Four questions on climate change

by Garth Paltridge

An essay on the state of climate change science.

(1) Is the science of climate change ‘settled’?

The scientific uncertainties associated with climate prediction are the basis of most of the arguments about the significance of climate change(25), and as well are the basis of much of the polarized public opinion on the political aspects of the matter. Perhaps the most fundamental of the uncertainties can be illustrated by reference to a simple ‘thought experiment’ as follows.

Imagine a plume of smoke rising from a cigarette into some sort of flue. The stream of smoke is smooth enough for a start, but suddenly breaks into random turbulent eddies whose behaviour is inherently unpredictable.

We can in principle make closely spaced measurements all over the turbulent plume at some particular initial time, and then at regular steps forward in time into the future. We can in principle predict things into the future with a numerical model which uses the initial measurements as a starting point and then makes predictions of the conditions at the end of each time step at all of the so-called ‘grid points’ corresponding to the positions of the measurements.

After the first time step, the model uses as its starting point the conditions predicted for the end of the previous step. The predictions may match the observations for a while, but very soon random fluctuations smaller than the distance between the measurements (they are called ‘sub-grid-scale eddies’ in the vernacular of numerical modellers) grow in size and — as far as the model is concerned — appear out of nowhere and swamp the eddies we thought we knew something about. While we can probably say that the overall column of smoke will continue to rise, we can make that rather limited statement only because the eddies are restricted or ‘contained’ by a boundary (the flue), and cannot grow to a size any bigger than the limit set by the boundary.

Predicting the actual value of the average rate of rise of the overall plume is still difficult. Depending on the shape of the flue, it may require the use of one or more ‘tuneable parameters’ in the forecasting process. A tuneable parameter is a piece of input information whose actual value is chosen on no basis other than to ensure that theoretical simulation matches observation. Normally it would be used to define something about the average state of the turbulent medium between the grid points of the forecasting model.

The climate system is much like the smoke but is vastly more complicated. The atmosphere and the ocean are two interacting turbulent media with turbulent processes going on inside them, and there are all sorts and shapes of physical boundary (of the ocean in particular) that ‘contain’ the eddies in a way that may or may not allow prediction of average conditions over areas less than the size of the earth. In principle at least we may be able to make a reasonable forecast of such things as the future global-average temperature and global-average rainfall by using a numerical model and a number of tuneable parameters obtained from observations of present conditions. (The ‘in principle’ here is based on the fact that the overall size of the earth sets an upper limit on the scale of possible eddies). Forecasting smaller-scale averages becomes more and more problematic as the scale decreases. As a first guess based on the smoke plume analogy, one might be able to forecast averages over areas the size of ocean basins (imagine them as ‘containers’ limiting the maximum possible eddy size) but one cannot really expect to make skilful prediction for areas much smaller than that.

This qualitative conclusion is borne out by the 100-year forecasts of global and regional rainfall produced by the various numerical climate models from around the world(1). While the predicted global averages are reasonably consistent (not necessarily correct, but at least to some degree consistent with each other), the predictions for continental Australia for instance, where the overall average of measured rainfall is currently about 450 mm per year, range from less than 200 mm per year to greater than 1000 mm per year. From which it would seem that long-term predictions of regional rainfall are probably little better than guesswork.

The World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations took its first steps towards establishing the World Climate Program in the early nineteen-seventies. Among other things it held an international workshop in Stockholm to define the main scientific problems to be solved before reliable climate forecasting could be possible(2). The workshop defined quite a number, but focused on the two that it regarded as the most important and fundamental.

The first concerned an inability to simulate the amount and character of clouds in the atmosphere. Clouds are important because they govern the balance between solar heating and infrared cooling of the planet, and thereby are a major control of Earth’s temperature. The second concerned an inability to forecast the behaviour of oceans. Oceans are important because they are the main reservoirs of heat in the climate system. They have internal, more-or-less random, fluctuations on all sorts of time-scales ranging from years through to centuries. These fluctuations cause changes in ocean surface temperature that in turn affect Earth’s overall climate.

Many of the problems of simulating the behaviour of clouds and oceans are still there (along with lots of other problems of lesser moment) and for many of the same reasons as were appreciated at the time(26,27). Perhaps the most significant is that climate models do their calculations at each point of an imaginary grid of points spread evenly around the world at various heights in the atmosphere and depths in the ocean. The calculations are done every hour or so of model time as the model steps forward into its theoretical future. Problems arise because practical constraints on the size of computers ensure that the horizontal distance between model grid-points may be as much as a degree or two of latitude or longitude — that is to say, a distance of many tens of kilometres.

That sort of distance is much larger than the size of a typical piece of cloud. As a consequence, simulation of clouds requires a fair amount of inspired guesswork (for which read ‘parameterization’ as mentioned above with regard to the smoke plume analogy) as to what might be a suitable average of whatever is going on between the grid-points of the model. Even if experimental observations suggest that the models get the averages roughly right for a short-term forecast, there is no guarantee they will get them right for atmospheric conditions several decades into the future. Among other reasons, small errors in the numerical modelling of complex processes have a nasty habit of accumulating with time.

Apropos of which, NCAR/UCAR has recently assembled a data base of 30 individual simulations of North American climate for the period 1963 to 2012 using what is known as the Community Earth System Model. Each simulation was subject to an identical scenario of historical ‘radiative forcing’ (effectively an identical scenario of atmospheric carbon dioxide increase over the period) but each was started from a very slightly different atmospheric state — that is, with an almost infinitesimal difference in the initial value of global temperature. According to the NCAR/UCAR press release on the subject, the variations in warming and cooling in the 30 simulations illustrate the far-reaching effects of natural variability superimposed on human-induced climate change. The work was discussed(3) by Dr Kip Hansen, who made the point that the results illustrate well the original finding by Edward Lorenz in the 1960s using a weather model on an early computer : “Two states differing by imperceptible amounts may eventually evolve into two considerably different states.……….if, then, there is any error whatever in observing the present state……..an acceptable prediction of an instantaneous state in the distant future may well be impossible……….(the possibility of) precise very-long-range forecasting would seem to be non-existent”.

Again because of the grid-point business, oceanic fluctuations and turbulent eddies smaller than the distance between the grid-points of a model are unknown to that model. This would not be a problem except for the point made earlier that eddies in turbulent fluids can grow larger and larger. A small random eddy in the real ocean can grow and appear out of nowhere as far as a forecasting model is concerned, and make something of a dog’s breakfast of the forecast from that time on.

All of the above is background to one of the great mysteries of the climate change issue. Virtually all the scientists directly involved in climate prediction are aware of the enormous problems and uncertainties still associated with their product. It is therefore difficult to see how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) can maintain there is a 95 per cent probability that human emissions of carbon dioxide have caused most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades(4).

Bear in mind that the representation of clouds in climate models (and of the water vapour which is intimately involved with cloud formation) is such as to amplify the forecast global warming from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide — on average over most of the models — by a factor of about three(5). In other words, two-thirds of the forecast rise in global average temperature derives from this particular model characteristic. Despite what the models are telling us — and perhaps because it is models that are telling us — very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say that they are 95 per cent sure that the effect of clouds is to amplify rather than to reduce the warming effect of increasing carbon dioxide. If they are not sure that clouds amplify global warming, they cannot be sure that most of that warming is a result of increasing carbon dioxide. (Climate scientists talk in terms of ‘feedback’. Positive feedbacks amplify the warming effect, and negative feedbacks reduce it. The various climate models have cloud feedbacks ranging from slightly negative to significantly positive(5), and there is no guarantee that cloud feedback in the real world lies within even that quite large range.)

Bear in mind too that very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say there is only a very small possibility (for example, less than 5 per cent) that internal ocean behaviour could be a major cause of the warming over the past half-century(27). They would be particularly careful not to make such a statement now that there has been only a small global warming over the most recent twenty-or-so years. In the scurry to find reasons for this ‘pause’ (it was first acknowledged as a problem in 2009 or thereabouts(33)), and to find reasons for an obvious failure of the models to predict it, about three or four years ago we began to hear from scientists that (among other theories(6, 7)) perhaps the heat of global warming was being hidden in the deep ocean. In other words we were being told that some natural internal oceanic fluctuation may have reduced the upward trend in global temperature. It is therefore a little strange that we were not being told by the IPCC, or at any rate we were not being told very loudly, that some natural internal fluctuation of the ocean (rather than warming by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide) may have given rise to much of the earlier upward trend of temperature.

In 2015, a group of scientists within NOAA re-examined the world’s long-term measured surface temperature data and found reasons to adjust (to correct?) the data in such a way as to remove the so-called ‘pause’ from the observational record(8). There has been much argument about the validity of the adjustments(9). It has given a considerable impetus to the suggestion that cherry picking of data may be a problem in climate change science.

In light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem — or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem. If true, it is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it would risk destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty that is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour.
It would seem sensible for the climate-science community to back away from any tacit support for the proposition that ‘the science is settled’.

(2) What is the effect on climate science of public advocacy for the message of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

The part of the scientific community that has an interest in climate change is highly polarized on the matter.

On one hand there are those within what might be called the climate research establishment. They control or reap the benefit of the vast amount of money that has poured into climate research over the past two or three decades. They are funded almost entirely by government, and they support — at least in public — the thesis of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Some of them have become fierce advocates for the proposition that society must drastically limit its use of fossil fuels so as to limit emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

On the other hand there are the ‘climate sceptics’ who for one reason or another are doubtful that global warming will be a serious problem for the future. Mainly they are from other disciplines related in some way or other to climate science, or from the various ranks of interested amateur scientists(29). However they include also a fair number of independent climate scientists — ‘independent’ here usually (but certainly not always) implying that they are retired. Most climate sceptics do not dispute the actual existence of human-induced global warming. They do suggest that it may be so small as to be insignificant; that if it is significant then it may well be a net benefit to society; or that if it is not a net benefit then the natural processes of human adaption will probably take care of the matter. They are greatly outnumbered by those in the climate establishment, particularly if one considers only those who have actually published their findings and opinions in mainstream media(28).

The problem for the scientific community as a whole is that this polarization, despite its imbalance towards the establishment, is seriously threatening the public’s perception of the professionalism of scientists in general.

Setting aside the issue of who is right in the debate, some of the more vocal of the establishment climate researchers have fallen into a mode of open denigration of climate sceptics (‘deniers’ is the offensive popular terminology of the day). They insist that only researchers directly within the climate-change community are capable of giving authoritative advice. They insist that one can find true and reputable science only in peer-reviewed climate literature(10,11,33). But most significantly, they seem to have evolved a policy of deliberately excluding sceptics from climate-change forums of one sort or another, and indeed of refusing to take part in any forum where sceptics may share the podium.

The situation is reminiscent in many ways of medieval religion. The priests of that time opposed translation of the written scriptures from Latin into the local languages. They believed that only people fully trained in the theology of the time were capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly. They believed it would be highly dangerous to allow non-trained people to have direct access to the word of God because the chances were high that they would get it wrong. They were not backward in applying their peculiarly nasty forms of denigration on those who thought otherwise about the matter.

The equivalent modern denigration includes quite deliberate and serious calls for the jailing of climate sceptics who dare to question the truths of AGW(12,13).
Despite the strength of the position of medieval priests, they ultimately lost both the battle and much of their public support. The modern equivalent with regard to AGW is that, despite the claim that 95% or more of climate scientists support the AGW establishment position, support for the position among the general public (of the western nations anyway) is only of the order of 50%(14). The reputation of climate science, and as a consequence the reputation of science in general, seems to have lost a good deal of its public gloss.

Since the climate establishment is the most organized and sophisticated of the polarized sides in the debate — it has by an enormous margin the lion’s share of research resources — then it is reasonable to expect the climate establishment would try to organize some sort of bridging of the gap between the sides. In many ways it has much to gain. For instance, it is perhaps more of a rule than an exception that really new ideas in any particular area of research come from outside that area, and many sceptics come from other disciplines. For instance again, some weblog sceptics have access to a quite remarkable store of unpaid and enthusiastic scientific labor. Even within the climate establishment, there are undoubtedly many researchers who worry that their scientific endeavours are guided more by political requirements than by scientific necessity.

