By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Anyone who has met Roy Spencer knows him to be a careful, thoughtful, unpolemical scientist of formidable skill and knowledge. With John Christy he presents the monthly real-world data from the microwave sounding unit satellites that provide the least inaccurate global temperature record we have.
The satellites reveal the inconvenient truth that there has been no global warming for approaching two decades.
However, John Cook, the cartoonist turned warming fanatic who runs the misleadingly-named Skeptical Science website, has just posted a piece by his still more fanatical sidekick, Dana Nuccitelli, attacking Roy Spencer’s recent verbatim interview with the Catholic Online website.
Cook “the books” has a favorite small-boy yah-boo tactic. He condemns anyone who raises any question about “global warming”, however sensible, as perpetrating or perpetuating what he calls “climate myths”.
Sure enough, his latest characteristically malevolent hatchet-job is entitled “Roy Spencer’s Catholic Online Climate Myths”. It appears next to a sidebar headed “Most-Used Climate Myths”. You will also find plenty of other alleged “Myths” at Cook The Books’ website, including Monckton Myths.
Nuccitelli begins by condemning Roy Spencer for saying, “No one knows whether it is currently warming, because we only see warming in the rear-view mirror, after it has occurred.” This truism is characteristic of Roy, who gently nudges the language of climate science in the direction of greater rigor. One cannot measure that it is warming, only that it has warmed.
Yet Nuccitelli, in a fine illustration of that blind faith that TH Huxley denounced in 1860 as “the one unpardonable sin”, asserts that “We absolutely do know that the planet is currently warming”.
He references this assertion by a link to another page of Skeptical Science that provides multiple lines of evidence for the proposition, agreed – as St. Vincent of Lerins used to put it, fere omnibus (by very nearly everyone) that the planet has been warming. But not that it currently is warming.
Nuccitelli adds, “We know that the planet will continue to warm as long as we continue to increase the greenhouse effect.” Again, he would have benefited from a more careful use of language. We know that adding CO2 or other greenhouse gases to the air will cause warming, but that cannot prevent natural factors from causing a countervailing cooling from time to time, which is why we have had the 17-year “pause” in global warming that Railroad Engineer Pachauri has now admitted. Spencer 1, Nuccitelli 0.
Next, Nuccitelli attacks Roy Spencer for having said it was entirely possible that summer sea-ice melt was no worse now than it had been in the 1920s and 1930s, when explorers had reported unprecedented warming and loss of sea ice in the Arctic.
Yet he fails to admit that the reports – for instance, an often-quoted report from 1922 about the unprecedented Arctic warming and loss of sea ice observed by meteorologists – support what Roy Spencer says and are inconsistent with the largely speculative results in the various papers suggesting sea ice extent scarcely changed until it began to decline in the 1970s.
He also fails to explain how the global warming from 1860-1880 and again from 1910-1940, which occurred at exactly the same rate as the warming from 1976-2001, did not cause any loss of sea-ice extent. Spencer 2, Nuccitelli 0.
Nuccitelli then turns to the embarrassing increase in Antarctic sea-ice extent mentioned by Roy Spencer, and produces various papers saying more sea-ice in Antarctica is what we should expect from global warming.
However, he very carefully fails to mention that Antarctica has been cooling during the 33 years of satellite observation. Warming during the satellite era has not been global, suggesting, as recent papers have confirmed, that a naturally-occurring change in advection of warmth from the tropics to the Arctic – but not to the Antarctic – is the chief cause of melting Arctic sea ice. Spencer 3, Nuccitelli 0.
Onward to superstorms. Roy Spencer had said there has been no increase in superstorms, which happen every year. Sandy was unusual only in that it happened over a built-up area. Nuccitelli cites Kerry Emanuel’s paper of 2005 showing an increase in hurricane strength over previous decades.
He is culpably silent on Dr. Ryan Maue’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy index, which shows that since 2005 the combined frequency, intensity, and duration of all tropical cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons worldwide, expressed as a 24-month running sum, shows the least activity in the entire satellite record. Spencer 4, Nuccitelli 0.
