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  1. “Ever since Watts and the Heartland Institute published Watts’ white paper, a large number of self-described climate disruption skeptics have been using the white paper as “proof” that that temperature records are riddled with errors.”

    I think you’re missing the point… It’s good to correct the inaccurate original paper from Watts but it seems that publishing it in the first place is the end goal since most skeptics who read it will run with it, and will not care at all about anyone’s refutation.

    It’s like when Fox shows a Republican politician caught in a scandal and “accidentally” puts a “D” under their name (which has happened multiple times). Any correction that happens after the fact is lost since the original impact was the point.

    That’s the way they play the game. The battleground isn’t logic with these issues, it’s emotion and fear. They understand that and that’s why they’re winning. Arguing with facts unfortunately isn’t going to help.

    • Hugo, I agree with you that arguing with facts against gut emotion and wishful thinking doesn’t work. But if I can make the story compelling enough, then the facts are good too. The way to do it is to make the facts relevant to everyone’s life. It’s hard, and sometimes I’m more successful than others, but it does work eventually.

      I don’t write this to convince the brain dead. Nothing I write can ever reach the people who can’t see reality due to their ideological blinders, and so I don’t even try any more. I write posts like this in hope that the people who don’t know or who haven’t been convinced yet will think and connect climate science to their own lives. And if something comes along that runs counter to the prevailing scientific explanations, I report that factually too, because that’s how climate science, science in general, works.

      This is education as much as reporting, and it’s effective. Slower than I’d like, to be sure, but it is effective over the long run. I know this because I’ve had someone associated with the National Post linked to a post of mine as an example of why he is now convinced that climate disruption is real and that people are the dominant cause this time around. That kind of a win gives you energy for a long, long time.

  2. After this spurious Watts “white paper” was released, right-wing owned radio and television channels ran with it, claiming that this one paper proved that climate change and atmospheric warming was a hoax, a bogus right-wing claim which still continues to this day.

    Maybe one of the climate scientists who just refuted all of Watts lies will contact Keith Olbermann’s staff and offer to talk about this on Countdown, bringing charts, pictures, whatever, to present the data so a layman will understand, to counter all the anti-global warming lies.

    My major concern is that rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere not only will lead to more global warming and ice melting but will start a chain reaction in which the melting of ice/permafrost and increase in ocean temperatures will release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere (with methane being 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2), thus compounding global warming exponentially. Worst case scenario? Or actually a conservative estimate of what appears to be happening already?

  3. It would be in the best interest of everyone to leave the politics out of this and allow the science to be done, by real scientists, not amateur pundits or science by consensus, . If you don’t have a PhD in one of the physical sciences, leave it alone….seriously.

    No one in their right mind denies that climate changes on a cyclical basis, always has always will. It’s the man made postulate that needs to be subject to the rigors of the scientific method(not just statistical analysis and questionable math), leaving politics and personal agenda out of the equation. Lets prove it scientifically, and I hope to not be flamed by non scientists, liberal arts types, political types and those not trained in the physical sciences

    Jeff

  4. Sam, although I lack your excellent credentials in media from a state school, I did get mine in Physical Chemistry, so my authority on the subject is a wee bit better than yours. You still are the most self-righteous person I’ve ever come across and you can’t even see it. I think I can speak about the science in a dispassionate manner, which I was trying to do in my response. You will remember that I did say that nobody was denying that climate has cyclical changes.. As for economics, I play with the big boys and risk my own money, not like the words you are only willing to risk. However, you are just fucking with me, showing me that your internet dick is bigger than mine. That’s OK with me, because I suspect that you really need a victory in your life, so I’ll give you this one. This is on me. Cheers, Jeff

    Jeff

    • Keep talking, Jeff. Please – talk more, in fact. You’ve gone out of your way to insult just about everybody who isn’t, well, you. People who went to state schools are inferior. People who lack your inherently good “breeding” are inferior. And so on.

      Keep talking. Every time you hit send you make an important point. But for now, the issue isn’t whether the institution that issued your degree makes you smarter than everybody else, it’s about how climate disruption deniers keep trying to derail productive policy development in service to vested corporate interests.

      But no threadfucking. Keep it on point, if you would.

