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Discussion > The new heresy

May 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Sorry I overlooked this :(

I tried to make the point about the feedbacks earlier on the main blog but it was removed. I said that if raising CO2 always raises water vapour (in the atmosphere) then it can not be said that CO2 always warms the planet.
Forgive me for stating the bleeding obvious but 'under certain conditions increasing water vapour will increase cloud cover' and depending on the kind of cloud created; this can cause both warming and cooling. Most people seem to agree that the effects of cloud are not yet understood so where does the certainty come from?

May 6, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung: I'm sure we all seek the truth - apart from the paid trolls, if Lindzen and Spencer are right in their half-suspicions. But we don't do so in a vacuum. I'm always mindful of what Jonathan Jones said when he first made himself known on this blog in February 2011:

… most scientists are reluctant to speak out on topics which are not their field. We tend to trust our colleagues, perhaps unreasonably so, and are also well aware that most scientific questions are considerably more complex than outsiders think, and that it is entirely possible that we have missed some subtle but critical point.

As a humble software guy I'm far more of an outsider than Professor Jones and I certainly don't expect to be the Einstein of this incredibly complex field - though I never forget Einstein was only a patent clerk when he got going with special relativity and the rest in 1905. But, the odd Einstein and thousands of others, we all seek truth and all of us can agree on how little basis there is for climate policies. We should emphasize this far more, as Robin Guenier has been arguing powerfully.

May 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

May 5, 2014 at 8:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Sorry Mike I seem to have missed this one as well, I could not agree more with every word you said.

May 6, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Registered CommenterDung


Am I getting it wrong or was the important part of your last post "But we don't do so in a vacuum"?
It looks as though you are saying that people should not speak the truth if the effect of that is that some bad things will happen. Is this right or did you have something else in mind?
In all seriousness; can you keep the answer simple since I do not have your classical education hehe.

May 6, 2014 at 6:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

You are getting it very wrong! This part

all of us can agree on how little basis there is for climate policies

is far more central to what I'm saying. But I also sense you've been quietly backing off your original "new heresy" theme - that you don't really believe there is a coordinated attempt by the moderators of WUWT and BH to suppress dissent, from you among others, about a mainstream sceptical view of a low-sensitivity greenhouse effect. If so, my job is done!

May 6, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


I do not believe that "there is a coordinated attempt by the moderators of WUWT and BH to suppress dissent" (dissent about what?).
However I do believe that BH has been moving in the direction of supporting "Human produced CO2 produces 'some warming' for some time" and that WUWT exhibited the same behavior in its moderation of the Roy Spencer thread.
So ; with that out of the way, what exactly did you mean by "But we don't do so in a vacuum"?

May 6, 2014 at 7:15 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Oh, and nobody ever answered that question of mine about any sort of experiment to demonstrate CO2-induced warming. I don't mean radiative physics in action, I mean to show warming in the atmosphere or a reasonable facsimile of it.
May 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

As far as I'm aware, Rhoda, Trenberth et al are still looking for the mystical tropospheric hotspot, or it might move about a bit he said, or something like that. It seems to have been rather ignored recently, despite being possibly the single biggest failure of the whole charade.

It should be the front and centre-piece of radiative-warming of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, as predicted by the models. Relatively free of the complexities of weather going on underneath, or the passage of the seasons.

I think even Richard Black may have once mentioned it in an article before he (officially) left the BBC. It's the place where global-warming should spend most of it's time hanging out, but doesn't. They went there with satellite sensors and radiosondes, but it wasn't home. And it still isn't, because we know they would have told us loudly if they had found it.

It might be nice to read an update on the non-situation.

May 6, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

what exactly did you mean by "But we don't do so in a vacuum"?

Two things. That we are influenced by those we consider more expert than ourselves. Jonathan Jones would be one of those for me, Richard Lindzen would be another, more expert than JJ. And, second, that we should never get so obsessed with the scientific debate that we lose sight of the immorality of climate policies, as Nigel Lawson put it so well in Bath recently. On that we can all agree and for compelling humanitarian reasons we should strive never to reduce our credibility in doing so:

Because when skeptics embrace “science” that is worse that the IPCC’s science, we hurt our credibility.

That's Spencer on his original Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water. I fervently agree. But you are free to argue whatever you want, needless to say, and one can hope that you'll do better than the IPCC as you do, with help from Dr Spencer and others.

May 6, 2014 at 7:30 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard I never, ever lose sight of what is being done to the world in the name of saving the planet (spits, and again for good measure). However in all the exchanges I have had with government departments; I am told that the IPCC is what guides policy (that might be a bit harder to justify now of course). In order to effect change we must remove their confidence/trust in AGW.

Could 'anything' be worse than IPCC science?? They stated that CO2 was THE source of global warming, more powerful than natural variations or the sun or anything else, even ignorant Dung could not get close to that disaster.

May 6, 2014 at 7:50 PM | Registered CommenterDung

May 6, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered Commenter michael hart

It is amazing how many issues the IPCC stops talking about once they are trashed, The Hockey Stick anyone? The Hockey Stick was the main factor in Kyoto being ratified and it has now been torn to shreds.

May 6, 2014 at 7:55 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Could 'anything' be worse than IPCC science??

Obviously Roy Spencer thinks so - in fact he says "the proliferation of bad arguments is becoming almost dizzying". He goes on to give eleven examples which I for one take seriously. But we're retreading old ruts by now. All the best.

May 6, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water
April 25th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.


Skeptical argument that doesn't hold water?

- The halt in average temperature increase despite increasing atmospheric CO2, casts very significant doubt about "the other way around".

- As Rhoda has asked, where is an experiment that demonstrates CO2-induced warming? There is none; if there was we'd have heard about it 1000 times over.

- Dr Murry Salby presented evidence that, at very least, makes it plausible that increased temperature results in increased atmospheric CO2 (and on all timescales).

May 7, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin: Number 7 is obviously the most contentious of the ten (not eleven, as I just said, that was the other thread, sorry), based on comments on Spencer's blog itself. For that and every other reason we need continual freedom to question any 'orthodoxy', catastrophist or sceptic. But a couple of unrelated snips three days apart on two very different threads on very different blogs was no basis for blanket gloom on the freedom front. That was my beef here. And I do agree with Watts and Spencer that the time-wasting and loss of credibility caused by intemperate slayers (and the like) willing to shape-shift their nyms in Orwell fashion does real harm. A balance needed, as ever.

May 7, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Increased temperature should increase CO2 as the oceans degas according to Lindzen, and I believe just about everything else. I must admit I'm not sure what Dr. Spencer was trying to do, but will have a guess, or maybe ask him. Anyway my guess is that, and I've done it myself, he wants to remove arguments that can easily be used to deflect the discussion away from the real issues, especially arguments that can't be won, and CO2 doesn't warm the atmosphere is just such an argument. It has been around since the 19th century and, even if it turns out it doesn't warm the atmosphere, the distraction from the main issues will be counter productive.

I'll come to the real issues, but now to Dung's complaint, what he said makes sense to me, but there are thousands of people out there trawling the blogs looking for loony right wingers (not you Dung) making "unscientific", "anti-science" remarks. What will then happen is that Dung's reasonable remark will be picked up by Roger Harrabin, or the excerable preening George Monbiot (who if he was made of chocolate would eat himself) and bandied about as "BH bloggers don't believe CO2 is a GHG. " That's the problem as I see it, although I don't know if I'd have censored it if it was my blog.

The CAGW meme is now so implanted in the minds of the public that challenging the scientific basis is counter productive in the absence of empirical evidence. So, for me, the three main areas to discuss are:

1. The climate models cannot foretell the future state of the climate. (Forecasting the future is typically the game of mountebanks and charlatans, although I don't think the great majority of cliscis are mountebanks, or charlatans, just plain naive if they believe they can foretell the future using computers);

2. If they are right can we practically reduce CO2 emissions in the timescales available to avoid the catastrophes?

3. If we can't then we should plan for adaptation.

I don't know about anyone else but I could care less about renewables if they were cost effective. We will run out of fossil fuels eventually (although that might be for many millennia hence) so there's no harm in finding other more sustainable sources of energy. The sin is we've gone for wind and solar, when the money would have been better spent on nuclear. That's the crime in the great global warming scare.

May 7, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water
April 25th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house? Now, we might argue over how to do the averaging (Spatial? Mass-weighted?), but you can compute an average, and you can monitor it over time, and see if it changes. The exercise is only futile if your sampling isn’t good enough to realistically monitor changes over time. Just because we don’t know the average surface temperature of the Earth to better than, say 1 deg. C, doesn’t mean we can’t monitor changes in the average over time. We have never known exactly how many people are in the U.S., but we have useful estimates of how the number has increased in the last 50-100 years. Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.

- I can see that someone who has devoted years of his career to satellite measurement of 'average temperature' would take exception to the idea that averaging temperatures is nonsense. But if his words here are the best he can do to justify the notion of global average temperature, he leaves me even less convinced that I was before that the concept has any validity. And unimpressed that he calls drawing attention to the dubiousness of the concept "a stupid skeptic argument".

- He says Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space."

So far as I can see, the 'global average temperature' (at a height of ~2m) tells you zilch about IR emission from the upper atmosphere to space.

To take his example, if I take the 'average temperature' of my bathroom (with 5 quartz halogen lamps with filaments at 2500°C, hot water tank at ~50°C, air temperature at 22°C) what does that tell us? (Answer - nothing much).

Obviously Spencer is correct in the sense that you can add a load of numbers together and divide by the total number of numbers and get something that looks like an average. You could equally well (and with equal justification) form other sorts of average - geometric mean, harmonic mean,... But whatever definition of average you arbitrarily choose, the result does not exist in the sense of telling you anything physically meaningful.

That's how it is with intrinsic properties - temperature, radioactive half-life, boiling point, colour,.... Averages of intrinsic properties are meaningless. I've always been suprised how everybody lets 'climate scientists' get away uncriticised with their use of global average temperature.

A web page I stumbled across that gives some examples: Average Temperatures Meaningless

Thanks to Michael Hart: Does a global temperature exist? no-it's bollocks

May 7, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, I also tend to go with Chris Essex and Ross McKitrick, not Spencer (or Steve McIntyre) on the validity of global average temperature. Does it make a difference that the stat that's actually used is calculated as an anomaly? In such areas I feel like a spectator at Wimbledon watching the ball go back and forth between players far better than I, yet thrilled to be able to form a view of who is playing the better, however naive. That's also freedom.

May 7, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Spencer is right that you can calculate a number that way. Well, fine, but the only valid use is to compare it with the same number calculated the same way at another time. I've seen that average temp used in warmist circles and our own to compare against the calculated amount the earth radiates as if it was a body radiating at 15 C everywhere and that's the same as the radiation of the hot bits and the cold bits all flung in together. It's bogus. That's where the daft 33C net effect of GHG which some idiots still use.comes from. No, the only thing you can do with the global mean temp is to compare it with the global mean temp derived from the same input data but for another time or time series. Even then the result has to be used with care. The earth could keep the same average temp but kill us all, half by cold and half by heat. So I'd say he was making the numbers up to ten with his assertion, this is not an important part of the debate, but whether the number is right to use is a valid debatable position.

May 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

The global warming/climate change question actually has two parts that are getting confused with each other.

1. What is happening/has happened in the real world (observations/experiments)
2. How and why did it happen (scientific theory/knowledge)

It seems to me that far too much weight is being given to the importance of 2 when the real spotlight should be on 1. I mean no offence to any scientist here because they are slowly piecing together the answers. However it may be a thousand years before they have them all.
The Earth has some answers right here and now, it has done its own experiments and we are ignoring them.

Right now we have ice core records and they are truly precious, genuine observations of the climate of the last 700,000 years. Of course the interpretation of the ice cores requires science (oh no! ^.^).
Fortunately most of the interpretation is based on proven science but there is one (at least) issue still being debated.
When an ice core segment is examined, it is the oxygen-18 and the deuterium (heavy hydrogen) in the ice that are the temperature markers, the CO2 exists in bubbles of atmosphere trapped in the ice. The issue is that while oxygen and deuterium date the ice they do not date the CO2.
When snow is turning to ice it goes through what is called the 'Firn' state where the ice is not completely solid and during which bubbles of atmosphere can still move/float up. I have to accept that this issue makes it harder to date the CO2. I have read various papers on this and so far none of them has suggested that this Firn stage caused more than 100-200 years error in the CO2 dating.
The interpretations of ice cores prior to the Firn debate told us the following:
All the ice cores showed that temp rise predated CO2 rise.
In some ice cores the lag appeared to be 200-800 years and in others it was as much as 2000 years.

It seems safe to say that using real world observation and also further interpretation using our current scientific knowledge:

Rising CO2 never preceded rising temperature in 700,000 years.

Why is this not accepted as the best evidence available that CO2 does not and never has caused warming?

May 7, 2014 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I have an open mind about the GH effect. I understand it and have no reason to doubt it. My mind is not closed to the possibility that at some stage scientific opinion may change in the light of new data or changed understanding. I don't think blogs should remove comments just because the views are held by a minority, unless it is established beyond doubt that the views are wrong.

I don't think we fully understand the GH effect. For example, upwelling IR, once absorbed by GH gases, will transfer almost instantly to kinetic energy through collision with molecules of other atmospheric gases. This kinetic energy is measurable as temperature. The greenhouse warming of the atmosphere is therefore pretty instantaneous and therefore one would expect the relentless increase in GHG concentration to show a corresponding increase in atmospheric temperature.

Furthermore, the positive feedback from water vapour doesn't seem to be happening either...

Like I said, I have an open mind.

May 7, 2014 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I too have grave misgivings about global average temperature. As Richard says using the GATA might have some signal provided the same weather stations were used, that all the weather stations were calibrated in the same way, that the environnments around the weather stations were identical for the entire period, that all the measuring teams used the same size grid, that the weather stations hadn't been moved, that the same number of weather stations were used to calculate the GAT in the first place and there were weather stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. There is also an issue about the actual distribution of weather stations, and, of course we lost thousands of them in the 1990s, to me at least, blessed as I am with the logic of simpleton, if you had 1 weather station in the Antarctic and one on the equator the global average temperature could be -20C. Anyway it's complex.

The satellites are a better bet, but they've had calibration and instrumentation problems and can't measure temperatures directly so a lot of processing, and major adjustments.

Add to this that the data we get is in hundredths of a degree and it all has a sort of Lewis Carrol feel to it.

But hey, it falls into the category of things not to be challenged because it's a waste of time as everyone and his/her dog has accepted and challenging it makes you look like a nutter to the "cognescenti".

May 7, 2014 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"I too have grave misgivings about global average temperature."

I wouldn't it is amazingly stable and (hu)mankind lives in a range 'comfortably' that easily spans 20 degrees. Does anywhere know the temperature that is optimum, say a 1st world country that uses the least energy on heating and cooling combined. Mediterranean countries probably do OK though I find them unpleasantly cool due to the lack of heating over the winter. Conversely I'm happy to exist in 35 degree humid tropical temperatures if I have a ceiling fan to help cool me down, which is obviously trivial energy wise compared to heating a UK terrace in subzero temperatures for a fortnight.

May 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

This thread contains a number of examples which make the problem clear. The science cannot be reduced to simple soundbites which is what the politicians want to deal in because it reduces the debate to a level they can understand.

Such as "there is no such thing as a global average temperature", "debunked" by Spencer above by an explanation of how such a thing can be calculated. But when I'm trying to discuss this with the majority of people who haven't read hundreds of pages of discussion and debate on the subject, I am trying to find a way to explain my belief that what is known as the "global average temperature" is a statistic (not a measurement, for a start) which is a useless concept, for many reasons including those mentioned above. "There is no such thing" is one shorthand for this. It doesn't mean there isn't a number, it means the number doesn't represent anything meaningful.

Similarly with "CO2 doesn't cause warming". In theory it does in the lab, in practice it demonstrably doesn't necessarily in the earth's climate system, see last x years for proof.

But people quote the simple soundbites, along with "scientists say", and want simple reasons why the soundbites are wrong, which don't exist. Often they are not even wrong in themselves, they just don't lead to the apparently obvious conclusion for reasons which are not obvious without a level of scientific and technical knowledge which many people simply don't have; e.g. why do we not see warming when the CO2 bottle experiment says we should? The bloody experts in the field don't know that, although they won't admit it in public, how can I explain it in the pub? Even trying to explain that they don't actually know but won't admit it and the evidence is in an email leak sounds like tinfoil hat stuff!

"Oh, but there were enquiries which said there was nothing in that." Well, nooo, actually..." You either believe that things like that happen in the UK today or you don't. Most people don't, and really, really don't want to, because it has serious implications about the society they live in.

May 7, 2014 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

At the risk of becoming boring:

So why not stop discussing the science and discuss the facts ?

May 7, 2014 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterDung

May 7, 2014 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I totally understand what you are saying. The key I think is try to get people to think for themselves (common sense) rather than look for some authority that doesn't actually exist. Do people really believe the complete dirge that stands for news these days on all of the main channels for example. To me there is an obvious agenda to virtually everything presented these days from all the different viewpoints depending on the source of the news.

May 7, 2014 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

"I too have grave misgivings about global average temperature."
Should have read "I too have grave misgivings about global average temperature as a metric."

I probably made the point clumsily, but what I was trying to point out that GATA was another of those "givens" which are beyond discussion, like CO2 doesn't cause warming.

May 8, 2014 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo