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Not the IPCC (“NIPCC”) Report

Filed under: — mike @ 28 November 2008 - (Italian)

Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt

Much in the spirit of the Fraser Institute’s damp squib we reported on last year, S. Fred Singer and his merry band of contrarian luminaries (financed by the notorious “Heartland Institute” we’ve commented on previously) served up a similarly dishonest ‘assessment’ of the science of climate change earlier this year in the form of what they call the “NIPCC” report (the “N” presumably standing for ‘not the’ or ‘nonsense’). This seems to be making the rounds again as Singer and Heartland are gearing up for a reprise of last year’s critically…er…appraised “Conference on Climate Change” this March. Recently some have asked us for our opinion of the report and so we’ve decided we ought to finally go ahead and opine. Here goes.

The fact that the very title of the report summary (“Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate“) itself poses–at best–a false dichotomy is not an auspicious start. The fact that the fonts and layout are identical to the real IPCC report is another indication that this isn’t quite on the level (and reminiscent of the infamous fake PNAS paper that accompanied the first ‘Oregon Petition’).

Reading the table of contents, the report has eight chapters (in addition to an introduction and conclusions chapter). Five of these, quite remarkably, have titles which are simply untrue. The remaining three chapters pose loaded questions which are disingenuous and misleading, if not outright dishonest, with ‘answers’ provided by the authors. In fact this is such a massive regurgitation of standard contrarian talking points and discredited canards, it’s obvious that reviewing this would be a herculean task (which is presumably the point – if you can’t convince people with actual science, bludgeon them).

However, precisely because most of these points have been made before, there exists a large body of work pointing out the flaws already. So instead of regurgitating these counterpoints, we will simply link to an index of these rebuttals. As some of you may know, we have a set up a resource to do precisely this; the RealClimate Wiki. Let’s see how this works…

Chapter 2 “How much of modern warming is anthropogenic” throws out the standard, itself now discredited, “the hockey stick is discredited” claim, and adds in the old favorite “CO2 doesn’t lead it lags”. We also get ‘observations and model predictions don’t match’, ‘the warming doesn’t coincide with the greenhouse gas increases’, and of course ‘the instrumental record isn’t reliable’. Naturally, we were a bit disappointed not to encounter the granddaddy of all contrarian talking points, But they predicted global cooling in the 1970s!.

On to chapter 3, “Most of Modern Warming is Due to Natural Causes”. The short answer to the title of the chapter is, of course, “ummm, no, its not”. The chapter draws in equal parts from the twin canards that its all just natural cycles, and ‘its the sun!.

If you’re growing impatient for model-bashing, no fear; there’s a whole chapter for you (Chapter 4: “Climate Models are Not Reliable”), which offers up the usual mix of straw man descriptions of how climate models actually work, and red herrings about supposedly missing feedbacks and processes. Fortunately, RealClimate wiki provides some one-stop rebuttal shopping.

The falsely-titled chapter 5 (“The Rate of Sea-Level Rise is Unlikely To Increase”) rests upon incorrect claims that sea level rise projections are exaggerated, and or that the IPCC supposedly lowered their projections of future sea level rise. Chapter 6 (“Do Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases Heat the Oceans?”), if we take it literally, asks a rather embarrassing question (‘No grasshopper! The greenhouse gases are ‘gases’. They heat the atmosphere and surface and a warmer atmosphere transfers some of that heat to the ocean below. You still have much to learn.’). Chapter 7 (“How Much Do We Know About Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere?”) answers the question it asks with the usual nonsense about how the increase in CO2 is probably natural, or that we can’t trust the CO2 record, and that CO2 isn’t rising as quickly as projected anyhow. And chapters 8 and 9 offer the requisite disclaimer for contrarians that, even after you’ve debunked everything they’ve said so far, and come to the inescapable conclusion that anthropogenic climate change is (1) real, and that (2) future changes will be profound if we continue with business as usual, ‘it will be good for us anyway’..

In concluding, We’d like to level with our readers. Some of us thought that the “NIPCC” report was so self-evidently nonsense that we shouldn’t even give it the benefit of any publicity. But it does give a great opportunity to give the RealClimate ‘wiki’ a test ride. We hope to expand this resource in the future, and we’d actually welcome some additional outside help. (In fact, much of it is already due to some dedicated volunteers. Thanks!). So if you have a desire and the time to help organise this effort, drop us a line and we’ll set you up.

