears to showing “good faith” in trying (and framing) this issue in his constructive dialogue with the environmental organization NRDC.

    • Stephen – you really can be a piece of work sometimes. What do you make of obama’s declaration that human caused climate change is the most dangerous and important challenge of our time, and all the other over-hyped rhetoric coming from the left? Loudermilk makes a relatively benign statement, in his own words that is his interpretation of dr. Curry’s position, and you go all rambo on him for staking out such an egregious position. Have you taken the time to read, what was at the time the Senate minority paper on climate change, drafted by republicans led by that evil heretic inhofe? It is a far more rational overview of the state of our understanding of climate, and the science around it than anything dems point to, especially gores inconvenient work of fiction.

      • Barnes: I really don’t care what President Obama says. I’m listening to “good faith skeptics” — Scientists like Dr. Curry and Conservative Politicians like Senator Lindsey Graham. Many Tea Party types are showing “bad faith”.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Re: ” What do you make of obama’s declaration that human caused climate change is the most dangerous and important challenge of our time….”

        I consider it to be ‘bushwah’, driven by his ideology rather than science.

      • Stephen – so how is loudermilk showing bad faith? As for the examples of hysterical rhetoric coming from the right, looks pretty mild to me compared to the denier lable, anti-science flatearther, etc. In fact, if you consider the rhetoric from the left, it’s personal attacks against individuals who dare question the consensus “science” whereas the rhetoric coming from the right is largely, if not exclusively attacking the science itself. Rhetoric from the left is intended to shut down debate, rhetoric from the right invites debate, so who exactly is acting in bad faith?

    • Stephen,

      I guess if you have quoted Prof. Curry’s guess correctly, then her guess that human influence is probably around 50%, is probably around my 9 year old grandson’s guess, I guess.

      I asked him to toss a coin. The first coin rolled down a drain, so I asked him to call heads or tails on a coin I tossed.

      Blow me down, he called it correctly. Definitely completely ignorant of climatology. When I asked about the influence of human influence on climate, he said “I don’t know”. This is the precise statistical equivalent of around 50%!

      The boy is obviously a genius. I presume he gets it from me. As to Jeb Bush, how does he expect to stop the climate changing? Does this mean everlasting drought for California, if climate change stops now?

      How can the U.S., with 5% of the world’s population, stop the climate changing for the other 95% of the population? Maybe God does whatever the U.S. tells him (or her, or it), what to do, but my grandson finds this hard to believe.

      Can you assist my grandson to understand all this? I am no expert.

      • Stephen, if I went ballistic every time some warmist or politician said something dumb about global warming, I’d be dead. So, we really have to be tolerant of others. They are entitled to their opinion. We have to be less reactionary. We have to focus on the science – its quality, its certainty, what is truly known and what isn’t well understood. We have to be honest about the effects of higher CO2 and the effects of warming no matter what the cause of the warming might be. We have to be honest about the fidelity and quality of climate models. The are obviously not up to the task of predicting impacts, good or bad.

    • Tea Party types categorize me and other like me (including Jeb Bush when he says things they don’t like) as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Tea Party type comments like below are not helpful in trying to have a national dialogue on AGW.

      • “trying to have a national dialogue on AGW”



      • Jim2 — When Democrats make incendiary statement you and others here at CE go ballistic. But when Republican (usually Tea Party types) do this, you cite free speech.

      • Brian G Valentine

        All those things said about AGW … too kind

      • Jim2 — I agree with your statement. As a Conservative (albeit a RINO to Tea Party types), I agree with several things President Obama is doing:

        (1) Efforts to reduce methane release from the oil/natural gas industry.

        (2) International efforts to reduce further HFCs.

        (3) The DOE Loan Program where 2 nuclear power plant units are being built (Georgia Power’s Vogtle Units 3&4). Obama tried to do much more on nuclear power than the 2 units being built. His initial funding request for loan guarantees was up to 16 new U.S. nuclear units. Congress (primarily Republicans, and Tea Party types specifically) stopped this Obama effort.

