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« The cost of public policy | Main | DECC doesn't know the cost of carbon »

Ridley's response to Lynas

This is a guest post by Matt Ridley and is a response to this post by Mark Lynas.

As far as I know Mark Lynas is an honourable man. He changed his mind on the benefits of genetically modified crops, going against the views of nearly all environmental campaign groups and bravely putting up with much criticism for doing so. I know how he feels, because I have done the same – changing my mind about the dangers of climate change, going against the views of nearly all environmental campaign groups and putting up with much criticism for doing so.

That Mark does not agree with my change of mind on climate (which happened gradually but was cemented by the way the green and scientific establishments reacted to the Climategate controversy) is fair enough. I don’t, however, understand why he chooses to take the low road in his attacks on me. His latest blog post is entitled “On Matt Ridley’s latest attempt at climate change denial”. He knows full well that I have never advocated climate change “denial” and that that very phrase was invented as a way smear sceptics who think the dangers of climate change are being exaggerated by associating them with holocaust denial. Yuk.

He then tweeted that I had “invented” numbers about climate sensitivity, when there were links in my piece to one of the peer-reviewed sources I had used. I asked him to withdraw the charge of “invention” three times on twitter and he has so far refused to do so. He did something similar a couple of years ago when attacking a piece I had written on wind power.

I am quite used to ad hominem attacks. I do not expect them from a fellow science writer and the winner of a book prize I was four times short-listed for. I have a rule that I do not go ad hominem, unless attacked myself. I always simply try to present arguments for or against a particular point of view.

And why does Mark feel the need to guess at and question my motives?

He makes the unpleasant insinuation that I come to my view backwards, that is to say that I am “against tackling global warming, and want to use the world’s poor as a moral justification for this”. He calls my view that climate change will probably not be dangerous this century “clearly intuitive”.

Well it’s not clear to me.

He produces not a shred of evidence for these entirely false and frankly nasty charges. I hereby ask him to withdraw them.

I question exaggerated claims about climate change when I think there is good evidence that they are questionable. I also question efforts to tackle global warming partly because I think they are hurting the poor, just as I think opposition to genetically modified crops is hurting the poor. Do I need any other motivation?

As to the substance of Mark’s article, let me take his points one by one.

He says that all the green groups he knows now oppose some biofuels. Well some now do – after years of criticizing people like me for opposing them – but not all by any means. Biofuel policies were driven by enthusiastic lobbying by green groups. I am delighted Mark and I agree on this and I look forward to him joining me in what has been a rather lonely fight against the burning of imported wood to generate electricity in the UK and other counterproductive schemes.

We also agree about the deaths of millions of people as a result of indoor air pollution thanks to the lack of electricity and gas.

Mark objects to my charge about the harms done by climate policies that “Greens think this harm is a price worth paying to stop the warming”, but he then goes on to make plain that he does think exactly this: “It is quite possible (maybe even probable) for global warming to both be extremely damaging and for near-term carbon emissions cuts to have a harmful effect on the world’s poor.” This could not be a clearer illustration of the claim I made.

So far, then, there is no disagreement at all, just some nasty and unsupported allegations about my motives.

Where we disagree profoundly is that Mark thinks I am wrong to have reached the conclusion that climate change is not likely to be harmful, let alone severely so, for many decades. He accuses me of “cherry-picking a couple of studies” to support this conclusion. Well, for the Times article in question I consulted three key papers, two of them peer reviewed journal articles, and the third a peer-reviewed report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, written by a very good science writer and one of the scientists who co-authored the other two.

The first is by Lewis and Curry (2014) (further links and discussion here ), which takes the energy budget estimates from all the relevant data in the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (AR5) to arrive at a conclusion that the best estimate of transient climate response is 1.33 degrees. (Like Lewis and others, I take TCR as the most policy-relevant measure of sensitivity. Equilibrium sensitivity – ECS – is a measure of eventual temperature after a much longer period or adjustment.)

