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Marvellous exchanges

The latest exchanges over the Marvel et al paper make for fascinating reading. Over at RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt writes a rather thin response to Nic Lewis's critique. Lewis has responded at length at Climate Audit.

Gavin, as might be expected, has made heavy use of his standard, "paraphrase, don't quote" technique, creating a series of strawmen that he can knock down with ease. For instance, at one point Lewis set out a great deal of evidence that suggested that land-use changes may have been omitted from a calculation. He mused about whether there was a rational explanation. Gavin paraphrased this as [my emphasis]:

Lewis in subsequent comments has claimed without evidence that land use was not properly included in our historical runs, and that there must be an error in the model radiative transfer.

It's perhaps worthy of note that Schmidt doesn't actually provide any explanation of what Lewis observed.

Nic's piece has an amusing sting in the tail as well. In their original paper, Marvel et al said that:

TCR and ECS are calculated by regressing ensemble-average decadal mean forcing or forcing minus ocean heat content change rate against ensemble-average temperature change.


Unfortunately this wasn't quite right. They actually did the regression the other way round.

And they didn't regress ensemble averages.

And they got their uncertainty calculations wrong.

By 100%.

Except for one instance.

Where it was more than 100%.

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Reader Comments (38)

That image.

An important adjective is missing in that quote projected by Gavin Schmidt. "accurate".

Feb 12, 2016 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Gavin isn't defending a theory, he's fronting a theology.

Feb 12, 2016 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Gavin isn't defending a theory, he's protecting a gravy train.

Feb 12, 2016 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Stoval

"What's the point of developing a science..." - which is no more than computer models - which would be disowned by the really techie geeks who code computer games.

"...well enough to make predictions" - and there was me thinking they were 'projections'.

"...if all we do is stand around and wait to see if they come true" - the corollary being, what if they're wrong?

Such hubris.

Feb 12, 2016 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield


Blaming ever so convenient Climate Change for sneaky back door public spending cuts.

So the Welsh government would rather spend tax payers money on Housing Refugees ,Posh Offices Taxis and exotic freebie junkets abroad than spend it on Coastal Sea Defences.

Feb 12, 2016 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Can climate models be recycled into something useful? Or are they just very expensive LandFill?

I do appreciate the improvements in weather forecasting from all the computer technology, but otherwise it is difficult to see any benefit at all. Marvel et al, and this latest controversy just goes to prove that computer models can never be relied on, when they are programmed by unreliable scientists.

Feb 12, 2016 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"What is the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if,in the end all you are willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true."

Years back, when I was trying to make sense of all the stuff about global warming and searching for information about it, two things struck me:

- The absence of a clear graduate-level explanation of the physics involved, detailing the observations and measurements that confirmed it all.

- The toxic response at Realclimate to any comment or question that implied or could be viewed as any sort of criticism of 'climate science'.

At that point, it slowly dawned on me: "This is just a theory - and the people pushing it have something to hide".

Feb 12, 2016 at 12:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Climate $cience is a lot like Wall Street.

Both make lots and lots of predictions.
Neither are ever held to account for their inaccurate predictions.

Feb 12, 2016 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

One of the interesting things about the models is just how wrong they are, not just in their projections for the future but in their modelling of the past.

Of course, this wasn't always true. The models that we based the CAGW panic on once modelled the past with commendable accuracy, showing the upwards slope in the early twentieth century and then the slow downward slope until the seventies then the steep upward slope to the nineties. They had the aerosols and all the other forcings exactly right.

Then Gavin and his pals came along and changed the past and now the early twentieth century slope is much steeper, the forties to seventies downslope has changed into an upslope and the late nineties peak has shrunk to accomadate a twentyfirdt century upslope.

So the modelling of the past is now nearly as bad as the projections for the future.

And it's no good running the models again and twiddling the aerosol knob and the El Nino knob and all the rest of the parameters ro get a perfect match for the twentieth century, since next year, or next month, GISS and NOAA and the Met Office will run their temperature models again, (possibly with some new sea temp. model thrown in), and the hindcasts will be wrong again.

Feb 12, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin B

The interesting thing is that Marvel et al. is very much the outlier paper in insisting on a high sensitivity despite all apparent evidence to the contrary and obviously inadequate models but because they are pessimistic they are comfortably in the establishment 'consensus'. Scientific truth is not the objective; they are just bound and determined to ignore what nature is telling them in order to force a policy that will demonstrably do more harm than good.

Feb 12, 2016 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

So what's new here?

Alarmist Climate scientologists tell lies. It come with the "faith".
Gavin is a "true believer"

Feb 12, 2016 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

>Gavin is a "true believer"

I wonder. The strain of saying one thing while believing another is beginning to tell, IMO.

Feb 12, 2016 at 1:50 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Gavin's problem is that CliSci should have quit and walked away from the card table in 1998. That was when peak El Nino warming in the satellite record made it spuriously look like the models were winning against reality, when it was really just beginners luck. Subsequent El Ninos are showing they just can't get it up to the models anymore, even though he is now adjustmaster-general for the surface record.

He now knows that the divergence between models and reality means he can't afford to stand around and wait for the predictions to come true. He won't live that long. And neither will any of Michael Mann's trees. It's past time for them to quit while they're only losing a bit [*], yet they know they can't because they won't get the same salary anywhere else.

[* But, like The Independent, Gavin may largely drop the print version and concentrate on the electronic version for his still Hansen-esque wages.]

Feb 12, 2016 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

12:37 PM Martin A

Head - nail - hit.

Feb 12, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Constable

Gavin is a "true believer"

Nahh, Gavin is a "beliefer." It's clear that he knowingly conceals truths and perpetuates climate crisis myths.

ZDB, EM and Raff are examples of "believers." They believe the myths that the "beliefers" shape, repeating them by rote and cut&paste, but cannot themselves point to a single piece of observed evidence of climate crisis.

Feb 12, 2016 at 3:58 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

When climate science is developed enough to make meaningful predictions- ones that are coming true in *reality*, then we can do more than stand around and laugh at the antics of clowns like Gavin.

Feb 12, 2016 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Martin A: "The absence of a clear graduate-level explanation of the physics involved, detailing the observations and measurements that confirmed it all."

I felt the same, a decade ago, when I first started looking, then a few years ago I started looking at the actual physics. Of course it is nothing like the stuff you see on any alarmist website - they are just "cherry picked" science leaving out masses of important things.

But ... whilst I would like to think I'm just "catching up" with the better academics (Not the Michael Mann's of this world), I've always got it at the back of my mind that they might really believe those "Noddy-science" models which they put up and that they really have no idea about the true physical processes determining the greenhouse effect.

Feb 12, 2016 at 4:42 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Clearly being paid for "standing around waiting" is a more attractive option than doing meaningful work.

Mind you, having no access to
"meaningful work" is now a designated discriminatory practice that attracts compensation payments, so......

Feb 12, 2016 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Scroll down here to see the blinkered oaf helping at a weekend 'school' for children in New York. What kind of parent would let their child go there?

Feb 12, 2016 at 6:14 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Martin A,

1.These same characters were behaving this way long before there was a Realclimate.
2. It is barely even a hypothesis.
3. On second thought let us not go to climate change, it is a silly place.

Feb 12, 2016 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

I make predictions all the time and nobody even stands around waiting for them to come true.

Feb 12, 2016 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGavin

“What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”, a fascinating quote, comes from an interview in 1997 with F. Sherwood Rowland who is credited with fingering chlorofluorocarbons as contributing to ozone depletion.
BTW the ozone hole over the Antarctic this year has expanded to near “record levels” due to “unseasonably cold temperatures, rather than any additional damage to the ozone layer”, according to the CSIRO.
It has been obvious that the CAGW proponents have modelled themselves on Rowland and the ozone hole scare is a clear paradigm, or trial run, for the climate change™ hysteria.
The quote is fascinating because of its elegant circularity, circular reasoning being the principle methodology of climate change™ science.

Feb 12, 2016 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

The dig at Gavin Schmidt is gratuitous. This larger-than-life climate scientist is a modern day combination of Gauss and Euler. We are blessed to have Gavin Schmidt working on the most existential threat ever humanity has ever faced.

At least.

So let us show proper respect where it is due.

Feb 13, 2016 at 2:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

Aila, you are quite right. Just think how much more real science Schmidt and Mann could do if they both shaved properly every day, or grew proper beards.

Feb 13, 2016 at 2:57 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Do people really write things like 'delegitimise'. Gavin is a terrible writer. Just from that short post his language is so imprecise in many places as to not be useful in trying to analyse something. Also, why are so many scientists in particular against using plain English.

Feb 13, 2016 at 5:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Don't be hard on Aila. I'm satisfied now, after reading her comments, that she is a sceptic, whose posts are an ironic take on eco-fascism. After all, nobody could really believe the stuff that she writes.

Feb 13, 2016 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

You say to-may-to, I say toh-ma-to, John Holdren says a billion deaths from climate-related famine by yesterday.

These are sobering thoughts, people.

Feb 13, 2016 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

I wonder how long it will be before the Americans realise that, like Piers Morgan before him, Gavin is a waste of space and should be returned to the UK?

Feb 13, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

Bloke down the pub, the UK is a very good place for people to hide from US Justice, but it then costs the UK taxpayer even more money. I

Feb 13, 2016 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


You say to-may-to, I say toh-ma-to, John Holdren says a billion deaths from climate-related famine by yesterday.

These are sobering thoughts, people.

You do realise that food production has been increasing in leaps and bounds in recent years, and 2014 set yet another record?

Feb 13, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

ZDB, EM and Raff are examples of "believers." They believe the myths that the "beliefers" shape, repeating them by rote and cut&paste, but cannot themselves point to a single piece of observed evidence of climate crisis.
- Simon Hopkinson

Four models good, two models better.

Feb 13, 2016 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterManniac

Paul Homewood,

That is besides the point! ONE BILLION climate related deaths man! It's a number so ridiculously big it just has to be true!


Feb 13, 2016 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Instead, the greening from AnthroCO2 is feeding an extra billion people. He got the sign wrong; common error.

Feb 13, 2016 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

IIRC, deleting the minus signs is a standard part of the Hockey Stick methodology.

Thus, less deaths becomes more deaths!

Feb 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRudolph Hucker

If you are going to say things about climate, and then define it as 30 years' statistics of weather, then you need 30 years of weather statistics, not just surface temperature. No wonder the science is so bust. The data does not exist to support it.

Feb 14, 2016 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Just to bring some accuracy to the discussion of famine, the United Nations announced in mid-2015 that "the number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million – 216 million fewer than in 1990-92." I set out below excerpts from the press release issued by the Food and Hunger Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in connection with the publication of their "State of Food Insecurity in the World" 2015 report on May 27, 2015.

World hunger falls to under 800 million, eradication is next goal

72 countries have achieved the Millennium Development target of halving proportion of the chronically undernourished


27 May 2015, Rome - The number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million – 216 million fewer than in 1990-92 – or around one person out of every nine, according to the latest edition of the annual UN hunger report (The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 - SOFI).

In the developing regions, the prevalence of undernourishment - which measures the proportion of people who are unable to consume enough food for an active and healthy life – has declined to 12.9 percent of the population, down from 23.3 percent a quarter of a century ago reports SOFI 2015, published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

A majority – 72 out of 129 – of the countries monitored by FAO have achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the prevalence of undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin. In addition, 29 countries have met the more ambitious goal laid out at the World Food Summit in 1996, when governments committed to halving the absolute number of undernourished people by 2015.


Large reductions in hunger were achieved in East Asia and very fast progress was posted in Latin America and the Caribbean, southeast and central Asia, as well as some parts of Africa, showing that inclusive economic growth, agricultural investments and social protection, along with political stability makes the elimination of hunger possible. Above all, the political will to make hunger eradication a paramount development objective has fostered progress.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world – at 23.2 percent, or almost one in every four people. However, African nations that invested more in improving agricultural productivity and basic infrastructure also achieved their MDG hunger target, notably in West Africa.

The proportion of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has dropped from 14.7 percent to 5.5 percent since 1990, while the share of underweight children (below 5 years of age) also declined sharply. A strong commitment to hunger reduction was translated into substantial social protection programmes which, coupled with strong economic growth, drove continent-wide progress.

Diverse trends were observed in different parts of Asia. Countries in Eastern and Southeast Asia have achieved steady and rapid reduction in both malnourishment indicators, buoyed by investment in water and sanitation infrastructure as well as favourable economic prospects.
In southern Asia, the prevalence of undernourishment has declined modestly, to 15.7 percent from 23.9 percent, but much greater progress was made in reducing underweight among young children.

Severe food insecurity is close to being eradicated in North Africa, with the prevalence of undernourishment below 5 percent, while dietary quality is of growing concern in the region, where there is a rising prevalence of overweight and obesity.

In West Asia, where hygiene conditions are generally advanced and child underweight rates low, the incidence of hunger has risen due to war, civil strife and consequent large migrant and refugee populations in some countries.


Feb 15, 2016 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered Commentermkantor


Pay closer attention to what Aila is writing.

For example, "John Holdren says a billion deaths from climate-related famine by yesterday". The is a key giveaway in this sentence. One word, which tells us where she is shooting from.

I'm thinking the SAS should sign her up.

Feb 16, 2016 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

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