      • I’m not saying you are wrong that Republicans blocked some nuclear power plant, but it’s news to me. Do you have any documentation?

      • Bad Andrew — What Whopper have I said?

      • Jim2 — Just a quick Google search on something I remember on Obama and nuclear power:–Nuclear-Power-Policy/

      • Whopper 1: “trying to have a national dialogue on AGW”

        You aren’t really trying to have a dialogue. Obviously.


      • The “screw Nevada bill” is a big part of why nuke construction tanked.

        Then there were the infamous, all powerful greens: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, and Franklin, just to name a few.

      • Hmmm…

        The guy(?) “interested in dialogue” has dropped out of the conversation.


      • Stephen – you linked to a long article. But I don’t see anything in it that says Republicans blocked nuclear power. Do you have any real evidence of that?

      • Jim2 — In the nuclear power trade group link, go to section on DOE Loan Guarantees.

        I’ll approach your question in two parts. First, lets see if we agree on some basics. Early on in his Presidency, President Obama surprised many Republicans (and alienated many environmental groups) by his support for nuclear power. Obama’s Nuclear Team of Secretary Chu and including Republicans Christine Todd-Whitman and Senator Lindsey Graham worked very hard to get Congress to approve some pretty eye-popping Obama proposed Budget numbers. Obama’s Team talked about a “Nuclear Renaissance” where the DOE Loan Program would provide financing support for between 13 and 30 new nuclear power projects.

        Jim2 — Do you agree with the above statements?

        If so, then in my next post we can move on discussing “why” Congress didn’t approve Obama’s numerous Budget requests to dramatically expand Nuclear Power (other than Vogtle 3&4).

      • Stephen, please supply one simple link. The web site is too big with too many links and branches.

  42. On attribution. The forcing by now is 2.0-2.5 W/m2, almost entirely anthropogenic. The imbalance remaining is 0.5-1.0 W/m2. What this means is that for all the warming we have had (nearly 1 C), it has not caught up to the anthropogenic forcing. The warming attribution can be stated to be >100% based on just the forcing and imbalance argument. That is, all this warming and even more in the pipeline is due to man.


      Wrong Jim D.

      I fully expect a global temperature decline to start late this year once El Nino fades away.

      • This cannot happen with ACO2 at over 400 ppm and growing. Not even an AMOC slowdown can do it. Or a McMaddening Mini.

      • Salvatore del Prete Your response to Jim D illustrates the problem here at CE.

        You disagree with Jim D (which is fine).

        But do you also disagree with Dr. Curry that the “human influence is probably around 50%”?

    • I think the way to defeat AGW based on what present data and past data is telling us should be the approach I have presented below.

      Ferdinand, says,”CO2 levels do lead temperature already since at least 1900, as the increase in CO2 is (far) beyond what Henry’s law shows for the temperature increase.”

      My reply,

      This is why I approach the flaw in AGW on the two fronts I present below.

      Front one is, as evidenced by the data I sent that natural forces correlate quite nicely with temperature trends. Look at hockeyschtick graph.

      Front two is, I think more attention needs to be paid to the water vapor aspect of the GHG effect rather then increasing amounts of CO2.

      Also the saturation factor in that increasing amounts of CO2 have a lesser effect upon temperature.

      If a negative feedback is associated with upper atmospheric water vapor concentrations and an increase in CO2 concentrations then this theory(AGW) is in deep trouble.

      Better yet if natural conditions are the controlling factor of water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere at all levels of the atmosphere this would also put AGW theory in deep trouble, especially if the climate should cool ( which I think it may) due to prolonged minimum solar conditions.

      Evidence for the above assertions is the lack of a lower tropical tropospheric hot spot and the fact that OLR emissions from earth to space have yet to decrease in response to increasing CO2 concentrations.

    • Jim D, how do you reconcile the fact that during Eemian Interglacial temperatures were 1C to 2C warmer than the current Holocene interglacial yet atmospheric CO2 has only 290 ppm in the past.