(3) What are the barriers to public dissemination of results casting doubt on the theory of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

Scientists — most scientists anyway — may be a bit naïve, but they are not generally wicked, idiotic, or easily suborned either by money or by the politically correct. So whatever might be the enjoyment factor associated with supporting officially accepted wisdom, and whatever might be the constraints applied by the scientific powers-that-be, it is still surprising that the latest IPCC report has been tabled with almost no murmur of discontent from the lower levels of the research establishment. What has happened to the scepticism that is supposedly the lifeblood of scientific enquiry?

The answer probably gets back to the uncertainty of it all. The chances of proving — ‘proving’ in the hard scientific sense of requiring both observational support and replication — that the projected change of climate over the next century will be large enough to be disastrous are virtually nil. The same uncertainty ensures that the chances of a climate sceptic, or anyone else for that matter, proving the disaster theory to be oversold are also virtually nil. To that extent there is a level playing field for the two sides of the argument. The problem is that climate research necessarily involves enormous resources, and is an activity for institutions and organizations. Scepticism is an occupation for individuals. Things being as they are in the climate change arena, scepticism by an individual within the system can be fairly career limiting (see later in this section). In any event, most individual scientists have a conscience, and are reluctant to put their head above the public parapet in order to propound a view of things that is highly uncertain and may indeed be inherently unprovable.

There is a broader context to this issue of uncertainty.

To the extent that there is such a thing as normal science, it relies upon accurate observations to verify its theories. Climate research has to rely on spectacularly inaccurate data for information on Earth’s climate of more than a century or two ago. That is, it has to rely on proxy information from tree rings and ice cores and corals and so on, and abstracting a coherent story from it all is something of a statistical nightmare. Even for the most recent century, the huge data sets of directly measured surface temperatures have their problems, and the stories that these data tell are revised in one way or another as new ideas about the correct method of analyzing the data appear on the scene. Such revisions make for tremendous arguments and competing claims about whether cherry picking of data has been used to support the predictions of the AGW theoretical models(15,16).

Climate science is an example of what Canadian educator Sue McGregor calls ‘post-normal science’ in which “the facts are uncertain, values are in dispute, stakes are high and decisions are urgent”. In such circumstances it is virtually impossible to avoid sub-conscious cherry picking of data to suit the popular theory of the time. Even Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were not immune from the problem(17). In their case they were of sufficient genius (and were sufficiently lucky!) for their theories ultimately to trump the inaccuracy of the observations they had selected. Other scientists are rarely so prescient or so lucky. In the modern era of concern about climate, the problem is compounded by the existence of the vastly complex computer forecasting models that can be tuned, again more-or-less subconsciously, to yield a desired result. From theory to observation and back again — if we are not very careful, the cherry picking can go round and round in an endless misleading loop.

But the real worry with climate research is that it is on the very edge of what is called post-modern (as opposed to post-normal) science. Post-modern science is a counterpart of the relativist world of post-modern art and design. It is a much more dangerous beast where results are valid only in the context of society’s beliefs, and where the very existence of scientific truth can be denied(18). Post-modern science envisages a sort of political nirvana in which scientific theory and results can be consciously and legitimately manipulated to suit either the dictates of political correctness or the policies of the government of the day.

At a more mundane level, there is little doubt that some players in the climate research establishment — not a lot, but enough to have severely damaged the reputation of climate scientists in general — have stepped across the boundary of what is generally regarded as acceptable scientific behaviour. The Climategate scandal(19) of 2009 for instance, wherein thousands of e-mails were leaked (or perhaps hacked) from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, revealed quite a number of such cases. Formal enquiries of one sort or another subsequently cleared the scientists involved of any legal misdemeanours(34). However the emails(33) showed that some senior members of the climate research community were, for example, quite happy to discuss ways and means of controlling the research journals so as to deny publication of any material that went against the establishment view of things. The ways and means included the removal of recalcitrant editors who allowed such publication.

For whatever reason, it is indeed vastly more difficult to publish results in climate research journals if they run against the tide of politically correct opinion. Which is why most of the sceptic literature on the subject has been forced onto the web, and particularly onto web-logs devoted to the sceptic view of things. Which in turn is probably why many of the most vocal believers in disastrous anthropogenic global warming subscribe to the view that only peer-reviewed literature should be accepted as an indication of the real state of affairs(10). They argue that the sceptic web-logs should never be taken seriously by ‘real’ scientists, and certainly should never be quoted.

This is a pity. Some of the sceptics are extremely productive as far as critical analysis of climate science is concerned. Names like Judith Curry (Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology), Steve McIntyre (a Canadian geologist-statistician) and blogger Willis Eschenbach come to mind. These three in particular provide a balance and maturity in public discussion that puts many players in the global warming movement to shame, and as a consequence their out-reach to the scientifically-inclined general public is highly effective. Their output, together with that of other sceptics on the web, is well on the way to becoming a practical and stringent substitute for peer review.


Before his retirement Professor Lennart Bengtsson was the director of the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting, a large numerical modelling facility based in the UK which is perhaps the world’s premier institution concerned with global meteorological forecasts up to one year ahead. Modelling on this time scale involves much the same techniques as in the longer-term climate forecasting. In 2014, only three weeks after his appointment as a member of the Advisory Board to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), he was forced to resign(20). The GWPF is a significant organization known for its support of sceptical views concerning climate change. The reasons for his resignation are clear from the following abstracts from his resignation letter to the GWPF. “I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that it has become almost unbearable to me. If this is to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety……….I had not expected such an enormous world wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc………It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy.”

In 2015 the University of Western Australia (UWA) entered into a contract with Dr Bjorn Lomborg for the formation of the Australia Consensus Centre, a policy ‘think tank’ similar in principle to one set up by Dr Lomborg in Copenhagen. The Australian federal government committed $4 million to the proposed new Centre. It seems that Dr Lomborg in the past had attracted controversy for suggesting that the dangers of climate change are overstated, and that modern society faces other more pressing challenges such as global poverty. As a consequence, an enormous negative reaction emerged very publically from the academic staff within the UWA (and indeed from the staff of other Australian Universities) — so much so that the University Vice Chancellor was forced to cancel the contract and return the $4 million to the government(21). Subsequently other Australian universities were approached to host the Centre, but none of them could be persuaded to take the political risk of upsetting a vocal coterie of their own staff.

Research scientists these days are fully aware that the ‘publish or perish’ mantra is the dominant, and indeed almost the only, factor determining promotion in the profession — particularly in the early years of a scientific career. And climate research scientists are fully aware that it is difficult to publish results that do not support the thesis of disastrous AGW. Certainly it is extremely difficult to publish them in the more widely quoted journals favoured by (and some would say, controlled by) the climate-change establishment. The pressure to publish innocuous rather than controversial results is enormous. Risk aversion in the face of such pressure is even more of an issue at the present time now that multiple authorship of research papers has become the norm rather than the exception.

There are many examples where the transition from paid employment in climate research to retirement has been accompanied by a significant change of heart away from acknowledging the seriousness of global warming. It seems that scientists too are conscious of the need to eat, and like everyone else must consider the consequences of public dissent from the views of the powers-that-be. One example was Dr Brian Tucker. He was the Director of the Australian Numerical Meteorology Research Centre, and subsequently became Chief of the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research. He was heavily involved in the development of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. During his time with CSIRO he was quite naturally the ‘go to’ man for journalists and radio programmers seeking stories on matters to do with climate change. On retirement he became a writer and speaker for the Institute of Public Affairs, and greatly surprised his former colleagues with his very public change to an openly sceptical view on the subject.

Once upon a time we were led to believe that the road to fame and fortune within science was to produce new ideas that challenged accepted belief. Preferably, those new ideas would lead to tangible benefits for society. But irrespective of the benefit side of things, the practical basis of all research was to be openly sceptical about everything — particularly about one’s own theories, and particularly about any new theory that had some vague connection to politically correct ideas of the day. Conscious, deliberate and obvious scepticism was regarded as essential to maintaining some sort of immunity from the human failing of seeing what one wants to see rather than what is real. Good scientific practice demanded at the very least that one should present the evidence against a new theory at the same time as the evidence for it.

It seems that in those parts of science that bear upon the politically correct, sceptics are frowned upon, given nasty names, and ultimately can have their reputations burned at the stake. Certainly in the field of climate change, one could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that “advocacy for the cause” trumps the need for scepticism on any day of the week(22). This is no small problem in the grand scheme of things, because the whole issue of climate change has lots to be sceptical about.

(4) What are the implications for climate science of public acceptance of the idea that there is a ‘consensus among scientists’ on anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

A statement to the effect that there is a ‘consensus among scientists’ on AGW is more-or-less equivalent to saying that ‘the science is settled’. While there is certainly a consensus among scientists that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase the average surface temperature of the world above what it would have been otherwise, there is far from a consensus that the rise in temperature will be large enough to be significant. (Bear in mind also that “what the temperature would have been otherwise” is also subject to natural variability and is therefore very uncertain). There is even less of a consensus among scientists, environmentalists and economists that any rise of temperature would necessarily be detrimental.

Thus both phrases are highly misleading if they are taken at face value without caveats. It is perhaps no accident that they are most often quoted in the context of outright advocacy for the idea of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

In any event, if politicians and the general public are finally persuaded to the view that scientists are certain about the on-set of disastrous AGW, it is almost certain that climate research will suffer badly.

A prime example was the decision by CSIRO in Australia earlier this year (2016) to reduce its current very extensive climate research activity so as to focus more on research relevant to industry. The decision was formally justified on the basis of the ‘science is settled’ argument(30), and as a consequence the international climate establishment reacted savagely(31). Within days of the CSIRO decision, thousands of protesting letters were sent to the Chairman of CSIRO from all over the globe. It was an interesting exercise from an outsider’s point of view. It was perhaps the very first time that the climate science community itself actively protested loudly in public that the science of AGW is very far from settled(32). Up to that time, it had let the activists within the environmental movement and within the general public run free with the settled science proposition.

It should be emphasized that solving (the solvable) problems of climate prediction (or, just as important, making a realistic assessment of the ultimate limits to climate prediction set by the inherent uncertainties within the system) requires the deployment and long-term maintenance of massively expensive observational satellite and oceanographic programs. ‘Long term’, since we are concerned here with climate time scales, means many decades.

It is doubtful if the maintenance of such programs will continue in a political environment where it is believed that the science is settled. Already there are signs that major oceanographic research efforts — such as NOAA’s Tropical Ocean Atmosphere Array (TOAA) for instance — are being downgraded in priority because of maintenance costs(23). TOAA involves the use of large numbers of specially instrumented ocean buoys, satellite observations and so on, and is concerned with attempts to predict the onset of El Nino and La Nina events in the Pacific ocean. These events are perhaps the most obvious examples (to date anyway) of semi-regular natural oceanic fluctuations that can produce significant medium-term changes in global temperature. TOAA is also relevant to reducing the large errors associated with numerical calculation in climate models of the transfer of heat and moisture between ocean and atmosphere.

It is conceivable in circumstances of reduced funding that overall climate research will revert to a situation where the focus is entirely on the easy option of developing more and bigger numerical models. This would be a sterile activity indeed without the input of experimental observation to guide the development of theoretical prediction methods and to keep the relevant numerical models ‘honest’. It would fall foul of a fundamental tenet of scientific endeavour — namely, that a theory without experimental support is little better than guesswork(24). It could stop climate research dead.

Maintenance of their funding and livelihood requires climate scientists to tread a fine line between emphasizing the uncertainties in climate science and selling the idea of disastrous anthropogenic global warming.

