The legend of the Titanic

Their results and Hernes assertion may furthermore suggest that there are different rules for different groups of people: What works for scientists doesn’t work for lay people. It is clear from the IPCC and international scientific academies that climate scientists in general are impressed by the increasing information (Oreskes, 2004).

Hernes does, however, acknowledge that a background knowledge is present and may play a role in interpreting events, which means that most of us no longer blame the gods for calamities (in the time before the enlightenment, there were witch hunts and sacrifices to the gods). The presence of the knowledge now provides a rational background, which sometimes seems to be taken for granted.

Maybe it should be no surprise that the situation is as described by Hernes and Brulle et al., because historically science communication hasn’t really been appreciated by the science community (according to ‘Don’t be such a scientist‘) and has not been enthusiastically embraced by the media. There is a barrier to information flow, and Somerville and Hassol (2011) observe that a rational voice of scientists is sorely needed.

The rationale of Hernes’ argument, however, is that swaying people does not only concern rational and intellectual ideas, but also an emotional dimension. The mindset influences a person’s identity and character, and is bundeled together with their social network. Hence, people who change their views on the world, may also distance themselves from some friends and connect with new people. A new standpoint will involve a change in their social connections in addition to a change in rational views. Events, such as the Titanic, Earth rise, 911, and Hurricane Katrina influence many people both through rational thought and emotions, where people’s frame of mind shifts together with their friends’.

What do I think? Public opinion is changed not by big events as such, but by the public interpretation of those events. Whether a major event like hurricane Katrina or the Moscow heat wave changes attitudes towards climate change is determined by people’s interpretation of this event, and whether they draw a connection to climate change – though not necessarily directly. I see this as a major reason why organisations such as the Heartland are fighting their PR battle by claiming that such events are all natural and have nothing to do with emissions.

The similarity between these organisations and the Titanic legend is that there was a widespread misconception that it could not sink (and hence its fame) and now organisations like the Heartland make dismissive claims about any connection between big events and climate change. However, new and emerging science is suggesting that there may indeed be some connections between global warming and heat waves and between trends in mean precipitation and more extreme rainfall.

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  1. N. Oreskes, "BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change", Science, vol. 306, pp. 1686-1686, 2004.
  2. R.C.J. Somerville, and S.J. Hassol, "Communicating the science of climate change", Phys. Today, vol. 64, pp. 48, 2011.

169 comments on this post.
  1. Dan H.:

    Brulle’s contention that public opinion was shaped largely by the release of the IPCC AR4 report and the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” shows up very prominently in his climate change threat index, which rose dramatically from 2005 to 2007. Hurricane Katrina may have added to the public influence, as it was prominently mentioned in the movie, and occurred immediately prior to the large uptick in public perception.

    While public opinion polls do tend to peak shortly after prominent events (the best examples is the convention push in the US presidential election), the real effect will only manifest itself some time later, when the opinion settles into its new level.

  2. Lou Grinzo:

    This notion of what moves us is addressed by Paul Gilding in his book The Great Disruption. He argues that if we were open to some big event, like Katrina or the Russian heat wave, triggering an environmental “Pearl Harbor moment”, it would have happened. He says that we will have to undergo a change of heart, so to speak, before some huge event can have that effect.

    Gilding’s view, which I find very persuasive, sounds like Hernes’ argument — we need the emotional foundation in place first.

    Personally, I think the only way we will get there is via the most expensive route possible: A constant drumbeat of “little” disasters that wear down our resistance and our willingness to listen to the deniers, followed up by a big event (insert your own horrifying example here) that finally spurs us to action. The problem, of course, is that collectively we have very short memories, so those “little” disasters have to arrive closely enough that their mental impacts accumulate instead of dissipating in the minutiae of our lives.

  3. SecularAnimist:

    Rasmus wrote: “Public opinion is changed not by big events as such, but by the public interpretation of those events … I see this as a major reason why organisations such as the Heartland are fighting their PR battle by claiming that such events are all natural and have nothing to do with emissions.”

    And indeed, as such events rapidly increase in frequency and severity, and public awareness of the connection to AGW also increases, we can observe that the propaganda streaming from Heartland and the rest of the denialist propaganda machine is increasingly focused exactly on denying any connection between global warming and the onslaught of “weather of mass destruction”.

    Indeed, when the Arctic Ocean is ice-free, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps are collapsing into the sea, and coastal cities (already depopulated by drought-driven famine) are being evacuated on an emergency basis, Heartland and the rest will no doubt be “arguing” that it’s all “natural” and has nothing to do with CO2 emissions.

  4. dan bloom:

    that msnbc fake interview was nothing more than a PR set up by Lovelock’s book publisher to pre-sell and take pre-orders for his new bestseller on climate change due out in 2013, and yu got punked by fake reporter Ian Johnston at msnbc. That was a faux interview, no news there at all, unless you call Pr news. therefore, my polar cities work is still valid and Jim laughter’s new cli fi novel titled Polar City Red tells our story via fiction novel. read it this summer. Pure fiction, nothing to be afraid of. Just a good old fashioned yarn.

  5. Mark A. York:

    Indeed. The evidence piles up but many remain unswayed mostly along political party lines, so indoctrination and projection onto the factual side continues. This is why publishers, corporate entities they are, refuse to publish any novel with the facts of global warming in it except State of Fear. They prefer dystopics with unnamed causes, mostly war at the root of the wasted world. It’s a shame but all of the nonfiction science books out there won’t have the impact of SOF. I tried to change that for going on four years now with no luck. Maybe someday.

  6. richard pauli:

    We must mention the Onion’s most famous headline: “World’s Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-berg”,10645/

    As we look for metaphors for our condition we might also add Warren Quinn’s (1993) ‘Puzzle of the Self-Torturer':

    Suppose someone — who, for reasons that will become apparent, Quinn calls the self-torturer — has a special electric device attached to him. The device has 1001 settings: 0, 1, 2, 3, …, 1000 and works as follows: moving up a setting raises, by a tiny increment, the amount of electric current applied to the self-torturer’s body. The increments in current are so small that the self-torturer cannot tell the difference between adjacent settings. He can, however, tell the difference between settings that are far apart. And, in fact, there are settings at which the self-torturer would experience excruciating pain. Once a week, the self-torturer can compare all the different settings. He must then go back to the setting he was at and decide if he wants to move up a setting. If he does so, he gets $10,000, but he can never permanently return to a lower setting. Like most of us, the self-torturer would like to increase his fortune but also cares about feeling well. Since the self-torturer cannot feel any difference in comfort between adjacent settings but gets $10,000 at each advance, he prefers, for any two consecutive settings s and s+1, stopping at s+1 to stopping at s. But, since he does not want to live in excruciating pain, even for a great fortune, he also prefers stopping at a low setting, such as 0, over stopping at a high setting, such as 1000.

  7. Chris G:

    FWIW, my thinking is much like Lou (#2). Someone at a climate talk once asked, “Some people tell us one thing; some others tell us something else. How do we know?” Been mulling over that ever since, but I think it comes down to, if you don’t have a firm understanding of the hard sciences, you can’t know. It all boils down to which voices you choose to listen to.

    That is not entirely accurate. You can know when some event or collection of events makes it obvious. It is probable that there would still be arguments about whether or not an atomic bomb was possible, if we had not blown some up.

    Some will see the Russian heat wave as part of the increasing trend of such events; others will choose to believe that heat waves/droughts over the past decade in Russia, Europe, Australia, England, Texas, the Amazon, etc, are all isolated events.

    I think individuals have to be directly hit with some number of these in years not too far removed to really change their mind. Maybe having major crop failures in the US and China in the same year will make enough of an impression to change peoples minds. (Not saying that will happen this year, but if the heat wave trend continues, something like that is just a matter of time.) But, mostly it seems that troubles elsewhere are just that.

    IDK, but I would like to think that sites like this ‘prime the pump'; that is, they prepare people to accept a reality that would otherwise be denied a bit longer.

  8. Jeffrey Davis:

    My first look through a powerful telescope hit me harder than any photograph. A photograph always seems to me to be an artifact. Someone else’s work and someone else’s perspective.

    The moon through a telescope looks real, alien, and forbidding like a foreign prison.

  9. Russell:

    Someone from White Star or Luftschiffbau Zeppelin should ring up the folks who want to use wind turbine masts used as hydrogen storage tanks, before one explodes and sinks an iceberg.

  10. Philip Machanick:

    Typo towards the end: “hence it’s name” shouldn’t have an apostrophe.

  11. vukcevic:

    This may be of some interest to your readers, I do hope you do not demote it to the ‘Bore hole’, since it may be worth of a further consideration.
    The Antarctica’s geomagnetic field appears to correlate with the historic sunspot records. and shows relatively good match with the Antarctica’s 10Be deposition records. While geomagnetic changes are of order of hundreds of nTesla
    the heliospheric magnetic field at the Earth’s orbit is of order only of few nTesla
    Inevitable conclusion is that the 10Be Antarctica’s data may be of spurious value, unless ….
    Data from which delta Bz is calculated is accepted as good by most reputable science establishments,

  12. Nick O.:

    The problem ties in neatly with ideas that can be traced back to Jung, maybe earlier. I think there is little denying that ‘knowing’ requires a degree of emotional response if it is to have meaning; it’s almost as if you have to “know that you know”. If I can dig out the quotation from Jung’s “Memories, Dreams and Reflections” I will post it later, but basically he says that to really know something we have to feel it emotionally as well as understand it rationally. Thus, when I stand at the top of a diving board, 20 feet above the swimming pool, my rational mind tells me there’s nothing to be worried about, whereas all my nerves are jangling and I feel scared as hell. In the same way, but from a different perspective, people may read and take in all the rational stuff about climate change and it still does not resonate with them; they still do not ‘know it’ to be true, or at least something to worry about. The point about the image of Earth rise taken from Apollo 8 was that it provided very striking evidence to confirm what many people suspected, what they knew rationally, but had never actually seen. Okay, Kubrik put Earth rise in his film “2001 A Space Odyssey” but that was just a film, a conception. This pic., from Apollo 8, was therefore the ‘real thing’, hence its resonance with so many people at the time and subsequently. My guess is that for many people there is going to have to be an Apollo 8 (“A8″) moment, a striking confirmation of some kind that anthropogenic climate change is happening and is serious. What is perhaps more interesting re. Hernes’ and others’ analysis is how much the threshold to an A8 moment is affected – if at all – by the build up, over time, of contributing rational evidence. My hope is that the threshold is lowered, and significantly, although I am not sure how one would test for this.

  13. Kevin McKinney:

    “Been mulling over that ever since, but I think it comes down to, if you don’t have a firm understanding of the hard sciences, you can’t know. It all boils down to which voices you choose to listen to.”

    I’ve been saying for a while that IMOP, you can assess consistency. I’ve yet to hear from a complete denier who was not also internally inconsistent. A (fictional) example:

  14. Chris G:

    Kevin (#13),
    Possibly, but a) I don’t believe that the ability to judge consistency is that pervasive, and b) limited knowledge often misleads people into thinking that it is the other person who is inconsistent.

    a) I see inconsistencies all the time it the computer programs I work on, and I would think that of all people, programmers are highly trained to think logically and consistently. Yet they still often fail.

    b) For example, there is the ‘GHG theory violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics’ meme. Someone with an in-depth knowledge of thermo realizes it does not, but someone with a limited understanding could be inclined to agree with the meme, and think it is the GHG theory which is inconsistent with known physics.

    You mention _internal_ inconsistency, but it is possible to come up with a model that is internally consistent, but has little bearing on physical reality.

  15. Ray Ladbury:

    Chris G., OK, first, any time I see someone who is not an expert in thermo/stat mech making an argument based on the 2nd law of thermo, I am immediately suspicious. The 2nd law is a very subtle concept.

    Second, we know with 100% certainty that greenhouse gasses warm a planet. We know that Earth is 33 Kelvins warmer than it would be based solely on the radiation it absorbs from the Sun. If someone doesn’t believe in greenhouse warming, they have to advance an alternative explanation of that incontrovertible fact.

    This really isn’t that tough. You don’t ask an electrician for advice on cardiology. You go to an expert. Why should climate science be any different. And expertise is easy to judge in a world full of Intertubes–look at publications and citations. Look at what a scientist’s colleagues (read “competitors”) have to say about his work. If you don’t know how to assess science in this world, you might as well be illiterate.

  16. Alan:

    RE #12, I think the earthrise in Kubrick’s 2001 is a reflection of society rather than the other way around. Kubrick and Clarke are both prophetic geniuses in my book but the Apollo 8 earthrise predates Kubrick’s classic movie by several years.

    I was a kid at school in Australia during the Apollo project, in the last half of the 60’s every boy on the planet wanted to be an astronaught, now THAT’s influence through events! :)

  17. Daniel Bailey:

    vukcevic’s comment above is quite off-topic on this thread. At a minimum, please consign it to the open thread and delete this comment.