      The CO2 forcing mechanism saturates. There are periods of millions of years in the deep paleo record when CO2 is high and the planet is cold and periods when CO2 is low and the planet is warm. The higher and lower temperatures in the past were not caused by atmospheric CO2. The paleo observations disproves CAWG. The paleo record shuts ‘THE CO2 MECHANISM SATURATES !!!’.

      • You ignore much longer paleoclimate periods, like the Eocene, that were much warmer than now with high CO2 levels. These indicate that the saturation idea is plain wrong, which also is wrong on just its physics.

      • Jim D,

        Of course, unless the Earth was continuing its cooling from the molten state, and CO2 was following the natural decline from the 95% at 100 bar levels earlier on, with odd exceptions due to natural events.

        Possible or not? Maybe the CO2 levels follow the cooling?

        Of course, there are no experiments at all which verify the greenhouse effect. Tends to put any greenhouse claims in the same boat as claims for the existence of a universal ether, wouldn’t you agree?

      • You ignore much longer paleoclimate periods, like the Eocene, that were much warmer than now with high CO2 levels.

        The continents were in a different configuration. The Eocene is irrelevant.

      • Of course, unless the Earth was continuing its cooling from the molten state, […]

        The Earth has been in equilibrium with internal heat production from radiative decay (and a very tiny contribution from tidal heating) since long before the Cambrian.

      • Jim D that is again wrong. There were paleoclimate periods when CO2 levels were much higher and global temperatures were much cooler then today.

      • AK,

        I don’t mean to argue with you. The Earth’s core is white hot. The surface is not. The Earth is not in radiative equilibrium, and has never been so.

        When there is no longer a temperature gradient throughout the interior of the Earth beyond the influence of the Sun, then the Earth will be in temperature equilibrium.

        At present, geophysical measurements indicate a nominal black body temperature equivalent of around 33K. Coincidentally, this is around the supposed GHE figure. Odd, isn’t it?

      • When there is no longer a temperature gradient throughout the interior of the Earth beyond the influence of the Sun, then the Earth will be in temperature equilibrium.

        That would be hundreds of billions of years, if the Universe lasts that long. There is continual generation of energy throughout the Earth from radiative decay, and it would take at least that long before most of it is gone. Long before that, if current stellar theory is even halfway correct, the Sun would have gone nova and shrunk to a red dwarf.

  43. Pingback: Hilary Clinton to be next president of the US? - Page 139

  44. “JC comment: In the case of climate change, this argues for industry funding of more diverse perspectives, given the bias introduced by politicization and federal funding.”

    Wonderful string. JC hit all the key points to advance the narrative IMO. I especially liked the one above. It’s very healthy to get diverse opinions. Great ideas often times come from sources you might not expect.

  45. Now this is very interesting and relevant:

    Different perspectives of easterners versus westerners on ‘truth’

    • I don’t believe the facets of the Western philosophy of science is as black and white as all that.
      From the article:

      Van Fraassen’s point is that a theory can be empirically adequate, and hence latch on to the observable regularities in nature, without being true. The scientific competition between theories hinges on which theory accurately describes the observable world; it does not hinge on which theory is actually true. Thus, it would not be miraculous for science to arrive at an empirically adequate, scientifically successful, yet false theory. (See the discussion of the Miracle Argument in the entry on scientific realism for more on the miracle argument as a consideration in favor of scientific realism.)

    • curryja:

      I am sure he saw what he saw, but Europe-US and East Asia both have long and complex traditions within which lots of approaches to truth and knowledge have been developed. Right now, the East Asian scientists and technologists (e.g. engineers and manufacturers) are more “Western” than the Western greens and mystics.

    • Steven Mosher

      one could do worse than studying the Analects,

      A king should not be a bowl.

    • Thanks Judith for the link. The article resonates with me as there does seem to be more white and black dogmatism in Western people as opposed to the more nuanced approach to problem solving that is displayed in the Eastern cultures.

