Comments

Doubt Makers — 38 Comments

  1. I am closing this to further comments. Too much Ad hominem (I am probably guilty of that myself! Live and learn…). If you want to continue this discussion, start you own blog…

  2. “That was what I posted on Climate audit but it wasn’t shown. That was not in response to your article.” Then don’t post it here, Brian! Just because I am taking a similar position as RealClimate does not mean that I am responsible for what comments they let through or not.

    There are (at least) two forms of doubt: There is the doubt that scientists bring to table, which advances science and is thus an important part of science. Then there is the doubt that is not advancing anything, it’s spreading doubt for the sake of throwing wrenches into the system. That’s the doubt used by doubt makers.

    I am not trying to defame Pat Frank. I am not questioning whether he is a scientist or not. All I was trying to do with this post is ask some questions about his motives, which seemed to be consistent with the way the doubt makers are working.

  3. Rachel,

    “Brian wrote “All in all I think your post and many of the comments here were unfair in that they were not even addressing the points of his article.” This post was not about Pat’s article. It is about Doubt Makers, hence the title. ”

    That was what I posted on Climate audit but it wasn’t shown. That was not in response to your article. The entire portion below where I said “Missing RealClimate comment:” is what I had posted at realclimate that they suppressed.

    “Amazing! I wrote: “science thrives on doubt and questioning,” which contradicts what you’re putting into my mouth, Brian.”

    Firstly, it’s not putting anything in your mouth as I didn’t claim you said anything you didn’t. That you have provided contradictory statements is not my problem. You have several sentences where you portray spreading doubt as a sin. You link to an article where-in spreading doubt was don’t for nefarious purposes. In fact, the title of the article is “doubt makers”. That you have one fragment of a sentence that contradicts the entire mood of your article doesn’t get you off the hook. You can’t have it both ways. This was a hit piece on Patrick Frank and his crime was in part “spreading doubt”.

    You wrote:

    “I don’t know if Frank is part of the doubt makers. What I do know is this:
    He is spreading doubt about the causes of climate change by attacking graphs and models.”

    Several of the other things on your list are not in the spirit of science. What control does Pat Frank have over his “bedfellows” meaning somebody who liked his article, not someone who pays his bills, etc. If some nazi got a crush on you and wrote you a public love letter then would that say anything about your integrity?

    Furthermore, I got the part about “consensus” from the comments. You said:

    “Referring to scientific consensus is not an argument from authority. The scientific consensus is based on evidence, whether it is evidence for evolution or global climate change. By labeling the consensus “argument from authority,” you are implying a dogmatic belief, which is not the case. “

    That is wrong in all it’s particulars. Then there was this line of argument

    “To these facts I can testify: Pat Frank is not a PR flak. Neither is he a party to or sympathetic to any of the beliefs or causes insinuated on these pages.

    Pat Frank is a scientist, period. “T H Ray

    To which you replied:

    “What is an argument from authority, though, is your statement that “Pat Frank is a scientist, period.” You seem to suggest that we’re supposed to believe that simply because you said so. “

    Which makes no sense because he is acting as a witness and not “arguing from authority”. However, what is interesting here is that now you are arguing the contradictory position that Pat Frank isn’t a scientist.

    So first you give a minor aside, “Of course, science thrives on doubt and questioning, so in a lot of ways Frank is simply being a scientist. ” in an article that is basically branding him a Doubting Thomas, and later you take it back by questioning even if he is a scientist.

    So despite your claims that I’m putting words in your mouth it is pretty clear what you are doing here. You want it both ways. You want to defame but don’t have the courage to accept the mantle of defamer.

  4. Brian wrote “All in all I think your post and many of the comments here were unfair in that they were not even addressing the points of his article.” This post was not about Pat’s article. It is about Doubt Makers, hence the title.

    Brian wrote “I said that [you don’t understand science] because you think not “spreading doubt” and “scientific consensus” are what science is about.” Amazing! I wrote: “science thrives on doubt and questioning,” which contradicts what you’re putting into my mouth, Brian. I never claimed that science is about consensus, in fact, as I have pointed out in another comment, I didn’t even use the word “consensus.” Sometimes, meta-analyses are used in science to consolidate learnings, to summarize what we’ve learned so far.

  5. Rachel,

    Because you are a woman? No, I said that because you think not “spreading doubt” and “scientific consensus” are what science is about. I also said it because you think that science is primarily about evidence, and didn’t seem to be aware that collecting evidence, and interpreting it is always theory laden.

    “I have not seen anything in this discussion that has convinced me that human activity has no impact on climate. “

    I have absolutely no doubt that adding CO2 to the atmosphere, all other things being equal, will increase global temperature. I won’t bother explaining why. What is in doubt is the amount. What I haven’t seen anywhere at all is credible evidence that anybody has a good idea about how much. My main concern is the dishonesty of a few of the “climate scientists” who are overselling their positions, fear mongering, and perverting scientific process. You can’t do good science and be dishonest. Not admitting ones mistakes is one way to be dishonest.

    As an example of such dishonesty and attempts to control what is discussed here is the comment I placed on RealClimate that they erased. Gavin got caught in several contradictions in his own position. Instead of addressing or admitting his mistakes it was much easier for him to just erase the comment.

    You’ll notice that there isn’t any swearing, etc.

    Missing RealClimate comment:

    “It was meant to be an audit of one behavior of GCMs.” – Pat Frank

    Yes, with regard to CO2, the issue in contention. The skeptic model is not for instance modeling issues with the earths orbit, inclination, etc. So, of course, it isn’t going to model climate changes in the distant past that were driven by such processes.

    So to Gavin’s statement, ” It doesn’t work for the 20th Century, or the LGM, or the mid-Holocene or the Pliocene, or for the Younger Dryas or ENSO, or volcanoes or for the NAO etc. etc.”, is a big “So what?”

    Apparently Gavin didn’t read this sentence of your article:

    ”The climate models excluded other “external forcings,” such as volcanic explosions, human-produced aerosols, and changes in solar intensity, but included internal feedbacks such as heat transfer between the oceans and the atmosphere, changes in snowfall, melting of ice caps, and so on.”

    So the models he was criticizing (10 GCMs investigated in the “Coupled Model Intercomparison Project” (CMIP) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) weren’t handling volcano’s either.

    “It explains absolutely nothing.” – Gavin

    Reread the article, it’s not meant to explain the climate. It’s meant to show something interesting about the GCMs. It’s a model of a simple assumption about how CO2 will affect temps. It’s a model in the sense of many other simple models like E=MC^2. The purpose of the model was to criticize the GCMs handling of CO2. It was quite devastating in its effect because it shows that the models on average are no better than this simple model. Quite simple to understand really.

    He states that explicitly in his article:

    ”This result tells us that somehow the complex quintillion-watt feedbacks from the oceans, the atmosphere, the albedo, and the clouds all average out to approximately zero in the General Circulation Models. Apart from low intensity wiggles, the GCMs all predict little more than passive global warming.”

    “Thus taking it’s error propagation and claiming it applies to the real models is just dumb.”

    What are you talking about? There is no “error propagation” in his simple model at all. This is the model:

    Warming=0.36x(33°C)x[(Total Forcing)÷(Base Forcing)]

    You claim it is a “nothing more than a linear fit” and you also think it has error propagation? You are making contradictory statements about your understanding of what he is saying which tells me you don’t understand what he’s saying. His discussions of error propagation had to do with the GMCs, and not this simple model which is not merely a linear fit. If you do understand that then what’s your purpose in misrepresenting his article? If not then now you’ve been corrected.

    “As to my ‘ignorant’ remark, I might ask you how many people were displaced by the 120m rise in sea levels at the end of the last ice age?” – Gavin

    Well not many because there weren’t that many people, which is because they didn’t have the kind of complex society that could better afford to shelter them from things like weather, let alone climate change and other threats like predators, disease, crop failures, etc. I can tell you this, 100% of those primitive people had to move due to those changes in sea level. That’s not the case with people with complex societies. The Netherlands comes to mind, and they had to deal with drops in land levels that were much more rapid. Peoples with complex societies are much better able to adapt to new climates. That’s why we can maintain a year round presence in the Antarctic.

    Plants and animals (life on earth) fairs far worse than this. If Florida slowly floods over the next hundred years people will just move away. I can’t say the same for the native apple snails.

    ”How much infrastructure was affected by the changing monsoon 7000 years ago? How much now?”

    A monsoon is weather not climate change. You do understand the concept of depreciation, right. Infrastructure needs to be maintained or it naturally decays. For instance, it’s all but certain that my house won’t exist in 200 years. It hardly matters if my property is under sea level then. I tell you this. I’d much rather be in a complex society when a hurricane strikes than some primitive in a straw hut, with no weather forecast, no roads, and no hurricane shelters.

    Ability to cope with climate differences and habitat is measured by carrying capacity and by that metric complex society is far more robust than either ‘life on earth’ and primitive society. If it weren’t then the Amazon rain forest would be intruding on human habitat and not the other way round.

    “Here’s another reason why your argument is bogus – you claimed that since your model has no heat capacity and therefore no ocean warming, there cannot be any committed heating “in the pipeline”. Yet the models you say you are matching certainly do have both these things. Therefore your claim that your linear model (which ‘fits’ a linear trend) says something about the underlying GCMs is just wrong. “

    I don’t see any use of the phrase ‘in the pipeline” or “pipeline” in his original article nor in his comments here. What he showed was that the average of the models are no different than his simple assumption. That

    Read his comment 308 here again. It was a devastating response to Anthony Kendall’s poor understanding of what his article was about. It might help you understand the article better.

    A lot of other people here didn’t understand the article either. Barton Paul Levenson, states “Frank’s article assumes that global warming goes away if you take out the models. It doesn’t. And you don’t need computer models to predict global warming.” Of course, he never made any such assumption. He didn’t assume global warming goes away.

    All in all I think your post and many of the comments here were unfair in that they were not even addressing the points of his article. The fact that some of you guys think that because a model has skills in one area that it automatically has them in others is quite scary.

  6. Brian: I am no longer participating in this discussion because I am tired of repeating myself. If you think I am just being a political idiot, so be it. I don’t really care. If you think I am too stupid to understand science (because I am a woman?!?), so be it. I have not seen anything in this discussion that has convinced me that human activity has no impact on climate. To me, that is the key. What I have seen plenty of is twisting what I have said, ignoring what I have said, and throwing up smoke-screens (like this exasperation about evidence. Evidence is not data and you know that. Within science, evidence has a very clear definition and it is part and parcel of what is used to test theories and hypotheses. But what do I know, I “don’t understand science.”).

    Okay, enough time wasted. I have other things I want to do tonight.

  7. “The global warming scare is a terrible scientific scandal. I feel a strong need to raise my voice against it. When the scandal finally breaks and people start asking questions, I want there to be evidence that scientists spoke out against it and I want to have been among those scientists.” – Patrick

    Exactly.

    I guess you missed this point, Pat: Of course, science thrives on doubt and questioning, so in a lot of ways Frank is simply being a scientist. – Rachel

    I didn’t remember that sentence. I’ve searched and don’t see it. All I see is character assasination.

    ”For the rest, I refer you to the Real Climate Website and the Miller-McCune article, which addresses the McKitrick piece and Steven McIntyre’s role (though they misspelled his first name).” – Rachel

    I found this site because I was looking for contact information on Patrick Frank. I wanted him to know that over at RealClimate they are running a dishonest blog. They have been holding my comments in moderation for 24 hours or more while posting others comments immediately. I’ve had two comments just disappear after “awaiting moderation”. I’m not impressed with their level of intellectual integrity.

    I submitted a comment two day ago. I had to resubmit it at 5:05pm yesterday and there are plenty of other comments that have already go through moderation since. Heck even on the same exact article.

    Here’s the link to my comment if it ever appears:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=564#comment-94822

    Yes, I can see it, and it provides a link but no one else can see it. I guess Gavin’s waiting till he thinks up a response before he posts it, edited to insert his distracting views right in the center of the other persons argument. He spent a large part of that thread mischaracterizing Pat Franks article, which I found quite dishonest also. It’s quite apparent that he isn’t too stupid to get Franks’ point.

    “Referring to scientific consensus is not an argument from authority. The scientific consensus is based on evidence, whether it is evidence for evolution or global climate change.” – Rachel

    I don’t see Patrick disputing evidence. I see him disputing some models. Besides this is not how science works anyway. Science isn’t merely about collecting evidence until the truth is obvious. That’s naive.

    In all my years in disputing evolution with creationists and the just plain ignorant I have never once had to use the phrase “scientific consensus”. It’s not part of the scientific method.

    “Interesting, too, that Dr. Kouwenberg indicates that she is undertaking her research “to assess the effect of ongoing fast-paced addition of CO2 to the climate system….”

    Have you tested the stability of her model using the same methodology you used to test the IPCC models? After all, her model also displays a fairly large error…

    Interesting that you view her as creating models instead of collecting evidence. Did you miss the part where Pat described her study. A study which was collecting “fossil” evidence. Evidence that was collected based empirical evidence of a correlation between CO2 and stomatas, which is also evidence.

    I see the political tactics being used by the climate scientists corroding science. (You are just feeding into this with your article. You basically call Frank a liar and based on zero evidence.) When their hypotheses are questioned they don’t behave the way one would expect. Instead of acknowledging their mistakes and correcting them they use politics to smear their opponents. I’ve seen this time and time again.

    It’s gotten to the point where they are questioning the principles of science. I’ve actually seen them claim that they don’t need to produce falsifiable theory, and that Popper is so old fashioned since we now have Bayesian theory. All the time not realizing that it’s just another form of induction and is therefore open to exactly the same criticism that Popper gave other forms of induction. Just like any form of induction it can point in the right direction but is of itself not “proof” of anything.

    The reason why non-falsifiable theories were rejected by Popper had to do with information content more than induction anyway, so I’m not sure why they respond to falsification with induction theory. It turns out that a non-falsifiable theory is useless because it contains no information content. Like the theory “God did it”. That can explain any state of affairs and therefore has no information content. Your son is in an accident and he survives and it’s “God was watching over him” and if he dies “God had a reason for taking him”. It explains nothing.

    Addition evidence of this corruption of science is the fact that after McKitrick discovered errors which were confirmed by world renowned statisticians including Wegman there are still people who have a distorted view of this. Mann made a terrible mistake in his math and it’s the person who discovered that mistake that is getting chastised?

    Another tactic these guys take is that a single error even of minor consequence in a critic is used not merely to the extent of its importance but to dismiss all work done by said critic. That is absolutely NOT in the spirit of science. The whole point of science is the understanding that humans are fallible. If we dismissed every scientist that ever made a minor mistake well then there are no scientists.

    These tactics are not scientific practices they are the tactics of politics. Rachel, you are just as guilty as the rest of these guys of practicing politics and you owe Frank an apology. Perhaps you are less guilty on one count because you don’t understand science. These climatologists are supposed to understand the rules of science and abide by them. They don’t. They have rigged the process in so many ways. That’s why they use the IPCC, a political body and not a true independent scientific organization.

    The point of the questioning is good science not “funding”.

  8. You know what I find interesting? In neither this post nor in the other post did I use the word “consensus.” That was a word brought up by you in a comment on Doubt Makers and by Barry Cull, quoting David Suzuki’s webpage. So, I could not have possibly used this as my “sole support for your argument.” Meta-analysis is a widely used statistical technique to summarize scientific findings, aka evidence. Science consists of establishing theories AND testing those theories against evidence. That is exactly what climate scientists are doing.

    You wrote: “Excuse me? There certainly is a general theory of gravity—it’s called general
    relativity.” Read what I wrote: “There is also no general theory of physics – does that mean that the theory of gravity is wrong?” I was referring to the general theory of physics, the magical equation that will explain everything, that Einstein spent the last few decades of his life trying to find.

    I am getting rather tired of these conversations because there are too many twists and turns, too little substance (you never answered my question about the social agenda, for example), and sometimes rather rude. I have other things I’d rather be doing. I know I am not going to get your (or Pat’s) head out of the sand, so why should I keep banging my head against that wall? I will leave these comment threads open if others want to continue the discussion but I am withdrawing. I am sure you’ll accuse me of whatever but so be it. I only have x hours left in my life. I’d rather devote them to something that is meaningful to me.