References

(1) Lim W.H. and Michael L. Roderick, 2009: An Atlas of the Global Water Cycle, ANU E Press, Australian National University, 293pp. Downloadable at: http://press.anu.edu.au/publications/atlas-global-water-cycle
(2) JOC,1975: The Physical Basis of Climate and Climate Modelling, GARP Publication Series 16, Secretariat of the WMO, Geneva, 265pp
(3) https://judithcurry.com/2016/10/05/lorenz-validated/#more-22215
(4) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/sep/27/global-warming-ipcc-report-humans
(5) http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI3819.1
(6) https://fabiusmaximus.com/2014/01/17/climate-change-global-warming-62141/
(7) https://judithcurry.com/2014/01/20/the-case-of-the-missing-heat/
(8) http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/06/03/science.aaa5632
(9) https://judithcurry.com/2015/11/05/jc-op-ed-the-politics-surrounding-global-temperature-data/
(10) https://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science/understanding-climate-change/finding-reliable-information
(11) http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2016/10/PeerReview.pdf
(12) http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/03/10/us-attorney-general-we-may-prosecute-climate-change-deniers/
(13) http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/04/12/dem-ags-mounting-big-tobacco-style-probe-oil-companies-industry-fights-back.html
(14) http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/18/what-the-world-thinks-about-climate-change-in-7-charts/
(15) http://www.factcheck.org/2015/11/smith-misfires-on-climate-science/
(16) https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/11/environmentalist-air-pollution/
(17) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-brooks/scientists-behaving-badly_b_1448729.html
(18) http://www.thegwpf.com/hubris-the-troubling-science-economics-and-politics-of-climate-change/
(19) https://wattsupwiththat.com/climategate/
(20) http://www.thegwpf.org/lennart-bengtsson-resigns-gwpf-voices-shock-and-concern-at-the-extent-of-intolerance-within-the-climate-science-community/
(21) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-08/bjorn-lomborg-uwa-consensus-centre-contract-cancelled/6456708
(22) http://www.thegwpf.org/donna-laframboise-science-is-in-trouble/
(23) http://www.nature.com/news/el-ni%C3%B1o-monitoring-system-in-failure-mode-1.14582
(24) http://scienceandreason.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/theory-vs-observation.html
(25) http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/Ch02-ClimatePolicy.pdf
(26) http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~jnorris/presentations/climate_model_clouds.pdf
(27) http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/document/MITJPSPGC_Rpt106.pdf
(28) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_main-stream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming (Note the histogram on page 1)
(29) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_main-stream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming
(30) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/australia-cuts-110-climate-scientist-jobs/
(31) https://cpsu-csiro.org.au/2016/03/07/unprecedented-support-for-csiro-workforce/
(32) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-05/quinn-csiro-cuts-why-we-need-climate-modelling/7143584
(33) http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/greenhouse-science/climate-change/climategate-emails.pdf
(34) https://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm

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201 responses to “Four questions on climate change

  1. Reblogged this on It's Karl.

  2. I like to use the analogy of Peak Oil to ask the same type questions. Consensus and the rest of it because we KNOW that minerals deplete, right? Richard Kerr at Science magazine was plenty sure the tipping point had been reached … and reached … and reached … with oil, gas, even coal..

    I challenge an alarmist with this argument and others at https://www.masterresource.org/climate-exaggeration/exchange-climate-alarmist-i/

    • Thinking Fast and Slow… We treat climate change like we do the 237 trillion $ global debt (well over 225% GDP). Somebody else will fix it. No, I’m not joking. It’s what humans do. Relax.

      • The fundamental difference, of course, is that global debt is real, where as ‘climate change’ is highly debatable.

      • Debt is totally virtual, created from the mind of humans. It can be anything you want it to be. Electronic bits or a hedge on commodities. Thanks to the ancient Israelite’s invention of compound interest it is also infinite!

      • Official US federal debt is not an electronic bit or a hedge on commodities. Neither is state or local government debt or pension plan debt. You can argue how much government is short on off-budget items like future Soc Sec and Medicare obligations. But currently it almost certainly is many trillions of dollars that, short of a huge, sustained economic boom, will never be paid in full.

        I agree that the climate change fiasco comes from the mind of humans.

        btw, who is the ancient Israelite who invented compound interest?

    • Oil does deplete. I am a petroleum engineer, and I never gave much consideration to peak oil until I became member of a large multinational committee which had to recommend strategic budget splits between different sectors. We ordered each sector to give us their results over the last 10 years, as well as results for our top competitors. The numbers we got showed oil exploration was a very marginal business, so we decided to cut staff in half and budget by 30%, to high grade what was clearly a losing business. In hindsight we made the mistake of failing to account for rising oil prices, which turn marginal prospects into viable developments. However, I haven’t seen anything to tell me that directionally we were wrong. Oil exploration has been a lousy business for years, we survive mostly by squeezing a little bit more from old fields, hammering away at poor rocks via fracking, producing really heavy and expensive crudes, and going to the outer limits in deep water. We are simply in a dying industry which will be a lot smaller in 30-40 years.

      • You are repeating what was said 30 or 40 years ago. History has only taught us, apparently, that we learn nothing from history.

      • I rarely agree with fernando, but oil is the family biz since 1982. Geology is science, and they hire the very best. It’s ending.

        My ultra-right relative who entered the biz within the last decade is in a division that does wind and solar. Money talks. No skeptic nonsense out him.

  3. “It was perhaps the very first time that the climate science community itself actively protested loudly in public that the science of AGW is very far from settled.”

    Always follow the money.

  4. There’s not even consensus among the catastrophically inclined.

    Francis says Arctic Amplification means weaker gradients, weaker jet stream and “stuck” jet streams.

    Hansen says Greenland runoff means stronger gradients, stronger jet streams, and storms strong enough to scoop up huge boulders.

    Both are probably wrong. To the extent that it’s due to AGW, Arctic sea ice decline does increase Arctic winter temperatures a lot and decrease the NH temperature gradient. But the NH winter jet occurs well equatorward of the Arctic and even a somewhat weakened jet stream has an infinite number of equally valid wave patterns.

    Part of the problem is that the public construes AGW with climate change and conflates climate change with harmful change and assumes all disaster scenarios are real and true.

    Manabe indicated that global warming would mean:
    1.) reduced temperature variability, and
    2.) reduced kinetic energy available to storms.

    These would appear to be beneficial aspects that the lay are not aware of.

    • The difference between Hansen and Francis is whether we get a Greenland tipping point. Both are possible scenarios under a rapidly changing forcing. Weaker jet streams mean longer droughts, heatwaves, cold spells, and floods due to stationary patterns. Not good.

      • These not good things are as likely to be prevent as caused by the GHE.

      • Those are your choices. Status quo isn’t one. The Hansen scenario goes with meters of sea-level rise within a century and stronger storms.

      • OMG! We need another non-binding agreement. Let’s call it the Dire Emergency, Definitive, We Are Not Kidding This Time, No Fingers Crossed, Non-Binding Agreement. Does that sound serious enough? We’ll hold the junket in Detroit. Paris was too fluffy.

      • Jim, I suspect that you exhibit the bias that it doesn’t matter what outcome occurs as long as it’s catastrophic.

        So far, there’s no compelling evidence to validate either speculation.

        Either a slight increase or decrease of NH thermal gradient is irrelevant in the context of natural variability.

      • How do you define catastrophic? Is it 4 C of warming or 4 feet of sea-level rise or both? I don’t use that term because skeptics have yet to define what they mean by it, and I think they won’t. I talk about numbers not subjective adjectives.

      • Beta Blocker

        Jim D, let’s make things brutally simple and assume that for all practical purposes, the rate of future global warming is a direct function of energy economics.

        If that is so, then the ratio of these two numbers, as commonly displayed on thousands of carbon fuel dispensing devices distributed throughout the world, is a key predictive indicator of where the earth’s climate is headed.

        At the most basic level, the lower is the ratio of these two numbers; i.e., the price of carbon per unit of measure, then the more likely it is that the earth will warm at unacceptable rates over the next one-hundred years.

        If we further acknowledge that aggressive government intervention in the energy marketplace is the only effective means of quickly reducing our carbon emissions, then the impacts of government energy policy on the ratio of these two numbers is what the whole question of climate change ultimately boils down to.

        Jim D, if you and others like you aren’t willing to do what must be done to greatly increase the price of carbon, then all your talk of ice sheet melting, sea level rise, climate tipping points, global temperature trends, the earth’s paleoclimate history, and climate model projections — all of that talk is mere Kabuke theater.

      • I think what counts most is non-carbon sources coming down enough in price that people are willing to either pay the difference or the price is low enough to make carbon more expensive. Typical carbon taxes don’t tip this balance by themselves being only about 10% of the cost of fuel for example. The price of alternatives has to come down, or be subsidized to an affordable level by the government. Pollution regulations also help in the case of coal for example.

      • Jim D, it is your tribe that talks of catastrophic warming. Without defining it.

      • It would be good to see an example of that. CAGW is generally only a term used in skeptic blogs, not by the IPCC, so that is where the need for a definition rests.

  5. The consensus that humans cause global warming is not really about anything that is being talked about figuratively and metaphorically. Rather, it is a consensus of the Eurocommies and Democrat party, Western academia, government bureaucrats, United Nations, radical Islam, anarchists and every coffee klatch Hollywood, drug-addled, drama queen and self-defeating soupy malcontent. In other words, it’s how a ‘weird mob’ on the Left feels–i.e., they believe America is responsible for all the world’s problems and want to grind our way of life under their collective liberal fascist heels.

  6. I just watched the latest Nova PBS program, Decoding the Weather Machine. It gives a good summary of the state of knowledge on issues surrounding climate change.

    • Yes. One guy on it said sea level rise was a problem in 100 or 500 years. He wasn’t sure. My local weatherman Paul Douglas was on it and said the weather was weird about 3 different ways. He had a concerned look, as if he was seeing the God particle. Everything was more. Heat, rain intensity you name it. In his 40 years, he’d seen changes. Hard to disagree with that.

      • We just came out of the little ice age into a warm period like the Roman and Medieval warm periods. Of course, we all grew up in a naturally warming period with more and more thawed ocean area that promotes more rain and snow. If you did not live in the last similar time in the Roman or Medieval warming, it is more heat, rain, you name it than you have seen. This is normal natural necessary and unstoppable by people. The warming will stop and reverse after enough ice accumulates, now that it is snowing more than ice is depleting.

      • I think the IPCC are not sure too. That’s dependent on how quickly large chunks of Greenland and Antarctica make it to the sea. If he has said he knew, that would have been both unique and questionable. The program made it very clear that this is one of the big uncertainties. Weathermen are beginning to notice, and probably field a few concerned questions from viewers too, as well as from angry skeptics every time they even mention climate change as a real thing.

      • I watched the program on PBS, but the website stream is blocked where I live in Canada. It is a well-crafted, slick and watchable program which will be widely shown. I have done a synopsis from the transcript, along with pushback points that skeptics would have made had they been allowed to participate.

        https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/take-the-climate-challenge/

      • JimD

        I watched the PBS show. Perfect……..for an 8 year old. Could it be more simplistic? It is warming. CO2 did it. That was the sum and substance of it.
        No mention of previous warm periods or the debate about them. Not a word about questions over SLR acceleration. Nothing on previous warm periods in the Arctic. Silence on East Antarctica gaining ice or Antarctic Peninsula Cooling. Not a peep about geothermal activity in Greenland and Antarctica. Nothing about the 12 year hiatus in Cat 3 hurricanes. Nothing about trendless tornadic activity. Nothing about trendless snow levels in North America. Not any explanation why temperatures are believed to be unprecedented and not just natural variability. Why no discussion of endless stacked Oscillations. Why wasn’t the sun dismissed? Hasn’t glacier calving been happening for eons? They made a big deal of an iceberg the size of the Empire State Building. Big deal.

        But there were plenty of pretty pictures and age appropriate explanations of the issues. See spot run.

        It was nothing more than a propaganda piece, perfect for the marginally competent HP aficionados.

        They did, however, have a nice voiceover stating that temperatures haven’t been this warm in 800,000 years while showing a graph, not of temperatures, but of spiking CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years. Nice Trick.

      • cerescokid, you can put it up against the Paltridge post, where Paltridge goes through all the skeptic talking points but gives no solid science, and this program showing the scientists doing the work and explaining the physical basis. Which would be more compelling for your 8-year old? This is why I say the skeptics have really fallen down on grabbing the public. They lack the science and scientists actually doing work, so they can’t get attention until they have some.

      • There are a few things that Jimmy refuses to understand. One is the artifacts in what is a couple of percent of global energy at the surface.

        https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2004EO210004

        Another is the large natural variation in TOA net radiation out. The global energy equation is very simple.

        Δ(H&W) ≈ Ein – Eout

        The change in heat energy content of the planet – and the work done in melting ice or vaporising water – is approximately equal to energy in less energy out. There are minor contributions with heat from inside the planet and the heat of combustion of fossil fuels that make it approximate but still precise enough to use. Energy imbalances – the difference between energy in and energy out – result in ocean warming or cooling. The oceans are by far the greatest part of Earth’s energy storage – and the Argo record gives us a real sense of whether the planet is warming or cooling – or both at different times.

