Caleb Rossiter – opening eyes to the uncertainty of global warming claims

Photo: Martin Koser of Denmark

Photo: Martin Koser of Denmark

There’s some pretty extraordinary stuff in this interview with Caleb Rossiter who was recently dismissed as an associate fellow for writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal critical of warming claims.

From “The College Fix” by Dominic Lynch

If one would have asked statistician Caleb Rossiter a decade ago about global warming, he says he would have given the same answer that President Barack Obama offered at a recent commencement address.

“He castigated people who don’t believe in climate catastrophe as some sort of major fools,” Rossiter says of the president’s speech, adding he would have agreed with the president – back then.

But Rossiter would give a different answer today.

“I am simply someone who became convinced that the claims of certainty about the cause of the warming and the effect of the warming were tremendously and irresponsibly overblown,” he said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with The College Fix. “I am not someone who says there wasn’t warming and it doesn’t have an effect, I just cannot figure out why so many people believe that it is a catastrophic threat to our society and to Africa.”

For this belief – based in a decade’s worth of statistical research and analysis on climate change data – Rossiter was recently terminated as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive Washington D.C. think tank.

“I think they believe … that you give legitimacy to the ‘denialists’ if you debate them,” Rossiter adds. “I think that’s a terrible idea. … At IPS, like many other places, people don’t want to debate it because they have this funny statement that, and Mr. Obama repeats it every time he opens his mouth, ‘the debate is over.’ I have never heard a more remarkable statement in my life about anything.”

“So there is really two big statistical questions: what caused the little warming, and what effect did the warming have on these other climate variables?” he said. “I am a pretty decent statistician, I have taught for many, many years. The data that support the headlines are very, very weak, very, very notional, and simply not logical.”

“You couldn’t have this many terrible effects from a half a degree rise in global temperature. It’s probable that there are some, but it gets a little boring because it’s always weak data, because that is the nature of a tremendously complex system.”

Over the years, he’s broken a few students’ hearts when they learn of this truth.

“I have had students who are very strongly pro-the global warming movement in my classes, of course, because most young people have heard this already,” he said. “And when I have them actually do the study, and take apart an IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] claim, sometimes they break into tears, and they say ‘I can’t believe this is the only class I’ve ever been in in which anyone has ever told me there is even an issue.’”

College Fix contributor Dominic Lynch is a student at Loyola University Chicago.

Read the full article here,

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40 thoughts on “Caleb Rossiter – opening eyes to the uncertainty of global warming claims

  1. “I just cannot figure out why so many people believe that it is a catastrophic threat to our society and to Africa”.

    Its because its mostly about MALTHUS, not climate change, particularly with regards to Africa.

    Here is an except from a post of mine on another thread which sums it up.

    If you want the answer of why they do this, read Malthus. But they have misinterpreted him.

    There are 2 agendas going on in climate alarmism, not just climate alarmism. The other is an ideology that society will expand beyond its’ means and inevitably run out of resources and crash. And the associated idea that society itself can’t fix the problem, because interests within society will protect the status quo, leading to the Malthusian catastrophe. Both these beliefs together are being used to fight industrialisation. One has to ignore society, and any arguments or reason that comes from within it, in order to save it.

    From these starting assumptions, all else follows. Data has to conform to the inevitable future, scientists have to conform to the inevitable future, Africa has to conform to the inevitable future. Its the long term inevitability that is the issue, not short term African welfare.

    Trouble is, the future is NOT inevitable, and Malthus has been misinterpreted. That would require a separate entire book. But it is Malthus they are worried about, read Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, it’s Malthus that is the key element in most alarmist arguments, and the key dividing line.

    In Rio in 1992 it was Malthus who was dredged up to make humanity the common enemy. In the 1970s it was Malthus who was dredged up by the Club of Rome. And I think the IPCC is obsessed with Malthusian ideas, without actually explicitly saying so. And many alarmist scientists and societies such as above implicitly accept various assumptions about Malthus, without actually realising it.

    A book is needed somewhere on why Malthusian catastrophe is a curious theory but limited with respect to the climate and industrialisation debate.”

