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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. 1101
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Charlie: “How does one determine that a trend is “proven” when the evidence includes 10 years of levelish temperatures?”

    How do you determine if those 10 years of temperature records are levelish?

  2. 1102
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 099 CFU

    I would have been happy to let this go had you had the grace to admit to a human failing and accepted that you had misquoted me. However, you appear to wish to continue with your previous assertion.

    If you think that “nothing exceptional” means the same as “inconsequencial” then this may explain some of the difficulties experienced in our previous correspondence.

    Just a quick check, I am using the english language as spoken, written and developed by my mother country, England – how about you?

    Exceptional – forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary. Therefore nothing exceptional means: nothing rare, unusual or extraordinary.

    Inconsequencial: of little or no importance; insignificant; trivial.

    I may not be a brilliant scientist, but it would appear that I have a better grasp of the English language than you.

    Ref 099 sub 096

    CFU, resorting to “stage whispers” to insult people is amusing – but a) I am not in the least bit angry and b)why would I like “lies” and what evidence do you have for any “political motivation”?

    In one short comment you have shown:

    1) A lack of grace
    2) Illiteracy
    3) Inability to accept what’s is (not) in front of you
    4) Rudeness
    5) lack of empathy

    For the record again, I am a Joe Soap with no axe to grind. I am not, and never have been, anything to do with big oil, fossil fuels or anything that might suggest a tainted motive. I have 2 children and hope to have grandchildren and maybe even great grand children before I die – and I do not wish them to be born into a fiery hell. Similarly, I don’t want them saddled with trillions of dollars of debt because my generation got it wrong big time.

  3. 1103
    Charlie Chutney says:

    ref 100 Ray & 101 CFU

    Thank you Ray, a powerful and compelling case that I will think about.


  4. 1104
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “If you think that “nothing exceptional” means the same as “inconsequencial” then this may explain some of the difficulties experienced in our previous correspondence.”

    If you think that inconsequential is not within the perview of a restatement of “nothing exceptional”, then there’s no hope for your language skills.

  5. 1105
    Hank Roberts says:

    Well, Charlie’s got enough material in the previous responses to educate himself if he wants to reread them.

    But he won’t learn if people keep replying to him.

    Watch out for the increasing confusion he’s engendering, he’s very good.

    E.g. above, he achieved confusion by word slippage. Very good tactic.

    “Natural warming” per se would cause slow warming, warming is warming, duh.
    “Natural forcings” currently add up to slow cooling, as Gavin pointed out.

    Sorry, Charlie.

  6. 1106
    Completely Fed Up says:

    PS Chcuk:

    “1) A lack of grace”
    “the likes of Al Gore and Pachauri have become the alarmist poster boys and they don’t, rightly or wrongly, hold up to scrutiny very well”
    “maybe I am just too plain stubborn to believe the rest of it – or dont want to.”
    “I said I wouldn’t respond to anymore specific comments but ….”
    “I will go quickly and dig a trench and await your bombardment …”
    Mind you, have NO CLUE what you mean, but these display a need to trash talk or talk complete BS.

    “2) Illiteracy”

    “Ref CFU 091
    You say: “Charlie, repeat after me:”

    Wasn’t me.

    “Could anyone point me to all of the benefits of global warming highlighted in any of the IPCC reports.”

    Didn’t read IPCC.

    “I believe, although I don’t know this, that none of the modelling that has been around for any length of time has acually been close to predicting what has actually happened over the last 10 to 15 years in global temperatures.”

    Haven’t read RC:

    “iv) I work in IT and have been involved in computer modelling and I of course know that models will produce outcomes based upon the informaion entered.”

    [Citation needed], by the way.

    “3) Inability to accept what’s is (not) in front of you”
    “Whilst Gavin will always indicate and illustrate that these are issues to do with genuine mistakes or presentation around the “fringes” and doesn’t change the science – it “feels” like the science has changed.”

    “maybe I am just too plain stubborn to believe the rest of it – or dont want to.”

    “4) Rudeness”
    “I witness the ineptitude of very, very clever people displaying virtually no common sense.”
    “I will go quickly and dig a trench and await your bombardment …”
    “Hi Gavin, most of your comments to my points are understandably predictable given our different points of view.”

    “5) lack of empathy”

    … every single post you’ve made …

  7. 1107
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Charlie: If you…just look at the Central England graph can you understand where I am coming from?

