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« ICO believes FoI offences committed at CRU | Main | Leak or hack? »
Tuesday
Jan262010

Chief scientist: fundamental uncertainty in climate science

The UK government's chief scientist, Sir John Beddington, is the latest rat to flee the sinking ship Climatology, with an interview in the Times in which he comes out of the closet:

The impact of global warming has been exaggerated by some scientists and there is an urgent need for more honest disclosure of the uncertainty of predictions about the rate of climate change, according to the Government’s chief scientific adviser.

Now he tells us. If Professor Beddington really believes this, it's hard to fathom why he hasn't said so in the two years in which he's been in office. 

Professor Beddington also thinks that people should be nicer to sceptics.

Professor Beddington said that climate scientists should be less hostile to sceptics who questioned man-made global warming. He condemned scientists who refused to publish the data underpinning their reports.

Again, not a word about withholding data and code until the ship starts to go down. Where has he been?

 

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Reader Comments (50)

"The impact of global warming has been exaggerated by some scientists"

Does not appear to be supported with actual quotations from the man. And isn't it true that the impact of global warming has been downplayed by some scientists? Or aren't those guys scientists, or does it simply not matter to 'sceptics' when that happens?

Doesn't uncertainty imply that it could be even worse than thought? Or is it as usual a one-way street with the 'sceptics'?

The "urgent need" appears to be invented also.

Could it be that the impact of Professor Beddington's statements has been exaggerated by some journalists?

Is there a need (urgent or otherwise) for those who claim to be sceptics to actually be sceptical for once?

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Or maybe, just maybe, previously strongly held opinions based on (now known to beflawed) 'scientific' assertions are being re-evaluated?

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

be flawed, obviously.

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Which of these assertions are you referring to?

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Peer-reviewed-impacts-of-global-warming.html

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank

Your comments are usually better than that. One investigates things if they appear unlikely or unconvincing for some reason. Now while Prof B's comments are unexpected, they are not out of kilter with the general change in the tone of discourse over the AGW issue. Why should I doubt that he said this?

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Because he isn't quoted as saying so.

All your juicy quotes come from the journalist's narrative. Where they are supported by his words they appear to have been sexed up (hence 'urgent need' rather than just 'need').

It is also contradictory to say there is uncertainty but some impacts have been exaggerated. Either you know the impacts are exaggerated or you are uncertain about the impacts - pick one.

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Gotta love his 90 per cent certain line.

There are statistical tests you can apply to experimental data that will give you 90% or 95% confidence levels.

The IPCC idea of 90 per cent is just a form of words: 90 means "very likely" and 80 means "somewhat likely". They are turning adjectives into numbers. The percentages are not based on any statistical or mathematical test.

This is just another appearance of cargo-cult science. They are trying to make their opinions look like science.

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

"Again, not a word about withholding data and code until the ship starts to go down. Where has he been?"

It's called politics. Never mind the avalanche gets bigger and bigger and is unstoppable.

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Now, tell me so, -- is it that Sir John Beddington has a long pointy nose, whiskers and a long naked tail?

If if looks like a rat, if it smells like a rat and if it swims off the sinking boat like a rat -- it must be a duck.

Now so, do I have that right? I believe that is what the good gentleman would hope we think.

Be careful of the barracudas, SIr John -- they love rats -- as well as would be ducks. And of course, there be the sharks known as barristers. Now that is a bunch to avoid, in court and out!

'Tis Irish craic ye know

Jan 26, 2010 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Fine, so he's a coward; at least he's not a believer.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

Frank,

I am not used to posting on fora such as these, mainly because I lack the necessary scientific grounding.

I am also not sure of the point you were attempting to make with your link.

Entrenched positions, IMHO, are what have got us into this mess in the first place. I would like to think that there are both 'scientists' and 'sceptics' out there who will re-evaluate matters as they come to the fore and amend their opinions and actions accordingly.

Think it through. If the release was leaked rather than hacked, then somebody at CRU has changed their mind.

That release, but mainly through blogs like this and many others, have brought this issue to the fore and made a lot of people take a second look at the 'facts' that they thought were inviolate.

I prefer to think that Sir John Beddington is looking again at the science with an open mind. He may well come up with the same conclusion but at least he seems to have doubts that he did not have a few months/years ago. YMMV.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

A Scientific Advisor would not last long if he made comments that would embarress the government. See what happened to Prof. Nutt, the Chief Medical Advisor. Two months ago, pre-Copenhagen, he would have hounded from office, with his sanity or financial affairs questioned. The change of opinion is significant and should be welcomed to encourage others.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterVincent Shand

@Vincent

The change of opinion is significant and should be welcomed to encourage others.