Nuccitelli moves on to condemn Roy Spencer for saying, “The consensus is only that humans are contributing to warming,” and to announce (blind faith again) that “Humans are Causing Global Warming”.
He cites various papers asserting that human greenhouse-gas emissions are the dominant cause of the global warming over the past 50-100 years. However, he fails to take account of the startling absence of correlation between the rate of increase in CO2 concentration and the rate of increase in temperature.
Like many true-believers, he is insufficiently trained in logic to know that absence of correlation between two datasets necessarily indicates absence of causation between them. The sharp fluctuations in global temperature in phase with the 60-year cycles of the ocean oscillations are not correlated with the monotonic changes in CO2 concentration.
Since the rate of warming from 1976-2001, to which we could in theory have contributed, is statistically indistinguishable in the rates from 1860-1880 and from 1910-1940, to which we could not, Roy Spencer was right to say we cannot easily disentangle the anthropogenic from the natural contributions to warming. Spencer 5, Nuccitelli 0.
On to the biggest scare of them all: sea-level rise. Here, Roy Spencer concedes that “Sea levels have indeed increased, which probably is a sign of warming.” However, he goes on to say, “It is difficult to attribute the current rate of rise to humans when we don’t know how much of the rise is natural.”
Nuccitelli’s answer to this unexceptionable and temperately-expressed statement is that sea level rises chiefly through thermal expansion and melting land ice, so it is all our fault. However, it ought to have been obvious even to Nuccitelli thermal expansion and land-ice melt happen whether Man or nature is the cause.
Also, as Peltier (2009) points out, the GRACE gravitational-anomaly record indicates that sea level has actually fallen in recent years. The raw data from the Envisat satellite from 2004-2012 show sea level rising at a rate equivalent to an unalarming 3.2 cm/century:
Professor Niklas Mörner, who was told in 2004 by a sea-level specialist at the University of Colorado that the data from the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason satellites were tilted to create an artificial impression of a rate of sea-level rise that is not in fact occurring, says his central estimate is that sea level will rise this century by 5 ± 15cm, or 2 ± 6 inches. Spencer 6, Nuccitelli 0.
Next, Nuccitelli takes Roy Spencer to task for daring to suggest that there has been very little research into the natural causes of climate change. Anyone who has seen the video of the Fellows of the Royal Society baying and howling with rent-seeking fury when Dr. Henrik Svensmark gently explained his cosmic-ray displacement theory of cloud nucleation to them will swiftly realize that an overwhelming and undue emphasis in climate research and funding over recent decades has been on anthropogenic and not natural influences. Spencer 7, Nuccitelli 0.
Nuccitelli blows it altogether when he says Roy Spencer’s closing remark that “The warming has been only 50% of what the consensus of climate models says it should be” is “just flat-out ridiculously wrong.”
Well, here are the facts. The IPCC said in 1990, at page xii, “Under the IPCC business-as-usual (Scenario A) emissions of greenhouse gases, the average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century is estimated to be about 0.2-0.5 Cº/decade.” The observed warming rate from 1990-2013, according to HadCRUt, is about half that.
Nuccitelli may like to look at the second-order draft of the IPCC’s 2013 Fifth Assessment Report, to which I have added the trend-line through the real-world observed temperature change since 1990:
All four of the IPCC’s Assessment Reports have flagrantly 0ver-predicted the rate of global warming that should have occurred by now. On this central question, the “consensus” has been wrong not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times out of four, and is about to be wrong a fifth time. Nuccitelli’s blind faith in the IPCC’s capacity to predict temperature change seems misplaced. Spencer 8, Nuccitelli 0.
Nuccitelli ends by saying, “Overall, Spencer made very few factually correct statements in this interview.” On any other subject but this, where true-believers such as Nuccitelli now routinely get away with outrageous falsehoods that smear the reputations of any scientists bold enough to raise even the mildest questions about the New Religion, that remark would have led to a libel suit.
Here is why. Below I have enumerated the 60 factually correct statements in Roy Spencer’s interview. There are no factually incorrect statements.
1: Roy Spencer has a PhD in meteorology. 2: Roy Spencer has been doing climate research for over 20 years. 3: His research has been mostly under contract to NASA, NOAA, and DOE. 4: He has testified in Congress several times on the general subject of climate change. 5: He has published two popular books on the global warming issue.
6: He has have an amateur interest in basic economics. 7: He has self-published a small book which is now used in a college economics cours. 8: His research has always been supported 100% by the US Government. 9: No one knows whether it is currently warming. 10: Warming seems to have stopped about 15 years ago.
11: There is some evidence that the deep ocean has continued to warm by hundredths of a degree. 12: The world has warmed for 50-100 years. 13: We started satellite monitoring of sea ice in 1979 after an extended cold period in the Arctic. 14: It is possible that sea-ice melt now is no worse than in the 1920s-1930s. 15: Humans could not have been responsible for warming in the 1920s-1930s.
16: We cannot know the extent to which we are responsible for Arctic sea-ice melt. 17: Since 1979, Antarctic sea ice has increased. 18: There has been no increase in superstorms or tornadoes. 19: Sandy-class storms occur every year. 20: Sandy-class storms do not usually hit high-density urban areas. 20: Sea levels have increased.
21: The increase in sea level is probably an indication of warming. 22: Sea levels were rising well before 1900. 23: We could not have been to blame for sea level rise before 1900. 24: The rate of sea-level rise is slow. 25: It is difficult to attribute the current rate of rise to us.
26: We do not know how much of the sea-level rise is natural. 27: It is possible that the ocean is absorbing more heat than was expected. 28: The oceans are big enough to absorb all of the warming caused by increasing CO2 with a temperature rise of just 0.1 Cº. 29: We have no means of knowing whether the oceans are absorbing all of the warming caused by us. 30: We have no means of knowing whether the oceans will continue to absorb all of the warming caused by us.
31: The CO2-induced reduction in the Earth’s capacity to cool to space has fallen by only 1%. 32: The CO2-induced reduction in the Earth’s cooling capacity is a very weak forcing of the climate system. 33: The deep ocean has warmed by only 0.2% since the 1950s. 34: The warming of the deep ocean has been very small. 35: Current solar and wind technologies are expensive.
36: Wind and solar are unreliable. 37: They can only replace a small fraction of our energy need. 38: Today’s economy runs on inexpensive energy. 39: To grow the economy we will need to use fossil fuels to generate extra wealth. 40: We will need to burn more fossil fuels to find replacements for fossil fuels.
41: The consensus is only that humans are contributing to warming. 42: Roy Spencer agrees with that consensus. 43: Only a small number of scientists know enough about climate sensitivity to have an informed opinion. 44: Only a few of us work on the question how sensitive is the climate system. 45: Only a few of us know how much uncertainty there is.
46: Most climate researchers simply assume recent warming is manmade. 47: Human causation is only one possible explanation out of several. 48: It is theoretically possible that Al Gore is correct. 49: The subject of global warming has become politicized. 50: There are financial winners and losers from policy outcomes.
51: Climate science has become hopelessly corrupted. 52: Roy Spencer and others have told Congress we need a “red team”, where a small fraction of climate research funding is put towards studying natural causes of climate change. 53: There is very little research into natural causes of climate change.
54: Roy Spencer has been wrong many times. 55: In research, we are usually wrong with our initial opinions. 55: It is much easier to be wrong than right.
56: There are many potential explanations for what we see in nature. 57: Roy Spencer usually determines in a matter of days, weeks, or months that he was wrong. 58: He has seen nothing to change my view that we have no way of knowing how much of our current warmth is human-caused. 59: Even if it is 100% human-caused, the warming has been only 50% of what the consensus of climate models says it should be. 60: If the consensus changes to reflect real-world outcomes, we shall have twice as much time to solve the climate problem. Spencer 60, Nuccitelli 0
Above all, there is a striking contrast between the careful, measured, balanced tone of Roy Spencer’s facts, which I have summarized above, and the intemperate, hate-filled Gish gallop of cherry-picked citations, half-truths, and outright falsehoods of which Nuccitelli is – yet again – guilty.