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Doing it yourselves

Filed under: — group @ 20 August 2010

We’ve been a little preoccupied recently, but there are some recent developments in the field of do-it-yourself climate science that are worth noting.

First off, the NOAA/BAMS “State of the Climate 2009” report arrived in mailboxes this week (it has been available online since July though). Each year this gets better and more useful for people tracking what is going on. And this year they have created a data portal for all the data appearing in the graphs, including a lot of data previously unavailable online. Well worth a visit.

Second, many of you will be aware that the UK Met Office is embarking on a bottom-up renovation of the surface temperature data sets including daily data and more extensive sources than have previously been available. Their website is, and they are canvassing input from the public until Sept 1 on their brand new blog. In related news, Ron Broberg has made a great deal of progress on a project to use the much more extensive daily weather report data into a useful climate record. Something that the pros have been meaning to do for a while….

Third, we are a little late to the latest hockey stick party, but sometimes taking your time makes sense. Most of the reaction to the new McShane and Wyner paper so far has been more a demonstration of wishful thinking, rather than any careful examination of the paper or results (with some notable exceptions). Much of the technical discussion has not been very well informed for instance. However, the paper commendably comes with extensive supplementary info and code for all the figures and analysis (it’s not the final version though, so caveat lector). Most of it is in R which, while not the easiest to read language ever devised by mankind, is quite easy to run and mess around with (download it here).

The M&W paper introduces a number of new methods to do reconstructions and assess uncertainties, that haven’t previously been used in the climate literature. That’s not a bad thing of course, but it remains to be seen whether they are an improvement – and those tests have yet to be done. One set of their reconstructions uses the ‘Lasso’ algorithm, while the other reconstruction methods use variations on a principal component (PC) decomposition and simple ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions among the PCs (varying the number of PCs retained in the proxies or the target temperatures). The Lasso method is used a lot in the first part of the paper, but their fig. 14 doesn’t show clearly the actual Lasso reconstructions (though they are included in the background grey lines). So, as an example of the easy things one can look at, here is what the Lasso reconstructions actually gave:

‘Lasso’ methods in red and green over the same grey line background (using the 1000 AD network).

It’s also easy to test a few sensitivities. People seem inordinately fond of obsessing over the Tiljander proxies (a set of four lake sediment records from Finland that have indications of non-climatic disturbances in recent centuries – two of which are used in M&W). So what happens if you leave them out?

No Tiljander (solid), original (dashed), loess smooth for clarity, for the three highlighted ‘OLS’ curves in the original figure).

… not much, but it’s curious that for the green curves (which show the OLS 10PC method used later in the Bayesian analysis) the reconstructed medieval period gets colder!

There’s lots more that can be done here (and almost certainly will be) though it will take a little time. In the meantime, consider the irony of the critics embracing a paper that contains the line “our model gives a 80% chance that [the last decade] was the warmest in the past thousand years”….

396 Responses to “Doing it yourselves”

  1. 101
    Ibrahim says:

    Here is a tree ring study from Ireland that concern the influence of diggerent climate parameteres:

  2. 102
    Shirley J. Pulawski says:

    Something this article (and many others) ignores is that there are far more paleoclimate proxies than tree rings. Chironomids, foraminifera, cosmogenic isotopes, conodonts (if you wanna get “really” paleo), varves, oxygen isotope ratios in clam shells and other organic matter, and of course, more well known ice cores. I’m a budding paleoclimatologist, not a statistician, so I can’t speak to any of the methods used, but there seems to be an attitude in many circles and in this article that tries to pretend that tree rings are all we have, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The best use of proxies is when combining several methods. Take a look at this paper on Baffin Island On the 14th page, you can see the a graph depicting the use of several proxies and how they all agree quite nicely, especially considering the temporal scale in question. The McShane and Wyner article claim it’s very difficult to reconstruct past climates, but apparently, they haven’t been paying attention. There are people out there who have gotten pretty good at it.

  3. 103

    According to the late B. Kliban, the phrase is actually “An apple every eight hours keeps three doctors away.”

  4. 104

    NASA/NOAA study finds El Niños are growing stronger, suggests possibly due to climate change:

  5. 105

    [Sorry, now with the right link] NASA/NOAA study finds El Niños are growing stronger, suggests possibly due to climate change:

  6. 106
    fhsiv says:


    In your response to Tom Peel (#96), your use of hyperbole, absolutes and generalizations doesn’t help your arguement very much.