        Ocean heat change is predominantly from change in net energy out – that is relatively large, relatively quick to appear in the oceans, mostly natural and for the most part due to cloud in the Pacific in a coupled ocean/atmosphere system. Changes to global energy content evolve over time.

      • Just to be clear. Global OHC. Trend? Yes. The gradient is a measure of the imbalance which has been sustained at about 0.7 W/m2 for the last 20 years. This is the amount of forcing that remains unbalanced even after all the warming we have had. We are still in deficit to the forcing change.

      • “The top-of-atmosphere (TOA) Earth radiation budget (ERB) is determined from the difference between how much energy is absorbed and emitted by the planet. Climate forcing results in an imbalance in the TOA radiation budget that has direct implications for global climate, but the large natural variability in the Earth’s radiation budget due to fluctuations in atmospheric and ocean dynamics complicates this picture.”
        https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10712-012-9175-1

        Another long and pointless Jimmy thread? Jimmy doesn’t get past echo chambers and tv programs and imagines it’s science.

        Ocean heat pre Argo is equally pointless btw. Post Argo – the apparent difference between NOAA and Scripps climatologies is a bit of a problem.

      • Energy imbalances – the difference between energy in and energy out – result in ocean warming or cooling.

        There is another factor that is ignored by most all. When IR out is large and albedo out is small, much ice is being produced and much is sequestered in cold places. When IR out is smaller and albedo out is larger, less ice is being produced and less ice is sequestered than is thawing and causing cooling. The ice extent is always more in colder times and more ice is thawing and causing cooling. The ice extent is always less in warmer times and less ice is thawing and causing cooling.
        This factor is not considered in climate theory or models, not on the consensus side and not by most on the skeptic side.

      • OHC before ARGO is not pointless; saying that just agrees with your skewed politics.

      • I could explain in terms of data density – but that would be pointless.

      • Robert Ellison, you wrote: and the work done in melting ice or vaporising water – is approximately equal to energy in less energy out.

        You and no one else considers the work done producing ice The most work done producing ice is done in the warmest time when the IR out is the highest. Earth is not coldest in the warmest time so the work that IR out did was produce water and ice and not cooling the earth. The IR out is from the energy released when water vapor forms water and ice.

      • In the warmest time, ice is sequestered to thaw later and help cause the coldest time later. The little ice ages work this way and the major ice ages work this way, in a really big way. There must be huge amounts of IR out to produce huge amounts of ice. The most ice must be produced in the warmest time when the most IR out is doing the most work. In the coldest time, the IR out is not enough to explain cold times, the solar in is still the same as in the warm times. The more cooling comes from more ice extent with more albedo and more thawing because of more ice exposure to temperate land and more ice exposure to the effects of thawing by more salt water.

        Consensus and most skeptic theory produces ice in the coldest times when there is little IR out and little work done.

      • In our world, the biggest ice machines require the most power in and require the most energy removed. Nature works with the same basic principles. The warmest times are when the most power is available to produce ice and when the most energy is removed and radiated out. Albedo does not produce ice, there is no work done on earth with albedo out.

        Dr Curry, I would like for you to comment on this.

      • Jim D: cerescokid, you can put it up against the Paltridge post, where Paltridge goes through all the skeptic talking points but gives no solid science,

        Paltridge’s essay is a review of respectable skeptical secondary and tertiary reviews of the “solid science”. Anyone who wants the “solid science” can go to the references cited in the reviews. In this manner, Paltridge’s essay should be good for and informative for people who get most of their information from “credent” secondary and tertiary sources such as: Huffington Post; National Geographic Magazine; the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Science Magazine editorials and the AAAS endorsed essay “What We Know”; International Wildlife: tv news; WaPo, NYT, LAT; Scientific American; and many others.

      • MM, did you find anything compelling in what Paltridge wrote or is it just the same old same old that you have seen all before in blogs and editorials? What was the take-home point of this article? Where exactly does he dispute the scientific basis of AGW? The media you list directly cite the research articles in this field and interview the scientists doing the work, like the PBS program did. Skeptics tend to be on the sidelines throwing stones at them rather than actually doing the work.

      • Jim D: MM, did you find anything compelling in what Paltridge wrote or is it just the same old same old that you have seen all before in blogs and editorials?

        As I wrote, I think it is a useful review for people who have gotten their information from other secondary sources. Friends of mine, for example, who think I am nuts but who have not read any of the primary sources. Perhaps someone who thinks Pruitt is conducting a “war on science” at EPA.

      • What you count as “secondary sources” appears to be journalists who report on scientific articles and have usually obtained the scientist’s go-ahead for their wording, and possibly the press releases from the scientists themselves. Is it a situation where you don’t trust the journalists when they report science? Or is it the scientists you (or Paltridge) don’t trust? You seem to need the take of some third party that you do trust for some reason (see echo chamber).

      • Jim D: MM, did you find anything compelling in what Paltridge wrote or is it just the same old same old that you have seen all before in blogs and editorials?

        A quick note about that: in a public policy debate, everything worth saying and writing has to be said and written over and over. Darwin’s theory of evolution by random variation and natural selection is “same old same old”, but people still need reminding that the variation induced in progeny is random, but the selection of survivors isn’t.

    • Another theme of the program was Fast. Never this fast before. They also took on skeptical talking points like, How do we know it’s our CO2?

      • Another theme of the program was Fast. Never this fast before.
        If you did not live in the last similar time in the Roman or Medieval warming, you have not seen this fast before.

      • Fast it is. The paleoclimate experts know what fast is. This is basically a step function the likes of which are not seen in the record.

    • It gives a good summary of the state of knowledge
      The state of knowledge is ignore past climate cycles and extrapolate this one outside the normal bounds of climate cycles.

      • Actually they talked to a lot of paleo experts who study past climate for a living. There’s a lot known about it.

    • One of their conclusions, and something I have been saying, is that the biggest uncertainty in future climate is what we do in terms of emissions. There is a wide range of possibility and this gives a wide range of climate change.

    • “Climate is an angry beast and we are poking at it with sticks.”

      This quote is attributed to Wallace Broeker.

      Paul Douglas, MN weatherman on the show last night,

      “We are poking the climate with carbon tipped spears.” – Paraphrase

      Zero points for originality.

    • He’s hiding in the any weeds he can find.

      In a few days 1st 1/4 2018 OHC will be out. Probably up from last 1/4.

      • I hope it’s up. That will give us more time to figure out if we care? The GMST is up, the SSTs half as much. The upper 700 meters less so. The Oceans as a whole…
        Joules joules where ever you are. Find what is empty and go there.

  7. While a useful article I disagree with the assumptions behind the 4th question and the discussion. Judging public opinion is complex especially over a global policy issue that generates such strong conflict.The fear mongerging ala Al Gore has worn thin. It is like ‘crying wolf’ as the seas show no signs of rising at all. As a result there is a ho hum public response and governments are reducing their interest in climate science. We are going back to the old days when there was no climate science government gravy train. Even the UN public polling finds taking action on climate change is the lowest of priorities everywhere. I submit a better 4th questions is – Why are some people skeptical that climate change is caused by humans?’ Paul Matthews, PhD Mathematics, University of Cambridge (1988) published in the journal Environmental Communication this question. HIs paper is based on comments from 150 skeptics. “Poor science. One of the main reasons given for scepticism is the opinion that some aspects of climate science are of poor quality, or unjustified or insufficiently rigorous. Approximately 60 of the 154 sceptics give this as a factor motivating their scepticism.”
    https://ipccreport.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/sceppre.pdf

    If this skeptical view from above average educated respondents prevails and grows we need a discussion about how to repair the damage to the science profession from the bad climate science of past years.

    • There is a good reason for being skeptical. After 30 years of being warned almost daily of imminent disaster from warming (climate change is less specific an less certain,) you can look out the window and see nothing unusual. They have been misleading us for years. why is anything different now.
      This essay is an attempt to sort it all out in a logical way that should be understandable to most people https://goo.gl/9Ns3ux.

  8. Garth,

    A well-written accessible and interesting essay. Many thanks!

  9. The article laments that skeptics are not heard. I think it is because their new ideas are largely wacky (see Monckton and Salby, for example), and until skeptics show some discrimination among themselves, they can’t be deemed good judges of science. When will we see a skeptic criticize Monckton? The skeptics need to step up their game and actually produce something scientific that also matches observations. For example, we look at temperature and CO2 in the last 60 years.
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/best/from:1950/mean:12/plot/esrl-co2/scale:0.01/offset:-3.25
    The skeptic doesn’t see that this computes as over 2 C per doubling, agreeing with mainstream science, and instead sees it as a big coincidence that would be rather inconvenient for them to show their audiences because it supports AGW with just data.
    Another thing we don’t see skeptics taking on is the energy imbalance being positive (ocean heat content measurements show this) which indicates that we are below the equilibrium temperature even after all this warming. That’s another tough one because it supports AGW’s attribution that all this and more warming in the pipeline is forced, and the main forcing agent is by far GHG changes.
    As for policy, polls show a large majority favor reducing CO2 emissions.

    • (no, jimmie, phil jones sees it as a big coincidence)…

      • Not quite. Spot the difference in these rises. The last one had more help from GHG forcing changes than the earlier ones.
        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/best/mean:240/mean:120/plot/best/from:1987/trend

      • jimmie, that’s beside the point(!) You were blaming skeptics for saying the exact same thing that Jones said. His argument was not about any supposed unusualness with recent warming (rather, that the warming could not, by deductive reasoning, have any other cause than co2)…

      • If you use HADCRUT4 you get this when bringing it up to date. What would you (or Jones, if his opinion matters to you so much) say about this? Note how the current rise is on top of the previous one and twice as much while still continuing strongly.
        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/mean:12

      • i’d say nice trick of using the mean of twelve months to get your graph. If you just plot the monthly data, then the pause is back. (and puh-lease, no b.s. about trend lines, o.k.?)…

      • However you want to present it or add monthly noise, the unmistakable trend corresponds to over 2 C per doubling (100 ppm per deg C) in this 60-year period. That’s a win for AGW in the raw data with the skeptics still scratching their heads over why it is warming this much.
        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/best/from:1950/plot/esrl-co2/scale:0.01/offset:-3.25

      • Jim D: Not quite. Spot the difference in these rises. The last one had more help from GHG forcing changes than the earlier ones.

        What caused the earlier increases? Has it persisted?

      • Which brings us full circle back to the sceptics’ claim. That recent warming is merely a cyclical event that coincidently amounts to that which models predict. This owing to the fact that recent warming is no greater than subsequent warming a century ago a la phil jones. (and no amount of curve fitting, with keeling curve superimposed on best, is going to change that fact of the matter)…

    • bursts:

      1860 to 1880 (20 years) – .16 ℃ per decade
      1910 to 1940 (30 years) – .14 ℃ per decade
      1974 to present (43 years and counting) – .19 ℃ per decade and rising (pray for the AMO)

    • I don’t think there is much doubt that human activities affect the climate sometimes to a considerable degree locally and quite likely to a tiny degree globally. The skeptic questions the ways we have an effect, the degree of the effect, and what the net result is.
      Although it is pretty certain there is some impact of CO2 levels, does it actually cause a net warming? If you really look, there is a much research and data that contradicts the alarmist and even the warmist position.

      • The imbalance shows we are still below the equilibrium temperature despite all the warming. Skeptics won’t discuss that part which pertains to attribution.

    • Jim D, your attempt to lump ‘skeptics’ into some kind homogenous group is curious. ‘Those who are skeptical of mainstream science’ is quite a diverse group and includes people like yourself and Hanson. (See https://judithcurry.com/2018/02/17/sea-level-rise-acceleration-or-not-part-iv-satellite-era-record/#comment-866476)

      The term ‘skeptics’ is practically meaningless, wouldn’t you say?

      • I use this term because the more appropriate word, denialist, is not popular here. A skeptic allows for the IPCC summaries being accurate, just needing more evidence while not committing to either side, while a denialist is almost certain that they are not true, with statements like it is unlikely mostly us causing the warming. The people I call skeptics are the latter category, but it is a bit flattering.

      • Jim D: I use this term because the more appropriate word, denialist, is not popular here

        For a good example of science denial check out Bob Droege, who asserts that changes in cloud cover can’t affect surface temperature.

