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« Wind-worn | Main | Why doesn't the AR5 SOD's climate sensitivity range reflect its new aerosol estimates? »

Reactions to low climate sensitivity

Apart from the Judith Curry piece, which I linked to yesterday, there have been a few others interested in what Lewis has to say.

Tim Worstall covered the story twice - once at his own blog, where the comments thread was quickly overwhelmed by the rantings and ravings of a well-known green, and once at Forbes.

Meanwhile, at Reason magazine, Ronald Bailey gave the story another airing.

My impression is that people are still trying to work out what to say. I think we will hear more in the coming days.

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Reader Comments (35)

The rants from Connolley on Tim's blog are almost unbelievable - is this in fact someone spoofing him, or is he really that unstable?

Dec 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

He's an ego, that's all. Talking about him anywhere at all is giving him the oxygen he craves.

Dec 20, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Actually, Connolley is hilarious. He fails totally to realise that his behaviour is about as counter-productive as it could be and anyone could be forgiven for thinking he is unstable.
I wouldn't be looking to buy a box of matches from him, let alone a computer model.
I wonder if he and Mann are twins?

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The diehards will get ever more hysterical while the data continues against them.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Look at it this way: Climate science is new, unproven, and is highly criticised in many quarters, including by other more established sciences. It feels vulnerable. He was a very small cog on a small part of a climate science project in this very small unrespected area of Science. Vulnerable squared. They are used to coming out guns blazing.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Connolly seems to be backed by one johnB..... I suspect by the time things fall apart completely, he will be in barking hysterics, slamming his fists on the keyboard, as each piece of IPCC propaganda is whittled away.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

I exercise the precautionary principle: if in doubt, disagree with Connolley.

It’s rarely wise to agree with anyone who may be this person:

Any middle-aged man who thinks a pony tail a good look has judgement so poor I’d feel uncomfortable agreeing with him. About anything.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Dr William Connolley is demonstrating the kind of debating techniques alarmists have been using for years:

Demean and insult people
Make staements rather than arguments
Refer to Journals noted for a particualr bias
Spend time surpressing any dissenting voices - e.g. Wikipedia

Let him rant so that like Climategate, the public can see the real face of the religious proponents of CAGW.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton


a MAMWAPT already!

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

If people enjoy arguing about things they don't understand, then fair enough. However, putting numbers on climate sensitivity is like scoring 10 own goals in the first ten minutes of a football match. They have the credibility.

Brian Cox was right. Only models can predict the future of a complex system. There is nothing wrong with climate science per se, only when it interferes in politics.

I am taking my cue from Freeman Dyson, Ivar Giaever, James Lovelock and a host of qualified Guardian readers before tabloid George Monbiot moved in.

climate models in politics - bollocks
proxies in politics - bollocks

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

MAMWAPT...(works it out)...excellent, needs wider use!

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

‘My impression is that people are still trying to work out what to say. I think we will hear more in the coming days.’

Bish as I have said before, it will take a long time and an enormous effort to stop the supertanker that is AGW scientology. Those of us that truly believe in science know that science will triumph in the end. No matter how long it takes. The rantings of non-entities like Connelley can only help our cause. He is obviously not quite bright enough to see that.

It would be interesting if we could get some input from Richard Betts. I note that in a comment on Tim Worstall’s blog, Matt Ridley makes reference to Richard Betts agreeing that Nic Lewis has made out a good case. Anyone seen that?

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Surely a MAMWAPT can be no worse than a MAMWAW?

Sorry to stray entirely off topic.

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Isn't a MAMWACO even worse than a MAMWAW?

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

My impression is that people are still trying to work out what to say. I think we will hear more in the coming days.

The amount we've already heard, since Ridley's Wall Street Journal article, is a very welcome Christmas present. At last climate sensitivity is being seen as the crucial piece it is in the IPCC argument. Very well done, Nic.

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

That the debate about climate sensitivity has begun to permeate into the wider media is very welcome. It will be interesting to see how the IPCC handles this. Nic Lewis' contribution and the debate about solar modulation of GCR's and other possible TSI amplification mechanisms that has been provoked by Rawl's posting of the SOD may well prove to be a turning point.

I think it will be harder for the IPCC to ignore some of the extant studies and their implications for climate sensitivity.

Dec 20, 2012 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

The comment by Matt Ridley on Tim's blog mentioned by Dolphinhead is number 55 and well worth reading. So are his follow-ups in 68, 73 and 78. Ben Pile also gives convincing evidence of Connolley's inconsistency in 74

Dec 20, 2012 at 1:20 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I wish I could find the posting here where I went through the back-of-envelope energy flux calcs (justifying why I am a lukewarmer either to RKS or Dung) and came up with a climate sensitivity not a million miles away from this figure :)

Dec 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


Brian Cox was right. Only models can predict the future of a complex system.

But they can't, and that is the point. Cox deals with physics, which although complex, has an easier time isolating individual variables and playing with them by experiment. He doesn't seem to realise that this simplicity does not carry over into weather/climate, because not only are many of the variables unknown, those that are known aren't measurable to any great degree of accuracy.

Dec 20, 2012 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson


Why pick on me :-))

I totally agree with you. I have never said anything else. Cox is right in principle. However, any scientist will tell you that the climate is far too complex to model to the accuracy that would allow temperature forecasts. That is what annoys me about Ridley and his sensitivity.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Dolphinhead @12:36, Richard Betts had a cautious but basically positive comment about Nic Lewis's derivation of climate sensitivity here on the post with Nic's calculations.