The other paper I consulted was Otto et al (2013), which was authored by a large group of prominent IPCC lead authors. They reached the conclusion that TCR is 1.3 degrees.

The third paper I consulted was the very clear and comprehensive review written by Lewis and Crok (2013). They gave a very slightly higher estimate of TCR of 1.35C. They helpfully provide a chart to show how much warming was expected to result from such a TCR:

You can see from this where I got the estimate of 0.8-1.2 degrees of warming (from today) by the later part of this century in the two middle scenarios. I checked it with Nic Lewis before publishing.

So I was entirely correct in my claim that -- using the best evidence – you get very modest warming in the two middle scenarios.

However, Mark has two further objections. First, that I was wrong to reject the IPCC’s own out of date estimates of 21st century warming. Well, actually, here I used a form of words that was a bit hard on my own case. Not only are Lewis and Curry’s estimates based on AR5’s results, the fact is that there was no AR5 best estimate. Astonishingly, AR5 does not actually give a central estimate of climate sensitivity at all. This omission of a key parameter was explained by the substantial discrepancy between the low observation-based estimates and the high estimates derived from climate models. Nor does AR5 give a best estimate of TCR. If we take the models instead, then (see the table above) we still get only moderately harmful warming in the two middle scenarios: 1.6-2.0C from today (2.4-2.8C from pre-industrial.)

Ah, but why did I leave out the RCP8.5 scenario? Mark argues I was wrong to do so on the grounds that CO2 emissions are rising as fast if not faster than in that scenario. Yes, but emissions are not the only factor in how much warming happens. It is CO2 levels, not emissions, that count. Just because emissions are following what RCP8.5 assumes, it doesn't mean concentrations are. RCP8.5 assumes changes in carbon cycle feedbacks for which there is precious little evidence. The latest studies refute its assumption that the oceans and biosphere have slowed in their ability to absorb CO2. For example, Gloor et al say: “Claims for a decreasing long-term trend in the carbon sink efficiency over the last few decades are currently not supported by atmospheric CO2 data and anthropogenic emissions estimates.”

Other factors include methane and other non-CO2 emissions, which are rising much more slowly than the scenario assumes. Plus RCP8.5 depends on economic assumptions that are, I submit highly unrealistic: 12 billion people, 10 times as much coal use as today, very little trade leading to low energy efficiency, and so forth. (But still the world is three times richer in income per head.)

Here’s a description by Dave Rutledge of RCP8.5:

Coal accounts for half of future carbon-dioxide emissions through 2100, and two-thirds of the emissions through 2500. The IPCC’s coal burn is enormous, twice the world reserves by 2100, and seven times reserves by 2500. Coal so dominates that it is not an exaggeration to say that the IPCC and climate-change research programs depend on this massive coal burn for their existence. Without the threat of coal, the IPCC could close up shop and the research program funding would drop to a small fraction of what is spent on research in weather forecasting.

In the chart below, black is coal in RCP 8.5, red is oil and blue is gas. Ask yourself if you think this is at all plausible. I don’t.

Most journalists do not report the extreme economic and energy-mix assumptions behind extreme temperature projections.

Anyhow, let me take Mark’s suggestion and put the RCP8.5 scenario back into the mix. Under the best TCR estimate, see above, we would still only have 2.1 degrees of warming from today, 2.9 from pre-industrial. Under the models’ TCR we would have 3.5 degrees. Well, even I agree that that’s going to do harm (though I find it odd that the IPCC and others insist on an amount of warming, rather than a rate of warming, that’s dangerous, but leave that aside). Does even that harm – experienced by rich people in the future – justify the pain we are inflicting on the poor today with climate policies? I am not sure it does, even before you examine the plausibility of the assumptions.