  46. This just landed in my inbox: Attribution of detected changes in streamflow using multiple working hypotheses

    Click to access Harrigan%20et%20al%202014%20HESS%20-%20attribution%20of%20detected%20changes%20in%20streamflow.pdf

  47. Craig Loehle

    We can view the separate GCMs as independent hypotheses, but this conflicts with the desire to never admit anything is wrong with them.

    • > the desire to never admit anything is wrong with them.

      See for yourself:

      This is something I never expected to see in print. Climate modeler Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS comments on the failure of models to match real world observations.

      But is Gavin honest?

    • Steven Mosher

      huh? the IPCC reports are not shy about model shortcomings.

      The question is simple:

      1. c02 is a GHG
      2. GHG cause warming.
      3. How much warming is not known precisely.
      4. The planet also exhibits natural cycles of warming and cooling.
      5. These cycles are not understood completely.
      6. We continue to inject c02 into the atmopshere

      Question: given these givens, please provide your best estimate of the
      trajectory of warming under various scenarios.

      Any answer to this question will involve a model. all models are wrong.

      • Don Monfort

        My model starts with the admission that we can’t predict natural variation, so we go with what we know about the physics of increasing the concentration of radiative gases in the atmosphere. I search my memory and I recall that plausible estimates of the amount of warming we are likely to get from doubling CO2 is 1-2C. My model is very inexpensive and it is unassailable. Mosher says it can’t be wrong. He right about that. Where is my cookie?

  48. Jeb Bush is simply trying to walk the fine line. It’s politics of large numbers.
    Every single word he speaks about CAGW will be measured and turned into large numbers of votes for or against him. He must appease the right while not completely alienating some of those on the left who might be put off by Hillary’s long nose and pants afire.

  49. This has probably been pointed out already, but

    While the IPCC says more than half is human caused (not very precise), but its not clear what this even means [link] in terms of Bush’s question as to what percentage is man-made versus natural.

    is not only what the IPCC says. From the bottom of page 5 of the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) it says:

    It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

    • ‘Natural, large-scale climate patterns like the PDO and El Niño-La Niña are superimposed on global warming caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and landscape changes like deforestation. According to Josh Willis, JPL oceanographer and climate scientist, “These natural climate phenomena can sometimes hide global warming caused by human activities. Or they can have the opposite effect of accentuating it.”

      These are in fact inflection points in the global temperature record associated with regime shifts seen in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

      The rise between the inflection points in 1944 and 1998 is some 0.4 degrees C. Even if we assume all that was anthropogenic – the trend in tropospheric temperature is likely to be muted fro a decade or 2 more and there is no predicting the scope of the next shift.

      This is mode 3 thinking and you have been told for years that it should be considered. It is well past the time when it should be considered the most powerful climate paradigm. Instead you continue to parade the primer as if it was serious science.

      • Maybe you can explain how your comment is a response to the very basic point that the IPCC did not only say that more than 50% since 1950 was anthropogenic, they also said that the best estimate was that it was all anthropogenic? You could accept this basic point, even if you disagree with the analysis.

      • Which part of primer and not serious science didn’t you understand?

        If you consider these regimes that the NASA site discussed – it leads to a very different rationale for choosing end points and a very different ‘estimate’ of warming in the latter half of the 20th that ‘may’ be down to people.

        If you can’t get this idea – the very real implications for the future evolution of climate with Hypothesis 3 may be well above your pay grade.

      • Which part of primer and not serious science didn’t you understand?

        Which part of “they didn’t only say it was more than 50%” did you not understand?

      • ATTP,

        Is the best estimate by the experts an inspired guess, or just an ordinary guess about the proportions of GHGs versus the other anthropogenic forcings?

        What are these other unspecified anthropogenic forcings, and what is the estimate or guess of these that has contributed to the estimated rise in surface temperatures 1951 – 2010?

        Is it possible that the estimate was tailored to the observation, or was it just a lucky guess?

      • Mike,
        Well, irrespective of how they obtained the result, it’s not correct to claim that the IPCC does not quantify what fraction is anthropogenic. They very clearly state that the best estimate is that it similar to the observed warming for the period.