      • Jim D: A skeptic allows for the IPCC summaries being accurate, just needing more evidence while not committing to either side

        I would say that a skeptic allows for the possibility that the IPCC summaries may be accurate, and allows for the possibility that the IPCC summaries may be inaccurate.

      • Jim D, I fail to see the distinction here. After all you do fit into the denialist category you have laid out. Is this not your position:

        ‘It is unlikely the IPCC is correct about Greenland glacier melt.’

        How is that different than:

        ‘It is unlikely mostly us causing the warming.’

        They are both departures from consensus science, yet you will condemn one as anti-science and praise the other.

      • Check out Matthewmarler, who misrepresents what I have said, and could refer to “A Band of Gypsies” or other important works to understand what feedbacks are and do.

        I never said clouds can’t affect surface temperature, I said they were feedbacks and as such do affect surface temperature, but they are not drivers of change.

        And when will you get around to defining what a pause is, I have done so in the past and will again, so we can have a conversation about whether “It’s Dead Jim” or whether it ever existed in the first place.

        But wait, according to a definition I am comfortable with, there was a pause, but not since the El Nino of 1998.

      • smokingfrog, if you are implying that yimmy is inconsistent, he is not. He faithfully follows instructions from huffpo HQ. Where the IPCC has the correct degree of alarmism in their interpretations of the alleged climate science, the IPCC is infallible. When they are too “conservative” in assessing the alleged dangers, they are stupid.

      • BobDroege: Clouds do not control the temperature, they are feedbacks. As explained in your reference (5)

        That was quoted by me.

        BobDroege:I never said clouds can’t affect surface temperature, I said they were feedbacks and as such do affect surface temperature, but they are not drivers of change.

        I am glad that you clarified that. Clouds are feedbacks that “affect” the temperature but do not “control” the temperature. It makes one wonder whether you think that “control theory” has been misnamed.

      • smokinfrog, no, it is of course not my position that it is unlikely that the IPCC is right about Greenland. They have deliberately not given a firm position on Greenland’s melt rate, so it is very hard to disagree because it is very uncertain. I don’t hold any IPCC positions as unlikely, which what I call denialists do, and some others lean towards below 50% likely. The IPCC position on attribution has two parts. They say not only that most of the warming is anthropogenic, but also that the most likely value is 100%, paraphrased as extremely likely most AND most likely all. The second part is what the denialists are absolutely opposed to because it puts the highest probability at 100%.

    • The pause is deader than a doornail. Hilarious. That is spoon bending.

      GISS anomaly for March is .89 ℃: a La Niña anomaly. LMAO.

      • JCH: The pause is deader than a doornail. Hilarious.

        How can it be dead? According to Bob Droege, it never existed because it was never even defined.

      • Easy. It both never existed and got killed deader than a doornail. You watched this happen, but apparently did not understand the unfolding.

      • If the zombie existed, which it didn’t, it is now dead. So we are experts at killing things that may or may not exist.

      • We didn’t kill it; physics killed it.

        The pause almost happened. Because of physics. Almost. So people talked about it. Sorry that is so hard to get. And then physics killed it with extreme prejudice. Now it’s completely dead.

    • The apparent (not real) prominence of those like Monckton is more attributable to the habit of their opponents, who are happy to point to the Moncktons of the world as representative rather than outlier.

      There are many Moncktons. There are also many Judith Currys, John Christys and Richard Lindzens. And Freeman Dysons.

      There are also a few souls wandering around on the consensus side of the discussion who might have a few screws loose, a political agenda or even both.

      • Between them they need to make a scientific case that refutes the dominance of GHGs in the forcing and warming by giving an even plausible alternative. They haven’t, and this is the problem, nor do they criticize the likes of Monckton and Salby, which is also a problem. Or maybe their case is that 700 ppm is fine and won’t cause damage, but they haven’t made that case either. Or maybe their case is we’ll run out of fossil fuels before 500 ppm which makes a quick transition even more needed. Or their case may be that there is no possible way to transition to lower emissions effectively in the next few decades, so we might as well give up even trying, but they don’t say that explicitly either. Their argument very lacking in substance even after all these years, and I still don’t know where they stand. Perhaps they stand all over the place, which is a problem for being listened to.

    • Jim D: When will we see a skeptic criticize Monckton?

      When he posts essays at WUWT some skeptics criticize him. Most recently, ristvan wrote a critique which drew a response from Monckton.

      Monckton is a “luke warmer”: in response to a question from me he wrote that the temperature response to a doubling of CO2 would be about 1C.

      • At WUWT, the only reasonable arguments with Monckton were had by non-skeptics like Nick Stokes. However, I did see that Roy Spencer also tried to correct him on his latest feedback nonsense. On the other side, Monckton faced one of the “dragonslayer” types there, and he has his limits. He complained to Watts about how such people were allowed to post there.

    • The eastern Pacific:

    • Using Monckton etc. as the “example” of skeptics – is wrong. As an extreme example there are much further extremes on the alarmist side.

      • I think the point is that by not criticizing Monckton, the skeptics don’t indicate any more knowledge than him on those issues like what sensitivity actually means. You have to know what it means to even participate in a sensible climate debate.

  10. Initial conditions unavoidably have lower entropy than time steps forward. Complexity at first increases, and then decreases with increasing entropy. This is the cigarette smoke in the flue, cream in coffee, perfume in a room.

    Ultimately, entropy is density. You begin with entirely separated media. You put them together. The mixing process involves all sorts of Javier-Stokes like gradient development, but what is happening is the spaces between the molecules are tending towards equality. Equilibrium.

    Equilibrium takes time.

  11. On the other hand there are the ‘climate sceptics’ who for one reason or another are doubtful that global warming will be a serious problem for the future.

    This is garbage, we are doubtful that man-made CO2 and the use of fossil fuels has caused global warming.

    If global warming is a serious problem for the future or not is a different issue!

    What is wrong with you people. Can you not see the difference here?

  12. Maintenance of their funding and livelihood requires climate scientists to tread a fine line between emphasizing the uncertainties in climate science and selling the idea of disastrous anthropogenic global warming.

    So they must convince people they know enough to know man-made global warming is real and a terrible thing, but they must convince people they don’t really know enough so they need more money to do more research.

    They walk a really fine line here.

  13. The problem is that climate research necessarily involves enormous resources,

    That is not true, I can see why people who are reaping the rewards of the wasted enormous resources would want it to continue, but they must continue to scare people to keep the gravy train on track.

    We are measuring everything that needs measuring. All that is really needed is to watch what happens and figure out why.

    It is warm now, oceans are warm and thawed and it is clearly snowing more. This will limit the upper temperature bound. This will replenish ice volume that is sequestered on land. The ice will accumulate, flow faster, cool the oceans and land and a little ice age will happen in a few hundred years.

    Look at past ice core data and this is plain to see. Watch the next cycle as it happens. It will be easy to see.

  14. subscribe to the view that only peer-reviewed literature should be accepted as an indication of the real state of affairs

    So, peer-reviewed literature should be accepted as the current political correct view and nothing to do with real science. Real science is always skeptical and nothing like the consensus junk.

  15. An excellent article. Well done. I like the cigarette plume example.

  16. Thanks for the well reasoned article!

    The only thing I would take exception to is-
    “The same uncertainty ensures that the chances of a climate sceptic, or anyone else for that matter, proving the disaster theory to be oversold are also virtually nil. ”

    While it is true you that can’t prove anything about the future because it hasn’t happened, the disaster theory can easily be proven to be oversold because it lacks any empirical support. Research and empirical measurements show that too much warming was attributed to CO2. The 60 year grand solar maximum that led to the rapid warming at the end of last century was accompanied by fewer clouds allowing more of that high output into the system. The record El Nino’s and the warm phases of the PDO and AMO have more to do with global warming than infinitesimal incremental increases in a minute trace gas. There is no physical mechanism for an acceleration of warming to dangerous levels from CO2 that have been observed. The methane bomb didn’t happen during the Holocene Thermal Optimum when permafrost was far more reduced than possible now. The strong positive water vapor feedback necessary for high sensitivity is also not happening.

    Strong claims like the dangerous warming meme require strong proofs. Models projecting dangerous warming are proven to be false by empirical measurements that show they are increasingly diverging from reality. The chances that the disaster theory is not being oversold are virtually nil.

  17. You missed something, nastyboy:

    Moderation note: As with all guest posts, please keep your comments relevant and civil.

  18. There is another way to approach this problem. Instead of starting with some initial condition and then using a model to predict the future, if possible, you should observe the past and see if there are any forcings and cycles that survive over the centuries and millennia.

    If there are, then there must be a reason why these cycles survive the vicissitudes of the ages. It doesn’t matter how chaotic or complex the system, there must be a reason why modes of variation do not vanish over time.

    Using the rising plume of smoke as an example. If you look at the full length of the column of smoke and you notice that vertical speed of the plume of smoke speeds up every 200 km (in a vertical direction), you might conclude that the flume containing the column of smoke narrows every 2oo km and the Venturi Effect leads to the increase in speed of the plume of smoke. Of course, your observations of the variation in the speed of the plume with height does not necessarily prove that the plumes diameter changes in a systematic way. However, it allows you to make a prediction that smoke that is starting to rise from the base of the flume might one-day speed up once it gets 200 km above its starting point.

  19. A problem with this article is that, when it refers for example to “the climate research establishment”, “the international climate establishment” and “the climate science community”, it’s referring I think to the West – more specifically to scientists in the US, Canada, Western Europe and Australia. But countries such as China, India, Russia, Japan and South Korea have their own healthy science communities where scientists with an interest in climate change are almost certainly not part of the alleged consensus that humanity is responsible for significant and potentially dangerous atmospheric warming. Four recent papers, although not conclusive, illustrate this:

    Two from China: Wang et al., 2017 (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep46091) and Quansheng et al., 2017 (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00376-017-6238-8).

    And two from Russia: Stozhkov et al., 2017 (https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S1062873817020411) and Ukhvatkina et al., 2018 (https://www.clim-past.net/14/57/2018/cp-14-57-2018.pdf).

    This is hugely important from a global perspective: the US, Canada, Western Europe and Australia are responsible for only 27% of global emissions, whereas China, India, Russia, Japan and South Korea are responsible for 46% (http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2andGHG1970-2016&sort=des8). Their policymakers are likely to be more influenced by their own scientists than by those in the West – however fine the line they may be treading.

  20. A “nice” illustration for this very interesting article:

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/scimarch-debateover-chalkboard.jpg?

    So far it appears the effect of climate change on science might be bigger than the effect of science on climate change. I see that as losing the game.

    • “So far it appears the effect of climate change on science might be bigger than the effect of science on climate change. I see that as losing the game.”

      That’s pretty much the way I’ve seen the debate instinctually, as a layman to the actual science.

      The velocity of warming described by warmists as being primarily, or all, anthropomorphic caused is virtually the sole focus for their science arguments; the science behind the velocity of natural warming from complex natural cyclical processes is dismissively brushed off, even when most “deniers” acknowledge some anthropomorphic effect probably contributed to GW. But wouldn’t a warmist have to concede that even without humans on the planet that there must be dramatic pivot points in climatic timeline trends where warming would necessarily rapidly accelerate by default, measurable over multi decadal levels? i.e. warmth exponentially increasing based on myriad feedback loops amplifying velocity, such as dramatic acceleration of declining albedo; increasing methane release from melting permafrost (Siberian sink holes); from dramatic increases of fauna as nature exploits an ever increasing land footprint and atmospheric conditions conducive to exponential growth? Just to mention a few variables.

      Rhetorically speaking, was glacial melt and SLR from warming “equally measured” in 150 year increments from 20k years ago at the end of the LIA to 10k years ago when the last glacier receded from New York; or did the velocity of SLR increase over this period as factors, like the before mentioned, accelerated the velocity of melt through the period? Wouldn’t the velocity of warming from 10k years ago to present day naturally demonstrate ever increasing velocity, perhaps in bursts, for the same underlying reasons? Continuing to speed up until something strong enough reverses the warming trend (i.e., solar)?

      Monolithic group think science postures; warmists say they have the conclusive answers relative to “settled“ (lobby fodder). Yet the science is exploited for known reasons, wielded as a cudgel for economic and political ambitions. The science lacks honesty, as you say it’s “losing the game”. That warmists believe the velocity of warming must reverse, or move to a crawl without humans, or that without humans the velocity of warming would see only the slightest of advancement at more or less a constant rate, defies logic. Temperatures can go either direction based on complex variables as measured within the fleeting moments of a human lifespan.