    I’d say that all organisms are 100% ‘integrated with environmental variables’. However, if trees can be ‘110% integrated’, then you may be onto something!

    [Response: Well, I’m sorry but that’s wrong. Any organism that cannot regulate its internal temperature, either metabolically or by movement, has a greater T dependency than those that can do so. Perennial woody plants, and trees in particular, are least able to get around this problem. The exaggeration was to emphasize this point, given that some seem to feel that a couple centuries of plant development and physiology research can be dismissed because they are fonder of number crunching than biology.–Jim]

    You are correct. Temperature is likely the environmental variable of ‘first importance’ for some trees, but definitely not for all. Careful evaluations of the characteristics of each species and the local conditions at the sampling locations are needed before this ascertion can be assumed to be correct. Has this been done?

    I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that trees are ‘insensitive to temperature’. However, some are suggesting that there may be other variables invovlved! Assumption that these other variables can be ignored or assumed to be constant is also ‘wrong at the most fundamental level’.

    [Response: I was referring to thermally limited sites over largish spatial scales. We’re talking about regional to global temperatures here. Of course there are other determinants–and you can be sure that dendrochronologists are well aware of them–especially when it comes to distinguishing between thermal and hydric effects. Your statement about “careful evaluations” is quite off target. It is not necessary, and in most cases not even possible, to have detailed site knowledge–the whole point of the sampling is to obtain that knowledge. What is necessary is a general ecological sense of how various species are likely to respond in different geographic, physiographic, and demographic situations. This knowledge has been built up by field experience over many decades. Your last statement is certainly true but is a complete straw man, because nobody argues any such thing.–Jim]

    More cores. Sounds good! I love field work. Let’s go get some more cores to validate the existing data sets!

    [Response: Deal. How soon can you make it to Laramie?]

  7. 107
    John Mashey says:

    re: #102, #101, #98
    Again, it is virtually certain that M&W were learning paleoclimate from the Wegman report and maybe other places … and then cited Bradley(1999) to make it look plausible. The first paragraph of M&W has “artifacts”, but there are two better clues there (at least, I haven’t looked really carefully yet.)

    {C’mon Hank, go for it!]

  8. 108

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to thank those who helped me a couple of threads ago, which really helped (if not the confirmed denialists, at least others who may have been swayed by their arguments).

    Now I need more help. Any good response to this “the greenhouse effect has been disproved” argument:

    Actually I’d check my understanding of The Second Law of Thermodynamics….and Stefan-Boltzmann equations underpinning the AGW …Man Made Global Warming theory – NATURAL GREENHOUSE EFFECT…It was long ago debunked. As a matter of fact: NASA debunked it nearly 40 years ago during Apollo

    I can sort of handle the entropy thing with — if GW is impossible because of entropy, then so is life (which also defies entropy…at least for a while), and we’re not really here.

  9. 109
    Warmcast says:

    Re: John Mashey@107 etc.

    Do we have a statsgate in the making?
    Or am I lowering myself to the same level as…??

  10. 110

    #102 Shirley J. Pulawski

    I made a page to show the scope of the climate science knowledge base here:

    It is a little summary, and a copy of the NCDC paleo section

    Your point should be held up higher and in the bright light. So many are arguing that we know so little, when in fact it is the convergence of a tremendous body of data from multiple disciplines that make up, not only the foundations of climate science, but the extraordinary structure of understanding that has come together.

    Fee & Dividend: Our best chanceLearn the IssueSign the Petition
    A Climate Minute: The Natural CycleThe Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

  11. 111

    #103 Barton Paul Levenson

    OT (please forgive) and shameless plug for just how cool Basel is!

    Re. the possible origins of ‘An apple a day’ phrase near Basel?

    When here in Switzerland, I live near the edge of the Allschwillerwald, which is a short distance from Dornach, where Goethe and Rudolph Steiner resided. The locals around here seem to think that the phrase originated in Dornach.

    All the major drug companies are here as well as the Bank of International Settlements. Pope Martin V ordered the council convene in Basel in 1424 and the council did convene 1431 – 1449. Though the history is amazing prior to that as well with our very own Roman settlement, gladiator coliseum, and Roman theater dating back 2300 years ago, it is the central role that Basel played between the church, the academia and the city that positioned this region as a center for intellectual, spiritual and academic development. I would not be surprised if the phase as ‘An apple a day. . .’ originated around here.

    Even the story of Wilhelm Tell involved an apple! Though I don’t know if there is a connection here?

    BTW, the Roman theatre seats 3000 and is still used today.

    This week the Alexander Fest ended on the 25th.

    Romerfest is this weekend.

  12. 112

    #107 John Mashey

    Thank you for your wonderful investigative work :)

  13. 113

    Preben #99 asks if anyone has thought of using sea level rise as a thermometer.


  14. 114

    Preben #99 asks if anyone has thought of using sea level rise as a thermometer.


  15. 115
  16. 116
    dhogaza says:

    You are correct. Temperature is likely the environmental variable of ‘first importance’ for some trees, but definitely not for all. Careful evaluations of the characteristics of each species and the local conditions at the sampling locations are needed before this ascertion can be assumed to be correct. Has this been done?

    Of course it’s not been done, paleoclimatologists are so stupid they never thought of the need to do careful site selection (facepalm). They just stick pins into a voodoo-doll like map of the planet when blindfolded and dead drunk, and use that as their site selection criteria.

    [edit – play nice]

  17. 117
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan wrote: “… life (which also defies entropy…at least for a while) …”

    Life does not defy entropy. Or to say it another way, to defy entropy “for a while” is not to defy entropy at all.

  18. 118
  19. 119
    Hank Roberts says:

    For John Mashey — is your work being collected in any one place? I find bits and pieces, glad to dig in, pointers welcome. The statistics journal has corrected the typo in the title of the article on their website list of upcoming issues; anyone know if the draft has been revised at all?

  20. 120
    pete best says:

    Re #117 – Life does challenge the spirit of the second law if not the law itself.

  21. 121

    Lynn 108,

    The person you’re quoting is either lying or relaying a lie. Nobody ever “disproved” AGW.

  22. 122

    Johann 112,

    Sehr gut fur Sie.

  23. 123
    David B. Benson says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan @108 — I recommend reading “Into the Cool” for an entertaining and enlighening essay of the role of lide in the thermodynamics of Terra.

  24. 124

    Here’s yet another denialist attack, using the esteemed by denialists everywhere blog source (you never see these “cutting edge” attacks in peer-reviewed jnls) at

    Leading US Physicist Labels Satellitegate Scandal a ‘Catastrophe’
    Written by John O’Sullivan, via e-mail | 19 August 2010

    Respected American physicist, Dr Charles R. Anderson, has waded into the escalating Satellitegate controversy publishing a damning analysis on his blog [].

    In a fresh week of revelations when NOAA calls in their lawyers to handle the fallout, Anderson adds further fuel to the fire and fumes against NOAA, one of the four agencies charged with responsiblity for collating global climate temperatures. NOAA is now fighting a reargaurd legal defense to hold onto some semblance of credibility with growing evidence of systemic global warming data flaws by government climatologists.

    NOAA Systemically Excised Data with ‘Poor Interpolations’…

  25. 125
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: #108

    1. Life and entropy. The idea that life violates the second law never had any basis. It is based on the evolution of complexity. But …

    As taught, most elementary thermodynamics is developed for closed systems.The entropy is a function which reaches its maximum value at thermodynamic equilibrium. Even though life exists in an open system and it never reaches equilibrium , it is still possible to work with entropy. In this case the entropy of the living thing + its surroundings is always rising because life involves irreversible processes which create entropy. The extra ends up outside the organism. The process of evolution is also accompanied by entropy production in the world outside.

    2. Re: greenhouse effect. The opposite of disproof. It has been ‘proved’ better than most things by looking at the spectrum of the downward infra-red. Please see Fig. 2 here:

    3. Disproof of gh effect. That has been disproved better than anything else. You are spoilt for choice:
    (the rebuttal in the journal)

    Ely Rabett’s site

  26. 126
    Radge Havers says:

    Lynn @ 108

    Ah yes, NASA. That hot bed of denialism.

    “Global warming is the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century primarily due to the greenhouse gases released by people burning fossil fuels.”

    NASA fact sheet

    Anyway, not clear on what point this alleged debunking supposedly occurs. Did they even cite a paper that can be checked?