  18. Peter Cummins:

    I suggest that a significant portion of our population retains a strong tribal instinct and so the “truth” is what other people believe.And,that this tribal anchoring with all its brotherhood and sisterhood aspects is redolent with the bandwagon effect-Groupthink.Moreover,taking AGW on board is a heavy load about which the average punter would feel utterly powerless-latent negative feedback-and this acts as an esttopel device to prevent a mind change.What the tribe really needs is a charasmatic leader to capture emotions first and who then changes the “truth”.

  19. Radge Havers:

    Chris G.

    Speaking as a non-expert who has struggled with this, some homework is required to sort it out. It’s not too much to expect from your basic concerned citizen. Fortunately there is a scientific consensus on the broad issues of climate, so you don’t have to bust your brain on a lot of arcane minutia if you don’t have the time or ability for that.

    First, determine who the scientists are (requires finding out a bit about how the educational system works, professional societies, etc.). If you can’t do this, best to just stick to your knitting

    Second, find out what the actual scientists themselves say. If a person can’t figure this out, perhaps they should confine their civic passions to complaining about pot holes.

    Third, compare what the scientists say with what the, um, “critics” say. You don’t have to spend too much time on this to see that the denialists weight their arguments with rhetoric while credible scientists pretty much stick to the science. This isn’t necessarily true in all areas of study, but it pretty much holds true for things like climate and evolution. If you can’t recognize rhetorical tricks or sort any of this out, go back to square one and educate yourself on rhetoric.

    Fourth, your best available option is to go with the science. No, scientists aren’t perfect or always right, they simply present you with the best known options at any given point in time. If you don’t have the sand to accept the situation and take a stand, at least have the courtesy to stay out of the way.

    I don’t see that there’s anything extraordinary about any of this. It’s only a problem because the world is full of distracting jack asses. Don’t let the jack asses win.

    Which is not to say that there shouldn’t be a compelling narrative to help people bridge the noise and logical gaps. A digestable interpretation is certainly one difficulty; getting it out is increasingly another.

  20. Hank Roberts:

  21. ozajh:

    Ray Ladbury,

    “If someone doesn’t believe in greenhouse warming, they have to advance an alternative explanation of that incontrovertible fact.”

    They only have to produce this alternative to convince YOU. They don’t necessarily have to do anything to convince themselves. That’s what belief (and hence disbelief) MEANS.

  22. Mike Flynn:

    Ray Ladbury,

    I’ll probably get sent to the borehole – but –

    Alternative explanation for the Earth’s surface temperature – started off at several thousand deg C (or Kelvins if you like).

    Cooled. Passed through 500K.
    Cooled. Passed through 400K.
    Cooled. Got to where it is now, whatever that is.

    Moon is smaller. Greater surface mass ratio. Cooled faster – all else being equal. We don’t know the initial temperatures of the Sun, the Earth, or the Moon. We don’t know how long they have been cooling, or at what rate.

    And you know that the Earth’s surface temperature (when you probably can’t even come with a definition of surface that stands up to scrutiny) is “higher than it should be” precisely how?

    No offence intended, but you did ask the question. Is my suggestion based on reality and physics or not?

    Live well and prosper.

    Mike Flynn.

  23. adeady:

    “And,that this tribal anchoring with all its brotherhood and sisterhood aspects is redolent with the bandwagon effect ….”

    … but this is always spiced up or leavened, luckily, by the smart aleck effect. Most commonly among younger folks who really don’t have much knowledge, let alone tact or finesse, to back up their various challenges to family, classroom or community presumptions. Unfortunately, a few of them never give up this approach and eventually become graceless, cantankerous and/or arrogant superiority complex exemplars in what should be their mature years.

    We just need to harness the impulse to question and cultivate the capacity to judge who is and who is not trustworthy in technical matters.

    I do get a bit fed up with all these people who have the same lack of expertise as I do insisting that they must personally be able to replicate every observation and understand every equation in every paper from every nook and cranny of every scientific discipline involved in climate. Even the best scientists from some disciplines have to take a great deal on ‘trust’ from experts in other disciplines. They do have the nous to follow when explanations are given, but generally display a lot more circumspection, or just plain manners, when asking for further explication than the blowhards who still struggle with reading a map showing ice retreat.

  24. Rattus Norvegicus:


    2001: A Space Odyssey was release in early 1968. Apollo 8 flew at Christmas 1968. Do the math.

  25. t marvell:

    Aready (23), Havers (19) – That people should believe the experts: You’re talking about an ideal world. It does not necessarily work in practice, and very likely it is not enough to get people and politicians to act to control climate warming. Climate scientists should be able to deal with the “show me” types. They should provide information about changes that are clear-cut, obvious to ordinary people, and relevant to their every-day lives.

  26. Lady in Red:

    Am I still banned…. straight to the borehole…?

    If not, I would say I find these comments sincere, interesting, but I’d say:

    Look beyond RealClimate. Think. Parse information. Refuse to accept party line. Mostly, think and explore.

    Science will win. ….Lady in Red

  27. Kevin McKinney:

    #14, 15–Fair enough, but most of what goes ain’t that subtle: modeling is good when it shows less sensitivity to GHGs, but bad when it shows more; the earth is warming at the same rate as Mars, except that it isn’t, because it’s all UHI; mitigation is bad because it will impoverish the poor nations, and because it’s really a disguised form of foreign aid which enables poor nations to plunder rich ones. You know the sort of thing–thermodynamics it most assuredly isn’t.

    IMO, a great many people are quite capable of assessing this, but perhaps some of them need a little reassurance up front that they may not need to understand the 2nd law in depth to spot humbug. And I think it’s important that as many people as possible figure out for themselves what they can–answers are much more compelling when you have had a hand in working them out. As suggested above, then you ‘know you know.’

  28. Kevin McKinney:

    #22–“Is my suggestion based on reality and physics or not?”


  29. Jim Eager:

    Mike Flynn wrote: “And you know that the Earth’s surface temperature (when you probably can’t even come with a definition of surface that stands up to scrutiny) is “higher than it should be” precisely how?”

    Basic physics, i.e. consider solar output, earth’s distance from the sun, earth’s cross sectional area presented to the sun, earth’s albedo. Do the maths, sweetie. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier first did them in the 1820s.

  30. Mickey Reno:

    The Titanic analogy is appropriate, I think. It was a well-crafted, but still imperfect transportation engine, a technical marvel, built to wow the rich and poor alike, brand new, on it’s maiden voyage, the center of the world’s media attention.

    But she hit’s an iceberg and sinks in two hours, and 2/3s of her compliment dies in the freezing water because of a perfect storm of critical but unseen flaws: running too fast for the conditions (calm seas are bad for spotting ice at night), the rudder was too small, the boat was designed to take damage, but not in 5 adjacent compartments, and then there aren’t enough lifeboats when it’s clear she would sink. All making the hubris of the “unsinkable” consensus even more poignantly tragic. 97% of shipbuilders and passengers who said she was unsinkable were wrong.

    A little less hubris, and a bit more humility MIGHT have allowed her to make a safe crossing.

  31. Mark A. York:

    Mike Flynn: We suspend all scientific knowledge now in lieu of your epiphany. No further explanation is necessary.

  32. owl905:

    The title held hope of seeing respect for the latest science, but instead it went classic Titanic myths. Ballard’s recent documentary, “Titanic 100″ laid it out – the ship was one sturdy, tough, construction. It stayed level, lasted over an hour longer than the builder’s estimate, and all the theories of flaws and human errors were explored and rejected. The real disaster was the Californian not heeding all the signals Titanic sent.

    And that parallel comes a lot closer to whistling past the graveyard than glass jaws that weren’t, and insufficient lifeboats when most sinkers list and roll.

  33. Radge Havers:

    t marvell @ 25

    “Show me” types are a different issue. @19 was not directed at you, nor was it about what it will take to get action (other than to obliquely reference narrative and certain systemic issues). It was about how relatively casual observers who are feeling lost might penetrate the noise — assuming they are willing. Not everybody who cares about climate change is necessarily interested in becoming a climate wonk.

    However since you raise the issue, I’m willing to entertain the notion that information “obvious to ordinary people” (whatever that means) may be hard to come by. I have no doubt that there are areas where communications can be improved.

    But if you are suggesting that tailoring information for some “show me” types will somehow serve to galvanize action, that reflects an idealized view of the world which ignores how systemically disfunctional politics has become. For one thing, CC is only a small part of that whole morass. For another, those types are not likely to be satisfied with simple pre-digested information. It probably also overestimates the number of “ordinary” people who are interested in becoming amateur climatologists.

    Moreover, while many “show me” types are sincere and wholly admirable (and should be very grateful for a place like Real Climate!), I’ve noticed a significant fraction who are just time wasting cranks and involuted knobs. For them there’s a perfectly good place. It’s called The Bore Hole.

  34. MARodger:

    So sad. Now is obvious hard times for denialist bloggers with cherry-picked areas of high Arctic Sea Ice melting away before you can tap out a post on it (NSIDC show 1m sq km extent lost in a week), & with RSS showing temperatures rising higher than will be easy for Roy Spencer to explain.
    So what do you do? Of course. You turn to RealClimate for some jovial inspiration.

  35. Jim Eager:

    “It stayed level, lasted over an hour longer than the builder’s estimate”

    Thanks not to the ship’s design, but to the ingenuity and sacrifice of the ships engineering staff, all of whom perished.

  36. Dan H.:

    Yes, the Californian did not heed the Titanic’s distress messages. However, the Titanic did not heed the Californian’s ice warnings either.

  37. Donna:

    My quick read may have missed understood but I think that the dismissal of the emotional events required to get people to change their minds on charged topics is a mistake, I strongly suspect that people’s need for an emotional driver to change opinion is very real. In some ways I suspect looking at why people’s minds in the US changed about the Vietnam War might be more illustrative of the “why’s” for why opinions change and do not change.
    I suspect you have to have a build up of facts that don’t match what people want to believe (why they don’t have to change their minds) and then one or more emotionally charged events that finally let the facts that don’t fit the old model to come through.
    And it likely depends on how much you are emotionally invested in the old to determine how much evidence and how much of an emotional event it will take to get your mind to change.
    Heartland etc have to keep churning out their info because they have to keep a narritive to bury the facts and to try to keep any event from having the emotional impact. Real Climate has to keep putting the evidence out there so that as events occur there is a weight of evidence to help people change their minds. Unfortunately I have no doubt that nature will provide far too many of the emotionally laden events that will provide the final push. Just like now I suspect you will find few people willing to admit that they were ones who thought cigarettes did not cause cancer, there will be a point when people will be claiming that they knew climate chage was real and had significant risks all along no matter what their behavior is now.

  38. Ray Ladbury:

    Mike Flynn,
    Earth has been here rougly 4.5 billion years. We know a body at temperature T loses energy via radiation according to the Planck and Stefan-Boltzmann Laws. We can also measure the energy coming up from the core and mantle. It is negligible compared to the energy received from the Sun–and Solar energy received would put us 33 degrees cooler than we are.

    Sorry, Mike, your alternate theory isn’t reality based.

  39. Ray Ladbury:

    ozajh@21, OK, to maintain any sort of credibility and to avoid joining the tin-foil-hat brigade, they must advance an alternative explanation.

  40. Susan Anderson:

    Dan H.

    The New Yorker says this about the Californian along with their usual well written and thoroughly researched treatment:

    The other was the Californian, a small steamer that had stopped about ten miles from the Titanic—unlike the doomed ship, it had heeded the ice warnings—and sat there all through that terrible night, disregarding the Titanic’s frantic signalling, by wireless, Morse lamp, and, finally, rockets. Not all of this was as inexplicable as it seems: the Californian didn’t have a nighttime wireless operator. (All passenger ships were subsequently required by law to have round-the-clock wireless.) But no one has ever sufficiently explained why the Californian’s captain, officers, and crew failed to respond to what seemed like obvious signs of distress. The second officer merely thought it strange that a ship would be firing rockets at night. If Lord had been given to large interpretations, he might have seen in the one ship a symbol of the urgent force of human striving and, in the other, the immovable resistance of sheer stupidity.

    It’s interesting you heed this on the Titanic but are carefully armed against the truth about global warming, which with the doubting and delaying efforts of people like you is in the process of becoming a much bigger disaster.

  41. Dan H.:

    I am not “armed against the truth about global warming,” but rather searching for the truth. On one side are those who claim that CO2 has little to do with the observed warming. On the other are those who maintain, that the full effects of CO2 have not materialized, and more warming is “in the pipeline.” Ironically, those of us who feel that CO2 has contributed to the recent warming and the full effects have already been felt, are branded as both alarmists and deniers. The difference between the global warming and the Titanic would be akin to the Californian radioing that we predict that we will be surrounded by ice if we continue, instead of we are surrounded.

  42. Chris G:

    Well, I took Mike Flynn’s model as an example of something that is internally consistent, loosely based on physical laws, and having nothing to do with the real world.

    Ray (#15),
    Agreed, on all points. But, there are great masses of people, (some of them very intelligent, just not very educated), who for whatever reason, do not know how to assess scientific work. I mean, there are smart people in the general population who believe in radiant cold. You can try to explain that there is no such thing, what they are feeling is a lack of radiant heat (and hence an imbalance between their body and that block of ice, or whatever), but they can “feel” the cold, and it is a struggle to convince them. It is this “illiterate” majority that need to be convinced, and this article is discussing what it takes to convince them.