251 Responses to “Not the IPCC (“NIPCC”) Report”

  1. 201

    FWIW, I wrote a rebuttal (published as a column in a Dutch environmental newsletter) to a Dutch article this past summer, in which Fred Singer was quoted with several of his standard one-liners. English translation is on my blog at

  2. 202
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Christian Holm, So you want to reduce poverty in developing countries. Laudable. What steps have YOU taken in this direction so far. If you cannot provide concrete examples, why should we take your protestations seriously. Even if you are sincere, have you considered how development will be affected when seas rise, inundating cities and farmland, when insects don’t die off in the winter, when temperatures don’t fall low enough that crops germinate…? You’ve been at this a week now. In that time you could have learned enough of the physics to see that we do not need an exact analog of the current release of CO2 to be confident that it will result in warming. You are like the creationists and AIDS contrarians–all you care about is preserving sufficient doubt that you don’t feel the need to change.
    It is simple, Christian: the era of cheap petroleum that fueled growth in the industrial world is over. Developing countries can develop with clean, renewable technologies or with coal and other dirty fossil fuels. If we lead the way with development of renewable energy sources, developing nations will follow. If not, they will also follow our lead. It is not a matter of development OR climate mitigation. They are both facets to the same ultimate problem–sustainability. If we don’t solve that one in all its aspects soon, our descendents won’t have a civilization left to save.

  3. 203
    dhogaza says:

    Therefore, in order for me to be convinced that we should focus all our world wide attention to reducing CO2 emissions and leave other present problems such as 3rd world poverty, HIV i Africa, Malaria and major sources of pollution in the dark(remember that CO2 is not a pollutant) I need more evidence.

    Does anyone need more evidence that Christian Holms is anything other than a denialist troll? No one claims we should do nothing about other problems while concentrating solely on reducing CO2 emissions, and anyone who’s serious about the issue knows this.

  4. 204
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Part of comment #163 says:
    “Since in the past the CO2 rise event is preceded temp rise event there are no signs of CO2 starting temp rise in the past. If you look at the past there is nothing that suggests that CO2 has had a powerful feedback effect on temp either.
    This means that if CO2 is driving the temp change now. This is properly unpreceded.”

    Not true, reread Gavin’s reponse to your comment #121
    “But just to clear, yes, there is evidence that changes in CO2 and other GHGs have driven climate change in the past (the PETM is the biggest, the temperatures at the LGM can’t be explained without a significant role for CO2, the long term cooling over the Cenozoic appears to be related to decreasing CO2, basic radiative physics, detection and attribution over the 20th Century etc.).”

  5. 205
    Christian Holm says:

    Dear all

    This will be my last reply.

    Dear mr. Ladbury…..
    1) Oh my god what a cheap argument. I could reverse it. You have done nothing about 3rd world poverty either. If you have, it is almost certainty not to a degree, which has altered you lifestile considerably. So convincing people that we should be concerned about CO2 is just a way for you to avoid having to face these problems. Since it got personal please answer these questions: How do you heat your house. Do you use a car. Do you have electricity. Do you wear clothes. What about your wife does she live a normal life for your contry. If you can answer yes to any of these questions you are so obviously a subject to double standards. You are denying Africans the same goods as you use everyday because you think that there is a chance that climate warming will kill them off in the future. Well they are dying right now. Why dont you do something about that now…!!!!! Finally you found a reason not to do anything. Even in your own contry poor people die or are ruined because they cannot afford health care insurerance….. But you are so caught up with yourself and your precious climate models, which lets face might or might not be true.

    2) I am not alone in my disbeliefs. You might call them heretics. That is a good term as I would call you guys religious.

    3) I am very much offended by saying I parallel creationists and AIDS deniers. If you really mean that. You have lost all of my respect and I can therefore not believe a single thing you post.

    Not for mr. ladbury

    1) #203 I realize that you guys do not mean to take away the focus from other and serious problems. I am just saying that this is what is happening.

    2) The technologies for 3rd world to develop without fossil fuels simply does not exist. However I agree the development of such should be a major focus as fossil fuels are finite.