      Allowances for the evolution of natural processes should be given much more weight, these processes played a major role in ever increasing velocity for warming, regardless of human contributions; warming that otherwise would likely have been only slightly delayed if some AGW didn’t incrementally move the needle slightly forward, maybe. Increased warming velocity has always been inevitable since the LIA, at least it’s not proven that it wouldn’t have been inevitable.

      • Thank you four your deep thought on my humble observation, Mop-Up-Crew.

        It includes what I consider a crucial observation. Defenders of the Anthropogenic climate orthodoxy have actually a more closed mind to science-based evidence of important natural contributions to warming, than most skeptics to evidence of GHG contribution. They are prepared to thoroughly ignore science if it points to any other direction that their own.

    • Even from their stand point. Why is 97% not enough for them? If the debate is over, why all the fuss? They must know they are not winning with this propaganda.

      • Why is 97% not enough for them?

        Because they know the 97% is not true. In science when you have the evidence to back your claims you don’t care much about alternative views. For example critics of evolution by natural selection are ignored by scientific fora because they don’t bring valid arguments to the table. Only the mechanisms are discussed. By contrast, anthropogenic climate change supporters try to silence any opposition because they don’t have the evidence to back up their claims.

        The main argument that made me an skeptic years ago was precisely the prosecution of skeptics and the attempts to keep them from publishing. In science you don’t need to do that if you are right. Only if you are wrong.

  21. The oft repeated stories of Bengtsson, Lomborg, etc., should remind us that group think by the protectorate of the consensus is not dead.

    The world wide and instantaneous reaction of condemnation reminds me of the sharks reaction to blood in the water. But sharks are limited to their proximity to the blood and their sensory systems. Humans have sophisticated their vicious reaction with world wide technology and the enabling efforts of complicit faux journalists/activists to create an amplified symbiotic and self-reinforcing system that creates ever increasing incentives to feed the beast with horror stories.

    Anyone who has had experience in top management or been trained in organizational development or social psychology can spot the group dynamics with ease. It’s time to own up with some self audits and recognize the aspects of climate science that display behavior more appropriate of a third rate cult. But when the members are on a mission to save the world, I wouldn’t expect to see reformation any time soon.

    • The oft repeated stories of Bengtsson, Lomborg, etc.

      Classic fingerprints of skeptic groupthink. The audience for a spoon bending is vast.

      • spoon bending,,,,,,,is that like graph bending?

        Some difference though. One with the mind. The other with an adjustment. Both require imagination and a break with reality.

      • The spoon bending of solar panels and wind turbines. If we do this, this will happen. Well, it’s the thought that counts.

      • JCH: Classic fingerprints of skeptic groupthink. The audience for a spoon bending is vast.

        That doesn’t mean anything. Do you have a point about the mistreatment of Bengtsson?

      • He was not mistreated.

      • JCH: He was not mistreated.

        Obviously that is a judgment on the vagaries of the word “mistreated”. Would you prefer “hounded”? “Vilified”? “Shunned” (threatened with shunning)? “Ostracized” (threatened with ostracism)?

        How do you get to “fingerprints of skeptic groupthink”?

    • Nice comment ceresco. Not often enough is the social aspect of all this mess touched on in commentary. i myself have gotten involved (in my tiny extent) because i am a victim of a real religious cult. And agw bears an uncanny resemblance to that cult. Cults can be defeated. (mine was) All it really takes is the astute persistence that someone like yourself possesses. In the end we’ll all wonder why the downfall of agw took so long and did not come without such a big fight. (in hindsight it will all have seemed so silly)…

      • (nice of jch to show up, thus providing us in his own self with an example of behavior more appropriate of a third rate cult… ☺)

      • Stripes of a spoon bender:

      • It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

      • Just another dude, who like you, so misunderstood NV that he actually thought it possible for the warming hiatus to last more decades.

      • (jch, uri geller ain’t got nothin’ on you)…

      • I expect it to last for centuries.

        So do I. Only yours will be in your my imagination, and mine will happen on a planet called earth.

      • Would that the other clue you don’t have?

      • JCH: Stripes of a spoon bender:

        Another empty phrase. We know you are not bashful — if you have a point, write it out!

      • No downfall of AGW is about to happen. The cooler cult, those praying for the AMO, NV, to come and rescue them from the evil commie progressives, will never have their day.

        The shutdown of the AMOC would give them a brief reprieve, but then it would be right back to AGW.

        Bengtsson did a dumb thing. He joined a cult. He had some very good friends who intervened and saved him.

      • JCH: Bengtsson did a dumb thing. He joined a cult.

        GWPF is not a cult, and Bengtsson did not “join”. GWPF gives greater emphasis than IPCC to the scientific results that undermine urgent calls for urgent action to reduce CO2. His “friends” acted more like cult members, threatening to shun him.

      • What you are saying is simply silly.

        1998 mean was .62 ℃. March, near the end of a La Niña, is .89 ℃. The La Niña mean is going to end up in the low 80s. OHC is now higher than at any time during the last El Niño cycle. CO2 ppm is actually quite a bit higher than it was in 2013 when the +PDO burst started peeking its little face.

        Professor Curry’s own ENSO forecast indicates an El Niño could happen 18-19. If one does, it is not going to be weak. And if it doesn’t, ENSO neutral will do the trick anyway: .2 ℃ per decade over the first two decades off the 21st century, which will be an IPCC bullseye.

      • JCH cloudy crystal ball gazing,

        “Professor Curry’s own ENSO forecast indicates an El Niño [could] happen 18-19.”

        ” [If] one does, it is not going to be weak.”

        “And [if] it doesn’t”,

        Talk about a bob each way, then fence sitting on his, and others, predictions,

        ” ENSO neutral will do the trick anyway: .2 ℃ per decade over the first two decades off the 21st century”,

        two years to go for the fence sitting crystal ball gazer but who cares,

        “1998 mean was .62 ℃. March, near the end of a La Niña, is .89 ℃,”
        ” .2 ℃ per decade over the first two decades off the 21st century.”

        So two years difference in the start changes 0.135 into 0.2 per decade?
        Is this not a cherrypick of cherry picks, JCH?

        “which will be an IPCC cherrypick [bullseye]”.

      • As usual, a mountain of nothing but confusions. The water chef predicts La Niña, but claims if there is an El Niño will be weak.

        Are you all over that garbage? No. Too busy praying rock star isn’t as wrong as usual.

        Last model runs, odds of late 18 EL Niño moving up.

      • The La Nina pattern hasn’t dissipated despite JCH’s despite another ignorant rant from the lonesome, guitar strumming cowboy in the family oil business. He must be such a disappointment. I can’t predict something that hasn’t gone away.

        The MEI is still blue albeit in marginally neutral territory – 20 as opposed to 21 from memory – in this season of ENSO change and unpredictability. The blue tongue is still there, the equatorial winds are blowing, the blue is intensifying in the Nino 1+2 region.

        ENSO is a recharge phenomenon. Upwelling in the eastern Pacific creates winds that piles up warm surface water against Australia and Indonesia. You will note that very little has happened wit ENSO in recent years. There is simply insufficient recharge in the west to ultimately emerge as a significant EL Nino.

        These are physical realities at which the lonesome cowboy is not well versed in. He is practiced in seeing things that are not there in very short term changes – sharks for instance – and in simple minded calumny.

        The atmosphere precursor for the La Nina normal state is the great atmospheric seesaw of the polar annular mode. When positive – wind and currents stay further south and flow through Drakes Passage. When negative they hit the South American coast, flow north and turn westward nearer the equator.

        He hasn’t enough knowledge to get things right or wrong – just pointless noise.

  22. Dealing only with climate models, guest posted illustrated specifics as discussed here by Garth over at WUWT in essays The Trouble with Climate Models, and Why Models Run Hot.
    In summary, computational intractability forces parameterization. These parameters are tuned to best hindcast; for CMIP5 explicity from YE2005 back to 1975. This drags in the attribution problem between natural variation and anthropogenic global warming. The Warmunist attribution to ‘mainly, mostly’ anthropogenic is in error, and that now shows in several ways in the CMIP5 archive.

  23. Just a few comments on things that stand out that you have gotten wrong.

    Clouds do not control the temperature, they are feedbacks. As explained in your reference (5)

    Another thing I would like to point out is that the pause has never been defined, it’s just claimed to be there with no definition of what constitutes a pause. You can’t remove something from the data that never was there is the first place.

    Then you attempt to redefine skepticism and uncertainty, good luck with that. Climategate showed that there was concern that there were unsupported papers being published in the peer reviewed literature and scientists were rightly trying to do something about it.

    As for Professor Lennart Bengtsson, if my psychiatrist told me he was a member of the local Scientology chapter, would you agree that changing psychiatrist would be in my best interest. Something about lying down with dogs and fleas, perhaps.

    • Curious George

      Where I live, a cloudy night is usually warmer than a clear night, and a cloudy day is usually colder than a clear day. We may call this a feedback, in which case we say that feedbacks control the temperature. How clear.

      • Depends on the season where I live, in winter a clear day is usually colder than a cloudy day and the opposite in summer.

        This is not what a feedback is, as whether or not it is cloudy is controlled by other factors, not by whether or not there are clouds.

    • bobdroege: Clouds do not control the temperature, they are feedbacks. As explained in your reference (5)

      Clouds affect the surface insolation — that is what makes them feedbacks. As such they affect the surface temperature — they act as “controls”.

      Another thing I would like to point out is that the pause has never been defined, it’s just claimed to be there with no definition of what constitutes a pause.

      It has nevertheless been given numerous explanations. Science Magazine even published an article to the effect that it was predictable from the knowledge available before it was noticed to have occurred. Current interest has accumulated on the question of whether the most recent el Nino marked/caused its end, or was just a blip on an otherwise nearly flat temperature record.

      As for Professor Lennart Bengtsson, if my psychiatrist told me he was a member of the local Scientology chapter,

      The analogy of GWPF to an explicit religion like Scientology is unwarranted. At worst it is a simple insult; at best it is sloppy language. Besides that, Prof Bengtsson only agreed to be a scientific adviser, not a “member”. He was also, fwiw, not billing anyone for medical care.

      • It’s the surface temperature and other variables that determine whether or not there will be clouds, they are not drivers.

        Numerous attempts have been made to explain the “pause” but will you care to define what would qualify as a “pause.” The bottom line is that the long-term statistically significant trend in surface temperature has not changed.

        Scientology and the GWPF have at least one thing in common, they both **** established science. As an analogy, I find that to be apt. Professor Lennart Bengtsson walked it back, that’s good for him.

      • His friends and colleagues saved him with an intervention. The most prominent was a coauthor, and I think he was a multiple coauthor, who told Bengtsson he could no longer work with him if he associated with that organization.

        It woke him up.

        Good colleagues; good friend.

      • bobdroege: It’s the surface temperature and other variables that determine whether or not there will be clouds, they are not drivers.

        You shifted your ground.
        As you said before, clouds are “feedbacks” — as they increase, they reduce incoming sunlight, thus controlling surface temperature. Only the sun is a driver.

        I personally have not read anything by GWPF that disparages science, but if you have examples, I’ll read them. Start here, maybe:https://www.thegwpf.com/

      • If you don’t think the following quote that I found on your link to the GWPF, doesn’t disparage science, then I’ll have to go to WUWT for more.

        “Having taken all the public passion, controversy and competition out of science, the masters of Groupthink have destroyed it as a spectator sport. Who wants to watch a football game where the result is fixed and everyone knows it? Public interest in science was settled in 1990 — at zero.”

        I guess you’ll reply that it’s not by GWPF, but it is posted on their website, so they do in fact endorse disparagement of science.

        So, you are still not able to define what a pause is.

        I note the dodge.

      • bobdroege: “Having taken all the public passion, controversy and competition out of science, the masters of Groupthink have destroyed it as a spectator sport. Who wants to watch a football game where the result is fixed and everyone knows it? Public interest in science was settled in 1990 — at zero.”

        Is that a criticism of science, or of some scientists? I did not find that quote, so I would appreciate the link. I grant that it is a pretty negative quote.

        Are you disputing the claim that “the pause” is “accepted science”? It’s the unpredicted nearly flat region on the graph of global mean temperature between the rebound from the 1998-1999 el Nino and the beginning of the 2016-2017 el Nino. That’s what was first denied by the warmers, then modeled by them (including modeled by Prof Michael Mann). If you claim it didn’t happen, take it up with them. The “unpredicted” appellation is important because of the prediction of warming in that period of time.

        Are you still disputing the claim that variations in cloud cover produce variations in surface insolation and surface warming? ie, that clouds satisfy the definition of feedback?

      • And I see that the GWPF is a fan of Susan Crockford whose expertise on Polar Bears is shattered by her claim that Polar Bears evolved in the Pliocene, which is not true, they evolved more recently, about 150,000 years ago, not 3 to 5 million years ago.

        Not your go to gal on Polar Bears, I’m afraid.

      • Droege

        The reference to Polar Bears evolving in the Pliocene was made by Dr Mitch Taylor who has been involved in Polar Bear research since 1981. If you thought that was her statement on her blog it was actually Taylor’s. If she also made it that means 2 highly qualified researchers made the same statement. Why don’t you share with us your own credentials on Polar Bear research.

      • Matthewrmarler

        The quote was from JoNova here

        http://joannenova.com.au/2018/04/march-for-politically-correct-science-flops-almost-no-one-turns-up/

        from a link on the GPPF page

        I appreciate that you find it negative

      • bobdroege:The quote was from JoNova here

        http://joannenova.com.au/2018/04/march-for-politically-correct-science-flops-almost-no-one-turns-up/

        from a link on the GPPF page

        “from a link”? web pages link to all sorts of good and bad stuff that the managers of the web pages do not endorse; it is a part of the ethic of minimal censorship of spirited exchanges of opinions. Where exactly does GWPF endorse that trashy comment?

  24. Formal enquiries of one sort or another subsequently cleared the scientists involved of any legal misdemeanours(34).

    In one case, the statute of limitations had expired. That isn’t the same as “cleared”.

  25. For whatever reason, it is indeed vastly more difficult to publish results in climate research journals if they run against the tide of politically correct opinion.

    References to specific cases would be helpful. Steve McIntyre and others published an article in Science correcting an erroneous analysis of temperature change in the Antarctic that Science had previously published. The correction was treated more harshly in the review process than the original, despite being of higher quality. I think there are other documented examples besides just the testimony of some participants that they have been mistreated.

  26. Garth Paltridge, thank you for the essay.

  27. “Bear in mind too that very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say there is only a very small possibility (for example, less than 5 per cent) that internal ocean behaviour could be a major cause of the warming over the past half-century(27).”

    If ENSO and the AMO are actually negative feedbacks to indirect solar forcings, then at least 95% are nowhere near close to the problem.

  28. Totally unasked is the question whether “climate science” is truly science, in any rigorous sense of the term.

  29. Models are known without a doubt to be inaccurate. It is called ‘irreducible imprecision’ and has been known about since Edward Lorenz plied his convection models in the 1960’s. Models can have slightly different starting points as a result of uncertainty in inputs. Many solutions are thus possible – for a single model – solutions that diverge exponentially over the calculation period and the result is ‘irreducible imprecision’. Irreducible imprecision is shown in the diagram below. It is from a paper by Julia Slingo – head of the British Met Office – and Tim Palmer – head of the European Centre for Mid-Range Weather Forecasting.

    It is quite demonstrable math but mention this on any global warming blog and the inhabitants will exhibit severe agitation and fear and loathing as cognitive dissonance kicks in. However – it is not quite right either to claim that models are inaccurate because they fail to reproduce the lack of more recent global temperature rise. Instead what the modellers have done to is to arbitrarily pick one of the possible solutions – and discard all the others – based on qualitative expectations of how climate will evolve. The choices are too hot – what a surprise. Then there is the odd and skeptical notion that climate will continue to evolve independently of models because we haven’t quite got the system parametized.

    Their advice – as we have only one planet – in the unlikely case that climate is uncertain – requires that unspecified precautionary action be taken to mitigate greenhouse gases. As climate is utterly unpredictable using models – we might have to gloss over the uncertainty of costs and benefits. But let me fill in the detail for them. The policy from global warming progressives involves tales of the collapse of western civilisation and capitalism leading to less growth, less material consumption, less CO2 emissions, less habitat destruction and a last late chance to stay within the safe limits of global ecosystems. And this is just in the ‘scholarly’ journals.

    The progressives are right in one respect. Economies are fragile – movements on markets can be fierce – recovery glacially slow sometimes. There are economic problems – but the problems are not intrinsic to capitalism. They were created by poor judgement. We blunder into it through stupidity. It is not difficult – however – to imagine scenarios in which markets are deliberately destabilised to hasten the end of capitalism. Creeping tax takes, overspending by government, printing money, keeping interest rates too low for too long, or too high for too long, penalty taxes on primary inputs, implementing market distorting subsidies – the scope is endless. These are suspiciously the objectives of global warming progressives – but let’s not call it a conspiracy. Let’s just call it stupidity.

    The rational management of economies requires interest rates to be managed through the overnight cash market to restrain inflation to a 2 to 3% target. Markets need fair, transparent and accessible laws. Including on open and fair markets. Optimal tax take is some 23% of GDP – and budgets are balanced. Markets operate best in a robust democracy. These nuts and bolts of market management – mainstream market theory and practice pioneered by F. A. Hayek – keep economies on a modest and stable growth trajectory as much as is possible.

    Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – restoring organic carbon in agricultural soils, conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking fires with better ways of preparing food, etc. We can sequester carbon in agricultural soils and in conserved and restored ecosystems, reduce nitrous oxide and harmful tropospheric ozone and save money on fertilisers, burn methane to produce low cost electricity, reduce the strong climate effects of black carbon and the millions of premature deaths that result from cooking over open fires at the same time. We can develop low cost alternatives to the fossil fuels we know are increasing in scarcity and increasing in cost. We are not married to coal. While it is true that we do have only one planet – our concern for it extends well beyond CO2. Population, development, technical innovation, multiple gases and aerosols across sectors, land use change and the environment are the broader context.

    I would be the last one to suggest that there isn’t more uncertainty in a system with the internal dynamics of the Earth’s climate – and much more scope for severe and rapid change than even the modellers contemplate. Tipping points – low probability high impact changes – are the latest manifestation of progressive angst from a demographic that is now devoid of credibility. But they are indeed possible as a result of human changes to the atmosphere.

    However – the solution to the multiple problems of people in the world are both simpler and more complex than overthrowing democracy and capitalism. The energy solutions are technological – primarily a gas to advanced nuclear strategy if nothing better comes along. Communities on an economic growth path can look after themselves. Management of the global commons is a messy and complex human problem requiring the most modern theories and models of human behaviour – well beyond the simplistic response of caps and taxes on energy. Environmental management involves the strategic deployment of methods and technologies across landscapes, industries and infrastructure – and for implementation requires a different – bottom up – approach than top down government regulation that is failing both business and the environment.

  30. As a profound skeptic on CAGW, I found this piece somewhat timid for this reason: there is no signal whatsoever that CO2 has anything to do with climate. There is no so-called “hockey stick,” meaning any noticeable uptick in temperature within the world climate records of the last 100 years or more. The ups and downs of the empirical records we have show absolutely nothing on which we can even hang a correlation. The models used by the UN are hopelessly flawed in that they assume CO2 has some influence. The so-called “feedbacks” are just an excuse to explain how tiny increments in a trace gas can somehow improbably cause large and catastrophic changes in the earth’s climate. The null hypothesis is simply that CO2 influence is zero. Can any data set show that the null h is untenable? Not to my knowledge, having followed the argument for at least 20 years.
    The really big story, and it is a big story, is how climate alarmists have seized control of the institutions of science, the AAAS, the NRC, etc that the uninformed public relies on as purveyors of the best truth. They have also taken control of what once were trusted media sources, such as PBS, NPR, NYT, BBC, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. All environmental reporting in all these media outlets is now contaminated by profound and militant bias. It is not true of their reporting on any other topic, and I believe their intentions are honorable. The dishonorable are the screamers going back to Paul Ehrlich, and the Club of Rome, who insist that modern technology-based society is doomed. With Al Gore and CO2 they have found their silver bullet. How can we walk back from this mess to the sanity of empirical science?
    Ronald Havelock, Ph.D., social psychology

    • CO2 is a factor in plant growth. Plants are a factor in global albedo. Albedo is a factor in the climate. CO2 influences the climate. CO2 has an influence.

    • Ron
      Very coherent comment. We can’t unsee the charade of the screamers. They polluted the environment of respect for climate science except for short terms like 10 days out or the coming el Nino. Dr Curry moved or continued her focus on models and observations at a useful time scale and that can slowly reestablish respect for one part of the field. With the long term models compared to the largest spring snow ever observed in Wisconsin or Nebraska in modern records the public sees the flawed predictions.

      It will be a whiled to recover.respect.
      Scott

    • ronhave: As a profound skeptic on CAGW, I found this piece somewhat timid for this reason: there is no signal whatsoever that CO2 has anything to do with climate.

      I would say “low key” in place of timid. It is a rhetorical strategy.

      Your claim that “there is no signal whatsoever” I believe to be false. It’s the “whatsoever” part; claims of the presence and magnitude of CO2 effects depend on other claims (hypotheses, assumptions) of varying credibility that can not unequivocally be ruled out.

  31. How many solar panels & windfarms must the planet build before the planet prevents it’s first climate change?

  32. Apropos of which, NCAR/UCAR has recently assembled a data base of 30 individual simulations of North American climate for the period 1963 to 2012… the variations in warming and cooling in the 30 simulations illustrate the far-reaching effects of natural variability superimposed on human-induced climate change.

    All of the above is background to one of the great mysteries of the climate change issue… how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) can maintain there is a 95 per cent probability that human emissions of carbon dioxide have caused most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades(4).

    The answer is quite simple: they understand the difference between regional and global. The climate variations you reference from that large ensemble relate to regional climate. As shown in a previous large ensemble paper from those some authors (see figure 1 in that write-up), the global response across the ensemble is very similar even with those large regional trend differences.

    ———————————————————————————————

    …very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say that they are 95 per cent sure that the effect of clouds is to amplify rather than to reduce the warming effect of increasing carbon dioxide. If they are not sure that clouds amplify global warming, they cannot be sure that most of that warming is a result of increasing carbon dioxide

    You’re confusing sensitivity with attribution. Bear in mind that anthropogenic GHG forcing to date is ~ 3 W/m2 and for 95% confidence that only needs to produce warming of 0.33degC (>50% of 0.65degC observed) from 1951-2010. That amount of warming is comfortably compatible with all plausible climate sensitivities, and some implausible ones too. Total net feedback could be quite strongly negative and it could still support the attribution conclusion.

    ————————————————————————————————-

    Bear in mind too that very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say there is only a very small possibility (for example, less than 5 per cent) that internal ocean behaviour could be a major cause of the warming over the past half-century(27).

    Really need some evidence for that claim. Your link (if it worked) is to a 14-year old paper discussing technical challenges in ocean modelling. While that’s obviously a related issue there’s nothing in it which suggests the author believes there is a greater probability of internal variability influence exceeding the IPCC’s allowance (up to about 0.3degC for the 60 year period). On the other hand we have the IPCC statement, which is produced by scientists who are “close to the problem” who are clearly stating that the possibility is less than 5 percent.

    It is therefore a little strange that we were not being told by the IPCC… that some natural internal fluctuation of the ocean… may have given rise to much of the earlier upward trend of temperature.

    That’s clearly not true. Otherwise the attribution statements would have claimed greater confidence and anthropogenic causation of a larger fraction of the observed warming.

    ————————————————————————————-

    In 2015, a group of scientists within NOAA re-examined the world’s long-term measured surface temperature data and found reasons to adjust… There has been much argument about the validity of the adjustments(9)

    Only among those who would argue regardless of the validity. Of course, none of those people bothered to do anything to check the work. That was left up to Hausfather et al. 2017, who found that the new SST adjustments improved the accuracy of the dataset.

    • There has been much argument about the validity of the adjustments(9)

      Where are the NOAA whistleblowers? Where is congressman Smith?