    On an emotional level, faced with a choice, people tend to trust people like themselves more than people they perceive as being different. And there is this stereotype, deserved or not, that scientists are a bit different. If people were more rational, this emotional response would matter less, but by and large, people are feeling creatures that think, not thinking creatures that feel.

  43. dhogaza:

    Dan H:

    I am not “armed against the truth about global warming,” but rather searching for the truth.

    This is how you explain your repetitive and boring dishonesty? You’re lying in order to find the truth?

  44. Ray Ladbury:

    Dan H. “I am not “armed against the truth about global warming,” but rather searching for the truth.”

    Bwaaaahaaaahaaaaa. Oh, stop it Dan! Yer killin’ me! Thanks for the laugh.

    Dude, why not read what the scientists have to say?

  45. Ray Ladbury:

    Chris G.,
    Hmm, when I read phrases like :

    “…do not know how to assess scientific work”


    “On an emotional level, faced with a choice, people tend to trust people like themselves more than people they perceive as being different.”

    I tend to say to myself, “I think I see your problem.”

    The latter is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy–refusing to find a speaker credible because of some class he belongs to or some characteristic he possesses. The identity of the speaker is irrelevant to the truth of what he is saying.

    Of course scientists are different. Ferchrissake, pillowtalk for my wife and I includes puns about statistics! We do integrals for fun–just because they’re challenging. That is irrelevant.

    In my mind, perhaps the greatest value of science is that it gives us a way of assessing truth or falsehood that rises above the “emotional level”. Scientific arguments may be passionate, sometimes even angry. However, ultimately it is evidence and explanatory and predictive power that decide the argument–and whether I win or lose, I am obligated to abide by the decision of the evidence. [EDIT: out of line] because ultimately, if we are to stay scientists, we are going to wind up on the same side. When you depart from evidence-based debate; when the facts cease to matter, ultimate agreement cannot be taken for granted. That is why debates between science and antiscience (climate, evolution, vaccination…) always become nasty.

    That is what science offers. If the majority of humans are too stupid or stubborn to realize its value, then the species is probably to stupid or stubborn to survive in the long term.

    [Response:This stuff is really verging on out of line, and it most certainly is pretty disgusting.–Jim]

  46. Ric Merritt:

    I usually skim past Dan H and the numerous replies, so sorry if I missed something, but in this case the point might actually provide some illumination.

    Dan, you actually think that the full effects of CO2 have already been felt?? So, the ocean can’t and doesn’t store much heat energy? Seems less reasonable than usual, even for, um, whatever it is you are trying to be.

    Not to mention, it ignores the future of the Keeling curve, which to date shows no signs of significant bending in the direction of concave down.

  47. Ray Ladbury:

    Jim, I apologize for any offense given. I’m not even sure what I said that was offensive.

  48. wayne davidson:

    Susan, the real analysis about Titanic demise is known but not thoroughly completed, I think it incorporates many aspects of human behavior, of which the biggest one is overconfidence; the unsinkable sank, the highly experienced wise Captain was reckless, as presented on NOVA a great educational program which always trumps the New Yorker when it comes to science. The Californian Captain Lord was made the devil, while the devil was really in the details… I am sure NOVA will take on the case of Captain Lord one day. While I must add, you don’t plow a ship full steam in a field of icebergs, Titanic Captain while entertaining the power brokers contradicted the basic tenets of shipping of that day:

    I strongly recommend listening to RMS Titanic commander Lightoller on BBC

    It was known that you don’t go fast in an iceberg zone, yet they did. We also know that we shouldn’t
    add too much CO2 to the atmosphere, but we do, the First class planet Earth passengers, those with money and power always have the captains ear, but they don’t want to slow down, burn less coal and start using sails, wind power. Rasmus analogy is quite good.

    More on this in a while

  49. Ike Solem:

    The Titanic analogy that fits here is that by the time they’d spotted the ice and thrown the rudder over, the ship’s momentum was such that they hit the ice anyway, which is the obvious outcome for the next century. Where this analogy fails is that hitting the ice is a single event, whereas the rapidly changing climate will continue to pummel human civilization until the atmospheric composition stabilizes a new equilibrium state is reached. (This is the transient climate change we’re experiencing now).

    What’s the long-term position going to be? Maximal Holocene warmth, no matter what we do, and mid-Pliocene outcomes are probably more realistic, with a 25 meter sea level rise and a 3C increase in global average temps. Even an immediate elimination of all fossil fuel emissions would have little effect on the long-term outcome (due to permafrost feedbacks, etc.), although it might have a major effect on the next century’s warming rate, relative to business-as-usual (which is exceeding the IPCC’s most pessimistic future scenarios).

    However, if you want a marine or shipping disaster to compare to global warming, try the Exxon Valdez or BP Macondo events. In both cases we have massive spills brought on by negligence and corporate greed, i.e. the desire to maximize profits by cutting production costs and stimulating demand. A very small number of extremely wealthy people benefit inordinately from such efforts, and as long as the cost of fines is less than the profits resulting from such methods, they’ll continue, as per the shareholder’s wishes. Similar ‘economic necessity’ arguments are what kept the plantation system of slavery alive in the United States for 100 years – it took a civil war to end it.

    Today, global oil shipping and deepwater drilling continues as before – no real changes have taken place, despite the massive scale of the disasters. How did the fossil fuel corporations accomplish this? Via the manipulation of public opinion, which practically means buying those politicians and academics and public relations outfits and media figures that sing the right song. This effort ranges across ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ media platforms.

    Public opinion is shaped by what people see and read – and most of that information passes through a corporate media filter, with the modern exception of the Internet. Anyone bothering to look up the ownership of major media conglomerates in the U.S. as well as the ownership of the major fossil fuel conglomerates (see yahoo finace, XOM, DIS, CVX, TWX, COP, etc.) will note that most large banks and funds are as heavily invested in corporate media as they are in fossil fuels, with fossil fuels being far more lucrative (see recent record profits).

    Now, do an economic analysis of the effect of a complete switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy in, say, California. All that cash that used to flow to gasoline sales, diesel sales, jet fuel sales, coal-fired electricity sales – eliminated. This is a lot of money – once distributed to Wall Street, third world dictators, shareholders, retirement fund beneficiaries, pension plans, baby boomer retirement packages… all gone. Bye-bye.

    Oh, yes, renewable energy technology is at a state of development where this is eminently possible, no doubts there:

    The result of this economic cartelization – a media system controlled by fossil fuel interests – is that public opinion is easily manipulated, and as long as the public believes what the propaganda tells them to believe, and are incapable of evaluating the arguments for themselves, that will continue. As the Heartland documents show, this effort also extends into schools – brainwash ‘em young, they might be yours for life? Truly a disgusting level of cynicism from Heartland and its sponsors.

  50. t marvell:

    Havers (33 I agree with almost everything you say. But you seem to be defeatist. At present the notion of “trust the scientists,” is not getting anywhere in the face of the energy interests and the conservative politicians. Global warming is pretty much off the radar in Washington. The issue now is what to do about that situation. The entrenched anti-global warming forces will not disappear on their own.
    I like to draw an analogy to the medical experts, smoking and cancer. The experts all agreeded that smoking caused cancer, but they faced a powerful adversaries in the Tobacco industry. Eventually the experts won, by providing information about the connection that anybody could see. The “show me” types were persuaded.
    To me, human-caused global warming is pretty obvious. But I get nowhere talking to my conservative friends who are skeptics, but otherwise intelligent. (From my experience, practical scientists such as engineers are particularly skeptical. I hear that meterologists tend to be skeptical.)
    I’m politicaly liberal. I think the underlying issue is that conservatives are skeptical of any attempt at more government control. That population is large, and it can probably block any action against global warming without much more evidence that it is a problem – again, evidence that anyone can see.

  51. Susan Anderson:

    I am at a loss as to why Ray Ladbury’s straight talk is more offensive than the serial dishonesty he is working on. Boring and repetitive assertion of delaying and doubt-creating talking points and refusal to think and learn in response to a variety of scientific information are a good deal more offensive than humorous anecdotes – or was it the namecalling (stupid and stubborn)?

    [Response: Well, the name-calling certainly doesn’t help, but the real problem was the vulgarity that I quickly edited out, and which I am not going to repeat here. I don’t care how right one’s cause is, such things are out of line in civil discourse.–Jim]

    It is nearly tragic that WUWT, ClimateAudit, Curry’s, or a host of other antiscience blogs and sites persuade and comfort people who do not want to pay attention to the combined expertise of the world’s best scientists and scientific organizations. Now that is s&s in my book.

    Heartland’s over-the-top promotions are offensive, earning an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. Ladbury’s points seem innocuous and even mildly entertaining. I am grateful to him for cutting through the sludge.

    Dave Roberts recently addressed some burning questions:

    Climate scientists, in my experience, are reasonable people, left-brained types, and they have trouble believing that humanity would accelerate into foreseeable disaster. They see the problem and what needs to be done. It makes sense to them. So they believe that others will see it too, in time. It’s so obvious!

    But what if countries do not act in concert to reduce emissions? What if the policies that end up getting passed are fragmented, expensive, and ineffective? What if countries react to shocks (droughts, floods, famine) and resource shortages not with commitment to climate mitigation but with nationalism, xenophobia, and militarization?

  52. Russell:

    As Watts is re-re cycling his Titanic cartoon,

  53. Ray Ladbury:

    Susan, I was in the wrong. ‘Nuff said.

  54. Ray Ladbury:

    T Marvell: “I think the underlying issue is that conservatives are skeptical of any attempt at more government control.”

    Which, of course, is precisely the logical fallacy of argument from consequences. I do not see how we can reason with people whose postion is based entirely on a fallacy.

  55. Russell:

    Watts has re-re-recycled his titanically unfunny Titanic cartoon.

  56. Hank Roberts:

    Q: Why does history repeat, louder?
    A: You weren’t listening.

    “One of Australia’s richest men, Clive Palmer, on Monday unveiled plans to build a 21st century version of the doomed Titanic in China … Palmer, a self-made mining billionaire … vast coal and other mining assets in Queensland and Western Australia.” 2012/04/30/

  57. adelady:

    t marvell “I think the underlying issue is that conservatives are skeptical of any attempt at more government control.”

    So why do they oppose the spread of technology that would promote individuals going off-grid with their own personal power supply and communities or businesses installing and running power facilities to suit their own needs? Sounds to me like an ideal way to get away from bureaucratic control of significant personal and business activity.

    That “government control” expression seems more like a mantra to recite when you don’t like something, rather than a reasoned, considered response to a genuinely intrusive or oppressive idea. Especially when you see those self-same advocates of ‘freedom’ and property ‘rights’ opposing the lock the gates movements among farming communities who genuinely fear losing control of their land and their business when it is commandeered by fracking companies. Just one example of clanging dissonance, there are others.

  58. Russell:

    I think the Titanic replica a splendid idea, provided its propulsion system apes the original.

    This will assure its burns enough coal, and spews enough authentic coal tar to draw attention to itself by begriming every port it visits.

    If coal powered it would answer a plenum of interesting oceanographic questions about the great Age of Steam, by leaving a wake of Listerine flavored seawater, full of fat and happy algae ocean-fertilized by the phosphorus, iron and ammonium sulfate fallout from the T2’s mighty stacks.

    The only problem is luring equally authentic staff away from Cunard, as White Star is no more.

  59. Russell:

    Come come, Hank–

    Provided it is authentically coal powered, and Clive can steal some real crew from Cunard, what’s not to like about Titanic II?

    Its copious fly ash production will certainly raise the profile of coal combustion, and besides providing a fragrant reminder of the Great Age of Steam, may answer a plenum of questions about ocean fertilization by depositing phosphorus, iron and ammonium sulfate in its wake.

    Think of all the fat and happy algae frolicking in T2’s Listerine-scented wake, just waiting to be harvested as biofuel !

  60. Fred Emmer:

    I really like this article, as a non-scientist its one of the few on this website that I understand.

    What the titanic choose to transmit to the nearest ship the californian was, just prior to hitting the iceberg, “Shut up, I am working Cape Race”. The Titanic choose the ignore to the Californian, and continued to relay commercial messages.

    Maybe the Californian would have kept on listening to the radio if the Californian hadnt used their 5kw radio to snub the Californian. To me it sounds eery similair writer #2, whois telling the deniers to shut up because he doesnt want to hear it.

    As a layman i have to choose who to believe on the subject.

    II dont think climate scientists realize they use the same arguments as skeptics. One sides error, is considered an honest mistake on one side and a lie by the other side. If money corrupts, wouldnt it corrupt both parties at the debate, whether on the oil payroll or riding the govt gravy train ? The agw supporters are quick to dish out their believes about higher temperatures during a heatwave, but get mad when skeptics do it during snowmageddon. In the last few decades we found out that smoking kills more people than the tobacco industry claimed, and acid rain didnt kill as much fish as greens claimed.
    Isnt a climate scientist criticizing the way Heartland operates, calling the cattle black ?