  2. ” Dave Stephens says:
    June 20, 2014 at 12:14 am

    The tears of the young and rational… When they realize the looming horror of the NON PROBLEM. Yikes.”

    More like the shock and dissapointment that they thought that they were being taught science all through school, and then realise that they were lied to for years.

  3. In one respect the failure of prophesy will breed skepticism, which is healthy. On the other hand we’ve had 50 years of failed prophesy relating to environmental doom and the movement has only grown during this period.

  4. Half of pseudo degree or whatever.

    In physics you are more interested in gradients (as in gradient of energy) rather than absolute values, because they are the ones that typically drive the physical evolution.

    One quickly realizes that in order to have interesting things in weather and climate (as in winds, clouds, rain and so on) one needs those gradients (as in gradients in temperature, pressure and so on).

    Now figure out how much information regarding those gradients one can extract from the global pseudo temperature.

    As a note, a system in thermodynamic equilibrium with a temperature equal with the global pseudo temperature (actually, it’s one of the very few cases where the ‘global temperature’ would make physical sense, since measuring in a point or making an average of all points temperature would give the same value) would be rather not interesting, and not much different in evolution compared with a system in thermodynamic equilibrium half of degree higher. But it would be VERY different from Earth at the same global pseudo temperature. This fact alone shows how bad the global pseudo temperature is as an indicator for anything, no matter what a statistician believes.

  5. Problem over problem half degree.
    Problem being you may will not disagree.
    Problem disaggregates disappears young see.

  6. There you have it in a nutshell,
    “Deniers” may break your heart, which is sad, cos you should use your brain to think,
    but (big but)
    Alarumists will break the bank, every time.

  7. Ken Hall says: June 20, 2014 at 12:37 am More like the shock and dissapointment that they thought that they were being taught science all through school, and then realise that they were lied to for years.

    I’d add that it is also shock and disappointment of broken pride; pride goeth before a fall.

    Mark Twain / Sam Clemens quote – “It’s easier to fool a person than to convince one that they have been fooled.”

  8. Caleb Rossiter may be the most destructive thing to college indoctrination to exist. He is bursting myopic bubbles of students. And that is the best thing you can do. While a warmist, his contributions may be more beneficial than the fact based presentations of any skeptic.

  9. Young tear?

    It should not matter if you hear new information that causes you to change your mind, even a previously strong viewpoint you had was overturned.

    But, if you had been ‘sold’ a viewpoint that what you had been doing, that your actions were damaging everyone, and you agreed that you must change to ‘save the world’ that you must prothletise so others join in your fight against this ‘damage’ yourself and others are causes.

    So, if you have changed your behaviour because you have been ‘mis-sold’ big time, I could understand lots of tears when the real truth became known.

    Many many people genuinely believe in CAGW and the media keeps them simmering away daily.

    It will remain a hard job to help these people see sense.

  10. “I am not someone who says there wasn’t warming”

    While its true we have some consistent datasets which show changes, that is far from measuring the global temperature. Its a difficult problem and models derived from sparse datasets can fool you.

    In the old days, that alone would signal the need for caution in making factual statements.

  11. “Mr. Obama repeats it every time he opens his mouth, ‘the debate is over.’ I have never heard a more remarkable statement in my life about anything.”

    Remarkable indeed and the basic underpinning of totalitarianism!

  12. ‘the debate is over’ is actually a statement that can only come from non-scientists. For a Popperian critical rationalist a debate about falsifiable claims is never “over”. And if it’s not falsifiable (in principle) it’s not science. Which is probably why it’s not debatable.

  13. “I am not someone who says there wasn’t warming”

    Will all of the skeptics here who said there wasn’t any warming please raise their hands.

    *note for the record that no hands were raised*

    We all accept that there has been some warming since the end of the LIA and, more recently, it warmed globally somewhat in the 1990’s.

    We have some disagreement on the actual amount of said warmings just as there is no certainty on the cause/causes.

    A debate that isn’t allowed to start can not be over.

  14. The introductory paragraph, while a direct quote from the article, is incomplete and therefore a quote out of context which leaves an unclear concept that the Wall Street Journal is involved with terminating his position.

    The quoted article follows the above quote immediately with,

    “…Rossiter wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change,” in which he called notions of climate catastrophe “unproved science,” and shortly thereafter received word from the institute that his position was terminated.

    “Unfortunately, we now feel that your views on key issues, including climate science, climate justice, and many aspects of US policy to Africa, diverge so significantly from ours,” their note to Rossiter stated…”

    Which keeps the WSJ Op Ed and Rossiter’s ex-position as an associate fellow at the ‘Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive Washington D.C. think tank’ in perspective.

    I went to the IPS site to try and leave an outraged comment there. What a disappointing site. I certainly wouldn’t describe that institute as progressive, unless progressive means anti-civilization, anti-humanity and anti-science.

    My apologies for criticizing a necessary article, but I did have to read it and the other sites to get the facts straight in my mind.

  15. Will Nitschke says:
    June 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

    In one respect the failure of prophesy will breed skepticism, which is healthy. On the other hand we’ve had 50 years of failed prophesy relating to environmental doom and the movement has only grown during this period.

    Hasn’t really worked in any of the major religions. They are nothing but collections of failed prophecy, but their adherents (most of the population of this world) still believe they may happen “any day now”.

  16. JohnWho says:
    June 20, 2014 at 6:11 am

    “I am not someone who says there wasn’t warming”

    Will all of the skeptics here who said there wasn’t any warming please raise their hands.

    I will say that there wasn’t any “global” warming. It’s clear from our meager temp record that some places warmed, some places cooled, and some remained relatively static over the past 150 years. Averaging them doesn’t give you anything physically meaningful, so we can’t say with any confidence that there has been “global” warming.


  17. ATheoK says:

    June 20, 2014 at 6:38 am
    perspective.

    I went to the IPS site to try and leave an outraged comment there. What a disappointing site. I certainly wouldn’t describe that institute as progressive, unless progressive means anti-civilization, anti-humanity and anti-science.


    What did you think it meant before you went to the site????

  18. “Truth is what works” – William James. In that comment “works” is not only the historical fit to the historical data, but the prediction of the future with some degree of skill. Simply stated, no matter how many people vote for anything, it will not change the universe. The universe has a mind of its own and “truth is what works”. Historical fits are good for perhaps creating a hypothesis. If the hypothesis does not have the power of prediction, it is more a religion than science.

  19. from the article –
    “Unfortunately, we now feel that your views on key issues, including climate science, climate justice, and many aspects of US policy to Africa, diverge so significantly from ours,” their note to Rossiter stated.

    Note they do not say he is wrong just that their views are significantly divergent.
    Be like Groucho Marx in quoting ” I resign. I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member “

  20. Will Nitschke says:
    June 20, 2014 at 1:01 am
    “In one respect the failure of prophesy will breed skepticism, which is healthy.”
    ————————————————————————————————-
    Scepticism may be healthy, but even though I am a sceptic I believe the inevitable collapse of the global warming hoax will have some negative outcomes.

    While these should not be used as an excuse to let the propagandists off the hook, it should be acknowledged that the collapse of the hoax is going to cause great damage to the the environmental movement.

    There are many real environmental issues that we should be addressing. Sadly the environmental movement and attendant organisations have bought into this inane hoax lock stock and barrel.

    While many involved in environmental organisations have sized on AGW as an ultimate “gotcha” against democracy and free market economies, furthering their political agendas outside of environmental issues, those genuinely concerned with environment over politics will also be sidelined in the collapse of the hoax.

    For the future of science, freedom and democracy, the hoax must end. But the world will still need those genuinely dedicated to the protection of the environment.

    Baby. Bathwater. The usual issues.

    However there is no solution in the “soft landing” the “warming, but less than we thought” “real politic” compromise. We can not afford a UN engineered “biocrisis” or “freshwater crisis”. All who vilified sceptics to silence them must be sidelined.

    Rebuilding a genuine environmental movement will require assistance. Sceptic assistance.

  21. Konrad,

    True environmentalism is at the top of an asymptotic curve. Any further progress requires immense monetary and human resources, for a negligible gain.

    If the mainstream enviro groups are hurt as a result of their promoting the carbon scare, they deserve to lose membership and funding.

  22. “…sometimes they break into tears…” The old cognitive dissidence. Everyone constructs a world view and clings to it for dear life. An example: those of us who grew up in families that went to considerable lengths to promote the myth of Santa Claus only to discover from school mates that it was all a lie. That trauma has, I believe, caused me to be a life-long contrarian questioning everything I hear from whatever source. I don’t want to be fooled again. Upon first hearing of CAGW some years ago red flags popped up all over even before learning any of the science. Sounded like BS to me.

  23. “unless progressive means anti-civilization, anti-humanity and anti-science.”

    Unfortunately, that pretty much sums up the “progressive” position in recent decades.

  24. “Hasn’t really worked in any of the major religions. They are nothing but collections of failed prophecy, but their adherents (most of the population of this world) still believe they may happen “any day now”.”

    It would be nice if those who take pride in knowing nothing about religion, would refrain from making comments about religion.

  25. Konrad says:
    June 20, 2014 at 8:33 am
    —-
    The vast majority of the major environmental issues were solved decades ago.
    In recent years the environmental movement has been nothing more than hyped up scare stories with little to no basis in fact. Pursued for the twin purposes of hindering capitalism and raising money for those who run the environmental movement.

  26. MarkW says: June 20, 2014 at 10:26 am
    The vast majority of the major environmental issues were solved decades ago.
    ________________________________

    Nonsense – we just exported them to China, along with all our blue-collar jobs.

    In fact, the problem was not just ‘not solved’, it was actually made much worse, because China is happy to pump out twice the emissions as the USA or Europe would have done for the same industrial output.

    So Green economics have impoveraged the working classes, and increased emissions – a lose-lose result, that so typical of Green fantasy economics.

    R

  27. ralfellis says:
    June 20, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Since you admit that environmental problems in the US have been solved, than you agree that Greenpeace and the other so called environmental agencies should just close up shop here. In Europe as well.

    As to jobs being exported, you can thank our beloved govt for that. They’ve made it too expensive to do business here. Between regulations that do no good, taxes, etc, why would any manufacturer voluntarily stay here?

  28. Mr. rafellis,

    The Air in North America is clean, certified by Mr. Obama’s own lapdog EPA in all the 2500 or so counties here in the USA, except for a half dozen or so counties in and around Houston and Los Angeles that have not yet managed a total successful cleanup.

    The waters are almost clean, but not yet pristine over the USA. Burning rivers, like once upon a time in Cleveland, are now urban legends of another time. There are no longer any rivers which once were open flowing sewers. It will take a few years for the rivers to scour their water courses clean, but it is happening.

    North America despite being an advanced civilization, produces no NET CO2 either, a non toxic, non-pollutant; and bio absorbs lots blowing in on the prevailing winds from Eurasia. It is the very antitheses of ‘progressive’ thinking, that seemingly worships anti humanity, anti-civilization, non-rationality, and Lysenkoist, party-line, pseudo-Science.

    Let us Celebrate your and our mutual environmental success. Close up shop here, and and open up in China where such does NOT exist. There is environmental work to be done there.

    Since you don’t, you are apparently nothing but a polemic for an overgrown bureaucracy. Either that or a rigid Marxist “watermelon”, that cannot admit that socialism, where there is no corruption by the Profit motive, has not produced an Utopia, but rather a dystopia to be avoided.

  29. “..sometimes they break into tears” The same thing happened to me when I was told that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

  30. Jeff Alberts says:
    June 20, 2014 at 7:13 am
    Will Nitschke says:
    June 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

    “In one respect the failure of prophesy will breed skepticism, which is healthy. On the other hand we’ve had 50 years of failed prophesy relating to environmental doom and the movement has only grown during this period.