        Is the best estimate by the experts an inspired guess, or just an ordinary guess about the proportions of GHGs versus the other anthropogenic forcings?

        It’s not a guess, it’s an attribution study, and “anthropogenic” refers to all anthropogenic influences, not just GHGs.

      • Don Monfort

        Please, kenny. Do you think you are fooling anybody? Just above you quoted the IPCC as saying:

        “The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”

        Now you change your story to:

        “…they also said that the best estimate was that it was all anthropogenic?”

        Do you see any difference there, kenny? Everybody else does. Why can’t the IPCC get their stories straight? Why not just say “all” instead of “similar to”, or “majority of”, or any other vague crap? The vagueness is either deliberate or it’s bungling, kenny. They should be able to describe settled science with a little clarity and precision.

      • End points matter for precisely the reasons discussed. As I said – let’s assume it was all anthropogenic between inflection points.

        Hypothesis 3 suggests that internal dynamics accounts for the relatively cool start in 1951.

        They say it is at least half – and the ‘estimate’ of all seems quite dodgy.

        As does this obsession with the letter of the law in the SPM. I’ve found it is usually a problem with true believers with little actual scientific background.

      • Don,

        Is it possible that the estimate was tailored to the observation, or was it just a lucky guess?

        Fine, be pedantic. They didn’t say “all”, they said “similar to”. Your attempted diversion doesn’t change that they didn’t only say “more than 50%”.

        They should be able to describe settled science with a little clarity and precision.

        Given the expert pedantry on display and the lack of willingness to actually understand, I think it is probably possible to describe it in a manner that some here wouldn’t be able to criticise.

        Here’s a thought. If you started with the goal of trying to understand what’s said, rather than with the goal of criticising what’s said, you might learn something. Of course, if your goal is to simply criticise, you’ll almost always find a way to do so, and you might regard that as some kind of success. Personally, I don’t regard remaining ignorant as something to strive for.

      • As does this obsession with the letter of the law in the SPM.

        Given the pedantry on display, this seems somewhat ironic. I’m not obsessed with the letter of the law in the SPM, I’m pointing out that they didn’t only say “more than 50%”.

      • I think it is probably possible to describe

        Should have been probably “impossible”, not “possible”.

      • Okay, and I also quoted the wrong thing above in my response to Don, should have been

        Do you see any difference there, kenny? Everybody else does.

      • Don Monfort

        You are confused, kenny. This is not your blog, where you get to decide what gets said and what doesn’t. I am not diverting anything. We are talking about attribution. You got your story and other people got theirs. My point is that if the science is settled, they should be able to give a settled number for the freaking attribution.

        Why would they say greater than 50%, if they meant 100%, kenny? Are they confused? If they meant 100%, they could have said 100%, or they could have said “all”. Or, {watch this kenny} they could have said that the human contribution was the same as the observed warming, or equal to the observed warming. But they didn’t and you will have to admit that you made up the “all”, because they did not say “all”.

        You are looking really weak here, kenny. Maybe you would be better off at home, where you are king of your own little castle.

      • Don Monfort

        Hey kenny, what was their best estimate, back in 1999, of the surface warming we should expect in the next twenty years? Did they say their best estimate was that we were at the beginning of the pause that is killing the cause? I don’t remember, kenny. What was their best estimate?

    • ATTP,

      This is what you quoted –

      “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”

      You will note it doesn’t specify what type of anthropogenic forcings apart from GHG concentrations are involved, or the ratio between them.

      What are some examples of the non GHG anthropogenic forcings? What proportion of total forcings are they?

      Or is it all just a giant mistake?

      • Mike,
        Google “AR5 radiative forcing diagram” and then go to images. One of the first diagrams should be the AR5 radiative forcing diagram which shows all external radiative forcings, including all the different anthropogenic ones.

      • It is not the forcing but this attribution – which is virtually certain to be utter nonsense.

        The cooling to 1951 is the case in point – this is obviously internal dynamics and gives a false start.