  61. Mike Flynn:

    Ray Ladbury,

    Apologies. My paragraph breaks seem to have vanished. Wouldn’t blame you if you find it too difficult to read. Sorry. Don’t know whether I should clog the system with a repost. Oh well.

    Mike Flynn.

  62. Radge Havers:

    t marvell @ 50

    Well I certainly have my defeatist moments, but I wasn’t having one @33 (a senior moment, maybe).

    I caught the tail end of an interview on NPR this morning about the Yale climate opinion poll. One of the things he talked about was different audiences’ responses to climate change debate. A take away lesson might be that you can put out one size fits all messaging, however sometimes it will be advantageous to target specific groups. Some people, for instance, may need to be shown more evidence (or less) than others. More importantly we now live in a different world than back when smoking was an issue. The stakes are higher, the effects farther reaching, and everything is ideologically more fraught. And evidence, well evidence loses currency in a world where people have staked their egos, their cultural identities, and their bank rolls on making up their own alternate reality.

    Now I do tend to be leery of narrative as a tool. There are way too many infotainvertizing fairy tales out there in media land as it is. However, it can be well done as per Carl Sagan. And I know things like the machinations of the FCC, and how TV news departments are organized are a big yawn to tech types; yet they are important to understanding what information gets distributed to the public and why. Turn on your TV for news and watch beltway insiders tell themselves bedtime stories. They are disconnected… from you.

  63. Susan Anderson:

    Jim and Ray, uncle, and thanks … do get too big for my underscientific boots sometimes. Enjoy Ray’s unpulled punches, but understand I was wrong … nuff said.

  64. Ike Solem:

    “Conservatives” vs. “liberals” is a propaganda line. Back in the real world, there are hundreds of different political viewpoints, as the PR industry is well aware – they’ve got a list of different socio-economic groupings. Fossil-fuel-finances PR artistes use whatever language fits their audience when selling denialism and “clean coal” to the public – one story for liberals, another for conservatives, another for any one of the 100+ “defined focus groups” that PR outfits spin their material towards.

    The one thing they don’t want to see is a lot of positive stories about renewable energy, like this one:

    Planetsolar can produce up to 500 or 600 kiloWatts per hour in good weather — enough to travel 300 kilometres (186 miles) when the battery is fully charged using engines no more powerful than those on a scooter.

    Everything on board is solar-powered: from the boat’s engines and the on-board computers to the hot water and the light bulbs.

    This is where the ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ press holds hands – renewable energy is such a threat to fossil fuel profits that it has to be ignored or downplayed by the corporate media. Really, global warming is not a concern – the concern is that the threat of global warming will lead to replacement of fossil fuels by renewables, thereby undercutting profit margins. Shareholders go berserk when their corporations lose money, and fire the executives, so the executives who get to keep their jobs do as they’re told. A nice way of tying your own rope, a classic example of short-sighted greed, but that’s how it works at Exxon and Chevron, isn’t it?

    This is also a problem in the academic system, which has tolerated the growth of climate science since the 1970s since it was largely non-threatening to anyone’s agenda, much in contrast to renewable energy research, which was flushed down the drain after Reagan entered office. Go look around on American college campuses – see any Cancer Research Institutes? Nuclear Energy Research Institutes? Climate Science Institutes? Yes you do – but no Renewable Energy Institutes. Academics don’t like to talk about this – criticism of the overall system that keeps them funded is viewed as problematic, and they really don’t like admitting that they’re under the thumb of corporate energy interests. Take Stanford’s “Global Climate and Energy Program” – GCEP – funded and controlled by Exxon, Schlumberger (oilfield services), etc. Nor are they willing to criticize DOE’s budgetary outlay (nuclear waste and fossil fuel deals, mostly) or lack of basic peer review.

    Don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, or you might end never get that nice cushy position, right? Don’t feel too bad – corporate media operates the same way.

  65. ozajh:

    Ray Ladbury @ 39,

    I think you’re being too kind here. Among their own audience, their credibility can remain high for a startlingly long time.

    I have first hand knowledge of this. A personal acquaintance, who is a professionally trained structural engineer and a long-time but now retired senior government employee, has repeatedly told me that “Climate Change is BS” and quoted multiple contrarians as his justification. They still have full credibility with him. This is a well educated and by any objective measure intelligent man, but IMHO his political beliefs are driving his AGW beliefs (the other side of politics here in Australia has introduced a Carbon tax).

  66. t marvell:

    Emmer (59), a fellow non-climate scientists, said that climate scientists should be more careful 1) that they don’t sound like the skeptics and 2) that they don’t make claims that can go awry. Good.
    1) The problem with Climategate is not any hint of fraud, but a strong hint that climate scientists are currishly dismissive of others, like the deniers are dismissive of AGW. That is evident on RC also. That attitude detracts from their message. It gives the impression that they are influenced by an emotional stake in their position.
    2) A potential problem with the notion that big events can help persuade people is that climate scientists might tout big events as evidence of climate change, without ironclad evidence, and then be contradicted by later events. That is expecially true of the mid-west heatwave this winter.

    Adelady (57) and Ladbury (54) – I didn’t mean to give the impression that deniers’ dislike of government control is justified or consistent. It’s typically routed in self-interest or screwy ideology (e.g. Ayn Rand). But I suspect that it’s behind a lot of the opposition to AGW, and a reason why the opposition so strong. Climate scientists don’t just have to persuade the public, but also be so persuasive as to overcome this hostility to government action that many hold.

  67. ozajh:

    Fred Emmer @ 59,

    I agree that at some point laymen have to choose who to believe. At the moment I personally choose to believe that AGW is real, but I believe there will be a technological fix or fixes to reduce CO2 levels when there is a sufficient political consensus that action HAS to be taken.

    (Mind you, I suspect it will be similar to the situation with the ozone holes. A lot of momentum will have to be reversed before the CO2 reduction shows any positive effects, and then there will be a HUGE debate about the optimum overall CO2 level.

    I find it somewhat ironic, however, that you mention the issue of smoking. It is well documented that the same PR firms (and in some cases the exact same people) who were funded by the Tobacco industry to spread disinformation about the hazards of smoking are now funded by fossil fuel interests to spread information denying AGW. This makes me very cynical about the worth of the material they produce.

  68. Dennis Lynch:

    Scientists (I mean generally all fields) have a problem communicating with the general public. There are few forums that reach a wide readership except news papers and they seem to be shrinking. Most scientists I’ve known write for other scientists in silos (journals)within their areas of expertse, it’s an insular practice and the use of jargon particular to a specific area of study is common along with calculus and chemistry and statistics. This is not a complaint, scientists should do that. That is their profession. However their work is out of reach to the average reader (read truck driver, he can drive but can’t read a graph) both in content and publication. Most Phds don’t have time to try to reach everyone. We end up with science writers who are not experts in the field and are looking to sensationalize. Only a few sciences are politicized and being denied – evolution and climate. They need outreach to counter the denialism. This blog provides that forum, Real Climate informs me, I am a geophysicist (rocket scientist, and remote sensing guy) but not a climate scientist. I use this site to get resources and information I would not otherwise have.

  69. Steve Fish:

    In a high quality and lively discussion one can’t beat a mix of strong views and intelligence. Ray’s edge mixed with Susan’s thoughtfulness moderated by Jim’s sense of propriety and common sense is just about perfect in my opinion. This forum is great!


  70. Kevin McKinney:

    “I dont think climate scientists realize they use the same arguments as skeptics.”

    That’s because they don’t. If you look carefully at ‘skeptic’ arguments, you will find them riddled with errors and internal contradictions. The most blatant example is the ‘warming Mars’ argument: Monckton, among others, argued that since Mars was warming at the same rate as Earth, that proved that CO2 emissions couldn’t be causing Earth’s warming. That’s not really logical, if you look at it–Mars and Earth could be (and actually, were) warming for totally unrelated reasons–but the kicker was that Monckton was arguing during the same time that Earth *wasn’t* warming.

    That’s known as “incoherent.” And while it’s an extreme example, it’s not unique in ‘skeptic’ rhetoric.

  71. owl905:

    @Dan H 36 – Your response is misrepresentation. Here’s the warning traffic to the Titanic that day:

    Additionally, the Royal investigation showed nothing that indicated Titanic ignored berg warnings – quite the opposite, they were specifically on the lookout for them. If you want to exonerate the operator and captain of the Californian, please provide something better than a personal claim as fact.

    [Response:Based on what I’ve read, I’d have to disagree. To plow along at ~22.5 knots (nearly full speed) when (1) they knew they were surrounded by a dense iceberg field that had forced one other non-passenger ship in the area to stop completely for the night, (2) on an exceedingly still, moonless, perfectly calm night with no wave action against the ice to provide the visual clues of ice presence that were commonly used, and (3) with no binoculars or scope available for the lookouts because these were left behind–this combination invited disaster. I think Ike Solem’s description above of the analogy is correct–forcing too big of an object at too high of a speed without the ability to make the necessary adjustments when they needed to.–Jim]

  72. Craig Nazor:

    Fred Emmer@59,

    Your summation of what you got from “writer 2” has very little relationship to what I thought was the gist of comment #2. Lou (of comment #2) agrees with the scientific explanation for the observed warming of our planet. He doesn’t want (and is not telling anyone) to “shut up”; he is complaining about the “willingness [of many people] to listen to the deniers.” The deniers can say whatever they want. At some point, it is hoped that more voters (which is what it comes down to in the US) could realize that what the deniers are saying has little to do with the scientific truth.

    The story of the Titanic is one of hubris. The builders and operators of the ship were so enamored with their achievement of design and engineering that they lost sight of the fact that, as marvelous as it was, their creation was subject to the same physical laws as the rest of the universe.

    The scientific explanation of the recently observed planetary warming is based on a very long line of observation, experimentation, logical analysis, and scientific discussion and debate. The system that we have used to arrive at this explanation (research, peer review, publishing, research duplication efforts, further debate, and finally, a general consensus) has been intentionally designed to not be corruptible in the way that you appear to believe that it is.

    Climate scientists are scientists who do research. The Heartland Institute is a political body that does no research, yet tries to influence public policy. When you compare the opinions of the Heartland Institute with the scientific opinions of researching climatologists, you are comparing apples to oranges, which will not help you come to a wise decision about whom to believe concerning anthropogenic global climate change.

  73. Halldór Björnsson:

    I must admit to having been a bit disappointed with Hernes’ book. His analysis of subject is excellent, he is clearly a smart guy and a good writer, but in the end it doesn’t lead to any useful results on how to move the debate further. But as with other Norden books this one is free to download, so anyone can read it.


  74. Ray Ladbury:

    t marvell: “It gives the impression that they are influenced by an emotional stake in their position.”

    This entirely misses the point. How can we not be dismissive of anti-science nonsense that refuses to consider evidence? A ridiculous position is deserving of ridicule.

    Newsflash: Scientists are human. And we are passionate about our science. When someone insists on playing Calvinball rather than abiding by standards of scientific discourse–and misrepresenting what they are doing to the public as science–we are bound to be disgusted.

    Here is the point, though. The most important thing about science is not that it turns people into dispassionate, fact-producing robots. It does not. Rather, it is that science produces reliable understanding even when practiced by fallible and passionate human beings. Indeed, in part it is the passion for understanding that guarantees reliability. That is one reason why scientific fraud is guaranteed to end your scientific career.

  75. Edward Greisch:

    Radge Havers, Susan Anderson and others: We live in a world where there are surprisingly many people who still believe in witchcraft and other amazingly nonsensical things. There are 2 books on related subjects that explain this phenomenon. They are “The Rise of Nuclear Fear” by Spencer Weart and “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer.

    The architecture of the human brain is such that magical thinking is the standard. Putting an end to magical thinking requires a great deal of education at the very least. For maybe half or more of the population, that much education may be impossible. A re-design of the human brain, an impossibility in real time, could be the only way forward. Read “Religion Explained” first.

    Rasmus chose his topic well. Legends are understandable to a lot more people than science is. RealClimate is beginning to investigate the social science side of the problem. I wonder what some people make of the NASA Earth rise photograph.

  76. SecularAnimist:

    Radge Havers wrote: “I caught the tail end of an interview on NPR this morning about the Yale climate opinion poll.”

    I heard that NPR program too. Like all such discussions of public opinion about AGW, it utterly failed to even mention the “elephant in the room” — namely, the generation-long, multibillion-dollar propaganda campaign by the fossil fuel corporations to shape public opinion through denial, deceit, pseudo-science, pseudo-economics and pseudo-ideology.

    It is really quite bizarre to discuss public opinion about global warming without mentioning that public opinion has been shaped by the tsunami of deliberate, elaborate, systematic, manipulative lies that has dominated the public discourse for a generation.

