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Solar spectral stumper

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 October 2010

It’s again time for one of those puzzling results that if they turn out to be true, would have some very important implications and upset a lot of relatively established science. The big issue of course is the “if”. The case in question relates to some results published this week in Nature by Joanna Haigh and colleagues. They took some ‘hot off the presses’ satellite data from the SORCE mission (which has been in operation since 2003) and ran it through a relatively complex chemistry/radiation model. These data are measurements of how the solar output varies as a function of wavelength from an instrument called “SIM” (the Spectral Irradiance Monitor).

It has been known for some time that over a solar cycle, different wavelengths vary with different amplitudes. For instance, Lean (2000) showed that the UV component varied by about 10 times as much as the total solar irradiance (TSI) did over a cycle. This information (and subsequent analyses) have lent a lot of support to the idea that solar variability changes have an important amplification via changes in stratospheric ozone (Shindell et al (2001), for instance). So it is not a novel finding that the SIM results in the UV don’t look exactly like the TSI. What is a surprise is that for the visible wavelengths, SIM seems to suggest that the irradiance changes are opposite in sign to the changes in the TSI. To be clear, while the TSI has decreased since 2003 (as part of the descent into the current solar minimum), SIM seems to indicate that the UV decreases are much larger than expected, while irradiance in visible bands has actually increased! This is counter to any current understanding of what controls irradiance on solar cycle timescales.

What are the implications of such a phenomena? Well, since the UV portion of the solar input is mostly absorbed in stratosphere, it is the visible and near-IR portions of the irradiance change that directly influence the lower atmosphere. Bigger changes in the UV also imply bigger changes in stratospheric ozone and temperature, and this influences the tropospheric radiative forcing too. Indeed, according to Haigh’s calculations, the combination of the two effects means that the net radiative forcing at the tropopause is opposite in sign to the TSI change. So during a solar minimum you would expect a warmer surface!

Much of the longer term variance in solar output has been hypothesised to follow what happens over the solar cycle and so if verified, this result would imply that all current attributions to solar variability of temperature changes in the lower atmosphere and surface ocean would be of the wrong sign. Mechanisms elucidated in multiple models from multiple groups would no longer have any validity. It would be shocking stuff indeed.

Conceivably, there might be another missing element (such as a cosmic-ray/cloud connection) that would counteract this physics and restore the expected sign of the change, but no-one has succeeded in finding any mechanism that would quantitatively give anything close the size of effect that would now be required (see our previous posts on the subject).

So is this result likely to be true? In my opinion, no. The reason why has nothing to do with problems related to the consequences, but rather from considerations of what the SIM data are actually showing. This figure gives a flavour of the issues:

(courtesy Judith Lean). Estimates of irradiance in three bands are given in each panel, along with the raw measurements from various satellite instruments over the last 30 years. The SIM data are the purple dots in the third panel. While it does seem clear that the overall trend from 2003 to 2009 is an increase, closer inspection suggests that this anti-phase behaviour only lasts for the first few years, and that subsequently the trends are much closer to expectation. It is conceivable, for instance, that there was some undetected or unexpected instrument drift in the first few years. The proof of the pudding will come in the next couple of years. If the SIM data show a decrease while the TSI increases towards the solar maximum, then the Haigh et al results will be more plausible. If instead, the SIM data increase, that would imply there is an unidentified problem with the instrument.

In the meantime, this is one of those pesky uncertainties we scientists love so much…

254 Responses to “Solar spectral stumper”

  1. 151
    Shandahr Sheppe says:

    “I’d agree with this, except I don’t ever actually hear this except on denier blogs claiming it’s been done by “alarmists.” – 128

    “Alarmists”, “Communists”, “Stateists”, the label is not relevant as long as it provides the Denialists with an excuse for remaining willfully ignorant.

    43% of Americans refuse to learn or accept that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat.

    50% of Americans refuse to understand or accept that global warming is caused mostly by human activities

    55% of Americans refuse to understand learn that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface.

    75% of Americans have never heard or admit to hearing of coral bleaching or ocean acidification.

    Yale Project on Climate Change Communication – Oct 2010

  2. 152
    Shandahr Sheppe says:

    “Now, using science as a tool; what do we theorize about the occurrence and development of this observation?” – 117

    Science can provide no immediate solution to willfully ignorant behaviour.