  5. This whole topic is a hed herring. There is no such thing as the “US climate”. There is only one climate here – Earth’s whole climate. Further the land is only 25% of the Earth’s surface and the area populated by humans (which most temperature stations are clustered near) is only 15% of the Earth’s surface. The greenhouse effect only has a significant influence on night time temperatures, and so does the UHI effect. The argument that GISS (etc) are uncontaminated by UHI because temperatures are recorded at mid-morning is a totally sound argument – but it also removes the ability to measure any significant greenhouse influence at all at urban stations (whether the site meets USCRN requirements or not).

    There is only one accurate measurement of Earth’s whole average surface temperature (weather satellites) and the sad fact is we only have 30 years of data from that source – which in climatic terms is three 10-year data points.

    Would you, as a scientist familiar with statistics and data analysis, make confident recommendations based on only 3 data points? Because as an amateur the only recommendation I would make is that “more research is needed”.

    The oft-repeated “skeptical” claim that the world has cooled for the last 10 years is indeed as statistically unsound as the claim made by warmists that there is overwhelming evidence of AGW. There is insufficient reliable data to work with in both cases. Whether it is over 10 years or 10000 years, the world has a warming or cooling trend depending on where you cherry-pick your endpoints. According to John Brignell, fitting a line to any non-linear signal is only valid if you are trying to remove a linear bias from that signal. In essence the true signal is infinite but the line slope can only be calculated from a finite subset, so any fitted line is inherently cherry picked. Accordingly, fitting any line to any Earth temperature series for the purpose of showing a trend is disingenuous regardless of the time frame. (And you won’t see that written in the newspapers!)

    The null hypothesis (of natural warming) is still the winner so far. That’s not to say it’s the truth, but that there is not yet a scientific way to arrive at any other conclusion.

    One line of argument I would accept if data supported it would be the argument that human activity has changed the operation of the climate system so much that all pre-industrial evidence is null and void and that the rules are different now. That would be a big claim demanding big evidence that has not been observed.

    Instead we are left with many contrary facts. Rates of CO2 increase have been higher in the distant past than today. CO2 concentrations have been naturally 10 times higher than today. Most 20th century warming occurred before most 20th century industrialisation had occurred. Further, the cycle in incident sun power of ~7% (ie +/-3.5% of average) over each year causes an asymmetric response between the NH and SH that is enough to explain most temperature changes. (see http://www.palisad.com/co2/slides/siframes.html )
    No observations require us to venture further than natural phenomena to explain the recent temperature history.
    I hate being wrong, so where is the credible evidence that says otherwise?

    As for the assertion that us plebs should just leave the PhDs to do their jobs, in the present situation I have to disagree. It is the pre-emptive politicisation of climate research for the purpose of imposing fraudulent carbon taxation schemes that has led to the public getting involved. The sequence of claim and counterclaim has always happened in scientific circles, just not with as much publicity as this issue has received. Furthermore, everyone both can and should apply the scientific method – regardless of whether they have a PhD. Science is for everyone.

    • Andrew,

      Lots of mostly off-topic misinformation there. Allow me to clean it up some.

      First, there certainly such a thing as “US climate” just as there’s “UK climate” and “global climate” and “North rim of the Grand Canyon climate.” Climate is defined as the average weather (temperature, wind, precipitation) in a particular area. The area can be defined as large or as small as you like, although there are standards. Look up any map of global climatic regions, for example, or if you prefer, the USDA plant hardiness regions – they represent differing types of climate within the US.

      Second, it’s my understanding that greenhouse warming works equally at night and during the day, but that during the day other effects may dominate (effects that would be minimized by taking temperature measurements in the morning, such as cloudiness). If you have a paper that says otherwise, I’d love to read it – the conclusions of this paper, however, support my statement:

      [C]orrelations between historical cloudiness and Tmax or Tmin are much lower than the [diurnal temperature range]–cloud correlation. This is expected because other forcings such as the increased greenhouse gases greatly affect Tmin and Tmax while DTR is influenced largely by forcings that have a diurnal asymmetry. (emphasis added)

      Third, greenhouse effect forcings are not like cloud effects – they are persistant and are widely spatially distributed (CO2 is well-mixed globally, in fact, while methane is well-mixed on a hemispherical basis). So they affect all temperature stations more or less equally, regardless of what time of day the temperature measurements are taking.

      Fourth, you might have had a point about the satellite record if it were the only record we had. In fact, however, we have 30 years of data that correlates pretty well with the surface temperature record. The first image below shows a scatter plot of the three main surface temperature records with the RSS satellite dataset, the second with the UAH satellite data, using monthly data from January 1979 to September 2009.