    • CO2 increase: 0.4
      Average sensitivity: 3.0
      0.4 X 3.0 = 1.2 C
      Observed: 0.65 C
      Inferred Sensitivity: 1.63 (.65 / 0.4)

      The 95% confidence comes from the wide bounds of climate sensitivity which could be from 1.0 C to 5.0 C.

      We use the 66% confidence of climate sensitivity to get our 95%.
      Half of the observed 0.65 C is 0.325 C. .325 / 0.4 is 0.81 for climate sensitivity.

      So the IPCC’s statement on attribution says that they are 95% confident that sensitivity is greater than 0.81 C.

      Their attribution statement is just as worthless as their sensitivity statement for making policy. It’s numbers and science. It’s not policy while they speak of a summary for policymakers. It is High School math.

      • JCH:

        Where is the money? Significant amounts of it are at lower sensitivities. You may say you are not selling to lower sensitivities. Good luck being successful.

        The idea is not to fight with people, but to have them be your clients and as they give you money.

    • Comparing the the IPCC’s attribution statement and climate sensitivity shows this I think.

      It is uncertain as to what climate sensitivity is, thus it has a broad range that encompasses enough to include the lackadaisical warming since 1950. But not broad enough to allow more than half of the warming being natural without a 1 in 20 shot.

      Take a normal 2 standard deviation distribution. Go to 2 standard deviations on the low end. Say that there’s hardly any chance climate sensitivity is below this line. Be 95% sure of that.

      We are on the edge of the distribution. There’s only a 1 in 20 chance something is here. And we are certain to the 95% level of that fact. Yet we are drawing a line that says, nothing is beyond this line unless there is something. And this line is used in the IPCC’s attribution statement.

      We are so sure there is nothing beyond this line, and that proves we caused over half the warming. So we trek to the nether-lands of the distribution, and take out our slide rule to support our banner statement. It is in the nether-lands where our confidence is found.

  33. Pingback: Garth Paltridge: Four Questions On Climate Change | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  34. The grid point thing is one of my decades-long complaints.

    In 3d flows go to shorter and shorter scales, and always wind up smaller than the grid spacing. You need those short flows though because they serve as an ersatz viscosity for large scale flows, so your simulation turns to garbage. The mechanism is that vortices can kink in 3d. Weather forecasts are good for roughly the kink time. (In 2d, something called vorticity is conserved and flows don’t go to shorter scales, because vortices can’t kink. Weather flows are taken as mostly 2d, which is good for a few days.)

    (What about shorter-yet flows? At some scale it turns into molecular motion, aka heat; and it’s no longer a fluid in any case. Kolmogorov guessed that the rate of dissipation is independent of viscosity in 3d, just changing the scale where it’s molecular.)

    I’d add 5. owing to the uncertainty primciple, you can’t tell anything about cycles long compared to the data, so cycle vs trend can’t be decided by any observation whatsoever. A simple mathematical fact.

  35. Very interesting article and discussion, thank you! I do follow this debate from a layman’s perspective and the one thing I find really confusing is why when talking about climate science/climate change and the models being used, they never talk about weather modification programs that have been going on for over 70 years around the world. Many of these are now public record (check weathermodificationhistory.com). NOAA used to require a form to filled out keeping at least some limited track of these, but they don’t anymore and nothing is regulated or tracked. So, if for example rain in a region is being increased or reduced artificially by a corporation like Weather Modification, Inc., or one of the many others, and those records are then used in the models for future climate data, how can that data be accurate if the weather being used to collect the data has been artificially modified?

  36. interzonkomizar

    Hi Garth.Greetings from the Big Mango (BKK). Thanks for your incisive summary of the ‘settled science’ problem. I have often wondered if any modelers, with limited grid points, have considered putting them where the action is; 30% on ITCZ, 40% to +/- 65 dgLat, 30% at poles?

    While the govt scientists have been pushing the Church of Awful Global Warming and how to spend carbon tax credits, we have been sliding into a new little ice age, and are missing a chance to study it.

    I have posted the following alert to several sites and to a US senator. Links to the 18 articles i read are available by request in comments. Most from this site and WHWT.

    NOAA, NASA, and the IPCC have failed humanity, and we’re all in for a nasty surprise … Abrupt Climate Change. This is a summary and warning i put together:

    The MsM and warmist alarmists are wrong. It is the heighth of hubris and arrogance to think humans, in the space of 150 years, can change thermal cycles that are thousands of years long and have existed for millenia. The thermal mass of the land and oceans is enormous. The temperature of deep, still, parts of the ocean have barely risen one degree in 22,000 years, the last glacial max.

    My reading of the climate tea leaves says we’re already past the interglacial plateau of relatively stable climate.

    For the last three thousand years, Since 1000 BC, the end of the Minoan Warm Period, the global temperature trend has been -0.5 to -0.7 dgC per 1000 yrs, projecting full glacial of 8 dgC in another 7,000 yrs. Another clue, the obliquity dropped below 23.5 degrees around 1300 AD, the onset of the Wolf Minimum. Now the glacial cold lurking in the deep ocean, held in check by obliquity for 10,000 years, has been set free, ending the Holocene Interglacial. We are in the transition zone to glacial cold, expect Finoscandian ice sheets to start in 2000 yrs.

    However, the solar output has been declining since 1986 and this accelerated in 2009 with solar cycle 24, the lowest in over 100 yrs. Cycle 25 will also be low and the beginning of a Grand Solar Minimum, now named the Eddy Minimum. Expect a Little Ice Age lasting 40 yrs, with some winters extremely cold, some wet cool springs to kill crops, some cold summers, and more frequent and severe storms. The storminess index went from 6.5 to 14 during the LIA. This slide into cold is showing up in German weather station records where the last 30 yrs of winter (DJF) are trending -19 dgC per 1000 yrs, much faster than the slow decline to normal glacials. Zugspitze Mtn. Resort, elev 2000m, january temperature has been trending down 1 dgC per 10 yrs.

    I expect in the next ten years one billion will actually starve due to crop failures*, and one billion will be eaten by stronger omnivores; feral dogs, cats, and … humans.

    As the legal beagles like to say, ‘Time is of the essence,’ so the sooner you act, the better your chances of survival.

    Sandy, Minister of Future

    *NB- the WHO reports 800 mln suffer from hunger, 10 mln die from starvation each yr, 60 mln die from disease each yr.

    So now thats 70 mln / yr, plus more food stress, weakening immune system, more disease, amplified by cold climate / storm stress, could easily be 100 mln /yr … Thats 1 Bln / 10 yrs.

  37. “Oceans are important because they are the main reservoirs of heat in the climate system. They have internal, more-or-less random, fluctuations on all sorts of time-scales ranging from years through to centuries.”

    Has it been proven that the fluctuations are internal and more-or-less random? Of course not, but it is widely accepted without question or thought. Oblivious to the contradiction of the expectation of rising CO2 forcing to modify the natural variability which is deemed to be unforced. The main agent of climate change has been abandoned for many decades, the unanswered question of the drivers of ENSO and the AMO, and the changes in cloud cover and changes in the vertical distribution of water vapour that they drive. Nothing rational can be said about climate change until their solar forcing is recognised.

    • “Oceans are important because they are the main reservoirs of heat in the climate system.

      Again and again and again, ice is not considered in any kind of reservoir. Cold times occur when ice is extended and reflecting and thawing and that is considered a result of something different that caused cooling but is not understood enough that anyone can explain it. The reservoirs of ice on Greenland, Antarctic and high mountains do advance ice and increase cooling and do deplete and allow warming. Don’t consider ocean reservoirs and ignore ice reservoirs.

  38. Overall an interesting article. The reference to the medieval priests is not really a very good analogy, however:

    “The situation is reminiscent in many ways of medieval religion. The priests of that time opposed translation of the written scriptures from Latin into the local languages. They believed that only people fully trained in the theology of the time were capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly. ”

    In fact, the early church both in the west and the east both believed that scripture could only be interpreted through the ‘flames of pentecost’, i.e. the Holy Spirit visiting the church fathers, those who, through lives of great spiritual labour and ascetic trials were able to attain a level of closeness to God that allowed them to experience the gifts and knowledge of things eternal. These people were always the authority on the interpretation and understanding of the scriptures, not the priests, academics, layman or anyone else.

    The goal of the priesthood was to provide a group of people trained in the teaches of the church and its holy fathers, who could disseminate the message to the laymen.

    It was not about control or any of the other later Dutch/Protestant propaganda slurs.

    At some point, however, the Franks conquered the western church, and began, perhaps, using the clergy and the church as a system of control. It was from this tradition, in fact, that the Neo Platonic/Gnostic idea that scripture could be mined by the intellect and that secrets might be obtained therein, promulgated. This eventually destroyed the original notion of scriptural revelation through the saints. The protestant reformation took this idea to the max, and cranked out bibles (based on discredited translations and sources) en masse, and encouraged everyone to become a dilettante saint and interpret at will.

    Even today the (real) church teaches that the layman, the academic, the priests interpretation of the scriptures is worthless. It is only through the understanding provided by the Saints and Holy Fathers that the scriptures have any meaning.

  39. The term “public” occurs many times in this essay, including in the Four Questions. However there is little or no discussion that I can see (it is a very long essay) of the fundamental partisan demographics that drive the situation. The great majority of Republicans and conservatives are skeptics, while the great majority of Democrats and liberals are warmers. The great majority of academic scientists are also Democrats or liberals.

    Just about everything that is going on seems to follow from these simple facts, including the answers to the Four Questions. I attribute this to the fact that the science ranges from ambiguous to questionable, which is the ESSENTIAL NATURE of long time scale, future looking, environmental impact assessment. In that sense the only thing unusual is the huge scale of the issue. The logic is perfectly normal for this sort of issue.

    If this analysis is correct then the issue simply cannot be solved with more science (but more science we shall have). It is likely to become permanently partisan, like gun control.

    If the policy game is really a draw, then very little can happen. In this sense the skeptics are doing better than the warmers. This too is part of the answer to the Four Questions.

    • Bingo… nobody cares what a bunch of dopey warmers have to say. Bottom line is the policy game. And in this respect they aren’t even coming close to winning. Whether it’s policy or public support, life is essentially going on as it always has. Warmers need to rethink their PR strategy if they’re ever going to win in earnest…

  40. I never here about Climate Change anymore. It’s a dead issue. Right now the pols are fighting over the Trump Presidency with the Dems bent on getting rid of Trump no matter what it takes. Their hatred is only exceeded by their irrelevant effort to do something about it. They are failing miserably but that’s all they care about. The Climate debate is waaayyy on the back burner

    • The 2 largest pieces of 21st century disinformation thus far is climate change and Trump/Russian collusion. Trump is the priority target for disinformation because all advocacy roads leading to climate change policy and new world order doctrine must first defeat Trump in order to advance. The viciousness of disinformation is at the equivalent of DEFCON 1 for the radical Left because the stakes are that high for them.

  41. “We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s… This is the first time that this mechanism, which appears consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, is discovered in a physical system of the size and complexity of the climate system.”

    Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.

    It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

    Global rainfall and flood records likewise show evidence for abrupt shifts and regimes that persist for decades. In Australia, less frequent flooding from early last century to the mid 1940’s, more frequent flooding to the late 1970’s and again a low rainfall regime to recent times. They have been known as flood and drought dominant regimes since the 1980’s.

    These are quasi standing waves – similar to vortices that appear in the cigarette smoke. If the plume is perturbed it shifts to a different pattern – a new state space. This is what defines the hiatus since the last state space change – identified more recently using the same methodology – in the late 1990’s.

    Catastrophe btw is an alarmist invention. The urban doofus hipster vision involves narratives of moribund western economies governed by corrupt corporations collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions – leading to less growth, less material consumption, less CO2 emissions, less habitat destruction and a last late chance to stay within the safe limits of global ecosystems. And this is just in the ‘scholarly’ journals. To blame skeptics for it is a bit rich.

    e.g. https://thischangeseverything.org/book/#

  42. As I am familiar with fluid flow as an engineer, I do not believe paramatrizing convective flow in the atmosphere is a difficult problem. I believe the “difficulty” arises because the modelers just don’t want to know. Because they suspect that when the truth is understood about the behavior of a convective atmosphere, the whole CO2 issue disappears.

  43. Pingback: Bits and Pieces – 20180423, Monday Commentary | thePOOG

  44. Pingback: Energy And Environmental Newsletter – April 23rd 2018 | PA Pundits - International

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