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Mountains and molehills

Filed under: — gavin @ 11 November 2008 - (Español)

As many people will have read there was a glitch in the surface temperature record reporting for October. For many Russian stations (and some others), September temperatures were apparently copied over into October, giving an erroneous positive anomaly. The error appears to have been made somewhere between the reporting by the National Weather Services and NOAA’s collation of the GHCN database. GISS, which produces one of the more visible analyses of this raw data, processed the input data as normal and ended up with an October anomaly that was too high. That analysis has now been pulled (in under 24 hours) while they await a correction of input data from NOAA (Update: now (partially) completed).

There were 90 stations for which October numbers equalled September numbers in the corrupted GHCN file for 2008 (out of 908). This compares with an average of about 16 stations each year in the last decade (some earlier years have bigger counts, but none as big as this month, and are much less as a percentage of stations). These other cases seem to be mostly legitimate tropical stations where there isn’t much of a seasonal cycle. That makes it a little tricky to automatically scan for this problem, but putting in a check for the total number or percentage is probably sensible going forward.

It’s clearly true that the more eyes there are looking, the faster errors get noticed and fixed. The cottage industry that has sprung up to examine the daily sea ice numbers or the monthly analyses of surface and satellite temperatures, has certainly increased the number of eyes and that is generally for the good. Whether it’s a discovery of an odd shift in the annual cycle in the UAH MSU-LT data, or this flub in the GHCN data, or the USHCN/GHCN merge issue last year, the extra attention has led to improvements in many products. Nothing of any consequence has changed in terms of our understanding of climate change, but a few more i’s have been dotted and t’s crossed.

But unlike in other fields of citizen-science (astronomy or phenology spring to mind), the motivation for the temperature observers is heavily weighted towards wanting to find something wrong. As we discussed last year, there is a strong yearning among some to want to wake up tomorrow and find that the globe hasn’t been warming, that the sea ice hasn’t melted, that the glaciers have not receded and that indeed, CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. Thus when mistakes occur (and with science being a human endeavour, they always will) the exuberance of the response can be breathtaking – and quite telling.

A few examples from the comments at Watt’s blog will suffice to give you a flavour of the conspiratorial thinking: “I believe they had two sets of data: One would be released if Republicans won, and another if Democrats won.”, “could this be a sneaky way to set up the BO presidency with an urgent need to regulate CO2?”, “There are a great many of us who will under no circumstance allow the oppression of government rule to pervade over our freedom—-PERIOD!!!!!!” (exclamation marks reduced enormously), “these people are blinded by their own bias”, “this sort of scientific fraud”, “Climate science on the warmer side has degenerated to competitive lying”, etc… (To be fair, there were people who made sensible comments as well).

The amount of simply made up stuff is also impressive – the GISS press release declaring the October the ‘warmest ever’? Imaginary (GISS only puts out press releases on the temperature analysis at the end of the year). The headlines trumpeting this result? Non-existent. One clearly sees the relief that finally the grand conspiracy has been rumbled, that the mainstream media will get it’s comeuppance, and that surely now, the powers that be will listen to those voices that had been crying in the wilderness.

Alas! none of this will come to pass. In this case, someone’s programming error will be fixed and nothing will change except for the reporting of a single month’s anomaly. No heads will roll, no congressional investigations will be launched, no politicians (with one possible exception) will take note. This will undoubtedly be disappointing to many, but they should comfort themselves with the thought that the chances of this error happening again has now been diminished. Which is good, right?

In contrast to this molehill, there is an excellent story about how the scientific community really deals with serious mismatches between theory, models and data. That piece concerns the ‘ocean cooling’ story that was all the rage a year or two ago. An initial analysis of a new data source (the Argo float network) had revealed a dramatic short term cooling of the oceans over only 3 years. The problem was that this didn’t match the sea level data, nor theoretical expectations. Nonetheless, the paper was published (somewhat undermining claims that the peer-review system is irretrievably biased) to great acclaim in sections of the blogosphere, and to more muted puzzlement elsewhere. With the community’s attention focused on this issue, it wasn’t however long before problems turned up in the Argo floats themselves, but also in some of the other measurement devices – particularly XBTs. It took a couple of years for these things to fully work themselves out, but the most recent analyses show far fewer of the artifacts that had plagued the ocean heat content analyses in the past. A classic example in fact, of science moving forward on the back of apparent mismatches. Unfortunately, the resolution ended up favoring the models over the initial data reports, and so the whole story is horribly disappointing to some.

Which brings me to my last point, the role of models. It is clear that many of the temperature watchers are doing so in order to show that the IPCC-class models are wrong in their projections. However, the direct approach of downloading those models, running them and looking for flaws is clearly either too onerous or too boring. Even downloading the output (from here or here) is eschewed in favour of firing off Freedom of Information Act requests for data already publicly available – very odd. For another example, despite a few comments about the lack of sufficient comments in the GISS ModelE code (a complaint I also often make), I am unaware of anyone actually independently finding any errors in the publicly available Feb 2004 version (and I know there are a few). Instead, the anti-model crowd focuses on the minor issues that crop up every now and again in real-time data processing hoping that, by proxy, they’ll find a problem with the models.

I say good luck to them. They’ll need it.

815 Responses to “Mountains and molehills”

  1. 701
    Tom Dayton says:

    Dear jcbmack,

    I suggest you lay off your climate reading until you learn more about judgment and decision making, and then start reading (and thinking) about how decision making should be done for climate science and the separate topic of climate policy.

    Start by reading Stephen Schneider’s short essay on Climate Policy, especially the section Decision Making Under Uncertainty. That will give you some applied context for the next reading:

    Read a textbook on judgment and decision making, including dutifully working through any homework exercises. There are several books already published, but I ran across a blurb for one due to be published in January 2009. I know nothing about it or its author (my decision theory education and research were long ago and far away), but I assume it will be more up to date than older books: Judgment and Decision Making by David Hardman.

    Then go back and read Schneider’s essay again, armed with your broader and more detailed knowledge of decision making under uncertainty.

    Until you do all that, there’s no point in the rest of us people trying to converse with you, because you will just continue to be flabbergasted at how stupid we all are.

  2. 702
    tamino says:

    Re: #699 (jcbmack)

    You should have taken the advice of Phillip Shaw (#696) to simply “quit waffling and admit your claim was unfounded and wrong.” Your latest comment destroys all credibility; you sound like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but who still protests “I didn’t do it!”

    As for your statement to Hank Roberts that “here you are out of your depth plain and simple,” you’ve got that wrong too. That description applies to you, not Hank.

  3. 703
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jcbmack, First, you don’t help your case citing things like the OISM. Second, let us start with what we do know:
    1)CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2)CO2 sensitivity is likely somewhere in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling (otherwise GCMs simply fail to reproduce anything like our world
    3)The planet has experienced significant and rapid warming over the last ~200 years, and especially in the last 20.
    4)We know of no negative feedback that magically kicks in at current temperatures to save our tuckus.
    5)GCMs do a very good job reproducing a variety of trends and the effects of perturbations.

    That is all you really need to know to see that climate change poses a significant threat. If you haven’t comprehended that in your voluminous reading, you need to go back and review. I would note that there is not one professional society of scientists that dissents from this basic position.
    Uncertainty in the face of a threat is not your friend.

  4. 704
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, I’d say I’m out of my depth in these waters, Tamino, no question.
    I’ve been standing on y’all’s shoulders, if not getting in your hair. It’s the only way I could be here, and I’m grateful.

  5. 705
    Guenter Hess says:

    Ray #703,
    I think you misunderstand jcbmack. I don’t think he wanted to question your points 1 – 5. Actually, I read in his comments that he agrees.
    However, he is a well educated scientist like yourself, who has been taught to consider all positions and arguments. I read in his words that he misses only that.
    Moreover, he is a scientist who has been taught to question his own arguments and assumptions once in a while.
    And this is also the method and behavior, he hopefully teaches his students.
    This is the classical science education that shows in his words, even though he did use a lot of words. At least that is what I read.
    But of course this is only my opinion.
    Best regards

  6. 706
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Guenter, You know, my office mate in grad school also felt that you should consider all viewpoints. That’s why he studied astrology. It may also be why he took 13 years to get his PhD, despite being a damn good, smart physicist.
    The thing is that the 5 points I made are uncontroversial among scientists, and they are sufficient to establish the reality of anthropogenic causation and that it constitutes a threat. So unless jcbmack knows of some mechanism whereby greenhouse gases stop acting like greenhouse gasses at 288 Kelvin, or unless he knows of some negative feedback that counters the added energy from increased CO2, such speculations are more wishful thinking than science. Add to this, the fact that none of the credible pieces he posted give any credence to his contentions! And I can only assume linking to Inhofe’s blog and the OISM was meant as a joke or a goad.

    Look, without a credible mechanism “it might be…” is not science. It’s wishful thinking. If he is concerned about the influence of “greenies” arising from mitigation of climate change, the proper course of action is to accept good science and get involved with responsible solutions that dilute the more irresponsible “greenie” elements. To fail to do this is not just unscientific, it’s admitting that “capitalism” is bankrupt when it comes to dealing with the crisis.

  7. 707
    Mark says:

    Probelem with “it might be” is that you can answer completely accurately “well, it might be what it seems to be”.

    Maybe the global warming is from antropogenically sourced CO2. Maybe it’s that.

  8. 708
    Phillip Shaw says:

    jcbmack’s last post (#699) has me wondering if he is really a denialist, a more subtle troll, so to speak.

    He wrote “I am looking for a discussion, you asked for references, so first I gave the peer reviewed (excpet perhaps the senate one:)) and now I give you papers outside the mainsteam, since you did not read them, maybe you will read the more suspect ones and atleast a dialogue can begin.”

    But it doesn’t advance the discussion of climate change to rehash long settled points. jcbmack is simply creating the illusion that there is debate on the action of GHG in general and CO2 specifically. And trying to cast doubts about the credibility of Hank, Ray and other posters who have contributed so much time and energy to RC. This strikes me as more than coincidence.

    jcbmack has made a number of claims about his credentials. Does anybody know who he really is and what his backgound is?

    Regards – Phillip

  9. 709
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear Ray,

    You wrote:

    “2)CO2 sensitivity is likely somewhere in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling (otherwise GCMs simply fail to reproduce anything like our world”

    Do they? (Any examples)

    Also, I am not sure that all of the GCM model outputs would pass a “Is it like our world?” test. In say, a Goldilocks’ test. Some are too hot, some too cold, and some just right.

    This does not necessarily detract from their ability to make predictions and it might be a tall order if they had to get the climate right before they were credible tools

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  10. 710
    jcbmack says:

    Tamino, you are mistaken, you make far too many mistakes on your blog and are need of a more through background, Ray, I am not denying anthropogenic forcings at all or your five statements,Tom I never stated or implied that everyone is stupid here, however, in the midst of all these claims and reading the papers, many bloggers here do not understand what the primary research really states and seem to have some issues interpreting the graphs and charts, this is my issue, the educational system in this country and people’s limited understanding of global climate systems and AGW.

    Mark and Ray have solid backgrounds and I was inviting discussion, for educational purposes (and I wanted to see of a group think response would occur)that is all. We all must question what we believe and how well we have looked at the data from time to time, but if someone claims to be a physicist or chemist (published or not) they should have a handle on basic physics and chemistry, which unfortunately many who make this claim do not based upon what they say, how they say it and what they do not understand: CO2 is a GHG, but the natural system does often halt its affects, reduce its affects, the chemical reactions in the atmosphere and mixings do alter what does occur, co emissions of cooling agents do make matters more complicated, the paleoclimate record also does reveal strong evidence that CO2 can quite high and be a potent positive feedback to water vapor and life can still thrive, the tipping point may exist, but I have yet to see any strong evidence we are anywhere near such a tipping point yet. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and as it increases it traps more LW INR, but as the papers do clearly state, there have been many years of no warming, resulting in a reduction of the warming trends; some of these reasons are: sinks, aerosols, mixing changes, cloud formations, there are longer term affects of Milankovitch cycles, (not a year or two, but decade and longer) ocean emissions of heat, (high heat capacity) (the atmosphere ocean system)wind changes, weather responses, etc…

    Actually, Tamino and Hank the purposes of my slightly too long winded responses was to create an opportunity for us regular bloggers at RC who know AGW is a real phenomenon, but to discuss it amongst ourselves on a more technical level and detail oriented discussion and then explain more thoroughly to the denialist and skeptic what we know, why, how, to what extent and so forth. Now, I stand behind my statements, however, since the first batch of papers do hint at and make statements in regards to higher CO2’s heating affects further negated and at times and certain levels losing the increased warming affects, though it is transiently, but if you had carefully considered what I was saying it does not nothing to disprove AGW, or that CO2 forcing does end up with a net global mean temperature deviation which IS significant. This is why I do not blog at many global climate sites, I come here where professionals created it and sometimes on Watts to dispel misconceptions. It is a shame that most bloggers here cling to ideas and ideals and do not want to talk it out. I teach this stuff, and I have professional colleagues in several fields, one being climate science and even they admit to some very strong doubts, criticisms of research and variables… Science is not just about citing the greatest sounding or looking peer reviewed papers (some of them are not credible) nor do we reject all papers from the non peer reviewed arena either, people need to be able to understand the papers, the methods, the experimental protocols, the scope, the comparison of variables, the implications and what to infer.
    Tamino take more math and science courses, you have a true desire to know truth and save the planet, but without the background it is akin to Jim with a P chem textbook. Arguing and name calling will not solve anything at all. Debates are fun and can at times lead to new knowledge and insights, (Mark and Ray were a blast to read and perhaps educated some followers of the discussion)but so can critical thinking skills provided one has the background to interpret.
    I have no trouble understanding the research, but no one engages in circumscription any more and applying the case against and the case for to solidify for others the realities, this is a shame.

  11. 711
    jcbmack says:

    Group think, a scary phenomenon. Science is a grand and inquisitive process that reveals many truths, many representations, partial understandings and models, but it is still a pursuit of humans that models truth with both facts and the best available evidence. Like us, is is imperfect (beyond the basic tenants and principles)because it is an extensions of us, in this sense Mark is right about not confusing what we theorize and model with what actually is… do not confuse what we know with what we do not or what is with what ought to be. At any rate I am done on this topic I brought up, the experiment yielded me the results rather quickly, quicker than I expected.

  12. 712
  13. 713
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alexander Harvey, GCMs are an expression our our ideas of how climate works. They are imperfect to be sure. However, there are more than 20 GCMs. Not one assumes a sensitivity less than 2 degrees per doubling. Now if these were just the product of monkeys typing on a keyboard choosing random sensitivities, we could use binomial statistics to preclude with 90% confidence that more than 10% of possible models would have such a sensitivity. But GCMs are not the product of monkeys at keyboards. A GCM with a low sensitivity would be a very interesting model scientifically even independent of the tremendous implications for society. So we can be sure that if no such model exists, it certainly isn’t for lack of trying.
    When I say GCMs with low sensitivities fail, I mean they don’t come close to reproducing Earthlike behavior–and you have to make lots of unrealistic assumptions about the rest of the model. The only way sensitivity is drastically different from 3 degrees per doubling is if our understanding of climate is drastically wrong. There’s no evidence of that.