Precisely.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Lot's of scientists not only knew they were wildly exaggerated - they knew they were outright lies. Here:

http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2010/01/26/un-ipcc-rotting-from-the-head-down

I demonstrate conclusively that the scientific community knew about these Glaciergate errors by their being exposed in a peer-reviewed journal in 2005, which was essentially the substance of a chapter from a book published in 2004 by an authority on the Himalayas. Syed Hasnain's pronouncements are shown to be myths, and worse. The paper appeared in Himalayan Journal of Sciences, entitled

"Himalayan misconceptions and distortions: What are the facts? Himalayan Delusions: Who’s kidding who and why — Science at the service of media, politics and the development agencies."

In light of that, I find it almost certain that Pachauri and a lot of others knew that these were lies years before AR4 was published.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

And while I am enjoying my new found confidence in posting, can someone please answer this?

Why is there no seperation between global warming and anthropogenic global warming?

I find it easier to accept the first than the second, but both seem to be treated as the same.

Again, IMHO, the difference is crucial. The trillions of dollars/pounds that we will spend on trying to prevent the second could, and should, be spent on trying to alleviate the first.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Perhaps there is some battle weariness creeping in but as I read the article I felt a significant tide change from the normal science is settled we are right because we say so argument.

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord BeaverBrook

Dennis,

"I would like to think that there are both 'scientists' and 'sceptics' out there who will re-evaluate matters as they come to the fore and amend their opinions and actions accordingly."

I would like to think there are sceptics that would modify their opinions in the face of evidence but I've yet to encounter even one such person. There are extreme sceptical positions which are based on nothing more than logical fallacies and conspiracy theories - no amount of evidence will change such people's minds. Evidence against the conspiracy is simply claimed to be fraudulent and thus becomes part of the ever expanding conspiracy - that's how such theories maintain their hold on people.

For example, some 'sceptics' claim that data have been fiddled to show warming. In almost the same breath, some of them go on to use the same data to argue that it is cooling. And then we have the ones who say the influence of increasing CO2 - known to be a greenhouse gas - is very uncertain and yet assert with complete confidence that it's safe for us to ramp it up as fast we like. All these claims simply can't be true at the same time. Do you find such people credible?

"That release, but mainly through blogs like this and many others, have brought this issue to the fore and made a lot of people take a second look at the 'facts' that they thought were inviolate."

I wish you would be more specific or at least look a little more closely, and more sceptically, at your *own* position. What facts exactly do you think 'climategate' calls into question?

Jan 26, 2010 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Why is there no separation between global warming and anthropogenic global warming?

I find it easier to accept the first than the second, but both seem to be treated as the same.

Dennis, you are asking the important question. Really you are. There is a difference and not one in this group can tell you exactly what is what. That is our concern -- that one has become the other and may not be related at all.

For example, has anyone talked about about Solar Warming? I live in California where El Niño and La Niña effect my winters every year. Both are due to ocean temperature in the Pacific and have little to do with the amount of CO2 produced in China, or by cows' methane. And there is the Atlantic Conveyor which warms my house in Co Kerry. Again an ocean current call the Gulf Stream. It is driven by the Caribbean sun, not car exhaust from Detroit.

And then there is the Inconvenient Fact that that Earth itself produces more heat than the Sun does. Just go down a 1000 ft shaft in a diamond mine to find out how fricking hot it can be. Or have you seen a volcano go off? How much gas and heat do those produce in a day? Probably more than all the cars in China and the US, but nobody has actually calculated it.

Yes, you asked the right question, and so far we have not had any honest answers. Nor will we until science returns to climatology. That is what this fight is all about.

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Dennis,

"Why is there no seperation between global warming and anthropogenic global warming?"

A slovenly contraction like "nuclear power" and "nuclear", but one leading to a confusion which is convenient for certain parties. As you note, apparently small changes in wording can steer the pattern of thinking. There is also a school of thought which accepts there is anthropogenic global warming but that resources would be better directed to living with it than preventing it. It seems to be regarded as a heretical deviation from orthodox climate alarmism..

The other example is "climate change denier" and "climate denier", both of which are silly and describe almost no one. I haven't seen the term "anthropogenic climate change denier".

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Dennis

There are many of us that are reasonably happy with GW, less so with (catastrophic)AGW. Frank seems to have only a binary view of the GW world - 'us and them'. My experience of sceptical blogs is that you will find a full spectrum of view, including the weird and wonderful. You will find the same in the Pro-AGW blogs. The eye opener to me in reading (carefully and with discernment) blogs like Climate Audit, Real Climate, our own Bishop Hill, the Pielkes, Jeff Id and others of the same kidney is that there you see the science dissected, analysed, probed, tested and argued. That is very very stimulating and means that though you may not pick up all the detail, you can watch 'science' being done - live! This type of debate is exactly the sort of scientific debate that happens around coffee tables in Universities. The wonder of the internet is that the postman, milkman, and taxidriver as well as the scholars and professors can take part. And what do we see - surprise! Scientists are human! They bicker and disagree, and get jealous and throw tantrums. They make mistakes too! With a nod to our esteemed ecclesiastical host, I'm on the last chapter of his book, and it gives a very good feel for the personalities within science. There is politics in science as there is everywhere else, and what is happening now is that it is being seen for what it is. Once that blows over, hopefully we can enjoy a real period of discovery and investigation, without all the moneymaking powergrabbing political schemes taxing us all to blazes.

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

I wish you would be more specific or at least look a little more closely, and more sceptically, at your *own* position. What facts exactly do you think 'climategate' calls into question?

Frank -- all of the BS published by the AGW crowd. Is that explicit enough?

I have a Ph.D. from Cornell -- a real university. I had a real Noble Laureate on my graduate committee. I was trained by real scientists to be a real scientist and I can tell you that I have seen nothing from the AGW crowd that comes close to real science. Do I need to go further? I have also been a statistician and software engineer. Others have already poked a dozen holes in both the AGW software technology and statistical procedures, which are patently bogus.

What do you have that is real? Drowning polar bears? Please show me the bodies.

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Frank,

I fear you are preying on my innocence. :)

I will be your tethered goat, just for tonight.

What should we deal with first, my own position or the release of CRU data and code?

Let's take me

Why should I look at my own postition? Are you making an assumption here?

I have absolutely no problem in accepting that the earth's climate is warming and, given the recorded data, it would be perverse to state otherwise. I do, however, lean towards cyclical warming. We are an arrogant species and tend not to think in geological time - why would we? Nevertheless, the earth keeps turning and the climate changes in it's own time.

BTW, you have now met your first person who will change their mind given solid evidence..

What are the facts that Climategate called into question?

No 'facts' at all. I define a 'fact' as something that is irrefutable. What has emerged, and even you must concede this, is that the policy decisions are being made on 'science' that is, at best, flawed. The trillions of dollars that are being earmarked to 'combat' global warming would be better spent in 'alleviating' global warming.

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Frank O'Dwyer: "What facts exactly do you think 'climategate' calls into question?"

Well, that climate science is based on transparent accessible data for starters.

There is very little solid evidence in AGW. Certain things are accepted by most skeptics such as about .7c warming in the 20th c. Additional CO2 produces warming, better growth (viz greenhouses). So much of the rest is just PREDICTIONS based on climate models which often don't concur with actual measurements and did not predict the temps of the 2000-09 decade.

"For example, some 'sceptics' claim that data have been fiddled to show warming. In almost the same breath, some of them go on to use the same data to argue that it is cooling. And then we have the ones who say the influence of increasing CO2 - known to be a greenhouse gas - is very uncertain and yet assert with complete confidence that it's safe for us to ramp it up as fast we like. "

Some AGW people have said we have 9 months (G Brown) or 5 years (Gore) or 5 weeks (individual nutty people) to save the planet. "Do you find such people credible?" Of course not.

The people that YOU should find not credible are the ones that brought us: the glaciers will melt by 2035 (or 2030 (NASA), or hurricanes increase as result of global wamring, sea level will rise by 20 feet., etc etc.

"For example, some 'sceptics' claim that data have been fiddled to show warming. In almost the same breath, some of them go on to use the same data to argue that it is cooling."

Skeptics clain that the data has been fiddled becasue they can point to in peer reviewed papers such as Briffa's Yamal studies and Mann's Hockey stick and Steig's Artic paper and the Harry read me file to see that it HAS been fiddled. (That as many especially Steve McIntyre have always said, does not prove that there is NO global warming. Just that those studies have data flaws.) Other studies are used - such as satellites to show flat temps/no cooling...cuz it is the land temps that have been mucked about with most....And CRU has 'lost' the original data.

"yet assert with complete confidence that it's safe for us to ramp it (CO2) up as fast we like." Strawman. No one except for those individual nutty people do.

Sorry to jump in dennis....

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterconiston

Dennis, It is my view that once the UN IPCC folks had passed a Cap-n-Trade law based on AGW "science", the next step would have been the New World of Global Sustainability Science... This, to force mankind to evolve to the next level. At least that's what Chez Watt thinks:o)

Jan 27, 2010 at 1:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom

Yimmuy --

Frank tasted good. I wondered who else will come along for us to chew up? :)

Jan 27, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Meant "Yummy" -- need new glasses, I am afraid. :(

Jan 27, 2010 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Amazon now has your book selling for $16.12 from The Book Depository.

Jan 27, 2010 at 3:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Apropos of the new renaissance you can now ask the shadow environment secretary some questions, courtesy of The Independent

Nick Herbert MP, Conservative Shadow Environment Secretary, is the next subject for our You Ask The Question series. Click here (actually below) to mail your questions (please state which town or city you are from).

myquestion@independent.co.uk

Jan 27, 2010 at 5:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTilde Guillemet

Frank O'Dwyer, to paraphrase you, I would like to think there are global warming supporters that would modify their opinions in the face of evidence but I've yet to encounter even one such person.

It's a fun show you provide in accusing Webster of lying in his report of the interview with Beddington without a shred of evidence for that, then prattle on about the importance of evidence yourself...

Jan 27, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

Mike N

It shows USD71.78 for me!

Jan 27, 2010 at 7:42 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Beddington has not actually come out in favour of the deniers.

What he is saying is carefully worded for the political situation. He is sounding as if he agrees with the deniers (so that if they win he can claim he supported them 'from the start'), but his words can also be interpreted as just a call for 'better science', so that if the warmists win he can present himself as a warmist who called for science to silence the deniers...

Jan 27, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Frank
I was a believer in the parable of CAGW until asked to lecture on the subject. When I started doing my own in depth reading so that I could present real evidence to my students I quickly changed my mind. I'm sure that many people who visit this blog have similar stories to tell. Perhaps if you approach the subject with an open mind you may have a similar road to Damascus moment. Why not start with http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/surface_temp.pdf which I have printed but not read yet! The title alone should attract the attention of any physical scientist, or politician.
Ed

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdbhoy

Ed - what happened to the lecture? :-)

Jan 27, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Even more important than Beddington "jumping ship" is for the BBC to stop airbrushing sceptic views from its TV, radio and website reports. The only BBC journalist consistently questioning Met Office men and global warming fanatics is Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics show. I'm not suggesting the Beeb should cross sides, but at least it should reflect the growing polarised views within its proper remit, which is to report neutrally.

Ditto the Met Office, which by default assumes (or more accurately presumes) warming to be an established paradigm.

These two institutions are the keys to galvanising the lazy, non-critical electorate being made aware that global warming is far from being a closed subject.

Jan 27, 2010 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTempGauge

Dennis,

"Why is there no seperation between global warming and anthropogenic global warming?"

There is.

"I find it easier to accept the first than the second, but both seem to be treated as the same."

They don't seem to be treated the same. And argument from personal incredulity is not impressive.

"I do, however, lean towards cyclical warming."

No evidence for that on the timescales we are talking about - oribital cycles could explain the magnitude of the change but the rate is too rapid. Also (like solar and other straws sceptics grasp at) it would be expected to warm the atmosphere as a whole which is not seen, whereas CO2 caused warming predicts cooling of the stratosphere which is seen. And not least of all, the warming doesn't appear to be cyclical in the least.

Don Pablo,

"For example, has anyone talked about about Solar Warming?"

Yes (why don't you know that?). Again, solar warming would heat the entire atmosphere, which is not seen. Furthermore when we look at solar over the period a slight cooling would be expected, if anything. So it cannot explain the recent warming.

"And then there is the Inconvenient Fact that that Earth itself produces more heat than the Sun does. Just go down a 1000 ft shaft in a diamond mine to find out how fricking hot it can be"

And that explains the trend does it? Have we been burrowing into the earth since the industrial revolution?

"Frank -- all of the BS published by the AGW crowd. Is that explicit enough?"

So climategate calls into question the UAH record? And we don't know that the Himalayan glaciers won't be gone by 2035 (after all, that is the consensus, the IPCC WG2 document merely failed to reflect it)? On what basis could we know this if not somebody's model of the future climate in that region? And if we do not know this on what basis do you say the IPCC was wrong to say they could be gone by then, hmm?

"need new glasses, I am afraid"

No doubt. Though I'm not sure new glasses will fix your hallucinations of chewing people up.

Carrick,

"It's a fun show you provide in accusing Webster of lying in his report of the interview with Beddington without a shred of evidence for that, then prattle on about the importance of evidence yourself..."

Where did I say he lied? I merely noted that the quotations given don't support his interpretations and asked a question.

Jan 28, 2010 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Is Professor Beddington the same "rat" who said the only habitable place on Earth at the end of the century would be Antarctica? And mankind might survive if a few breeding couples settled there?

Jan 28, 2010 at 5:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

No that was apparently another UK Chief Scientist Professor Sir David King in 2004 "Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King"

The UK does pick its Chief Scientists carefully. Professor Beddington has been described as a "latter day Nostradamus"

Jan 28, 2010 at 5:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Talking about Sir David King - I came across this: "Sir David King condemns green scaremongering; Herod condemns child abuse; Osama Bin Laden condemns Islamist terrorism; etc "

Science conference chairman Alexander Illarionov in Moscow in 2004 after King's dismal performance at the conference:

“In our opinion the reputation of British science, the reputation of the British government and the reputation of the title “Sir” has sustained heavy damage.”

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100015354/sir-david-king-condemns-green-scaremongering-herod-condemns-child-abuse-osama-bin-laden-condemns-islamist-terrorism-etc/

Jan 28, 2010 at 7:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

@Frank:
' "Why is there no seperation between global warming and anthropogenic global warming?" There is.'

In that case, what proportion of the warming from 1850 to the present is down to human activity?

As for glaciers - read the science. It simply is not possible for the Himalayan glaciers to disappear by 2035 (or 2030 as NASA claimed). That's why there is a tiny bit of scandal over it. Jeez, even the IPCC guy says they only put it in for dramatic effect & to put pressure on politicians.