  77. t marvell:

    Havers (62) The Yale group is so clearly an adversarial group that it might have trouble affecting public opinion. They claim that melting sea ice causes the ocean level to rise. See p. 55 in:

    [Response: This is actually true. It is not a big number but because the ice is fresh melting into a salty ocean, there is a small effect. You can test it with ice cubes and a glass of salt water. – gavin]

    Partly their mission is to determine how climate scientists might advance their message, and research on that is not in conflict with their being an advocacy group. I wish they would do research about what kinds of information would persuade the public, so that climate scientists can focus their research there.

  78. Susan Anderson:

    Wayne Hamilton@~48, thanks for the radio link, I listened to that and was very moved. I’m not a Titanic maven but the analogy and choice for the article are useful. It’s interesting in that otherwise professional and well intentioned careful people made a colossal mistake, as evidenced in Jim’s response:

    [Response:Based on what I’ve read, I’d have to disagree. To plow along at ~22.5 knots (nearly full speed) when (1) they knew they were surrounded by a dense iceberg field that had forced one other non-passenger ship in the area to stop completely for the night, (2) on an exceedingly still, moonless, perfectly calm night with no wave action against the ice to provide the visual clues of ice presence that were commonly used, and (3) with no binoculars or scope available for the lookouts because these were left behind–this combination invited disaster. I think Ike Solem’s description above of the analogy is correct–forcing too big of an object at too high of a speed without the ability to make the necessary adjustments when they needed to.–Jim]

    Steve Fish, thanks, my blushes. I do sometimes wonder if I should get out of the way and at times could use to be a little less full of myself. This is such a safe place, though, I come here for some honesty to lower my blood pressure when the hate gets to me.

    Ike Solem, thanks as always, good to see you here.

    I took a look at the borehole and would like once again to point people at “The Republican War on Science” – in some ways, there is little new since it came out. The techniques have been refined and the appearance of scientific skepticism made into a less detectable fake, but the actors, while augmented, remain pretty much the same. There was a critique about policy, but it’s not that given half a chance those who are looking facts in the face are not eager to do something, but that they are hamstrung by a violently committed minority who as Edward G. says are wedded to magical thinking.

    Craig Nazor@~72, thanks, well said (among many others) – speaking of policy setting up against science where it should be guided by the likes of the people who created your computers, maintain your health, and create all the stuff you love and depend (though too much of it is likely to bring us all low), the experts.

  79. Radge Havers:

    Edward Greish @ 75

    Yes, and you can watch how the roles played by things like magical thinking, greed, and the madness of crowds vary over time in peoples’ thinking. Those who forget the past are doomed to founder.

    A couple of recent discussions of the times we’re in:

    “It’s a different culture than we saw 20 years ago or 30 years ago. And it’s why people like Chuck Hagel, a very conservative Republican former senator, has decried what’s gone on in own party….

    …We had partisan media in the 19th century. We have it now with FOX, with MSNBC, and with a lot of others, with talk radio. But this is different. We don’t share a common set of facts. And we live in worlds that amplify those differences and, in fact, help to create the hype that we’re in a tribal world and you’ve got to oppose the other side because they’re evil.”
    -Norman Ornstein

    Is Washington’s Partisanship ‘Even Worse Than it Looks?’


    “The problem is that there’s not that much information out there if you’re an ordinary citizen. You can ferret it out, but it ought not be like that in a democracy,” Kaplan says. “Education and journalism were supposed to, according to our founders, inform our public and make democracy work.”

    Marty Kaplan on Big Money’s Effect on Big Media

  80. Poul-Henning Kamp:

    It was interesting to see a climate tipping-point nobody had predicted yesterday:

    The decent into pure raving madness and incoherent invective by the Heartland Institute.

    (see for instance desmogblog if you don’t know what I’m talking about)

    It maybe a tad optimistic, but I interpret it as a sign that their usual obscuration-tactics no longer gets them the response they want, and that trying to turn the dial to 11 broke the knob.

    We recently saw sort of the same thing when a danish blogger went untethered from facts.

    Lets hope it is a trend.

  81. t marvell:

    Gavin – 77 – I know that, and I thought of putting it in the comment, but I decided it is too trivial to take up space. Climate scientists regularly say that melting of floating ice does not raise the sea level, without adding this negligable caveat.

    [Response: Then what was your point? You criticise a group for saying something true, something that you know is true, and apparently you think the truth of the statement is too trivial to mention. How anyone reading your comment is supposed to assimilate all that is a bit of a mystery. – gavin]

  82. t marvell:

    About the Californian and the Titanic (Dan 36,41, Anderson, 40, Davidson, 48, Emmer 69, Owl905 71). The NYTimes suggests that the Caiifornian was mislead by atmospheric conditions that distored its view of the Titanic. This kind of distortion apparently was well know.

  83. Christian:

    Dear all

    Being a layman it is very difficult to evaluate technic terms and arguments. Therefore, it is often difficult to judge which side is being more correct in their arguments. Therefore, I would like to ask how many more years of “none warming” from year 2000 will make you reconsider your thesis. On the other hand, how much warming will it take during the next decade for you to silence the skeptics.?

    Hope for a good answer.


  84. Russell:

    The Heartland demographic seems attracted to the proposition that the Titanic could have sunk the iceberg by backing up and ramming it a few more times.

  85. Robert Butler:

    Part of the problem is we’re dealing with a values issue rather than one of fact. In discussing religion or politics, one doesn’t really expect to change the other guy’s mind. Discussion generates more heat than understanding. People simply do not let go of their base values without a clear and severe failure of the old values.

    If one is considering changing a culture, changing the base values of a large number of people, it is worse. I’m a member of a political forum where Pearl Harbor, Katrina and the Boston Tea Party are called ‘catalysts’ which lead to a ‘crisis’ where groups with different values attempt to force the other to accept new values. We attempt to explore what it takes to change a culture.

    If one wants to understand what it takes to force cultural change, to make someone let go of their existing values, examine photographs of Atlanta after Sherman got finished with it, or Berlin after the 8th Air Force was done. People will cling to old values rather intensely. Reason, data, logic and debate barely matter. Loyalty to one’s birth culture backed by propaganda and lies trump science and fact. If one is looking for a mechanism to force a values change on large populations, it must be absolutely clear in terms of cause and effect, and absolutely disastrous in its magnitude. The Great Depression allowed the US to consider government regulation of the economy. A long string of prior economic collapses and major inequality didn’t do it. Live radio coverage of the London Blitz caused a reconsideration of isolationist policy. September 11th moved us from being unwilling to risk American lives abroad to launching preemptive wars attempting cultural change at gunpoint. Small catalysts are not apt to have a significant effect. If one really wants to force a significant values change one might best become aware of the sort of stimulus required. They have to be bigger than a breadbox.

    There is an additional problem with global warming. Climate change involves a long lag between cause and effect. The time scale is much longer than wars, cultural clashes or economic cycles. By the time the climate changes to the extent required of a major catalyst, by the time there is a true clear and present danger, it will likely be too late.

  86. Ray Ladbury:

    T. Marvell: “I wish they would do research about what kinds of information would persuade the public, so that climate scientists can focus their research there.”

    Actually, I would prefer that climate science advance wherever it can whenever it can. The idea that we should direct research to discover evidence to persuade people who cannot be persuaded by evidence seems rather silly to me.

  87. Hank Roberts:

    > forcing too big of an object at too high of a speed
    > without the ability to make the necessary adjustments
    > when they needed to.–Jim

    Funny how that happens.

    “We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy,
    But the big fool said to push on.”

  88. dhogaza:


    Therefore, I would like to ask how many more years of “none warming” from year 2000 will make you reconsider your thesis.

    Why do you think it hasn’t warmed since the year 2000?

  89. Dan H.:

    Good question. The answer to your first question would probably be 18 more, or 30 in total. I would answer the second by bringing it in line with my answer to first, and say 0.8 by 2030.

  90. Ray Ladbury:

    Robert Butler,
    You may be right. It may be impossible for people to overturn their prejudices without their prejudices leading them to disaster. However, as our population grows toward its likely crest of 10 billion, the consequences of those disasters grow increasingly severe. It is possible that even now the combined effects of climate change, Peak Oil, environmental degradation and resource depletion could threaten the viability of human civilization. And if we get through this crisis with something resembling a global civilization, what about the next one?

    If we do not beocome more reality based as a species, it is a matter of time before our species ceases to exist. The only question is when and how many other species we take with us. Science is the key to a reality-based society.

  91. Kevin McKinney:

    “… how much warming will it take during the next decade for you to silence the skeptics.?”

    True skeptics? Or the fake variety?

    The latter, I fear, harbor views quite independent of any amount of evidence. Perhaps some future amount will suffice, but so far, there’s no basis to extrapolate from.

  92. dhogaza:

    Dan H:

    Good question. The answer to your first question would probably be 18 more, or 30 in total. I would answer the second by bringing it in line with my answer to first, and say 0.8 by 2030.

    It’s funny how Dan H responds without checking the assumption, eh?

    Christian – take note.

  93. t marvell:

    Butler (85) and others. You seem to dispair. The topic is too important for that. Again, I draw an analogy to cancer and tobacco. The problems you mention existed here, but were overcome. Eventually facts can overcome inbedded feelings, but the facts must be obvious to people.

  94. Marcus:

    #83 Christian:

    There is no “a thesis” to reconsider. Climate is affected by many intertwined problems from various more fundamental sciences, and everything of it is rethought all the time, results published in the peer reviewed literature.
    The imagination that scientists are some kind of priesthood to defend a single dogma is absurd.


  95. wayne davidson:

    78 Susan, I found the BBC recordings very impressive, the accounts from survivors place us there better than any movie.

    #82 T Marvell, Captain Lord had his none icebreaker ship stuck in pack ice at night, I dont think mirages swayed his decision to stay put anymore . The NY times article based on a book fails to portray refraction science correctly, at least in this case. After listening to actual witness testimony I am quite sure the Californian was much further away than the 5 or 10 miles estimate. 5 to ten miles is within near refraction domain. There are specific illusions caused within that range. None fit the description heard on BBC recordings. Will have something on this in a while.

  96. Craig Nazor:


    As pointed out earlier, your assumption that there has been no warming since 2000 is scientifically false. Here is some more evidence:

    As to “How much warming will it take during the next decade […] to silence the skeptics,” well, you had better ask some skeptics (Dan H. is actually a good example of one). You should really ask more than one, as I am sure there will be little agreement between them, since there is no coherent “skeptical” theory to explain the observed temperature change.

    I would predict that, if humans do nothing to reduce the release of CO2 gas into the atmosphere until the year 2030, “skeptics” are going to be very hard to find.
    This reCAPTCHA is priceless: “erfelli cremasteric”

  97. Thomas:

    If you go back and read the mass media hype of the Titanic in that day…..there isn’t much difference in the way a modern free market society reacts in the 100 years. Big events drive the news. Secondly we are sensing anmials and we respond rather well to real events, be they sinking ships, flaming space rockets, or floods and record snowfalls, rather than big ideas. The true turning point regarding action on climate data won’t happen until we have enough of these real events to shake up enough people. That threshhold hasn’t yet been reached, but it appears from recent opinion polls to be creeping upwards.

  98. Dave Griffiths:

    Since there has been a lot of discussion about trends I (a rank amateur) decided to try figure out the trends for myself. If I understand the literature correctly, every doubling of the CO2 level produces a radiative forcing of about 5.35 watts/m.sq. According to the climate models, the inevitable temperature rise will increase water vapor levels which will in turn double the forcing in the short run (transient effect) and triple the forcing in the long run. The surface temperature of the earth must increase so as to counterbalance this effect. So I constructed a simple minded toy model where the radiated surface energy W watts/sq.m. increased like the natural logarithm of the CO2 (W=A+B*ln(CO2/Ref)). Using linear regression I could fit the simple model to the NASA GISTEMP Land and Sea data quite well (R-squared 0.83) for the period 1890 to 2010. The difference between the model and the data has a standard deviation of 0.1 deg C which I take to be natural variation (El Nino, Mt. Pinatubo etc.). The data falls outside the 2-sigma limits only 4 times in 120 years, and the calculated value B= 15.3, agrees pretty well with CO2 radiated forcing plus water vapor effects etc. So I think I have reasonable trend model.
    In the period 2000 to 2010, the GISTEMP results were above the trend 9 times, below the trend twice. They were always within 2 standard deviations of the trend. So the data is certainly consistent with a continuing upward trend due to a rising CO2 level. Apparently many people allow themselves to be confused by the natural year to year fluctuations of order +-.1 degree C. This is almost as large as the simple model predicted temperature increase from 2000 to 2010 which is 0.15 deg. C. Also, the very large anomaly in 1998, almost 2 –sigma, tends to obscure the underlying trend.
    One interesting question, how far and how long would the data have to vary from my simple minded toy model before I would be forced to say that it no longer fit the trend? This question may be little (or maybe a lot) above my statistical level. However, I think that more than two 2-sigma excursions in 10 years would have me worried. If anyone has a more sophisticated test I’d appreciate hearing about it.
    In case you wonder where I got the pre-Keeling CO2 data, I constructed a model giving atmospheric levels in terms of emissions. To construct the model I correlated the Sipple and Keeling data to CDIAC’s emission data for fossil fuel burning and land use. CDIAC gives yearly emission data, and the correlation to atmospheric levels is extremely good (R-Squared 0.995).
    On a related CO2 issue, I currently reside in Wuhu, a “third tier” city on the Yangtze, not far from Nanjing. The level of construction activity is startling. It looks as though more concrete is being poured here than in the whole of the USA. A steady procession of coal trains rumble through the city while an endless procession of coal and limestone barges sail up and down the river. It’s easy to believe that China now emits as much CO2 as the USA. It’s also easy to believe that the Chinese GDP is doubling every 10 years (or less) with all that that implies. From here the Alberta Tar sands look like a very minor issue.
    On a small positive note, you can’t buy incandescent light bulbs in Wuhu, and the most popular form of transportation is the electric scooter. People even save energy at night by not turning their scooter lights on!