    Anybody can make stuff up and argue generalities. Or you can do some denier-style jujitsu and throw it back at them: the debunking was debunked (if any “debunking” of AGW occurred, this is probably true anyway) and 30-something years ago NASA, etc., etc., rockets, etc., then Hansen said, etc.

    Life gets energy from the sun which feeds organizing activity. However entropy doesn’t always protect us from badly encoded fools who like to play with fire…

  27. 127
    adelady says:

    #108 Lynn

    Seeing as the people you seem to be dealing with aren’t in the business of citing good science, a good resource might be Skeptical Science. They’re in the process of rewriting all the arguments at differing levels of complexity, basic, intermediate, advanced. For this particular exercise you’re looking for 64 and 73 on the All Arguments list. And their phone app is free if you need instant access to solid backup.

  28. 128
    Susan Anderson says:

    I love you guys. It almost always lightens my mood to see the kind of serious thought that works through these comments. In the comments there are not only reams of realistic and detailed material, careful, analytical, truthful, relevant, etc., but help for my amateur attempts to derail the fake skeptics with their self-serving gotchas at my main hangout, DotEarth. Special thanks to Edward Greisch for calling attention to that post, which I found appalling – my skills are not up to the my need to call it out.

    John Mashey, your research is outstanding, and I hope you won’t mind if I steal it to demonstrate the self-referential nature of that material. (I tried a more biological adjective but the spam filter didn’t like it, I think.)

    Shirley Pulawski, 102, so obvious but only after you mention it. Great stuff!

    It seems to me Andy Revkin is eager to embrace counter information; perhaps he is prone to wishful thinking. It is presumptuous of me to guess at this, but it is sad to see those who wish to exploit scientific uncertainty given a platform there. However, if you look at the comments in the BBC and the Guardian, this donnybrook is all too common. It’s so easy to promote doing nothing … and so dangerous.

  29. 129
    fhsiv says:


    I’m a dumb geologist, so forgive me!

    You said “Any organism that cannot regulate its internal temperature, either metabolically or by movement, has a greater T dependency than those that can do so. Perennial woody plants, and trees in particular, are least able to get around this problem.”

    Why do you say that trees cannot regulate their internal temperature? Don’t they do this metabolically at both the high and low ends of the range of temperatures to which they are exposed?

    Also you said, “It is not necessary, and in most cases not even possible, to have detailed site knowledge…”. Ahh! a statement that crystallizes my concerns with any inferences made on the basis of analyses of small population dendro data sets. Aren’t your ‘regional to global’ analyses simply a collation of data from a number of relatively small, local scale studies? If you don’t know the metadata (slope aspect, slope inclination, soil/rock type, soil moisture/hydrologic variability, biological factors, etc.) associated with a set of specific core samples, how do you know to what extent you are not measuring variables other than temperature? Is this filtered out in your regional/global analyses by some sort of statistical method?

    In my business (soil engineering), the analytical data associated with a set of samples has very little meaning or credibility unless the location and condition of the samples (obtained with standardized sampling an analytical methods and as described by detailed exploration logs and maps) is precisely known. As a matter of fact, much of my work is created by practitioners who come to conclusions and render opinions (i.e. bad designs) based solely on the laboratory analysis of samples with poorly constrained provenance.

    But then again, this may not be an appropriate analogy. After all, in soil engineering, we do not rely on statistical analyses of measurements of indirectly related variables from samples obtained from a specific site to model the future behavior of materials at sites somewhere else in the world!

    Finally, you said “How soon can you make it to Laramie?” No can do! But, I’d like to help with some foxtails and bristlecones in CA.

    [Response: Not meaning to imply you’re dumb. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where people are coming from. I will try to respond to this and a couple other comments as soon as time avails.–Jim]

  30. 130
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Susan Anderson 26 August 2010 at 8:0 PM,

    Special thanks to Edward Greisch for calling attention to that post, which I found appalling – my skills are not up to the my need to call it out.

    Did you mean this article?

    What did you find apalling about it?

  31. 131
    MarkB says:

    Susan (#127),

    My view is that Revkin relies very heavily on Pielke Jr., gives his views undue weight, and fails to look critically at any of his stuff, including blog ramblings. Dr. Steig put it tactfully:

    Also, here’s is my belated response to the thread you’re referring to. Revkin’s mistakes are not limited to the original post.

    Andy Revkin writes:

    “On the Russian heat wave, NOAA has stated flatly that human-driven warming isn’t involved (in a draft analysis):

    The conclusion is blunt and clear:”

    Sounds like the spin one would normally find on a denier blog. Your own quote indicates only that the analysis finds that human-driven global warming isn’t the sole or primary cause. It certainly does not “state flatly” that it wasn’t involved.

    “Despite this strong evidence for a warming planet, greenhouse gas forcing fails to explain the 2010 heat wave over western Russia. The natural process of atmospheric blocking, and the climate impacts induced by such blocking, are the principal cause for this heat wave. It is not known whether, or to what exent, greenhouse gas emissions may affect the frequency or intensity of blocking during summer.”

    and of course there are other perspectives from climate scientists on this.

    As for the disaster loss study, I had a look. As suspected, it relies very heavily on Pielke Jr.’s work. The author has also collaborated with Pielke and to some extent Landsea (skeptic of the hurricane link to global warming). The cited papers are weighted a bit towards hurricane landfalls in the CONUS. They also cite one on earthquakes, which seems odd for the purposes of the study, since I’ve seen scant research on global warming’s link to earthquakes. But it does give them an extra point in the No column. Scanning the citation list for an independent non-Pielkian assessment, I find one:

    “These suggest that the occurrence of flood disasters could be mainly induced by local human activities before the mid-1980s, and thereafter mainly by abnormal precipitation in Xinjiang. Meteorological and hydrological records showed that the number of heavy rainfall events and the frequency of rainstorm flood disasters increased since the 1980s. In addition, siltation of reservoirs and loss of flood control structures are partly responsible for the increase of flood-damaged area. These results suggest that the increasing trend in flood disasters in Xinjiang since the middle 1980s could be attributed, at least in part, to an increasing trend in annual precipitation.”

    There are in fact a number of studies cited that show a trend in disaster losses even after normalization. See Table 1 at the end of the study:

    Note, however, a bit of spin used by the author to dismiss the one cited above. “Since
    this effect is not quantified, it is hard to conclude whether or not losses have increased due to an increase in extreme rainfall only.”

    That reminds me of Andy’s leap above. An NOAA analysis concludes that natural weather patterns were the principal cause of an extreme heat weather event. Andy takes the logical leap and concludes global warming played absolutely no role, which doesn’t follow. Few are claiming that the Russian heatwave was caused by global warming only. Similarly, it’s a strawman to suggest that anyone’s claiming the increase in raw flood disaster costs in China is solely due to the effects of increased precipitation from GW. However, the study indicates that it clearly played a role. There are 8 citations from Table 1 that indicate an increase in normalized disaster losses. So it takes a few leaps of illogic, some by the author, and another by Andy (which takes the abstract a step further by saying “no link”), to get from there to Andy’s nothing-to-worry-about headline:

    “Study Finds No Link Tying Disaster Losses to Human-Driven Warming”

    which is entirely wrong.

  32. 132
    wili says:

    A third huge chunk has just broken off of an ice shelf in the Canadian Archipelago:

    “A large parcel of ice has fractured from a massive ice shelf on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, marking the third known case of Arctic ice loss this summer alone.

    The chunk of ice, which scientists estimate is roughly the size of Bermuda, broke away from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the island’s northern coast around Aug. 18, according to NASA satellite imagery.

    At 40 metres thick, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf is estimated to be 3,000 to 5,000 years old, jutting off the island like an extension of the land.

    “The cracks are going right to the mainland, basically, right to Ellesmere Island,” John England, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences with the University of Alberta, told CBC News on Tuesday. “So, in the core of the ice shelf itself, the fracturing is occurring.

    “I think that’s really quite significant, that it’s like the most resistant and most tenacious part of the ice shelf is now being dismantled.””

    Will any of these events alter denialists’ positions?

    I doubt it.

  33. 133
    Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks, I enter this conversation with great hesitation, as I am an non-scientist amateur, though (sadly) despite my deficit my scientific literacy and critical thinking ability is high compared to the general population.

    Yes, that’s the article.

    re Roger Pielke, I walk on eggshells there which is why I didn’t bring it up. If you imagine what it must be like to be under constant attack, recently from both sides for almost three decades, you might find it easier to understand why someone with a mildly conservative bent and a dislike of extremist positions has become friendly with Pielke. Andy hammers away at the damage that exaggerations and unsupported statements do. Especially recent, anything and everything is fodder for attack and they keep getting better at the offside stuff, like labeling comment policy as prejudice and claiming “censorship” and “blacklisting”. I am saddened by the turn over the last couple of years towards the fake skeptic fans and away from the development evidence of catastrophic potential, but I can understand it. No matter how hard he tries to return us all to other overpopulation and overexploitation issues on a finite planet, the climate wars go on and on. That’s not to say I like the enabling of disinformationalists, but if you look at the BBC and Guardian comments, you can see that it is a lot of work to maintain civility on any public forum.

    I have more to say but my security apparatus is calling me so will save it for later. I mention this because I sometimes have computer trouble when using RealClimate and DotEarth, and am highly suspicious that malice is not entirely absent in some of these problems.

  34. 134
    Susan Anderson says:

    Should have taken time to proof the above.

    Ann van der Bom, perhaps “appalling” is too strong a word. I found it misleading, and it was the overall sense of proportion that bothered me. Since the attack machine is so well armed and ubiquitous, I hate to see them given a handle.

    For specifics, I recommend MarkB’s response above.

    The fact that each extreme weather event is not specifically attributable to climate change due to global warming is given, but the overall trends over time seem obvious if people just move outside their politics and look at world rather than just local news, as well as trends over time. The recent shortage of MSM coverage of the increasing Pakistani flood disaster is a case in point.

    Wili’s note about the latest ice breakoff is another example. Of course the antis are busy saying it’s normal, it will block the other ice and cause a stoppage. Anything to convince those who don’t have the time, interest, or energy to look it up for themselves, and want to believe it’s nothing much.

    I do think it important to notice all the great work Andy has done over the years, and the current efforts he makes to put things in proportion. Dissing him as if his whole record is dirty is certain to make him think it not worth it to avoid his less credible fans.

  35. 135

    RE #108, and thanks for all your help. I did respond with the Coby Beck argument, but here is what I got back — don’t really know what he’s talking about (it’s on the Catholic Answers Forum at :

    Actually what was said Is The Second Law of Thermodynamics is ignored – which makes the equation used to suport the Green House Effect, as presented – wrong

    Now, try applying this “An inert object can only radiate the amount it absorbs – Not twice… We can not even get a perfect 1 to 1 transfer [ In a Perfect heat transfer ]

    Now take out Stefan-Boltzmann equations wrongly [ and knowingly ] applied.

    You have merely parroted THE SAME OLD EQUATIONS The equations used BY ALL AGW’ers – CRU – NASA – IPCC – KYOTO – Mr Mann – Hansen – Schmidt – et al

    I’ll give you fair warning This is the Words of Dr. Judith Curry [ You do know who she is at NASA don’t you? ]

    Quote: Dr. Curry: “I’m contacting NASA about this.”

  36. 136
    Susan Anderson says:

    oops, one more peanut from this peanut gallery. The original provocation at DotEarth was buried in an earlier post where Andy Revkin “selected” a comment extracting the single paragraph from the NOAA article by one wmar, who is a clone of Marc Morano, if not MM himself (only reason I don’t think he’s MM is that MM often signs his name) and posts a constant stream of borrowed secondhand disinformation, very sciencey and polite, heavily reliant on WUWT et al. When I googled, I found the denialosphere had seized on the NOAA par and was crowing about it. When one looks at articles about climate on the internet, it seems DotEarth is specifically targeted as when the larger NYTimes readership weighs in the comment proportion is more like 90:10 instead of the 50:50, 60:40 denial regularly seen at DE.

  37. 137
  38. 138

    RE trees, or plants in general, and the impact of temp. I came across this article, which suggests that for rice the increasing minimum diurnal temps are having a negative impact now, with the maximum diurnal temps expected to have negative impact when they reach a certain point.

    The article:

    I think that’s interesting, since they say that the deaths due to the 2003 European heat wave were more due to the higher nighttime temps (not getting cool enough), when the body needs to recouperate from the daytime heat. (And in the organic gardening class I just took I learned that plants can, like us, be harmed by viruses, bacteria, and micro-organisms; so I’m developing a sympatico with plants now.)

