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Whatevergate

Filed under: — gavin @ 16 February 2010

It won’t have escaped many of our readers’ notice that there has been what can only be described as a media frenzy (mostly in the UK) with regards to climate change in recent weeks. The coverage has contained more bad reporting, misrepresentation and confusion on the subject than we have seen in such a short time anywhere. While the UK newspaper scene is uniquely competitive (especially compared to the US with over half a dozen national dailies selling in the same market), and historically there have been equally frenzied bouts of mis-reporting in the past on topics as diverse as pit bulls, vaccines and child abductions, there is something new in this mess that is worth discussing. And that has been a huge shift in the Overton window for climate change.

In any public discussion there are bounds which people who want to be thought of as having respectable ideas tend to stay between. This is most easily seen in health care debates. In the US, promotion of a National Health Service as in the UK or a single-payer system as in Canada is so far outside the bounds of normal health care politics, that these options are only ever brought up by ‘cranks’ (sigh). Meanwhile in the UK, discussions of health care delivery solutions outside of the NHS framework are never heard in the mainstream media. This limit on scope of the public debate has been called the Overton window.

The window does not have to remain static. Pressure groups and politicians can try and shift the bounds deliberately, or sometimes they are shifted by events. That seems to have been the case in the climate discussion. Prior to the email hack at CRU there had long been a pretty widespread avoidance of ‘global warming is a hoax’ proponents in serious discussions on the subject. The sceptics that were interviewed tended to be the slightly more sensible kind – people who did actually realise that CO2 was a greenhouse gas for instance. But the GW hoaxers were generally derided, or used as punchlines for jokes. This is not because they didn’t exist and weren’t continually making baseless accusations against scientists (they did and they were), but rather that their claims were self-evidently ridiculous and therefore not worth airing.

However, since the emails were released, and despite the fact that there is no evidence within them to support any of these claims of fraud and fabrication, the UK media has opened itself so wide to the spectrum of thought on climate that the GW hoaxers have now suddenly find themselves well within the mainstream. Nothing has changed the self-evidently ridiculousness of their arguments, but their presence at the media table has meant that the more reasonable critics seem far more centrist than they did a few months ago.

A few examples: Monckton being quoted as a ‘prominent climate sceptic’ on the front page of the New York Times this week (Wow!); The Guardian digging up baseless fraud accusations against a scientist at SUNY that had already been investigated and dismissed; The Sunday Times ignoring experts telling them the IPCC was right in favor of the anti-IPCC meme of the day; The Daily Mail making up quotes that fit their GW hoaxer narrative; The Daily Express breathlessly proclaiming the whole thing a ‘climate con’; The Sunday Times (again) dredging up unfounded accusations of corruption in the surface temperature data sets. All of these stories are based on the worst kind of oft-rebunked nonsense and they serve to make the more subtle kind of scepticism pushed by Lomborg et al seem almost erudite.

Perhaps this is driven by editors demanding that reporters come up with something new (to them) that fits into an anti-climate science theme that they are attempting to stoke. Or perhaps it is driven by the journalists desperate to maintain their scoop by pretending to their editors that this nonsense hasn’t been debunked a hundred times already? Who knows? All of these bad decisions are made easier when all of the actually sensible people, or people who know anything about the subject at all, are being assailed on all sides, and aren’t necessarily keen to find the time to explain, once again, that yes, the world is warming.

So far, so stupid. But even more concerning is the reaction from outside the UK media bubble. Two relatively prominent and respected US commentators – Curtis Brainard at CJR and Tom Yulsman in Colorado – have both bemoaned the fact that the US media (unusually perhaps) has not followed pell-mell into the fact-free abyss of their UK counterparts. Their point apparently seems to be that since much news print is being devoted to a story somewhere, then that story must be worth following. Indeed, since the substance to any particularly story is apparently proportional to the coverage, by not following the UK bandwagon, US journalists are missing a big story. Yulsman blames the lack of environmental beat reporters for lack of coverage in the US, but since most of the damage and bad reporting on this is from clueless and partisan news desk reporters in the UK, I actually expect that it is the environmental beat reporters’ prior experience with the forces of disinformation that prevents the contagion crossing the pond. To be sure, reporters should be able and willing (and encouraged) to write stories about anything to do with climate science and its institutions – but that kind of reporting is something very different from regurgitating disinformation, or repeating baseless accusations as fact.

So what is likely to happen now? As the various panels and reports on the CRU affair conclude, it is highly likely (almost certain in fact) that no-one will conclude that there has been any fraud, fabrication or scientific misconduct (since there hasn’t been). Eventually, people will realise (again) that the GW hoaxers are indeed cranks, and the mainstream window on their rants will close. In the meantime, huge amounts of misinformation, sprinkled liberally with plenty of disinformation, will be spread and public understanding on the issue will likely decline. As the history of the topic has shown, public attention to climate change comes and goes and this is likely to be seen as the latest bump on that ride.

Eppure si riscalda.

1,168 Responses to “Whatevergate”

  1. 1051
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1050
    Charlie Chutney says:
    2 March 2010 at 7:27 AM

    Ref 048 Gavin’s comments.

    Hi Gavin, most of your comments to my points are understandably predictable given our different points of view. ”

    so are yours, Charlie.

    In fact, they’ve written a website about them:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/saturated-co2-effect.htm

  2. 1052
    Nick Gotts says:

    I will go quickly and dig a trench and await your bombardment – although it may be more helpful if you could at least try to understand why someone might hold different views to yourself other than because they are uneducated (in science). – Charlie Chutney

    But Charlie, the only rationales you’ve been able to give are things like your “gut” tells you AGW is not real (it’s customary to try thinking with the brain Charlie – that’s its function); that you’re “stubborn”, that you “don’t want to believe it”, etc. And you expect to be respected for that?

    Nothing of the fuss of the last few months has cast the slightest doubt on the scientific consensus that AGW is real, and an urgent problem. We already knew there were powerful forces – of self-interest, of ideology, of reluctance to accept uncomfortable facts – that would seize on anything whatever to cast doubt, to delay action. You haven’t told us a single thing we didn’t already know.

  3. 1053
    dhogaza says:

    The more I think about it, the more I think Phil Jones’ Q & A with Harrabin is a significant contribution to my stance. Whilst Ray Ladbury has pointed out the clarifications subsequently received by Realclimate (and a cynic might say he would wouldn’t he), his actual Q & A, at face value, demonstrates a position not very far from my own and merely states many of the doubts and areas of concern that I have (“science isn’t settled”, “MWP”, no statistical warming, current rate of increase not statistically different to other previous periods of warming.

    It just means you don’t understand carefully worded english, and after all of the explanations, you are stubbornly persisting in not understanding.

    I will go quickly and dig a trench

    A hole will suffice for your ostrich-like posture.

  4. 1054
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Charlie Chutney
    OK, from your posts, I can only guess that you don’t know any scientists and have never studied much science. But think about the scientists you have run into here. Do they seem like the sorts of people who would be intimidated by peer pressure? Remember, we were the nerds growing up. It wasn’t cool to be into science and math. Where I went to school, to be a “junior scientist” was an epithet of abuse. For someone to persist in the face of that doesn’t sound like someone who is easily intimidated.

    The other thing you need to know about scientists is that you don’t go into science to get rich. Some of my colleagues who quit grad school and went to work in Law or on Wall Street are now quite wealthy. I am not. You become a scientist because you are passionate about understanding the world around you–because you are curious. OK, now think about that. If your motivation is to understand the world around you, why on Earth would you want to corrupt that understanding with untruth? And keep in mind that you are surrounded by lots of other people who are every bit as curious as you are. If you commit scientific fraud, they will discover it when they try to replicate your results–and they’ll be REALLY, REALLY MIGHTILY pissed off. It will end your career as a scientist–after you’ve worked 20 years or more to become one.

    OK, now think about what you are alleging, Charlie. You are saying that not one or two, but thousands of researchers in a field got together to perpetrate a fraud of unprecedented proportions. What do you think the chances of that are? That they’d all agree and that it would all hold up over 20 years. That nobody would expose the fraud. Do you know what would happen to a whistle blower? Would he be ostracized by the scientific community? No he’d be a fricking hero.

    And keep in mind that climate science has been looked at by the entire scientific community outside of climate science–physicists, chemists, mathematicians, statisticians. Not one review has found any reason to doubt the main conclusions–that the globe is warming, that we are responsible and that it poses a serious threat.

    And let’s consider the Harrabin interview. Harrabin solicited questions from prominent denialists–these were phrased in “do you still beat your wife” language. The dates and wording were cherry-picked. And what did we learn?

    We learned that if you cherry-pick dates you can find previous periods where it warmed significantly? So what? No serious scientist has ever contended that CO2 is the only driver of climate. We even have likely causes for the periods in question:
    1860-1880: Very low volcanic activity decreased the aerosols in the atmosphere and relatively high (for the era) solar activity.
    1910-1940: Brightening sun + low volcanic activity

    We learned that we don’t have enough evidence to make a definitive decision on the MWP. Nobody disputes that. However, if you look at what evidence is available, it doesn’t support a global warm period from 800-1200 AD. The problem is that the few proxies that exist in the southern hemisphere don’t line up in time.

    And as to whether there is statistically significant warming–the period since 1995 has seen warming statistically significant at the 90% confidence level, just not at the 95% confidence level. What is more, this is not unexpected in a short period. It is very likely that the warming from 1995 to 2010 will be statistically significant. Will you change your mind if that happens?

    And what about all the “inquiries”? Can you name even one significant scientific result that is at risk of being overturned as a result of all the alleged (and unsubstantiated) malfeasance? I mean, we have 4 different temperature records that all show very similar behavior–one of them maintained by a prominent “skeptic” scientist. And if you don’t like Mike Mann’s reconstruction of paleoclimate, you can use any of about 20 others all of which show pretty much the same thing? The greenhouse nature of CO2 was established in the 1850s (or do you think Tyndall was in on the conspiracy?). As to the CO2 sensitivity, we have about a dozen different lines of evidence that all favor the same range. What, precisely is in jeopardy?

    I get that you are angry, Charlie. I really do. Pretty much everyone on this side of the pond is pissed off, too. There’s a lot in our societies that is not working these days. What I don’t understand is why you are directing your anger at the scientists rather than at the politicians that are proposing the policies you oppose. Wouldn’t it make more sense to learn enough of the science that you can confidently say to the politicians and your fellow voters that the policies proposed are ineffective AND to propose new ones that would be effective and consistent with your values?

    If you decide to learn about the science, Charlie, you’ll find plenty of folks here willing to help. That includes me, to the best of my ability. Folks starting with less scientific background than you have been successful. And it really is interesting stuff.

    On the other hand, if you just want to be pissed off and ineffective, I guess it doesn’t matter which way you vent your steam.

  5. 1055
    Sou says:

    @1050 Charley: You have written a couple of long posts saying you have ‘doubts’ (reminds me of Meryl Streep playing a nun in a recent rather silly film I saw).

    Instead of spending time telling us all how you don’t know stuff but have some undefined ‘doubts’, why not spend the time more usefully and do some reading on the topic. The START HERE button on this site would be a good place to start.

    If you want to see some videos and charts and stuff, I’ve been putting links to same on my website.

    Boasting about ignorance and doubt does nothing to dispel it – only reading can do that. If your aim is to find out information, it’s best to ask specific questions rather than just make lots of vague comments about your ‘doubts’.

    Another way to go about it is to think up as many ‘facts’ as you can about what you ‘believe’, and then try to disprove the ‘facts’. That’s what much science does. If you can show the ‘fact’ can or can’t be shown to be false, you’ll have made progress of some kind.

    For example, you could try to find evidence that disproves the world has got cooler over the past 50 years. If you find no evidence to disprove the world has got cooler and find only evidence to show the world HAS got cooler no matter how hard you search, then you can go to another ‘fact’ and try to disprove that. Slowly you’ll build up a picture of what is happening to the earth in regard to climate, and you might even start to figure out why.

  6. 1056
    RichardC says:

    1050 Charlie C said, “it may be more helpful if you could at least try to understand why someone might hold different views to yourself other than because they are uneducated (in science).”

    Ignorance lecturing knowledge about level playing fields. Sorry Charlie, that’s loony.

  7. 1057
    Hank Roberts says:

    Charlie, you seem to have come here looking for argument and abuse.
    Why not take that to some place where people want to engage with you?

    You can learn something about the science here, even without a college degree, even without calculus, even without paying tuition — if you’re willing to think and pay attention.

    That’s why a lot of us are reading here — we want to learn what we couldn’t learn elsewhere.

    People like you standing up and ranting crap like this waste everyone’s time.
    I have to figure that’s why you’re here, to interfere with one of the very few places like me can learn this stuff with serious help from knowledgeable people.

    Why don’t you take your fight somewhere people want an argument, and take your wish to be abused somewhere that’s encouraged? Spend time here when you want to learn something.

    For God’s sake, man, the simplest lesson here, probably the only one I’ve adequately learned, is where you could start.

    You can look things up instead of insult people to get them to teach you.
    You say you don’t know how scientists participating in the survey were chosen. You say this as though your ignorance were an irredeemable fact instead of a problem YOU CAN SOLVE BY LOOKING IT UP.

    There, I’ve shouted at you. First time in a while.
    Got what you wanted now?

  8. 1058
    SecularAnimist says:

    Charlie Chutney, what you have proclaimed in comment after comment after comment is that you are resolutely devoted to gullibly, unquestioningly, unskeptically believing whatever deceitful, malicious ExxonMobil-scripted denialist talking points are spoon-fed to you by the so-called “right wing” media, that you are vastly ill-informed about the actual substance or conduct of the science of global warming, and that you are determined to remain ignorant and will ignore or reject any information that challenges your ideologically-driven, objectively false, received beliefs.

    You are by all means welcome to be an obstinate denier of plain facts, and an avid consumer and purveyor of unscrupulous, dishonest propaganda, if you wish.

    But really, continuing to post the same repetitive arguments from ignorance over and over again is belaboring the point.

  9. 1059
    SecularAnimist says:

    Charlie Chutney wrote: “I will go quickly and dig a trench and await your bombardment …”

    And by the way, that’s a very dishonest remark. No one here has “bombarded” you. All of the scientists here — both moderators and commenters — have treated you with respect and patience, which is remarkable considering how much of the content of your comments consists of baseless, dishonest, ignorant, arrogant and insulting slanders against climate scientists.

    If anyone is doing any “bombarding” here, it is you — you are basically spamming the thread with ExxonMobil propaganda.

  10. 1060
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Charlie Chutney says: [Phil Jones] demonstrates a position not very far from my own and merely states many of the doubts and areas of concern that I have (“science isn’t settled”, “MWP”, no statistical warming, current rate of increase not statistically different to other previous periods of warming. Taken at face value, these statements demonstrate a significantly different stance to the “science is settled” mantra.

    But Charlie, surely you understand that Dr. Jones would never agree with “no statistical warming,” and that his statement applied only to the specific interval from 1995 onward — in no way does that simple statement of statistical fact undermine the case when all of the data are included.

    A lot of science is settled. We can use climate science to predict the average surface temperature for worlds as diverse as Venus, Mars, and Titan. It works for gas giants. It works for stellar atmospheres. And it works for Earth. The laws of radiative thermodynamics are settled science and have been for over a century. You will never get Dr. Jones to disagree with any off this; denying it is akin to denying Newton’s laws, which are also settled science.

  11. 1061
    Septic Matthew says:

    1049, Completely Fed Up: has an oscillation but is not cyclic

    That’s a good one. Perhaps you mean that it is an oscillation without a fixed period.

    My claim is that alternative explanations have not been ruled out. AGW has not been ruled out either. I’ll have to leave you for a while so you can study Latif’s and Tsonis’ models, which incorporate hypothetical oscillations.

    On the mathematical equivalence of Fourier and AR models, read Fuller, “Introduction to Statistical Time Series”, theorem 4.3.1 (p. 140), corollary 4.3.1.2 (p. 144), and theorem 4.3.2 (p. 146.)

    Two aphorisms:

    “Though it may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation.” Bertrand Russel

    “All models are false. Some are useful.” G.E.P. Box.

    Both are quoted in Bates and Watts, “Nonlinear Regression Analysis and its Applications.”

  12. 1062
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    1050 Charlie Chutney,
    “try to understand why someone might hold different views to yourself other than because they are uneducated (in science)…. ”

    That is not a question that the physical sciences can answer or even reflect upon. What they do is to compare their expert knowledge with your thoughts and conclude that you do not fit the template. that is all.

    To understand why the science and the politics and the sceptics and the media et cetera play out the way they do …. the physical sciences are not helpful at all. You need to find another blog with qualified expertise on this subject matter.

  13. 1063
    flxible says:

    Charlie Chutney@1048/1050
    As someone in a similar space [not a “young turk”, a good education and life experience, “intelligent”, interested in the “wider picture”] I can understand what you’re saying, but my interpretation is somewhat different. The various questioning “investigations” you cite are certainly there, but as yet I’ve seen no results contrary to the postulations of the science, and I see them as political responses, not related to the actual science, aimed primarily at swaying public opinion to support the BAU response. Where are the investigations of the “contrarians”? Why such a focus on personalities and methods instead of actual evidence and results? Why the continued noise about details that have been explained ad nauseum? Where is the actual contrary science?

    With regard to the argueing “that these doubts are only getting any airtime because of the efforts of sceptic blog sites”, I see those sites not as drivers or instigators of the doubt, but simply another venue for the doubt that really comes from a single source: the “natural” inertia of self interested human behaviour, particularly those profiting the most from the current culture of fossil fuels. A really large number of “regular folks” around us depend primarily on the current fossil-energy consumptive way of life, and virtually all of them perceive climate science as “rocking their boat”. Never mind the petro-aristocracy, look at the home heating oil delivery truck drivers, the mechanics that maintain those [and our] vehicles, the parts suppliers and stock clerks, the gas stations on every corner, the coal miners and oil field grunts [one place young unskilled workers can count on well paying jobs in Canada] – it’s been claimed that every job in N American auto manufacturing leads to an additional 4-6 in the wider economy. Those folks, the voters, are all [consciously or unconsciously] concerned for their own future. I know a number of people who have already had their lives trashed by “globalization” and the general economic turmoil the last decades have brought. Faced with finding new careers after investing 10, 20, 30 years working toward what they thought was the comfortable retirement they were “entitled” to, they may understandably be reluctant to accept even more revolutionary changes in their lives and world view. For them “doubt” about the science, which they really know nothing about beyond what the loudest voices tell them, is a life boat in a stormy sea.

    To me the question isn’t “are there doubts” but more like what is the support for anything contrary, and I don’t see the nits in interpretations of Jones’ interview and similar politicizations as that support, the focus on linguistic details belies the lack. Does an honest economic/risk analysis show we can ignore the science? Where does the factual evidence lead? Rapid increase of atmospheric CO2 is a problem on various levels; humanity has affected the cycles of the system that all life depends on; science tells us we have a fairly simple [physical] way to reduce/remediate our effect. “Where’s the beef”? In the economics and politics, not in the science.

  14. 1064
    David B. Benson says:

    Septic Matthew (1047) — Please go back to prior comments on this page regarding AMO and educate yourself regarding that quasi-periodic oscillation. Maybe learn about QPOs as well.

  15. 1065
    Pat Cassen says:

    Charlie Chutney, and others, have ‘doubts’ about “the methods, quality, approach, etc, to research and conclusions drawn”. He has offered possible reasons why it is that almost all climate scientists<> express the view that AGW is real and dangerous: group-think, job security, peer pressure, etc. Apparently he remains suspicious of the possibility that climate scientists find the physics and corresponding observations compelling.

    Imagine this. You are a non-scientist sitting on the New Mexico desert very early on the morning of July 16, 1945. You have been told that you are about to witness something quite unbelievable, outside of all previous human experience. The scientists are convinced of this, based solely on their understanding of physics, despite the complete lack of anyone’s immediate experience with what they claim is about to happen. All their work has been done in secret; much is riding on the outcome, plenty of opportunity for group-think, etc. You have doubts, as any non-scientist might. But you do cover your eyes. And the physics works.

    Besides the climate scientists, many of the people at this site who would persuade you of the reality of AGW are convinced themselves simply because they understand the physics: CO2 is increasing, we are responsible for the increase, CO2 warms the planet, warmer air holds more water vapor, water vapor also warms the planet.

    If you believe this, then one can move on from worries about data manipulation, the imperfections of peer review, the temperature record, etc. But why should you believe this, if your source of information comes from blogs (including this one) and media reports? Rather than trying to figure out ‘who is right’ by sifting through the internet and media noise, judging which side seems more plausible, reasonable, polite, erudite, etc., just set yourself the goal of understanding why almost all climate scientists believe that AGW is real and dangerous.

    So where to start? Many have recommended Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming” at:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/
    It’s a great resource, but maybe it sounds too one-sided to you, or you are suspicious just because it’s recommended here. And of course it’s just one person’s point of view. But it is a scholarly work, and provides essential background that one should know about, in any event.

    There are lots of other good resources. Try the educational sites. These have no agenda but to teach. A good one is Earthguide, a part of the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They have a two-part course on climate starting at:
    http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange1/cc1syllabus.shtml

    MIT has a course on climate, for which you can download notes at:
    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Earth–Atmospheric–and-Planetary-Sciences/12-842Fall-2008/LectureNotes/index.htm
    (Although the quality of the notes varies from lecture to lecture.)
    There are others.

    Finally, browse the primary literature in the journals at the websites of the American Meteorological Society
    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=index-html
    and the American Geophysical Union
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/journals/
    You usually can at least read the abstracts, and you don’t have to understand everything to get the general idea. Use Google Scholar to follow up on papers that especially interest you, or email the authors. The time spent doing this might be worth far more than reading all these blog comments.

  16. 1066
    stevenc says:

    BPL, glad I could be of some limited assistance.

  17. 1067
    two moon says:

    1025 Andreas: You might want to dial down the rhetoric about Americans not knowing much about the world or US foreign policy being more guided than others’ by self-interest. It could just as easily be argued that the most sophisticated foreign affairs thinking in the world takes place in the US, and US foreign policy has to account for burdens and challenges that other countries avoid or simply leave to the Americans. The remarkable thing about the era of American predominance has been how little the US has demanded. The remarkable thing about European policy during this period has been Europeans’ lapse into a kind of “wishing-can-make-it-so” ineffectiveness.

  18. 1068
    Hank Roberts says:

    Charlie, above you write:

    “… I work in business and have to write reports on the pros and cons of particular initiatives that are being considered. It is sometimes very hard to keep going exploring the “cons” if one has already (instinctively) drawn a positive conclusion. I know that I have left out some “cons” from reports because no one else had (or would have) spotted them and it might have damaged support for the initiative.”

    This is important, and you’re not unusual — and you’re assuming scientists think and work like businesspeople and think it’s something nobody would fault and it’s okay to admit in public.

    Do you know how that same offhand remark would be received by a scientist’s peers? I doubt you can imagine the difference without working as a scientist, or a scientist’s lab assistant.

    I doubt many business people will recognize this quote. Few scientists would not recognize it and understand it. I hope you’ll look up the context:

    “… The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

    I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.”
    —Richard Feynman, “Cargo Cult Science”

    Seriously, Charlie, you’re thinking like a businessperson.
    It’s different _in_scientific_work_.
    The scientist may still skin you in a po ker game without any qualms, though, or bargain sharply over a purchase. Those aren’t science; no extra responsibility on the scientist’s part _outside_ of scientific work and communicating to the public.

  19. 1069
    Charlie Chutney says:

    I have just watched the Inquiry video featuring Phil Jones. Despite my climate “scepticism” I feel that it is a tragedy that someone of Phil Jones’ standing should find himself being interviewed so publicly and, in effect, have to defend his reputation and maybe his future ability to have a career.

    One of the criticisms regularly laid at the feet of the sceptics is that we don’t understand the science and are therefore not in a position to comment. However, the issue of global temperature records, as Phil Jones said, isn’t “rocket science” and isn’t so difficult to understand.

    I believe that I have a basic understanding of instrumental recording and why adjustments are then applied for various reasons such as changes of device, movement, UHI, etc.

    I live in Central England and the Central England Mean Annual Temperature Annomaly graph from 1772 to date is available at: http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/.

    Whilst I understand that Central England isn’t “the World” it seems to be a reasonable place to start given the consistency of the instrumental records.

    As a layman, assuming that we accept a “natural” warming of the globe is real (and I haven’t come across anyone that doesn’t), then, in all honesty, I don’t see anything going on with the graph that strikes me as reasons to be concerned to the extent of the alarmism that is often advocated.

    Whilst there isn’t a trend line on the graph, my “eye” suggests an overall warming of just over a degree since 1772. It looks like the increase is slightly higher in the second half of the graph than in the first. Current warming rate (which appear to have peaked for the time being) don’t look much different to a couple of other areas of the graph. However, if the recent warming carried on for another 30 years or so, then this would be unusual based upon this record.

    Is it possible to agree this summary of this graph?

    Assuming you agree the summary then the difference between us would appear to be entirely based upon theories of why there has been warming on the graph since about 1980.

    It strikes me that it is odd that there can be such vitriol generated based upon the potential relevance of, what can only be, theories regarding natural variability or CO2 based warming.

    To be labelled a “denier” or “flat-earther” based upon one’s interpretation of this relatively simple graph is simply not logical. And, I don’t think that I need to be a climate scientist to reasonably draw the conclusions that I do.

  20. 1070

    Charlie Chutney @ 1050–

    Charlie, elsewhere I wrote:

    You’ve been lied to.

    The first decade of the new millennium has been the warmest ever–yet you are being told that the world is cooling.

    The greenhouse effect was discovered in 1824, and the role that carbon dioxide plays in it in 1860–yet you are being told that the science is too immature.

    In 2005 Dr. Naomi Oreskes found not one of 928 published scientific papers taking exception to the scientific consensus on human-induced global climate change, and three years later Dr. Peter Doran found that 97% of active climate researchers agreed that human activity is warming the world’s climate–yet you are being told that there is a scientific “controversy.”

    What actually does exist is a disinformation campaign—systematic, well-conceived, well-executed, and above all well-funded.

    The point is that the best evidence to help you assess whom it is you should believe in the climate controversy is the consistency of the argumentation on either side.

    Take the BBC Jones interview that you mention. How consistent is it that Dr. Jones is falsely claimed to have said there has been “no warming since 1995” when he carefully states that there has been warming in his answer? (Yes, I know that you mention the statistical significance component, but most posts making this argument that I have seen–and that’s a lot of posts!–do not.)

    Further, how consistent is it to claim cooling over a shorter (cherry-picked) span which is much, much farther from statistical significance, as is implicitly done in the questions posed to Dr. Jones?

    And this is not an isolated instance. Incoherent argumentation is a hallmark of most denialist discourse. For example, elaborate skepticism is directed toward the GISS data, but a paper (not peer-reviewed!) essentially claiming that CO2 measurements were more accurate in the nineteenth century than they are now is received unreservedly as fact. (Actually, “revelation” was the word that first came to mind.) Or the “galactic cosmic ray” theories of Svensmark are taken as Gospel, even though they are still lacking in experimental support.

    Or take the “whole solar system is warming” foofara of a couple of years ago. Prominent denialists argued (with straight faces) that though we can’t measure the Earth’s temperature accurately, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus (IIRC) are warming at the same rate as Earth, and therefore the sun must be responsible for Terrestrial warming (which we “can’t measure”!)–even though we’ve been directly measuring solar radiation reaching Earth orbit since the 70’s and there has been no increase!

    Further examples are not hard to find, but it becomes tedious to multiply them. I’m sure you have the critical faculties to spot some yourself, if you will only look.

  21. 1071
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Charlie, there’s a reason why you need more than your eye to see what is going on. The data are noisy. There are some oddities in the record early on. However see this analysis:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/central-england-temperature/

    When it comes to interpretation of data, there are right ways and wrong ways. Because the data are noisy, it is wrong to just eyeball it. Because the data contain a seasonal cycle that is much larger than any warming contribution so far, it is far better to look at the anomaly. And averaging over a year or 5 or 10 or 30 is really the best way to separate long-term trends from short-term variability.

    Let’s look at another example that may be more familiar. Let’s say that you decide to save for retirement. You buy some stocks. The market goes up. You are happy and buy some more. Now the market tanks big time. You decide to sell to cut your losses and walk away from the market vowing never to invest again. I’m sure you will agree that this is precisely the wrong strategy. When investing you have to look at performance over the long term. If your judicious analysis shows no reason to doubt the soundness of the investment, down markets are buying opportunities, while rising markets are an opportunity to sell and bring your portfolio back into balance. This is the right way to invest.

    Just as there is a right way to interpret market information, there is also a right way to interpret any other kind of information, and it depends on the noise and errors in the data. This isn’t just a matter of interpretation. It’s a matter of elucidating the information that is in the data. This is part of the training one receives as a scientist. Tamino is a trained statistician–an expert at illuminating trends in data. The trend was always there in the data. It just takes the right analysis to see it.

  22. 1072
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    1067 two moon,
    You mix two different things, namely citizens and experts. I maintain that “US citizens know very little about the rest of the world”. For example, many american citizens go through 12 years of school without learning anything about the rest of the world, because only US history and US geography are mandatory, whereas world history and world geography are optional choices for the brigher kids. That was the case when I studied one year at a US high school anyway and others told me this is common.
    Moroever, the rest of the world watch american television a couple of hours every day on average. I have seem TV gameshows where US citizens declare that Paris is the capital of the country Europe. Yes, I do think there is an assymetry in knowledge that makes it easier for US politicians to decieve the public compared to most countries in Europe. But I do not wish to make this into some kind of patriotism, it is only an hypothesis and I think I have empirical backing for the hypothesis at least.
    Please develop the argument if you think otherwise.

    The intelligence behind US foreign politics is something completely different. They know lots about the rest of the world, of course. I agree that probably “the most sophisticated foreign affairs thinking in the world takes place in the US”.

    When it comes to climate change and self-interest, I do think that US climate policy is more self-interested than Swedens climate policy, at least my collegues work is indicating that (Mathias Zannakis, Climate Policy as a Window of Opportunity. Sweden and Global Climate Change).

  23. 1073
    Charlie Chutney says:

    My comment at 069 was written before I saw the responses at:
    068, 065, 063, 060, 059, 058, 057, 056, 055,, 054, 052, 051!

    Firstly chaps, you completely and utterly misunderstand me and my intentions in communicating with you.

    Having “lurked” for a while, I established a there was theme here on the site that categorised “sceptics” (deniers, flat earthers, etc) as big oil, loonies or incompetent. Many of the sceptics that appear on the site are confrontational and insulting and therefore, in my view, deserving of (and probably expecting) a kicking from the home team.

    I thought, wrongly it would appear, that you may be interested to hear from a passive sceptic that explained why they think what they think, how they have arrived at their judgement and where they have difficulties or weaknesses in their own arguments – whilst never insulting or criticising the home team contributors.

    If you re-read all my comments from a neutral standpoint and give me the benefit of the doubt if there are two possible interpretations of a statement that I have written, then you will see that I have not written anything approaching an insult.

    If I were to criticise some contributors, it would be to say that many contributors simply refuse to accept that there might be such a thing as a well meaning sceptic or accept that a sceptic may arrive at independent conclusions in a rational (in their view) way. Here in the UK all of the polls indicate that “sceptics” now form the majority view and the press is now publishing increasing numbers of sceptic views.

    This issue is too important to get wrong so I would have thought that “engagement” might be helpful if it gave you the opportunity to understand why I, and others, think what we do (when it isn’t based on a premise that all scientists are part of some global conspiracy).

    In addition, in recognition that Gavin has kindly tolerated my missives, I have attempted levity and empathy which has, it would appear, been completely misunderstood. Maybe lightening-up a bit might be helpful.

    Ref 051 – CFU – I wasn’t meaning to use the word “predictable” in any sense other than descriptive statement of fact i.e. given that we both have our stances we both respond predictably. i.e. acceptance of the actuality rather than insult. If you can point to anything I’ve written as an insult please tell me.

    Ref 052 – Nick Gotts – Yes I do expect respect when I engage in attempts at intelligent intercourse – and thanks for the various insults.

    Ref 054 – Ray – I am not angry. If you have interpreted from my missives that I am then it can only be based on your predisposition or assumptions.

    Ref 055 – Sou – Nothing to respond to other than the sideswipes and the tone.

    Ref 056 – RichardC – Thanks – a well thought out and considered piece (that was sarcasm).

    Ref 057 – Hank Roberts – see 056 above – your reference to “ranting crap” was particularly helpful. With respect to “taking my fight to somewhere people want an argument” it would appear that I have, inadvertently, found it.

    Ref 058 – SecularAnimist – A little confrontational I would say.
    Ref 059 – SecularAnimist – With respect to “bombardment” being a very dishonest remark – see: 068, 065, 063, 060, 059, 058, 056, 055, 054, 052, 051. You say: “….how much of the content of your comments consists of baseless, dishonest, ignorant, arrogant and insulting slanders against climate scientists”. Please reference these allegations.

    Ref 060 – Jim Galasyn – I accept your first para’ because that is what I meant and understood him to say. With respect to para 2, I interpret the “science is settled” issue to be restricted to the impact of increasing CO2 levels causing the planet to heat alarmingly. As we communicate, it isn’t, and hasn’t done in the last 10 to 15 years. The issue is whether natural variability is masking man made global warming -as I understand it.

    Ref 062 – Andreas Bjurstom – I was trying to engage and inform – I thought it might be useful/helpful.

    Ref 063 – Thank you for not beating me up.

    Ref 065 – Pat Cassen – I understand and respect your reasoned response.

    Ref 068 – Hank Roberts – I think like a businessman because that is what I am – which was the point of my comments and an attempt to inform.

    Whilst writing (BTW I have the day off from providing the world with bespoke IT solutions that will revolutionise the way businesses work (– another poor attempt at levity)) I have noticed Ray’s additional comment at 070 –

    Ray, I really do not want to appear to be, or be, combative, but if the planet is warming naturally then wouldn’t every decade be warmer than the last (subject to natural variability)? With respect to the very recent lack of statistical warming, I of course understand that this proves nothing. The trends, and one’s interpretation of them, are the issue – I accept that.

    If you forget, for a minute, all of your undoubted knowledge of the science and the theories and just look at the Central England graph can you understand where I am coming from?

    I will go now.

    Charlie.

  24. 1074
    Sou says:

    #1070

    It strikes me that it is odd that there can be such vitriol generated based upon the potential relevance of, what can only be, theories regarding natural variability or CO2 based warming.

    I don’t know about why there is vitriol, but I can say it is frustrating to an ordinary person when people say they see ‘nothing wrong’ with a degree or two rise in temperature. I’ve even read some people saying we could live with a six degree rise in temperature. All I can say is they must live in very cold places.

    Trying to make it through a two or three week heatwave of 42C to 47C (117F) as we had last summer, when it used to be considered unusual to get above 38C (100F) is difficult to say the least. And we haven’t even got to the expected high temperatures yet – and live in a ‘mediterranean’ temperate climate. When the water runs out as well, you can imagine how hard it is to grow things let alone find water for drinking and bathing.

    When the general public doesn’t understand what is happening, it makes it harder and slower to get the changes we need – and will cost a lot more when we do get around to it.

    It’s a shame so many people live in cold climates :D

  25. 1075
    Nancy says:

    I don’t have the expertise to comment on the scientific issues discussed here, but there’s one thing I can comment on and that is that part of the problem we are having is the abyssmal lack of basic education in the sciences in our public schools, elementary and college. The lack of knowledge of scientific theory is the problem. The level of ignorance evidenced by otherwise intelligent people is truly shocking. I don’t know what’s happened. In the old days [60’s and 70’s], you had to take hard science courses to graduate from HS and to get a bachelor of arts degree.

  26. 1076
    Cfox says:

    Charlie,
    Might I recommend Schneider’s new book: Science as a Contact Sport. I cannot say it was the best written book (and I would be interested in the experts’ opinion on it), but I think that it does a good job of providing a historical perspective on Climate Change and most appropriately, the denialist’s consistent and un-scientific agenda.
    As it was released in late 09 and just prior to the recent hubbub, it is outdated in certain areas, but also more interesting and prescient in others.
    Unfortunately, I think that ultimately you want someone to say, “OK, Charlie, you are a smart guy, you looked at all of the data and we understand why you have a difference of opinion.” That is not going to happen. I am not sure why you don’t think it is insulting to tell people that have studied this topic for many years that you can look at one graph and come to a different conclusion. As many other others have asked of you, I ask you to take your “skeptical” views and aim them at the denialists.

  27. 1077
    flxible says:

    Charlie: “Assuming you agree the summary then the difference between us would appear to be entirely based upon theories of why there has been warming on the graph since about 1980”
    Not quite, the difference would actually be that you claim there are theories, but you don’t present any, you just claim the warming [that you admit is shown] is insignificant – ie: you deny the ONE proven theory that has solid investigative support.

  28. 1078
    simon abindon says:

    @1071 Ray

    Can’t help wanting to know about Tamino’s portfolio though.

  29. 1079
    Hank Roberts says:

    > what can only be, theories regarding … CO2 based warming.

    Charlie, if you have a bonfire burning wood and throw gasoline on it, what does theory say will happen? What does actual experience say will happen?

    You listen to the gasoline-warming theorist because you’ve either seen someone throw gasoline on a fire, or seen pictures of the result, I expect. You can’t be expected to understand the physics and chemistry behind long chain hydrocarbon oxidation rates of change.

    The ‘theory’ about CO2 based warming is as solid as the ‘theory’ about gasoline-fire-based warming.

    How many observations can you make before you’re convinced?
    How many planets do you have available to watch to learn what happens?

    You’re a denialist: you don’t understand the science, and you don’t want to.

    You’re not a skeptic, though you claim you are, because you don’t understand the science, and you don’t want to.

    You understand the Fermi Paradox?

    “In general, solutions to Fermi’s paradox come down to either 1) life is difficult to start and evolve (either hard for the process or hard to find the right conditions) or 2) advanced civilizations destroy themselves on short timescales.” — http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~js/cosmo/lectures/lec28.html

  30. 1080
    John Peter says:

    Ray 1054

    I won’t even pretend that I have any facts to contribute to y’alls discussion with Charlie. I believe AGW science, the IPCC technical summaries, this web site, the willingness of the AGW researchers to share their knowledge and educate us “unwashed” is very high quality work. It is as fine a scientific endeavor as I have encountered in my life up to now. This includes the scientists and the work of the scientists that is currently under attack in such a public manner around the world.

    You do have some nonscientific problems.

    First and foremost you believe you can forecast the future. Paleo-religion aside, humankind the world over knows no one can do that. Statistical scientists know that you can no more create a “normal” distribution from a non-linear or chaotic collection than you could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Your attempt at quantification of beliefs notwithstanding no one, not even you excellent folk, knows the future.

    Secondly, in communicating with the rest of the world you exhibit what is perceived as a siege mentality. You attempt to frame any discussion/debate in your own terms, i.e. scientific fact and are disappointed in those that refuse to go along. In a political debate, the side that is successful in such “framing” has a definite advantage. What is going on with climate-gate is no more than the other side(s)trying to “frame” debate in their terms. I hope they are unsuccessful perhaps only because I don’t particularly enjoy political debates.

    There are other minor improvements you could make such as listening to others who are trying to help – social scientists like Donna – come to mind. I believe the above two to be the most important and, what the heck, no one, not even a climate scientist, is perfect.

  31. 1081
    John Peter says:

    Ray (1054)

    You said “…And if you don’t like Mike Mann’s reconstruction of paleoclimate, you can use any of about 20 others all of which show pretty much the same thing?…”

    How do you reconcile Mike’s recent paleo paper and interview? I had assumed you would just say “it’s only one paper, good science shouldn’t be rushed” But it seems Mike has gone public that he has changed his mind. You did mention Mike, you know.

    So what does ray suggest I do? I read the paper. It’s at: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/326/5957/1256.pdf

  32. 1082
    two moon says:

    1072 Andreas: Excellent post. Very thoughtful. In some respects this exchange leads to discussion of the social/cultural differences between a homogenous European nation-state and a continental multi-national empire. We’re not writing that book here, so I’ll try to be brief. There is no doubt that “average” American students are taught less about the outside world than are Swedish students. At the risk of over-simplifying, I’d say that this is because many Americans will never travel abroad and their own country is more complicated than most to understand.

    Nevertheless, this does not have as much effect as you might expect on American policy because electoral participation percentages are very low compared to Europe, and most of the non-participation comes from the same segment of the population that has studied the world less.

    I would not draw too many conclusions from American TV and movies. Producers of certain shows look for participants who will be strikingly colorful or stupid. Movies are no better; Hitler famously thought that the US was run by Chicago gangsters and Jewish financiers. Now we all know that it is run by tough cops, crusading lawyers and emergency room doctors. :-)

    As for self-interest in climate policy, I suppose the question is whose interest? Swedish policy may have less (or no) linkage to commercial activity, but it has more of a link to bureaucratic power of the EU and UN sort. The “dirigiste” character of much proposed international regulation related to climate fits the US “as a saddle fits a cow” (apologies to V.I. Lenin).

    I have spent much of my working life outside the US and I find that the deficit in understanding is every bit as large among foreigners vis-a-vis the US as it is among Americans vis-a-vis the wider world. The difference is that foreigners believe that they understand the US; Americans know that they don’t understand much of what goes on outside.

    It has been a pleasure to discuss with you.

  33. 1083
    Septic Matthew says:

    1064, David B. Benson: Septic Matthew (1047) — Please go back to prior comments on this page regarding AMO and educate yourself regarding that quasi-periodic oscillation. Maybe learn about QPOs as well.

    What exactly is it about quasi-periodic oscillations that you think is relevant here that you think I don’t know. I already provided references to books on nonlinear dynamics that address modeling quasi-periodic oscillations. Heart beats and breaths are physiological examples of “rhythms” (as they are loosely called) that have oscillations without fixed periods.

    The data of the last 150 years simply are not adequate to decide whether an oscillation in temperature forcing is present or not, whether the autocorrelation or oscillation is the best mathematical representation of the phenomenon, or what makes the best prediction for the future. Some models (Latif, Tsonis and others) include an oscillatory component and some don’t, and the evidence does not support a strong belief one way or another.

    If you are trying to say that AMO is a known quasi-periodic forcing mechanism (or something) behind oscillatory temperature increases, then I agree as far as to say that might be true. If it is true, then the harmonic regression analysis provides a rough model that will be increasingly inaccurate as time passes. That isn’t a unique flaw, as no model now has a demonstrable record of making accurate predictions.

    If you are trying to tell me that Completely Fed Up is trying to write something about quasi-periodic oscillations, …, well maybe.

  34. 1084
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan: Advice to Climate Scientists on how to Avoid being Swift-boated and how to become Public Intellectuals

    …Let me just give my scientific colleagues some advice, since as a Middle East expert I’ve seen all sorts of falsehoods about the region successfully purveyed by the US mass media and print press, in such a way as to shape public opinion and to affect policy-making in Washington: …

  35. 1085
    Stefan N says:

    #1040 Ray Ladbury
    Thanks for correcting me.

  36. 1086
    Charlie Chutney says:

    There is probably not much to be gained by responding to all of the comments in response to my recent posts. Just picking up on a couple though …

    Ray, I followed your Tamino link at:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/central-england-temperature/
    … and at the risk of incurring everyone’s ire again, and accepting that I am neither a scientist nor a statistician, I find it very difficult to reconcile the final graphs as being reasonable representations of trends that can be established from the graph I originally referenced. I accept that this might be frustrating for everyone and that my statement suggests I am rejecting expert analysis in favour of my own non-technical judgement, I guess I must be – I don’t know what to say.

    A number of the comments appear to suggest that I reject a scientific fact says that increases in CO2 in the atmosphere can induce warming. I don’t think I do. However, there would appear to be numerous other things that go on in our atmosphere that affect things as well – otherwise we would have seen accellerated warming in the last 10 to 15 years wouldn’t we? I also understand that global CO2 levels have been higher in the past and this didn’t lead to “tipping point” acceleration so, again, there must be other factors that come into play.

    Given that CO2 production levels have increased dramtically in this period, what factors are believed to be “masking” the potential warming?

    Artic ice levels appear to be almost back into the “normal” range, Antarctic ice seems to be doing Ok. This would appear to suggest that, at this moment in time, everything is OK and undramatic.

    Someone above had a swipe about me not been concerned about warming of 1 or 2 degrees over the course of 250 years, I can’t be “concerned” because there is nothing that I could have done about it and, we all agree, there is nothing we can do about any “natural” warming (or cooling) that may come our way in the next 250 years – other than “change and adapt”.

    Finally, I was taken to task by many when I wrote about my work in writing reports on business initiatives -where I am tasked with assessing all of the pros and cons of a particular project. I indicated that I had been guilty of, occasionally, knowingly, not keeping going on the “cons” when I instinctively was “pro” on a particular initiative. I am told above, in no uncertain terms that this was something that scientists didn’t do and that this highlighted the differences between honest and dedicated scientists – and the likes of me!

    A little unfair. Could anyone point me to all of the benefits of global warming highlighted in any of the IPCC reports. Indeed, can you point me to any pieces on this site where the benefits are assessed?

  37. 1087
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 077 Fixible

    I said I wouldn’t respond to anymore specific comments but ….

    You say: Not quite, the difference would actually be that you claim there are theories, but you don’t present any, you just claim the warming [that you admit is shown] is insignificant – ie: you deny the ONE proven theory that has solid investigative support”.

    Firstly, I assume that you agree that this is the “nub” of the matter?

    Secondly, I have said, repeatedly, that there is clear evidence of long term warming (see the graph I referenced).

    Thirdly, I have never said it is “inconsequencial” – you are making things up. Why?

    Implicitly, I have offered a theory i.e. the planet is warming “naturally” – I believe, unless I have completely misunderstood, that you agree with this theory and, I think we agree that there is nothing we can do about that?

    Your hypothesis says there is an additional, unexplainable, amount of warming that, the scientific community is 90% confident is due to man and that this additional warming is visible in the last 30 odd years of the records.

    You say your hypothesis is proven. Factually, I don’t think this is so. The theory, that says that CO2 can induce a warming effect apears to be agreed by many scientists. This clearly does not mean though that the planet will warm inexorably because of it. As mentioned previously there is currently (last 10 to 15 years) no evidence of AGW in global temperatures. Yes I know it is too short a period to demonstrate a long term trend but, at the very least, the hypothesis is “unproven”.

    I hope that the above does not suggest that I am arguing “science” – I am merely stating things which I believe to be true and which any lay person could understand.

  38. 1088
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John Peter,
    First, scientific forecasting is not fortune telling. No one in science would claim to be able to predict a future EVENT. Trends are another thing entirely, and that is the subject with which climate science concerns itself. So, ask me what the temperature will be on March 4, 2100, and I will shrug my shoulders. Ask me whether the temperature from 2100 to 2100 will be warmer than from 2000-2010, and I will say more likely than not.

    The thing you and many others forget is that not betting is not one of the options we have. Even just letting whatever fate befalls us happen is a bet–e.g. that we will be able to adapt.

    Do you have a 401k, John? If so, you are placing a bet–that over time the assets in that account will at the very least keep pace with inflation.

    Have you had to make a decision about surgery? If so, you probably made a decision based on what expert opinion told you about likely outcomes?

    I’m going to recommend a book, John. Read “The Unfinished Game,” by Keith Devlin. It is a very readable popularized account of how humans discovered that you can predict trends.

    John, I predict the MOST LIKELY future every day in my day job. I tell people whether components are going to cause a very expensive satellite to fail before it completes its mission. You make decisions on a similar basis whether you like it or not.

    So, we are in a situation where we must bet on a future strategy. We can’t take our winnings and leave the table. I am saying it makes sense to bet on the strategy that had the best prospects for guiding human civilization through an extremely difficult period where the globe must support 9-10 billion people. That means we need conditions that maximize productivity and minimize damage to the globe’s productive capacity.

    We have no choice but to place a bet. I’m saying it makes more sense to bet on seven than snake eyes (and actually, the relative odds are a whole lot worse than snake eyes if we bet on business as usual).

  39. 1089
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Charlie: “Ray, I really do not want to appear to be, or be, combative, but if the planet is warming naturally then wouldn’t every decade be warmer than the last (subject to natural variability)?”

    It is.

    This decade is warmer than the last one, which was warmer than the one before that and so on, back to the days when natural variability and decadeal variabilities not climatologically important were about as big or bigger than the climate forcing from anthropogenic sources.

  40. 1090
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 089 CFU

    That was my point. Climate warming based upon entirely natural phenomena would lead (given no other factors) to every decade being warmer than the last – so the last decade should always be the warmest. Am I missing something?

    [Response: Yes. Natural forcings would have led to a cooling over the last few decades. – gavin]

  41. 1091

    CC: there is currently (last 10 to 15 years) no evidence of AGW in global temperatures.

    Charlie, repeat after me:

    You need 30 years to distinguish a climate trend.
    You need 30 years to distinguish a climate trend.
    You need 30 years to distinguish a climate trend.

    Repeat until it sinks in.

  42. 1092
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Charlie proclaims innocence: “Thirdly, I have never said it is “inconsequencial” – you are making things up. Why?”

    Charlie in post 706:

    “In summary, I “feel” that

    i) that the Hockey stick is just plain wrong

    ii) that the temeprature records appear too subjective (i.e. they are created using proxies that are, at best, “indicators” rather than accurate records) and that there appears to be a whole lot of adjustments and homoginisation of other record sets.

    iii) The raw data doesn’t seem to show much happening other than a gradual warming where nothing exceptional seems to be happening – it “feels” like it is only adjusted data that shows scary outcomes.”

  43. 1093
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1083
    Septic Matthew says:
    3 March 2010 at 6:17 PM

    1064, David B. Benson: Septic Matthew (1047) — Please go back to prior comments on this page regarding AMO and educate yourself regarding that quasi-periodic oscillation. Maybe learn about QPOs as well.

    What exactly is it about quasi-periodic oscillations that you think is relevant here that you think I don’t know. ”

    Uh, all of it?

    You don’t know how to use them, how to see them or how to measure them. You give them magical properties of being 100% known and being all that is needed to predict the future of climate.

    You have a statistical model being used outside its realms of applicability. The statistical model you want to use can only be used where the past behaviour of the dataset selected will continue.

    But CO2 then isn’t CO2 now or CO2 in the future and this changes the behaviour of your dataset over time and you cannot use it for future prediction.

    You need a physical model.

    Which you keep rejecting out of hand because someone somewhere said that we have a 60-120 year cycle and that we’re now past the peak.

    Any minute now.

    Really.

    Any minute.

    So don’t mitigate AGW because any minute now it will be cooling.

  44. 1094
    Charlie Chutney says:

    ref 092 CFU

    ….. still can’t see me saying anything is “inconsequential”. Are you perhaps suggesting “nothing exceptional” means the same as “inconsequencial” – because it doesn’t.

  45. 1095
    Completely Fed Up says:

    1090: yes, natural warming would produce a warmer and warmer decade within the bounds of the noisy data error in determination of the average.

    And as pointed out in gavn’s response, naturally we would be expecting a cooling trend absent anthropogenic sources of greenhouse gasses and human-driven ecological change.

    Therefore the warming we’re seeing is not natural, but (at least to the large majority of effect), due to human causes of climate change.

    That doesn’t stop it being true that if it were natural causes, a decade would see mostly a decade-on-decade warming trend. Because it would.

    If you wish to ascribe a natural cause, please give one and how

    1) What it is
    2) How it does this
    3) it happens to track ln(CO2) so well
    4) it stops CO2’s effect from happening

    Make your case. It’s all you need to do to start disproving AGW. Prove your case and you’ve then proven AGW wrong.

  46. 1096
    CM says:

    Charlie Chutney (#1086) asked: “Could anyone point me to all of the benefits of global warming highlighted in any of the IPCC reports.”

    Projected benefits cited in the Summary for Policymakers of the WG2 (Impacts) volume of the 2007 report (AR4) include the following. Some of these may be mixed blessings, some may be based on optimistic assumptions. More importantly, nearly all are outweighed by the projected negative impacts in other areas, as you will see if you read them in context. But they’re all mentioned.

    ***

    – Increased annual average river runoff and water availability are projected at high latitudes and in some wet tropical areas

    – Slight increases in crop productivity at mid- to high latitudes, and concomitant globally increased potential for food production, for local mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C, depending on the crop

    – Globally, modest rise in commercial timber productivity in the short- to medium-term

    – Fewer deaths from cold exposure in temperate areas

    – Crop yields could increase up to 20% in East and South-East Asia

    – In Northern Europe, initial benefits such as reduced demand for heating, increased crop yields and increased forest growth

    – In North America, increased aggregate yields of rain-fed agriculture with moderate climate change in the early decades of the century

    – In polar regions, reduced heating costs and more navigable northern sea routes

    ***

    Satisfied? Surprised? A little angry at any lies you might have been fed?

  47. 1097
    Nick Gotts says:

    As mentioned previously there is currently (last 10 to 15 years) no evidence of AGW in global temperatures. – Charlie Chutney

    False. There is evidence, but according to some datasets it falls just short of the 95% level of confidence. Do you actually understand what that means?

    Am I missing something?

    Undoubtedly. If I said what I think it is, the mods would probably edit it out.

  48. 1098
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref CFU 091

    You say: “Charlie, repeat after me:

    You need 30 years to distinguish a climate trend.
    You need 30 years to distinguish a climate trend.
    You need 30 years to distinguish a climate trend.

    Repeat until it sinks in.

    I said “As mentioned previously there is currently (last 10 to 15 years) no evidence of AGW in global temperatures. Yes I know it is too short a period to demonstrate a long term trend but, at the very least, the hypothesis is “unproven”.

    How does one determine that a trend is “proven” when the evidence includes 10 years of levelish temperatures? By definition, we can draw a trend line on any graph – but the trend line is a trend line based upon historical data – not a predictor for the future.

    A straight, trend line applied to the Central England graph at: http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/
    would, I guess, show current temperatures just above the long term trend and heading for convergence. A couple of years of temperatures similar to the last few years would, I am guessing, just about get us back to the 200 year trend line.

  49. 1099
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1094
    Charlie Chutney says:
    4 March 2010 at 8:07 AM

    ref 092 CFU

    ….. still can’t see me saying anything is “inconsequential”.”

    “iii) The raw data doesn’t seem to show much happening other than a gradual warming where nothing exceptional seems to be happening”

    Nothing exceptional.

    “1096
    CM says: A little angry at any lies you might have been fed?”

    No, because he likes the lies that make him think AGW doesn’t have any basis in fact, or is purely politically motivated.

  50. 1100
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Charlie Chutney,
    OK, I am going to ask you to try to look at this from the point of view of a scientist now. That means that you have to look at ALL the evidence together. Because the evidence behind anthropogenic causation is much more than just a trend of warming temperatures and a “hockey stick”. First there is the consistency of the trend–every year in the last decade was in the top 10 warmest years and 18 of the last 20 years are among the 20 warmest.

    OK, you say, but it could be “natural” warming. Except that 1)how do you explain that the stratosphere cooled while the troposphere warmed? 2)how do you explain that more warming occurred in places and times where the sun’s influence is less (poles and winter, spring and fall). I’ll save you the trouble. The only mechanism that gives you all these traits is a greenhouse mechanism. You could posit separate causes for all of these, but for them all to come together at the same time would be exceedingly improbable–and you wouldn’t get as good a match to the data as you do from CO2.

    Now the only greenhouse gas that is increasing really rapidly is CO2. How do we know the CO2 is from fossil fuels. Well, first, we’ve put a whole lot more CO2 into the atmosphere than is reflected in the increased atmospheric CO2 concentration. The remainder has gone into the oceans and acidified them. Second, we can see the isotopic signature–the ratio of the isotope of carbon with 7 neurtorns and 6 protons (C-13) to that with 6 protons and 6 neutrons(C-12) is decreasing. That’s exactly what we expect from fossil fuel.

    Now, add to this, Charlie, the fact that the nature of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is exceedingly well established and that the prediction that we’d warm the planet by burning fossil fuels was made 114 years ago, and it becomes exceedingly unlikely that the current warming can be explained any other way. And this is independent of the fact that no other forcing is changing appreciably.

    So the question is how much warming to expect. Here there are many studies using a dozen or so independent lines of evidence. ALL OF THESE lines of evidence favor a value of about 3 degrees per doubling and preclude a value much below 2 degrees per doubling. Now, Charlie, if these studies were all wrong, how likely do you think it is that they’d all get the same wrong answer?

    Now, you can reject all these studies. But consider the implications of this. That implies that all the scientists who have been looking at Earth’s climate going back all the way to Svante Arrhenius were either incompetent or corrupt. It implies that all the National Academies who have looked at the science are either incompetent or corrupt. How likely do you think this is?

    And you can contend that it is unreasonable to retool completely the global energy economy based solely on the science. However, we will have to retool our energy economy regardless as we run out of first oil, then natural gas, then coal and oil shale and tar sands. The only thing climate change does is tip the balance in favor of moving more quickly and concentrating on renewables and nuclear power rather than coal, etc.

    Given your response to Tamino’s analysis, I don’t expect this to sway you. You seem determined to reject quantitative analyses that you don’t understand, and at the same time unmotivated to learn more about quantitative analyses. If that is indeed your position, there is little we can do for you. However, it belies your contention that your position is in any way evidence based.

    If on the other hand, you want to better understand how to do such quantitative analyses, you will find people (myself included) who are willing to help you on line or off line right here. The point of this blog is, after all, education.