    The only rapid solution is routes through the political realm.

    Scientists must become vocal on this issue, rather than simply wasting time trying to educate those who refuse to be educated.

  3. 153
    Didactylos says:

    Radge Havers: I always prefer to give people a chance – one chance, at least. We gain nothing by scaring people away.

  4. 154
    Roger Blanchard says:

    The below statement was part of a commentary in The Detroit News, a paper that consistently runs commentaries and editorials lambasting the science of global warming. Would anyone like to comment on it? I’ve not heard of any decline in the number of temperature reporting stations in Canada.

    NASA’s chief global warming exaggerator, James Hansen, was caught doctoring temperature data in several clever maneuvers. He oversaw the elimination of a dramatic reduction of world temperature recording stations.

    San Jose computer programmer E.M. Smith uncovered the data and found NASA “systematically eliminated 75 percent of the world’s stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations.”

    The number of reporting stations in Canada was reduced from 600 to 35, with the traditionally colder areas no longer part of the equation, therefore leaving the overall world temperatures to skew toward an artificially higher figure.

    In 2008, Hansen entered September temperature data for the month of October in compiling numbers to support another scare about warming, once again trying to falsely distort a climate record. He claimed it was a simple error, which would be an acceptable explanation from a layman but not from the person in charge of NASA’s climate projects.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  5. 155
    adelady says:

    Clearly whoever’s writing this stuff doesn’t understand anomalies. Reducing information from higher latitudes, if it were done at all, would lead to showing *less* warming rather than more. Because temperatures have increased much, much more in these areas than in the tropics.

    Do they seriously expect us to believe that climate science is done by fifth graders adding up raw numbers from around the world and producing a simple average?

  6. 156


    Good question, Roger. (Though I’m biassed in your favor, as a Soo boy myself–albeit on the Canadian side.)

    Easy answer, though–this allegation is not based in reality to any great degree. The 2008 error did happen, but it clearly was an error, for reasons which have been very thoroughly discussed on this site. (And there is no reason to attribute it to Dr. Hansen personally; he’s not the guy doing the “donkey work.”) See:

    The other matter is more puzzling, to me at least. I can’t find any indication as to why Mr. Smith–a serial denialist crank blogger under the name “chiefio”–thinks that this is the case. The Canadian stations still exist, and still report. It’s conceivable that there was a period while Canadian reports were still incomplete, and that for a time there was missing data. But you can–and I have–go to the data online and see reports from a great many Canadian stations. It had been alleged on a news site–consequent to “chiefio’s” allegations–that there was just one temperature station left in the Canadian Arctic. But I counted something like 20 north of the Arctic circle.

    If you’d like to have a look for yourself, you can access the data here:

    BTW, the removal of colder stations would not introduce a warmer bias even if it had actually occurred, since the data deals with anomalies not absolute temperatures. (And yes, folks have taken the trouble to work the math on that analysis; it’s not just an expectation.) But chiefio didn’t get that, and neither did Joe D’Aleo and Anthony Watts, who promulgated similar baseless allegations.

    Personally, I’d love to see them sued for defamation, but I know civil actions can be a huge, huge pain and the smart move is usually to refrain. The only such action I know of is in Canada, where Dr. Andrew Weaver sued for, well, blatant lies printed about him. (Oh, and of course in the UK Dr. Pachaury did get a settlement out of–the “Telly,” wasn’t it?–for defaming him with baseless allegations of profiteering. Rumored to have run to six figures, and at that supposedly just covered legal costs.)

  7. 157
    Rod B says:

    Shandahr Sheppe (151), I don’t know if this applies to the study itself or not, but your description puts a decidedly prejudicial bent on it. “Refuse to understand/learn is a pejorative twist on “don’t understand/believe.” And, “[doesn’t] accept that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat.” — they refuse to accept/understand that heat trapping gases is what is even being referred to?? Or is it that they don’t believe the ‘it’ is correct? The last point (75%….) is the only one devoid of prejudicial pejorative twists.