Perhaps you will cease your hand waving in the face of the evidence.

Jan 28, 2010 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Sebastian,

"In that case, what proportion of the warming from 1850 to the present is down to human activity?"

Ranges for the different forcings natural and otherwise are given in the IPCC WG1 report. So work it out yourself - you're the one who seems to think you know better than they do.

The point is that nobody claims the two are the same and AGW theory involves both. Do you seriously dispute that?

"As for glaciers - read the science. It simply is not possible for the Himalayan glaciers to disappear by 2035 (or 2030 as NASA claimed). "

And suddenly there is certainty and consensus.

Why isn't it possible? Are we able to predict the climate in the Himalayas in 2030s now or something? You got a model for that? Can I see it?

In case it is not clear I am not arguing that they will be gone. I am just pointing to a contradiction which should be blindingly obvious. See, it seems like that climate models have predictive power and the climatalogists suddenly know what they are talking about - but only when it suits you. If you were consistent - and dare I say intellectually honest - you would all be saying that nobody has a clue what will happen in the Himalayas by 2035. But then you couldn't bash the IPCC, so you can't help yourself.

"even the IPCC guy says they only put it in for dramatic effect & to put pressure on politicians"

According to a newspaper report, but not according to "the IPCC guy". Check your facts.

Jan 28, 2010 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Latent heat capacity of ice Frank. Go look it up. Unless the high Himalayas boil (unlikely) it cannot melt by 2035 due to the extreme thickness of it.

Jan 29, 2010 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Sebastian, I'm aware of latent heat. That's just another way of saying it takes a lot of heat to melt a lot of ice. And there certainly has been a lot of ice melting all over the world, hasn't there? Almost as if something was making the globe warmer....what could it be - but I digress.

But it's not quite as simple as you say, is it? Predicting the rate of melt for a bathtub of ice in your garden would be difficult enough. How much heat would be needed to melt those glaciers, how fast can it be delivered, and what would it take? On what basis do you say it is unlikely? You appear to be using some kind of model to predict regional temperature a quarter of a century hence.

Besides, even if the Himalayas were boiling I am sure that some denier would come forth to say it was hotter than that at some time, therefore not unprecedented and nothing to be concerned about. They'd go back to the big bang if necessary. :-)

Jan 29, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer

1. The AGW hypothesis says that most of the warming since 1950 is due to anthropogenic CO2.

a) Whereas it seems plausible that some of the warming should be due to anthropogenic CO2, the warming can be completely explained by natural factors. There is no actual evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has caused any of it.
b) for the last 12 years though anthropogenic CO2 has been rising steadily there has been no warming.

2. "And suddenly there is certainty and consensus. Why isn't it possible? Are we able to predict the climate in the Himalayas in 2030s now or something? You got a model for that? Can I see it?"

You mean why is it impossible. It is possible. as is everything, but the probability is quite low. But yes suddenly there is consensus, because the IPCC suddenly agrees with it - so no dispute, except with you.

The reason for this is that a) Himalayan are retreating far too slowly for that to happen. b) unlike the IPCC report that the Himalayan Glacier melt is accelerating, it is actually decelerating in some cases, remains the same in other cases and there is no retreat at all in other cases.

The Gangotri Glacier for example, which is the source of the Ganges river, is 30 kms long. Till 2003 it retreated at 22 m / year, from 2003 to 2004 about 12 m/year and the last 2 years there has been no retreat. Even assuming a steady retreat of 20 m / year it will take 1,500 years to disappear. We should be in our next ice-age by then.

The Siachin Glacier, which is 70 kms long, has not retreated at all in the last 50 years.

Jan 30, 2010 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Richard,

Firstly thank you for the polite response.

"Whereas it seems plausible that some of the warming should be due to anthropogenic CO2, the warming can be completely explained by natural factors"

That is not true. Nobody has done so. Nobody can do so and also explain other changes that have happened over the earth's history, e.g. ice ages. Nobody can do so and explain why all that CO2 would *not* have an effect. You have to come up with some feedback that precisely cancels out the effect that CO2 should have - nobody has found evidence for such a thing.

Also, I would say you have the timeline backwards. They didn't come along after 50 years and say 'gee, it's been warming these last decades, how can we explain that away?'. Rather it was 50 years ago and more they said 'all that CO2 up there should be having some effect, let's see if it is'. And they looked and it was. The warming was *predicted*.

Now admittedly this prediction is not of the same standard as the science that tells you when and where to stand if you want to see a solar eclipse, and cannot be, but it was a prediction nevertheless.

"There is no actual evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has caused any of it."

Yes there is. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and has increased. We know its source is anthropogenic because of isotope evidence. There are observations of earth from space that show absorption in the bands where CO2 acts as GHG. Other potential explanations either cannot explain the magnitude of the change, or cannot explain the rate, or both, or they have not changed sufficiently to cause the change (solar) or they do not warm the whole atmosphere as would be expected. It is not *proof* in the sense of a double blind randomised trial or the like, but to say there is no evidence is nonsense.

"You mean why is it impossible."

Actually I mean why is it very unlikely. My point is firstly that you cannot make this claim without implicitly relying on some model of the climate - and a regional one at that. You are, indirectly, acknowledging that we can predict the himalayan climate 25 years hence with some level of confidence (to me, this is far from obviously true, by the way). But also you cannot say the IPCC document was wrong here without relying on the body of science and consensus that says the melt by 2035 is highly unlikely, and that also says the recent warming is explained by CO2.

"for the last 12 years though anthropogenic CO2 has been rising steadily there has been no warming."

This is a cherry pick and also probably untrue as the error bars are likely too wide to say that there has been no warming. Whereas the trend plus error bars for at least the last 30 years is warming. Nothing in the last 12 years data provides any evidence that this has changed or is about to. Nor is there any physical reason to expect it to.

" a) Himalayan are retreating far too slowly for that to happen."

And how do you rule out abrupt change with any confidence? Again my point here is not that it will happen, just that your argument is an implicit appeal to a model of what will happen, and also to the same body of science that says CO2 matters to climate, future and past.

Jan 30, 2010 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer its 1.30 am here. I have just come back from the airport and since my computer is on will answer you briefly.

"Whereas it seems plausible that some of the warming should be due to anthropogenic CO2, the warming can be completely explained by natural factors" That is not true. Nobody has done so.

It is true. See here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/22/flashback-bob-tisdales-november-prediction-on-giss-exploiting-the-warmest-decade-on-record/#more-15514

Also, I would say you have the timeline backwards. They didn't come along after 50 years and say 'gee, it's been warming these last decades, how can we explain that away?'. Rather it was 50 years ago and more they said 'all that CO2 up there should be having some effect, let's see if it is'. And they looked and it was. The warming was *predicted*.

No the warming was not predicted 50 years before it happened. The warming from 1950 to 2000 was ANALYSED by the IPCC as having a majority of AGW component. Based on this it was predicted we would continue to warm - and we havent.

There is no actual evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has caused any of it. What you have written makes no sense.

And how do you rule out abrupt change with any confidence? - History, science calibration - Goodnight

Jan 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Richard,

"It is true. See here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/22/flashback-bob-tisdales-november-prediction-on-giss-exploiting-the-warmest-decade-on-record/#more-15514"

This seems to be a claim that ENSO explains all of the recent warming. This is simply false. See for example, http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/exogenous-factors/#more-2150

"No the warming was not predicted 50 years before it happened. The warming from 1950 to 2000 was ANALYSED by the IPCC as having a majority of AGW component."

Warming was certainly predicted as long ago as the 70s and 80s. For example see the Charney report (1979), or Hansen's testimony in the 80s. This is from the Charney report:


For more than a century, we have been aware that changes in the composition of the atmosphere could affect its ability to trap the sun's energy for our benefit. We now have incontrovertible evidence that the atmosphere is indeed changing and that we ourselves contribute to that change. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are steadily increasing, and these changes are linked with man's use of fossil fuels and exploitation of the land. Since carbon dioxide plays a significant role in the heat budget, it is reasonable to suppose that continued increases would affect climate.
These concerns have prompted a number of investigations of the implications of increasing carbon dioxide. Their consensus has been that increasing carbon dioxide will lead to a warmer earth with a different distribution of climatic regimes
[...]
When it is assumed that the CO2 content of the atmosphere is doubled and statistical thermal equilibrium is achieved the more realistic of the modeling efforts predict a global surface warming of between 2 and 3.5C, with greater increases at high latitudes.
[...]
It is significant, however that none of the model calculations predicts negligible warming.

As for the IPCC that was formed in the 80s - it is clearly nonsense to suggest that they weren't talking about warming until after the year 2000.

We can go back further, too: George Callendar proposed the theory in the 1930s and that in turn was based on work by Tyndall and Arrhenius in the previous century.

These are historical facts so it is silly to deny them.

"There is no actual evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has caused any of it. What you have written makes no sense."

There is evidence and I've summarised some of it in my earlier post. 'What you have written makes no sense' isn't much of a rebuttal. Which part is not clear?

Jan 30, 2010 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer -

1. You have obviously not read Bob Tisdale's analysis which reproduces the temperature records using only the natural variables ENSO, volcanic aerosols, and solar. That Tamino link, which deals with estimation of uncertainty using exogenous factors, doesnt deal with this at all.

2. Others have reproduced the temperature records using anthropogenic warming in addition to natural factors, but since the temperature records can also be produced using natural factors alone, anthropogenic warming is not necessary for this.
(Remember this temperature graph reproduction is between the dates 1979 to 2009)

3. To my statement ""No the warming was not predicted 50 years before it happened. The warming from 1950 to 2000 was ANALYSED by the IPCC as having a majority of AGW component.", you have written Warming was certainly predicted as long ago as the 70s and 80s. For example see the Charney report (1979), or Hansen's testimony in the 80s. This is from the Charney report. You are talking at cross purposes.

"The warming" I am talking about is the actual warming of the instrumental temperature records. No one in 1950, or 50 years ago or in 1979, or earlier, accurately predicted using AGW, or anything else for that matter, the temperature curves of the future.

The Greenhouse effect of CO2 was well known for quite sometime, and based on this some predicted that the Earth would warm by a certain amount if CO2 doubled. Arrhenius by 5-6 C, Manabe by 2C, Hansen by 4C and Charney as a compromise between these two, between 1.5 to 4.5C.

Hansen made a prediction of the temperature graphs using various scenarios of CO2 rise. We can now see based on the actual CO2 rise whether his prediction was correct and it fails outside the 95% confidence error. His estimate is so far much too high.

In the IPCC 3rd assessment report, 2001, the same one with the infamous hockey stick, it analysed that most of the warming since 1950 was due to AGW, and before that due to natural causes. And yes their models reproduced the temperature graphs till then. Models can be twiddled to fit previous graphs. But based on these models the future temperature graph has, so far, refused to comply.

'What you have written makes no sense' isn't much of a rebuttal. Which part is not clear? Read what I have written above. Something that makes no sense doesnt require a rebuttal nor can it be clarified. Provide a rebuttal to "He came in like a lion and went out in August".

Jan 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Richard,

"Bob Tisdale's analysis which reproduces the temperature records using only the natural variables ENSO, volcanic aerosols, and solar. That Tamino link, which deals with estimation of uncertainty using exogenous factors, doesnt deal with this at all."

The Tamino link is relevant because it shows how if you remove the influence of volcanos and ENSO, there is still a trend left to explain.

Of Tisdale's "analysis" that just leaves solar, and there is (a) no way to explain the trend using solar (b) no way to explain observed cooling in the stratosphere in that case (c) no way to explain why all that CO2 up there would have had no effect.

This is of course not too surprising since Tisdale's argument is based on no physics whatsoever and is not much more compelling than 'and then a miracle happens'.

""The warming" I am talking about is the actual warming of the instrumental temperature records. No one in 1950, or 50 years ago or in 1979, or earlier, accurately predicted using AGW, or anything else for that matter, the temperature curves of the future."

They certainly got the sign right, which is more than most denialists manage.

Hansen in the 80s got pretty close to the observed warming, too.

Predicting every detail of the "curves" is not necessary - there is plenty of noise due to internal variability and there is no need to predict every short term wiggle. The models don't even purport to do so. It is the trend that matters.

"Models can be twiddled to fit previous graphs. "

Far from obviously true - the models are physical models and not curve fitting.

"But based on these models the future temperature graph has, so far, refused to comply."

Untrue. There is no evidence at all that the trend has changed.
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/how-long/#more-2124

"Read what I have written above. Something that makes no sense doesnt require a rebuttal nor can it be clarified."

I read it again but it doesn't get better with repetition. Your assertion that what I have written makes no sense is not a substitute for evidence that it is so. What exactly are you referring to? Why doesn't it make sense? Because you say so? Perhaps the problem is on the receiving end?

Instead of this post, I could have simply written 'what you wrote makes no sense', and waved away your argument. It would even have been true. But it wouldn't have been much of a rebuttal. I chose instead to address the points made by you and explain why I believe they make no sense.

Feb 1, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer - This is of course not too surprising since Tisdale's argument is based on no physics whatsoever and is not much more compelling than 'and then a miracle happens'

This is pretty rich coming from a person who has displayed an abysmal ignorance of science and who parrots Tamino to hide his own paucity of knowledge. Mouthing the incantation "physics" to shore up your arguments is not impressive.

Untrue. There is no evidence at all that the trend has changed.
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/how-long/#more-2124
I dont know what Tamino's qualifications are but from what I can make out he dabbles in statistics and makes ridiculous claims about the lack of warming for the past 12 years. Certainly there is no "physics" in his arguments.

His main expertise however seems to be the insults and ad hominems, he hurls at all who point out the holes in the AGW hypothesis.

I cant have a debate with Tamino because he, like all other warmists, does not permit debate on his site. The only sites where debate flourishes are on the sites that they label as "denialists". This is my last post in reply to yours, I really do not have time to debate with Tamino's parroting puppet.

The Tamino link is relevant because it shows how if you remove the influence of volcanos and ENSO, there is still a trend left to explain. Where the devil does it show that?

"They certainly got the sign right, which is more than most denialists manage." denilalists? hmmm... - They (the warmist alarmists) havent got the sign right for the last 12 years

"Hansen in the 80s got pretty close to the observed warming, too." what utter BS! I have pointed out his trend falls outside the 95% uncertainty level from the observed trend

Of Tisdale's "analysis" that just leaves solar, and there is (a) no way to explain the trend using solar (b) no way to explain observed cooling in the stratosphere in that case (c) no way to explain why all that CO2 up there would have had no effect.

about a and b and even c - it only shows you have not either read or understood his post. I will address (c) no way to explain why all that CO2 up there would have had no effect.

Science deals first of all in observations or evidence. Evidence is king, not hypothesis or logic. In other words if evidence clashes with the hypothesis or logic, what you have to discard is the hypothesis and the logic that lead your conclusions. You do not discard the evidence in favour of your hypothesis, which all die hard believers in AGW do.

Example - It is logical that a 10 kilo cannon ball would fall 10 times faster than a 1 Kilo cannon ball. This was the hypothesis held as a theory for 1,000 years since the time of Aristotle. It was destroyed when Galileo experimentally dropped the cannon balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa and they came crashing down at the same time. Galileo did not have an explanation for it, that came later with Newton and his theory of Gravity, but he conclusively showed that Aristotle was wrong.

The temperature records have similarly conclusively shown that the predictions of the AGW hypothesis is probably wrong. Why "probably"? Because it is possible that the warming might suddenly catch up to the predictions though this is very unlikely and gets more so the longer the Earth fails to warm.

It is not necessary to give an explanation of why the hypothesis is wrong. The evidence shows so - and that is it. But let me hazard a guess. Our climatic system is highly homeostatic. It tends to come back to its original state when disturbed. So after warming it cools and after cooling it warms. And what might possibly be swamping the CO2 greenhouse effect are clouds.

Here is how I look at it from the Physics angle:

Incoming Radiation (I) – Outgoing Radiation (O) = Heating or Cooling or Balance depending on whether I – O is +ve, -ve or 0.

The AGW Theory

I-O = Anthropogenic “forcing” (what is causing us to warm) = 1.6 W/m2 (the rest is in balance)

Clouds (poorly understood according to IPCC) = cooling of around 30 W / m2

(30 is much larger than 1.6. Get that “poorly understood” bit wrong and it will dwarf Anthropogenic 1.6)

(Other things which cancel out, may not cancel out, if you get it slightly wrong to dwarf that 1.6 )

So AGW does a whole lot of plusses and minuses and comes up with a figure of 1.6 for the last 50 years, which happens to be the Anthropogenic portion – the rest of it (much of it such as clouds and solar poorly understood) is in PERFECT BALANCE. Not only that it will REMAIN IN PERFECT BALANCE FOR THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE, while the the only unbalancing portion will be the anthropogenic 1.6 W/m2 and we will warm inexorably. Rather difficult to believe.

Here is my theory: Global temperatures from 1998 will be the same as 1998 +/-0.3C

Compare this with the AGW theory of IPCC: Global temperatures from 1998 will increase by 0.035 C every year (+/- say 20% or 0.007C)

Admittedly the IPCC AGW theory has been worked out on supercomputers, using complex GCM’s. But so far my theory beats IPCC's hands down.

Check back after 5 years. In the meantime please hold your peace and in any case please do not parrot Tamino. Goodbye

Feb 2, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Richard,

[ad hom deleted]
"Mouthing the incantation "physics" to shore up your arguments is not impressive."
[...]
"Incoming Radiation (I) – Outgoing Radiation (O) = Heating or Cooling or Balance depending on whether I – O is +ve, -ve or 0."

Indeed and Tisdale's argument, according to your parroting cite of him, is that ENSO + solar + volcanos causes warming, by some miraculous means that is left to the imagination and true only in the 20th century. So where is the extra heat coming from - from the solar trend alone you would expect cooling if anything. Volcanos cause cooling. ENSO is a short term fluctuation that moves heat around within the system, but the oceans are also warming. So extra heat is needed from somewhere...

"Clouds (poorly understood according to IPCC) = cooling of around 30 W / m2"

....and amusingly the only radiative forcing Tisdale ever comes up with in an attempt to explain the extra heat is a change in cloud cover, which he claims is somehow influenced by ENSO to cause warming (but only in the 20th century), and which wouldn't explain what he needs to explain in any case. But regardless that won't stop you from claiming the net effect of clouds in the same period is to cause cooling. Spot the Flaw (tm).

"I have pointed out his trend falls outside the 95% uncertainty level from the observed trend"

You have 'pointed out' many things, some of which I know aren't correct. So where's the evidence for this claim?

"The temperature records have similarly conclusively shown that the predictions of the AGW hypothesis is probably wrong"

Or this. I have already provided evidence this is false, and it seems to have upset you. Are you too upset to provide evidence that it is true?

"Compare this with the AGW theory of IPCC: Global temperatures from 1998 will increase by 0.035 C every year (+/- say 20% or 0.007C)"

Actually they predict a trend of about 0.2C / decade, which is about 0.02C/year (and not 'every year' either).

"This is my last post in reply to yours, I really do not have time to debate with Tamino's parroting puppet."

Declare victory and run away hurling insults.

Feb 2, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

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