    Hasn’t really worked in any of the major religions. ”

    You should have said, “Hasn’t really worked in any of the OTHER major religions”

  31. ” ‘the debate is over.’ ” What’s wrong with this statement? The debate is over for now at least. The Team are hunkered down with their fingers in their ears chanting “la la loo lee lee” over and over. Their spirits are broken. Oh, yeah, they are praying and throwing salt over their shoulder to entreat a super El Nino warm up, but this is even more convincing that the theory has died.

    Regarding the tears of students whose statistical work resulted in them not believing the CAGW BS, they should be tears of joy and relief and a certain satisfaction in slaying the beast by one’s own hand. In saner times (when they are not handing out Nobbley Prizes and Presdigitateous Awards for felonious ethics, getting elected president, statistics illiteracy and lying to people) , this Rossiter fellow would be receiving awards for his teaching prowess. What a wonderful multi-dimensioned education! Teaching a subject by having the students tear down a theory that 97% of a science’s practioners plus the stats teacher himself, believe in with all their hearts! Rossiter’s students turned him into a CAGW skeptic. How good is that!


  32. stas peterson says:

    June 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Mr. rafellis,

    The Air in North America is clean, certified by Mr. Obama’s own lapdog EPA in all the 2500 or so counties here in the USA, except for a half dozen or so counties in and around Houston and Los Angeles that have not yet managed a total successful cleanup.


    Some goals are just unrealistic. A little over 20 yrs ago, I used to interact with someone of the leftist eco persuasion whose job included dealing with some of the air pollution problems and standards. Once, she was quite miffed at the EPA because the air standards could not be met under any circumstances. It seems that no one there bothered to understand that naturally occurring ozone was significantly in excess of the new or proposed standard. Even eliminating all humans from the region and banning all human activity there could not force mother nature to abide by some retarded bureaucrat’s notion of what the ‘air quality’ should be.

  33. Speaking of uncertainties:

    IPCC AR5 TS.6 – Key Uncertainties
    Wow, what an eye opener. Allow me to paraphrase.
    “Hey, all you skeptics, guess what? You were/are correct! (Aren’t you usually?) When it comes to major climate systems virtually certain to make a critical difference, to have major influence, (clouds, precipitation, wind, tropospheric warming, stratospheric cooling, ocean temps >700m, carbon/heat >2000m, circulation, abrupt climate changes, sea levels) there is a high probability – that we have not got a clue!!”
    “Oh, and by the way, we find no evidence connecting AGW and drought, cyclones, or similar extreme weather.”
    “We also have pretty much no idea what the Antarctic ice sheet and ocean interface are up to.”
    “Sorry ‘bout that true believers, politicians, and media hypers.”

    IPCC AR5 TS.6
    Paleoclimate reconstructions and Earth System Models indicate that there is a positive feedback between climate and the carbon cycle, but confidence remains low in the strength of this feedback, particularly for the land. {6.4}
    Say what?! IPCC has low confidence in the CO2 feedback strength and has felt that way for a while! ???

    IPCC AR5 TS.6
    In Antarctica, available data are inadequate to assess the status
    of change of many characteristics of sea ice (e.g., thickness and volume). {4.2.3}
    On a global scale the mass loss from melting at calving fronts and iceberg calving are not yet comprehensively assessed. The largest uncertainty in estimated mass loss from glaciers comes from the Antarctic, and the observational record of ice–ocean interactions around both ice sheets remains poor. {4.3.3, 4.4}

    In some aspects of the climate system, including changes in drought, changes in tropical cyclone activity, Antarctic warming, Antarctic sea ice extent, and Antarctic mass balance, confidence in attribution to human influence remains low due to modelling uncertainties and low agreement between scientific studies. {10.3.1, 10.5.2, 10.6.1}

    IPCC AR5 TS.6.3
    • In some aspects of the climate system, including changes in drought, changes in tropical cyclone activity, Antarctic warming, Antarctic sea ice extent, and Antarctic mass balance, confidence in attribution to human influence remains low due to modelling uncertainties and low agreement between scientific studies.
    {10.3.1, 10.5.2, 10.6.1}
    There is no evidence to blame any of these aspects on human activity.

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