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Discussion > Are Geological Paleo-Climate Records Relevant to The Climate Debate?

Spectator, mike Jackson, Alan Kenwell

I could not dismiss Kutzbach and Webb ( 1993). I could not even find it! The oly mention was a short paragraph in another book.He has this habit of giving a long list of papers. While theoretically welcome as evidence, they are usually difficult or impossible to find. I do not have time for laborious literature searches of 20 year old papers, nor do you.This is why I try to supply readable links.

All I could find was 1990s references to COHMAP. Since then the technology of paleoclimatology has changed enormously.

Paleoclimate buff mentioned 8% changes in insolation in Summer and Winter, which must have cancelled out. Quite what this did to the imbalance and the temperatures remains obscure.

Mike Jackson, Alan Kenwell

There should be pollen analysis and 18O data available for the last two millennia. Radical Rodent is a very frustrating person to debate with. She believes that her debating opponent must do all the work . She refuses to supply evidence for her assertions, refuses to do calculations and, as she has just demonstrated , does not even understand arithmetic. .She also maintains a low level background of ad hom insults such as sarcasm about my keyboard skills. Do you wonder that I get frustrated with her!.

Dr Kenwell is no better. I am an elderly man and have no "time of the month". Do you, Alan?

Apr 17, 2016 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I was referring to the Moon's influence ER: whatever has your age got to do with it? Yes, the moon does influence my mood.

It has been awhile since we conversed and you seem confused about my name.

Apr 17, 2016 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

ER I agree with the frustration RR can sometimes cause. She has an appalling sense of humour, and as for her rhyming skills....

Apr 17, 2016 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Spectator, mike jackson

Indeed the first thoughts on the greenhouse date from Fourier in 1824. He was having trouble explaining why the Earth was not permanently frozen.

However, there is more recent data,from the detailed work done by the US military in the 1950s right up to contemporary and ongoing measurements of the OLR spectrum from orbit.

Since science is ongoing, one should always try to use recent research rather than older work which may have been superceded. The modern understanding of the greenhouse effect has built considerably on the work of Callender and Keeping.

On the subject of temperatures consider this graph from Judith Curry. .According to sceptic data the Roman Warm Period peaked at anomaly 0.65C and the Minoan Warm Period at 1.0C.

GISS passed 0.65C in 2011
and after three months 2016 averages 1.25C. I am afraid that we passed beyond historical temperatures and the Holocene Optimum.

Apr 17, 2016 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I give in. It's like trying to hold a conversation with a butterfly.

Apr 17, 2016 at 9:13 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson,

join the club, but you need to watch out for the bee sting.

Apr 17, 2016 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Mike Jackson,Alan Kendall

Definitely more bee than butterfly. I take numbers and paleotemperature much more seriously tjaan a note that the monastery fishpond froze over after Christmas.

Sorry you can't keep up.

Apr 17, 2016 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM, so you are happy to ignore data about medieval monastery fishponds, noted diligently in contemporaneous records, preferring tree rings of dubious provenance, extrapolated and adjusted centuries later?. Sounds logical for climate science.

Apr 17, 2016 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

aTTP: sorry, but you are misreading, misinterpreting or misrepresenting what I did say, yet again. I did NOT say that a large imbalance is the norm; nor did I say that it was common. While I asked why you were so concerned about the present imbalance, you replied: “Because it is probably about an order of magnitude larger than has been the norm for the last few thousand years.” The implication of this statement being that you consider this imbalance to be highly improbable, so improbable as to possibly be considered unique (though you “didn’t say never”). Maybe – and this is just a thought – this sort of imbalance is not as improbable as you think, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with what gases we are pumping into the atmosphere. Actually, yes, this is possibly the case, but you are free to deny that, if you wish.

EM: yes, my mistake; I did misread your post. Apologies. There is plenty of evidence about these temperatures: tree-lines at higher altitudes and latitudes, higher sea-levels, forests of large trees being exposed by the receding ice-cover. Probably not “scientific” enough for you, so you will dismiss these; meh… your call. Much as you claim your fixation on numbers makes you oh-so-much more scientific than anyone else, most on here see it as another form of pseudoscience.

Mr K: ouch! That was harsh.

Apr 17, 2016 at 11:24 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent


I did NOT say that a large imbalance is the norm

I did not say you said this.

Apr 18, 2016 at 7:24 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Bah, you can make of paleo what you will, so people do. Very willful, not so skillful.

Apr 18, 2016 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

It's very simple: If sensitivity is high, we've already avoided cooling, which is the real danger out there. We're @ half precession, @ average age for recent interglacials and in the naturally cooling phase of the Holocene. There is no demonstration that we've harmed the Earth, the biome, or human society with our bit of warming and our large aliquot of greening. There is a great deal of evidence that there has been benefit.

Apr 18, 2016 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim


However, there is little evidence to suggest that such a large imbalance is the norm, or even common, in the last few thousand years.
Not in as many words, maybe, but the implication is certainly there. Stop wriggling.

Now there’s a thing: kim has laid down a bit of a challenge – can anyone show any harm that warming created by human activity has done to the Earth, the biome or human society?

