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Discussion > Warming not warming

Missy - have you come across the concept of 'groupthink'?

The following graph shows beyond doubt that the climate science "consensus" and reality do not match up. (73 climate models vs. observations of reality)

Jun 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Missy, if you are going to trust someone, I suggest that you don't trust the general media to report the matter competently. Neither the facts, nor the opinions.

Ultimately, those who wish to understand better, have to put in a bit of time and effort. I don't need to start invoking conspiracy theories. I trust myself to assess the scientific evidence as woefully inadequate and getting worse.

The bar was really set quite low for the climate models and their predictions. I never even thought they would match those standards (except by luck), and so it is proving.

Jun 14, 2013 at 3:25 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"We can either trust the general consensus of climate science that AGW exists and is a problem."

Charlie's question was not "does AGW exist and is it a problem", so telling him to believe the "consensus" there does not help him.

Jun 14, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

The polar bear links hardly prove your point (not banned yet, 12:37AM), but then I think you might not have read them. But lets pretend it is true, that once there was a consensus and now there isn't. Do you think that alone is a logical justification for rejecting _any_ consensus? Along the lines: "I don't accept the climate consensus because sometimes the consensus can change"?

Dr Spencer's graph shows beyond doubt that his chosen climate-model and satellite/balloon data-sets are a poor match (please infer nothing from my use of 'chosen' - I just don't know the scope of available data nor the provenance of the data presented). Do you (martin a, 12:55AM) think that this single graph encapsulates _all_ that is known about the climate? I presume that most climate scientists are equally aware of this mismatch and yet the consensus remains. So your explanation for their being unmoved by the graph is ... what, exactly?

I think Charlie indicated that he did not have the time, inclination or expertise to assess the science, but clearly those who have these qualities and the necessary resources (michael hart, 3:25AM) are in a better position to form an individual opinion.

Jun 14, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMissy

Missy, exactly what is the consensus? It’s so vague as to be pointless. One might agree that CO2 has a warming effect but the real question is ‘how much?’ Consensus has become a Tourettes style word, shouted whenever a supporter of CAGW becomes stressed. No two people seem to be able to quote the same warming prediction for the future and several previous consensus diehards are now taking a few steps back on how sure they are about the climate sensitivity value.

A reasonable assessment is that the figure is still very much up in the air. Even the extensive ranges quoted in the IPCC reports could be accused of being too broad to be useful. That actual values are falling below predicted values is not reassuring and coming up with excuses after the fact smacks of desperation. The impending meeting of MET Office minds to explain contrary British climate is an example of awareness within the climate community that things are not looking good for their consensus. I can only hope they at least open the door for new ideas on natural climate variability.

Jun 14, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Missy: Nope - I read them. If you had read this thread more closely, you'd understand why I chose that example.

Re: Roy Spencer's work, I prefer this post as, IMO, it has greater descriptive power:

In response to your comment:

"I presume that most climate scientists are equally aware of this mismatch and yet the consensus remains. So your explanation for their being unmoved by the graph is ... what, exactly?"

If your presumption is correct, my explanation is that they are incompetent, but, unlike you, they aren't prepared or able to admit it.

Jun 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet


One of the problems with claiming ‘the heat is in the deep oceans’ is a lack of measurement. And if data is sparse now it’s none existent for the early parts of the air temperature record. Who is to say if the 80s and 90s warming wasn’t due to sequestered heat that emerged in a series of El Ninos? It’s as likely as the deep diving heat of 2013. Not very.

I get the feeling that the deep ocean heat theory is hard to swallow and we're seeing different parts of the climate community fracturing off into groups with different explanations (eg Hansen's Chinese aerosols and longer volcano effect theory.)

Jun 14, 2013 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


Do you (martin a, 12:55AM) think that this single graph encapsulates _all_ that is known about the climate?

Obviously not. What a strange question to ask.

I presume that most climate scientists are equally aware of this mismatch and yet the consensus remains. So your explanation for their being unmoved by the graph is ... what, exactly?

I question the existence of the concensus - depending on what it is there is a consensus about. By many measures, I am part of the consensus myself, if it does exist.

But it's not for me to provide an explanation of how some so-called scientists believe some things for which the only evidence seems to be that other so-called scientists also believe them.

Some years back, I said to myself "I ought to find out what all this Kyoto CO2 stuff is all about". I have the background and experience to read up on essentially any branch of physical science. As I failed to track down anything that put it all on a firm basis, I began to have vague doubts. The more I tried to track down the basis for what was being said, the more amazed I was that it seemed to be pretty much without observational/experimental foundation.

The greenhouse effect is commonly explained in terms of a black-body sphere surrounded by a shell of greenhouse gas. This is so obviously over-simplified that it qualifies as no more than a plausibility argument.

A well known professor of climate science has confirmed that the only more comprehensive explanations of the greenhouse effect are various computer climate models. But, as someone said, what comes out of a model is an illustration of a hypothesis, it is not evidence. Yet lots of climate scientists are convinced of the opposite.

The Met Office's Chief Scientist says, with a straight face:

Are computer models reliable?
Yes. Computer models are an essential tool in understanding how the climate will respond to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, and other external effects, such as solar output and volcanoes. Computer models are the only reliable way to predict changes in climate. Their reliability is tested by seeing if they are able to reproduce the past climate, which gives scientists confidence that they can also predict the future.

To anyone who has been involved professionally with constructing computer models and testing them against reality, it is simply astounding that anyone claiming to be a scientist should say such risible things.

I have no doubt there is a consensus of some, perhaps many, climate scientists that think that what comes out of their models is "evidence" but it is they who are deluded, not me.

Jun 14, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Hello again, Missy

Back outside shifting rubble, I replayed in my head my reply (above) that was typed rapidly whilst taking a short break. I realised I had forgotten to try to make the point about the model graphs that I think I did not make clearly enough in my 12:55 AM comment.

The point I was trying to make at 12:55 was that, even if climate scientists have reached a consensus on something (eg their consensus of 15 - 20 years back that they had mastered the task of predicting future climate with GCM's), their consensus existed despite their being unanimously wrong in what they believed.

Jun 14, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Missy, "Nullius in verba" is far from a nonsensical concept. It means that you don't take the word of anyone unless they have empirical proof, and empirical proof means that the hypothesis makes predictions that test it's veracity.

So, here we have a hypothesis that says that CO2 causes global warming and that the scientists are 90 -100% certain that it was caused by human emissions of CO2. We have had 15 years when the CO2 has risen by 8% and no global warming, So where's the proof? What falsifies this hypothesis? Nothing apparently, which makes it a non-scientific hypothesis. It's a religious belief if the observations don't prove the hypothesis and the adherents continue to believe it.

Jun 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

an interesting blog post here that shows the length that climate scientists seem to be preapred to go to obfuscate:

by astute cherry-picking of start and end points, you can prove anything you want..however you have to be careful that no one spots what is left out of the analysis - such as the 2 years of cooling that Trenberth "forgot" to account for

Jun 14, 2013 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


"Dr Spencer's graph shows beyond doubt that his chosen climate-model and satellite/balloon data-sets are a poor match"

It's not Spencer's "chosen climate-model" - it's an ensemble of seventy-three separate models - and they're all wrong.

Jun 14, 2013 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

It surprises me that a document describing as myth the proposal that polar bear numbers are rising should be taken as proof against a consensus that bears are endangered. Perhaps I missed some nuance there. But the subsequent denouncement of (seemingly all) climate scientists as incompetent (not banned yet, 3:18PM) fits into the list in my original proposition quite well (Jun 14, 12:10AM)

Do I claim the very existence of a consensus as evidence that the consensus is correct? That would be foolish, wouldn't it? History contains many examples of a consensus being wrong. However, my acceptance of any individual consensus is unchallenged by recognition of that general truth. Unless I am in a position to challenge a consensus I must logically accept it as the best estimation of the 'truth', however unsatisfactory or inconvenient I might find it.

But perhaps there is no consensus as you say (Martin A, 3:28PM). That might well be true on any given detail of climate science. However, if it were true overall I see no grounds for there to be such polarisation between 'opposing camps' that a member of one can ascribe 'incompetence' to the whole of the other. I conclude that there is indeed a consensus and so the question remains, why do those scientists of the consensus not react to Dr Spencer's graph in the same way as you?

Perhaps they also "take nobody's word for it" and, if one allows them some competence, they surely have the capacity to verify the data presented. If they are unconvinced by the graph, why should I be? Groupthink would be a convenient explanation, but again that fits into my list.

I presume, given that I might be considered to be of the "opposing camp", that I am also permitted no competence in determining the difference between choosing models and choosing data-sets (Turning Tide, 855PM) ...

Jun 14, 2013 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMissy


So we have dozens of models and a variety of data sets, and no way of knowing which (if any) of them is a good representation of reality. Not a very good foundation on which to base global agreements that affect energy policy, development, etc., is it?

BTW: The "consensus" only says that human activities have an impact upon the atmosphere, and thus the climate. I think if you asked you'd find that most people here would be among the so-called 97% on that basis. There is no consensus upon the extent of anthropogenic impact upon the climate.

Jun 14, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Missy - re: polar bears - did you read back over the thread?

Re: another of your presumptions - If you have any model and radiosonde data that you'd like to point out to us/Dr Spencer please do so.

Jun 14, 2013 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Missy would no doubt still be clinging to the myth of soviet planning being the future of the world...what evidence would convince it was not doing well?

The collapse of the DDR, Poland, Czechoslovkia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia would no doubt just be circumstantial. The theory was still holding up fine!

Jun 14, 2013 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


I think you might have been somewhat oversold on the 'consensus' and the '97%' meme. As some have pointed out, almost all of us here would pretty much agree to both. The problem is their vacuousness. The '97% of climate scientists...' meme started from a dodgy self-selecting online survey. The questions it asked you to agree to were trivial. Anyone would agree that the world has been warming and that humans are contributing. So it was tosh. Then Nucciteli and the gang at SkS tied themselves in knots trying to arrive at a 97% figure for academic papers on climate change. Problem was, they didn't do what they said they did in terms of sampling or classifying the papers. Richard Tol, an eminent climate scientist, took them to task over the treatment of his papers. The whole exercise was a transparent con job.

In any case, what exactly is it that there is a consensus about? That the world has warmed? That climate change is 'real'? That mankind has had an impact on the climate? That CO2 can reflect IR? That the increase in CO2 concentrations is largely due to burning fossil fuels? I agree with all that, and so (forgive my audacity, congregation) would almost everyone here.

What it all boils down to, Missy, is climate sensitivity, particularly Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS. Sorry if I'm instructing you to egg suck). And most of us who are so-called sceptics have been convinced by our own study of the matter that Transient CS and ECS are low. Much lower than the most extreme estimates, and lower than the IPCC-promoted figure of 3.

Why? Because to any genuinely enquiring mind the claims and practices of the most extreme climate scientists and activists didn't pass the smell test. And the more you dug, the worse it smelt. Read our host's excellent book on the Hockey Stick Illusion for some prime examples.

The thing is, as time has passed and the sky has not fallen in, predictions of high climate sensitivity look increasingly hard to defend. Forget that it's an opportunity for sceptics to say 'I told you so', the important thing is that climate scientists are working hard to understand and quantify this. A raft of new papers has been published, incorporating the last decade+ of data, and arriving at ECS well below 3.

Good, honest climate scientists don't have a problem with this. It's science, it changes. But the more activist-orientated are clutching at silly memes like 'consensus'. It's not working and it never will, as long as reality continues to diverge from predictions.

Which brings me to...

@Charlie Furniss
Charlie, the warming/not warming argument comes down to start points and data sets. I recommend you visit and search their resources because this has been covered in detail. Depending on whose data set you use, temps have been flat for 7, 10, 12, 17 or even 24 years. A recent post by Christopher Monckton claimed that Ben Santer's "17 year test" for a pause in global warming had been passed:

Jun 15, 2013 at 6:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

I conclude that there is indeed a consensus and so the question remains, why do those scientists of the consensus not react to Dr Spencer's graph in the same way as you?

Jun 14, 2013 at 9:46 PM Missy

"Why...?" It's really not my job to explain the behaviour of people I have never met.

The contradiction between the predictions of rapid and sustained warming made some years back and the actual temperature record showing no such warming are unequivocal.

I find it quite hard to understand how people claiming to be scientists can continue to maintain that something is true, in the face of firm evidence to the contrary. That is something one normally associates with religious faith, rather than scientific investigation.

Why do *you* think they behave like that?

Jun 15, 2013 at 6:57 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

What do they say should be done about it? Does their "solution" match the beliefs and objectives of a particular ideology? Does that suggest why they are committed to a particular answer?

Jun 15, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Martin A, the divide between observation and theory isn’t so wide yet as to guarantee scientists would have to rethink, though the rate at which the average of the models is diverging from reality must be causing some twinges of concern. Scientists comfort themselves that some of the models aren’t far off and that their range of possible outcomes for 2100 is pretty wide. For climate science, a failure to hit a barn door with a bulldozer doesn’t spur them to improve driving skills but to get a bigger barn door. This type of attitude is quite common, especially amongst pure academics, who don’t appreciate the importance of either nailing the figure (which might be impossible) or admitting that you don’t know.

‘I don’t know’ is an underused phrase in science. Scientists prefer to use probabilities because then you’re never wrong. It’s not just in climate where this happens. Remember those Italian geologist who were imprisoned? They should have said ‘we cannot predict earthquakes. Period.’ Adding confidence levels to probabilities is even more absurd until you can demonstrate skill at prediction. If those Italians had known that prison was in their future, would their advice have changed?

There is some thought that scientific advice is more pure if it is untainted by direct policy responsibility but it’s too easy to err to one side or the other if there are no consequences for getting it wrong. Scientists might be sure that cutting CO2 is the most important issue but would they say the same if you put it to them that the choice is between windmills and food aid to Africa?

Climate scientists happily sit under the 97% consensus but what about asking ‘how sure are you that the planet will warm 4 ºC in the next 50 years?’ At that point the consensus might be very much lower. At the moment, many policy makers don't even know they should be asking such a question.

Policy makers need to know exactly where the facts stop and speculation begins and that means that either scientists need to share the liability of policy makers or they need to be compelled to lay out the science exactly as it is. By choosing what facts they emphasise and what they ignore, they are being policy makers but with none of the responsibility.

Jun 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The consensus of which some speak resembles that on the goodness of motherhood and apple pie. We all like to belong to that one! All well and good, but is there another that dare note speak its name? Martin A (6:57AM) asks that I explain why "they" remain unmoved by Dr Spencer's graph, "they" being the scientists. Surely this "they" is not the consensus of the apple pie variety, but something stronger, harder - another consensus that you would not wish to claim as your own. One of incompetents, no less.

I know little of the provenance of the graph and its data, but a little light searching tells me that Dr Spencer is not quite the font of unchallenged objectivity I might have expected (given that his one graph should apparently be all it takes to convince me that the non-apple-pie consensus is false - Martin A, Jun 14, 12:55AM). Indeed he has gone to the trouble of showing us a collection of models individually but strangely has combined the six other data-sets into two. A little more searching tells me that the two satellite data-sets (one being his own) are strikingly different. Why would the good Dr not show them both? Could this be why the non-apple-pie consensus scientists don't believe him, I wonder?

But it is a difficult subject, so little can be said with certainty, such a lack of accuracy. And yet there is precision (Gixxerboy, 6:26AM)! The good Lord M proclaims to have found a dearth of warming for 17 years and 4 months! Truly! This must bring a tear to the eye of all good honest researchers, even the incompetent ones, and even that of the eminent "climate scientist" Richard Tol.

Jun 15, 2013 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMissy

Missy - Do enlighten us if you feel there is another, harder consensus (that still attracts 97% of scientists).

Jun 15, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

Missy the fact you can't find a (to your eyes) objective and up to date comparison of climate models and those data they are supposed to emulate is a red flag in itself. Every now and then someone like Trenberth or Mann do something like this and are dismissed as fast as you do Dr Spencer.

It's a disgrace that there isn't a regularly updated site monitoring the success of the models! It's a disgrace that many of the issues raised by sceptics are swept under the carpet and only rarely do we get a grudging victory.

Cutting CO2 is the biggest thing authority has wanted the common man to put up with since the end of serfdom and yet climate science acts as if we should be grateful. They shouldn't be dragging their heels complying with questions they should be trying to second guess what the next ones will be.

Jun 15, 2013 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


Spencer has taken an average of the two satellite datasets and another of the four balloon datasets. HIs graph is here.

What makes you think there would be any better agreement between the models and the observational data if he hadn't taken the two averages?

Jun 15, 2013 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

(given that his one graph should apparently be all it takes to convince me that the non-apple-pie consensus is false - Martin A, Jun 14, 12:55AM).

No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
Albert Einstein

Jun 15, 2013 at 7:03 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A