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Discussion > Sir David King, Former Chief NON-Scientific Adviser

RR - This could happen, but it would mean that natural variability has been underestimated, there is some currently unknown negative feedback in the system or the effect of the planetary radiative imbalance has been badly overestimated (or some combination or some other Factor X we don't know about).

I regard this as highly unlikely, but all science is ultimately provisional, some fairly well-established scientific principles would require rewriting.

But that is a counterfactual hypothetical, I am more interested in explanations for the irrefutable rise in global temperatures.

Feb 14, 2018 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

… I am more interested in explanations for the irrefutable rise in global temperatures.
But, you have answered that yourself – natural variability (it’s there, on the first line of your answer). Why can you not accept that? It was acceptable for the fall into the Little Ice Age; it was acceptable for the rise of the Mediæval Warm Period; it was acceptable for the fall into the Dark Ages; it was acceptable for the rise to the Roman Warm Period… why can it no longer be acceptable? It would appear that we could be on the peak of this particular rise, yet you seem to support the idea that warming has to continue (after all, all those whom you trust say that it will do, therefore, it must do…), and fear that it will bring catastrophe, despite the rise, to date, being of overall benefit. Ho-hum.

(BTW, you do have a curious choice of words and wording: “…unknown negative feedback…” In what way negative? Surely, in the strict scientific sense, feedback is feedback, even if not in the direction you were expecting? Only if it is not in the direction you were hoping would you consider it negative, but that would make you not very scientific.
...counterfactual…” Why is the hypothesis that we could be on the brink of a fall in temperatures be counterfactual? What facts is it countering? The fact that there has been very little temperature rise for 20 years? Or the fact that, after claiming the el Niño of 2017 has given us the hottest year, evah…! temperatures are still falling?)

Feb 14, 2018 at 3:58 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Natural variability is unlikely to be causing the recent warming; most known sources are cyclical in nature, mainly oceanic phenomena such as ENSO, and so cancel out over time. The major source of a forced natural variability is a change in insolation, and all measurements of solar influences show changes that are of the wrong sign to explain a rise in temperatures. The LIA coincided with the Maunder Minimum, a period of extremely low solar activity from approximately AD 1650 to 1715.

The current rise is seen in almost all parts of the globe, by contrast the MWP occurred, where it did occur, at different places at different times, for example when the much-cited Greenland was warm, parts of N America were cool.

Also, there's the uncontroversial fact that the greenhouse is real and greenhouse gas concentrations have been increased by human activity, in the case of CO2 by more than 40% above a range it has occupied for hundreds of thousands of years, with an resultant increase of several W/m2 in the radiation budget. So proponents of a natural explanation not only have to provide a mechanism - what natural influences are at work - but also explain why this extra energy is not warming the planet.

A negative feedback is simply one that acts to reduce the amplitude of the initial signal, for example if high cloud cools the planet and warming produces more of it, the rate of warming would be slowed. Melting sea ice is a positive feedback, as less incoming radiation is reflected, as is the water vapour feedback - a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, which is a powerful GHG.

Feb 14, 2018 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

So, despite providing evidence to the contrary, you remain fixed in your belief that the present warming is all man-made.

…the greenhouse is real and greenhouse gas concentrations have been increased by human activity…
Phlogiston was also real, and the Earth was at the centre of the universe, with everything revolving around it. Human activity is an acceptable cause of a small proportion of CO2 level rise, and even that is questionable: why, with human consumption of fossil fuels rising exponentially, has the CO2 levels risen more or less steadily, at ~2ppm/yr? It should also be noted that the temperatures on Mars have also been observed to be increasing, with its “icecaps” shrinking; does human-produced CO2 have that range in its effects? Wow! (However, I do note that studies pursuing that seem to have dried up. Lack of funding? Now, I wonder why…)

As for seeking what influences might be at work, that is still ongoing; as perusal of the “climategate” e-mails will show you, a cause has been found, and a cause is being pursued, all of it highly contentious and as-yet unverified – and any questioning of it is to mark you down as a heretic! (Hence your scorn of Nils-Axel Mörner.) Has it never occurred to you to question the odd coincidence that the only factor that can possibly explain global warming just so happens to be the only part of the atmosphere over which we can fool ourselves that humans can have any influence over, and to control it entails what is effectively the destruction of western civilisation?

Feb 14, 2018 at 6:17 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR what does an answer to a hypothetical demonstrate? Phil might as well counter with his own : what will be your argument should global temperatures show an irrefutable and persistent rise?

Feb 14, 2018 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Good point, Minty. As I have no idea what is causing the present rise (and do hope that it continues), I will continue to observe with interest. My own conjecture is that we do not know what is causing the rise, and we have no idea whether the temperature rise will resume soon, or at some time in the future, or if temperatures will fall. What I will dispute is that it is all the fault of human activity – or, more specifically, human activity in the western world – and that there is anything that we can do about it, other than what we have done in the past: adapt. What is obvious is that this is a scientific field that has been hijacked by politics, and that it is a politics with definite ill-intent.

Feb 14, 2018 at 7:10 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I am dismissive of Nils-Axel Morner because he is eminently dismissable.

He did some excellent work earlier in his career and was president of INQUA, but his work output since he retired back in 2005 is risible. However he disputes sea level rise and so gets wheeled out as a 'sea level rise expert' by contrarians.

He is not above using and lying about his lapsed INQUA credentials. In order to 'prove' there was no SLR in evidence to the House of Lords, he simply rotated a graph until the rising trend was flat. He published papers showing no sea level rise in the Maldives that two later papers found were full of 'unqualified and unreferenced assertions'. Since retirement he has developed paranormal powers to find metal and water with his dowsing rods (though failed or refused any and all scientific testing). He has also branched out into archaeology, claiming to have discovered “the Hong Kong of the Ancient Greeks” in Sweden, picking up a reprimand by the Scania County archaeologist in Sweden for damaging an Iron Age cemetery in the process.

On the subject of the Russian Academy of Science meeting raised above ….

To: Academician Yuri Osipov

President of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Dear Dr. Osipov:

It has come to my attention that Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner gave presentations at the seminar on climate change organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences at the request of President Vladimir Putin earlier this month. Dr. Mörner attacked the science of climate change, while claiming that he is President of the Commission on Sea Level Change of INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research).

I am writing to inform you that Dr. Mörner has misrepresented his position with INQUA. Dr. Mörner was President of the Commission on Sea Level Change until July 2003, but the commission was terminated at that time during a reorganization of the commission structure of INQUA. Dr. Mörner currently has no formal position in INQUA, and I am distressed that he continues to represent himself in his former capacity. Further, INQUA, which is an umbrella organization for hundreds of researchers knowledgeable about past climate, (INQUA) does not subscribe to Mörner’s position on climate change. Nearly all of these researchers agree that humans are modifying Earth’s climate, a position diametrically opposed to Dr. Mörner’s point of view. 


John J. Clague
President, INQUA

Sir King was surely justified in fearing a meeting including Morner might be a huge waste of time.

Feb 14, 2018 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

I ask again
Phil I have already asked
Where in that Lancet report does it mention a 50,000 deaths claim , and where are its calculations ?
It'll save me more time wading thru the PDFs

Feb 14, 2018 at 9:18 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Working on it Stew, the actual number is from one of the references - The Global Disease Burden, from memory, and I do have a day job.

Feb 15, 2018 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

To remain a bit off-topic, but to question the claimed cause of climate change, does the shape of graph in this article look familiar?

Feb 15, 2018 at 11:34 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I wonder what Nils Axel Morner's opinion of Phil Clarke is? Apart from 'Who he?'

Feb 16, 2018 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Tolson

what will be your argument should global temperatures show an irrefutable fall?

Feb 14, 2018 at 1:39 PM | Radical Rodent

Normal lies will continue. This was predicted by Climate Scientists, as proved by Phil Clarke.

Feb 16, 2018 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ouch, GC. You have your teeth into this guy, big style! I can understand your frustration; I prefer to ignore him, which I am usually quite good at, but… sometimes…

He can make some good points, and raise some interesting questions, but it is the smug, patronisingly hostile approach that grates most, with me. I have a rellie in the legal profession who has a similar attitude – “facts”, per se, are not really relevant, it is the argument that matters; he has chosen his side, and is defending it.

Feb 16, 2018 at 3:08 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR, gc and others.

Maybe I'm in a minority, but I'm glad Phil Clarke is here. I've learned a lot from his links over the years. I find him difficult to fall out with, and I think he has a sense of humour. I think it would be a sad day if he ceased to visit us. I find it refreshing to disagree fundamentally with someone but not fall out with them or dislike them.

Feb 16, 2018 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Mark. Exactly!

Feb 16, 2018 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Mark Hodgson & Supertroll

Phil Clarke still believes in Mann and his Holy Hockey Stick, and thinks that calling anyone who disagrees a liar, is an appropriate form of conduct, for Climate Science, in both Law and Science, as demonstrated by those on higher pay grades in Climate Science.

I congratulate Phil Clarke for his accurate representation, and contribution towards the forthcoming Climate Science cash flow crisis.

Illusionists can explain how Uri Geller bent spoons, but Climate Scientists can't explain how Mann ironed out the MWP and LIA to produce a singularly bent Stick. They have only failed every year for 20 years, and are such self-delusionists, that they think that not retracting Gergis 2016 is intelligent.

Feb 16, 2018 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Phil Clarke still believes in Mann and his Holy Hockey Stick, and thinks that calling anyone who disagrees a liar, is an appropriate form of conduct,

I don't recall ever calling anyone a liar, I would ask for examples, but that has proven fruitless around here. The Hockey Stick studies (Mann, Bradley and Hughes, 1998 and 1999) and therefore approaching two decades in age, were admirable and groundbreaking attempts at paleoclimate reconstructions. The methods were not perfect, however the flaws had an insignificant impact on the conclusions.

None of the statistical criticisms that have been raised by various authors unduly influence the shape of the final reconstruction. This is attested to by the fact that reconstructions performed without using principal components yield similar results

Gerald North

In 2008, Mann et al published an updated reconstruction, here's some of the abstract:

Our results extend previous conclusions that recent Northern Hemisphere surface temperature increases are likely anomalous in a long-term context. Recent warmth appears anomalous for at least the past 1,300 years whether or not tree-ring data are used. If tree-ring data are used, the conclusion can be extended to at least the past 1,700 years, but with additional strong caveats. The reconstructed amplitude of change over past centuries is greater than hitherto reported, with somewhat greater Medieval warmth in the Northern Hemisphere, albeit still not reaching recent levels.

Indeed, every reconstruction published since the hockey stick(s) falls within the error bars of those original studies. Sane people celebrate them as a remarkable scientific achievement.

I have asserted that the hockey stick is basically irrelevant to the concensus, even the Wegman report said much the same:

In a real sense the paleoclimatic results of MBH 98/99 are essentially irrelevant to the consensus on climate change. The instrumented temperature record since 1850 clearly indicates an increase in temperature.

I've spent enough time down this rabbit hole.



Feb 16, 2018 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

I wonder what Nils Axel Morner's opinion of Phil Clarke is? Apart from 'Who he?'

Feb 16, 2018 at 9:39 AM | Roger Tolson

I am sure Nils Axel Morner would recognise the influence of William M Connolley

Feb 16, 2018 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mr Hodgson: please read my comment a bit more carefully. I have seen Mr Clarke’s smug condescension before, and find it very irritating; whether that is the intent or not, I do have difficulty determining – and I am usually pretty good at reading people. I do not deny that he can, occasionally, bring some fact to light, or present a different viewpoint worth considering; however, I do wonder if he is in the legal profession, as that is where I have seen such behaviour before, where facts are quite irrelevant, it is the argument that has to be won. Whatever it is, I would prefer not to engage too often. Perhaps this is how his sense of humour works, to rankle others in the hope that they will blunder into making a mistake, then: “Gotcha!” There have been examples of that. Personally, like Golf Charlie, I prefer to argue facts, not word-play – that can be reserved for over a glass or two of red, prior to a different sort of play.

GC: I’m not sure illusionists have shown how Uri Geller bent spoons – while they did show ways in which it could be done, none have been fully satisfactory explanations. It has to be admitted though – however it might be done, it is far more credible than the hockey stick! (From which we do get an interesting dichotomy – alarmists happily admit to there being a Little Ice Age, with no explanation as to why it should be called that, as there was no warm period before it!)

Feb 17, 2018 at 12:08 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

But that is a counterfactual hypothetical, I am more interested in explanations for the irrefutable rise in global temperatures.

Feb 14, 2018 at 2:47 PM | Phil Clarke

The irrefutable rises in global temperatures, known as the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods do require some explanation.

What caused these Warm Periods to end? That requires some explaining.

Was CO2, manmade or natural, identified as a cause of warming and cooling, or cooling and warming for these previous irrefutable changes?

Feb 17, 2018 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Actually, it is the Gergis Australia study, Joelle and her team have corrected the various issue and resubmitted the study and it has been reviewed and accepted, in the face of the usual denier unpleasantness.

Conclusion:"Overall, we are confident that observed temperatures in Australasia have been warmer in the past 30 years than every other 30-year period over the entire millennium (90% confidence based on 12,000 reconstructions, developed using four independent statistical methods and three different data subsets). Importantly, the climate modelling component of our study also shows that only human-caused greenhouse emissions can explain the recent warming recorded in our region."

Add it to the list.

Jul 11, 2016 at 10:46 PM | Phil Clarke
The Conclusion is copied, the first two lines you typed. How many lies?

Dec 26, 2016 at 8:20 PM | Phil Clarke,

Have any Climate Scientists yet found anything wrong with Gergis 2016? Has the paper been withdrawn? Not according to Joelle Gergis. Her web page lists the following from 2016:

38. Ashcroft, L., Allan, R.J., Benoy, M., Bridgman, H., Gergis, J., Pudmenzky, C., and Thornton, K. (2016). Current climate data rescue activities in Australia. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (in press).

37. Gergis, J., Neukom, R., Gallant, A., and Karoly, D.J. (2016). Australasian temperature reconstructions  spanning the last millennium. Journal of Climate : 5365–5392.

36. PAGES2k Consortium, including Aus2k coauthor Gergis, J., (2016). A global multi-proxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era. Scientific Data (in review).

35. Abram, N.J., McGregor, H.V., Tierney, J.E., Evans, M.N., McKay, N.P., Kaufman, D.S., K.J., Thirumalai, K., Martrat, B., Goosse, H., Phipps, S.J., Steig, E.J., Kilbourne, K.H., Saenger, C.P., Zinke, J., Leduc, G., Addison, J.A., Mortyn, P.G., Seidenkrantz, M.S., Sicre, M.A., Selvaraj, K., Filipsson,H.L., Neukom, R., Gergis, J.,  Curran, M., and von Gunten, L. (2016). The onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents. Nature  34. Oreskes, N., Conway, E.M., Karoly, D.J., Gergis, J., Neu, U., and Pfister, C.,  (2016). The denial of global warming. Palgrave Handbook of Climate History (in press).

33. Hope, P., Henley, B.J, Gergis, J., Brown, J., and Ye, H. (2016). Time varying spectral  characteristics of ENSO over the last millennium. Climate Dynamics (in revision).

32. Damodaran, V., Allan, R.J., Ogilvie, A.E., Demarée, G.R., Gergis, J.,  Mikami, T., Mikhail, A.,  Nicolson, S.E.,  Norgarrd, S., and Hamilton, J. (2016). The 1780s: Global Climate Anomalies, Floods, Droughts and Famines. Palgrave Handbook of Climate History (in press).

31. Gergis, J., and Henley, B.J. (2016). Southern Hemisphere rainfall variability over the past 200 years. Climate Dynamics DOI 10.1007/s00382-016-3191-7.

30.  Gergis, J., Ashcroft, L. and Garden, D. (2016). A climate history of Australia. Palgrave Handbook of Climate History (in press).

Climae Scientists can't self correct, so it isn't Science, even though it has been Peer Reviewed by other Climate Scientists, and has been published in Climate Science journals.

Dec 27, 2016 at 12:01 AM | golf charlie

You are now repeating Climate Science's Hockey Stick Trick. Claiming that Climate Science has "moved on", or does not need to depend on the Hockey Stick, whilst defending it to the hilt, or bent bit, or both straight bits. This is why people don't trust Climate Science, or feel that being taxed because of Climate Science, to pay for more bent Sticks, does anyone any benefit at all (apart from funding Climate Sciences jet-setting life styles)

Feb 17, 2018 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Just two observations:

1. Gergis et al is an Australasian reconstruction. The 'hockey sticks' were Northern Hemisphere only.

2. Nobody credible has found a flaw in Gergis's work.

Feb 17, 2018 at 12:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Ravishing Ratty

We can only speak as we find, and personally I have no problems at all with Phil. Debate is important. Through it I hope to learn. Who knows, one day he may even change my mind (though I imagine that's as likely as any of us changing his).

As a lawyer, I have to dispute this:

"I do wonder if he is in the legal profession, as that is where I have seen such behaviour before, where facts are quite irrelevant, it is the argument that has to be won."

The argument is important, but the facts are more so. In the context of a legal dispute, I have never won an argument when the facts (and law) weren't on my side, nor would I have wanted to - I always advised settling a weak case. Perhaps some lawyers behave differently, but if so I would suggest that in doing so it is their human traits driving their behaviour, not the fact that they are lawyers.

But I won't fall out with you over it!

Feb 17, 2018 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

But I won't fall out with you over it!
Nor I, you. However, I do try (not always successfully, it has to be admitted) to choose my words carefully, so ask that you do read what I wrote: “I do wonder if he is in the legal profession, as that is where I have seen such behaviour before...” Note: I did NOT state that all are like that, but that this is where I have found such behaviour, and enough for it to be associated with that profession; I have not really noticed it in any other field, though it might (and, in all probability, will) exist, to some extent.

I, too, enjoy debate, and admit that Mr Clarke has presented interesting information and views, but it is the manner of imparting them that rankles. I will accept a slap-down if I am wrong, and will pull up anyone if I think that they might be in error; it is just the method in which it is done that is important – smug, pompous arrogance just gets my dander up… which actually might be its intent, in some instances. Hence, I try to keep quiet.

Feb 17, 2018 at 11:37 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mark Hodgson, as a non-Lawyer, is this libellous?

2. Nobody credible has found a flaw in Gergis's work.

Feb 17, 2018 at 12:50 AM | Phil Clarke

Steve McIntyre is incredibly patient and polite, given the similarities of the bile spat at him by the likes of William M Connolley and disciples like Phil Clarke

Phil Clarke does suffer from a dependency on William M Connolley. Even Wikipedia lost their patience with him.

Some wines improve with age, Connolley just gets sour, bitter and acidic.

One way or another, the UK Green Party value William M Connolley, and people like Phil Clarke. OXFAM was honest once, but is being destroyed by the selfish interests of the few, and blind eyes being turned by a few others.

Feb 17, 2018 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie