Milloy's latest climate op-ed riddled with errors

Today, the Washington Times ran an op-ed by science-denier-for-hire Steve Milloy titled “2012 GOP guide to the climate debate.” Based on the number of errors and irrelevancies masquerading as serious concerns I discovered while reading it, the Washington Times should have titled the op-ed “How to lie to voters about climate disruption.”

Here’s a brief rundown of all the problems I found. I’ll be dealing with a few of the worse errors in greater depth in a follow-up post.


  1. “Al Gore and his enviros duck debating so-called ‘climate skeptics.'” – So debates like Dessler vs. Lindzen or Lambert vs. Monckton don’t count? It’s true that debates like these are rare, but that’s because debating a climate disruption denier is about as effective as debating evolution with a young-earth creationist or a proponent of “intelligent design.”
  2. “the NRC [National Research Council] panel that authored the report has nothing to do with the prestigious individual scientists….” – The vice chair of the panel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), as were three of the panel members. The NRC is a co-equal organization to the Institute of Medicine (IoM), NAS, and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In fact, the presidents of the NAS, NAE, and IoM are the co-chairmen of the NRC governing board.
  3. “NRC panels are highly politicized and often stacked” – This claim is most often made by those who dislike the NRC’s results on such subjects as ozone depletion, acid rain, and climate disruption – people like Milloy, Marc Morano, and S. Fred Singer. People who have made a living off of politicizing science as a means to ideological ends as extensively documented by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway in Merchants of Doubt.
  4. “Skeptics don’t deny global warming or climate change.” – Milloy knows better than this – there’s a whole host of different types of deniers, some of whom reject that the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is from burning fossil fuels, some of whom reject that Venus’ surface is hot due to a 97% CO2 atmosphere, some of whom claim that the greenhouse effect breaks the second law of thermodynamics, and some of whom reject that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Deniers who reject that global warming and climate change in their entirety are becoming rarer, but that’s because the scientific evidence has proven the position factually untenable.
  5. “We don’t agree….that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are having either detectable or predictable effects on climate.” – Climate models predict the following as effects of greenhouse gases on climate: ocean acidification, decreases in the amount of heat radiating away into space, stratospheric cooling paired with tropospheric heating, and nights warming faster than days. Each of these projected effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere has been observed by scientists – click on the links to see the details.
  6. “CO2 concentrations have increased about 8 percent or so since the mid-1990s. According to climate alarmists, this should have caused measurable global warming. But none has been observed, a fact that was finally admitted by climate alarmists in the wake of the Climategate scandal.” – There’s a couple of problems with this one. First, if you take out the known sources of year-to-year variability (mostly La Nina/El Nino, aka ENSO), warming has been observed, but it’s hard to see if you don’t take out the ENSO signal out. Second, the warming has been statistically significant at the 95% level since 2000, not just since 1995. Milloy could also be implying that we’re cooling and have been for over a decade now, an implication that is both false and based on a naive interpretation of how the climate actually works. 12 or 15 years of flat or slightly cooling temperatures are weather, not climate.
  7. “not only do existing models not predict the future temperature…” – As mentioned above, models have accurately predicted a whole slew of global effects from CO2 that have been observed and thus verified the models. Furthermore, early climate models (in this case from James Hansen, circa 1988) have >accurately reproduced rising global temperatures from the 1950s to today.
  8. “…they can’t replicate the past when historical data is put through them.” – First, Hansen’s 1988 projections hindcast (the technical term for testing a model with historical data) to within the margin of error the climate from the 1950s through 1988 and even to 2010 when 20 years of scientific research into climate sensitivity are included. In addition, In addition, a 2008 analysis of climate models found that the models were very nearly as accurate at predicting the climate as actual measurements were. Finally, climate models use historical information to prove out the accuracy of the model itself, meaning that if the models cannot accurately hindcast the climate using historical data, then the models are rejected or are used only under certain conditions.
  9. “we could shut down the United States in terms of CO2 emissions for 100 years and we would make precious little difference in the atmospheric CO2 level – possibly on the order of 5 percent.” – According to estimates of CO2 emissions for 2009, the US emits approximately 17% of the global emissions of CO2.
  10. “Natural disasters, topographic changes and population booms have always occurred and will continue to occur.” – This is a logical fallacy known as the “predictive appeal to history.” This implies that it’s always been this way, so it always will be this way no matter what else happens to change the circumstances. Appealing to history is a great starting point for scientific investigation, but it takes data to know if this time the causes are the same as they were in the past. In the case of human-caused climate disruption, scientists have already determined that the historical causes of climate change are not driving the current changes.
  11. “None of these phenomena [natural disasters and topographic changes due to sea level rise] can be tied scientifically to man-made emissions of CO2.” – A recent development in statistics called “fractional attribution” can attribute how much more likely it is that a given natural disaster would have occurred with the influence of global warming vs. without. Furthermore, given that the additional CO2 in the atmosphere is human emissions, and given that temperatures have been rising as a result of that extra CO2, and given that warming temperatures have been observed to be melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica as well as the fact that water expands as it gets warmer, “topographic changes” due to sea level rise absolutely can be scientifically tied to anthropogenic CO2.
  12. “Carbon dioxide should not be referred to as a ‘pollutant.'” – The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “pollutant” as “something that contaminates (an environment) especially with man-made waste.” CO2 emissions due to burning fossil fuels, especially once the concentration rises enough to affect the environment, would absolutely qualify as a pollutant. Keep in mind that arsenic has medical uses at low concentration but becomes a pollutant and poison at high concentrations. Furthermore, the US Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts et al v. the Environmental Protection Agency that, according to the legal definition of pollutant in the Clean Air Act as passed by Congress, CO2 qualified as a pollutant due to it’s environmental and climatic effects.
  13. “none of these [Climategate] whitewashes were truly independent…” – The PSU investigation of scientific misconduct by climatologist Michael Mann was an internal investigation but its results were approved by the independent National Science Foundation’s Office of the Inspector General. The University of East Anglia created but did not direct either the Oxburgh panel (whose members were recommended by the Royal Society, the oldest scientific society in the world) on scientific misconduct or the Independent Climate Change Email Review (ICCER). And the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry had no connection to any of the institutions or individuals alleged to have committed misconduct, yet all of the investigations produced the same results – no scientific misconduct was identified. In addition, no institution whose financial strength depends on its reputation would whitewash serious accusations like those levied against Mann, Phil Jones and CRU, et al.
  14. “…or anything more than superficial.” – The UK House of Commons inquiry took a day of oral testimony and about 200 pages of written submissions, weighed the information, and wrote a 61 page report that rejected the claims of misconduct. The two Penn State investigations took months to understand the background behind the misconduct claims, interview scientists, and then produced two separate reports, the final of which was 19 pages long. The ICCER took over a hundred different written submissions, asked questions and followups to both written submissions and oral testimony, interviewed the scientists who allegedly committed misconduct, contracted a statistician to independently analyze the climate data based exclusively on publicly available information, worked with the police investigating the criminal hacking of the CRU email server, and then produced a nearly 200 page long report that addressed nearly every misconduct claim made against CRU and associated scientists. If that’s “superficial,” what would have qualified as thorough?
  15. “No input from skeptics, even those mentioned in the emails, was included.” – This is so wrong it’s laughable. Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, Ross McKitrick, and Sonia Boehmer-Christiansen were three of the deniers who were identified by name in the CRU emails, and all three submitted multiple comments to the UK House of Commons and ICCER investigations. The Penn State investigations took oral testimony from skeptic and NAS member Richard Lindzen. And at least a dozen other prominent deniers also submitted oral and/or written testimony to one or more of the misconduct investigations.
  16. “The central point of the science debate is whether man-made CO2 emissions are causing harm. There is no evidence that they are.” – Simply restating errors made previously in the op-ed doesn’t make this statement any less of an error. If you’re not sure whether or not “man-made CO2 emissions” are causing harm, start by researching the effect of ocean acidification on marine life.
  17. “They’ve [Alarmists] been wrong repeatedly and never right since they started forecasting climate doom almost 25 years ago.” – As above, this is a restatement of errors stated previously. Scientists have been right about cliamte disruption since at least the late 1980s.


  1. “science doesn’t work on a consensus basis” – This is true, but when 97% of expert in anything say the same thing, it’s best to listen closely. Furthermore, a scientist’s fame would be assured if he or she could prove a dominant theory wrong, so to have 97% of climate scientists agreeing on the human-caused nature of climate disruption is a huge deal.
  2. “science is driven by data, not groupthink.” – It’s not “groupthink” when the data is at the level of being nearly incontrovertible. Even Anthony Watts’ own paper confirms this point, although he appears to be playing this down to his readership.
  3. “we recognize that climate is changing continually, albeit slowly.” – there’s nothing slow about climate change these days. Slow on a human timescale is lightning-fast on geologic timescales, and previous changes in climate (due to ice ages and the like) have been measured on the order of hundreds to thousands of years, not decades like the changes humans are driving. Furthermore, while wildlife has in many cases adapted to prior changes in climate, the pace of prior changes provided enough time for species to adapt – the rate of climate change due to human factors is expected to be too fast for many species to adapt, causing extinctions that might be avoided.
  4. “Candidates should not fall for bogus distractions like melting polar ice…” – Melting polar ice is not a distraction, but rather support for the idea that climate models projections are accurate. Models projected that the Arctic would warm faster than the rest of the globe, and this warming is being observed. As a result, permafrost is melting and atmospheric methane is on the rise as it is released from permafrost and submarine deposits. A mass methane release is one of the possible tipping points for the global climate, and as such is hardly a “distraction.” Furthermore, observed melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is also going to be a major issue for the US to address as the melting drives sea level rise and dramatically increases the risks of flooding to low-lying coastal areas such as major port facilities.
  5. “Alarmists call it [CO2] ‘carbon pollution’; the rest of us call it ‘life.'” – This is a “CO2 is plant food” argument, but it neglects the fact that CO2 is only a fertilizer if there is enough water and nutrients to support growth. Scientists have tested this claim and found that it’s not clear-cut – sometimes plants do better, but sometimes they do worse. And with climate models projecting increasing temperatures and major changes to precipitation patterns, more plants are likely to do worse than better.

Given Milloy’s history of creating misleading polls, being caught lying on behalf of Philip Morris and working with people caught trying to bribe scientists, it’s hardly a surprise that he’d write an op-ed so filled with lies, errors, and irrelevancies as this one. Still, it takes great skill to jam so many into an op-ed only 20 paragraphs long.

28 replies »

  1. The thousands of consensus scientists can study the effects of something that hasn’t happened yet for another 25 years, or forever, it still won’t make the climate change crisis true. Yes we DO study the projected effects of climate change on the planet. There is billions donated to scientists by politicians who make it look like they are doing something for you, liberal and conservative. So the scientists are busy studying and speculating what the heating effects will look like. But just as there are tropical fossils under the ice, calling all bad weather our fault, gives the social psychotics of witch burning, omen worship, paganism, superstition and sacrificing virgins, a new meaner brother by the name of climate change.
    History will say we condemned our kids with CO2 death threats, just to get them to turn the lights out more often. SAVE THE PLANET! TURN THOSE BLODDY LIGHTS OUT!
    History will have jokes about this era of CO2 environMENTAL ism:
    How many climate scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
    None, BUT they DO have consensus that it WILL change.
    How many climate scientists does it take to realize that it was the scientists themselves with their pesticides and cancer causing chemicals that polluted the planet in the first place? Scientists made environmentalism necessary.
    How many climate scientists does it take to realize that it was the scientists themselves who also brought us cruise missiles, cancer causing chemical cocktails, plastic, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate control?
    The good news is that scientists have been reluctant to admit that because of the global economic slow down since 2008, human contributions of the evil CO2 have dropped, yet global levels still rise? Do the math or is there now enough doubt that you can stop condemning your kids while believing in unstoppable warming, as in death.
    Even better news is that the new denier is anyone who still thinks voters will vote yes to taxing the air to make the weather colder. Even Obama himself made not one single mention of the climate change crisis in his state of the union speech. And since the scientists didn’t speak up to Obama, I now have a good enough reason to stop threatening my kids. How stupid was I to think scientists were truthful. How irresponsible was I to so flippantly tell my kids the planet is dying, it’s their fault and only they can save it, for their children.
    Call them deniers or former believers but the voting majority is what they are called now and if we don’t back off of this CO2 mistake soon, it will keep us out of power for a decade. This was liberalism’ s Iraq War of climate WMD’s and criminal exaggerations. Shouldn’t somebody be arrested for leading us to war against a false enemy? Sound familiar?