Apr 18, 2016 at 9:49 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I take numbers and paleotemperature much more seriously tjaan a note that the monastery fishpond froze over after Christmas.
Then you are very silly, EM. All sorts of records (including weather) we kept by the monastic orders from the earliest days and probably form one of the most comprehensive Europe-wide record of seasons, rainfall, heat, cold, crops and their reaction and a host of other essentials. Why? Because these things mattered.
The Egyptians invented a calendar because the annual Nile flood was important to their agriculture.
I was taught as a youngster that plants will start to grow once the temperature exceeds 45°F. I was told by someone who was highly qualified in his field and used to work at the Edinburgh University site at Bush (there will be those on here who understand the relevance) that the figure is 43 but, he said, "it's not really that important as long as the plants know".
And his view of the almost anal obsession with fractions of a degree, especially fractions of a degree deriving from educated guesswork based on limited data from centuries ago is the same as mine.
I quote: "Mike, it's been hotter and it's been colder and we're still here and Earth has proved a lot more resilient than these people give her credit for."
I think I'll settle for that.

Apr 18, 2016 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

And his view of the almost anal obsession with fractions of a degree, especially fractions of a degree deriving from educated guesswork based on limited data from centuries ago…
Oooh! Dat’s gud!

Apr 18, 2016 at 10:43 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

A late point:

I am getting tired of doing your thinking for you,
What you do not understand, EM, is that I am trying to get you to think for yourself. You do seem rather reluctant to do that, happily trotting out any old meme that your heroes have presented to you, wrapped up in a pseudoscience of numbers. I am not trying to get you to agree with me (I am not sure I even want that); I am trying to get you to question yourself.

Apr 18, 2016 at 10:54 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I take numbers and paleotemperature much more seriously tjaan a note that the monastery fishpond froze over after Christmas.
Apr 17, 2016 at 10:06 PM Entropic man

EM - for a long time you have made clear your faith in numbers, whether it is the Holy Climate Formula (but apparently only when expressed in base-e logarithms), confidence limits calculated on the IID assumption (on correlated nonstationary time series ie on non IID data), or anything else numerical that fits the picture and seems to you to confirm your nightmares.

The word for your faith is Numerology.


"Sceptics (...) regard numerology as a superstition and a pseudoscience that uses numbers to give the subject a veneer of scientific authority."

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:14 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"a pseudoscience of numbers"

RR - you beat me to it.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Since the benefits of global warming occur in the short term and the worst damage occurs in the long term, this is not really a useful question. Suppose you have a tumour. An early symptom is weight loss. Your beer gut shrinks! Are you going to ignore the tumour because it has apparantly done you good so far?

I am tempted to do a gallop and give you a long list, but three early examples should suffice.

1) An Alaskan village which is threatened by a combination of reduced sea ice and increasing sea levels.

2) Miami Beach are spending $300 million dollars on pumps to protect the city from rising sea levels. New York is spending $10 billion.

3) India suffers heatwaves, with associated deaths. These are becoming more frequent.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Martin A

I never thought I would hear such soft wooly nonsense from an engineer!

Science and engineering are all about numbers. Anecdote has a small place. Much more useful are measurements. In the more complex sciences, where some uncertainty is unavoidable one uses statistical methods to measure the uncertainty.

I hope you do not advocate that civil engineers judge the strength of bridges by showing passers by a drawing and asking "Do you think that is strong enough?"

A big reason why climate scepticism has retreated to fringe websites and redoubt s like the US Republican Party is that the sceptics cannot produce the numerical evidence to support their case.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM. And the definitive proof of worse damage in the future is? Most people when they grow up learn to recognize nightmares for what they are.

I believe the Alaskan village example was refuted. The inuit concerned warned against the oft-flooded site, but were overruled by government officials.

Sea levels are rising along the Eastern Seaboard at non-threatening rates, much of it amplified by land subsidence. Miami has accepted advice from a known sea level maverick. Perhaps you should seek out what others say about Harold Wanless's views.

Heatwaves have always afflicted India. What evidence is there that they are more severe or frequent?

Nightmares when confronted commonly disappear.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall


And the definitive proof of worse damage in the future is?

There is no definitive proof of worse damage in the future. I suspect that there are very few scenarios in which we can produce definitive proof of worse damage in the future. That's why making decisions as to how to address potential risks is difficult. That we can't produce definitive proof of worse damage in the future is not an argument against considering that there might be something that needs to be addressed.

I wrote a response that either disappeared, or I can't find it, or I put it on the wrong thread. Either way

Not in as many words, maybe

Then I didn't say it. This is obvious, right?

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Radical Rodent

Thank you. Shall we stop sniping at each other and return to the imbalance debate?

High imbalance values go with high rate of temperature change. A rapid decline in temperature would accompany a large volcano or a Heinrich event, which would produce a large cooling imbalance.

Rapid warming events are harder, because there are few mechanisms which can produce a big warming imbalance. El nino produces a brief increase.Those seen in the past tend to be recoveries from cooling events. The only mechanism I can think of which produces a large warming imbalance is a rapid increases in greenhouse gases. Possible candidates are the Permian extinction, the PETM and the Industrial Revolution.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

aTTP: like I said, while you did not say those precise words, the implication in what you did say could be summarised in those words. You are wriggling. Next, you will be blaming me for not understanding what you wrote. Ho-hum.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I guess you don't get the irony of you criticising me for supposedly putting words in your mouth, but putting words in my mouth. Bizarre, but - as I've said many times before - very little surprises me these days.

Next, you will be blaming me for not understanding what you wrote.

Hmmm, no there are other possibilities.

Apr 18, 2016 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics