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With all due respect…

Filed under: — group @ 24 March 2009 - (Italian)

There was a great comedy piece a few years back (whose origin escapes us) that gave examples of how the English would use their language when speaking to a non-native speaker to imply the precise opposite of what was actually being understood. This allowed the English to feel superior without actually damaging international relations. One example was the phrase “with all due respect” which is generally understood to imply that the speaker has a great deal of respect for their counterpart, while the speaker is actually implying that they have no respect in the slightest for their interlocutor. The respect due being precisely zero.

This thought occurred to us when a few of us opened our email this week to see a draft ad being sent around by the Cato Institute (i.e. Pat Michaels) looking for signatories prior to being published in “major US newspapers” sometime soon:

There are a number of amusing details here. While we are curious about the credentials of “Dr. N. Here”, we certainly understand why they are looking for a little more variety on the list. More surprising (and somewhat ironically) the mailing list for signature requests includes a number of scientists who don’t agree with these sentiments at all. It’s as if Michaels and Cato actually believe that these various lists of “dissenting” scientists are accurate reflections of support for their agenda. They appear to be have been conned by their own disinformation.

As an exercise for our readers, perhaps people would like to speculate on who is going to end up on the published list? (If indeed it gets published). Ginger Spice would be likely on past form, but they might improve the screening this time around…

But most amusing are the footnotes that they use to bolster their case. There are four: the brand new Swanson and Tsonis (GRL, 2009), Brohan et al (JGR, 2006) (which is there to provide a link to the HadCRU temperature data), Pielke et al (BAMS, 2005), and the oft-derided Douglass et al (IJoC, 2008).

Of these papers, not one has the evidence to support the statements attributed to them in the main text. To wit:

Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2

Well, the first part of the statement is exactly what you expect with a modest long-term trend in the presence of internal variability and is not controversial in the least. The “global warming stopped” meme is particularly lame since it relies on both a feigned ignorance of the statistics of short periods and being careful about which data set you use. It also requires cherry-picking the start year, had the period been “exactly a decade” or 12 years then all the trends are positive.

The use of the recent Swanson and Tsonis paper is simply opportunism. Those authors specifically state that their results are not in any way contradictory with the idea of a long term global warming trend. Instead they are attempting to characterise the internal variability that everyone knows exists.

After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events.3

This references a short comment in BAMS that didn’t present any original research. The latest figures show that weather-related damages have increased markedly, though whether there is a climate change component is hard to tease out given the large increases in vulnerable infrastructure and relatively poor data. The actual statement that a clear global warming-related trend in damages hasn’t been clearly demonstrated doesn’t imply that you can state definitively that there is no effect. There might be one (or not), but formal attribution is hard. However, whatever the attribution ends up being, pointing out that there are other problems in the world doesn’t imply that anthropogenic climate change is not worth worrying about. One might as well state that since knee injuries on ski-slopes have increased over time one shouldn’t support flu shots.

The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4

‘Abjectly’? Very strange choice of word…. and an even stranger choice of reference. This is of course the same Douglass et al paper that used completely incoherent statistics and deliberately failed to note the structural uncertainty in the observations. Unsurprisingly, Michaels does not reference the rather comprehensive demolition of the Douglass methodology published by Santer et al (2008) (and on which one of us was a co-author). More fundamentally however, the current temperatures are still within the spread of the models even if you cherry pick your start date. No-one expects the real world (a single realization) to follow the mean forced trend at all times. How is that a failure, abject or otherwise?

More interestingly is what is not cited. President Obama’s statement “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear”, can’t possibly refer to every issue in science or every potential fact. Instead he is likely referring to the basic and pretty much uncontested facts that i) CO2 and other greenhouse gases have increased due to human activity. CO2 emissions in particular continue to increase at a rapid rate; ii) the effect of these gases is to warm the climate and it is very likely that most of the warming over the last 50 years was in fact driven by these increases; and iii) the sensitivity of the climate is very likely large enough that serious consequences can be expected if carbon emissions continue on this path. We would be astonished if Michaels disputed this since he is on record as agreeing that the IPCC climate sensitivity range is likely to be correct and has never questioned the human contribution to CO2 and other GHG increases. He and his colleagues have even done analyses that show that after correcting for ENSO effects, there is no sign of a slowdown in global warming at all.

Instead this is a classic red-herring: Ignore the facts you don’t dispute, pick some others that are ambiguous and imply that, because they are subject to some debate, we therefore know nothing. Michaels (and Cato) presumably thinks this kind of nonsense is politically useful and he may be correct. But should he claim it is scientifically defensible, we would have to answer:

“With all due respect, Dr. Michaels, that is not true.”

303 Responses to “With all due respect…”

  1. 1
    Will Denayer says:

    This is off-topic, but there is good news too. See:
    EPA Says Global Warming a Public Danger
    “The White House is reviewing a proposed finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that global warming is a threat to public health and welfare. Such a declaration would be the first step to regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. It also would likely spur action by Congress to address climate change more broadly.”

    Best regards, Will

    [Response: Actually this is much more significant than the rearguard action from a few think-tank diehards. Though note that there are a few hurdles left before this is approved. – gavin]

  2. 2

    Doubters and deniers are always with us, but it is the indifferent who are the problem, which is to say just about every progressive organization and movement in the country. Every day we are witness to new groups forming to promote the very same CAUSE of global warming: DEVELOPEMENT, i.e. overconsumption of energy and resources, in the USA and the industrial world.
    Now we have a much heralded stimulus package that comes wrapped in desperate exhortations to the public to stop saving their money and go out and spend it in order to rescue the economy. Inside the package, what do we have? Profligacy. Do we have conditions or hedges to insure that the money being given to the states will be spent on projects that will REDUCE energy consumption? Not one bit. Houston, Texas is planning new superhighways to deliberately open up undeveloped exurbs to new housing developments and shopping malls. Chicago wants to build a third airport to help not airlines but the taxis, truckers, and other air travel support networks, as a way of stimulating more jobs and better incomes. New roads have preempted public transportation networks, including badly needed high speed intercity rail and local light rail.
    The notion that these public works projects should even consider climate change or energy use is absent. On top of it all emphasis remains on developing new renewable energy technologies willynilly, with no thought give to energy efficiency and how it can REDUCE the need for new renewable energy projects. I am amazed that hundreds of wind turbines and wind turbine farms are being discussed before any serious studies have been done on how electricity demand could be reduced, which in turn of course would reduce the number of wind turbines needed! This country is indeed the Blind Leading the Blind.

  3. 3
    Patrick 027 says:

    I can’t read the first part of their statement very well – is that “We, the utdenigned scientists,”…?

    [Response: Click for the full pdf version. (“undersigned”) – gavin]

  4. 4
    Todd Mooring says:

    If I recall correctly, CATO has been running a very similar (same format, \With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true\ wording) ad regarding deficit spending to stimulate the economy.

    [Response: Yes. They seem to like the theme. – gavin]

  5. 5
    Dr. Wil Burns says:

    What’s disconcerting, however, is that this steady drumbeat of agitprop from the likes of Cato and the Heartland Institute is hitting its mark. The latest Gallup survey from a week ago reveals that 41% of the U.S. public (including increasing number of independents) believe that the media is exaggerating the climate change story, and the number of folks who believe this is a serious issue has been declining in the past few years. This is a particularly distressing time for the salience of this issue to be declining given impending efforts in Congress to pass a comprehensive cap and trade bill.

  6. 6
    Don Monroe says:

    Cato used a very similar full-page ad (down to the “With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true” formulation) in January to question the unanimity of support for a stimulus bill. (See, for example, here).

  7. 7
    Ric Merritt says:

    Usage fumble/typo: \to whit\ is wrong. A whit is a little bit, an iota, as in \not a whit\ meaning not at all. \To wit\ means namely, from older words meaning to know. Compare \witness\.

    [Response: Huh… fixed. Thanks – gavin]

  8. 8
    dhogaza says:

    On top of it all emphasis remains on developing new renewable energy technologies willynilly, with no thought give to energy efficiency and how it can REDUCE the need for new renewable energy projects.

    Not true. For instance:

    “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has increased the previous tax credit for home improvements from 10 percent to 30 percent of the cost and increased the maximum amount of the credit from $500 to $1,500. This commitment to the promotion of energy efficiency presents a substantial financial incentive to consumers who are interested in weatherizing their homes.”

    The administration has made clear its commitment to promoting energy efficiency, as well as pushing for renewable energy sources.

  9. 9
    Derek Smith says:

    I don’t know how it is in the USA but in Britain people generally rely on our Met Office for their info and opinions. Despite your remarks above about medium-term forecasts and cherry-picking of start dates, the Met has issued a number of such forecasts during the past decade which have been spectacularly wrong.

    They also say that their medium-term forecasting uses essentially the same computer models as those employed in predicting longer-term climate change. In these circumstances, is it surprising that ordinary people, not having the knowledge and brain of Gavin and your other experts, are wondering if the models might be defective so that the estimated warming might be less serious than at first thought?

    This has been exacerbated by recent statements, particularly by our Prince of Wales, that warming is in fact much more serious and that catastrophe will strike us within about eight years. Do you have any comments and advice on the position here?

    [Response: Short term seasonal forecasting is very much an experimental endeavour and relies not on the predictability due to changes in forcings, but the persistence of ocean temperature anomalies. It is a very different beast. However, the annual mean predictions for the global temperature that they issue every year does have some skill – being based mainly on the state of ENSO at the start of the year. As for the Prince of Wales, I found the text of his remarks here. Your paraphrase is not accurate.

    He actually said “The best projections tell us that we have less than one hundred months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change, and the unimaginable horrors that this would bring.”. This is a statement that acknowledges that there are long timescales in this problem, and that decisions we are making now will go on to affect concentrations and emissions for decades. Thus he isn’t saying that something bad will happen in exactly 100 months, but that if we stick to business-as-usual for the next 8 years, we won’t be able to change things fast enough subsequently to make much of a difference. We will committed to a very serious amount of climate change. While I’m not sure where ‘100 months’ comes from, the sentiment is correct and another decade of 3% growth of CO2 emissions will make stabilisation at any ‘reasonable’ value (and that is a whole other debate) by 2050 or 2100 almost impossible to achieve. – gavin]

  10. 10
    Adam says:

    “There was a great comedy piece…”

    Sounds like something from “Yes (Prime) Minister”, but as I can’t recall the piece in question, I’m guessing.

  11. 11
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dr. Wil Burns, I think it is probably the economy more than the propaganda. It does show, however, that the equation of green=jobs has not yet made it into the public psyche.
    I think that people do not yet really understand that abandoning “business as usual” means abandoning the consumer economy for the time being. That is what really scares Cato et al., but it is unavoidable if we are to switch from wasteful consumption to sustainable consumption.

    Lorna, Economic stimulus need not entail excessive consumption. Joining a gym is consumption. Improving a climate model or developing new energy resources is economic activity. By all means we need stimulus, but we need smart stimulus that brings us closer to where we want to wind up.

  12. 12
    drgenetics says:

    Re: Dr Burns (#5) But of course – in the presence of fear, uncertainty and doubt, people will naturally be reluctant to take any action (or decide that they’re sick of the whole debate, which is the same thing). Since no action is the default and also the goal of these guys, nothing gets done and they win.

  13. 13
    curious says:

    looks like it’s time for the climate scientists to take a hint from the evolutionary biologists and fight stupid-petition-syndrome with something akin to Project Steve:

    they recently hit a kilosteve:

    [Response: Agreed. There has been some discussion of such a thing…. – gavin]

  14. 14
    Chuck Booth says:

    Slightly off topic, I suppose, but should be of interest to many:

    Lomborg vs Rahmstorf – are the IPCC estimates fundementally flawed?

  15. 15
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dr. Wil Burns wrote: “This is a particularly distressing time for the salience of this issue to be declining given impending efforts in Congress to pass a comprehensive cap and trade bill.”

    It’s no accident. Now that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are no longer around to run the Executive Branch as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil, Chevron, et al, and the Obama administration and the Congress are moving to take action — however inadequate — to reduce emissions, the fossil fuel industry’s campaign of denial and deceit will kick into overdrive, with the goal of undermining public support for the necessary action.

    It’s clear this is already happening and we can expect more op-eds in major newspapers from the likes of George Will, more full-page adverts from industry-funded propaganda mills masquerading as “conservative” think tanks, and more comments posted on every blog where global warming is discussed, denouncing the “vast liberal hoax” of anthropogenic global warming, because, you know, it’s been proved that the earth isn’t warming, and if it is, it has nothing to do with fossil fuels.

  16. 16

    They must immediately add these names to the list:

    Dr Ben Dover, Dept of Procto-Climatology “Flatulence and low pressure weather systems”

    Emma Miopia PhD, Researcher at the University of Freelandia “Ocular facial perception of micro climatology”

    Prof Raineth Just, Univ of Brella “Precipitation equanimity in matters of jurisprudence”

  17. 17
    DavidCOG says:


    Off-topic: are you aware that this site is lacking the meta description tag? It’s a very important component for search engine ranking. Without it you’re receiving a fraction of the traffic you might otherwise.

    Also, it’s less likely people will click on the RC link in search listings because it says nothing other than ‘Real Climate’, e.g.

    Email me if you’d like more info or assistance.

    [Response: I added one. Let me know if there’s more that could be done. – gavin]

  18. 18
    larrydalooza says:

    They should have pinned global warming on human induced friction… they would have had a better chance of success.

  19. 19

    SecularAnimist (#15): ‘“vast liberal hoax” of anthropogenic global warming’

    Actually, it is the gigantic global conspiracy of grant-seeking scientists that amazes me. As a layman, I’ve been meaning to congratulate the climate science community on this. It’s a remarkable feat. Two people, one of whom was the President of the United States, were unable to keep secret a sex act in the Oval Office; yet we ordinary citizens have only vague rumors of this conspiracy, the members of which must number in the many thousands. There is no paper trail, no leaked meeting minutes, no undercover cell phone videos. How do you do it?

    Seriously, it’s all quite disappointing. I followed the comments to Chris Mooney’s recent George Will rebuttal on the Washington Post site, and it was not good. I and a few others did our best, but the conspiracy theorists, pseudoscience backers, and just plain uninformed mostly held the field. They just won’t stop, even when you confront them with IRS documentation of exactly who paid their “climate experts” (most of whom turn out to be mining engineers or some such) for their opinions.

    I don’t get it, and it’s damned depressing.

  20. 20
    Mike Atkinson says:

    Re. 9 The first mention I could find for 100 months was in November 2007, so it seems we have only 85 months left!

  21. 21
    Nils Simon says:

    I was always a bit irritated when I came across the Pielke research on weather-related damages. If I understand it correctly, Pielke takes the development of material damage figures over some decades, tries to quantify the amount of infrastructure that has been added to a certain spot during the same period, and then looks if the rise in damages equals the rise in infrastructure value. Is that it in a nutshell?

    Assuming it is, the results lead to some startling conclusions. Pielke’s result is: The increase in infrastructure value equals the increase in weather-related damages, hence there’s no detectable climate trend. However, one of the conclusions of this would also be: There is exactly zero effect of storm warnings or any other meteorological advances in the past decades, at least not in terms of material damage (though there probably is some effect in human losses). Quite a blow to meteorology being pretty useless, isn’t it?

    There’s a few other points, but they are rather technical, and I would definitely have to have a closer look at the paper to state them.

  22. 22
    Alexandre says:

    “[Michaels] is on record as agreeing that the IPCC climate sensitivity range is likely to be correct”


    “He and his colleagues have even done analyses that show that after correcting for ENSO effects, there is no sign of a slowdown in global warming at all.”

    This is interesting. Could anyone please give me a link or reference on this?

    [Response: Perhaps Chip will be along shortly… – gavin]

  23. 23
    fred ohr says:

    You say that no one expects the real world to follow the mean forced trend at all times. Yet, we now have \around\ a decade of data that is causing observed temperatures and CO2 concentration levels to fall further and further below the IPCC model. How is this not evidence that the model is wrong? Something else is overwhelming the predicted effect of rising GHG levels on temps. What is it? When we find out, I submit it should be incorporated into the climate models to increase our understanding of climate change.

    [Response: We are adding new features to the models all the time as these factors become better understood, but this idea that there is a progressively worse match to the data is bogus. 2008 was a strong outlier (due to the persistent La Nina) and has a disproportionate influence on trends that end then. Basing any conclusion about long term trends on one years data is foolish. Your statement about CO2 trends is simply wrong – they have exceeded projections (though CH4 growth is below expectations). – gavin]

  24. 24
    SecularAnimist says:

    fred ohr wrote: “Yet, we now have \around\ a decade of data that is causing observed temperatures and CO2 concentration levels to fall further and further below the IPCC model.”

    Gavin has already noted that the statement about CO2 trends is wrong. In reality, CO2 emissions have been accelerating in recent years, exceeding the worst-case scenarios of the IPCC, and CO2 concentrations are increasing.

    It would certainly be interesting to know where you heard that there is “around a decade of data” showing that “CO2 concentration levels” have been falling “further and further below the IPCC model”.

    Were you skeptical of that claim when you encountered it? Did you check to see whether it was true? Will you trust that source in the future?

  25. 25
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Why does this fine site stoop to dignify entities like the Cato Institue ( and people like George Will for that matter) by even giving them mention, let alone making this gang the subject matter of a post.
    “The Cato Institute, heavily funded by tobacco companies, hired Levy and Marimont to denounce statistics about smoking related deaths. This article refutes their key arguments, finding them unscientific and inflammatory.” quoted from
    This bunch of bananas are somewhere to the right of Mussolini. I think it was Barnum who said “Never give a sucker an even break,but make an exception and give me a break!

    To expand on # 1. by Will Denayer,President Obama took action back in January to reduce global warming pollution from passenger vehicles by 1. instructing the EPA to reconsider its denial of a waver for California to allow it and 13 other states to limit heat trapping emissions from vehicles,and 2. directed the Dept. of Transpotation to set the maximum feasible fuel economy standards passed by the Congress in 2007. The past,inept, administration failed to finalize these standards and Obama is taking steps to do so,as he should. [edit] thank God, and things are looking up.

  26. 26

    Lawrence #25:

    I feel your pain but I, for one, hope that Gavin & the crew don’t stop posting about Cato and its friends. RC is the first place I look when an AGW critic says something that doesn’t smell right (which, to be honest, is pretty much every time an AGW critic says anything). It’s an invaluable resource.

  27. 27
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Yes, but ….

    I’m instinctively on you folks side in this, but I have a problem.

    Cato say “[…] and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.”

    How long should I (or anyone else for that matter) have to wait until the measurments show a continuing rise? I was challenged recently as to how many years of mostly flat or falling measurments I (= the public) should wait for this “upturn”. Five years? Ten years? If after year ten from now, temperatures have not shown an upturn, then can I say “… for whatever reason, even though CO2 is increasing, perhaps AWG is not happening”? Clearly if I have to wait a hundred years, I will have lost faith in Real Climate.So five? Ten? Twenty?

    (Or am I asking the wrong question?)

    Theo H

  28. 28
    Curt Covey says:

    Re #22 (Alexandre), “[Michaels] is on record as agreeing that the IPCC climate sensitivity range is likely to be correct,” I come to a related but different conclusion from reading what Pat has written, including his book The Satanic Gases. The difference between Pat and the IPCC is that he seems convinced the real world’s climate sensitivity is exactly at the bottom end of the IPCC’s range. I have never figured out how anyone can be so precise, whatever their best estimate may be. The same remark applies to Dick Lindzen, who favors 1/10th the IPCC’s low-end sensitivity.

  29. 29
    mark says:

    This bunch of bananas are somewhere to the right of Mussolini
    Right, did you read the part of the website where they argued for legalizing drugs? It’s a “libertarian” think tank. On the topics of the day, they comment with a liberal perspective, always emphasizing the destructive role government plays in individuals’ lives. Any proposed policies are analyzed from a cost-benefit perspective, putting the added burden of proof of said benefits on those who seek to expand state power. It’s in the mind of a liberal free thinker to do so.

    And so, when a guy with a seriously misleading set of Keynote slides tells us it’s absolutely imperative that we restrict economic activity to avert a coming global catastrophe, the wise among us say “we’ve heard that one before.” If you say the chance of something is 90%, and I look at your data and analysis and say, “Well that’s not good enough, considering the actions you wish to take,” is my position not defensible?

  30. 30
  31. 31
    walter says:

    Gavin – start the list! start the list! i wrote you recently about PROJECT JIM. its time has come. i have written to a number of people suggesting it, and several have told me to get gavin on the case.

    [Response: Patience…. – gavin]

  32. 32
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Re 26 Chris-
    On thinking things over after I vented. I realized that it’s necessary for realclimate to rebut arguments refuting the AGW crowd, in order to remain the leading site ( in my opinion), on attribution. This can’t be done, of course, without detailing the rantings of contrarians like Sen Imhofe, pundit Will and their ilk.

    Re:29 Mark,
    I don’t quite follow- you say in part: “It’s a “libertarian” think tank. On the topics of the day, they comment with a liberal perspective, always emphasizing the destructive role government plays in individuals’ lives. Any proposed policies are analyzed from a cost-benefit perspective, putting the added burden of proof of said benefits on those who seek to expand state power. It’s in the mind of a liberal free thinker to do so.”

    Are you equating Libertarian with Liberal? They’re two diffferent breeds of cat. I think of FDR and policies expanding government’s role,during the depression of the 1930’s, to benefit the nation econimically, socially and culturally.This is my idea of liberalism. Libertarians,on the other hand in the extreme would abolish government agencies wholesale. We all might wind up as printing our own money after they eliminate the U.S. Mint! I’m exagerating on this,obviously, to make a point about what I feel is the distinction between the two.

  33. 33
    sidd says:

    I second Mr. Brown. The Cato Institute deserves no reply. I would rather read discussions of the science.

    Perhaps, refuting the Cato Institute will lead to fruitful discussions of the science. I am pessimistic, because, in my experience, when I deal with monkeys, I get feces thrown at me.

    To reply to Mr. Mark, who wrote at 8:28 pm on the 24th of March, 2009:
    “…when a guy with a seriously misleading set of Keynote slides tells us …”

    Perhaps one ought to get science from publications in peer reviewed journals ?

    I plaintively repeat my request that we discuss the actual literature. More often than we seem to.

  34. 34
    Garry S-J says:

    Mark #29

    “Libertarian” and “liberal” describe rather different world-views.

    “Libertarians” are, for example, tend not to recognize the existence (even hypothetically) of negative externatilities and other forms of market failure.

    Hence when the facts of global warming collide with the ideology of unfettered economic activity, the facts are routinely denied simply because they imply the need for state intervention.

    In much the same way, los CATO boys denied the facts concerning tobacco – both its addictive quality and the diseases it causes – because they implied the need for state intervention to prevent the intentional addiction of smokers (incuding children) by tobacco companies. (I’m ignoring any financial incentives here, of course, just focusing on the ideology.)

    On the other hand, a “liberal” is more likely to suscribe to the idea, a la John Stuart Mill, that people should be free to act as long as it doesn’t harm to others. They also are typically comfortable with the idea that unrestrained markets don’t always produce optimal outcomes.

    This contrasts with the “libertarian” position which typically appears to take as axiomatic that actions can have no adverse consequences to others, resulting in an almost comical dance of sophistry when libertarians are confronted with facts showing that the opposite is true.

    Speaking of facts, perhaps you’d like to let us know which guy, which set of keynote slides, and what was “seriously misleading” about them?

  35. 35
  36. 36

    Mark wrote in 29:

    This bunch of bananas are somewhere to the right of Mussolini
    Right, did you read the part of the website where they argued for legalizing drugs? It’s a “libertarian” think tank. On the topics of the day, they comment with a liberal perspective, always emphasizing the destructive role government plays in individuals’ lives.

    Well, at least now we have a better idea what their smokin.
    Captcha fortune cookie:
    Knight there

  37. 37
    Hank Roberts says:

    No need to argue it here. Look it up, do some reading.

  38. 38

    Re: 22

    I am not sure of a reference for Pat’s thinking that the climate sensitivity is within the IPCC range. I agree with Curt (#28) that Pat probably thinks it lies near the low end of the range (but not precisely at the lowest end). Usually, he refers to the temperature change by 2100 (for instance), rather than the climate sensitivity.

    As far as a reference for our work that ENSO (primarily) could explain the recent slowdown in the rate of global temperature rise…we were rejected from Eos, GRL, Climate Research, and several other journals. Apparently our analysis was too simplistic.

    A more appropriate reference for the “The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4” statement would be the science that underlies Pat’s recent House testimony, but we don’t have that ready for publication yet (thus no appropriate reference). It answers Gavin’s concerns about short-term trend behavior and removes the “start date” issue.


    [Response: So… Michaels writes a paper stating that ENSO variability is the big driver of short term trends and yet still asks people to sign on to a statement claiming that those same trends indicate that models are abject failures? There is a word for this, I’m sure. – gavin]

  39. 39
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Lawrence Brown, I don’t believe that you’re exagerating. A slight exageration would be to say that Libertarianism is the nearest thing to complete intellectual bankruptcy agremented with a conspiracy theory sauce.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Brian Brademeyer says:

    As to taking words too literally, consider a newspaper article headlined “Global Warming Fears Up Down Under.” This article would likely be heavily cited by denialists like Cato as evidence of a *lack* of public concern about AGW (by 2 to 1, since the Up and Down cancel, leaving Under as a net negative connotation).

    “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. … Lie-la-lie…” — P.Simon

  42. 42
    Alex J says:

    So who’s going to sponsor a full-page ad stating the mainstream scientific position/correcting those misleading statements, signed by hundreds of ACTUAL CLIMATOLOGISTS? After all, this could be part of the battle for a relatively uninformed public mind. A mind that may have an influence over how easily carbon accumulation legislation is enacted.

  43. 43
    donald moore says:

    due to co2 we are already living in a greenhouse.Whatever one does in that greenhouse will remain in the greenhouse.INDUSTRIOUS HEAT will remain in the greenhouse instead of escaping into outer space;this is a far greater contributor to global warming than other factors and far more difficult to reduce without reducing economic activity.Like warm moist air from your mouth on cold mornings so melting antarctic ice will turn into cloud as it meets warm moist air from tropics the seas will not rise as antarctica is a huge cloud generator.A thick band of cloud around the earth will produce even temps accross the whole earth causing the wind to moderate even stop.WE should be preparing for this possible scenario’

  44. 44
    François Marchand says:

    Re N° 19. Is it the same George Will who used to write speeches for a right wing American President a few years ago?

  45. 45
    François Marchand says:

    19 – Who is George Will.

    Captcha : Dl:6 rolled (?)

  46. 46
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Theo Hopkins, The generally accepted definition of climate is 30 years. However, only the statistically naive or the mendacious are contending that warming has stopped. See

    I will leave it to Cato et al. to decide whether mendacity or gullibility is the lesser charge.

  47. 47
  48. 48

    Theo #27:

    I asked a similar question not long ago. It’s all about signal-to-noise ratio; the time period doesn’t matter as long as you account for the noise.

    E.g., we know that noise—the effect of randomness—for a decade is <0.1°C, which means that, in the absence of climate change, the avg temp for any two decades should be within 0.1°C of each other. So we can look at the average temperature for a decade and say that it does or doesn’t match a trend (or a different decade) depending on whether or not the difference is within ±0.1°C. You can do the same thing for any other time period, just use a different noise factor. The shorter the time period, the bigger the noise factor [can anyone point me to a table?].

    If I have any of this wrong, I hope the professionals will correct me. I’ve been planning to do a little blog post on this, just haven’t gotten a round tuit yet.

    Incidentally, your post implies, maybe unintentionally, that there has been some recent cooling trend, which isn’t the case. Temps continue to rise pretty much on schedule. I did blog about this, here.

  49. 49
    Vincent van der Goes says:

    RE 27 (Theo Hopkins)

    If I understood correctly, a period of 30 years is generally regarded as the boundary between weather events and climate. For example, see here:

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    As an ex-Libertarian Party member, I am perhaps in a better position than Mark to evaluate what’s wrong with Libertarianism. Besides the isolationist stand of the Party (I quit in 1990 when they came out against Desert Storm), they don’t recognize that externalities even exist — and that takes them firmly into the realm of pseudoscience. It was only confirmed when Reason magazine came out against global warming being true. They are truly people for whom ideology trumps reality. Me, I respect science and believe evidence that something is true always trumps arguments that it’s not true, however finely-spun the argument.

    Robert Heinlein said, “When you see a rainbow, you don’t stop to argue the laws of optics. There it is, in the sky.” The Libertarian Party, and the Cato Institute, are arguing the laws of optics in the face of the rainbow.