    This might be a visualization issue — I’m thinking if the data are presented in a more accessible way, Charlie might be more persuaded. I wish they would just plot the trend line in the Met Office graph…

    But on the Met Office site that hosts your Central England data, there’s a paper, “A spatial analysis of trends in the UK climate since 1914 using gridded datasets. Take a look at Figure 3. Here you’ll see the trend emerge from the noise. Figure 7 shows the increase in the length of the growing season, for 1961-2003. Also check out Map 1 in the Appendix, which is a nice representation of temperature increases across the UK.

  8. 1108
    Cfox says:

    3 interesting articles in the NYTimes in the past 2 days, regarding denialists, climategate, anti-science issues, etc. (comments may be more enlightening then the articles):

    1. Dot Earth Blog regarding fuel tax to help reduce greenhouse gas , which was mentioned by Rush Limbaugh on air and possibly highlighted in Drduge:

    2. Denialists in Evolution and Climate science joining forces (or maybe just Creationists finding a new angle):

    3. Cimate Scientists responding to climategate and other issues…this has a quote from Gavin so it is probably addressed in one of the RC discussion areas:

  9. 1109
    Septic Matthew says:

    1016, David B. Benson, thank you. does your analysis imply that the lag from CO2 change to steady-state temp change is only about 10 years? It seems to.

    I repeat, because this seems to relate to the question of how much future warming is already built-in.

    Another note on “oscillations” and “mechanisms”, particularly the claim that a mechanism must be known for an oscillation to be real. Does anybody know the mechanism which forces light quanta to oscillate in transverse electronic and magnetic waves that are orthogonal to each other and to the direction of propagation? You’ll recall that to explain this was why Maxwell invented the luminiferous aether (it was only a partial explanation anyway), which was subsequently found not to exist. Y’all seem to think that fragmentary knowledge of physics, mathematics and statistics rules out possibilities, but the full set of oscillatory phenomena without known mechanisms is vast.

  10. 1110
    flxible says:

    Charlie@1087 – (…) is the “nub” of the matter?
    The nub being whether there’s solid evidence of the theory? There’s a lot of related “nubs”. The question: is the warming that’s observed in excess of what we might be observing if human emissions had not occured, is for me answered by the science in the affirmative considering other influences [see Gavins response @1090]. The question: could reducing emissions have a modifying effect, is also affirmed by the science. The question: will emissions be significantly reduced enough to have that effect, is open but I think it’s unlikely, see the latest post on “Commitments”. The question: are there other “natural” variables we don’t/can’t account for which affect the climate system, is certainly a yes, although I think that only argues for erring on the side of caution based on what we do know has a definite effect.

    I did note you see there is clear evidence of long term warming, and didn’t say you claimed it is “inconsequencial”, but that your statements seem to indicate you don’t see the change as significant [ie: "exceptional"], as in supporting the science and indicating any mitigating policy desireable, which to me indicates that you are assuming any other “natural” influences on climate will all be on the helpful side, or the long term warming won’t be a problem, or the [unknown] cost isn’t justified. The problem with your wording is the interpretation [as you see from others here], the fact that the current trend is near flat is still “consequential” considering the whole picture – it’s the view that the continued warming other factors considered is “nothing extraordinary” that prompts others here to translate that to “little or no importance”.

    I agree the planet is warming, the climate [weather] in any given locale is definitely changing, but your [implicit] “naturally” is where the gut leads us astray, it says we don’t understand climate physics and chemistry [nature=magic], and especially it says one part of the biosphere [us] is unlikely to have the ability to “unbalance nature”. Of course the warming is natural, it’s caused by the way the system works, a system that we mere mortals are part of – as well as our domestic animals, many of whom seem to belch a lot. :)

    “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.”

    My hypothesis is “overpopulation by obsessively consumeing humans will likely be the next extinction event”, I’m here to research the particular trigger, but the science does show me that the rapid change in amount of warming IS explainable, and I see it in the 60 odd years of my experience in agriculture, I have my own climate records, science is explaining some of the physical ["natural"] mechanisms behind what I observe, I’ve long known I affect the cycle, as I know that carbon and nitrogen and other “natural” cycles have wide ranging effects. [and why CFU's potatoes won't last long with no "energy" inputs ;) ]

    The agreed science of CO2 has to do with the unprecedented and inexorable growth of the induced warming effect, and the increasing understanding of various other climate influencing factors [ocean circulation, solar eg] tell us that the apparent lack “(last 10 to 15 years) of evidence of AGW in global temperatures” is highly unlikely to disprove anything.

    I can’t argue the actual science either, but from a lifetime of dealing with a physicist brother I’ve developed a perspective of the natural world as a whole system that includes humanity. Various systemic influences other than climate and CO2 may well re-establish an equilibrum in the chaos [tech speak] regardless of what we do, the question is whether that’ll be life as we know it. If you want your progeny to have a comfortable life unburdened by the excesses of our ancestors, start them on a path to sustainability and self reliance in their interactions toward the planet and society. Humanity has been living on “natural” credit for a long time, that bill will come due, teach them that there really isn’t any free lunch.

  11. 1111
    John Peter says:

    Ray (1088)
    Au contraire, trends may be recognized only by looking backward using pattern recognition. Looking forward, trends must be fore-casted. The toughest public question asked of climate scientists is “You can’t predict tomorrow’s weather , what make you think you can predict next century’s (climate) I believe explaining you need more time – say a work life – is an unsatisfactory answer.

    Gerald Celente, Founder and Director of the Trends Research Institute, the worlds #1 trends fore-caster can be found here. Try him, you may like him.

    People try to do that which gives them pleasure. Many people enjoy betting. Professionals however hedge their bets. Non-professionals sometimes don’t hedge and often disdain those that do. Climate scientists tend to think world civilization has a onetime chance, disdaining hedging of global climate bets with say, regional.

    An exception is Veerabhadran Ramanathan (Ram) the top cloud radiation theorist in the world, with project Surya. After 30 years or so working on AGW, he is going to spend the rest of his career on anthropogenic regional cooling, the Chindia brown clouds. BTW, although a world renowned CS leader, Ram doesn’t seem to be on the current hit list.

    Go regional, global climate change is getting too hard

  12. 1112
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the full set of oscillatory phenomena without known mechanisms is vast.

    You need _two_ unexplained phenomena: one counteracting the observed warming explained by increasing CO2 to remove that problem; the other to explain the same observed warming as from some unknown oscillation that will magically reverse itself instead of getting worse.

    Sounds like epicycles all the way down.

  13. 1113
    David B. Benson says:

    Septic Matthew (1109) — My conceptual model isn’t up to the task of determining steady state temperatures except via reference to other work on the relatiionship between TCR and ECS. What we see in the instrumental record is enough similar to TCR to use that relationship. I choose a decadal lag partly for convenience and partly because even the fast effects have some sort of lag; c.f.

    I have now included another parameter, A, as a multiplier on the decadal average AMO (same decade). In effect the AMO is being used as an index of internal variability and other minor forcings. As is seen below, with A=(1/3) the AMO explains another 3% of the variance and OGTR is but 2.3; that corresponds to an ECS of around 3.45 K, which just indicates that this simple conceptual model is not out of the ballpark.

    OGTR for 2xCO2 = 2.304 A= 0.333 RMS= 0.022 R^2= 0.991
    decade GTA AE residual AMO
    1880s -0.275 -0.258 -0.017 +0.052
    1890s -0.254 -0.236 -0.018 -0.017
    1900s -0.259 -0.247 -0.012 -0.124
    1910s -0.276 -0.243 -0.033 -0.205
    1920s -0.175 -0.179 +0.004 -0.138
    1930s -0.043 -0.044 +0.001 +0.150
    1940s +0.035 -0.013 +0.048 +0.107
    1950s -0.020 +0.011 -0.031 +0.138
    1960s -0.014 -0.006 -0.008 +0.003
    1970s -0.001 -0.013 +0.012 -0.241
    1980s +0.176 +0.145 +0.031 -0.098
    1990s +0.313 +0.325 -0.012 +0.009
    2000s +0.513 +0.524 -0.011 +0.187
    2010s ??.??? +0.690
    The prediction for this decade assumes the the decadal average AMO remains unchanged; a reasonable choice for such a slowly varying index.

    In any case, all but less than one percent of the variance is now explained and the AMO by far the smaller role in that; its the CO2.

  14. 1114
    Septic Matthew says:

    1112, Hank Roberts: You need _two_ unexplained phenomena: one counteracting the observed warming explained by increasing CO2 to remove that problem; the other to explain the same observed warming as from some unknown oscillation that will magically reverse itself instead of getting worse.

    Except for the word “magically”, I agree in part. Enough is not known that a strong case for any particular model can not be made. I think that the solar theory has gained credibility in the last 5 years or so, but it has problems as great as the AGW theory.

  15. 1115
    Pat Cassen says:

    Charlie Chutney: Looks like you’re still reading the blogs and not getting the basics. Some of the questions you are asking aren’t really all that bad; it’s just that they’re the wrong questions. For instance, what has happened in the temperature record for the last ten years or so is a good ‘seminar’ question, but only after you have taken Climate 101. In turns out that your questions are not as important as they might appear to be.

    Here’s what I mean. Suppose you are trying to explain to some kid the reason for the seasons, but the kid keeps interrupting with “But it’s getting cold and Spring is supposed to be coming”. You might be tempted to say “Shut up, kid, I’m trying to explain about the tilt of the Earth; we’ll get to weather later.” So, right now, there are interesting research papers being published about what might be happening on decadal timescales, but the answers are very unlikely to impact the basic long-term prospects.

    Another problem is that some of your questions (re arctic ice, etc.) are just based on bad information, a sure sign of blog-reading at the expense of educational sites. And that gets into another whole issue. Even though your doubts may be quite legitimate from your point of view, and regardless of how you came by them, they coincide exactly with those that are widely disseminated by media and internet disinformation propaganda. That this propaganda exists is extensively documented, and is readily discernible by any graduate of Climate 101.

    Moreover, this propaganda has taken a very disturbing turn. The old way of fending off threatening scientific results was to sow doubt by exploiting legitimate scientific controversy to attack established results: since some aspect is unsettled, nothing is for sure. Now we see the unjustified disparagement of scientific integrity, from that of individual scientists to the entire field. That is, insubstantial individual lapses, and the imperfections of the (very human) process, are exploited to attack the fabric of trust that underlies not only the scientific enterprise, but, all civilized endeavor. (Here I am not talking about the trust as in “Trust us”, but the implicit trust without which all falls apart.) It is frightening to contemplate the fragility and potential destruction of this trust. And it might be what leads to the occasional rough treatment here of even honest ‘doubters’.

  16. 1116
    John Peter says:


    I looked at your Pascal/Fermat book, looks like a good introduction. I’ve always been interested in risk analysis up through non-linear models and black swans. I should know what Fermat said to Pascal, the gambler, but, as I mentioned, I’m working my way through Good, Marshak next and then Archer. My reading list is kind of full right now.

    I have looked at Elliott wave theory who believe that everything can be related to fractal like waves. I looked them up on climate change and found the following. Enjoy…

    Climate Change Debate: Why So Many Skeptics?
    And why only NOW?
    By Vadim Pokhlebkin

    “Have you noticed that the number of skeptics about global warming is on the rise? Here’s a quote from a June 26 Wall Street Journal story titled, “The Climate Change Climate Change”:

    The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere. A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming. In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic … today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France … [the geochemist] Claude Allegre [who] twenty years ago … was among the first to trill about man-made global warming … has since recanted. New Zealand last year … suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program. [There are] now more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers.

    The explanation for this change of heart, according to the article, is simply “…reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02.”

    Now, we at Elliott Wave International are no climate experts, so we won’t take sides. Market timing is our expertise, and to us, the most interesting question is: Why is this change happening now?

    You have to see our April 2008 socionomic* report “Elliott Waves Regulate Commodity Prices and Environmentalism” for the answer. It presents an eye-opening chart spanning almost 100 years of commodity prices, with the dates of major environmental laws and events plotted against it. Here is the summary of what you realize when you see this chart:

    “Important progress in the environmental movement — government actions, legislation, or group actions that require broad consensus — occurred during the impulsive legs of waves III and V in the CRB index. In contrast, pro-environmental legislation is largely absent during commodity price declines.”

    Our April 2008 report went one step further: It forecast a coming major top in commodity prices. A couple of months later the CRB Index started a huge plunge:

    And now that commodity prices have crashed, we are seeing rising numbers of climate change skeptics — exactly as our April 2008 environmental report had predicted:

    “The downturn in the CRB Index should usher in a period of lessening popular concern about the environment and material setbacks for the environmental movement.”

    *Socionomics is the new science of social prediction. You can read The Socionomics Institute’s latest forecasts…”

  17. 1117

    Just for the record, Charley (#1086) said that:

    “Artic ice levels appear to be almost back into the “normal” range.”

    Uh no actually, not so much. See:

    “Ice extent remained more than two standard deviations below the 1979 to 2000 average throughout the month.”


    “The average ice extent for February 2010 was the fourth lowest February extent since the beginning of the modern satellite record. It was 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) higher than the record low for February, observed in 2005. The linear rate of decline for February is now 2.9% per decade.”

    This is not the picture of Arctic sea ice recovery.

  18. 1118
    Doug Bostrom says:


    Evidence from a respected scientific body to a parliamentary inquiry examining the behaviour of climate-change scientists, was drawn from an energy industry consultant who argues that global warming is a religion, the Guardian can reveal.

    The submission, from the Institute of Physics (IOP), suggested that scientists at the University of East Anglia had cherry-picked data to support conclusions and that key reconstructions of past temperature could not be relied upon.

    The evidence was given to the select committee on science and technology, which is investigating emails from climate experts at the University of East Anglia that were released online last year.

    The Guardian has established that the institute prepared its evidence, which was highly critical of the CRU scientists, after inviting views from Peter Gill, an IOP official who is head of a company in Surrey called Crestport Services.

    Like I speculated, this IOP “evidence” was going to blow up loudly once the particulars were known. Oily, sooty fingerprints were all over it.

  19. 1119
    SecularAnimist says:

    Commenters who have generously and patiently written at length to educate Charlie Chutney as to how far removed from scientific reality his “feelings” about climate change actually are, might ask themselves this question:

    If Charlie Chutney were commenting here for no other reason than to deliberately waste your time, how would his behavior differ from what he has been doing?

  20. 1120
    Pat Cassen says:

    SecularA (#1119)
    Point taken, but I just look at this as practice for talking to my brother-in-law :-)

  21. 1121
    Ray Ladbury says:

    In keeping with my resolution to be kinder, gentler curmudgeon, I’ve said I would not rip anyone a brand new and fully functional orifice unless they:
    1)made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud against scientists or the entire scientific community
    2)repeatedly resurrected zombie arguments
    3)significantly interfered with the educational mission of RC

    To date, I do not see that CC has done any of these things. As such, I’m willing to try and educate him or anyone else who exhibits any willingness to be educated. I am also willing to try to educate myself under anyone’s tutelage. I might not reach Charlie; maybe nobody will. However, perhaps the arguments might fill in some gaps for others.

  22. 1122
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John Peter, In my career, I have successfully predicted that more than a dozen satellites would reach their mission design life without failing due to radiation effects. This is not divination. It is probabilistic risk assessment. It’s betting on 7 rather than snake eyes. It’s counting cards in blac-k-jack.
    Likewise Jim Hansen predicted continued warming and has been right for nearly 30 years. Some things are easy to predict, and the response of the climate to a well-mixed, long-lived greenhouse gas is one of these things.

    You will notice that the people who have started to doubt climate change due to a less robust temperature rise do not include climate scientists. You have the same doubters you did in 2000. The lies of the Wall Street Urinal notwithstanding, Claude Allegre is not a climate scientist, and has long been a denialist. Likewise, Spencer, Christy and Lindzen–and none of them has any more evidence to support their position than they did a decade ago.

  23. 1123
    Completely Fed Up says:

    SM: “Enough is not known that a strong case for any particular model can not be made.”

    It can be for this one:

  24. 1124
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 119 and the rest

    Despite the occasional insult throwing I have found the corespondence interesting and informative. I have tried, unsuccessfully given 119 above, to give you some insights as to why seemingly intelligent people might doubt the AGW alarmism whilst not being big oil, political or loonie. I hope, at least, I have shown you where my sceptic doubts come in – even if you believe the doubts are totally unwarranted and unscientific.

    The progress for me is the understanding gained in the latter comments (the sensible ones) that scientists believe that there are powerful “masking” events that are surpressing an inherrant increase that would otherwise be obvious. Clearly, I am no position to argue against this (incidentally, no one can) and time will tell. It would have been helpful to everyone if the climate model predictions had identified these masking events more successfully and not predicted run away warming at a time of a relatively flat record. Turning full circle, this comes back to the political presentation of the issue, which has, demonstrably, contributed to the hiatus experienced over the last few months.

    I suspect that the scientific community’s largest handicap is that it has the support of governments. In the UK, my Prime Minister has proved to me that he will do anything and say anything to achieve a personal or politcal aim. Being in the same “team” as him is to be “suspect” from the off.


    PS to CFU – you need to get a life, go out and meet people and maybe do an english course – and give the smelly dressing gown a wash eh!

  25. 1125
    antiwarmist says:

    Which “pathologies of media reporting” ? in my country (France), the only people who are invited to speak in the official medias (tv, newspapers, radio) are those who believe in “climate change”. There is a violent public campaigne against the skeptics, who are even accused of being “negationists”, like the Holocaust deniers! this is absolutely SHAMEFUL, and not worth of the Big Democracy France prides itself to be!

  26. 1126

    CC (1098),

    Central England is not the world, to begin with. It may well have been cooling or staying flat. Global warming refers to the AVERAGE.

    And nobody derived AGW theory from climate correlations. It is a consequence of radiation physics, which we understand very well. The r = 0.87 correlation between ln CO2 and dT for the past 130 years just confirms it. That’s a big enough sample size. Ten years isn’t. Please read:

  27. 1127
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Ray: “2)repeatedly resurrected zombie arguments

    To date, I do not see that CC has done any of these things. ”

    May I draw your attention to:

    “iv) I work in IT and have been involved in computer modelling and I of course know that models will produce outcomes based upon the informaion entered.”


    “[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.”


    “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.”

  28. 1128
    Charlie Chutney says:

    Ref 121 Ray

    … Thanks for that Ray! Where are you in the world – maybe we could have a beer and talk about stuff we can agree on. I assume that you agree that England are going to win the World Cup in South Africa (after we are due to beat the USA in our first game)?

    (BTW – In the rest of the world, you have to beat lots of other nations to become world champions at a sport. What’s with that “World Series” thing?). It all about “presentation”!

    If you visit:

    You will see what my home town (Thame), a central england market town, looks like (we are about 10 mles from Oxford).

  29. 1129
    Ray Ladbury says:

    CC, you seem to assume that sicentists are bound to support government policy simply because they receive government funding. I do not know of a single scientist who would take government funding if this were the case. I get paid by the government to tell them what they don’t want to hear. That is in my job description. I get paid to find problems and tell people they will have to pay money to solve them. The government pays me to do this because they realize that it is a whole lot easier and less expensive to find and fix problems in satellites on the ground than it is to replace satellites every year of so.

    Likewise, climate scientists are paid to study climate. Period. If they alter their conclusions one iota to curry favor with sponsors, then they are not doing their job, and they are not scientists.

    Charlie, I don’t know a single scientist who couldn’t go into the public sector and double his salary. The do not do so because they are motivated by curiosity more than by remuneration. Curiosity is a tough thing to corrupt.

  30. 1130
    Ray Ladbury says:

    CC, I’m in the DC area, about 40 km west of Baltimore. I would be happy talk with you any time as long as you don’t mind drinking with a near teatotaler. I know. It frustrates my wife, too.

  31. 1131
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Ray Ladbury says:
    5 March 2010 at 9:41 AM

    CC, you seem to assume that sicentists are bound to support government policy simply because they receive government funding.”

    Also, if it were true, how come when George W Bush was in office, the US scientists were still saying AGW was real?

  32. 1132
    Completely Fed Up says:

    PS Chuck could try and get a copy of this book to see the political pressure put to bear on scientists to say AGW doesn’t exist:

  33. 1133
    John E. Pearson says:

    1125: antiwarmist says “There is a violent public campaigne against the skeptics, who are even accused of being “negationists”, like the Holocaust deniers! this is absolutely SHAMEFUL, and not worth of the Big Democracy France prides itself to be!”

    Whether or not it is shameful would depend on what said skeptics are saying. If they are saying they think the climate sensitivity is 2.5K rather than 3K for some scientific reason then I agree with you. They should be heard. But if they are spewing pure bullshit (pardon my Fr, err, pardon my language) like the freaks in the USA do, stuff like: “warming stopped in 1998″ “the greenhouse effect violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics” etc then there is no harm in ignoring their nonsense.

  34. 1134
    Hank Roberts says:

    > predicted run away warming at a time of a relatively flat record

    You can’t cite that to any scientific source, because it isn’t true.

    > sea ice


    You write as though you don’t even _doubt_ your bad information.
    You present falsehoods as though they were facts.

    You illustrate the thinking of gullible people, people who aren’t skeptics, who believe a whole lot of stuff that isn’t true.

    And you post as though you were one of the gullible.
    Just being contrary? One hopes so.

    How about changing your tune, posting as though you were a skeptic, and showing people how a skeptic would check these beliefs?

    You would discover that you got fooled by believing stuff second or third hand from PR blog sites.

    You’d write how you looked deeper and found that your trusted sources were lying to you, and …. then what?

    It’s not easy being skeptical.
    It’s easy believing stuff put out by septicsTM Stoat
    You can look this stuff up.

    Here’s a twofer, sea ice and skepticism, a fake-skeptic blog caught lying by a scientist knowledgeable in the field:

  35. 1135

    Apropos of nothing, and only because I’ve got this page open — right now ERCOT (the Texas grid) is running on 20% wind power — over 6,000MW of about 31,000MW total.

    I was in Waco (city north of Austin, TX) two days ago and heard that a new coal plant was just brought on-line in that area. I hope those polluting b@st@rds never make their investment back, since that money could have been spent on wind.

  36. 1136

    CC (1124): The progress for me is the understanding gained in the latter comments (the sensible ones) that scientists believe that there are powerful “masking” events that are surpressing an inherrant increase that would otherwise be obvious.

    BPL: Great. You’ve “learned” something that isn’t true, but that fits the beliefs you’ve already expressed.


  37. 1137
    Charlie Chutney says:

    ref 134 Hank Roberts

    A previous posting isn’t up yet, but to reiterate, I have gracefully (or as gracefully as my poor arthritic knees will allow) withdrawn – unless you ask me back.

  38. 1138
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Ray Ladbury says: 4 March 2010 at 8:36 PM

    “This is not divination. It is probabilistic risk assessment. It’s betting on 7 rather than snake eyes. It’s counting cards in blac-k-jack.”

    Indeed, and if anybody is interested in judging whether Ray offers a useful third party opinion on statistically based conclusions of climate research, I recommend googling him and taking a look at his work output.

    Very high stakes, very unforgiving, very public. Informed confidence applied to significant commitments, based on statistics and probability. Sort of like climate change research.

    Dilke or maybe Disraeli made the famous remark about lies and statistics, it does not really matter because it’s useless, a facile and ignorant statement, rhetorical crap. Journalist, politician or scientist: whom would you choose for statistical advice?

  39. 1139
    mondo says:

    #1138: “Journalist, politician or scientist: whom would you choose for statistical advice?”

    Err… What about a qualified statistician?

  40. 1140
    Ray Ladbury says:

    What I say is that any fool can lie with statistics. What takes skill is using them to tease out the truth.

  41. 1141
    John Peter says:


    I am not a denier, I believe IPCC climate science to be top-notch just as I have posted.

    You clearly don’t understand climate-gate. It is not the science that is being challenging, it is the fitness of the leader to lead.

    In politics, a candidate is vetted before a position is offered. Vetting does not look at qualifications, it examines fitness or the perception of fitness. If the vetting is performed well there is a higher probability (aha!) that the person chosen for the position will not be subjected to the kind of scurrilous attacks the anti-AGW forces have been using against the leading climate scientists.

    The “reviews” that are going on of Mike and Phil are over their fitness to lead, not the science you all developed. Jim was left out, I believe, because he is ill and unlikely to be a problem in the future. If not, he would be right up there trying to explain his call to glaciologists to be less conservative and publish what they believed when they didn’t have all the facts.

    I read what Curry wrote and tried to sell it to you. You have won the war of the science, no scientist could read Dave Archer’s latest book or the whole IPCC-4 WG1 and come away anything but convinced. There are too many fingerprints. A scientist might remain skeptical as I do, but denial is provably foolish. The simplest risk analysis says we have a lot of preparation and mitigation work to do.

    If you want to fight the deniers effectively, recognize the problem as political, not scientific. The scientific defense may have worked a few years ago, but just barely. You needed North to overcome Wegman. Maybe the same approach will work this time, I have my doubts. Sovereign debt is too immediate and too serious world-wide and commodity prices are still too shaky – after all 100 years of Elliot waves should at least get a hearing.

    I repeat, a lot of generals went down to defeat trying to win last time’s war…

    As always, JMO

  42. 1142
    John Peter says:


    For instance, Wegman’s report addressed two problems, the “hockey stick” and the “social network of authorship in temperature reconstruction “. North only addressed the hockey stick, the Wegman team also judged that the sharing of research materials, data, and results was done haphazardly and begrudgingly. Climate-gate continues to pound on Wegman’s second point.

    [Response: This was nonsense then, and it is nonsense now. All Wegman showed was that people who work on similar things collaborate. There was no study of 'peer review', research material sharing or reporting of results. He even implied that collaborations years after the MBH papers meant that the peer review was suspect without having a shred of evidence to back that up. - gavin]

  43. 1143
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Ray Ladbury says: 5 March 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Yes, Steven Goddard, using statistics like IED. Happily, unlike real IED Goddard’s explosions can be reversed by such as Tamino. Unhappily, like real IED Goddard’s blasts make mush of people’s brains and that’s much harder to undo.

  44. 1144
    John Peter says:

    Gavin 1142

    The same folk reference the Wegman Report that continue to harass Mike. Now they want an “impartial re-investigation” because his research nets Penn $4M.

    The non-studies, which I won’t repeat, are in Wikipedia, unchallenged, as part of the report’s conclusions.

    Don’t kill the messenger, fix the source.

  45. 1145
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John Peter,
    It would not matter who was at the head–they would fact exactly the same tactics. It is what the denialists have since they have no evidence.

    The war over science was won 20 years ago. There was no excuse for inaction even then. Unfortunately, politics tends to attract invertibrates, so I don’t exactly see them clambering to the front of the line to lead. And that leaves the scientists exposed.

    Ultimately, in my view it comes to this: Are humans in the aggregate smart enough to listen when nature is telling us something we don’t want to hear. If we are, then ultimately we will develop a sustainable economy and may last awhile longer on Earth. If not, we will at least understand the answer to the Fermi Paradox.

  46. 1146
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I have … withdrawn – unless you ask me back.
    Charlie C., say what??
    I’m just a reader here, like you. I suggested you practice skepticism.
    That’s not reason to withdraw — is it? I recommend Robert Grumbine’s site.

  47. 1147
    Sou says:

    If Charley Chutney was really interested in finding out stuff he’d spend more time ‘listening’ and less time talking. Why does he think we’ve got two eyes, two ears and only one mouth? I offered him some very good links to introductory reading and all he said was: “Sou – Nothing to respond to other than the sideswipes and the tone.”

    Everyone else gave him good information and all he does is twist the information around and then say (paraphrased) “I’m leaving now because people aren’t nice enough – and – why won’t anyone understand me, I’m just a poor old bloke with arthritis”.

    A lot of us here are getting on in years and not as fit as we used to be. That hasn’t stultified our brains – at least not too much. Maybe it means we no longer tolerate fools as much as we used to.

    Obviously Charlie didn’t read too many of the threads here before he posted, or he would have seen that we’ve recently lifted our game a lot in terms of being polite to newcomers, even when they go on and on and on with nonsense :D

  48. 1148
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here is another nice analysis of the joint effects of insolation, aerosols, and GHGs on the temperature trend:

    It concludes that 90% of the “explained variance” of observed increase is due to GHGs.

  49. 1149

    I have a question about the atmosphere, it’s thickness (depth in miles, whatever), and the impact of that on radiation reaching the ground, that’s been prompted by the Sun waking up from a several year snooze.

    A friend of mine works on GRACE and she and I have talked about how the recent Grand Minimum has extended the life expectancy of many satellites by reducing the diameter (not sure if that’s the right term) of the atmosphere. Since this is “Whatevergate”, does anyone have a value for how much the increase in the diameter of the atmosphere increased the amount of energy absorbed by the atmosphere during the last Solar Maximum? I don’t recall seeing that discussed, and I’m not suggesting it’s being hidden, but … I don’t recall seeing it discussed and I’m suffering from a momentary bout of paranoia.

    Also, I’m looking for a formula that will tell me what percent of solar radiation reaches the ground given a specific solar inclination, compared to the sun being directly overhead, assuming clear skies, all other things being equal, etc. Obviously there’s the cosine effect, but how much energy is lost just because there is more atmosphere to pass through at lower angles?

  50. 1150
    Arnold Smith says:

    I want to thank the community here at Real Climate for all their excellent work in the face of having to deal with people whose only purpose is to “cause doubt” just as the tobacco lobby has done for so many years (surprising how many of the same organizations have been involved in both efforts).

    As far as climate science I’m just a layman and therefore cannot directly comment on most or even any of the core science involved. However I do continually get involved with online discussions between AGW “proponents” and “skeptics” even though I fully realize such terminology is not entirely accurate.

    I’m constantly dismayed by the fact that people whose true objection is to various proposed political solutions do not simply focus on those arguments but instead choose to blindly and unreasonably attack the science.

    To me it just doesn’t make sense. The proposed political solutions are things that reasonable people can legitimately disagree on. But to attack the science with totally bogus and long since debunked arguments just seems duplicitous.

    I’m sure most folks here are far more painfully aware of this than I am but it seems that I’m constantly forced to repeat the same arguments over and over again. Once a particular “skeptic” argument has been debunked and the comments have scrolled down to the next page someone else will inevitably bring up the same argument again as if it never was addressed in the first place.

    If all science had to fight the entire blogosphere tooth and nail every step of the way there is no way we would ever accomplish anything.

    Anyway I’m not sure this was the most appropriate place for my comment but I just wanted to express my thanks for the good work that you’re doing and to encourage you to keep it up.

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