It turns out that Nic had an abridged version of his calculation back on the Quantifying Uncertainties thread some weeks ago, see his comment here. Richard Betts was involved in that thread also, and responded to Nic e.g. here, which led to this reply by Nic.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Jeremy Harvey

thank you for the various references. A couple of comments

1. I am pleased to note that Richard Betts' response is a little more civilised than Connolley

2. But I fear his faith in models is sadly misplaced.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

The reason why the models fail is because they have in them 7 physics' mistakes, the worst of which is a claim, from meteorology, that single pyrgeometers measure a real energy flux instead of the S-B temperature signal. This makes the boundary conditions wrong.. Cox is too poor a physicist to realise these errors exits - too little experience of real world physics methinks!

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM


That is what annoys me about Ridley and his sensitivity.

This ability to be annoyed by Ridley and his sensitivity is hilarious. The whole of the IPCC narrative is based on sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 (or equivalent GHGs). It's their idea of sensitivity that is being questioned and it's Nic Lewis that is doing it, as his friend Matt Ridley makes clear. If you don't think this is important you inhabit a different world from me but it's also fine. But why on earth should any sceptic be annoyed?

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

After examining samples returned from the Moon scientists agree that the surfaces of the Moon and Earth are composed of identical material. Without atmosphere [including oceans of course] surface albedo would be identical.

Both Moon and Earth, because of their distance from the Sun, are subject to identical insolation in terms of Wm^2.

The NASA Lunar Diviner probe has made multiple empirical measurements of the Moons complete surface and shows the mean Lunar surface temperature to be 197K.

Without the addition of atmosphere the Earth's mean surface temperature would also be 197K - no need to revert to theoretical SB calculations and black body assumptions, the actual measurements have been made for us by Lunar Diviner.

This means that our atmosphere must be responsible for a mean surface temperature rise of 91K in order to reach the universally agreed surface temperature of 288K - not the 33K those who constantly refer to the contribution of GHE's claim for atmospheric contribution.

Which, of course, brings into question any claimed contribution of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration on global mean surface temperature.

The only researched and quantified contribution of atmosphere on global temperature has been that of applying the Ideal Gas Laws and insolation [familiar to those educated before the popularity of 'back radiation']- Nikolov and Zeller being one example using empirically derived data from other atmospheric bodies within the Solar System.

GHE contributions have so far been based on matching CO2 rise with temperature increase and twiddling and fiddling with the correlation - merely an exercise in 'proving' an hypothesis rather than base theories on sound empirically derived data.

That's my contribution for now, I'll revert to spectator role to continue watching this interesting discussion.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

RKS: there is a GHE because by reducing surface emissivity, GHGs increase the impedance for the transfer to the atmosphere and space of the 160 W/m^2 average solar warming of the surface. If's far less than the 33 k figure. As for the 197 K average temperature of the Moon, yes it's true. The Flat Disc Model in climate science is an over-simplification.

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Looks like is unavailable?

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

There is a chain reaction around the World as the MSM focuses on the AR5 revelations and decides the IPCC claims are wrong, also any competent person working in the area is formulating an escape plan, and the best is to write the truth which is that you always had doubts!

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

But why on earth should any sceptic be annoyed?
Perhaps a more relevant question, Richard, might be "why would any self-respecting scientist be annoyed?"
Mildly pissed off at being proved wrong, perhaps. Less than wholly delighted at having to take a second look at his interpretation of the data, maybe. But "annoyed"? Because someone has seen fit to come up with different results? Surely not.

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson Annan going to get spanked tonight!

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Connolley was bashing people over their spelling while buggering up his own grammar, sure sign he was angry.

Dec 21, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveA

The fury my article has unleashed is remarkable to behold. However, very little of it addresses the argument itself. Most commentators are content to stick to the Lysenko line rather than discuss the science I raised: ie, I should not have been allowed to say what I said.

A few have complained that I confuse water wapour and clouds, to which I respond that the atmosphere does the same -- ie any increase in water vapour may cause a change in cloud density or extent which may or may not negate any warming effect from water vapour or indeed negate any increase in water vapour itself by causing rain.

One complaint, that my wording implies that water vapour may not be a greenhouse gas at all, is half fair. It's not what I think but you could read it into one sentence of the piece as a result of editing. that's a pity.

However, on the main points I made:

- that new estimates of aerosol cooling are low
- that new estimates of Ocean heat uptake are low
- that therefore observational estimates of climate sensitivity may prove low
- that observational estimates are now good enough that they should be preferred over models
- that warming below 2C is net beneficial

on these, nobody has said anything to dent Nic's argument.

Dec 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

Matt Ridley:

Most commentators are content to stick to the Lysenko line ...

The Lysenko line. Didn't that go all the way to Magadan and the most deadly camps of the Gulag?

If I come across all effusive I apologise but it's clear you did a great thing with this piece, if our latter-day Lysenkos choked so hard on their cornflakes as they read it. Though Lindzen has often written of the aerosol anomaly (including IIRC in the WSJ) the temerity of an outsider like Nic Lewis calling the climate establishment to account, with more detail ready on BH and WUWT, is a particularly powerful thing. The blogosphere bites back but all kudos to the Murdoch press too. And thank you.

Dec 21, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


Not only a MAMWAPT but also with a furry toy in his bag.

Dec 21, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

There was another interesting estimate of climate sensitivity from James (as quoted) and Jules here

Dec 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeteB

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