  6. 206
    Jim Eager says:

    I agree dhogaza (203), Christian has made little effort to understand radiative physics or climate science, and every effort to question it, despite having no training in the subjects. Instead he trots out the same old tired denialist horse plop. His arguments have been exactly like those arguing that there is insufficient direct causal evidence that tobacco smoke, or CFCs, or tetraethyl lead, or MTBE, or bisphenol A–take your pick–is harmful to human health or the environment, therefore it is not harmful, never mind the cautionary principal.

    Now we get the dishonest false dichotomy argument that we can address either global warming/climate change or poverty, HIV, malaria, or generic pollution, with his “CO2 is not a pollutant” line as the final kicker. How many times have we heard each and every one of these canards before?

    It’s quite clear that Christian has been disingenuous from the outset, since his language and arguments make it more than clear that he made up his mind what he believes long before he made his first post at RealClimate.

    Captcha’s advice: to proceeding

  7. 207
    JCH says:

    3rd-world poverty and disease are the tired refrains of Lomborg’s side-step waltz.

  8. 208
    Mark says:

    dhgoza, #203. Isn’t that pretty much obvious from his response (or rather lack of) to my #124?

    Ray (#192), I pretty much nailed that by telling christian in #124 that there was no Dinosaur Dallas, so we have no equivalent past to show the present because the capability to extract and burn oil on the gigatons level just wasn’t available.

    Just pointing people back to that to show that sometimes, sarcasm and a silly example really IS needed, even if it belittles the intelligence of the reader.

  9. 209
    Mark says:

    Lawrence, #204. I think it is unprecedented in that the PETM is calculated from very different measures and assumptions. Therefore, for any sufficiently motivated denialist or contrarian, such evidence from the past is ignorable because of the errors, method of attribution or whatever.

    That this would be taken is evident by the fact that Christian doesn’t even want to discuss the measurement of CO2 as a GHG as proving it warms the earth because he wants to see enough CO2 emitted and a *following* temperature increase. Even though the initial increase was not CO2, some of the rest of the increase was partly CO2 and much of the last warming was CO2.

    Why? Because unless we present him with something that has only one driver he will consider the other factors to be destructive of the role of CO2 in the scenario.

    And it would be the same with PETM.

  10. 210
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Christian, I must say, I am impressed with your ignorance. It seems to span all fields.
    First, your assertion that there are no clean technologies appropriate for developing countries is absurd. Photovoltaics are already competitive for rural villages because they obviate the need for building a grid. Passive solar technology works well, too.
    Second, do you have any idea how amusing it is that you think I should give a tinker’s dam what you think of me. Dude, you’re the one asking for help here, and when we try to give it, you accuse anyone concerned about climate change of wanting to keep developing countries poor. You want to stay ignorant? Fine. Enjoy your irrelevance.
    Third, I put my career on hold for 2 years to work in international development in West Africa. I’ve worked to educate people about Africa and development since I came back. I have consistently argued that both climate and development have to be addressed. So, Punkin’, I think I’ve walked the walk a wee bit more than you.

    Have a good life.

  11. 211
    Ricki (Australia) says:

    It is sad to see the debate de-railed as this one has been. ending up with invective is of no use to anyone.

  12. 212
    dhogaza says:

    Isn’t that pretty much obvious from his response (or rather lack of) to my #124?

    Well, I dunno, the troll get fed for another 99 posts afterwards, before I asked my question :)

    I’m sure he’ll keep things going for another 100 or more posts, too, never fear!

  13. 213
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Christian Holm writes:

    Your view, that because we currently do not have any stronger candidate for the post 1975 warmings, CO2 must without doubt be the number one forcer of the rise in temp we have seen since 1975.

    No. Nobody believes that. We believe it’s the major forcer of climate since 1975 becauase we know a priori that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that it’s been rising. In the absence of other factors, therefore, the logical conclusion is that it’s CO2 that’s doing it. It wasn’t a process of elimination.

    Your view on climate is coloured by the erroneous assumption that our knowledge of climate is close to complete. This is as far from the truth as anything.

    No one believes it’s complete. But it’s complete enough to be able to see what’s going on. Perfect knowledge isn’t necessary; adequate knowledge does just fine.

  14. 214
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Christian Holms writes:

    How do you heat your house. Do you use a car. Do you have electricity. Do you wear clothes. What about your wife does she live a normal life for your contry. If you can answer yes to any of these questions you are so obviously a subject to double standards.