  8. 158
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Roger Blanchard

    You should give a link or pointer when you copypaste stuff; quotation marks would help distinguish (if that’s the right word) what you made up from what you’re copypasting. Picking a likely string from what you posted, Google finds “about 1,690,000 results” — you’ve got an ancient tarball there.

    It’s called rebunking.

    This one?…/magic-frank-claps-hands-science-fairies-die-horribly

  9. 159
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Roger Blanchard, Tamino drove a stake through the heart of this zombie argument. Not only did the eliminaton of the statons not introduce a warming bias, if anything it resulted in a slight cooling. This is not just a lie, it is a discredited lie, unworthy of a news orgaization…which I suppose makes it just fine for the Detroit News–yet another publcation that ought to be published on 4 inch paper squares rolled around a cardboard tube.

  10. 160
    Marco says:

    Roger, Gavin already responded to this story before. It is a libelous claim by Watts & D’Aleo, published by SPPI (the document was recently modified, after too many people showed it contained many falsehoods, but has not become much better).

    Short story: the inability of certain people, in particular Smith, Watts and D’Aleo to understand the concept of temperature anomaly, combined with their unwillingness to do actual data analysis, resulted in their claim that disappearance (not removal) of measuring stations at high latitude and high altitude would result in a warming bias. People who know a bit more and DO the data analysis, found that, if anything, the absence of those stations introduces a slight COOLING trend. Quite the opposite of the claim, but no surprise there…

    Regarding NASA removing data stations: GISTEMP uses the NCDC data set, over which it has no control. In addition, there was a big concerted effort in the mid 1990s to obtain a lot of unreported historical data from many data stations.

    The “rural stations” removal claim is again due to the inability to understand absolute numbers and, in this case, ratio. The ratio between rural and urban stations remained approximately the same, but since there were many more rural stations, “more” were “removed”.

    And does anyone even need to respond to the ridiculous claim that Hansen deliberately changed data to “support another scare” ?

  11. 161
    Paul Tremblay says:

    Roger Blanchard wrote

    The below statement was part of a commentary in The Detroit News,

    San Jose computer programmer E.M. Smith uncovered the data and found NASA “systematically eliminated 75 percent of the world’s stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations.”

    Update: Some comments on the John Coleman/KUSI/Joe D’Aleo/E. M. Smith accusations about the temperature records. Their claim is apparently that coastal station absolute temperatures are being used to estimate the current absolute temperatures in mountain regions and that the anomalies there are warm because the coast is warmer than the mountain. This is simply wrong. What is actually done is that temperature anomalies are calculated locally from local baselines, and these anomalies can be interpolated over quite large distances. This is perfectly fine and checkable by looking at the pairwise correlations at the monthly stations between different stations (London-Paris or New York-Cleveland or LA-San Francisco). The second thread in their ‘accusation’ is that the agencies are deleting records, but this just underscores their lack of understanding of where the GHCN data set actually comes from. This is thoroughly discussed in Peterson and Vose (1997) which indicates where the data came from and which data streams give real time updates. The principle one is the CLIMAT updates of monthly mean temperature via the WMO network of reports. These are distributed by the Nat. Met. Services who have decided which stations they choose to produce monthly mean data for (and how it is calculated) and is absolutely nothing to do with NCDC or NASA.

    Further Update: NCDC has a good description of their procedures now available, and Zeke Hausfather has a very good explanation of the real issues on the Yale Forum.

  12. 162
    Didactylos says:

    Yes, Rod B: the term “refusing to understand” should only be applied to those who have been closely engaged in the climate conversation, and have had the same basic facts repeated to them time and time again, over a period of years, and who still pretend not to understand. Those people refuse to learn or understand. They even refuse to think for themselves.

    It isn’t fair to apply the term to people who simply don’t care.

  13. 163
    Margo Meede says:

    “Do they seriously expect us to believe that climate science is done by fifth graders adding up raw numbers from around the world and producing a simple average?” – 155

    They don’t expect (YOU) to believe that. They expect their conservative target audience to believe that.

    And they do.

    They live in a world where the ability to multiply and divide is considered high edgeamakaschuns.

    If that is all you know, what else could there possibly be? Statistics? Well that’s all lies, isn’t it?

    And since there is nothing else, then either the grade school math is wrong or it’s all a conspiracy.