  9. Rachel wrote:

    “Referring to scientific consensus is not an argument from authority.”

    It most certainly is, as you referred to it. Yours was not a simple reference, a citation—it was clearly the sole support for your argument.

    “The scientific consensus is based on evidence, whether it is evidence for evolution or global climate change. By labeling the consensus “argument from authority,” you are implying a dogmatic belief, which is not the case.”

    One is at a loss to know what you are trying to say. I noted a fact, not a belief. The fact was your argument, and nothing that I twisted or embellished.

    “And using the term “consensus” is probably misleading. This is based on meta-analyses of available papers that indicate that time and time again, scientists have found that climate change is a reality and that we humans are playing a major role in it. It’s not a bunch of scientists signing a petition. It is not a bunch of scientists casting a vote. It is a bunch of scientists piling up the evidence, mostly independent from each other. Maybe instead of ‘consensus,’ we’d better refer to this as the vast majority of evidence. That humans are largely to blame for the climate change is not a big leap.”

    I see little operational difference between ‘consensus’ and ‘meta-analysis.’ Neither have anything to do with the science of the matter. Read again—it’s the science I am concerned with, not the scientists. The science is always an individually and independently replicable correspondence between theory and result. Science is independent of the scientist. Science is not conclusion by induction—that is, by evidence alone. I made that clear. And this is not dogma, not something I just made up or that you have to take my word for. You will find it just by skimming any peer reviewed journal in the hard sciences. The flaw in climate science is that there is no general theory.

    “The changes in global temperatures that we have seen over last few decades cannot be explained unless the human factor is included.”

    Based on what theory? It’s as if you didn’t read what I wrote at all.

    “What is an argument from authority, though, is your statement that ‘Pat Frank is a scientist, period.’ You seem to suggest that we’re supposed to believe that simply because you said so.”

    If you think that, then you have no understanding of what an argument from authority is. Pat’s employment as a scientist does nothing to support his analysis, and neither did I say or imply that it does. You, on the other hand, made a clear point that your argument rests on conclusions by climate scientists simply because they are climate scientists holding forth on evidence. (The evidence, however, suppoprts no theory.)

    “”There is no general theory of climate change.’ There is also no general theory of physics – does that mean that the theory of gravity is wrong?”

    Excuse me? There certainly is a general theory of gravity—it’s called general relativity. It is falsifiable and has been tested. Climate change also falls within the discipline of physics, and thus equally requires a falsifiable theory—if not by direct test, then at least by the kind of retrodiction that the theory of Darwinian evolution produces.

    “There are theories in the study of climate change that are falsifiable that’s why things like 9/11 had an impact on how climate scientists view the impact of those condensation exhaust things planes leave behind.”

    Is the general theory of climate change a theory of airplane exhaust?

    “ Some of the theories within climate science have been used to predict the rate at which polar ice melts (and
    these theories are being tested by measuring the actual rate of melt). “

    Is the general theory of climate change a theory of the rate of polar thaw in the 20th and 21st centuries?

    “There are predictions about ocean temperatures that had to be revised because the oceans didn’t warm as much as predicted. Those predictions were based on a theory, which was – at least partially – falsified by reality.”

    Is the general theory of climate change a theory of fluctuation in ocean temperatures in the 20th and 21st centuries?

    I think you’ve not gotten my point at all.

    “What social agenda do you see behind climate science? I can see that there is an agenda behind denying our human impact on the climate. I fail to see a social agenda on the other side, though. I only see a pile of evidence.”

    See what you will. Believe what you you will. There is no science in “a pile of evidence.” None. When one essays to recommend public policy based on evidence alone, one has abandoned critically rational thought.

    Tom

  10. Referring to scientific consensus is not an argument from authority. The scientific consensus is based on evidence, whether it is evidence for evolution or global climate change. By labeling the consensus “argument from authority,” you are implying a dogmatic belief, which is not the case. And using the term “consensus” is probably misleading. This is based on meta-analyses of available papers that indicate that time and time again, scientists have found that climate change is a reality and that we humans are playing a major role in it. It’s not a bunch of scientists signing a petition. It is not a bunch of scientists casting a vote. It is a bunch of scientists piling up the evidence, mostly independent from each other. Maybe instead of “consensus,” we’d better refer to this as the vast majority of evidence. That humans are largely to blame for the climate change is not a big leap. The changes in global temperatures that we have seen over last few decades cannot be explained unless the human factor is included.

    What is an argument from authority, though, is your statement that “Pat Frank is a scientist, period.” You seem to suggest that we’re supposed to believe that simply because you said so.

    “There is no general theory of climate change.” There is also no general theory of physics – does that mean that the theory of gravity is wrong? There are theories in the study of climate change that are falsifiable that’s why things like 9/11 had an impact on how climate scientists view the impact of those condensation exhaust things planes leave behind. Some of the theories within climate science have been used to predict the rate at which polar ice melts (and these theories are being tested by measuring the actual rate of melt). There are predictions about ocean temperatures that had to be revised because the oceans didn’t warm as much as predicted. Those predictions were based on a theory, which was – at least partially – falsified by reality.

    What social agenda do you see behind climate science? I can see that there is an agenda behind denying our human impact on the climate. I fail to see a social agenda on the other side, though. I only see a pile of evidence.

  11. In the interest of disclosure, Pat Frank and I have collaborated on a couple of articles and have communicated with one another on science and scientific method, among other things, for 15 years or more. To these facts I can testify: Pat Frank is not a PR flak. Neither is he a party to or sympathetic to any of the beliefs or causes insinuated on these pages.

    Pat Frank is a scientist, period.

    So far as Ken’s argument from authority, implying that climate scientists occupy a privileged position in matters of scientific integrity, I am only reminded of the pamphlet “100 authors against Einstein,” to which Einstein responded, “If I were wrong, one would be enough.” No science is immune from rational criticism, no matter where it is published. That criticism is all—and absolutely all—that preserves the authority of science. Not scientists themselves, or else we would instead call them priests and their religion would be Scientism.

    My own dog in this fight—that is, the struggle to maintain honest and objective science for which Pat and I share a passion—is in guaranteeing independence of science from personal beliefs and social coercion. Science is not consensus—the rational production of scientific results is reflected strictly in the objectively measured correspondence between theory and result. My consciousness was awakened to the peril of deviating from this rationalist program, with the 1994 publication of Murray & Herrnstein, The Bell Curve. In this thick volume, wearing the authority of science, the authors advocated social programs based on intelligence models. The problem with that? There IS NO general theory of intelligence on which to base such models. When one undertakes to measure intelligence as a predictor of economic (and thus social) success, in the absence of a general theory that incorporates the results, one assumes what one set out to demonstrate. Logicians and philosophers of science call this inductive reasoning. Objective science is a deductive model; i.e., one conjectures that X is true, and then validates the conjecture in order to raise it to the status of a scientific theory, by comparing the mathematical results of the conjecture’s prediction(s) to the empirically measured results obtained by testing the theory. So it is that Murray/Herrnstein obtain a statement that goes something like:

    “Intelligence varies among populations, and the more highly intelligent members obtain privileged socioeconomic status.”

    Where’s the theory here? “Intelligence varies among populations,” is empirical, not theoretical; it is based on the results of IQ test models in which variation is the self-referential object. It trivially validates its own assumption that there exists no test model that would not show variation in intelligence among populations (for “intelligence” would otherwise be meaningless in any generalized sense). Then the statement proceeds to assign a value to this phenomenon that implies a cause-effect relationship between the data and an individual’s and a population’s socioeconomic status. However, the conclusion is made from the data alone (i.e., inductively) and not from any theoretical relationship. The theory does not exist, and the conclusion is scientifically worthless. A consensus of personal beliefs of distinguished intelligence specialists does not endow it with truth value. Any recommendations for social policy or social engineering (indeed, even possibly genetic engineering) are based on the mythical belief that A follows B, when neither A nor B are connected to a scientifically falsifiable theory.

    Let’s compare that to a true, falsifiable, scientific theory; e.g., the theory of common ancestry. Here is the theoretical statement:

    “Evolution happens, and all biological life evolved from a common ancestor in the distant past.”

    The difference is that while we have a statement, like the Bell Curve assertion, subject to empirical analysis (“evolution happens”, which is itself objectively falsifiable as it does not assume the existence of evolution), we conjecture a falsifiable cause. The theory of common ancestry has attained the status of scientific theory through numerous and ongoing attempts to falsify the conjectured cause of evolution.

    Now to the main point:

    I quote from these pages:

    “The climate is indeed changing, and humans are largely to blame.”

    The statement was held up as the consensus of climate change experts. Is it objectively scientific? Let’s see how it holds up to our scientific criteria:

    “The climate is changing,” has been empirically known for quite some period, through various measurement methods, e.g., earth and ice core analyses, tree ring analysis, and ever more sophisticated modern techniques. We know that climate is changing, and that our knowledge is falsifiable. So far, so good.

    “… and humans are largely to blame.” Big leap—nothing wrong with that. Darwin’s conjecture of common ancestry was very bold, too. The problem with the AGW conjecture is that it is NOT falsifiable. It COULD be falsifiable, if we were able to isolate human activity from all possible causes of climate change in the history of the world, and could control for an Earth absent of humans. If we had a linear equivalent of the fossil record for climate change, it would be easy; not only do we not have such a record, however, we know to a reasonable certainty that the Earth has experienced climate fluctuations in the extreme throughout its history. (As a matter of fact, we know that even the naïve evolutionary view in the fossil record is not quite accurate, having been punctuated by the advance and decline of complex evolutionary subsystems in a nonlinear way.)

    There is no general theory of climate change. For there to be such a theory, the theory has to have the capacity to say what it is, falsifiably, a theory OF. (The theory of evolution is the theory of common ancestry.) One would not be so foolish as to say the general theory of climate change is a theory of human-caused global warming, when we know very well that the Earth was warming and cooling long before humans and their industry existed.

    We have data, from which it is insufficient and unscientific to conclude a singular cause. We don’t know if it is a short term blip or a long term trend, whether it will flatten, decline or accelerate. Yes, I know the models control for the absence of human activity, but a model is not a theory, and with such a large number and variety of adjustable variables, there is no objective basis for conclusively attributing the global warming phenomenon to the carbon contributions of humanity. It was, after all, not that long ago that many atomic scientists feared a runaway, uncontrollable, nuclear reaction as a result of nuclear fission. Their fears were allayed as atomic theory matured. A similar concern is afoot today, over the high energies to be produced in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in that some conjecture the creation of mini black holes will swallow nearby matter. These fears are all legitimate, and should be expected to materialize as theories advance—my point is that it ill serves science to draw conclusions such as AGW and runaway effects until we at least HAVE a theory to test.

    And then, of course, we have the social agenda:

    “What are the costs of denying our role in the changing climate? I’d say they are huge, especially when compared to the cost of doing something to reduce our carbon-footprint. Think of that as a modern version of the Public Works program, for example. Maybe we will have to spread some of our wealth to other countries – something that’s long overdue anyways.”

    You know what?—I agree. My agreement is totally independent of my defense of scientific method, however. Should we co-opt science for a social agenda (as in The Bell Curve), whether we agree with that agenda or not, science becomes another instrument of politics and loses its status as an instrument of truth.

    I have not consulted with Pat over the content of this post. It may be, as is often true between us, that we agree in principle and disagree in detail.

    This is strictly my own $.02.

    Tom

  12. I’ve not made any progress on Chapter 8… They make me work at work these days, so I can’t spend my days reading… I prefer it that way but it leaves some things undone. Chapter 8 remains fairly high on my to do list, though, so hopefully, I can add to this discussion with something more substantial than these place-holder comments…

  13. This won’t be a response of your comment yet, Pat, but rather a collection of links to the things I need to review. I am just putting this here for easy reference (mostly mine ;-).

    • Your article in Skeptic Magazine is here. (There’s a new issue out, so it’s more difficult to find…).
    • The IPCC report is here. (From your footnote 11)
    • Supplemental materials to Chapter 8 can be found by wandering over here.

    I’ll mix reading this with follow-up research on the Stanford Prison Experiment, so it might take a bit before I post more than a bookmark collection…

  14. Hi Rachel — you’re right that if one used climate measurements from 1989 to prime a climate model, and then in a separate experiment used climate measurements from 1990 to again prime a climate model, the 1989 measurements would be independent of the 1990 measurements.

    But, this is not what climate modelers have done in their attempts to detect a CO2 effect on climate. In the graph of 20th century global temperature on Ken’s page, for example, or in the same graph in Figure 4 of the NAS brochure I referenced in Skeptic, what they did was put in the climate parameters for the year 1900 and then project them forward for 100 years. It’s possible they added in the Northern Hemisphere combustion aerosols that were said to produce the cooling phase between 1950 and 1975, as well as the measured levels of greenhouse gases. However, by-and-large, those graphs were made by stepping the climate models through time, from 1900 to 2000, calculating each year (or each month, perhaps) in sequence. I.e., First 1901, then 1902, … 1905 … 1950 … 1975 … 2000.

    There is no way to avoid accumulating uncertainty as climate model time marches on. If you look again at footnotes 15 and 16 in the Skeptic article, you’ll see that the IPCC itself reports that the prediction errors of climate models quickly become much larger than the proposed effect of CO2. How the IPCC justify their public statements of certainty is anyone’s guess, because they’re not supported by the reported errors and uncertainties in their own report.

    There is no magic in science that allows anyone to be certain about an effect that is smaller than the limits of resolution, so that it can’t even be detected. This remains true even if one gets reasonable pictures with blue oceans and realistic looking clouds. Realistic isn’t the same as physically correct. Realistic is what one gets in movies.

    I’m glad you liked the look of Wilbur. It’s a very benign and relaxing place. They have a large common kitchen, where you can immediately make friends with others cooking their meals. Last time I was there, we found the graves of an older man and a young woman in the hills, dated to the middle of the 19th century. Victims of sickness, probably, though the old wooden grave markers didn’t say. Anyway, if you go, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the experience. Be prepared to pay some $, though.

  15. The Wilbur Hot Springs looks beautiful! I’ll have to keep that in mind when I am planning my next vacation… Thanks for the tip, Pat!

  16. Okay, I realize now that I shouldn’t have used the “hindcast” idea since I wasn’t actually thinking of predicting the past. I had in mind descriptive climate models when I claimed that “the accumulation of error that you are claiming for the climate forecasts would not happen with the hindcasts since the temperature measurements (or any other related measurements) would be independent of each other.” In other words, if we build a model with the 1989 and 1990 measurements, the errors around the 1989 and the 1990 measures would be independent of each other. The model is fit to actual data to describe as best as we can what happened. This is how climate scientists have determined that the anthropogenic carbon emissions contributed to changes in world climate: They couldn’t fit a model through the actual data without including the increase in CO2 into account.

  17. Hindcasts don’t start from the climate now to reproduce past climates. They start from measurements of a further past climate, and then step forward to predict the climate of the more recent past.

    For example, if you wanted to test your climate model, and predict (hindcast) the known climate of 1990, you would take everything you knew about the climate of 1989, put all of that into your climate model, and then push the ‘predict 1990‘ button.

    All the uncertainties in the measurements of 1989 would go into the model and produce errors in the 1990 output. Also, all the incorrect physics in the climate model would produce additional errors in the predicted climate of 1990.

    These would show up all mixed together.

    That is, when you compared the real 1990 with the predicted 1990, you’d notice that there are errors in the predicted climate compared to the real climate. These would be errors in temperature, in rainfall, in cloudiness, in ocean currents, in ocean temperature, and so forth.

    But you wouldn’t know how much of the errors in the 1990 climate were produced by the uncertainties in your original 1989 inputs. Nor would you know how much of the errors in the 1990 climate were produced by the inadequacy of the physical theory in your climate model.

    The errors from different sources are all mixed together in the modeled 1990 climate. So, figuring out what to do to improve your model becomes very difficult.

    There’s just no easy way around it, Rachel.

    Wilbur Hot Springs is a pretty nice place. Here, take a look: http://www.wilburhotsprings.com/

    The sulfur smell is mild to non-existent. Wilbur’s become more expensive, though, and I’ve not been there in a long time.