    Anyway, I’m just wondering if this mininum diurnal temp is something to look at for all plants. I know it is increasing faster than the diurnal max temps, and is a very good signal for AGW.

    There are also studies on the effects of both increasing temps and CO2 (and temps/CO2/water) on trees…

  39. 139
    Hank Roberts says:

    Lynn, sounds like you’re participating in a religious forum, carrying explanations of physics people give you here, posting them over there, and hoping to improve their understanding. The people you’re talking to are going to denial sites, getting explanations there, and posting them. Seems like neither you nor they understand the physics, but are exchanging posts of second hand information. I doubt this can educate anyone.

    Why not instead try pointing people to the FAQs and suggesting they read?

  40. 140

    134 (Lynn),

    There are certain people that you cannot reason with, because the mechanics of reason are simply a weapon in their personal arsenal, rather than being something that they apply to the real world to understand it.

    I recently had a run around with a guy who likes to go by the name of “tallbloke”. I took it all seriously until I visited his site and found out he actually believes that Dayton Miller successfully disproved the Theory of Relativity.

    That said, once again, I’d advise writing for the people “listening in,” not the person you’re actually arguing with (because he’ll always find some loony response to twist the conversation).

    All you need to do is to discredit his line of attack (easily done in this case). There’s no arguing against fiction, so demonstrate that it’s fiction.

    A little bit of research on the supposed quote by Dr. Curry demonstrates that it only appears in one form, from a bizarre article that’s been duplicated on about a dozen conservative really-out-there sites on the web. Never on a real news site, never anything more professional or substantive, but only in places equivalent to forwarding the “Mars will get bigger than the moon on August 27th” e-mail.

    A link to the supposedly suppressed and recently published “paper” demonstrates it to be the sort of thing an eighth grader might throw together for a science assignment:

    This is a paper?

    The list of “authors” is similarly unimpressive.

    So the bottom line answer here to the denier is “wow, you’ll believe anything you read as long as it supports your own firm desire for AGW to be a hoax!”

  41. 141
    MarkB says:


    I can’t seem to find the comment to support this, but I recall a comment on a blog about a year ago that said something to the effect of “Andy’s an alarmist from way back but we’re working on him”. It stuck with me because it’s notable that there are maybe a couple dozen regulars over there with the same rhetoric, all recommending each other’s posts, no matter how nutty. The “we” is interesting. I wouldn’t go as far to say that there is an organized effort specifically at his blog. It could be just individuals of like-minded ideology identifying with each other. I think contrarians see Revkin and some other journalists as prone to their misinformation (although not easily) if they keep hammering at it through a variety of methods. Perhaps they are right on that. There’s certainly evidence to support it.

    I agree that Revkin’s life’s work shouldn’t be judged by some poor comments. I tend to have high expectations of those who don’t have obvious anti-science agendas. When I see comments such as the specific one regarding global warming and the Russian heatwave, or headlines like the one on disaster losses, or uncritical reliance on RPJ as a unassailable source, I tend to cringe. He should know better at this point.

  42. 142

    Thanks, Hank (#138) — I’ve been actually holding my own pretty much, answering the “WV is the biggest GHG” type of arguments with skill and my own knowledge (much of that gained from years of reading RC & other good sources). Perhaps that’s why the denialist group there has taken it to higher levels I cannot address on my own.

    I still need to address these guys for the sake of the others reading the posts. Thanks Bob #139 for your advice — and, yes, it seems that “Greenhouse Effect on the Moon” paper is the one to which they refer.

    I can return to answering them my previous way (when I can use science to fight bogus science), the “Even if you’re right about AGW (and we all hope you are), still…..” There are plenty of good reasons to do the things that help mitigate AGW, aside from AGW is happening — one of them “entropy” itself, or the profligate using up of finite resources.

  43. 143

    #102 Shirley J. Pulawski

    A few more perspectives. . .

    ‘Ignorance is bliss’, so they say. As long as they don’t look it’s not there.

    I think I wrote something about this 4 or 5 years ago. It’s like a child with their eyes closed singing in gleeful joy to their parents, ‘You can’t see meeeee’!!!

    Invert the scenario to the antithesis and that’s it. As long as they don’t look, global warming is not human caused. It’s a truly pathetic defense in the light of the bulk and scope of the scientific evidence. Reason and common sense is no where involved in the debate from their limited position.

    I think ‘immature’ is about the nicest word possible to describe the behavior.

    Naiveté, I think, has to be considered off the table for anyone that claims to subscribe to the scientific method in thought or deed.

    Ignorant is probably the best word to describe it, in that they literally have do have to ignore all the other evidence to pull off such an immature and gleeful position of childish bliss.

    Fee & Dividend: Our best chanceLearn the IssueSign the Petition
    A Climate Minute: The Natural CycleThe Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

  44. 144
    flxible says:

    Lynn@137 – Virtually all food plants are very sensitive to temperature ranges, especially day vs night and especially during the period of bloom and pollination and then in conjunction with humidity. A for instance – tomatoes will not pollinate above their preferred temp range, fruit set stops for periods of unusually high temps or unusually high humidity, and those situations are becoming more “normal” where I live …. another – most fruit trees will not set if the night temps fall too low [even short of a frost] within about 48 hours of pollination. And during periods of high temps the trees will use available moisture for their respiration, to keep cool, instead of using it to grow the fruit. Many more examples, both the increasing average temps and the increasingly common extremes are already a problem for food production. Temperature and humidity extremes have effects on a wide variety of the disease problems of food plants as well, higher values of either enabling many unfriendly organisms. Really doesn’t bode well for the future, even well short of BPLs desertification scenarios.

  45. 145

    Lynn (#141)–

    I think the biggest point is probably the gulf between the fact that no real body is a perfect blackbody and the conclusion drawn that the greenhouse effect is incorrect. To argue that other things besides the greenhouse effect affect temperature is true; to argue that that means there is no greenhouse is NOT–it’s just a non-sequitur. Call it a slightly more subtle than usual strawman.

    Their graph shows minimum Lunar temps of around 100 K; that’s about 100 K colder than anything the Earth ever sees. Do they really expect anyone to believe that it’s all due to Earth’s greater mass? That’s an LOL.

    Give the Moon a Terrestrial atmosphere and you’d see much different temperatures, until that atmosphere leaked away again.

  46. 146
    deconvoluter says:

    BBC Radio 4 on climate.

    Next Roger Harrabin is presenting a couple of programmes on climate including interviews with Bob Watson,Nigel Lawson and Stephen McIntyre. His own account so far carries the vague remark:

    some climate scientists think the warming will be restricted to a tolerable 1C or 1.5C.

    This is journalese.
    1C warmer than when? i.e. Now or the beginning of the industrial revolution? or some other time?

    By when will this warming be reached?

    Will the warming of 1C or 1.5C then stop?

    Under which scenario i.e how much extra greenhouse gas is assumed and how fast will it be liberated?

    OR is he perhaps (or his editor) thinking of the climate sensitivity to 2 XCO2?

    1C or 1.5C will be ‘tolerable’ for whom?

    Sloppy writing like this tends to go with sloppy thinking. It is not a good omen for another so called investigation by an environmental correspondent. I hope I am wrong.

  47. 147
    CM says:

    Lynn (#108)

    there’s a parody of the Hertzberg et al. nonsense at DenialDepot:

    It’s side-splittingly funny, and also quite pedagogical — read it, and you should be able to figure out what’s wrong with Hertzberg et al., without any need to get into esoteric arguments about entropy.

  48. 148
    sambo says:

    Does anyone here care to comment on the paper by Spencer & Braswell at JGR?

    Link to Spencer’s Blog:

    Giving it a brief read through was interesting, but I was interested in reaction here, particularly on their methods and the papers effect going forward.

  49. 149
    Geoff Wexler says:

    the fact that no real body is a perfect blackbody

    Not perfect, but the emissivity of most of the surface is pretty close to 1 (typically above 0.9 often above 0.99). Don’t forget that this refers to infra-red.

    Try e.g. Rubio et al,2003,Int.J.Remote Sensing.Vol.24,no.24,5370-90

    Even snow is nearly black at these wavelengths (try Knuteson)

  50. 150

    Lynn 135,

    Your [edit] correspondent is parroting the line that for a layer of atmosphere to radiate the same amount both up and down (since it has a top and a bottom) somehow violates conservation of energy. It radiates “twice as much” as it should, in the view of these incompetents.