    What else could it possibly be?

    The fact is, the adult American population is in general functioning at such a low intellectual level that they aren’t capable of comprehending even simple scientific concepts, and certainly no math with a complexity beyond division.

    Need you look any further than the election of George Bush Jr. – Twice. The verdect in the OJ Simpson Trial, and the impending election of the – I am not a witch – TeaPublicans, the abandonment of Evolution as a theory etc. etc. etc.

    These are not anomolies, there are far too many examples of this behaviour amongst the American Population.

    They can not be educated. There is insufficient time. Science offers can provide no rapid solution to the education of the willfully ignorant.

    Another path must be taken. And that path is political.

  14. 164
    CM says:

    Roger Blanchard #154,

    A further useful link:

    Kevin McKinney, #156,

    Just so there’s no confusion, there is a sharp drop in the number of Canadian stations reported in the GHCN v.2 from 623 in 1989, to a low of 36 in 2003-4, up to 49 presently, if I’ve counted correctly.

    I hasten to add that the Detroit News commentary is blatantly false and defamatory in all other respects. Neither NASA nor Dr Hansen are responsible for what is included in the GHCN, and the drop in station numbers matters not a whit to the global temperature record, for the reasons already cited in the comments above.

  15. 165
    Margo Meede says:

    “And does anyone even need to respond to the ridiculous claim that Hansen deliberately changed data to “support another scare” ?” – 160

    If you intend to try to educate your way out of this problem, then yes. Of course.

    So far, after 20 years of effort, that method hasn’t worked.

    The Willfully ignorant will not be swayed by logic.

    They will only be swayed by other means.

  16. 166
    Shandahr Sheppe says:

    “but your description puts a decidedly prejudicial bent on it.” – 157

    For the last 20 years the scientific community has attempted to educate these people on the issue, and they remain ignorant of the basic facts of the matter – like the fact that the existance of CO2 in the atmosphere reduces the rate of heat flow out of the atmosphere.

    With such a track record the phrase “refuses to understand” is a more accurate discription than “does not understand”.

    The refusal results from a political ideology that rejects all evidence and logic that runs counter to the ideology’s core thesis. In this case the core thesis is that government is pure evil and that exponential growth can continue indefinately.

    I suggest you do some reading about the opinions of the late Cornucopian Economest Julian Simon.

  17. 167
    Paul Tremblay says:

    >>Short story: the inability of certain people, in particular Smith, Watts and D’Aleo to understand the concept of temperature anomaly

    Actually, I don’t really fully understand it! Could someone explain it to me? You get a set temperatures for February 2009, in Boston, MA. You have a set for Fitchburg, MA, and San Fransisco, all the for the same month. A year later you have data for the same cities. What is anomalous? What do you do with the data to determine if February was colder or warmer in 2010 for Massachusetts, and then for California?

  18. 168
    Shandahr Sheppe says:

    “but your description puts a decidedly prejudicial bent on it.” – 157

    I should add that your objection is in effect a claim that the American People are not intelligent enough to be engaged in willful self deceit.

  19. 169

    RB 154,

    The commenter doesn’t understand the difference between warm temperatures and a warming temperature trend. Most of the stations eliminated (for reasons other than sinister conspiracy, by the way) were in colder climates. That does NOT mean eliminating them would cool the TREND. In fact, since global warming increases nearer the poles, any bias it introduced would be toward cooling, not warming.

  20. 170
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: #169 BPL

    Agreed; but I think you meant to write

    that does not mean eliminating them would have
    increased the estimated warming trend ?


  21. 171
    John E. Pearson says:

    169 Barton said: “The commenter doesn’t understand the difference between warm temperatures and a warming temperature trend.”

    Maybe he did understand or maybe he didn’t. The author of the piece was mendacious enough to give Pinocchio nightmares.

  22. 172
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Paul Tremblay,
    When you are concerned with anomalies, you are looking at how the temperature differs from a mean for some reference period. Thus, you are not concerned with the absolute temperature at a location, but how much warmer or cooler it was than “normal”. Thus, all you can say is that, for example, San Francisco had a cooler than normal winter while Connecticut had a warmer than normal winter.