      Fifth, I can’t help but wonder how much data you require in order to draw conclusions about whether the climate is warming and if human activity is the cause this time. Do you care to explain what you do need? Because I can show, with data, that a) scientists know CO2 is a greenhouse gas, b) CO2 concentrations have increased dramatically since pre-industrial times and are still increasing, c) that human activity is responsible for the increase, d) that there are multiple, independent sources of inquiry that have determined a range for “climate sensitivity” and that the climate feedback is positive instead of negative, e) that concentrations of other greenhouse gases are increasing, f) that human activity is responsible for, depending on the gas, between 50% and 100% of the various increases. If that’s not enough, fine – what more do you need?

      Sixth, what you describe with respect to linear trends is somewhat true, but also somewhat false. It’s called endpoint sensitivity, and it’s a well known function of linear trends. The problem with linear trends, however, isn’t so much in the trend or the sensitivity of the trend to end points, but how you use the trend. For example, if I state up-front that I’m intentionally making my analysis conservative by choosing an unreasonably bad endpoint, then the trend analysis probably bounds one end or another. If you read this comment, you’ll find an example of what I mean.

      Ultimately, though, linear trends are a useful tool if used properly. The question is whether any given linear trend is being used and presented correctly or not. In my experience, the trends I see generated by climate disruption deniers such as Joe D’Aleo, Lord Monckton, and Fred Singer are usually cherry-picked to support a claim that is not mathematically or scientifically valid. Trends produced by climate scientists are generally better quality if for no other reason than the scientists tend to explain the limitations and caveats of the trends.

      It’s instructive to note, however, that the conclusions that climate disruption is real is not reliant on simple linear trends and linear correlations – they’ve been analyzed using statistically robust methods and found to still be accurate.

      Seventh, I’ve not seen any evidence anywhere that rates of change of CO2 have been higher in the past. Do you have a reference for that claim?

      Eigth, you’re claim about temperature rise is incorrect. If you look at the last century’s surface temperature record (pictured below), you find that the temperature anomaly was about 0.8 C lower than today back at the turn of the century, it went up until the 1940s (about +0.4C), dropped again until then 1970s (about -0.1C), and then rose again to the turn of the century (about +0.5C). That says that no more than 50% was “before” industrialization, not “most.”

      And finally, there are a huge number of flaws in that .ppt file, enough that debunking it would be worth a post all of its own. One is the “CO2 is plant food” argument, which is only true in a world where there’s enough other nutrients to feed plant growth (and there isn’t – see this paper). Another is “CO2 follows warming,” which is based on a logical fallacy that I addressed in detail here.

  6. Regarding the “CO2 follows warming” argument….

    In his most excellent lecture at the 2009 AGU fall meeting, Dr Richard Alley debunked the “CO2 follows warming” talking-point with this analogy (paraphrasing here):

    “Interest lags debt. How do we know that interest adds to debt?”

    Dr. Alley’s lecture can be viewed here: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

    The “CO2 lags warming” debunking can be found about 36 minutes (IIRC) into the video.

  7. I’ve not seen any evidence anywhere that rates of change of CO2 have been higher in the past. Do you have a reference for that claim?

    I thought I had a reference, but then when I checked it again the guy said no such thing. I don’t think I made this one up, but I can’t remember where I saw it. I’d have to agree the fallacy of predictions from history makes any such data irrelevent, but if we do not base models on ancient history then we have even less of a basis to conclude AGW than if we do. Othwerwise we’d have to wait another 30 years to get more accurate data.

    The closest I can get is Vostok CO2 analyis. The samples are CO2 integrated across 1000 years or more, so it is not possible to conclude that CO2 has never risen as quickly as it is today. Perhaps it rose as quickly, on many occasions, but never stayed high for long enough to produce a bump in a 1000 year slice. Again a lack of data.

    Out of interest if you draw a straight line from the last in that series to the modern CO2 (an imaginary 2000 year slice) it would be a 4ppm/century change, and there’s plenty of samples in the Vostok data which are as high as that or in some cases higher. Not a good enough basis to draw conclusions, but interesting.

    As for the rest of your responses… you’ve given me a lot of reading to do!
    Your page of “myths debunked” is also remarkable for how many strawmen it contains and just how much it shows that the skeptics and the warmers actually agree on nearly everything. Plus I found the parts about 13Carbon and the recent increasing ocean CO2 very interesting. I hadn’t heard of those from the skeptic camp – as one might expect I guess.

    It’s really just that last link in the argument of showing how much warming CO2 causes at today’s levels that is the main point of contention.

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