  99. Radge Havers:

    t marvell @ 93

    “Again, I draw an analogy to cancer and tobacco. “

    Holy cow.

    1. The days of mid-twentieth century type debate are gone.

    2. Smoking is still a problem here and tobacco companies are aggressively marketing overseas.

    3. AGW is an even bigger, meaner and more difficult problem.

    4. The is a more intense and sophisticated psyops level campaign to disinform and distract on AGW.

    4. There are people in this world who would rather die than admit they’re wrong.

    5. Despite this there are plenty of people who actually do get it, the problem is that the new intransigent oligarchy resists action. This is a systemic problem, not an evidentiary one.

    “Eventually facts can overcome inbedded feelings, but the facts must be obvious to people.”

    You apparently don’t want to make an effort to understand or respond to what people are have been trying to tell you. There’s more to history than your dinky analogy to smoking.

    Again, Holy cow.

    “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”
    -Mark Twain

  100. CM:

    Dave #98,

    > every doubling of the CO2 level produces a radiative forcing
    > of about 5.35 watts/m.sq.

    …times ln(2) = 3.7 W/m.sq.?

  101. t marvell:

    Havers 99 Ladbury 86 and others. What would you do? You seem to be saying there is no chance of persuading people to act on AGW, so there is no sense in trying, so the world is doomed to fry.
    I think the climate scientists must try. I pay taxes; I have grandchildren. From my point of view, the climate scientists cannot simply follow their own scientific desires, without practical and active concern to what they know will happen to us all.

    Christian (83) and many other similar comments – As Griffiths (98) points out, the long term trend is upward. For a while in the 80’s and 90’s temperature growth was greater than the trend, and greater than was expected. The leveling off in this century brings trends back to normal.

    Christian and the others illustrate a problem. People often look at the most immediate information. It might help if climate scientists can concentrate more on perfecting relatively short term temperature preduction, say a decade out. That obviously would not be enough alone to counteract the deniers, but many things of that nature, that people can easily understand, might be sufficient.

  102. Fred Emmer:

    #88 , thanks for the great graph with no description on either axis.

    To send this to a person who said he is a layman on the issue, is exactly whats wrong with the way the agw community communicates with uneducated (on this subject) skeptics. Its like saying , trust us, we’re experts, but if you want proof here’s a picture of an ascending line.

  103. flxible:

    t marvell – Why do you think it’s the job of climatologists to “persuade people“? It’s your job to persuade your politicians to pay attention to science, from most polls I see the general populace appears to be persuaded, but are not being offered any alternatives by the powers that be.

  104. Daniel Bailey:

    @ Fred Emmer

    No need to get snippy. dhogaza’s graphic may be a bit Prose-deficient, but all the info required is there. Since the original challenge was that there was “no warming since 2000“, how about a graphical depiction of temperature changes (anomalies) since 2000? From GISS:

    Note that the majority of the globe, by far, has warmed since 2000. Here’s the temperature changes, by latitude (also from GISS):

    Yup. Warming. Still.

  105. Kevin McKinney:

    #102–Christian may be a layman, but I suspect he won’t have any great difficulty making the inference that one axis is years–“2000_2002_2004…2012″ is pretty suggestive–and the other is temperature anomalies in tenths of a degree (since the topic under discussion was, after all, warming.)

    Note, if you are not familiar with it, that “Woodfortrees” is an interactive site. Highly recommended for all with active senses of curiosity.

  106. Bob Loblaw:


    Well, when I click on dhogaza’s link (in #88), I see a graph with years on the horizontal axis labelled in something most people would probably guess is years, and a legend that explains we’re looking at HADCRUT4. Don’t know what that is? The web page also has a series of links at the top, one of which is labelled “About”. On that page, the upper right corner has “HADCRUT4″ mentioned in big letters. There is a lot of other stuff on that “About” page, and I’m sure there are details to be found somewhere there. In response to a person who claimed it isn’t warming, is it difficult to figure out this is temperature?

    Just how “uneducated (on this subject)” are the “skeptics”???? Or is this a case of “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”?

  107. dhogaza:

    Fred Emmer:

    #88 , thanks for the great graph with no description on either axis.

    How funny, the forms on the right say “from *(time) 2000″, and since the claim is that there’s no warming since 2000, one would expect that *even you!* would understand that “from (time) 2000″ is semantically equivalent to “since 2000″.

    Would you care to make a case for ambiguity in understanding that the two phrases are equivalent?\

    And, of course, the site has ample documentation explaining that the X axis with numbers like 200* are years, etc.

    If you can’t navigate the site and find its clear explanations, then you’re rather hopeless, I’m afraid.

  108. Radge Havers:

    t marvell @ 101

    “What would you do?”

    Well what are you going to do? I mean you could, for instance, go to the source of the problem, camp out on politicians’ websites and relentlessly badger them about why they’re circling the wagons around inaction on climate change. Surely your software can handle that.

  109. dhogaza:

    Fred Emmer:

    To send this to a person who said he is a layman on the issue, is exactly whats wrong with the way the agw community communicates…

    Actually, I’d say that a layman skeptic who claims it hasn’t warmed since 2000 is exactly what’s wrong with how the skeptic community communicates – it’s a lie. Suggesting that pointing out that it’s a lie with a clearly understandable graphic is somehow a problem with how the reality-based community communicates reality is just bizarre.

    I wasn’t even rude. I just pointed to the data and said “you’re wrong”. He was wrong. End of story.

  110. t marvell:

    Havers 108, flexible 103. I’m not sure what to do. I see a big wreck coming up because there seems to be nothing on the horizon to slow down global warming. If one spends the time to look closely (or if one is politically liberal) one sees that the climate scientists have shown the dangers of AGW. But that has gotten us almost nowhere in the policy arena. As a citizen, I feel like: “the climate scientists have done their job, and now we don’t need them anymore.” – that is, unless they can do something further to prompt the world to limit AGW.

    As for specific things, I can only guess. The problem, as I see it, is that people and politicians, even if they generally agree with AGW, don’t feel strongly enough to take action, especially in the face of the energy interests. In earlier comments I have written about specific things that might be done. For the moment, I think the climate scientists must start thinking in this vane. What information can they provide that might prompt people to action?

  111. Dan H.:

    To graph viewers,
    I think people are getting a bit snippy on the graph. Do not blame dhogaza, as that is the way Woodfortrees presents its graph. Those of us who are familiar with this know. Anyway, t marvel has a good point in #101; when temperatures were rising rapidly in the 80s and 90s, support among the populace for agw was easier to gain. Now that temperatures have fallen in line with the longer term rate, the impetus for action has declined. Most of the populous does not pay attention to the causes (La Nina, solar minimum, chineses aerosols, etc.) for the “warming hiatus.”

  112. Daniel Bailey:

    “temperatures have fallen in line with the longer term rate”

    More dissembling from Dan H.

  113. Jim Larsen:

    110 t marvel said, “As a citizen, I feel like: “the climate scientists have done their job, and now we don’t need them anymore.””

    Appropriate policy would be quite different with a climate sensitivity of 2C/doubling than with a sensitivity of 4.5C. Incidentally, if I were a skeptic, I’d start espousing the virtues of the bottom of the consensus range. That’s quite the compromise compared to Iris Effect estimates. Fair and balanced, you might say, and even at 550 ppm CO2, temperatures stay below the magical 2 degrees.

    However, your sentiment is valid. If I could snap my fingers and climate science would halt for ten years but all of mankind would estimate sensitivity to be 3C and would understand the implications, then it would be tempting to snap my fingers.

  114. Fred Emmer:

    I am a skeptic for when it comes to global warming. But I could be wrong, and I am totally willing to listen to those who think I am wrong. I work in law enforcement, and I do have a b.s degree (in unrelated field).

    The reason I doubt agw, is because I have lost trust in the scientists involved in climate science. I do not like the way they have dealt with the mistakes they have made.

    Of course I understand 2000-2012 represents years. But the spikes and the scale on the y-axis, raised a red flag for me. I know the graph is auto-scaled and not made with the intention to deceive. When I post this concern, I thought someone would say “hey it means the difference in temp between what was measured and what we expected it to be”.
    Instead commenters say : “said “you’re wrong”. He was wrong. End of story” (#109). Or “…then you’re rather hopeless” (#107).

    Or “is it difficult to figure out this is temperature?”.

    #107 Just how “uneducated (on this subject)” are the “skeptics”? – I am very uneducated on climate science, I can not prove that it is not happening. There are scientists on both sides of the story, and I get to choose which one to believe. I believe there is a consensus among those who chose to study climate science.

    Now I still dont know what the graph means, what I do know is, that while there was no lack of people pointing out my simplicity in not guessing what it meant, there was not a single person who said “it means this or that”. It proves my point that the agw community is not that great at communicating with skeptics.

    If I was being tried in court, I would love to prosecution to show a chart like that to the jury.

  115. Kevin McKinney:

    #114–Fred, your original comment did not communicate (to me, at least) that *you* wanted to know what the graph meant. The wording suggested rather that you knew, but were concerned that a generic ‘layman’ might have trouble figuring it out.

    Since it seems you are asking, let me lay it out for you.

    The vertical axis is the new HadCRUT4 product, which consists essentially of a (nearly) global mean anomaly. “Anomaly” means the deviation from the average value for each station over a specified 30-year baseline. There’s a discussion of some of the gory details here:

    As you inferred, the horizontal axis shows time, calibrated in years.

    The red wiggly line is the temperature record. You may not like the ‘spikes’–I’m sure some climate scientists might agree, since understanding the system would presumably be a bit easier if it weren’t so ‘noisy,’ but that’s what the data says–the Earth’s surface temperature fluctuates all the time in response to things like volcanic eruptions, small changes in solar output, and large circulation changes likethe famous ENSO–the El Nino/La Ninas.

    The green line is the linear trend calculated by the standard ‘least squares’ method, and it shows that by that measure, the mean temperature anomaly has gone from .4 C above the baseline value to .5 C–hence it’s a pretty good riposte to the idea that there’s “no warming” since 2000. (It’s true, by the way, that that warming does not reach conventionally-mandated levels of statistical significance–for the temperature record, this typically tends to take around 17 years. But that doesn’t mean that the warming is not ‘real.’)

  116. Hank Roberts:

    You got pointed to a chart readable by people who already know what it means. It’s a handy tool but you need to read the FAQs at the site to use it.

    The guy who sent you there was mistaken. He assumed you would know how to use the tool and just showed you one of the results anyone who uses it can get.

    What you wanted (or wanted to show naive readers) is an explanatory graph with labels and explanations suitable for presentation.

    You got pointed to the raw material. That was a bad pointer.

    It’s easy to think people here know more than they do, and hard to be patient with the very simplest questions that get typed in over and over — which are usually answered behind the “Start Here” button, top left corner.

    Do read the “about” pages on the Woodfortrees site, you’ll find it handy.

    Same for “Start Here” — upper left corner.

  117. Ray Ladbury:

    Fred Emmer says: “I do not like the way they have dealt with the mistakes they have made.”

    Care to elaborate? Personally, I don’t know of any “mistakes” that cast doubt onto a single important result that underlies the consensus. Do you?

    You say there are scientists on both sides of the “debate”. While true, wouldn’t you expect those who are publishing the most to have the best understanding, and don’t you consider the fact that 97% of them say we are warming the planet remarkable? Are you simillarly doubtful of evolution, the round Earth and the germ theory of disease? After all, there are a few scientists who doubt each of these hypotheses as well.

  118. SecularAnimist:

    Fred Emmer wrote: “I have lost trust in the scientists involved in climate science. I do not like the way they have dealt with the mistakes they have made.”

    Which scientists?

    What “mistakes”?

    That “they have dealt with” how?

    And what are your sources of information about these “scientists” and their “mistakes” and how “they have dealt with” them?

    Are you “skeptical” of those sources of information? Do you question what they tell you about “scientists” and their “mistakes”? Or do you believe it unquestioningly?

  119. dhogaza:

    Fred Emmer:

    Now I still dont know what the graph means, what I do know is, that while there was no lack of people pointing out my simplicity in not guessing what it meant

    The Wood-for-Trees site is chock full of documentation on what the site does, on what the various graphing options mean, etc etc etc.

    Let’s review the bidding here:

    1. You waltz into a science-based site claiming it’s not warmed since 2000 (something I’m sure you’ve picked up from a denialist site since you’ve made it clear that you’ve not done the research yourself).

    2. I posted a graph showing that, no, actually, that’s a false statement, making the rest of your original comment moot.

    3. You express confusion about the graph, but make absolutely no effort to understand what it means, something you could easily do on your own by reading the documentation on the site.

    4. Now you’re complaining that people don’t communicate to skeptics well. Where’s that vaunted conservative push for taking personal responsibility for one’s [in]actions, such as a failure to RTFM at the site you were pointed to?

    5.”If I was being tried in court, I would love to prosecution to show a chart like that to the jury.” You overestimate yourself and underestimate juries …

  120. Radge Havers:

    t marvell @ 110

    Communication is of course important and shouldn’t be downplayed. However, I sometimes like to imagine that there may be some potent combination of words that, if launched at to the appropriate structural weakness, will explode the denialist Death Star once and for all. This is of course just fantasy. The reality is complexity both hard and subtle. That’s life. We keep on keepin’ on.

    There are citizen science projects, advocacy groups you can donate to, news organizations and politicians you can write letters to etc. Perhaps more to your taste, note that Climate Progress sometimes calls on readers to submit slogans, elevator talks, metaphors and that sort of thing, which might go viral. You never know.

    As for scientists, it’s safe to assume that they have well formed ideas of what they need to do. If you’re going to make suggestions, it might be a good idea to canvas their understanding of the situation first.

  121. Marcus:

    Mr. Fred Emmer,

    When You explore woodfortrees a little, You will understand that this is an interactive area. The main interest of the programmer is climate data, but one sees clearly that the tool is kept generally for all kind of time series data. You can plot the keeling graph for CO2 concentrations, for instance.
    If the author wanted to have captions on the y axis without loss of generality, he had to maintain additional bookkeeping for units associated with datasets, therefore an associated database table to fill and more code. So seemingly he chose to do not and work with descriptions.
    This is enough for the willing who use it as kind if playground to learn something. And maybe this makes it not a good source to cite for the declared unwilling with preoccupied opinion or to the unlearned. But there is nothing wrong with it.

    All the best,

  122. Dan H.:

    The other problem with the graph is the issue of short-term data series. Check out the graphic when the most recent data is included:

  123. Hank Roberts:

    Dan H. gave the wrong pointer there.
    I’m sure he intended to point to the Notes page:
    It’s cautionary.
    People will try to fool you.

  124. Hank Roberts:

    Remember, any time you link to a Woodfortrees chart, that the site requests:

    “… please link back to these notes so people can understand it and play with it themselves.”

    The link is:

  125. Kevin McKinney:

    #122, 123–And, Dan, I’m sure you didn’t mean to gloss over the difference between HadCRUT 3 & HadCRUT 4–did you?

    Let me add GISS to the list–just, you know, for even further context:

    Fred, the truth here is that it’s fairly pointless to look for statistical guidance over 11-year periods with data this noisy. As I said earlier, it usually takes about 17 years for periods to attain statistical significance. There is no evidence that warming has ‘stopped’–something repeatedly claimed by those who *wish* it were true:

  126. Ferran P Vilar:

    Here’s an analogy between climate change and the Titanic using systems thinking aiming at popularization: :

  127. Susan Anderson:

    Fred Emmer appears to conform to the template of artificial skeptics who come here with an agenda: to prove that science is both wrong and intolerant on this subject. Never mind that many have been remarkably patient, the insistence on the phony “facts” in the face of real evidence, with snippets of snarky commentary, demonstrate that this is not someone curious about what is going on but someone who wants to go home with evidence that this is not a nice playground and to be avoided by real folk.

    I sure do hope I’m wrong, as this is just sad, but not news.

    By the way, this is a gem, I think I got it from another thread, thanks to Ray Ladbury (though it might have been Dhogaza):

    The idea that we should direct research to discover evidence to persuade people who cannot be persuaded by evidence seems rather silly to me.

    In the hope that I am wrong, I would suggest looking out the real temperature record. Try Masters at Wunderground, and world weather news.

    or a host of other locations like ClimateCentral which has this NASA clip that presents the big picture:

    Of course, you’ve already been pointed at SkepticalScience which has scholarly and simple presentations of the facts on almost any subject you’d care to name:

    They address your specific issue with downward trends in a warming world:

  128. Jim Larsen:

    125 Kevin asks, “And, Dan, I’m sure you didn’t mean to gloss over the difference between HadCRUT 3 & HadCRUT 4–did you?”

    I wonder when Hadcrut4 will be up to date and why it couldn’t be released that way. Sounds like a story there. In any case, it’s a distraction to have Hadcrut3 keep rearing its obsolete head.

  129. James Staples:

    Does, “Seeing the Earth from space for the Very First Time”, Star Leonardo DiCaprio?
    Bummer…..Sorry, I just had to snark at this; but then I swore that, IF I saw even ONE MORE ‘Titanic’ themed ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, that I’d, I’d, I’d……..Arrrrgh!

  130. Dan H.:

    As Jim stated, Hadcrut4 is not up to date, so CRUT3 was used to cover the remaining time. This is just nitpicking. Maybe Fred’s question would be better stated as, “how long would temperatures need to show no increase, before scientists reconsider their theory. My answer is 30 years, which when combined with 2000-12 is another 18. In reality, some scientists would rethink the theory long before then.

    Also, the 17 years was gleaned fro the Santer paper, where he determined that 17 years of RSS data was needed to separate a human signal. RSS no longer shows statistically significant warming over the past 17 years.

  131. Fred Emmer:

    mr dhogaza,

    I think you have me mistaken for “christian” who dared to claim there had been no warming since 2000. That wasn’t me.

    What I am trying to say is that I believe that the reason more and more people believe climate science is exaggerated is because climate scientists don’t know how to convey their message.

    to #117, I dont think the moderator of the blog will allow me to beat a dead horse.

    Say you were a cop and you arrest a burglar and built a water tight case against him. 1 week you tell the boss your home sick just because it is nice outside. Does that little lie mean you were wrong about the burglary ? No it doesn’t, but you’ll get fired because your boss doesn’t want a defense lawyer asking you when it is okay to lie.
    I hope you understand what I mean.

    mrs Susan, #127 I did not mention any “phony facts” and I did not dispute any of your “real evidence”. Im not sure what I said that made you so upset.

    But on that note, according to that graph, the warming is measured in hundreds of degrees in a period of over a decade. What I was thinking is that judging by the spikes in that graph, all we would need this year is a cold snap and we see a down ward trend.

  132. Kevin McKinney:

    #130–“…Hadcrut4 is not up to date, so CRUT3 was used to cover the remaining time. This is just nitpicking.”

    No, in my opinion it is not. HadCRUT 3 has a known low bias, and using it to ‘cover the remaining time’ gives a misleading impression. I know about this bias and so do you.

    “Also, the 17 years was gleaned fro the Santer paper, where he determined that 17 years of RSS data was needed to separate a human signal. RSS no longer shows statistically significant warming over the past 17 years.”

    And your point would be what, exactly? From your own link to the abstract, we can read that “A single decade of observational TLT data is therefore inadequate for identifying a slowly evolving anthropogenic warming signal. Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.”

    Since Santer et al identifies 17 years as the minimal span necessary, it is hardly surprising that not all 17-year spans reach statistical significance. (Oh, and by the way, it’s not just “RSS”–UAH is also considered in Santer et al.–as are a couple of ensembles of model runs.)

    PDF for Santer et al (2010):

    #131–Fred Emmer wrote:

    “But on that note, according to that graph, the warming is measured in hundreds of degrees in a period of over a decade.”

    Huh? No, the warming in the graph is measured in tenths of a degree, as I specifically stated in #105, and discussed in #115–and for that matter, as indicated on the original graph by the presence of decimal points.

    No offense intended, but are you paying attention at all?

  133. Ray Ladbury:

    Fred Emmer: “What I am trying to say is that I believe that the reason more and more people believe climate science is exaggerated is because climate scientists don’t know how to convey their message.”

    So facts are not good enough? Would you like us to tell you just-so stories? Or perhaps we could present the conclusions as a sort of modernist dance performance? How about an abstract painting?

    Dude, do you really think how the facts are presented changes them?

  134. Dan H.:

    Yes, Santer used UAH also. However, he relied more heavily on RSS for his analysis. His conclusion was that over timescales greater than 17 years, the average trends in RSS and UAH exceeded the unforced control trends. The data used for his paper included temperature values up to Dec., 2010, during which time the 17-year RSS trend was +0.112C/decade. The most recent 17-year trend is +0.035C/decade. In fact, using Santer’s technique, one would have to use the last 19 years of data to find the human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature. His 17 years was not some magical number which shuold be applied universally, rather, it was the most recent length of time required to show a temperature increase significantly greater than noise.

    Maybe we could alter Christian’s original question to pass Santer’s test; i.e. how many years of data that does not show a human effect on temperatures would be necessary before people alter their thesis. Personally, I feel this is a less stringent test, but it could be meaningful.

  135. Marcus:

    Fred Emmer,

    I think the science is communicated very well and in an elaborate way on this very site You are surfing now. Browse the head posts by topic, not just the user comments. Enjoy the abundant ressources of science facts that have not been distorted by some mass media account


  136. tamino:

    Lots of people, including those who don’t know much about the subject, come here to learn about the science of global warming. The hosts are good at that. People also want answers to questions, including refutations of fake arguments from fake skeptics. The regular readers are good at that.

    Unfortunately, too many threads devolve into pointless back-and-forth about persistent trash from persistent purveyors trash. They end up being dominated by utter nonsense, like T Marvell’s incompetent treatment of time series data and Dan H.’s misleading portrayals of the science.

    When regular readers pay them any attention at all, it just feeds the trolls.

    When moderators allow this nonsense, it undermines the real purpose of the site. The borehole exists for a reason: comments that would otherwise disrupt sensible conversations. If the comments from T. Marvell and Dan H. don’t disrupt sensible conversations, what the hell does?

  137. Radge Havers:

    Fred Emmer

    People need to adjust their expectations about what a presentation can convey about the science. Explanations of the state of the science aimed at lay people are by necessity illustrative. If you want to get into the actual science in any serious way, you pretty much have to learn it the way scientists learn it, which takes years of hard study. You can’t just sit around discussing it and one day magically arrive at the truth. And if you can’t do all the math, all of it, literally, you’re stuck at square one. Ask Ray Ladbury whose comments you’ve read here how long he feels it took him to get up to speed in climate science. And he’s a published physicist working at NASA.

    One of the great disservices septic sites perpetrate on the public is the appealing notion that anybody can just jump in, understand and make meaningful contributions to “the debate”. There’s your scam. Because once roped in by these sites, the unsuspecting are irradiated with crippling doses of lies and misinformation that they’re just not equipped to handle. I have to say that any court that would admit this kind of crap in evidence would be unable to field expert testimony effectively and would be doomed to fail in its duties.

    A good lesson in science in the court room, BTW, was provided in Dover, PA on ID creationism. You don’t have to get deep into the weeds of scientific inquiry to figure out that creationists are full of crap. So too with denialists.

    It is indeed time to put away childish things or we’re going to be in big trouble down the road.

  138. Kevin McKinney:

    #134–“More dependent on RSS”–I don’t think so:

    We compare simulated and observed global-scale TLT trends using three different observational datasets, each based on measurements of microwave emissions made by Microwave Sounding Units (MSUs) on polar-orbiting satellites. The three MSU TLT datasets analyzed here were developed by research groups at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) [Christy et al., 2007] and Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, California (RSS) [Wentz and Schabel, 1998; Mears and Wentz, 2005].


    And did I say anything indicating that I thought that 17 years was a “Magic number?”

    The whole paper is about probabilities. What you say about the most recent 17 years–or 19, for that matter–is pretty much irrelevant. At the most, trends are on the edge of significance at this point, therefore it is not especially surprising to see the ‘seesawing’ between statistical significance thresholds being met and not being met which you describe.

  139. Pete Wirfs:

    Fred said:
    “The reason I doubt agw, is because I have lost trust in the scientists involved in climate science. I do not like the way they have dealt with the mistakes they have made.”

    This is EXACTLY the message that those who wish to maintain status-quo (which is usually motivated by profit) are pushing on the public, and as Fred is proving, it is an effective message to the scientifically un-educated, and further encourages them to IGNORE the actual science, which is where the true story is.

    CUDOs to Fred for (a) having the guts to come here and tell us his true feelings and (b) for being willing to start studying the actual science, which is exactly what the status-quo community does NOT want him to do!

    Science is full of mistakes. Everyone is human. But the denialist crowd would have us believe the court-case analogy My wife is a criminal defense attorney so I know well the point he is making, that in the case of a jury decision you only need to create doubt. But in science you are supposed to note the mistake, learn from it, correct it, and add it to the continually growing pool of knowledge. It is not a jury trial.

    (I’m a novice who has been lurking/learning here for many years)

  140. Susan Anderson:

    Marcus@~135 and others (paticularly “skeptics”)

    Thanks for reminding us that the substance of any useful site like RealClimate is in the source material, not in the commentary. RealClimate does provide substance in comments when it is not running around in circles trying to penetrate the miasma created by those who persist in refusing to follow suggestions and pursue resources, but in general the commentariat are just a bunch of individuals like me who like to write and have the time to do so.

  141. Hank Roberts:

    > The most recent 17-year trend is +0.035C/decade. In fact, using
    > Santer’s technique, one would have to use the last 19 years of data

    Please. Think about what you’re typing.

  142. Steve Fish:

    RE: tamino — 8 May 2012 @ 9:59 AM, currently at #136. I strongly support this statement. Steve

  143. Jim Larsen:

    130 Dan H said, “As Jim stated, Hadcrut4 is not up to date, so CRUT3 was used to cover the remaining time. This is just nitpicking.”

    No. You know that CRUT3 is biased low compared to CRUT4. Adding it to the end of a short series of CRUT4 data is _________.

  144. Jim Eager:

    Mr Emmer, allow me the opportunity to address your comments as one layman to another, albeit one who has invested much time learning to understand the science.

    The reason for the year-to-year spikes in the temperature plot, and even decade-long periods of seemingly non-rising temperature, is that there are things other than the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that affect global temperature.

    The el Nino/la Nina see-saw is one of them, with el Nino pumping heat from the ocean into the atmosphere and la Nina doing the opposite. Another is the roughly 11 year cycle between minimum and maximum solar output, and yet another are random volcanic eruptions, which can lower global temperature if they are powerful enough to send material into the stratosphere where it can block sunlight and not quickly be washed out by rain.

    All of those things, and others, take place on top of any steady increase from CO2, hence the spikes and troughs in the plot. At times some of them will be large enough alone or in concert together to cancel out the CO2 increase or to even overcome it for a short period, making it look like global temperature is cooling instead of warming.

    But what if you were to factor these large known natural variations out, removing much of the spikieness that they add to the plot? What the graph would then show would be any remaining natural random variation, plus the steady increase due to CO2. A recent study did just that. Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) removed much of the effect of the above known factors to more clearly show the steady increase in temperature due to increasing CO2. A more in-depth discussion of the study can be found here.

    Another way to reveal the steady increase due to rising CO2 is to just exclude the volcanic eruptions since they are totally random events and last only a year or two, and plot three separate trend lines, one for the warm el Nino years, one for the cool la Nina years, and one for the neutral years. This was done by John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist. As you can see in the graph, all three trend lines have risen at very nearly the same rate. Note that the most recent cool la Nina year was the warmest on record, and in fact, the last few la Nina years were warmer than all but the most recent two warm el Nino years.

    As a layman, I find these two studies to be very compelling evidence that a) global temperature has and continues to rise steadily despite year-to-year variation and the seeming flat increase of the past few years, and b) that the steady rise is consistent with what has been predicted due to the steady rise in CO2.

  145. t marvell:

    tamino (36). That is hardly an unbiased statement. I’ll write more when I have time.

  146. Dan H.:

    You could go one step further, and incorporate all the variations from the beginning of the temperature record to see the natural variations superimposed on the steady increase.

  147. Dan H.:

    Yes, the trends Santer determined were on the edge of significance. That was the entire point of his paper; to determine the minimum timeframe necessary to seperate a signal from noise. Using the available data at the time of his writing (2010), that timeframe was 17 years. Today, it would be 19 years. Using data through 2008, it would be 16 years, and through 2007, would be 14 years. The trends are not “seesawing,” but becoming longer.

    I am glad that you do not see 17 years as a “magic number.” In the past, I have heard too many people refer to this value as the minimum timeframe to calculate a temperature trend, and that anything shorter is meaningless. Which is not what Santer was showing.

    [Response: You have no idea. The 17 year number was not just a calculation of the last 17 years of the data set they had at the time, but an assessment of the Signal to noise ratio of all 17 year trends. It is highly unlikely that an additional single year’s worth of data will impact that since it only adds one additional 17 year trend data point to 15 other data points (or if you do the analysis on monthly data, an additional 12 data points to the existing 180 data points). Additionally, it is not a ‘magic number’ but the level at which one would expect to see the signal emerge 95% of the time. i.e. even if there is a signal, one time out of twenty one would miss it. – gavin]

  148. Hank Roberts:

  149. Hank Roberts:

  150. Jim Eager:

    But that’s what Foster & Rahmstorf and Nielsen-Gammon started with, Dan, but then I’m sure you already knew that. The idea is to make the enhanced greenhouse trend more clear so that it can be quantified, not to hide it among the noise of natural variation so that it can be ignored or wished away.

  151. Dan H.:

    Jim Larsen,
    Here is a comparison between cru3 and cru4. The difference is subtle.

  152. Dan H.:

    Jim Eager,
    I was referring to the variations have occurred over the past 130+ years. Not just the past few decades. The steady rise is still there among the noisy variations.

  153. SecularAnimist:

    gavin wrote to Dan H: “You have no idea.”

    I have “no idea” why Dan H’s blatantly, indeed mockingly, dishonest garbage continues to be posted here. It’s getting to the point where his repetitive falsehoods and distortions and irrelevancies and sneering little flame-bait insults, and the equally repetitive responses to him, are starting to dominate every thread on this site.


  154. Kevin McKinney:

    #147–Uh, no, Dan. The 17 year number, as Gavin’s reply says, didn’t just apply to one particular span; it arose from consideration of *every possible such span.*

    And I don’t believe that your allegation that the intervals are ‘becoming longer’ is supported by any real analysis. Certainly a couple of (asserted) instances don’t make your case. What would it have been, calculated from 2005 or 2009? Care to show some work?

  155. Steve Metzler:

    @Dan H. (#151):

    Your earlier determination of only a +.035C/decade surface temp anomaly for the last 17 years was based on the RSS dataset. But now even that analysis has been called into question:

    Now, before you even try to claim that the article above refers to the UAH dataset rather than RSS, please bear in mind that Roy says there is no material difference between the two:

    You say that the comparison between HADCRUT3 and HADCRUT4 is ‘subtle’. But you can’t have it both ways. If you instead use the HADCRUT4 dataset to assess the last 17 years:

    suddenly the anomaly becomes +.12C/decade. And that’s over a cherry-picked period that includes the huge 1998 El Niño outlier nearly at the starting point.

    Gee, who are we to believe? ‘Dan H. the dissembler’, or reality?

  156. t marvell:

    All this stuff about ups and down in temperature has little importance because of statistical cointegration between temperature and CO2. Cointegration is one of the most important topics in time series analyis (its originators won the Nobel prise for it). Cointegrated variables move around but in the long run cannot move too far appart. They are like two dogs tied together by an 20′ elastic cord. They can run around the field separately, in any direction, but if the distance between them becomes too large, the cord pulls them back towards each other. Temperature and CO2 have that property. No matter what the odd movements are in temperature and CO2 over a few years, they will eventually snap back and move in the same direction. So the odd movements don’t matter.
    I think that the best answer to someone who questions AGW because temperature growth has flattened out is to say “Temperatures increased greatly in the 80’s and 90’s, more than was forecasted. One would expect that eventually there would be a correction, and that growth would level off for a while.” Pretty much anybody can understand that, and it is backed up by statistical theory.
    Also, with any luck, ordinary citizens might understand cointegration itself – e.g., the two-dog analogy – even though the statistical theory behind it is complex.

  157. Susan Anderson:

    The most irritating thing is the increasing condescending authoritative tone which appears to be a learning curve on how to sound like a scientist. It doesn’t however, work here since real scientists are, in general, rather patient and quite kind though impatient with nonsense. However, I don’t think RC should be helping in this educational process.

  158. Marcus:

    #156 t marvell

    We very humbly thank You for the patient teachings how to explain global warming to others.
    Your sensible and competent treating of the subject, foremost your mind boggling proof for CO2 outgassing oceans really entitles You to do so


  159. Daniel Bailey:

    We are indeed privileged to witness the abandonment of science, reason and logic for mathturbation and climastrology.

    Beyond that, words fail.

    Apropos Captcha: commenH upon

  160. Dan H.:

    While your belief in Roy Spencer’s statement that there is no material difference between the two datasets, your citation and the actual data shows otherwise. In your citation, Spencer is quoted as saying, “in the last 10 years or so the RSS temperatures have been cooling relative to the UAH temperatures,” this can be seen here:

    Incidentally, here is Spencer’s response to the paper:

    I am not having it both ways with CRU. HADCRUT4 is simply not updated through 2012. As I showed previously, there is only a subtle difference between the two ending in 2010 (which is much less than the difference between UAH and RSS). The trend for HADCRUT3 data from 1995-2010 also has a slope of 0.12C/decade, fractionally lower if you extend out to three decimal places. Including data through 2012, the 17-year slope for CRU3 falls to 0.06C/decade. If you wish to exclude the 1998 El Nino, the 12-year trend is -0.07C/decade, which goes back to Christian’s original premise. That is reality.

  161. Hank Roberts:

    Dan H., please
    Revise your program
    _look_ at what you’re typing

    Here, breaking it out into four separate lines, is what you typed:


    What’s wrong with the picture you’re showing people?

    Look at the chart you show from the input you you created:

    Compare — the fourth line versus the other three. See the difference?


    You pretend to cite sources.
    You’re doing it wrong.

  162. Dan H.:

    Thanks for the correction – too many object from which to choose. You will notice that it did not change much in the graphs. The statements and citations are still valid.

  163. Steve Metzler:

    @Dan H. (#160):

    You blew by 2 very important points in the article by Spencer that I linked to in #155 (and to be fair, I blew by the second one):

    1. Under the graph that compares the RSS and UAH anomolies is the following important note by Roy:

    (In the above plot I have re-computed the RSS anomalies so they are relative to the 1981-2010 average annual cycle we use; this does not affect the trends… just makes it more of an apples-to-apples comparison)

    If you read the Wood for Trees notes carefully, you will discover that the RSS uses a 20-year baseline period (Jan 1979 – Dec 1998), wheras UAH uses a 30 year baseline, with a different starting point (Jan 1981 – Dec 2010). So you need to take this into account like Spencer did when comparing anomalies. Your plot from Wood for Trees doesn’t do that (notwithstanding your swapping in the tropical RSS dataset for the global one for the RSS linear regression plot, as Hank pointed out)!

    2. So over the 30-year period that Spencer shows, the 2 datasets (with RSS adjusted!) are in very good agreement. But it is true that RSS shows marked cooling over the last 10 years relative to UAH, and that fact is certainly going to skew an analysis of just the most recent 17 years (this is the one I blew by). And the reason for it, according to Spencer’s colleague Christy, is apparently:

    Anyway, my UAH cohort and boss John Christy, who does the detailed matching between satellites, is pretty convinced that the RSS data is undergoing spurious cooling because RSS is still using the old NOAA-15 satellite which has a decaying orbit, to which they are then applying a diurnal cycle drift correction based upon a climate model, which does not quite match reality. We have not used NOAA-15 for trend information in years…we use the NASA Aqua AMSU, since that satellite carries extra fuel to maintain a precise orbit.

    Of course, this explanation is just our speculation at this point, and more work would need to be done to determine whether this is the case. The RSS folks are our friends, and we both are interested in building the best possible datasets.

    But, until the discrepancy is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, those of you who REALLY REALLY need the global temperature record to show as little warming as possible might want to consider jumping ship, and switch from the UAH to RSS dataset.

    Which explains everything you need to know about the way Dan H. operates.

  164. Hank Roberts:

    >> the 12 year trend
    > still valid

    Please revise the program.
    It’s not convincing.

  165. Dan H.:

    That would explain the descrepency between UAH and RSS during the most recent years. I therefore concede that the 12-year RSS trend may not be valid (pending satellite validation), instead deferring to the UAH trend of 0.08C/decade during that time, which matches the GISS trend for the same timeframe.

  166. Steve Metzler:

    @Dan H. (#165):

    If 10 of the last 17 years of data from RSS are suspect, that kinda puts the kaibosh on the 17-year RSS trend too, doesn’t it?

  167. Dan H.:

    If the last 10 years are suspect, then any analysis extending past the millenium is suspect. Nice catch on the RSS data. I wonder why this information has not been more widely disseminated.

  168. Kevin McKinney:

    #166–Although again, the Santer et al. study looked at all TLT satellite measurements, and calculated all possible spans over the satellite record, so their conclusion seem unlikely to be sensitive to the RSS or UAH correction–whichever ends up being warranted…

  169. Brian Dodge:

    “If the last 10 years are suspect, then any analysis extending past the millenium is suspect.”
    Do you “suspect” the differences between trends because of adequate mathematical analysis, or just because it fits your narrative? The nice thing about OLS trends is that when one uses all the data, if some of it is noisy or biased, especially near the ends which is most likely to fool the eye, the math isn’t fooled.

    The difference between “spurious cooling…. which does not quite match reality” and “suspect” is roughly the same as that between “inaccurate” and “wrong”, or the difference between “reporting” and “spin”.