    Nobody ever said mitigating climate change would require anyone to stop heating their house, owning a car, using electricity, wearing clothes, or being married. Until you drop these silly straw man arguments, there’s no one who’s going to take you seriously. The “fixing global warming means we’ll all have to live in mud huts!” line is a lie and always has been.

  15. 215
    Lawrence Brown says:

    The bottom line,Mark, is how the rest of the scientific community rates the validity of PETM.

    A press release of the National Foundation claims that:
    “According to Wing , the PETM was caused by a massive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and ocean, making it an analog for the global warming that is expected as humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, primarily by burning fossil fuels.”

    Scott Wing,is a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., who led the research team.

  16. 216
    Mark says:

    215, you’re right. But Christian isn’t running by those rules. You’re right, but off topic.

  17. 217
    Fred Staples says:

    I will agree, Hank, that I do have a problem with error bars on temperature measurements, as they are used in this context, and I will tell you why.

    First, let me say that I do not have a problem with the probable error on trends. Excel will take a series of measurements, calculate the trend line which minimises the variance about the trend, and assess significance from the variance about the mean which the trend line explains.

    In the process the programme will calculate the range of trend lines inside which there is a 95% probability that the true tend lies. In other words, we can calculate the probability that a given trend has arisen by chance from the scatter of the data and the size of the trend. (This is what makes the oft repeated comment that “we need 30 years of data to establish a trend” so silly – 100 years of data with a low trend and massive scatter may not be significant, and 10 years of data with a substantial trend and little scatter may be highly significant).

    When we measure an individual temperature and assign an error range, we would conventionally mean that our instrument (thermometer) cannot measure exactly. There is a true temperature, but we can’t know what it is. If we know the accuracy of our thermometer, by measuring the standard deviation of its results against a fixed temperature, we can assign an error range outside of which there is less than a 5% probability that the true temperature lies.

    That is not what climate scientists mean by error bars.

    Nor, using sampling theory, do they mean that they have taken a large number of different measurements of (nominally) the same temperature, calculated the average, and used the variance to calculate a standard error, and hence an error bar.

    So what do they mean? That is my problem.

    I would add that I have seen, (and alas failed to note the source) a comment that if error bars overlap between the model calculated troposphere temperatures (what can that possibly mean) and measured temperatures there is no significant difference between the two. Sadly, not true.

  18. 218
    Fred Staples says:

    So, Tamino, (198) if you did not mean that you predicted an upward movement of 0.5 degrees in the CET temperatures this decade, can I ask what you did mean?

    Your charts show smoothed data closely following the 5, 10, and 30 year moving averages, and rising towards the end of this decade to 1.5 degrees above the base line.

    The overall average for the record is 9.21 degrees C, which means that you have forecast something this decade to be 10.71 degrees. The average this decade so far is 10.41 degrees C. The range will be between 10.0something and 10.83 degrees C.

    You quote a trend rate since 1980 of 0.5 degrees per decade and your charts show accelerating temperatures since 1980. Can I ask what you expect for the next decade?

  19. 219
    Hank Roberts says:

    Fred, it’s not “30 years” for any trend of any kind. Nobody said that.

    30 years or so, given climate’s known variability, is the range expected to detect a trend predicted from the known change in greenhouse gases. It’s a small effect in a noisy background, with one observation per year. If a trend is there in those conditions it starts to emerge from the amount of noise in about that much time.

    Sometimes you need less. Look at 5, 10, and 15-year trends. Duh:

    You keep lopping off important modifying words and then stating sentence fragments as though they were what the researchers wrote, then claiming you’re correcting the researchers by putting back the words you lopped off to misstate them. This is just pointless, Fred.

  20. 220
    Hank Roberts says:

    Fred’s somehow missing seeing both the prior responses to his prior posts, and the inline responses with them added by Gavin.

    See above:

  21. 221
    Fred Staples says:

    I agree, Hank, 219, that it is impossible to falsify or justify AGW theory with short term temperature trends – all the data fluctuates sharply in both directions. But when we talk about signal emerging from noise, that is exactly what we have to do. We can’t possibly be certain, either way, and it is the certainty expressed on this site that I object to.