  14. 714
    jcbmack says:

    Phillip, Phillip, I am actually very much inclined to believe the IPCC report, the assumptions made need improvement, but all those convective influences and radiative transfers cannot be all calculated, their numbers seem accurate, the GCM’s have made drastic improvements, and we know that even in cases of non adiabatic processes and areas where we do not know if their is LTE or not, the outcome has a net affect that agrees with such assumptions. AGW is a real phenomenon, not a philosophical one or highly theoretical either. Regarding my credentials, they are real, no one here knows me in the real world if that is what you mean, however, other than minor typos or limiting time constraints I have no posts here at RC that can be accused of being wrong based upon data, math, climate systems and so forth, there is certainly room for criticisms and opposing interpretations, but no expert here or blogger can show me that my knowledge is lacking, or my understanding beneath a well known published scientist in the areas I discuss (physics, chemistry, biology, the atmosphere, climate systems.) The distortion that occurs on the internet is astounding. I have already demonstrated in my “prolific,” posting that I am aware of the reality and potential dangers of AGW and that I have a complex understanding of mathematics and how we do know, this is where I am the threat to those that do not know, but want to discuss issues beyond their grasp. A real scientist or mathematician is not threatened by me, they know what they know, the moderators here are excellent and I have read all I could find, that they have written, (publications, books, inline responses, RC wiki and years of blogs here, before I offered a single comment) and most of my posts are rebuttals from data and understanding of it against skeptics and denialists. Do not allow lack of knowledge to hinder your progress.

  15. 715
    jcbmack says:


    as always I enjoy your posts and insights, the more knowledge you impart as you type on the keyboard, the better.

  16. 716
    jcbmack says:

    Good references Hank, but these high end possibilities are not very well supported yet. I tend to agree that the warming at double CO2 could be higher, but it could be lower as well. There will be more warming,this I do not dispute, but how much in what time frame and when will CO2 double, lots of contention.

  17. 717
    jcbmack says:

    Best general reference to GCM’s on the internet hands down for those who have gaps on the history and need enormous amounts of references.

  18. 718
    jcbmack says:

    By now there were a dozen teams around the world using computers to integrate every advance in observation or theory. As the 21st century arrived, the growing agreement among the rival teams, and the consistency of their models’ results with many different kinds of observations, became overwhelmingly convincing. Scarcely any reputable expert now doubted that CO2 and other greenhouse gases were at least partly responsible for the unprecedented warming all around the world since the 1980s. A final nail in the skeptics’ coffin came in 2005, when a team compared computer calculations with long-term measurements of temperatures in the world’s ocean basins (it was not in the air but the massive oceans, after all, that most of any heat added soon wound up). In each separate ocean basin, they showed a close match between observations of rising temperatures at particular depths, and calculations of where the greenhouse effect should appear. This was telling evidence that the computer models were on the right track. Nothing but greenhouse gases could produce the observed ocean warming — and other changes that were now showing up in many parts of the world, as predicted.

    Eventually geochemists and their allies managed to get numbers for the “climate sensitivity” in ancient eras, that is, the response of temperature to a rise in the CO2 level. Over hundreds of millions of years, a doubled level of the gas had always gone along with a temperature rise of three degrees, give or take a couple of degrees. That agreed almost exactly with the numbers coming from many computer studies.

    It was good to see that the models had not missed something huge. There seemed scant possibility of a runaway greenhouse catastrophe. It was less reassuring to notice what the climate had looked like in certain ancient times when CO2 had stood at a high level — a level that humanity would eventually reach if we went on burning all available oil and coal. The Earth had been virtually a different planet, with tropical forests near the poles and sea levels a hundred meters higher. Worse, as one group pointed out, unchecked emissions seemed bound to bring not only “a warming unprecedented in the past million years,” but changes “much faster than previously experienced by natural ecosystems…

    Still more sobering, people were just now coming to grips with the implications of a fact that scientists had known for decades — the climate system has built-in time lags. Even if human emissions of CO2 magically dropped to zero, the gas already in the air would linger for many centuries, trapping heat. Global temperatures would continue to creep upward until the ocean depths reached equilibrium with the heated air, until biological systems finished adapting to the new conditions, and until Arctic icecaps melted back to their own equilibrium. Whatever we did now, humanity was already committed to centuries of changing weather and rising seas.(62) Yet emissions of greenhouse gases, far from halting, were soaring at an accelerating rate.

  19. 719
    jcbmack says:

    Here are examples of discourse and talking it out:

    Henry Charnock, Keith P. Shine, Physics Today, Dec 1993, p. 66

    I am not denying AGW. Read, learn and conduct the experiments you can.

    [Response: Bad example. Charnock and Shine were spot on, and the comments by Lindzen and the original piece they were responding to were clearly bogus. Granted, this may have been a conversation in a little more good faith than the same points made today, but it doesn’t come close to genuine scientific debate. The daly link to Hug and Barrett even less so. – gavin]

  20. 720
    Ray Ladbury says:

    jcbmack, There are really only two arguments that denialists can make that are self-consistent:
    1)The warming isn’t happening. This is problematic, because then you have to explain why a greenhouse gas stops acting like a greenhouse gas, or why it isn’t a greenhouse gas after all. The latter argument runs simply denies known physics. The former simply has to throw up its hand and say climate science is all wrong and we don’t understand anything about climate. Good luck with either argument.
    2)The second line of arguments involves some magical feedback (e.g. Lindzen’s Iris) that feeds back negatively on added forcing (and it has to be ANY forcing, not just CO2). This is negated by paleoclimate and by the effects of impulse perturbations like volcanic eruptions.

    It seems you are saying your references hint at possibility 2, but for the life of me, I can’t find anything in them that supports that position. So in the interest of moving the discussion along and possibly restoring your credibility, why don’t you cut and paste a few supporting statements along with page and work they come from. We’ve all got day jobs, and I see little value in poring through these references with a fine toothed comb for statements that might have given you the impression you have.
    My read on the science is that it is quite cogent and unequivocal: continued use of fossil fuels will alter the climate in ways we cannot anticipate with high certainty. Given the dependence of human civilization, I consider that a threat. It does not matter to me if some lefty-greenie loonie uses this threat to try and advance their agenda. The way to counter that is by those who disagree with said agenda to propose better solutions and marginalize the loonies (left or right). To do that however, they must first come to grips with the best science available. If the loonies on either side prevail, it is because pragmatists allowed them to do so.

  21. 721
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear Ray,

    Please name the GCMs with low sensitivities that you say fail.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  22. 722
    David B. Benson says:

    Alexander Harvey (709) — My recollection is that an older GCM with a climate sensitivity of but 1.9 K failed to cool LIA enough; another with a sentivity of 4.7 K cooled LIA too much.

    Sorry, I don’t recall where I saw that.

  23. 723
    jcbmack says:

    Yes Gavin, this is true.

  24. 724
    Jonathan says:

    Phillip Shaw (708) asks jcbmack has made a number of claims about his credentials. Does anybody know who he really is and what his backgound is?.

    Yes. I’m pretty sure I know who he is, and his credentials are pretty much as he describes them.

  25. 725
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear Ray,

    Many Thanks, but not much to go on in order to track it down. Given the scheme of things and the paucity of instrumental data for the LIA, it does not strike me with the significance that it must you.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  26. 726
    jcbmack says:

    Ray, the laws of physics do not dictate that there are no strong negative feedbacks or that natural systems do not reduce warming as CO2 increases. As far as day jobs and time, I can understand that, but the only one to have any insights has been the recent response to my post, by Gavin. The point I am making is that in all of this there has been little scientific discussion either.At any rate I made my points, I am ready to move on. The future consequences are still hotly debated, but they will not be good consequences over the next 30-50 years that is for sure.

    The primary data I posted and the history of GCM’s do show wide variations on current global responses and future predictions that vaguely indicate a far higher forcing and runaway climate are just not supported at this time by numerous and well adjusted data at this time. I am all for reducing emissions and alternative energy sources, but going to increased dependence on nuclear is a clear mistake as is perpetuating opinions that doubling of CO2 is going to destroy the planet, it will be detrimental overall, but people get ahead of the research.

    As CO2 goes up there is increased IFR trapping, but as it continues to do so, weather and climate changes affect this process and in the future will likely do so again… physics without real system adaptations is not complete. Again some laws of physics are so basic to weather and climate understanding, this cannot be disputed by an open system undergoes changes that a closed one does not. Eventually GHG will become issues of catastrophic proportions, but it could take 200 years or more, we do not know any definitive time line, no one does.

  27. 727
    jcbmack says:

    Gavin, so actually it was a good example which illustrates a point. People are like sheep easily mislead, as I said I am not denying global warming, yet, Lindzen does deny it, the seriousness of CO2 increase and so forth… the discussion is one example of where people may read it and not understand either point (the dramatic one or the scientific one.) Certainly no argument that AGW is mainly forced by CO2 in many respects.

  28. 728
    Hank Roberts says:

    David, I tried a variety of searches; see anything here that might be what you recall, perhaps recognizing a journal you read? This was the most productive search I came up with. Note it’s “recent” 2003.

  29. 729
    jcbmack says:

    And really, I see the same issues here and in the real world as well: people either cite good literature, but do not really read it or they lack understanding or they look at false science (like the aforementioned or like the made up science of “Loose Change”) I first referenced some of the very best references available on the internet and no one actually could understand them or did not go through them with a fine toothed comb, even one or two, yet we all claim our standing on the peer reviewed literature. Science education is what concerns me, I hope Obama makes those drastically needed changes.

  30. 730
    Neven says:

    jcbmack, I cannot judge if your intentions are what you say they are, but when it comes to the minor typos you mention I’d like to point out that I find it rather peculiar for someone who is a scientist and who has read thousands of scientific papers to be consistently misspelling the word ‘effect’.

    I hope it’s not your intention to slow down people like Ray Ladbury or Hank Roberts who spend large amounts of their valuable time to convince people of the basics of AGW. I pray every day that skeptic/contrarian/denier claims are right but every time I come back to what Ray Ladbury says:

    1)CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2)CO2 sensitivity is likely somewhere in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling (otherwise GCMs simply fail to reproduce anything like our world
    3)The planet has experienced significant and rapid warming over the last ~200 years, and especially in the last 20.
    4)We know of no negative feedback that magically kicks in at current temperatures to save our tuckus.

    In my opinion the debate should now be about the possible consequences of AGW and mitigation/adaptation strategies, not about the things jcbmack comes forward with as they would imply the jury is still out on what is causing the warming, if it is warming at all. That is unfortunately the number 1 belief of almost everybody I talk to who is not researching the subject of climate change. I’m always amazed at the lamenting of skeptics/contrarians/deniers that the MSM only presents the hoax, whereas I only see the doubt-campaign being extremely succesful.

    Anyway, I’m sorry. I’m just a non-scientific nobody spouting commonplaces. Lynn Vincentnathan put it best in one of her comments:

    “Precisely. We need a holistic approach to both the problems and solutions. The measures that cause GW, also cause many other harms. The measures that help mitigate GW also mitigate many other environmental (pollution, finite resource depletion etc), as well as non-environmental harms. So it’s like choosing between a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose situation or a win-win-win-win-win situation.

    I consider GW to be a sort of umbrella issue. Solve it, and you solve many many other problems.”

    AGW is not the problem, AGW is the effect. And the thing that’s causing this effect is responsible for a whole array of global issues. To solve that the whole Western civilized world needs to be deconditioned from the brainwashed state it’s currently in. I don’t know if there’s any science than can tell us how to do that.

    To make a long story short: It’s ‘effect’ and not ‘affect’.

  31. 731
    David B. Benson says:

    Alexander Harvey (725) — I’m not Ray. In any case I emphasize IPCC AR4 but more can be learned here:

    Further, Annan & Hargreaves have well-pinned Charney sensitivity; there is a link on Annan’s blog. However, also note

    Hank Roberts (728) — Not it, but interesting. Possibly something I read in,M1

  32. 732
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear David,

    My apologies,

    Please excuse my tired eyes and my over eager expectations. I will try and read your links tomorrow. So I still look forward in hope of finding out which GCMs fail from Ray.

    Thanks for responding.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  33. 733
    jcbmack says:

    Neven, I in no way am trying to impede the progress of legitimate science or the ongoing understanding of global climate change and specifically 30 year global warming trends. (and even prior to that) Regarding Ray, he does have legitimate knowledge and as far as Hank goes, I enjoy our conversations and he has some good citations though he, himself is not a scientist. Regarding effect and affect, well, I do tend to use them interchangeably in my posts even though that is not precisely correct and I certainly do not do that in more formal proceedings, but now that you mention it there are quite a few scientists of fame in history and ones I know personally who are dyslexic, have dysgraphia, write in blogs and misuse words ad infinitum, however, it is important to represent oneself as best as possible and shed the best light on legitimate content as possible, this is true. I tend to type very fast on my lap top and have busy days despite my tremendous amount of postings, especially as of late. I have also known students who received straight A’s in all Biology courses, chemistry and mathematics courses, but received consistent C’s C pluses etc… in all their english courses and I am not referring to just immigrants and hood types who major and do well in science, although they count as a considerable portion of the demographic in many science classrooms in most colleges.

    Grammar can be argued almost forever as I have learned from my honors English courses and Philosophy courses, but you make an important point that the basic rules of grammar need apply and first and even second impressions are of importance especially when we communicate through the internet medium and cannot hear the phonetics or see the textbooks one is working from etc…

    Really I do not care that I make minor errors in a blog, however, though I do not intentionally place the errors there, I do not do any spot editing for a blog post, but I do pay close attention to content and references.

    Regarding the science, it takes one who is scientifically trained to judge the science and I am one who can among some others at this particular site.

    You are right: CO2 is a green house gas and we do face future problems as a result of GHG forcing and other man made pollutants-consequences thereof. I am not denying it. I am teasing out those who are not qualified to make the statements they make and who mis read the data, not to disprove or counter act the data or rebel against your trusted moderators, who I, do have utmost respect for.

    I even posted the made up science to see how those who did not read the peer reviewed data would react, but in this case for the most part, Gavin already responded. I admit I sometimes come across a little confusing, this is unfortunately necessary as some here who post jump on a bandwagon rather than get the necessary educations and skills. Look at how Jim and I went back and forth, I never gave credibility to his denialist explanation of and misunderstanding of open systems, why would I now resort to the exact same argument? Open systems are complex, but many rules hold up as do the laws. Look at m y posts in Watts where I debate the denialists on the NOAA mix up. I do not have the time to pretend to be a person who knows global warming is, I do have time to tease out those who “believe,” it is not because of rigorous study and research-scholarship, but because it is a fad to be green, a dangerous philosophy indeed.

    Science is not easy in the beginning and even when one becomes more than proficient in several areas, one change, one variable can change perception even if it does not change the trend, many people jump to conclusions, and in some specific cases a new finding changes a lot about hypothesis or modifies a surviving validated theory. I like Mark’s posts and Ray’s because they do read and learn and have educations and training, it does not matter if others do not, what I do not like is when someone claims to know something they do not have the foggiest ideas about.

    We are all guilty of misspeaking at times, however, my claims are not insincere, or misinformed, rather I should have articulated them more completely and not expected most people to read carefully the citations or understand the intentions of posting: Henry Charnock, Keith P. Shine, Physics Today, Dec 1993, p. 66, for example.

    No, not a troll or denialist, but the misinformed people here make it no wonder we have so much confusion. I respect Ray’s background and most of his posts are impeccable, but he too got into a conversation he could not complete as did Barton with Mark and Mark digressed with Ray. There too my comments on those topics of photons demonstrated impeccable knowledge, references and insights on my part as did Mark and Ray. My posts show how AGW is serious and real.

  34. 734
    jcbmack says:

    Oh on a final note unless anyone wants to continue this discussion negative feedbacks are no more magic or less real or less potent in nature (if it even turns out in total forcing exerted) than positive. This is my major issue here, only the authors and moderators talk out negative and positive feedbacks, Hank or Ray or any one else for that matter does not. Again apart from Gavin’s comment and my clarification there can be no issue with what I say or mean, oh yeah bad preposition placement and I like saying effect in place of affect, but then again some science journals in peer review make that error:)

    I am also asking what can we do, what can we engineer in other threads, so far I have gotten nada.

  35. 735
    David B. Benson says:

    Alexander Harvey (732) — A briefer history of the development of GCMs is in the appropriate chapter/section of “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    Also, I just remembered that there is a thread here on RealClimate which discusses the Annan & Hargreaves paper.

  36. 736
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear David,

    I have read what I can, I am afraid that I do have the subscription necessary for one of your links.

    The truth is I have become quite relaxed about the uncertainty in the climate sensitivity. I fear I better quickly explain this before I solicit unjust opprobrium.

    In terms of policy or outcomes in the predictable future, I doubt that it matters much. It is a long term outcome that could take centuries to be decided. In the transient phase (quickly rising, or stabilising, or failing) CO2 levels of the short term (50 years), I doubt that it makes any material difference.

    I believe that the models (GCMs) all track the transients with good agreement.

    CS is an unfortunate concept, it is almost unknowable yet centre stage. It is a bit like failing to enquire whether being hit by a train will kill you but asking how far it will drag you afterwards.

    Again I apologise for my earlier lapse and thanks, I am relaxed about CS but I am much agitated that there is a GCM that does not live up to my expectations.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  37. 737
    jcbmack says:

    The magazine Infinite Energy volume 14 issue 82 is interesting as is this months American Scientist deals with energy alternatives, photons and gluon discussions related to the cyclothymic topics in this thread and in Contrarians. p. 29 in Energy on “Obtaining Superluminal Velocity in an Instellar rocket,” may be of interest to Mark and “The Alternative to Nuclear Energy,” on p. 9 may be if interest to Ray…American Scientists’ coverage of photons absorbed, emitted, destroyed and turned into electrons is also interesting. Algae as an alternative energy source is interesting, but not practical or favorable energetically, but the theory is nice, I guess. Still, these two publications are pretty good.

  38. 738
    jcbmack says:

    By the way Maxwell used basic mathematics that was right and Einstein believed that truth could be found through reason and by using simplistic, but realistic thinking we can discover reality.I am surprised I have the patience, but people need to learn, but they fight the learning process.

  39. 739
    jcbmack says:

    You tube, wikipedia and uninformed debate will not do anything.

  40. 740
    Phil. Felton says:

    Re #718 jcbmack

    Unfortunately your posts are way too verbose for the limited amount of content. You would do better to type less material more slowly, that way the posts would be more understandable. Also re #718, it’s customary to include quotation marks around material you have lifted from other sources in order to differentiate between your opinions and those of others [edit] You should set a better example, even if it is on a blog.

  41. 741
  42. 742
    jcbmack says:

    And since we arguing matters of no consequence to science, affect is a verb, is it not? AGW affect can be the active effects (noun) on the global climate system. Sometimes effect and affect can switch noun and verb designation, but this does not apply here. These words are not homophones, but they are similar enough in pronunciation so they may cause confusion. In the sense of phenomena like greenhouse effect, that is the right usage, but what does that have to do with understanding physics, chemistry, math and engineering? Nor does any argument refute my statements, stop my understanding that global warming due to man made activities is real or that there are serious doubts as to any real knowledge of when the doubling of CO2 will occur or if there is a tipping point, if so when and why, and that we need to use real solutions that actually exist given that engineers get the go ahead and money to implement them with the mathematicians and scientists. I will, however, watch my usage of affect and effect, since this may take away from my posts to those who lack understanding of the science.