  18. Just because there is error in a model – and as you pointed out, “every measurement has an uncertainty” – the model is not invalidated; it could still be a good approximation of the reality it is trying to describe. Also, the accumulation of error that you are claiming for the climate forecasts would not happen with the hindcasts since the temperature measurements (or any other related measurements) would be independent of each other.

    I’ve never bathed in sulfurous water. Somehow that doesn’t seem very appealing – that water smells awful… But it sounds like it was, at least, an interesting experience for you.

  19. Hi Rachel — thank-you for dredging out response #1 to Jane’s questions. In fact, thank-you in general for being such a forthright and open host here.

    In my own experience with sulfurous waters, I’ve bathed in them at Wilbur Hot Springs and tasted them in Aachen. The bathing is far preferable. 🙂 In fact, the water at Wilbur produced a kind of mild whole-body chemical peel and my skin was noticeably smoother for about 3 months after that. Highly recommended, but easy to over-do it.

    Anyway, yes, you’ve about got it right. What to keep in mind, though, is that predictions of future temperatures (or future climate) are based in calculations from a physical theory. If the theory is wrong in unknown ways, then the prediction will also be wrong in unknown ways. The same happens if they are incomplete in unknown ways. This is the problem with General Circulation Models (climate models). They are incomplete and also wrong in unknown ways.

    When a theory is wrong in unknown ways, then we have to estimate the uncertainty of the prediction. One way to do that in climate science is to use the climate model to “hindcast” a climate that has already happened, and see how well it does. “Hindcast” is like ‘forecast,’ except that one is predicting the known past instead of the unknown future.

    The climate “hindcast” I used was done in the project conducted at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs, and the cloudiness of 1979-1988 was one target of their hindcast. Comparison between the hindcast cloudiness and the measured cloudiness defined the error. But no one really knows what part (or parts) of the climate models produced that cloud error. So, it’s complicated business.

    The upshot, though, is given the manifest error in hindcasted cloudiness, there must be an internal error in the climate model. Though this error known to be present, the source of the error is not known. So, an uncertainty necessarily is produced in any climate-future prediction.

    You raised another interesting point, which is the difference between knowledge and reality.

    When we’re standing on the beach discussing a sunset (or sunrise) with a good friend, we implicitly assume we’re talking about the actual physically real sunset. But we’re not. We’re talking about our sensory impressions of something we agree is a sunset. Usually, it’s not important to be aware of this distinction. But in science, it’s critical.

    Whatever the past temperature was, the physical reality of that temperature is a different beast from our knowledge of that temperature. It’s the same difference as between the actual sunset and our impression of it.

    If you have a thermometer outside, and you know it read 15 C at noon yesterday, a scientifically valid statement would not be, “It was 15 C at noon yesterday.” A valid statement would be, ‘The thermometer reading was 15 C at noon yesterday.’

    Then we’d have to qualify your numbers. How good was your clock? Is it locked to NIST, or some other accurate time-keeping center, or did you use your watch, which could be off by 2 minutes?

    Also, how good is your thermometer? Is it a mercury bulb, or a thermocouple? Is the smallest precision 1 C, or 0.1 C? Was it calibrated against a good standard? How long ago was it calibrated? How much does the thermometer drift between calibrations?

    These kinds of things are all recorded at a good quality surface weather station.

    At the end, you might say, as a scientist, ‘At 12 noon plus or minus 2 minutes, the thermometer read 15 C, plus or minus 0.5 C.’

    This would be the fact of record, and its reliability would depend on how well your thermometer was maintained.

    So, when it gets down to the details, suddenly it’s not so easy. What reality is, is different from what we know. But all we can properly talk about is what we know. We presume, based on the success of our theories, that what we know corresponds 1 to 1 with what is.

    But every measurement has an uncertainty, because none of our instruments are perfect. Cataloging the imperfections is a critical business all by itself. It’s an entire field of study.

  20. Hi, Pat: Sorry for taking so long to respond. I was finishing up reading “Public Vows” by Nancy Cott – a description of the changes to political climate in regards to marriage… I did free your answer to Jane’s first question.

    Yes, that sulfuric water is horrible but it’s supposed to do something really good for you. I think avoiding it does a lot more good, though…

    So, essentially, what you are saying no matter whether we’re looking into the past or the future, there is always error around a given temperature. And since we’re basing next year’s temp on the forecast for this year’s temperature, any error in this year’s temp will be added to any error in next year’s temperature. Did I get this right?

    However, aren’t past temperatures facts? I mean, either yesterday’s temperature was, say, 15 degrees Celsius or it wasn’t. There shouldn’t be an error around an actual measurement (well, assuming you’re not just eyeballing stuff).

  21. It looks like my post to answer Jane’s first question is caught in the spam filter waiting room. If you’d please set it free — thanks, Rachel. 🙂

  22. Hi Rachel — Your written English is perfectly American. I’d never have guessed you were born in Germany. Congratulations on doing such a fine job with a non-birth language. 🙂

    I visited Aachen once, many years ago, visiting some friends. It’s a pretty city. I saw the little metal men in the center of town, walked through Charlemagne’s small dark ‘cathedral,’ and tasted the really horrible mineral water from the sulfurous springs. Yuk! I have some German ancestry (Essen and Berlin) and studied some German in college, but have by now lost it all.

    Anyway, I agree with you about Lenny Kouwenberg’s work. We’ll just have to wait for further studies to see how CO2 varied 2000 years ago. I’d expect someone is working on that even as we write.

    To answer your questions, you wrote this, “The climate model errors for the historical portion of the models, though, would also be independent measurements of temperatures or CO2 levels and thus the errors would be independent as well.

    Measurements of temperatures and CO2 levels would be independent and have their own errors. However, if these measurements are put into a climate model to make a projection, then their errors must be put into the climate model as well. These errors would emerge into the projected climate as an uncertainty in any climate quantity that was calculated using the original temperature and the original CO2 measurement.

    If the projection was only one step — ‘A produces B’ — then the uncertainty stops at B. But if it’s A produces B produces C produces D produces . . . . then the uncertainty in the quantities in state “B” must further enter into the calculation of C, and so forth. These errors will accumulate.

    You wrote, “Could you explain to me (again) why any autocorrelation in errors cannot be accounted for by using a different statistical modeling technique, as I suggested before?

    It’s not the autocorrelation of errors that accounts for the accumulation. It’s that climate projections are step-wise calculations. Errors must be projected forward as uncertainties in the calculated quantities, with each and every step.

    If a measured climate “A” temperature is 13 C +/- 0.5 C, then the temperature that must be entered to calculate climate “B” is not only 13 C, but 12.5 C, 13 C and 13.5 C. That is, one must calculate 3 climates “B”. Now we have climate B, but also climate B’ and climate B”.

    Our next step, to calculate climate C, must now start from 3 climates, not just one. Suppose the temperature of climate B is 13.2 C, of climate B’ is 12.7 C and of climate B” is 13.7 C. Suppose the calculation of climate temperature has its own internal uncertainty — from poorly known cloud forcing, for example — so that there is an uncertainty in B, B’ and B” just from the calculation.

    If this uncertainty from the calculation is, say, 0.2 C in temperature, then the temperature of B = 13.2+/-0.2, of B’ is 12.7+/-0.2, and of B” is 13.7+/-0.2.

    And so, now to calculate climate C, we need to account for six temperature states of climate B. And calculating climates “C” will again produce a new uncertainty of +/- 0.2 C from poorly known cloud forcing within the climates B.

    So, there will be 12 climates “C” that must go into calculating climates “D”.

    And so it goes. The uncertainty in intermediate states must be included in all step-wise projections.

    However, the IPCC, and all those who calculate future climates, invariably fail to reveal this uncertainty in their graphs. All they show is statistical model wander, which is physically meaningless.

  23. Your second question is just as central as your first one, Jane. It’s true that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but that’s not enough information all by itself to make a judgment about what happens to atmospheric temperature if CO2 increases.

    Heat from the lower atmosphere is dissipated back into space in two major ways. One is by radiation from the surface. This radiation to space is inhibited by greenhouse gases, causing warmth retention, and that part is pretty well understood. About half the heat of the surface (and lower atmosphere) is dissipated by radiation.

    However, part of this radiation to space is interfered with by cloudiness, and clouds are not well represented in climate models. So, even though the radiation physics of the atmosphere is well understood, the impact of clouds on the loss of this radiation into space is not well understood.

    The other half of the surface heat is dissipated by convection and turbulence. Most of this happens on very small scales, on the order of one to a few square kilometers. Think of convective updrafts producing storm heads and clouds. These updrafts loft surface heat high into the atmosphere, where it is eventually radiated back into space.

    The cloud tops condense into rain, or into water aerosols, or into ice crystals, releasing copious amounts of heat energy to the upper atmosphere where, again, it is lost to space. This process is not well understood at all and is not at all properly calculated in climate models. Instead, it is parameterized. That is, a kind of ‘best-guess’ is assigned to this process.

    That is, the convection half of the heat dissipation mechanism of the atmosphere is not understood and is not at all properly represented in climate models.

    The upshot is that, of the two mechanisms of heat dissipation (radiation and turbulent convection), one of them is incompletely understood (because of cloud impacts) and the other one is not understood at all.

    So, although CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas, no one knows what will happen to the relatively small amount of extra energy the industrially produced CO2 has added to the atmosphere. That is, a relatively small change in convective turbulence from the surface could completely dissipate this energy without any observable warming at all. This process is completely absent from climate models.

    Likewise, if the extra energy from CO2 caused more clouds to form from extra water evaporated from the oceans, then only a couple of percent change in cloudiness could increase the albedo of Earth (how much sunlight is reflected back into space) and result in zero extra heating. Clouds are also poorly modeled in climate models, and no one really knows whether CO2 increases will affect cloudiness, and if so, how.

    Likewise, extra evaporation from the energy of increased CO2 could produce an increase in tropical rain (most of the extra atmospheric heat from the extra CO2 is supposed to appear in the tropical atmosphere). If tropical rain increased by a couple of percent, the heat lost from the cloud tops in the tropics, due to the condensation of water, would also dissipate the extra CO2 heating, and this loss would result in no observable change in atmospheric temperature. There would just be a small increase in rain.

    This process also cannot be modeled in climate models.

    So, the short answer to your second question is that at least half of the heat dissipation mechanism of Earth’s climate cannot be reproduced by climate models. And yet, the entire claim that CO2 will increase atmospheric temperatures rests upon predictions from climate models.

    The radiation greenhouse effect of CO2 is only half the issue. The other half is how Earth apportions its energy among the various heat dissipation mechanisms. This latter half is not at all understood.

    Earth climate is very dynamic, and the change in energy produced by doubling CO2 is only about a 1% change in the total energy flux entering the atmosphere from the sun. My feeling is that Earth’s climate will have no problem handling that, and there won’t be any noticeable change in the ordinary dynamics of climate.

    It seems to me that dire predictions based on very incomplete understandings are not to be trusted. And if someone, based on unqualified fears, is giving me a bum’s rush to do something, I’m going to be very wary and dig in my heels. Because fear-mongering usually means there’s more going on than is being revealed.

    As you saw from the previous post, if you looked at the Holocene climate pages, the changes we’ve experienced in the last 100 years are not especially unusual. The only unusual thing going on, is that our technology has improved so much in the last 50 years that we can now *see* the climate changing.

    And this new view of Earth’s dynamic ways is a little scary. It is clearly out of our control. I think a lot of the emotion surrounding climate change is fright about discovering a very large bull in our china shop — large enough to cause us serious grief if it decided to cavort a bit. And our lack of control over that decision is total.

  24. Hi Jane — Your questions go right to the heart of the matter. I’ll answer them in turn. First, a little context. Earth climate includes many coupled oscillating sub-systems. These include the well-known ENSO cycles – El Ninos are warm and La Ninas are cool and both occur in the same tropical Pacific waters.

    Another is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (the PDO), which in 1976 entered a warm phase, and just recently reversed itself into a cool phase. PDO phases can last 30-50 years each, and were only discovered about 10 years ago. There is a North Atlantic Oscillation, too, and there are other large scale oscillators as well.

    Other players include patterns of atmospheric winds and stationary lows and highs that can shift over decades or even centuries. These are all climate sub-systems that exchange energy among themselves.

    The atmosphere is another sub-system that contains energy, and one observable of this energy is temperature. Just like the other climate sub-systems, the atmosphere can exchange energy with the oceans and with the polar ice caps.

    In a system with so many complicated interactions, and energy exchanges, it’s possible for one climate sub-system to receive energy from another, and then transfer that energy on to yet another climate sub-system.

    None of this is predictable.

    All of this together means that there can be changes in observable temperature — of the ocean, or at one pole or another, or in the atmosphere, without any external cause at all.

    The climate history of Earth, even during the relatively stable Holocene (the last ~12,000 years), has exhibited large and rapid changes — warmings and coolings — without any obvious changes in energy from the sun or in the level of atmospheric CO2. These changes are apparently just part of the internal dynamics of the climate.

    So, the short answer to your first question is that I don’t know what is causing the climate warming. No one else knows either. However, the warming we have experienced over the last century is not unusual in rate or in magnitude, compared to known climate changes in the geologically recent past (the last ~12,000 years).

    You can see that documented here:
    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/dees/V1003/lectures/culture_climate/sld011.html There, you’ll see documented changes of about one degree C per century even within the last 2000 years; all spontaneous and all from internal climate dynamics.

    This essay is already long enough. 🙂 Your second question will have its own post. Hope you don’t mind.

  25. Hi, Pat,

    Yes, the spam filter is an equal opportunity discriminator: It filters out anything with two or more links no matter what the content. It’s a bit annoying but usually there’s so much crap caught, I’ve decide to leave that setting alone and manually check.

    I remember taking a look at an Econ text book at a university bookstore in my hometown – Aachen, Germany. I was surprised that it was essentially “Germanized” English terminology. I figured I might as well study it in English…

    I guess Lenny Kouwenberg’s is really the first study of its kind and we’ll have to wait until others have looked at other needles around the world to see if the artifact Kouwenberg found is truly that or can be found elsewhere as well (which, I guess, would then suggest that it wasn’t really an artifact).

    The climate model errors for the historical portion of the models, though, would also be independent measurements of temperatures or CO2 levels and thus the errors would be independent as well.

    Could you explain to me (again) why any autocorrelation in errors cannot be accounted for by using a different statistical modeling technique, as I suggested before?

  26. Pat: I would like to ask you what you think IS causing the warming (which is proven to be taking place) and also given what we know about the properties of Co2 (which are proven) why you think an increase wouldn’t warm the planet?

  27. Thanks for letting me know about your spam filter, Rachel. I’ll assume your computer is not expressing an opinion about my posts. 🙂

    You’re right about English being the international language of science, presently. If Europe hadn’t almost destroyed itself with WWI and WWII, we’d be publishing in German today. It is a surprise to me, too, that Dutch theses are published in English, though I’d guess there’s a Dutch version, too. On the other hand, a Danish friend of mine, who does biophysical inorganic chemistry, said once that he’d have real trouble publishing in Danish because he doesn’t have the scientific vocabulary.

    Thanks for quoting Lenny Kouwenberg’s Intro. That caused me to more closely read Chapter 5, where I saw that the high early CO2 level she recorded is qualified by a growth distrubance in the forest. So, it seems probable that the apprently high atmospheric CO2 prior to 750 CE might be an artifact of a local ecological disturbance that affected the stomatal count of the conifer needles.

    Under that circumstance, I have to withdraw the comment that, “between 400-500 CE, [atmospheric CO2] was up around 400 ppm.” Most likely it wasn’t and so there goes the ‘striking message.‘ 🙂 . To know for sure, someone will have to do contemporaneous stomatal counts in a few other places around the globe and see how they compare to the Mt. Rainier counts LK investigated.

    About the errors, LK’s data points are statistically different from the points produced by a climate model. LK’s data points are independent measurements. In each point, the count of stomatal number is independent of the count of the prior number. In these cases, errors do not accumulate with time. However, climate model points are calculated in a sequential way, in which each new number is dependent on the value of the prior number. In these cases, errors accumulate.

  28. I apologize for the delay in posting your comment, Pat, it got stuck in my spam filter because there are more than 2 links embedded (and I forgot to check it until today…).

    Interesting thesis! I didn’t know that doctoral students in the Netherlands write their theses in English. I guess it makes sense since that seems to be the global language in science these days…

    Interesting, too, that Dr. Kouwenberg indicates that she is undertaking her research “to assess the effect of ongoing fast-paced addition of CO2 to the climate system, the amplitude and frequency of natural CO2 changes and their contribution to climate dynamics need to be documented.” And the very first sentence states: “Coupling of atmospheric CO2 and global climate is supported by climate model outputs predicting a strong rise in global mean temperature as a result of the progressive injection of anthropogenic CO2 into the atmosphere.”

    Have you tested the stability of her model using the same methodology you used to test the IPCC models? After all, her model also displays a fairly large error

  29. Rachel, yes, AGW stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    Here’s an interesting CO2 tidbit for you. Dr. Lenny Kouwenberg is an ecophysiologist who, for part of her recent Ph.D. work in Holland, reconstructed the CO2 content of the atmosphere by counting the stomata of fossilized pine needles. Her current website is here: http://fm1.fieldmuseum.org/aa/staff_page.cgi?staff=lkouwenberg

    Stomata are the pores in the leaves of plants, that are used to take up CO2 from the air. The number of pores per leaf turns out to correlate with the amount of CO2 in the air, which makes sense. More CO2 and the plant needs fewer pores; less CO2 needs more pores to capture it.

    So, Dr. Kouwenberg was able to get fossil needles going back nearly to 200 CE, and reconstructed the level of atmospheric CO2 from the present all the way back to late Roman Antiquity. As it turned out, the level of CO2 varied considerably, and between 400-500 CE, was up around 400 ppm. That is, higher than now for about 100 years.

    You can see the graph in Figure 5.4 in Chapter 5 of her thesis, available here: http://www.bio.uu.nl/~palaeo/Personeel/Lenny/Lennyk.htm (scroll down a bit)

    It’s a 6MB download, though. If you want a smaller download, you can also see the graph in Figure 2 of Dr. Bob Carter’s article about global warming, which is available here: http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/new_page_4.htm That one is a 1.6 MB download. I’d post the graph here, but don’t have a server to provide the upload link.

    The article with Figure 2 is third down the page. The title is, “The myth of dangerous human-caused climate change” and it’s a skeptical article, so fair warning that you may be rattled by his message. Still, the graph of nearly 1800 years of atmospheric CO2 is striking in its message.

  30. Ken, it is your posts, not mine, that are full of personal disparagements. And yet you claim that I’m reacting emotionally. That claim, in offering nothing in evidence, itself has the character of an emotional response.

    After that you provide us with oracular pronouncements that I am: “misinterpreting comments; diverting from the real issue” without one single example from any of my posts to demonstrate your assertions. And then, by comparison with the IPCC, you imply that I am dogmatic.

    And this, despite that my posts include actual discussion of the science of global warming or specific points raised in your posts, while your posts return neither favor and are bereft of substance.

    In short, you are accusing me of traits that are in evidence only in your posts.

    If you think the IPCC is not dogmatic, then you have not evaluated their claims of certainty in the Summary for Policymakers that are a contradiction of the large uncertainties recorded deep within the body of the AR4. In fact, it’s clear you have never read peer-reviewed climate science, and have not looked at the assessment report(s) of the IPCC. So here’s the difference between your position and mine, Ken. I’ve evaluated actual evidence for the claim of AGW, and you haven’t.

    I’ve already described the extensive peer-review the Skeptic article went through, but you brought it up again. So let me point out that the analysis could have been written on binder-paper with a number 2 pencil, and its validity, or not, would depend strictly on its own merits, and not whether it passed peer review. That’s how science works, remember? It’s not about authoritative pronouncements, but about the cross-validation of fact and falsifiable theory within a logically consistent framework.

    The analysis in the article SI hews to that standard. If you cannot, or will not, evaluate it on its own merits, that’s your choice. But there is nothing cosmic about your decision. And so when you write of being, “more convinced by an overall assessment of a body like the IPCC,” you are only referring to agreement with authority, because you’ve not done the work to attain any kind of independent understanding. This is not a scientific standard of judgment. Agreeing with authority, because they are an authority, is mere religious thinking. And as you have not evaluated the evidence, agreement with authority is all you’ve got going for you.

  31. Pat, you are still dealing with this emotionally, misinterpreting comments and diverting from the real issue. You obviously believe that your analysis has real value. Then submit the paper to a relevant climate science journal. Enable the discussion to take place in the appropriate venues and for your contribution to be assessed for inclusion in an overall picture.

    I freely admit this is not my area of expertise, although I do have an appreciate of limitations of modeling in the agricultural area. But, frankly, I am more convinced by an overall assessment of a body like the IPCC (especially as it is not expressed in dogmatic terms) than I am by an emotional attack on that body or their conclusions by someone who refuses to publish their work in the appropriate journals because they want to avoid being “roundly ignored.”

  32. Pat: I assume with AGW you mean Anthropogenic Global Warming, i.e., the idea that global warming is, at least in part, caused by human activity.

  33. Ken, concerning clouds, my reply was just as detailed as your objection and exactly to the point. If observed cloudiness is modeled wrongly, why should unobserved cloudiness be modeled correctly? Observed cloudiness is *observed,* and any good climate model should reproduce observed cloudiness. If observed cloudiness is not reproduced by models, that constitutes a physical error regarding an observed physical state. After that, my analysis follows directly. Dismissing the error on the grounds that it may diminish when non-observed cloudiness is included amounts to unsupported special pleading.

    Your objection #2, by the way, makes GCMs useless “as decision support systems.” What worthwhile support comes from a model that is systematically incorrect? Its predictions will continuously diverge. In such cases, statistical models provide a much better approach.

    On another level, the cloudiness retrodictions I evaluated were part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Your objection #1 to that result, amounts to a claim that they performed a climatologically meaningless test. Are they really that foolish at LLNL?

    With respect to the details of error in cloud predictions, take a look at M. H. Zhang, et al. (2005) “Comparing clouds and their seasonal variations in 10 atmospheric general circulation models with satellite measurements” Journal of Geophysical Research 110, D15S02 1-18. They evaluated how 10 high-quality GCMs reproduced high-, mid-, and low-level clouds. They did poorly.

    Here’s the relevant part of the abstract: :”To assess the current status of climate models in simulating clouds, basic cloud
    climatologies from ten atmospheric general circulation models are compared with satellite measurements from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) program. An ISCCP simulator is employed in all models to facilitate the comparison. Models simulated a four-fold difference in high-top clouds. There are also, however, large uncertainties in satellite high thin clouds to effectively constrain the models. The majority of models only simulated 30–40% of middle-top clouds in the ISCCP and CERES data sets. Half of the models underestimated low clouds, while none overestimated them at a statistically significant level. When stratified in the optical thickness ranges, the majority of the models simulated optically thick clouds more than twice the satellite observations. Most models, however, underestimated optically intermediate and thin clouds. Compensations of these clouds biases are used to explain the simulated longwave and shortwave cloud radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere.

    These are not reassuring results. ‘Compensations” in the last line refers to compensating errors in cloudiness that accidentally produce an approximately correct radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere. Such accidents do not mean that predictions of climate dynamics will be trustworthy.

    Concerning “emotion,” in your https://www.rabe.org/climate-crisis/#comment-523 post, you suggested I was insinuating that the AGW scare was causing you and Rachel to ignore important issues. In fact I wrote that it was causing good-hearted people like you to “waste emotional and psychological energy” while those issues “get screened into obscurity” by the attention diverted to the AGW scare.

    There was nothing in what I wrote to suggest that either you or Rachel were actually ignoring any real problems. Your analysis of that passage was entirely a malaprop.

    You proposed that I was being disparaging to write that parameters get adjusted in an ad hoc sort of way, when an examination of the literature would show parameter adjustment is a well-discussed problem, and that my comment was accurate. So, your own comment was made in ignorance, and itself amounts to a groundless disparagement.

    You analogized me to creationists, which is a now-classic rhetorical ploy most often used when factual arguments are lacking.

    And finally, when I reasonably object to your very slanted personal statements, you propose I am emotional. Really Ken, it is your posts that are loaded with emotion-transmitting rhetoric, not mine. Your comment about being emotional is a fine example of inadvertent self-directed irony.

    How, given the names of highly qualified reviewers in the acknowledgments, did you suppose the article was not reviewed? Did you miss that section? In fact, apart from those scientists, the pre-publication manuscript was also reviewed (in a hostile way, to which I was required to respond) by two further climate scientists recruited by Michael Shermer at Skeptic.

    I published in Skeptic because that magazine has a diverse and intelligent readership. Too often, I’ve seen articles skeptical of AGW published in the specialist literature, only to be roundly ignored both by scientists committed to human-caused warming as well as by the media. I wanted to avoid that fate. Even on RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt deleted as “contrarian noise” citations to skeptical peer-reviewed articles written by scientists, which I had posted there as examples when challenged on this very point. He thus backed into a demonstration of what I had posted was the case.

    You suggested dealing with criticisms. I’ve done that now on several blogs, and with my reviewers. I’m still waiting for something from you that actually deals with the substance of the analysis. You missed the point, for example, that the article doesn’t deal with climate at all. It’s an audit of GCMs, which focus is clearly stated in the opening paragraphs of the SI. Did you miss that, too? The article and SI themselves contribute to the “real scientific discussion of this issue.” Can you criticize them on those same grounds?

    You also supposed that the IPCC critically reviews climate literature, when in fact they do not. They plainly state their mandate does not include critical review, as Steve McIntyre has discussed at length on ClimateAudit (he is an IPCC reviewer). All they do is compile, and even that in a very tendentious way. The IPCC is not an objective broker.

    You wrote that you’re a scientist, Ken. And yet it’s clear you’ve come to a decision about a scientific question without having ever read the relevant specialist literature. How responsible is that?

  34. Pat, you brushed off my point about the unreliability of satellite cloud cover measurements.

    But, what about answering the important point I made about publication of research? An article such as yours should have been submitted to a peer-reviewed climate science journal. That would have given the chance of an appropriate assessment and also the best chance of influencing the scientific discussion on this important issue. Now, you may have done so – I don’t know. I just couldn’t find any evidence that you have contributed to the real scientific discussion of this issue in that way. After all, papers in climate science journals have far more chance of inclusion in IPCC reviews than does a paper in the Skeptic.

    I am happy to be shown wrong – just post the references.

    OK, Pat I can recognise you are emotional on this issue. As a scientist who has been very much involved in both publishing and reviewing papers I recognise the emotion. But I have found that in the end any scientist worth their salt gets past that, deals with criticisms of their work, makes appropriate changes and resubmits. It’s no good getting stuck in making attacks on one’s critics – that gets us nowhere.

  35. I guess you missed this point, Pat: Of course, science thrives on doubt and questioning, so in a lot of ways Frank is simply being a scientist.

    For the rest, I refer you to the Real Climate Website and the Miller-McCune article, which addresses the McKitrick piece and Steven McIntyre’s role (though they misspelled his first name). The evidence is clear to me: there is a change in climate that goes above and beyond what’s normal and you’re arguing about graphs. If this is really such a scandal, why aren’t you out there at conferences of climate scientists and publishing in climate science journals? That is where the scandal has to break, not on a blog that hardly anybody reads…

    And one more thing: Just like you claim that I am resorting to a personal attack, which I am not, I simply asked the question about who you are, you repeatedly imply that I am too lazy to understand the other side with remarks like but you’ll have to do some work to understand it. So, the fact that you haven’t convinced me is not because your arguments do not have merit. It’s because I haven’t put in sufficient work. If only I weren’t too lazy, and wrapped up in blind righteous piety, I would see your point. It’s the big stack of evidence against your arguments that prevents me from seeing your point, Pat.

  36. Ken wrote, “I did wonder about Pat as he didn’t really answer questions posed and wnet off on tangents to bring up arguments that climate change deniers often use (and are often discredited).

    Tell you what, Ken: Ask any three questions or raise any three points you think are most important about climate and I’ll answer them directly.

    The reason I didn’t address your previous post in particular is, first, that I thought keeping on point in the conversation with Rachel was most important, and second, you did there what you have done here. That is, you quickly transitioned into discredit by ad hominem. Not one of your arguments actually deals with fact or theory, or with any of the content in my article or SI. Your post here doesn’t even attain specious.

    Rachel, your entire composition is mere political aspersion. The entire analogy to tobacco is a smokescreen for lack of actual substance to your dismissal. Likewise the reference to “climate change” instead of global warming. Climate is always changing. No one who knows anything denies that, and ‘change’ has never been an issue. Climate is never stable.

    The crux of the issue is the claim of unnatural global warming, not “climate change.” The crux is this: has the CO2 that humans have put in the atmosphere detectably energized climate? Not one of your points comes close to addressing that. Ken accused me of going off on to tangents, and yet your argument, and his, is nothing but tangents, innuendos, and dark speculations. None of it is particularly honest.

    I challenge you, or Ken, or anyone else, to point to any change in climate that is known to be outside of natural variation and that can be assigned to increased CO2.

    And let me mention that the so-called “hockey stick” graph is a total crock. It is thoroughly disproved. Anyone who thinks differently either has not read the science, or hasn’t understood it, or has decided to ignore it. Why do you think the hockey stick has been given such short shrift in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC? After its prominence in the 2001 Report, do you think it would have been downplayed this time around by the IPCC if they still considered it to validly demonstrate a human impact on global temperature?

    I’ll go further and say that all of the paleo-temperature reconstructions (paleo-thermometry) involving tree-rings are little more than exercises in false precision.

    For the hockey stick, try Ross McKitrick’s page here: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html and download his 500 kB APEC paper on it. It’s written for non-specialists, but you’ll have to do some work to understand it.

    If you want to have valid opinions instead of just making self-justifying dark accusations, you’ll have to do the work of informing yourselves on facts and science. If you won’t do the work, then your opinions are mere religion. In that case, you’re just ‘climate change asserters,’ sharing the field of battle with the “climate change deniers” and distinguished only by your camp on the other side of the river.

    Rachel, you wrote, “more importantly, who might be funding his crusade” This is the standard casual accusation of lying that so typifies the argument from your side, Rachel. Do you understand that’s what it is? Asking who ‘funds” me is identical to asking who is paying me to promulgate a falsehood. You’re accusing me of lying. That so many self-described environmentalists make this vile accusation with sincerity and with such a clear conscience just shows the blind righteous piety that so prevails among them. Hannah Arendt had a lot to say about the cultural phenomenon in which personal morality readjusts itself with prevailing opinion.

    No one funds me. It’s all on my own dime and my own time. Altruism. What a concept. What motivates me can be found in my comments on your climate crisis page. The global warming scare is a terrible scientific scandal. I feel a strong need to raise my voice against it. When the scandal finally breaks and people start asking questions, I want there to be evidence that scientists spoke out against it and I want to have been among those scientists.

    If I seem tart here, so be it. I truly resent the unpleasant personal tack you have each chosen to take here. Ken already had a history of it. You didn’t, Rachel.

  37. Interesting Rachel. I did wonder about Pat as he didn’t really answer questions posed and wnet off on tangents to bring up arguments that climate change deniers often use (and are often discredited). And I felt that if he felt his paper had real scientific value he would have published it in a peer-reviewed climate science journal. That’s the place for proper review – and for making a scientific contribution. The fact that it (or a similar paper) wasn’t published in the appropriate journal is, in itself, suspicious.

    Come to think of it I don’t think the reference list in his paper had any papers of his – highly unusual for scientist not to make reference to their other work! My brief searching couldn’t find anything else at all substantial on climate science by Pat. That’s not to invalidate his arguments – everybody starts somewhere. But the situation suggests he his wishing to push a preconceived conclusion rather than contribute to the science. Always a bad sign in my eyes.

    It is easy to be bamboozled by mathematical terms and fancy graphs and I think the mathematically challenged might have easily accepted his message. Unfortunately a lot of this goes on and it does take a real effort by those outside the field to investigate each claim objectively.

    Interestingly, Dembski (the “modern Newton” of ID) also impresses some people (especially those who want to believe) because he dresses up his relatively simple ID arguments in unnecessary maths.