My point is that if you make heroically bad economic, demographic, carbon-cycle and energy-mix assumptions, AND you ignore the best evidence available about sensitivity then yes, warming might be very dangerous. In all other circumstances, warming is slow and mild, or possibly turning dangerous in the time of our grandchildren. That’s precisely what I said in my article.

Does Mark think dangerous warming is inevitable? I doubt it. Does he think he can rule out non-dangerous warming? I hope not. It would require cherry-picking to achieve that. The IPCC gives a range of outcomes from harmless to harmful. I think the lower end of the range is more plausible. Mark thinks the higher end is more plausible. But we are both within the range of outcomes. How does that make me a “denier”?

Let me add three final points.

First, Mark simply ignores my argument that climate change policies are regressive, taking money disproportionately from poor people and handing it disproportionately to rich people. There are plenty of climate policies that would not do this, and that I think would do a better job of getting emissions down, such as spending a lot more on new nuclear and solar and gas research and development. Being a landowner myself, this would remove some very lucrative potential options for me (all of which I currently refuse, but if I fall on hard times…) – to build wind farms, install solar panels, grow biofuels, install subsidized wood based heating systems, grow crops for subsidized anaerobic digesters. But I am happy to argue against these policies because I care about what they are doing to poor people and the environment.

Second, does the slow progress of climate change, compared with model predictions, not give Mark even the slightest doubts about high sensitivity? In the past 35 years (the satellite era), warming has happened much slower than predicted by the models and it has slowed down, rather than accelerating. Remember that TCR of 1.35C is higher than pure greenhouse physics for CO2: it implies some very small positive feedbacks. So it’s the full greenhouse effect of CO2 and a bit more. Twenty-six years ago when I first wrote about climate change I was happy to accept predictions of sensitivity being 3C or so. Today, with so much less warming than predicted, I have been forced to change my mind. Why is Mark so confident that the slow warming of the last 35 years is an aberration and that a sudden acceleration is just around the corner?


Third, I do wish Mark and people like him would at least discuss the evidence on global greening: the satellite evidence for a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation and the evidence that this is caused to a significant extent by extra CO2. This leads to huge benefits: higher yields, less land needed for farming, more productive and diverse natural ecosystems. Whenever I write about this, my critics just ignore it. Do they just hate admitting that CO2 emissions might have an upside?

Mark Lynas and I agree on a lot. We disagree on how dangerous warming looks likely to be. Let’s do so politely please.

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Reader Comments (58)

A lot of wasted words. Lynas isn't in the business of thinking or arguing the science. Notice how often he finds refuge in the IPCC.

Lynas' career is about being Holier Than Thou in environmental matters. If he's alive in 2100 he'll recant on climate change.

He should be engaged at a moral level.

Nov 7, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Why is warming "harmful" ? What evidence is there that warming is harmful ? These lukewarmers are as dangerous as the rabid greenies.

Nov 7, 2014 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards in the CO2 (and other) context what goes up must stay up and slowly strangle/frazzle us? Level... and whats known about that mechanism in the way that its balanced - consumption and leakage out. Any instrumentation adequate?

Dunno...but GWPF was mentioned in the piece and thats almost disqualification I think?

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

Stephen - Lynas will just answer talking about risks and the ipcc. There's a lot of being wrong in acting now in order to mitigate risks concerning the XXII century, and the biggest one is if it's morally correct to prefer certain present suffering to uncertain future ruin.

To this one might add the fact that Greenpeace and Lynas have gone 180deg on biofuels within 20y. With 2100 still 86 years away, there's quite some space for more turns.

Lynas has no answer on that. As reported by Ridley, "Mark simply ignores my argument that climate change policies are regressive, taking money disproportionately from poor people and handing it disproportionately to rich people".

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Does Mark Lynas understand what is meant by "the appeal to authority"? Judging by his response to Buck Field it seems he doesn't. Hmm, when all else fails trot out the names of a few learned bodies and silence your opponent at a single stroke. Well no, it doesn't work like that, you simply make it look as though you haven't a leg to stand on. Which might well be the case.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed


More advice for the Labour Party
You are about to get rid of your unpopular leader
Get rid of his unpopular Climate Change Act whilst your at it.

Matt ask Mark Lynas how much a luxury Timeshare Condo in the Tropical Maldives paradise are going for these days.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

The reason we do not have public debates about CAGW is that the evidence does not support it. If Mark Lynas believes he is in the right why does he not have a public debate and expose the weak arguments of those who question the CAGW religion. Few question that CO2 affects the atmosphere but the CAGW hypothesis, is knackered, kaput! Therefore institutions like the BBC, Royal Society, etc. have circled the wagons to protect it. So we will see ever more Ad Hominem attacks from those believers because all they have left is their zealotry!

"“Greens think this harm is a price worth paying to stop the warming”" - unthinking and comfortable middle class people like Mark Lynas, might well think it is a cost worth paying. I am sure the members in both Houses of Parliament who make a lot of money out of renewables, think it is worth it. I am sure Al Gore with his many millions, thinks it is worth it. I am sure the Hollywood celebrities who jet around the world first class think so.

But I am also sure those in squalor & poverity will not share that view!

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

,As far as I know Mark Lynas is an honourable man'

He is a rascal who has made a living making deliberately exaggerated claims about things he doesn't understand. Lynas is the kind of the guy the Guardian loves. Monbiot, Hickman, Leggett Cook, Nucettelli....

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Ex-expat Colin - No. Mention of a GWPF paper is a disqualification if, and only if, the paper is wrong. Read the paper and tell us why you think it is incorrect. Having read the paper, the analysis seems correct to me.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeon0112

Lynas has reproduced Ridley's response on his own blog.. so far no comments

yep seems Lynas is FAfA-ing ...............................(Fallacy of Appeal from Authority)

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Smiff, I was wondering if that line was intended as a Shakespeare reference.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Lynas wrote '6 Degrees'.

He hasn't retracted that book and till earns money from it.

Thattells you everything you need to know about Mark Lynas' honesty.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Matt, a fine measured reply to a deeply disappointing piece by Lynas. I did entertain some vague hopes about him moving over from the dark side.


Nov 7, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Mark - just in case you read this, here is the context, and why this is so important, as summarised in a quote from Lomberg:

"We live in a world where one in six deaths are caused by easily curable infectious diseases; one in eight deaths stem from air pollution, mostly from cooking indoors with dung and twigs; and billions of people live in abject poverty, with no electricity and little food. We ought never to have entertained the notion that the world’s greatest challenge could be to reduce temperature rises in our generation by a fraction of a degree."


It is time for you to rethink your stance on CO2, and the very costly climate policies being advocated by the alarmists in the NGOs, Met Office and IPCC.

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Mark Lynas believes in the"scientific concensus" and that tells you all you need to know about his arguments and appeal to authority. In his own words:

I’m interested in the scientific consensus, which is ...... that climate change is real, a point I’ve made so many times it’s getting boring

Nov 7, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

If you suggest to a policeman that his horse is gay you are likely to be arrested.

If you advocate policies that will ensure billions of people remain without electricity and will die after short and brutal lives spent in abject poverty, you are lauded.

Anyone think that we have got the balance right?