  43. 743
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jcbmack, What you have made so far are assertions, not backed up by any solid scholarship that I could discern. You claim there are negative feedbacks that counter warming. Well, what are they? The Iris effect is pretty well discredited. There is no evidence of large-scale changes in cloudcover. Indeed, the fact that things have gotten considerably warmer in the paleoclimate suggests that such feedbacks are not significant.

    And entirely missing from any of your posts are considerations of natural sources of CO2 and CH4–from peat bogs, permafrost, the oceans. The normal course of a post glacial involves a short pulse of warming followed by release of these sources, and then warming really kicks in and lasts for thousands of years. Once that process starts, any efforts on our part will be pointless.

    And no one has claimed this threatens the planet. I’m confident that the planet and indeed life will persist. Human civilization is another matter entirely, and I am fond of human civilization.

  44. 744
    jcbmack says:

    Ray, you are taking me out of context and then accuse me of making claims or ‘assertions,’ that are not substantiated, but actually papers from RC substantiate what I have said, the peer reviewed literature does,much of the proxy data from paleoclimate research supports this, as do the textbooks I have already referenced. I am not saying that negative feedbacks always negate positive or creates a zero net warming situation or causes a global cooling trend over a warming whether always or currently. You have misstated the same research you claim to uphold and understand, which I think you do so I question your motivations on this last post of yours. The Earth has undergone a net warming of around 0.6 degrees or perhaps a little more over the last 100 or so years, but negative feedbacks do slow down warming effects from GHG forcings, and this is quite clear from the moderators work here and the IPCC report and the textbooks. Warming is real, yes, but you discredit a big chunk of climate science with your statements.

  45. 745
    Ray Ladbury says:

    jcbmack, I am sorry if I have taken your statements out of context. What it appears to me (and evidently others) that you are saying is that the “consensus” is overstated. That is where I take issue. Perhaps you could facilitate the discussion by stating succinctly what point you are trying to make. I don’t see a lot of rhyme or reason to the cites you are giving (e.g. Inhofe and Oreskes don’t exactly reinforce each other–unless we look at the absurdity of the former versus the lucidity of the later).
    Unless you can state your points clearly, we will continue to have musunderstandings. Could you work on a succinct statement of your main points?

  46. 746
    Richard C says:

    Communication, especially in scientific matters, should be clear and concise.

  47. 747
    RichardC says:

    710 jcbmack says, “Tamino, you are mistaken, you make far too many mistakes on your blog and are need of a more through background,”

    Spelling errors embedded in insults sheds light.

    jcbmack says, “but I have yet to see any strong evidence we are anywhere near such a tipping point yet.”

    Ah, that wonderful qualifier, ‘strong’. The clathrate and permafrost meltdown seems like strong evidence to me. The arctic sea ice retreat is more strong evidence.

    698 jcbmack says, “The coral reefs are dying CO2 is changing ph, yes I know, but other life forms are thriving, ”

    Killing off coral reefs is no big deal since jellyfish might survive?

    You mentioned writing skills. Sixth graders often attempt to fill up the required 1000 word essay with regurgitation. The best writing is laconic.

  48. 748
    wmanny says:

    RichardC, take it from an English teacher that “laconic” is not the word you are looking for — you would hardly wish for jcbmack to be rude or mysterious. For him to be concise would be nice, of course, but it’s a waste of time to worry about his comma splices and typos. I am aware of the irony of my own nitpicking here, but I hope it will illustrate the need to return to what has been a good and substantive debate.

  49. 749
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Dear Ray,

    I fear that we have different ideas about how GCMs work.

    You say that none of them assumes a CS of less than 2C, yet go on to say those that have low sensitivities simply fail to reproduce Earthlike behavior.

    To begin I was not aware that any of the GCMs assume any value at all for CS, rather that it is an output not an input. Also I believe that they are all much more WYSIWYG than some might have us believe. There is no dial that can be turned to modify the models CS. Given the restraints of computation they include all the best science that they can manage and are run. They are not fiddled with to match Earth’s climate in any artificial way, (flux correction may be an exception). They are in that aspect intellectual very honest. The results are the results, and suspect the author’s would agree that certain Earth-like qualities are inherently difficult to reproduce.

    That, for instance, the global mean temperature is difficult to reproduce, does not of itself invalidate comparison runs by the models. For instance a “1%/annum CO2” run’s anomalies against its control run are not necessarily to be dismissed, if both runs are out by a degree or two or more from instrumental global mean temperatures. I feel there is a justification for this, a simply appeal to linearity would do. Even though being globally 2C too hot or too cold would be noticeably unearthly.

    Also that GCMs with unearthly mean temperatures are not fiddled with but are let to stand, shows to me a great deal of intellectual integrity that some suspect their authors of lacking. If they are not going to fudge global mean temperatures I doubt that would fudge anything else.

    Finally, I was not aware that any of the GCMs produce unearthly output, hence my interest to hear of some. I hope you both can and will name them.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

  50. 750
    Richard Chandler says:

    A previous post I made may fail moderation due to a conflict between my comment and html. Whether it fails or not, what it should have said is that, “RichardC” and “Richard C” are different people.
    Richard C