      • Attributions ?
        Good correlation is not sufficient to determine attribution.
        The CO2 concentration has highest correlation I have come across, but is it the cause, consequence a coincidence?

        Almost identical in the ‘correlation stakes’ is the geomagnetic dipole, it leads the GT by 9 years and it is highly unlikely to be consequence. Can it be a/the cause?
        It has 1940s hump, it has 2000s pause, but despite it, the plain truth is we do not know enough even for an educated guess.

        Solar ?
        Svensmark and GCR ?
        Arctic vortex splitting ?
        All far too nebulous.

      • ATTP,

        I couldn’t see any reference to H2O, or any weighted estimates of the other anthropogenic forcings. Where is mention of the heat resulting from the production of CO2, continuously, day in and day out? It supposedly shows up in the UHI, so it must have some effect on the global figures, surely.

        It all seems a bit nebulous, doesn’t it?

        In any case, there doesn’t seem to be any warming occurring at the moment. Are there any recent diagrams including anthropogenic origin H2O, or is H2O just assumed or estimated to be natural?

        If land use changes are included, wouldn’t they have some effect on H2O GHG levels, or not? The IPCC is either a bit clueless, or doesn’t care much about details, as far as I can see.

        What do you think?

      • Mike,
        If by H20, you mean water vapour, then that’s a feedback, not a forcing. The AR5 radiative forcing diagram is for changes in external forcings only; it doesn’t include the feedbacks.

      • Don Monfort


        “anthropogenic origin H2O”

        That’s not a feedback. Don’t we add water vapor to the air, kenny? Farming, irrigation stuff like that? Try to answer the question that was asked, kenny. This ain’t your house.

      • Mike,

        Where is mention of the heat resulting from the production of CO2, continuously, day in and day out? It supposedly shows up in the UHI, so it must have some effect on the global figures, surely.

        Global energy production is around 18TW, which is essentially equivalent to a forcing of 0.035W/m^2. This would barely be visible were it to be included in the radiative forcing diagram.

      • > This ain’t your house.

        Ain’t yours either, Don Don.

      • ATTP,

        Everybody seems to like Wikipedia, so here’s a quote –

        “Greenhouse gases are those that can absorb and emit infrared radiation,[1] but not radiation in or near the visible spectrum. In order, the most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are:

        Water vapor (H2O)
        Carbon dioxide (CO2)
        Methane (CH4)
        Nitrous oxide (N2O)
        Ozone (O3)
        Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)”

        Maybe you should tell the Wikipedia editors they are wrong. There are quite a few climatologists who seem to believe that H2O is a greenhouse gas, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are as wrong as you indicate.

        In relation to the anthropogenic heat, you might tell someone sitting in front of a fire on a cold winter’s night that the heat from their fire is insignificant, and far outweighed by the average back radiation from GHGs. At night, the contribution from the Sun is zero. Nothing.

        Averages are completely pointless in this respect.

        I suppose you’ll tell me the UHI doesn’t exist at night, only during the day when the Sun shines. I could well believe you, but any rational person might lift an eyebrow.

  50. Attp

    That phrase you cite undoubtedly occurs in the SPM. It’s meaning is clear.

    In the full version I can not see that phrase , just various references to more than half and much more equivocal phrasing.

    Click to access WG1AR5_Chapter10_FINAL.pdf

    It must be in chapter 10 somewhere otherwise it surely wouldn’t appear in the much more influential SPM? Could you point it oUt please?

    I agree with your interpretation of the SPM phrasing so merely want to confirm that it appears in the scientific document as well. Thanks


    • Well, on page 883 of Chapter 10, it does say

      Based on the well-constrained attributable anthropogenic trends shown in Figure 10.4 we assess that anthropogenic forcings likely contributed 0.6°C to 0.8°C to the observed warming over the 1951–2010 period (Figure 10.5).

      Given that the observed warming is around 0.65C, that would seem to be consistent with “similar to”.

      • Attp

        The figure ‘more than half’ is used on page 884 last para on left hand side.

        That is somewhat different to the emboldened statement in your post at 2 .22 quoting the SPM. That wording is far more unequivocal than the more measured wording in chapter 10 .

        Phil jones admitted in his paper of 2006 that natural variability was greater than he had hitherto realised when examining the enormous hockey stick from 1695 to 1740 when the winter of that year was in brutal contrast to the preceding warm period.

        The met office are also more open to the idea of considerable natural variability than they were five years ago when their web site stated that climate was virtually constant before mans input.In that respect opinion is moving towards that expounded by lamb which has been somewhat sidelined over the past thirty years.

        Are you aware of Phil jones’ paper?


      • Mike,

        The figure ‘more than half’ is used on page 884 last para on left hand side.

        That is somewhat different to the emboldened statement in your post at 2 .22 quoting the SPM. That wording is far more unequivocal than the more measured wording in chapter 10 .

        I’m not really following you. The analysis suggests that it is more than half and that it is likely (66% percent chance, IIRC) about 90% (0.6) to about 120% (0.8) of the observed warming. That sounds like the best estimate (peak of the distribution at about 0.7C) would be similar to the observed warming for the period 1951-2010.

  51. The article’s formatting makes it almost impossible to read on a computer screen.

  52. I’m not obsessed with the letter of the law in the SPM, I’m pointing out that they didn’t only say “more than 50%”.

    So again we return to the form of the words it in passage that lacks the precision of even ordinary English. A point that has been argued through – not by me – gobs of times too much. If you have a look at the attributions the source of the estimate – and it’s errors – are obvious. It is the inadequacy of the estimate for internal dynamics that is quite obvious in the temperature record alone. This is the most elementary of science gone horribly wrong and repeated by devotees like some mantra.

    If this is the only point he has to make – it
    is quite trivial and to repeat it endlessly without any effort – or apparent capacity – to discuss the wider issues is pointless and tedious.

    • So again we return to the form of the words it in passage that lacks the precision of even ordinary English.

      Maybe you don’t understand it, but it seems pretty straightforward to me. Here’s the simple point, though. If someone says “all they said is X” and someone else points out that they didn’t only say X, the response to make – if you want to take this further- is “okay, they didn’t only say X, can we now discuss if X is correct or not”, not “but X isn’t correct”.

      • So again you return to semantics of the infinitesimally trivial. I argued that the starting point included dynamic cooling to 1951. Even if we accept that the unlikely convolution of quite likely and best estimate has meaning – the best estimate is still utter nonsense and you are still stuck on symbolic semantics rather than substantive if elementary science. And this is elementary. .

  53. Dr. Spencer’s article is low key and appears to be well reasoned. No sliming of the warmists or sky-is-falling hysteria. I like his approach.

  54. The key ambiguity in interpreting Chamberlin’s essay as normative advice is whether the multiple working hypotheses ought to each be entertained by the same individual or rather whether a set of competing multiple hypotheses might be held across the community of researchers. It seems to me that there are some strong advantages to having different researchers hold different “parental” attachments to competing ideas. The advantage of such partisanship is that the very cognitive biases Chamberlin refers to can be harnessed to provide much stronger cases for and against each hypothesis. “I’ll show him” has long been a powerful spur to arduous effort leading to important discoveries.

    The critical caveat to this “dialectical” view of science is that the overall selection environment must favor those ideas that generate better explanations. That means that the ultimate judges, be they younger researchers, workers in adjacent fields, or just skeptical empiricists within the discipline, must lack such “parental” attachments.

  55. Judith: there is no agreement as to what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural.

    Complexity and intertwining notwithstanding, can this nevertheless in principle not be resolved with more and better measurements?

    eg 1, a robust measurement of radiation energy in and out, viewed in relation to (uncontroversial?) CO2 levels. Even alone, would that not be clear evidence one way or the other on the CO2 effect?

    eg2, ocean heat content.

    If Yes to all the above, should climate funding not be strongly realigned in favour of empirical measurements at the expense of other areas?

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