    A theory, which is what radiative AGW is, must stand or fall on its ability to predict something which can be verified. Otherwise it is meaningless and any actions (such as they are – 50% of the US energy generation is coal-fired) to control CO2 emmisions would be unjustifiable.

    Take, for example, the satellite data from 1979 to 1997 – 19 years. The trend (not significantly different from zero), was 0.38 degrees C per century.

    The odds (calculated from the variations above and below the trend) are even that the trend above zero arose by chance. But the period is short in climate terms. So we can ask another question. Given the period, the trend, and the variations, what are the bounds within which the true trend probably lies. By probably we mean that there is only 1 chance in 20 that the true trend lies outside the calculated bounds.

    These boundaries are -0.7 degrees per century (a cooling) and +1.5 degrees per century. (Coincidentally, the upper limit is about the same as the overall trend to date – 30 years across the El Nino peak in 1998, the 0.6 degree step from 1999 to 2001, and the subsequent fall back to 1980 temperatures).

    Now bear in mind that 1979 was the temperature low point following the 1945 peak – itself a peak after the long climb from the little ice age.

    As a fair-minded man, Hank, can you really be 90% certain (the IPCC figure – what does that mean, I wonder?) that there has been is a permanent AGW forcing of 2 degrees C per century since 1979?

    Would a fair-minded Chinese citizen give up his Industrial Revolution on that evidence?

  22. 222
    Ben Kalafut says:

    The “N” stands for nongovernmental. It’s a crass attempt to stoke the prejudices of classical-liberals (“libertarians”) and appeal to the feeling that some have that climatology could be a “hoax” put together by people seeking an excuse for the expansion of government power.

    As a classical liberal and a working scientist, I find that rather offensive.

  23. 223
    David B. Benson says:

    Fred Staples (221) — The 1970s were not the ‘low’. Here are the decadal averages from the HadCRUTv3 global surface temperature product:

  24. 224
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a permanent AGW forcing of 2 degrees C per
    > century since 1979?

    Fred, have you stopped beating your horse?

    Your tactic seems to be to make up absurd certainties, attribute them to others, then ask them to help you out by saying yes or no.


  25. 225
    SaltyDawg says:

    Can someone give me a link debunking “a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN.”

    It’s referenced here…

    [Response: Same old thing, very reminiscent of claims that there is a list of 57 communists in the State Department. The idea is simply to come up with an ever bigger list (never mind the quality or relevance) to demonstrate a ‘growing’ movement (see the Nexus6 link in the main article). I confidently predict another 100 or so additions next year too. – gavin]

  26. 226
    Ian says:

    SaltyDawg, have a look at Deltoid’s new post – all about the \list\:

  27. 227

    Salty, another problem is that the quotes on the report are not trustworthy. The quote from Dr. Joanne Simpson has been edited from a letter she wrote to create a distorted result. See the original text here:

    Amazingly, the edited versions circulating omit this:

    “What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable.”

    In Inhofe’s version, there is no indication that edits have been made, much less references to the whole. For me, that means that I can’t trust any of the quotes because I can’t evaluate their completeness or verify their correctness, and the editor(s) have shown willingness to distort.

  28. 228
    Boston says:

    Hi folks
    Im involved in a rather lively ( ahem ) debate with a few skeptics and having a great time of it. Been killing em frankly and have managed to call them out over both misuse of terminology and use of Exxon provided data allong with countless misrepresentations of the data. presently Im curious about how to get that final nail in there arguments over water vapor I drilled it into them about its being an feedback not a forcing agent and its short life span in the atmosphere. I also used a table showing the instantaneous change in long-wave aborption that Im pretty sure I got from your site
    ( thanks by the way). I think a simple graph of water vapor as a percentage both in mass and then in effect as a greenhouse gas would just about send em crawling back to there oil platforms if you have one handy.

    Another little tid bit I takled em on lately was the issue of evidence for tropical tropispheric warming. Ive read through your info and it was most helpfull.
    I grabbed one of your graphs on that as well.

    they came back with

    I have to admit I dont know spit about collating satelite data corections
    I think it woudl be a real stumper for em if one of you folks could send em a responce to that at
    its post # 1642 and # 1645

    if you dont have the time thats ok
    thanks for your attention

  29. 229
    Stuart says:

    I consider myself to be an average human being, of average intelligence with no background in climate science – typical, I suspect of the millions who are being continually bombarded with information about global warming and climate change. I therefore read the ‘NIPCC’ report with some interest – rational, calm and well reasoned, I thought. What then of the reply from the people who know about global warming?

    At first sight I thought the response on this site is petty and childish – one would hope for a more dispassionate response from eminent scientists. But they may have had a bad day and so I went on to review the sites mentioned by them as rebuttals. Four essential arguments need explanation for me:

    1. The CO2 lag behind temperature rise – surely Occam’s razor applies to this – no matter what convoluted arguments one tries to make in support of a beloved hypothesis?
    2. The troposphere warming thing – how can we spend so much money on this subject and then have so many mistakes in interpretation of the data? To the uninitiated it looks like either incompetence calling into question the rest of the stuff or else post facto justification of a strongly held belief.
    3. Sea level rise – the graphs from the ‘sceptics’ come from equally reliable sources and show a completely different set of data – we need to be told why – not simply that ‘so and so is an idiot’
    4. The current cooling period – if record high temperatures, arctic ice melts and other warming episodes are taken as evidence of global warming, why is the current cool period and record snow and low temperatures not given equal billing?

    The most worrying thing about the lack of rational argument in this debate is the damage that will be done to the liberal side of the argument when, as seems inevitable, the global warming thing is seen to have been an alarmist propaganda exercise for political ends.

    The best thing for everyone, it seems to me, is for the debate to be opened up in a professional and scientific way as soon as possible so that the damage is limited.

  30. 230
    Hank Roberts says:

    Stuart, try the “Start Here” link at the top of the page.
    You’re pasting in stuff that’s used to try to convince people the scientists can’t be telling us anything useful. It’s PR. Look instead at the papers, not at the comments about them, and you’ll figure it out.

    Remember most people posting here aren’t eminent or scientists, we’re readers like you. Except maybe been reading longer and recognize the stock stuff when it’s reposted by new people, which happens repeatedly.

    Each of the four points you list can be found here. If after you’re looked you don’t understand the answers from the “Start Here” links, post what you have read and where you’ve been looking so we can help you.

  31. 231
    Hank Roberts says:

    Stuart, seeing you add below the PR copypaste stuff “when, as seems inevitable” — this may also help:

    Looking at the website linked to your name, are you an architect doing sea level development around the Pacific? is that right? If so Upton Sinclair suggested weighing our disbelief:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

  32. 232
    tamino says:

    Re: #229 (Stuart)

    Your comment shows how easily someone “with no background in climate science” can be fooled by denialist arguments. I’ll give you two examples.

    #1: “CO2 lag behind temperature rise”: This does not imply that CO2 change fails to cause temperature change. It’s due to the fact that CO2 and temperature are both cause and both effect. More CO2 raises temperature and higher temperature raises CO2 (by reducing the solubility of CO2 in the oceans).

    And by the way, the “CO2 lag behind temperature rise” argument isn’t some momentous revelation from the NIPCC report. It was predicted, before it was observed in ice core data, by Claude Lorius, James Hansen, and others. Yes, James Hansen — NASA’s chief climate scientist, that guy who keeps telling us that global warming is real, is man-made, and is very dangerous.

    #2: “current cool period and record snow”: we’re certainly not in a “current cool period.” 2008 is in the top 10 hottest years on record, and there’s no cooling trend either. As for “record snow,” that’s a prime example of ignoring almost all of the existing data, instead focusing on the shortest possible time span to give a false impression of what snow data actually tell us about global warming. Read this.

    I’ll add that the ridiculous statement about global warming being an “alarmist propaganda exercise for political ends” can indicate one of two things: either you have a bias which makes you believe this, or you got the idea from NPICC and other denialists and were totally suckered by their propaganda.

  33. 233
    Nick Gotts says:

    Others will doubtless address your points 1-4 better than I could – although really all you need to do is read around this site for your explanations. Why should eminent scientists be “dispassionate” when they see dishonest rubbish like the NIPCC report peddled in order to delay vital action?

    “The most worrying thing about the lack of rational argument in this debate is the damage that will be done to the liberal side of the argument when, as seems inevitable, the global warming thing is seen to have been an alarmist propaganda exercise for political ends.”

    I think you are what is known as a “concern troll”. I don’t for one moment believe you are either a liberal, or an honest seeker after the truth.