  23. 173
    stevenc says:

    “We don’t know how bad they will be just yet, but we know they will be worse than anything we’ve faced in the history of civilization”

    “Please provide just one example from one of our RealClimate posts of what you consider exaggeration, because we all think we’re pretty conservative here.–eric]”

    There you go Eric. Ray was happy to help the poster out and provide you with an example. We don’t even know the results of global warming will be catastrophic at all much less worse than such events as WW1 and WW2.

    Now since so many of the posts seem to mention deniers I was wondering if anyone could provide me with the definition of a denier. Is it someone that denies the evidence? Or is it just someone that denies your point of view? Or is a denier something else entirely? It really isn’t all that clear to me. Part of the reason it isn’t all that clear is because the word is tossed around so often and yet the comments proceed on as if everything was happening as modeled and there was no countering evidence at all.

    “Reconstruction of regional mean sea level anomalies from tide gauges using neural networks” this study questions the accuracy of sea level rise acceleration

    “Global depletion of groundwater resources” this study questions the accuracy of sea level rise attribution

    “What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979” this study questions the accuracy of the models in regards to the troposphere

    “Ozone and temperature trends in the upper stratosphere at five stations of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change” this study questions the accuracy of the models with regards to the stratosphere

    “Uncertainty in ocean mass trends from GRACE” this study questions the accuracy of sea level rise as measured by GRACE

    “Recent energy balance of Eartht” this study questions the existance of a large radiative imbalance

    “WHY HASN’T EARTH WARMED AS MUCH AS EXPECTED?” this paper questions the accuracy of climate sensitivity as modeled

    So there is evidence that runs counter to the prevailing point of view here. If one comments as if there isn’t are they a denier?

    [Response: These roads have deep ruts, but I’ll assume the route is new to you. A denier is one who refuses to believe something when experts in the area in question have demonstrated that the preponderance of evidence supports it. In relation to climate science, it refers by far the most often, to those who deny the likely range of radiative forcing and/or consequent surface T changes to be caused by greenhouse gas inreases. Your selection of studies carries little meaning when viewed from this perspective, because (aside from the lack of specific citations), they tell nothing whatsoever about their validity, nor the many studies that might well contradict them, and hence the overall balance of evidence.–Jim]

  24. 174
    stevenc says:

    I wouldn’t say the road is new to me as regards reading the word. I’ve been reading it for about 3 years now. I just have never seen anyone give the word a definition. Is it based on the climate sensitivity then? Does one become a denier below 1.5C as in AR3 or must they have advanced to 2.0C as in AR4? I assume there is no upper limit given the long tail on the skewed bell curve of possible sensitivities. Is there a political component to being a denier? For instance if a person were to say the evidence led them to conclude the sensitivity is closer to 1C then it is to 2C but they supported co2 mitigation would they still be a denier? I understand this may be a touchy subject but I find it rather interesting.

  25. 175

    stevenc 173: We don’t even know the results of global warming will be catastrophic at all much less worse than such events as WW1 and WW2.

    BPL: What part of “drought is going to increase until harvests fail all over the globe” did you not understand?

  26. 176
    Bill says:

    To stop all this dreary debate about data manipulation and elimination which eventually gets into every thread on here, we need a global dataset with appropriate change-control process and quality control. The numbers would be transparent for all then. Simple really…

  27. 177
    CM says:

    Re: exaggeration,

    stevenc #173, and for the benefit of casual readers coming by here,

    Eric was obviously asking for examples of exaggeration from the RealClimate team, the ones who write the original posts and moderators’ responses in green. The rest of us, who just comment here, are a mixed bag including fruits and nuts. And contrary to popular belief in some quarters, the moderators have a very light touch. Pouncing on some comment as proof of exaggeration by RealClimate is therefore beside the point. (For the record, I certainly don’t include Ray among the fruits and nuts, and I think the points he makes about assessing the risks of global warming are generally among the most valuable contributions in the comments section.)

    Thomas #150,
    Spot on: Speaking as the kind of amateur you mention, if it hadn’t been for this site I’d have worried a lot about all the methane hydrates going ‘poof’ and causing a Venus-style runaway greenhouse. Alexander Pope was spot on, too: “…But drinking largely sobers us again.”

  28. 178
    stevenc says:

    BPL: What part of “drought is going to increase until harvests fail all over the globe” did you not understand?

    “Reanalysis of Historical Climate Data for Key Atmospheric Features: Implications for Attribution of Causes of Observed Change
    Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.3 CCSP, 2008:It is unlikely that a systematic change
    has occurred in either the frequency or
    area coverage of severe drought over the
    contiguous United States from the midtwentieth
    century to the, *”

    This study indicates that there is no trend towards that prediction in the United States. Thus all over the world may have to be refined somewhat.

  29. 179
    Richard Simons says:

    Stevenc @173blockquote>We don’t even know the results of global warming will be catastrophic at all much less worse than such events as WW1 and WW2.
    The pine bark beetle is spreading through British Columbia and into Alberta because for several years there has not been a winter cold enough to kill them off. It’s been estimated that this will cost BC alone more than 11,000 jobs. This is one of the more minor consequences but already global warming is having serious effects.

  30. 180
    Dan H. says:

    I have been attacked brutally on this site for that exact stance. I made the statement that 6C of warming was an exaggeration, and was lambasted for it. I believe that the expected warming will be closer to 1C than 3C, and have been called all sorts of names, and been accused of being ignorant in the climate sciences. Apparently, one higher prediction one makes for future temperature rises, the higher esteem in which they are held by the people here. But make a lower prediction, and you are branded a heretic.

    [Response: Don’t be ridiculous. Your confusion between a projection for 2100, and climate sensitivity is what attracted criticism. Along with the lack of any actual evidence for your supposed preference. If you are more careful in what you claim, and if you actually back up your claims with some actual evidence, you’ll find people more willing to engage. – gavin]

  31. 181
    Dale says:

    Gavin, I know this is off topic but in our community we’ve been debating AGW in our local paper. I’m trying to find out exactly how governments and their scientists and how the research is finally settled.

    The latest exchange that I’m to respond to: “For a good lesson on prejudice and unfounded reason look to the UN IPCC where science reports are approved line by line by hundreds of scientist and governments and in many cases, government scientist who found good reasons to include prejudice.

    Like Murari Lal, the scientist in charge of the IPCC’s chapter on Asia, who knew that chapter contained unfounded scientific facts that were later traced to a scientist giving unfounded off the cuff estimates over the phone to an over-zealous reporter selling eco news some 10 years earlier.

    Her explanation_ \We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.\

    Well, give her a Noble prize or is it Oscar, devil knows if there’s a difference.

    The IPCC comprises both scientists and more than 130 governments who approve IPCC reports line by line. That’s right, governments approve the science published. “

    I’ve tried to find an article here that would give me the skinny on how the researcher, government and the IPPC get it all together with your search engine. If you or some poster could link me to the information and can make my reply. The only instance I know of governments approving the science was when the Bush administration had a undergrad journalism major editing the work of NASA phd’s on AGW.


  32. 182
    Roger Blanchard says:

    Thank you for the responses concerning my question. Although it won’t change the editorial perspective of The Detroit News, I think it’s important to provide an intelligent response.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  33. 183
    Dan H. says:

    Really Gavin,
    Amazing! I was actually one of the few who backed up my claims with links. Very few people here post evidence for their statements. Here is a link entailing some of the uncertainties with climate sensitivity, and partially why some posted sensitivies do not match the observed data.

    I apologize if people here have been confused by my posts, but to claim that I am confused is unfounded. If by being careful you imply that I should agree with others, that will not happen. If I disagree , I will say so, but I will do it in a cordial manner. Scientists often disagree, and can discuss their disagreements without rudeness.

    [Response: The paper you link is not very coherent I’m afraid. They have not understood what the IPCC sensitivity range is actually based on (try reading Annan and Hargreaves (2006) for instance), they do not take into account that the 20th Century has multiple forcings – including aerosols – and they spend way too much time thinking that Douglass has anything valid to say about climate. Yet you think that an unpublished note is more convincing than all the work that really has been done on sensitivity. Curious. – gavin]

  34. 184
    Hank Roberts says:

    Stevenc, you’ve confused “posts” (the first thing in a thread, signed by one of the RC Contributors) with “comments” that follow the posts, that can be written by anyone.

    Click the “About” tab at the top of the page, then click the list of Working Climate Scientists in the first line of text. See also the sidebar for science sources; sometimes guest scientists also author main posts.

  35. 185
    Radge Havers says:


    Denialism from the Hoofnagle’s denialism blog

    “Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

    “Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their tactics include: Creationism/Intelligent Design, Global Warming denialism, Holocaust denial, HIV/AIDS denialism, 9/11 conspiracies, Tobacco Carcinogenecity denialism (the first organized corporate campaign), anti-vaccination/mercury autism denialism and anti-animal testing/animal rights extremist denialism. Denialism spans the ideological spectrum, and is about tactics rather than politics or partisanship…

    “5 general tactics are used by denialists to sow confusion. They are conspiracy, selectivity (cherry-picking), fake experts, impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts), and general fallacies of logic.”

    — conspiracy

    — selectivity

    — fake experts

    — impossible expectations

    — general fallacies of logic

    I suspect that while some denialists do this consciously, others are just completely clueless and couldn’t reason their way out of a paper bag, which is why they get tangled up in this nonsense like flies in a spider’s web.

  36. 186
    Didactylos says:

    Dan H. says “I believe”

    …and that’s fine. Nobody is going to mock you because of a belief. People believe all sorts of silly things. But the basis for your belief – now that is open to robust questioning. And in your case, your belief is based on nothing but hope.

    Clinging to your belief despite the problems does not entitle you to criticise actual quantitative estimates based on the best available science because and only because they disagree with your belief.

    That’s what makes you look silly. And if you think this is a “brutal attack”, then evidently you are completely unfamiliar with having to defend your ideas.

    You need to stop mixing your own predictions in the same sentence with actual scientific estimates. They just don’t compare. I did give you the benefit of the doubt and I search back through your comments looking for any reliable source that you might have based your predictions on. I came up with nothing.

    The sad thing is that you started off making such a reasonable point, that exaggerations are bad. It turns out that the only exaggeration is your gross underestimation of the projected warming under BAU scenarios.

  37. 187
    Ray Ladbury says:

    First, allow me to clarify. The problem is not merely climate change. It is climate change, with its adverse affect on drought, extreme weather, crop yield, coastlines and infrastructure, occurring as global populaion peaks around 10 billion aroun 2050. There are many studies attesting to the reality and severity of all these threats.

    I leave it as an exercise to you to add up the cost of all the real estate and infrastructure that will be lost to a sea level rise of 7 meters. Hint: Don’t forget Manhattan. Now compare that to the losses of the two world wars. Hell, compare it to the losses just on 9/11, which triggered an expediture of over a trillion dollars. And realize, Steve, that sea level rise is probably among the least of our worries.

    Now from the way in which you throw out a single study with an incomplete reference to challenge certain aspects of these threats, I’m going to guess you ae not a scientist. I’m even going to guess lawyer, since your goal appears to be passing the straight-face test and duping the gullible.

    As to the definition of a denialist, I think a good definition is one who refuses to acknowledge the current state of the evidence and its implications. Thus, suggesting that CO2 sensitivity is less than 2.1 degrees per doubling of CO2 would qualify one for that epithet at the 90% confidence level.

  38. 188
    Didactylos says:

    Dan H. said: “I was actually one of the few who backed up my claims with links. Is that a joke? The only links that I see in your previous posts are to perfectly reasonable assessments of temperature rise, which you then label as “exaggeration” based on nothing but your own opinion.

    And when you do eventually provide a source for your projection, it comes from an unpublished paper by two retired mechanics professors. Yes, that’s credible. Well, more credible than your word alone, but if you can’t see that it doesn’t stack up well against the huge body of evidence from the IPCC, then I can understand that, too. I don’t believe you understood a single word of the link you provided. And, as such, how can you possibly judge it?

    How can one make sensible interpretations of topics that one can’t understand? This is a serious question, and one that faces all of us very frequently. May I suggest that searching for the few outliers and claiming they are right in the face of the evidence is not a good strategy?

  39. 189
    Marco says:


    The IPCC has an extensive description of how it works. Check in particular the Summary for Policymakers.

    Regarding Murari Lal: it’s so easy to spread false claims, and they continue to go around even after being rebutted. See this interview with Murari Lal:

    Note that the Himalaya comment never even made it into the SPM, not even the summary for WG2!

  40. 190
    vukcevic says:

    There is a serious lack of knowledge of intermediate processes linking solar activity and climate change. I think it may be the existence of physical process I named ‘North Atlantic precursor’ as plotted in:
    All three sets of data are well known and widely available but is there a connection?
    Accepted, correlation is no causation; to have correlation for two sets of unrelated data is not unusual, but to have correlation for three sets of unrelated data it just may be more than just coincidence.

  41. 191
    Nick Gotts says:

    “This study indicates that there is no trend towards that prediction in the United States.” – stevenc

    Stevenc’s logic: X has not happened yet, therefore X will not happen.

  42. 192

    stevenc: This study indicates that there is no trend towards that prediction in the United States. Thus all over the world may have to be refined somewhat.

    BPL: Be sure to let them know in southern California and Vegas.

  43. 193
    BobRecaptca says:

    @Roger Blanchard (#182): It would be great if you could write, in your own words, what you understood from the replies you received, if anything.

  44. 194
    Rod B says:

    To assure my post is not misconstrued, and in answer to stevenc and in support of CM, the moderators here at RC very seldom exaggerate.

  45. 195
    Rod B says:

    Hank Roberts, thanks for the minutia but helpful info in #184. I never knew how to distinguish threads, posts, and comments. Is “sub thread” an accepted term for a lengthy OT discussion within a thread?

  46. 196
    Rod B says:

    Dan H, you’re on a fool’s mission. For evidence you have to refer to a paper or text. When you do that you have to provide a paper published in a recognized scientific journal. If you do that you then need it published in a related subset of scientific journals. Then the paper would have to be written by a pedigreed author. Then the pedigreed author can’t be a loner but needs a few other supporting pedigreed scientists. Then, of course, not just any PhDs, but those who studied climatology. Don’t know what the next hurdle would be — I don’t recall seeing anything this far along. But rest assured you will never ever be able to provide acceptable supporting evidence for any questioning assertions, no matter how small!

    [Response: You are trying to be funny, but actually you are making a good point. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise on all of these issues in the literature, and for every valid point, there is plenty of supporting evidence from multiple groups all around the world. And you are correct in stating that unpublished and factually dubiously ‘papers’ that someone finds on the internet are not going to match up to that or get much respect from scientists. But it does not follow that you someone won’t be able to find supporting evidence for some assertion, it’s just that you need to restrict yourself to assertions that have some basis in reality. It’s not too much of burden really. – gavin]

  47. 197
    Average Person says:

    “A denier is one who refuses to believe something when experts in the area in question have demonstrated that the preponderance of evidence supports it.”

    So it all comes down to the evidence. But this is not very straight forward is it. How do you distill all the information, or cut away all the unnecessary assumptions?

    [Response: What, you expect an answer to that in a sentence or two I suppose? Well here it is then: you study the subject intensely for years on end, making a career out if it, until you acquire the necessary analytical skills to do so, that’s how.–Jim]

    How about Occam’s razor? It is not necessary for trace greenhouse gases to sustain the water vapor. The heat content of the ocean (quite large) is more than adequate to sustain the water vapor.

    [Response: Prove it.–Jim]

    Thus, while the non-condensing greenhouse gases are important, these gases are unlikely to moderate our watery planet (the preponderance of evidence is sounding more like “I work at NASA so I’m right”).

    [Response: Pathetic.–Jim ]

  48. 198
    Hank Roberts says:

    > lengthy OT discussion
    interesting, digression, red herring, hobbyhorse–the Contributors call’em.

  49. 199
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS for Dan H.– this is a good place to check assertions before copypasting:
    Good points have support from multiple sources; flaky ideas often contradict one another and yet you find sites promoting many of them simultaneously.

  50. 200
    DSL says:

    Rod @ 196: So-called “skeptics” of AGW theory demand nothing less from climate scientists (and most often that’s not even good enough for them), yet you complain and cry “foul” when it’s required of someone making an argument against AGW theory. What’s up with . . . sigh . . .