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

Why is Mark so confident that the slow warming of the last 35 years is an aberration and that a sudden acceleration is just around the corner?
I could hazard several answers to that question (none of them complimentary to Lynas) but I would be intrigued to hear his own reply to it though I doubt that he would be brave enough to come out and tell us what it is.
Phillip Bratby encapsulates it neatly with his quote above.
Yes, Mark, you are indeed becoming boring (though that probably isn't what you meant), mainly because 97% of the world agrees with you that "climate change is real". Trouble is you have no coherent, sensible, logical, empirical answer to the question "so what?".
You obviously want catastrophic warming or your wouldn't be so blind to any evidence that might undermine it. The question you need to answer is why any sane person would think that way.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Ouch. That is going to leave a mark on Lynas.
We see this more and more from the climate obsessed:
Unreasoned reactionary attacks on critics of the obsession.
Ben Pile just went through the same experience with a leading cliamte obsession academic. She dismissed his essay as some sort of made up tripe in a most thoughtless and dismissive fashion. Ben responded as has Mr. Ridley, with a well reasoned, heavily documented reply that leaves no room for doubt as to just who is out of line.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I stopped at denier.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Matt, this is a great post! I'll be back with more comments later. Just to pick up on TCR. Just over a year ago I spent months looking at variations of cloud cover and temperatures in the UK and Global. Clive Best helped out with the physics. For the UK it turned out we needed to have some CO2 forcing of temperature and the TCR we calculated was 1.28˚C. Tried and couldn't get this work published. Got a similar result for global.

I'm unsure how concerned we should be about this. Like you, I am most concerned by the way climate science is conducted and the economic consequences that flow from this into energy policy.

UK temperatures since 1956 - physical models and interpretation of temperature change

UK sunshine records suggest that cloud cover fluctuates in a cyclical manner. This imparts structure to the UK temperature record (confidence = very high)

A combined CO2 radiative forcing and sunshine – surface temperature forcing model is optimised with NCF = 0.54 and

TCR = 1.28˚C (confidence = medium; uncertainty unquantified)

Our empirically constrained value for TCR = 1.28˚C is identical to the value of 1.3˚C reported by Otto et al [7]

Our model aggregates dT over a 56 year period and provides a good fit of calculated versus observed temperature based on dCloud and dCO2 alone.

The consequences of the above are quite profound, especially when combined with the findings of Otto et al. It removes the urgency but does not remove the long-term need to deal with CO2 emissions.

Global cloud cover as recorded by the International Satellite Cloud Climatology (ISCCP) [8] program also shows cyclical change that helps explain the global temperature record.

The cause of temporal changes in cloud cover remains unknown.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Mark did allow me space to reply at length on his blog, which is creditable, and he has now assured me that he will not call me a denier in future now he understands my position better. So commenters here should not be too critical of him. This was an opportunity for healthy debate.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

Let's all buy custard pies. Funny how the 'Lomborg Custard Pie" incident has disappeared from his wiki entry!

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCustard Pie Fan

Leon0112 at 10.31 Surely you missed the sarcasm in ex pat Colin's comment?

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

Pop psychology time. Here's my model. Lynas is a weak character who has been scared by the climate alarmism which so abounds in our society, and he has a way with words which has allowed him to join in and amplify that scare through works such as his 'Six Degrees'. Ridley is a strong character who was once taken in by the same alarmism, but who was not swamped by it and was able to work past the facade to find lack of adequate substance. He too has a way with words which has allowed him to join in and lessen that scare through works such as his 'The Rational Optimist'.

So, one is in a panic, and the other is calm.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade


That's interesting. I have been following your posts and those of Roger Andrews with interest. Incidentally, Roger's post on the increasing amplitude of the seasonal CO2 variation

was great because I had heard this story but not seen the graphs. I heard Ranga Myneni say that Charles Keeling himself first noticed this phenomenon and attributed it to global greening.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

@Matt Ridley

He was a rascal long before he called you a denier'. I have zero interest in debates with rascals. You two carry on regardless (preferably in private).

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

My take on this is that not enough effort is put into calling out why people like Lynas are so persuaded that a small change in warming is so dangerous - so catastrophic. I would like to know what studies have been done to support this contention; I would like to know what they think will happen if they could ever succeed in bringing the temperature down (Ha! How would we know it was brought down by man?); and, on balance, which is likely to give us a better world, a warmer or a cooler climate?

Update: I meant to add. regardless of how the warming came about, was the similar warming of 1910-40 equally catastrophic?

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

".....the fact is that there was no AR5 best estimate. Astonishingly, AR5 does not actually give a central estimate of climate sensitivity at all".

That's the money quote right there. It tells us all we need to know about the IPCC's position. They dare not give a new, 'accurate' best estimate because to do so would expose the paucity of their claims of imminent catastrophe. They know full well climate sensitivity is nowhere near 3C, 4C or more, but to reveal that truth would finish the scam.

Nov 7, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

This is my problem with the GWPF. Matt Ridley is demanding respect for Mark Lynas who has been an outrageous, lying maverick for years.

Nov 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Another thorough, useful and fact-filled piece by Dr. Ridley.

Nov 7, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Mark did allow me space to reply at length on his blog, which is creditable, and he has now assured me that he will not call me a denier in future now he understands my position better. So commenters here should not be too critical of him. This was an opportunity for healthy debate.
Nov 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley
Battered wife syndrome. First, he does something which should cause you to write him out of your book of life, then he apologises and lets you have a rant because he is "sorry" and won't do it again.

See you at the shelter, Matt, after the next time.

Nov 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Matt, the root cause of the problem in the slanging match (that is rather one sided) is exemplified by Otto et al who discover that climate sensitivity is likely close to 1.5˚C but then advocate no change in policy. Society should behave exactly the same with 1.5 as it should with 4.5. This is a disingenuous position IMO. We have AR5 giving a range in CS / TCR of 1.5 to 4.5˚C and claiming consensus when in fact there is no agreement at all. 97% of scientists agree that they don't have a clue how the climate works. It is a travesty that at this point in time we do not know with confidence what the CS is. And the reason for this is corruption within the climate science community.

You and I can adopt the scientifically highly respectable position of about 1.5˚C but our failure to call for industrial society to be closed down immediately casts us as deniers in some camps.

Yes, myself and Roger had an interesting series of posts on the carbon cycle in what I call iterative blogging. We don't know for sure what the answer is but refine ideas through banging them about. Some of the main conclusions:

Rise in CO2 is caused by Man
About 55% of emissions are removed each year on average
Most of this is going into the terrestrial biosphere - which is why burning trees is bonkers
The deep oceans have much lower pH than surface waters (owing to Gt of rotting plankton)
The oceans appear not to be a significant sink for emissions
C isotopes cannot be used to quantify origins of CO2 or residence times
CO2 fertilisation has led to a significant rise in crop yields

This latter point is one you touch on. It is interesting for me to note that not only has fossil fuel enabled the creation of industrial society and the existence of 7 billion souls but it has also provided a means of feeding some of this population and that benefit should not be ignored.

I am unsure how concerned we should be with CS of 1.3˚C. Two doublings (1040 ppm) would add 2.6˚C to average temperatures. One question is whether or not we can access enough carbon to get to 1040ppm.

Nov 7, 2014 at 12:53 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

The question Dr Ridley and Mark Lynas have both yet to answer is: if the temperature change over the last 18+ years is zero whilst CO2 emissions and level have increased unabated, why is there still an assumption that there is any climate sensitivity to CO2 above zero?

Nov 7, 2014 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterIlma

My take on this is that not enough effort is put into calling out why people like Lynas are so persuaded that a small change in warming is so dangerous - so catastrophic(...)
Nov 7, 2014 at 11:42 AM Harry Passfield

It's religion. If you don't believe, you'll burn for eternity.

Nothing to do with 'studies'.

Nov 7, 2014 at 1:36 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Harry Passfield (11.42 am)
I agree entirely with what you say. You more or less echo the question that I was posing earlier and which I would like answered by every one of the scaremongers, of whom Lynas is certainly one.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the research outcomes and the model outputs why would any sane human being want the (recently ended) 30-year global warming spasm to be a harbinger of disaster? Who in his right mind would dismiss out of hand any research findings that point to an alternative and, for humanity, better outcome than the one they envisage?
The only feasible answers I can find are (1) that in reality not one of the warmists actually believes any of this and that there is an agenda in play that can only be intended to benefit them personally at the expense of the rest of humanity or (2) they are so locked into the paradigm that they are blind to every possibility outwith their own tightly closed minds.
Their blunt refusal to debate or even explain their beliefs or their reasoning could be a sign of either. I keep praying that one day one of them will break ranks and explain himself.

Nov 7, 2014 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Martin A: "It's religion. If you don't believe, you'll burn for eternity."

Quite right, Martin. I wish I knew who said it - I'd give 'em a H/T:

"You have to believe it to see it!"

Nov 7, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Blogger "", who has been trolling around here recently has a (highly critical and ad hom) thread about Matt Ridley. I tried to post this message, but I'm not sure it get pass the moderation axe as all my other messages:

Wotts are you going to mention Ridley's response to Lynas on his blog? And you trying to communicate with Ridley in the same thread (although you mention here that you will not discus with deniers)?
I guess not and I'm sure you're going to censor this message again as all my messages. Such a hypocrite you are, Wotts...

Nov 7, 2014 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

It is the extreme precautionary principle. If some extreme harm is even remotely possible, we must act now. But this is the kind of thinking that causes people to be afraid to leave the house, to refuse to take the freeway, to not let their children play outside.
One of the biggest causes of harm pointed to by IPCC is rising sea levels. But sea level has been rising roughly linearly at a non-alarming rate for 100 years (best we can tell, Boretti, A.A. Short term comparison of climate model predictions and satellite altimeter measurements of sea levels. Coast. Eng. 60, 319-322 (2012)). If sea level rise ever does accelerate we will get plenty of warning that action is needed, but for now it is the dog that didn't bark.

Nov 7, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

...and he has now assured me that he will not call me a denier in future now he understands my position better.

So that's alright then.

And anybody else who questions CAGW?

Nov 7, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

"The question Dr Ridley and Mark Lynas have both yet to answer is: if the temperature change over the last 18+ years is zero whilst CO2 emissions and level have increased unabated, why is there still an assumption that there is any climate sensitivity to CO2 above zero?"

They won't answer because they are both being sponsored to play a horrible little game. The game is that the warmists tell a pack of lies and Ridley and his pals at the GWPF give them credibility by juggling numbers with them.

Nov 7, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff


Imagine the Hadcrut4 temperature reconstruction. ALL of the structure comes from natural cyclical temperature variation. Underlying this is a monotonic CO2 forcing. Without the CO2 forcing we would likely be in a gentle cooling phase for the last 18 years. Mild CO2 forcing has turned that into a flat line.

Nov 7, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

I keep praying that one day one of them will break ranks and explain himself.
Nov 7, 2014 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If they broke ranks and understood themselves, that might be enough for me. There is so much good that could be done in the world. It pains me to see so many so misled by those who claim to be 'saving the world'.

Nov 7, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@Euan Means

I hesitate to cross swords with you, but that comment (4:10 p.m.) requires a couple of (dare I say heroic?) assumptions e.g. the accuracy and precision of HadCrud (sic), especially during the early years, that the monotonic (is it monotonic for anything more than a few years?) rise is due to carbon dioxide (didn't Arrhenius recant or something? My memory fails).

My own view is simple. To anyone who knows of the Milikan Effect, all disputation about anything other than a (very) low value for TCS seems premature.

The (almost certainly correct) answer is: 'We simply don't know - except that the evidence for cAGW, at least this century, seems increasingly flimsy'.

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeretic

Euan, according to HadCRUT4, we are only at the beginning of a possible repeat of the last cooling phase so the pause hasn't been flat long enough to invoke AGW since it's the exact same so far as the last cycle, and may turn headlong into real cooling for thirty years then many years more to ever break a record again.

That both poles are skyrocketing in ice cover over two years suggests that HadCRUT4 that is now affiliated with a Saudi
university (!) via Phil Jones’ new appointment, is simply wrong and it has drastically cooled in the Arctic already.

Finally, tide gauges going back 150 years show no AGW signal at all, just a linear trend, so ice melt acceleration claims are falsified by simple conservation of matter. This is why Rahmstorf etc. create virtual fantasies by adjusting *away* from reality on the ground, turning science on its head by then labeling it “sea level” just the same.

That we are dealing with Enron level fraudsters overall is understood if you compare how the field of genetics quickly roots out and punishes fraud with how the Marcott 2013 hockey stick media sensation had utterly no blade in the input data, yet instead of a retraction and misconduct investigation, a FAQ was issued on notorious junk-science-scare PR firm owned, verbally tacking on the high resolution real thermometer record, an apples to oranges comparison that amounts to pseudoscience. NOAA’s site and myriad others still feature it as alleged proof that skeptics are crackpots:

Nov 7, 2014 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

The game is that the warmists tell a pack of lies and Ridley and his pals at the GWPF give them credibility by juggling numbers with them.
Nov 7, 2014 at 3:14 PM esmiff


I have asked why it is that Nic Lewis is referred to as a 'sceptic' when, so far as I can see, he takes the whole thing as valid but redoes the calculations with more attention to the detail of the statistics.

Climate science has qualified itself as junk science and should be thrown in the bin. Discussing its details maintains its unwarranted credibility.

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:01 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

@ Heretic and Nik

Irma's question was how could there be any CO2 forcing when temperatures hadn't changed and I answered. My answer doesn't have to be correct. The work that Clive and I did on clouds - I went in to that kind of hoping that all the dT we observed could be explained by dCloud. But that was not possible and we needed a CS / TCR of about 1.3˚C to match model to observations. There seems to be a mounting body of evidence that CS / TCR is in that ballpark.

Understanding the CO2 greenhouse is in fact very complex. I am trying to write a post on this now based on some of the excellent work done by Clive Best. I'm trying to understand and explain Clive's work at a level most can understand. But it is actually pushing my own comprehension to the limits. This is a rather important graph:

The 15 µm band is CO2 emitting radiation to space at 215˚K - which is at the tropopause. Clive has 15 papers at this link, but they are not every day reading. As far as I can tell, CO2 does have an effect on temperature but it is at the bottom end of IPCC estimates.

I don't have an axe to grind over HadCRUT.

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:23 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

The following posted on Mr Lynas's Blog
Unfortunately you place your beliefs above reason which of course is the path all zealots take.

Fact: Global warming has ceased for eighteen years despite increasing amounts of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Fact: Antarctica sea ice is at a thirty year high.

Fact: Artic sea ice has recovered and it is no less than in 1922 or 1817

Fact: The oceans are alkaline and are not getting more acidic

Fact: Consensus in science is used by those who wish to suppress debate.

Fact: Hurrican intensity is not increasing.

Fact: Climate related disasters are at an all time low.

Fact: The Climategate emails are a reality.

You really are in denial Mr Lynas but at least I am polite emough not to call you a denier.

Have a good weekend.

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey


I have two issues with the cloud claim, first that there is likely no good data on clouds during the earlier T variation so ruling out natural variation merely via chaotic ocean fluid dynamics to assign warming to carbon dioxide lacks even good long term correlation to support it, and second that most of the oldest real thermometer records make a mockery of claims that recent warming represents a sudden trend change:

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

I have never seen this assessment published on a blog site regarding IPCC CMIP5 models and how they model compared to A-Train observational data.
Possibly of interest to those interested in clouds and water vapor.

Nov 7, 2014 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered Commenteronly me

6:23p.m. Euan Mearns

Fair enough, Certainly in the context of what Irma said.

The implication as to the authority of HadCrut4 is useful in argument - fittingly, one may therefore argue.

Nov 7, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeretic

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