  34. 234
    RichardC says:

    229 Stuart “1. The CO2 lag behind temperature rise”

    is an incredibly dangerous issue. CO2 in the natural world is a persistent feedback. Temps rise and then CO2 increases by melting of permafrost and increase of rot, and then the CO2 sticks around and warms stuff further. Adding 40% more CO2 to the system artificially is simply a way to bypass the initial forcing. Thus, folks who think that humans can decide on a final level of CO2 and emit until that amount is reached are fooling themselves. Targeting 600 and reaching 600 is a sure-fire way of reaching far higher concentrations, specifically because of the lag you asked about.

    “2. The troposphere warming thing – how can we spend so much money on this subject and then have so many mistakes in interpretation of the data”

    developing and adjusting a theory takes time. The television era of instantaneous 100% perfect solutions to any and all things in a single 20 minute episode warps expectations. In real life, as stuff is found that doesn’t fit, the theory adjusts, or if it can’t fit the new data, is discarded or held in serious jeopardy.

    “3. Sea level rise – the graphs from the ‘sceptics’ come from equally reliable sources and show a completely different set of data”

    Sea level is an extremely noisy signal and the data can be “adjusted” to suit someone’s fancy. I find it hard to believe your equally reliable source claim. The guys with the instruments and the satellites say sea level is rising and rising faster.

    “4. The current cooling period – if record high temperatures, arctic ice melts and other warming episodes are taken as evidence of global warming, why is the current cool period and record snow and low temperatures not given equal billing?”

    Compared to the long-term average, 2008 is very hot, as in just about the hottest on record. There is no current cool period, let alone record low temperatures. Increased snow is a warming signal in much of the world. We’re in the warmest decade in history. Are you talking about individual years and expecting a new record set each and every year? You’ll never get that. Sorry.

  35. 235
    David B. Benson says:

    Stuart (229) — For your point 1, read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    Review of above:

    to begin to understand some of the science, with actual measurements extending at least as far back in time as John Tyndall in 1859 CE. For point 2, understand that analysis of that satellite data is quite difficult, but RSS seems to be doing fairly well, much better than UAH. Tamino has a recent thread about this on

    Determining sea level rise just now, in the face of continued isostatic rebound, glacier and ice sheet melt, groundwater depletion and thermal expansion looks to me to be quite, quite difficult. But there is an earlier thread about a recent paper in a thread here on RealClimate. A quite confirmatory talk was just delivered at the Fall AGU meeting — I think I saw a thread about it on

    There is no statistically significant ‘current cooling period’, no matter how cold it is outside in your neighborhood today. Tamino makes the point here:

    There is a thread with the same title here on RealClimate.

    [reCAPTCHA discusses the deniers by entoning “ob- MADMAN”.]

  36. 236
    Dan says:

    “The best thing for everyone, it seems to me, is for the debate to be opened up in a professional and scientific way as soon as possible so that the damage is limited.”

    Oh brother. Scientific debate is (and always has been) done through peer-reviewed journals and conferences. It is one of the foundations of science. You will be hard-pressed to find any scientific analysis that has undergone greater scientific debate than global warming. Look at the IPCC reports. The science behind global warming is exceptionally strong. And global warming trends are unequivocal. The debate is long over. The consensus is strong.

  37. 237
    Stuart says:

    Thank you for your help people. No, I am not a troll but I am an architect working in the Pacific and yes, we do have many coastal projects and we have yet to see evidence of sea level rise in them – but we do have to worry about storm surge, tsunami etc. You are correct, Dan, Peer reviewed documentation is the best way to go – it just happens differently in our profession!

  38. 238
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Stuart, I have to wonder where you are getting your information. The scientific evidence that humans are behind the current warming is pretty much overwhelming. One way you can tell: The denialists cannot stick to a single argument, but keep trotting out the same tired, discredited arguments in the hopes of duping the unwary. The reason for the outrage you see here is because fraud is outrageous and fraud against science even moreso.

  39. 239
    Hank Roberts says:

    > we have yet to see evidence of sea level rise

    You do understand that, like the warming signal in almost all other data sets, it’s a small signal in a noisy background that takes a large data set, three decades or so, and competent statistical analysis to detect?

    And you do understand that by the time it would become blatantly obvious it would be decades too late to moderate the outcome, because committed warming already in the system is irreversible on the human time scale?

    If either of these isn’t basic to your planning, do click the ‘Start Here’ links.

    It wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve worked for a lot of people who are still happily buying advice from seemingly competent planning firms on which to make their commercial decisions — which far has always reassured tmen falsely that excess CO2 from fossil fuel will persist no more than a century in the atmosphere.

    With that basic falsehood, all the advice about how to do business without worrying seems reasonable.

    It’s a lot like the m-o-r-t-g-a-ge meltdown. Nobody listens who’s making money by not listening.

  40. 240
    jcbmack says:

    Actually newly published work from NASA strengthens the link between water vapor and CO2 and the current warming trend. I will get the citations and post them later.

  41. 241
    Hank Roberts says:

    Newer than a month ago? Mongabay and many others reported one in last month’s news along those lines. Finding it just for the exercise

    “published recently in … Geophysical Research Letters …”

    Search: for Dessler 2008

    Dessler A. E., Z. Zhang, P. Yang (2008), Water-vapor climate feedback inferred from climate fluctuations, 2003–2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L20704, doi:10.1029/2008GL035333.

    Either click the link there for “Abstract +Article” which gets:

    Or search DOI: for the reference, which leads to the same page.

  42. 242
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, for those who find the library-type searches tiresome, for climate science recent news, this is always a good place to look:

    Just reading the index for November, here it is: has additional quotes and links beyond those I found with a few minutes’ searching.

  43. 243
    jcbmack says:

    Hank there is research reported on from a few days ago.

  44. 244
    Hank Roberts says:

    hmmm, nope, copying the HTML from the source didn’t work, oddly it got the response numbers but not the thread name correct, so it seems..

    Here’s the topic where I think this recent news was discussed:

  45. 245
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Hank, thanks for the water-vapor article reference! Another interesting one is:

    Brown, S., Desai, S., Keihm, S., and C. Ruf, 2007. “Ocean water vapor and cloud burden trends derived from the topex microwave radiometer.” Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium. Barcelona, Spain: IGARSS 2007, pp. 886-889.

    Which also concludes, I think with a longer time series, that water vapor rises with temperature.

    Clausius-Clapeyron law. Duh.

  46. 246
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Duh

    But (to state the obvious here), studying the results from a variety of different instruments on various satellites looking down, to establish that they _can_ do this, is useful information, for sure! Not proving something already known, but evaluating global measurements with new tools.
    “centric vanished”

  47. 247
    Mike M says:

    The heat in sunlight barely gets through the massive amount of atmosphere it must travel through at such a low angle so it contributes next to nothing in terms of warming. The claim that ice cover reflects sunlight and dark open water absorbs sunlight is nonsense in polar regions. It is just the opposite! Given very little solar influx, the predominant heat flow is for open water to radiate heat and ice cover to contain heat in the water. Polar ice is a giant thermostat, a negative feedback that, in conjunction with ocean currents bringing heat to the poles, acts to help keep the rest of planet warmer. This would be easy to prove with a simple lab experiment – has anyone ever done it?

    [Response: This is very confused. Look at any of the data sets from SHEBA, solar radiation during the summer is a really big term and changes in albedo (whether through surface melt ponds or ice melting completely) make a big difference to the heat budget. – gavin]

  48. 248
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mike M., Where on Earth are you getting your information? I think some of your confusion may be due to your equating “heat” with IR. There isn’t much energy in the IR in sunlight. However, there is plenty in the visible and into the UV. This most certainly gets through to Earth’s surface, and a cursory glance at satellite photos of polar regions will reveal that open water is darker (lower albedo) than snow/ice.

  49. 249
    Werner Wintels says:

    The activities of the denialist movement in Canada were documented in a CBC news magazine the Fifth Estate:

    Interestingly, Singer was previously employed by tobacco companies to deny that cigarette smoke causes cancer. I suppose one could refer to him as a professional denier.

  50. 250
    Phelan Kell says:

    If the NIPCC report is filled with inaccuracies and is being pushed by people who are not in the know about climate science, why wouldn’t you then want to rebut the arguments raised by the paper with the actual science? After all, it’s cut and dry. The best way to silence the opposition is to soundly prove them wrong.

    [Response: Try actually looking up the links. It’s been done over and again. – gavin]