  2. Thanks for more debunking. As denier’s position becomes increasingly untenable, their noise-to-signal ratio explodes exponentially …

  3. Point number 9 sounds like classic spin.

    It is very possible that over the next 100 years, the US could be responsible for only 5% of plant and tree food emissions. Yet the reply is, that we *currently* emit 17% of plant and tree food.

    I wonder how much other spin there is in this article?

  4. Labeling thinking people witnessing a world gone mad, ‘deniers’ is such fools folly. You are a very small person. You are the piece of bamboo on my chopstick that I have to strip off so I wont get a sliver.

    I present The Quick Glance Guide to Global Warming:

    Astronauts: http://oi54.tinypic.com/2qv6wsw.jpg
    Ocean: http://oi53.tinypic.com/35b9g08.jpg
    Thermometers: http://oi52.tinypic.com/2agnous.jpg
    Ice: http://oi52.tinypic.com/2upvlvm.jpg
    Earth: http://i49.tinypic.com/2mpg0tz.jpg
    Prophet: http://oi53.tinypic.com/b54in8.jpg
    Psychopaths: http://oi51.tinypic.com/2po8tas.jpg
    Thinker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n92YenWfz0Y

  5. Nik – would you prefer “rejectionists” given the fact that people such as yourself reject the scientific data and the logical conclusions that are drawn from it?

    Kramer – fair complaint about #9. I interpreted Milloy’s comment a different way than you did, but I see how your interpretation could also be reasonable. If you look at the next 100 years, the best science indicates that global emissions of CO2 need to drop to nearly 0, not just US emissions, in order to prevent major disruptions to the global climate. So either Error #9 is an error or it’s a misleading irrelevance.

  6. This is article such crap, each statement has a special rebuttal, wow that sure makes a big difference to the deniers. You know simply because someone has a ready rebuttal does not make the rebuttal true. It even has an ‘Irrelevencies’ section lol. What’s irrelevent is this whole piece, perhaps you didn’t get the memo but the climate debate is over. Climate change is dead, its over, go home, you lost.

    Climate change alarmism has done so much damage to the environmental movement it might take decades to recover, if it ever does. It’s people like you Brain A who continue to flog it to ensure that it never recovers.

  7. Wow, Nic – so much out-of-context misinformation in so few images.

    Your “prophet” image about Hansen is the easiest to debunk, as I can simply point you to the link in Error #7 above. Put simply, Hansen overestimated climate sensitivity slightly, but when you adjust his model to match modern understanding of climate sensitivity, his models are VERY accurate.

    Your “thermometers” image has so little context that it’s meaningless, except that you’re essentially claiming that a few thermometers that go back an extra century or two at a few locations on the planet is enough to disprove globally measured changes since roughly 1880. It’s true that a single thermometer has some measuring capability for a decent area around the measurement point, but you can’t measure the temperature of the entire globe from 6 or 8 thermometers, all of which are in Europe or North America (ie they’re all influenced by similar regional factors that are NOT global in nature).

    I like your lead-in with the astronauts, though – talk about an appeal to authority. BTW, Harrison Schmitt made claims about climate science that were so wrong the Santa Fe New Mexican was forced to run corrections from multiple climate scientists. The links are available in this related piece I wrote here at S&R.

    As for your “oceans” image, there’s no context for the graphs besides that they’re all tidal gauges, and it takes more than “eyeballing” a noisy graph to know if there’s acceleration or not. It’s like the Menne et al paper that disputed Watts’ claims about poor siting of thermometers in the US – the siting looks bad, but until you actually crunch the numbers, you don’t know if the siting merely looks bad or actually interferes with the accuracy of the data. For details on how scientists know that sea levels are rising AND accelerating, check out these links.

  8. Lawyer Malloy has a way with words doesn’t he?

    Thanks for turning the compost and bringing some of the anoxic toxics up to see the light of day Brian.

  9. Brian, you are in denial. The point of the Astronauts image was to debunk Al Gore’s claim that skeptics were akin to moon landing deniers. That’s why the quote from Gore is at the bottom. I hope you can offer readers here a few moon landing guys or even shuttle dudes who actually support climate modelling. Your side is all ABOUT calls to authority (consensus). I guess you can dish it out but can’t take it.

    There is no context required for the Thermometers image except to know that these are *the* oldest records on two continents. If history is a hockey stick that indicates GLOBAL warming, then at least a hint of a hockey stick shape should show up in old records spread over two continents. It fails to do so. Given that the Southern Hemisphere is not warming much at all compared to the Northern, well, claims that I only covered the North are kind of mute. Here is a map of recent warming. It’s all in the Arctic, mostly, where there are almost no thermometer stations in fact, so it’s extrapolated instead of measured.

    You need a lesson in street smart logic: if no individual tide gauge records show a recent surge (and only a tiny fraction of long running ones show any trend change at all in recent decades), then claims that sea levels are surging are simply not tenable, for if GLOBAL sea levels are rising you would by logic alone expect that this would show up in actual single sites all over the globe. It fails to do so. Eyeballing is very useful when the signal overwhelms the noise since the noise is only monthly and yearly but there is not much noise decadely, which there isn’t. TAKE A LOOK WITH YOUR OWN EYES and offer me alternative cherry picks if you are so certain of the thing.


    Go ahead, offer readers here a gauge or two that carries back over 50 years or more that *does* show an upturn. I can offer you a hint though: you will only find linear trends and will have to search long and hard to even find one or two that show an uptick, but you will also find lots of falling linear trends.

    I’m glad you confirm that Hansen’s “slight” error was overestimated by a full degree in 20 years, as shown, or five degrees per century. Oh, but his models are very accurate? When? In the future? Wait, that’s crazy. And just this week Hansen himself admitted that negative feedbacks have been vastly underestimated:

    “Most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean and as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols.”


    People aren’t stupid. They are not listening to your mumbo jumbo “out of context” obfuscations any longer, post Climategate and IPCC-gate. You link to Church and White’s statistical manipulation that combines long and very short tide records with satellite data which artificially shows what no single tide gauge shows: an inflection point around 1930 and no rate change since then. What real tide gauges ACTUALLY SHOW is no rate change and no inflection point, even.

    You also link to a treatment by Tamino (Grant Foster), part of the Climategate e-mailer “hockey stick team”. He was so threatened by talk of my included Central England Temperature series (going back to 1660) that he used classic “lying with statistics” to try to turn it into a hockey stick! I debunk his attempt here:

    The link has changed to his original post. Do a search if you want to see the original. It’s on an archive someplace.

    You cannot win in an open debate. You can only use smear tactics to claim my work is “out of context”. I’m not even making original arguments worthy of publication, but am merely pointing out official peer-reviewed data that exists. Your side’s argument cannot stand the light of day.

    I’m not offering “doubt mongering” or whatever your side claims us evil Astroturf is into. I’m offering direct refutation of claims that recent warming and sea level rise are alarming in any way whatsoever.

    P.S. Do you know where I sign up for oil money? The time I spend on this sort of thing is costing me a fortune. Rent is expensive here in NYC, two blocks down from Tom’s diner where Hansen’s penthouse corner office is located, here by Columbia where I got my hard science Ph.D. before spending three years at Harvard. Are you getting paid to write about climate politics? Please do tell. I searched but it looks like you are a journalist, not a scientist by training. Do inform.

  10. OMG I found one! A tide gauge that carries back a full century, long enough to establish a true historical trend and noise characteristic, and it in fact does show an upturn in trend.


    Now what *might* happen if I averaged this baby, this rare bird, with lots and lots of utterly linear records? Oh…I would still get an upturn, wouldn’t I? The linear trends and lots of noise too would average out to a straight line but this outlier would pull the end of the trend up. But the average, the hockey stick of sea level, would HIDE the fact that most of the data going into it did not support the final claim: that global sea levels are surging.

    That’s, dear readers, how Keith Briffa of the hockey stick team created his famous stick. He included a SINGLE outlier tree called YAD061 into the mix. Bingo! A hockey stick.

    Then he refused to release his data for a decade. This is what the volunteer web site ClimateAudit.org has been all about. It’s not owned by a PR firms like the main alarmists sites such as RealClimate.org and DeSmogBlog.com indeed are, with million dollar funding sources, the later case an Internet banking mogul who was convicted of money laundering of his online gambling funds:

    • Technically, Nic, the “appeal to authority” I accused you of is a minor error on my part. The fallacy is actually “appeal to misleading authority,” in this case an “appeal to celebrity.” The logical fallacy comes in when you realize that none of the astronauts are qualified to be authorities on climate modeling, since none of the ones you showed have likely ever performed climate modeling. If you have proof otherwise, I’d be thrilled to learn about it.

      Appealing to an authority is entirely reasonable, and not necessarily a fallacy, if the authority to which you’re appealing is actually an authority. Climate scientists actually are authorities in their fields, so appealing to their professional opinions is not a fallacy. That’s why so many deniers – excuse me, rejectionists – like yourself fight so hard against the consensus argument. 97% of cardiologists being in agreement on a course of treatment for a heart condition means that most reasonable people will take that course of treatment. 97% of geologists saying that a region is earthquake-prone leads to reasonable cities (and insurance companies) enforcing building codes designed to ensure buildings don’t collapse when an earthquake hits. The same thing is true with climate disruption – or rather, it should be.

      The problem with your thermometers, as I mentioned previously, is that they’re all around the North Atlantic, so any regional changes to the North Atlantic basin alone will affect all of the thermometers but not necessarily show up anywhere else. The North Atlantic is about 5% of the Earth’s surface, and so direct measurements of that small an area aren’t going to say much at all about the rest of the planet. That’s why proxies are so valuable, because they provide the extra data that’s required to understand what the rest of the Northern Hemisphere (and ultimately the globe once more proxies are available in the Southern Hemisphere) was doing over that period.

      And why do you think that the hockey stick has to show up in any one or eight thermometer records? You or I could find any number of weather stations where local cooling is observed over the course of the temperature measurements – we’d simply be cherry-picking thermometers to make them say whatever we wanted them to. And that’s what you’re trying to do here – mislead people by making scientifically unsound arguments without any supporting analyses using cherry-picked data.

      You also need to check your first image better. First off, it’s not a surface temperature map, it’s a map of the lower troposphere, which includes the surface and the first 5-10 km of atmosphere too. Second, it’s from 1979 to 2006, so it’s four years old now – find a more current one (here’s one from RSS, which uses the same raw data as UAH). Third, it’s not an extrapolated map, it’s actual satellite measurements from the UAH.

      You say

      if no individual tide gauge records show a recent surge (and only a tiny fraction of long running ones show any trend change at all in recent decades), then claims that sea levels are surging are simply not tenable, for if GLOBAL sea levels are rising you would by logic alone expect that this would show up in actual single sites all over the globe. It fails to do so.

      So you’ve gone through and looked at all the individual tidal gauges, corrected for local effects like post glacial rebound from the last ice age, local subsidence due to soil compaction or groundwater removal, local soil buildup due to tidal or river silt deposition, discontinuities due to earthquakes, and the like? Because unless you know what’s going on locally with the land, you can’t know what’s going on locally with the ocean. This page at the PSMSL site describes the problem and provides representative examples of tide gauges that are affected by land elevation changes. PSMSL’s examples make it clear that you cannot possibly eyeball the tide gauges like you’re suggesting.

      With respect to Church et al 2008, you’re neglecting to mention (or perhaps didn’t read enough of the paper to notice) is that, unlike you’re “eyeballing” method, they actually adjusted tidal gauges for changes in local land elevation before drawing any conclusions from unadjusted data. If you can prove that Church et al is wrong, that their data or their methodology is bad, then prove it. Crunch the numbers and show me your statistical analysis or, better yet, submit a paper into peer review like all research scientists have to. Proving that the sea level isn’t rising would mean instant fame and it would likely make you a great deal of money on the lecture circuit.

      As for eyeballing in general, climatic signals are by definition small, long duration, and buried in so much year-to-year noise that you can’t eyeball them. But even if you could, how big the trend, whether or not it’s accelerating, and how long it takes for that trend to be distinguishable from the noise are all things that require mathematics, not mere eyeballing. I’ve lost track of the number of times in my career when eyeballing a graph led to misleading assumptions that were caught later through actual data analysis. I’m sure that similar things have happened to you and those around you in your science career.

      If you want to denigrate Hansen’s models from 1988, that’s fine. Yes, he overestimated climate sensitivity, and that led to an overshoot of modern temperatures. Again, though, given new information being plugged into Hansen’s rudimentary model (by today’s standards), his model produces results that match reality very well. And modern GCMs are even better, to the point where projections of various CO2-driven effects are being observed. In case you missed it, let me repeat this point – model projections made 10-15 years ago are being verified today, proving that the models are quite accurate predictors of global climate. And they will continue to get better as the underlying science improves.

      People aren’t stupid, Nik, but they aren’t necessarily knowledgeable. Climategate was a tempest in a teapot, as multiple independent investigations showed. If you really want to understand what happened in the CRU emails, I’ll refer you to several pieces I wrote on the subject here, here, here. Put simply, the accusations of McIntyre, Montford, McKitrick, Boehmer-Christiansen and the others with respect to scientific misconduct were all carefully considered and rejected because, when the emails were placed in the proper context, there simply was no evidence of any scientific misconduct. The FOIA issue is serious, and both CRU and the UEA are working to address it, but freedom of information is not a scientific issue.

      I do like how you keep coming back to Briffa and tree rings, both here and in the images you posted. It’s almost like you’re not aware of all the other proxies that show hockey sticks in their proxy temperatures and are entirely independent of tree rings. Proxies like coral, ocean and lake sediments, and boreholes all show the same temperature profiles of tree rings. So you can go on about Yamal all you like – the science has advanced a lot since then, and the advances have pretty much all shown that the dendroclimatologists were right all along.

      You say you’re pointing out peer-reviewed data, but you’re not even showing your work or providing references to your supposedly peer-reviewed papers. What papers, Nik? I’ve linked to papers directly, linked to in-depth discussions of papers that either I or others have written. You’ve done none of that. Instead you’ve implied that celebrity astronauts are more knowledgable of climate science than actual climate scientists. And you’ve implied that climate scientists and other climate realists like me are no better than mass murderers like Charles Manson or Osama bin Laden, which is a “guilt by association” fallacy. Why not call climate realists “Nazis” and get it over with, Nik? Two major fallacies in four posts – at this rate I’ll have you to a half-dozen fallacies by the end of the week.

      You’re not offering any direct refutations, Nik. To refute data you need counter-data. To refute logic, you either need better logic or to find flaws in your opponent’s logic. To refute a scientific theory, you need to be practicing science. And with respect to climate disruption, you’re merely rejecting the science entirely, and you can’t refute the science when you’re unwilling or unable to do it yourself.

      I’m an EE with an MS in optics and communications and I work in aerospace designing satellite electronics. That means I essentially do math for a living and I’m paid to prove that my electronics will survive for years in orbit. I do climate journalism as an obsession/hobby, and I only claim expertise when I can prove it. But you claim to have a PhD in some unnamed natural science. I’m frankly so surprised by the things you’ve said and demonstrated here that I’m skeptical. I cannot imagine any science PhD (outside of the social “sciences,” anyway) every claiming that eyeballing noisy data was as good as (or maybe better than) actual data analysis using statistics. Similarly, you’re willingness to cherry-pick thermometers that cover at most 5% of the globe and claiming that they have to be representative of the whole planet is unsupportable. And you failed to mention the PSMSL page that blew your sea level rise argument to smithereens, indicating that you were either sloppy and failed to find the page, ignorant and failed to understand the page (and the limitations of your own ability to understand it), or lying. For a science PhD, this whole sorry episode of yours is downright shameful.

      • Upon further reflection, I can see another reason why you might be such a poor scientist when it comes to applying your training to climate science, Nik. You could be lying to yourself out of fear. Which is totally understandable, by the way – the implications of climate science and what they say about human beings in general and Americans in particular are pretty frightening. If climate scientists are right, then that means that entire political ideologies have failed. Laissez-faire capitalism, Rand-ism, and the conservative mantra of “government is always evil” would have been shown to be utter failures not just via economics and the real world, but via statistical analysis of climate too.

        But it’s more than that. The ramifications of climate science lead us to question American exceptionalism and our supposedly divinely-decreed place in the world. In a world where our politicians have unwisely allowed unfettered globalization to the detriment of everyday Americans, where the Indians and Chinese are rapidly replacing the US as the dominant demographic and economic force on the planet, and where recent presidents have spent treasure on unwise military adventures abroad, our faith in ourselves is already shaken – adding the ramifications of climate science to this might be enough to break the collective American spirit. That’s downright scary to some.

        Living in New York, one of the top ten cities in the world at risk due to sea level rise as measured by risk to assets, I can see another reason you’d want to reject climate science – you don’t want to imagine that it’s possible your city could be innundated and maybe even made unlivable like parts of New Orleans (which is another of the top 10 cities at risk, along with Miami) were after Katrina.

        I don’t know if you’re a Christian, but if so, then maybe you view climate science as yet another attack on your faith. I read once a presentation by a woman who was tied in with the climate disruption denial machine, and she wrote in a presentation that man couldn’t be responsible for climate disruption – it was God making the changes. This indicated to me that she was terrified of what it would mean to her conservative Christian faith that mankind could be powerful enough to make the kind of changes to the Earth that only God was supposedly allowed to make (Noah’s flood, for example).

        So maybe you are simply so scared of what it means for your country, your faith, your favorite places, your family, and/or your political beliefs. Fear is a powerful motivator, so it might well be that you’re a very good scientist in every other way, except that your fear prevents you from thinking clearly when it comes to climate science. If that’s the case, I simply ask that you step back and let the experts who truly understand what’s going on and those people who aren’t so afraid that they’re paralyzed do their jobs. Because the more deniers and rejectionists like yourself fight against realists like me, the more likely it becomes that big government solutions will be necessary, that low-lying cities will have to be entirely abandoned in the face of sea level rise, and so on. The more you fight, the worse it will be for what matters to you (and frankly, what matters to me as well) over the long run.

  11. To NikFromNY
    AGW is very well established. The details of the models are not yet established, however. They will be in another 6 to 10 years.
    We have 20 million years of temp and CO2 levels from the geologic record which is why we know for certain that it is CO2 that is causing the warming. Note that politically I am to the right of Atilla the Hun and I made my living in the petroleum industry. But science is science and facts are facts
    I am a PhD Columbia 1962 Earth Science
    Let me have your name, PhD field and year.of your degree at Columbia. I would just like to check that you are a real scientist.

  12. I think you need to cherrypick your references better. Second link in rebuttal #6:

    “Second, the warming has been statistically significant at the 95% level since 2000, not just since 1995.”

    Then two links later within #6:

    “It’s true that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1998.”


    • There are a number of different ways to measure “statistical significance,” Jordan. The simplest is what Jones was talking to, while what Tamino was talking about is a more sophisticated ARMA measurement. Sorry, but that’s not cherry-picking in the least.

  13. According to Nik’s comment here (scroll down to #14) in the NYTimes Green blog, he’s got a PhD in chemistry from Columbia/Harvard.

    He also repeats his same false claims about tidal gauges at the NYTimes that he has refused to defend here, and continues his logical fallacies. I submitted the following comment but, should it not be approved through moderation (it might fall under the NYTimes’ definition of “off topic”), I reproduced it here.

    Nik – I showed your claims about tidal gauges were incorrect at scholarsandrogues.com using the very website you used to generate the image you linked to above, and yet you repeated the incorrect claims here at the NYTimes. I also demonstrated why your claims about the temperatures were insufficient to prove what you’re claiming, namely because regional effects from long-running thermometers just around the North Atlantic are not proxies for historical global temperatures).

    Furthermore, you again engaged in “guilt by association” by associating climate realists (those who accept man’s role in climate disruption) with mass murderers. You are also guilty of the “appeal to misleading authority” fallacy with your appeal to the supposed expertise of astronauts over the actual expertise of climate scientists.

    Given that your claims have been shown to be in error and your arguments are based on fallacies, can you tell us why anyone reading Green Inc should take you seriously?

  14. I am still waiting for Nik to respond with the specifics of his Columia PhD so I can verify it. If you look at the tenor of his remarks, you have to conclude he is not playing with a full deck.

  15. I hadn’t checked back on this page till today when I Google searched myself to find the Church/White info again.

    I received the Hammett Award for the top Ph.D. student at Columbia prior to three years at Harvard doing materials science with lots of time in clean rooms at MIT. I prefer to remain anonymous online due to personal attacks form fanatical alarmists who support eco-terrorism and character slander. That is my only “fear” here. Such fanatics dig through people’s trash, even. No thanks!

    Guys, neither the oldest thermometer nor the oldest tide gauge records support claims the history is a hockey stick and that seas are surging!

    It that’s not enough to convince you of anything then go on believing the corrections to *actual* sea level, you fools. There is a self-selecting process at work here. Pedants from crappy schools who haven’t studied actual hard science with the best in the field (DNA/organic/organic/nano-tech,materials chemistry in my case) don’t know how to go back and check the input data to see if the conclusions taken from them even pass the laugh test, which they do not.

    Go on in your blissful idiocy, thinking that history is a massive hockey stick and yet it doesn’t show up in records from across half of the Northern Hemisphere. I didn’t cherry pick the records. I collected the very oldest ones (with Copenhagen tossed in for fun). There are dozens more at http://www.climatereason.com. Those are not cherry picked. They are all the oldest records that exist. The argument is that if history is a hockey stick then certainly this huge surge in warming might just, oh be, expected to show up in thermometer records?!

    It’s so simple.

    Another hundred or so studies that show the the medieval warm period was just as hot as today are mapped here: http://www.co2science.org/data/timemap/mwpmap.html

    You are ignorant as hell of the fraud involved in Hockey Team science. It’s jaw-dropping and brazen. You are stuck in what is being called the “green bubble.” I used to accept AGW at face value, though as a chemist I’m afraid myself and others in the hard sciences didn’t take the climate kids very seriously since they basically seemed to be fond of statistics software but had no interest in actually collaborating with statisticians.

    It is *so* frustrating. I post basic data and I get called stupid and told that I should be *ashamed*?! You sound like a priest! You are true believers. Technically bright, perhaps, but who have no sense of how stormy the history of science has been. There is no convincing you since you wont do your homework. You just accept papers at face value, not understanding that peer review has been corrupted in climatology. Massively mistaken papers fly right through to appear in Nature or Science! Mann and Steig’s warm Antarctica Nature cover is a recent example of brazenly fraudulent work. They didn’t even check the sensitivity of their result to artificially varying thermometer trends in the peninsula vs. the mainland and guess what? The map shows no sensitivity except to trends on the peninsula!

    Claims of enhanced warming trends and sea level rise are NOT in the raw data. It’s *all* corrections and bizarre statistical manipulations! That was one of the first things I did: check the data. I expected to find confirmation of AGW.

    Why are you people so bone headed? Instead of own up to problems you create all manner of rationalizations and that’s what they are, merely: rationalizations.

    Church/White’s latest article removed “accelerating” from the title and included a very hard to see yellow plot of a simple average of tide gauges. I extract it here as black with a trend line. There is no change in trend in the raw data whatsoever.

    Do you know why I don’t often reply to bizarre criticism like your above character assassination? Who the hell wants to engage with such invective?! Your mind cannot fathom that a field of science has lost its way and has become corrupt. Have you no idea how hard skeptics find it to publish papers?! None? You only read the Climategate whitewashes instead of the actual e-mails? The Steig paper I mention above? The debunking paper was finally published, after months of delay when and they put Steig himself as a reviewer of it! That is NOT how peer review is supposed to work. He then pretended, out loud, on blogs that he needed a copy of it, to hide his reviewer status.

    The UAH satellite average of the continent that holds 90% of the world’s ice shows cooling:

    If you don’t understand that a Nature cover like this:

    …should *not* happen when the actual satellite record of Antarctic temperature shows 30 years of *cooling*.

    If you can’t see this as a problem, then we have no basis for discussion, because you just don’t get it. That’s the main reason I don’t respond to such long winded calls to authority and demand that I publish. There is nothing to publish since it’s right there in the paper, hidden in plain sight: actual sea level, as in ACTUAL sea level, as measured against the shore, the measurement that matters to alarmist claims, does not show *any* trend change whatsoever! If it *did* it would be hailed as proof and that proof would be happily accepted by myself and every skeptic that I have respect for, which is dozens up on dozens of them. So you are not actually my audience. My audience is those who are starting to get curious about the wild claims that are being made and the latest news of scandal. This week’s Greenpeace-in-the-IPCC-gate has started to turn around yet another important alarmist in fact (http://www.marklynas.org/) who has now promised to read The Hockey Stick Illusion. He was the guy who once threw a pie in skeptic Lomborg’s face.

    My audience are street smart independent thinkers who do not tie themselves in knots trying to explain *away* conflicting data instead of try to actually explain it. That’s not a scientific outlook. At all. Game over. You are not competent in the physical sciences. You likely do not have the temperament for it. And you are just a jerk about it that I cannot even stay calm enough about your foul attitude to not get pulled into a flame war. Such treatment has minted the vast majority of skeptics and continues to do so.

    It’s like talking to an alien or something. It’s quite creepy actually. It is very cultish behavior. It’s like you’ve never considered serious skeptical arguments at all, so I become seen as a shameful idiot!

    Your attitude, and exactly your attitude, is why your side is rapidly losing the debate. You used to have 100% of the political equation on your side. Now , suddenly as of this last year and forevermore, you only have 50% of it. I’m not too fond of conservative anti-science activism in other fields (Creationism and stem cell funding bans etc.) but this one they have stumbled into getting right: it’s a huge fraud. If you are not utterly *shocked* by the shoddy science involved and you attack rather than inform, with the same old alarmist talking points about peer review (as if Climategate never revealed corruption of peer review), then I laugh at you since you are quickening your own demise as a person on record forever as being a dupe who couldn’t see through what is rapidly becoming a laughing stock.

    Instead of hanging out in a vicious echo chamber here and on other AGW enthusiast sites, head on over to WUWT and ClimateAudit.org and have at us! I would certainly welcome more opposing opinion there, but alas the big boys of the Team find excuses to not debate there. More rationalizations. Oh, Steig showed up at one point, and was humiliated, rightfully.

    Guys like you defend the likes of Mann’s algorithmic cherry picking hockey stick that tossed out proxies which failed to match the instrumental record. It’s insane. Almost any noisy data input into his black box spits out a hockey stick, thus! It’s not even wrong, as in mistaken. It’s basically insane. This would not pass muster in any other field that I know of. I cannot respond to the details of your argument above since the snotty nature of it makes me want to put you in your pompous place, very angrily.

  16. Peer review, you wanted? Sea levels show deceleration since 1930:


    That’s the USA and Pacific Ocean.


    That’s Australia (deceleration since 1940).


    That one says: “Unambiguous evidence for fingerprints of glacial melting was not found, most likely due to the presence of other signals present in sea-level records that cannot easily be distinguished.”

    That shows the Maldives are indeed in need of a sea level adjustment to the raw tide gauges since surrounding sites which are not tiny little islands show no sea level rise, recently.


    That one is Europe and says: “no evidence was found for MSL accelerations significantly different from zero over the period 1870 to the present.”

    Click to access Holgate.pdf

    That one is a world wide sampling that says: “The rate of sea level change was found to be larger in the early part of last century.”

    Click to access Pacific_Introduction_to_SLR_-_Mitchell_et_al.pdf

    That one was the Pacific based on the longest records available which says: “The estimated average rate of sea level rise from the longest records is computed to be +0.3 mm/yr, almost an order of magnitude less than the IPCC estimates.”


    That one was Europe and N. America which says: “Most sea-level data originate from Europe and North America, and both the sets display evidence for a positive acceleration, or ‘inflexion’, around 1920–1930 and a negative one around 1960. These inflexions are the main contributors to reported accelerations since the late 19th century, and to decelerations during the mid- to late 20th century.”

    Another study was by one of the RealClimate team (Rahmstorf). He got his acceleration via adjustment to *actual* sea levels to account for land based water reservoirs while ignoring ground water pumping to the surface. This swam right through peer review. Such adjustments are highly speculative at best and simply fantasy at worst for they do not reflect actual sea level changes!

    Must I go on, oh so polite gentlemen?

    Again, true believers on not my audience anyway. They can rationalize anything away. It’s people unfamiliar with the actual data behind claims of unprecedented sea level change that motivated me to note these studies.

  17. NikfromNY:
    Lets make this simple. You appear to be disputing the accuracy of the NASA GISSS global temperature data which show a rapid increase, i.e. the “hockey stick.”. Is that correct? No one today with real scientific credentials relavent to climate dispute the GISS data.
    As the world warms the ice melts and sea level rises. Satellites are now traacking sea level rise with great precision. The current rate is twice the average of the last 100 years.
    The big remaining question is whether the West Antarctic ice sheett is going to collapse as it has many times in the geologic record.

  18. I find your hypocrisy breathtaking, Nik. It’s true that I was harsh, and perhaps harsher than I needed to be. But you can’t exactly call me and/or climate scientists “pedants from crappy schools” when touting your own PhD and time at Harvard and MIT. Furthermore, you complain about climate scientists not going “back and check the input data” when you yourself failed to do so with regard to the tidal gauges you were touting.

    I hereby retract my claim that you might be an idiot. I know most people with PhDs are not idiots, although most PhDs I have worked with are brilliant in their niche but can’t think their way out of a paper bag otherwise. So it’s entirely possible that you were once (and may still be ) very smart with respect to your small field of chemistry. Alas, that doesn’t provide you any more credibility with respect to climate science than I have. We’re both required to prove our knowledge every time we open our mouths or sit down at our laptops.

    And from what you’ve written here at S&R, you’re credibility is all but nonexistent. You claimed that eyeballing a tide gauge graph was a sufficient substitute for actual data analysis. That’s fundamentally an unscientific position akin to licking your finger, holding it up to the wind, and guessing “10 MPH” for the wind speed when you could look at a wind speed gauge instead. Furthermore, your own writing serves as a rebuttal of your “eyeballing is good enough” argument. If eyeballing data is good enough to prove that sea level is not accelerating, then why did the authors of the papers you provide need to do actual data analysis to show that sea level rise is not accelerating? The authors needed to perform data analysis on tidal gauge data in order to know whether or not sea level rise was accelerating, therefore sea level rise cannot be eyeballed. QED – your eyeballing argument is rebutted.

    You’re also now complaining about the fact that climate scientists have run corrections on data with known and well-understood bias errors, implying that the raw data is somehow “pure” and that the unbiased data has somehow been made “corrupt.” That too is an unscientific position – data with known errors removed is ultimately better quality data, not worse quality.

    You’ve claimed repeatedly that you’ve gone to the original data and checked to see if the conclusions of climate scientists have held up, and it’s clear that you’ve done a little of this. But it’s also abundantly clear that you haven’t done enough, or you have failed to dive deep enough to truly understand what you’re seeing. I’m at a loss to understand you you missed that glacial isostatic adjustments, groundwater removal, silt deposition, and seismic events could influence your tidal gauge graphs and that you needed to rule out those land effects before you could draw the kind of conclusions you are.

    To illustrate just how unscientific your rejection of corrected data is, let’s look at the area around Juneau, Alaska. Here, the land is rebounding so fast that the sea level is visibly retreating.. If we looked at only the raw tidal gauge data for Juneau, you would have us believe that sea level was rapidly falling, and probably accelerating in it’s drop, yet in reality it’s not the sea level that’s falling, but rather the land that is accelerating in its rise. Scientists looking to estimate how much sea level was actually rising in Juneau have to remove the known rate of land rise from the raw data, or otherwise the data is useless because the noise (land rise rate) far exceeds the signal (sea level rise rate).

    Similarly, you’re claiming the longest running temperature graphs in the region immediately around the North Atlantic disprove the claim that recent temperatures are unusually high in recent human history in the Northern Hemisphere, to the point that you falsely claimed that the region around the North Atlantic represents ” half of the Northern Hemisphere.” Three cities in central Europe, on in NE Russia, two on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, and one in the Midwest near the Great Lakes is entirely insufficient to represent a regional climate that includes the rain forests of western Africa, the Sahara and entire Middle East, India, all of China, Siberia, the forests of SE Asia, Japan, the Phillipines, Mexico, Cuba, and Columbia and Venezuela. Oh, and a hell of a lot of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans too. This top-down view of the Northern Hemisphere makes it abundantly clear you’re wrong about this too, as I’ve been telling you.

    One key difference between me and you is that, when presented with the claims in your images, I initially took you seriously enough to look at your claims and follow some of you references. What I found when I fact-checked you (something that any good journalist or scientist really must do) is that your claims were unsupportable and fatally flawed. I brought that fact to your attention and asked you to correct your claims. A good scientist would have issued a correction something along the lines of “I missed the fact that tidal gauges are influenced strongly by local changes in land elevation due to river silt, human activity, post-ice age rebound, and earthquakes. My conclusions about the tidal gauges might be affected by these effects, so I withdraw my sea level rise claim until such time as I’ve verified my conclusions.” Instead, after I pointed out that you had made false and misleading claims, you have continued to repeat those claims at other websites.

    As for the Climategate emails and what you claim were “whitewashes,” I have a question for you – when you were at Columbia or Harvard, if you’d been accused of academic misconduct as severe as what Michael Mann was accused of, do you think that either institution would have whitewashed your investigation for any reason whatsoever? See, I was in academia too for a while, Nik, and my experience informed my reporting in 2010 on just why there was essentially zero chance that the two Penn State investigations were whitewashes, as you claim. In case you fail to follow my link, let me summarize – no tier one research university (and in the field of climate science and meteorology, Penn State is arguably the top research university in the country) would risk their reputation and the research grant money that reputation brings into the institution for any researcher, especially one who brought in such a minuscule percentage of the total grants made to Penn State.

    Furthermore, I researched how much context could be gleaned from emails in general and found that using complete email records to generate a history of events was all but guaranteed to produce an incomplete history and erroneous conclusions. Let’s not forget that the published CRU email record was a highly cherry-picked record, guaranteeing that the history that Fuller and Mosher published (without talking to any of the principles mentioned in the emails) was mostly wrong and proven so beyond a reasonable doubt by the UK Parliament and the Muir Russell reviews. My research and analysis was independently corroborated by the Russell review’s investigation of alleged misuse of his editorial position by Keith Briffa of CRU:

    Briffa provided copies of the complete email chain from his personal records to the panel and the result was a very different picture. The complete email chain showed that Briffa had apologized for the delay in sending the reviewers’ comments to the manuscript’s authors and offered to “fast-track publication” of the manuscript if the authors revised it as recommended by the the reviewers. (source)

    So while I haven’t read all the emails, I have read most of them, and I agree with the Russell review’s conclusions. No whitewashes there, no rationalizations required, just the fact that the Independent Climate Change Email Review used facts and data to utterly demolish nearly every serious non-FOIA claim made against the CRU scientists.

    Shame is the emotion you feel when you realize that you’re guilty of something, you’ve exposed some kind of shortcoming, or you’ve committed some impropriety, Nik. I’ve demonstrated that you are drawing conclusions that are not supported by the data and have continued to do so even after having your misrepresentations pointed out to you, an example of a scientific impropriety. I’ve demonstrated that you’re guilty of comparing climate realists to mass murderers. And I’ve demonstrated your shortcomings with respect to drawing conclusions about Northern Hemisphere temperatures from a few cities in small, overlapping geographic areas. If you were truly the hard scientist you claim to be, then yes, you should feel shame over what you’re doing to people who read what you write and are bamboozled by your long obsolete credentials into thinking you actually know what you’re talking about.