The Global Warming Hypothesis and Ocean Heat

Guest Post By William DiPuccio

Albert Einstein once said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”  Einstein’s words express a foundational principle of science intoned by the logician, Karl Popper:  Falsifiability.  In order to verify a hypothesis there must be a test by which it can be proved false.  A thousand observations may appear to verify a hypothesis, but one critical failure could result in its demise.  The history of science is littered with such examples.

A hypothesis that cannot be falsified by empirical observations, is not science.  The current hypothesis on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), presented by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is no exception to this principle.  Indeed, it is the job of scientists to expose the weaknesses of this hypothesis as it undergoes peer review.  This paper will examine one key criterion for falsification: ocean heat.

Ocean heat plays a crucial role in the AGW hypothesis, which maintains that climate change is dominated by human-added, well-mixed green house gasses (GHG).  IR radiation that is absorbed and re-emitted by these gases, particularly CO2, is said to be amplified by positive feedback from clouds and water vapor.  This process results in a gradual accumulation of heat throughout the climate system, which includes the atmosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and, most importantly, the hydrosphere.  The increase in retained heat is projected to result in rising atmospheric temperatures of 2-6ºC by the year 2100.

In 2005 James Hansen, Josh Willis, and Gavin Schmidt of NASA coauthored a significant article (in collaboration with twelve other scientists), on the “Earth’s Energy Imbalance:  Confirmation and Implications” (Science, 3 June 2005, 1431-35).  This paper affirmed the critical role of ocean heat as a robust metric for AGW.  “Confirmation of the planetary energy imbalance,” they maintained, “can be obtained by measuring the heat content of the ocean, which must be the principal reservoir for excess energy” (1432).

Monotonic Heating. Since the level of CO2 and other well-mixed GHG is on the rise, the overall accumulation of heat in the climate system, measured by ocean heat, should be fairly steady and uninterrupted (monotonic) according to IPCC models, provided there are no major volcanic eruptions.  According to the hypothesis, major feedbacks in the climate system are positive (i.e., amplifying), so there is no mechanism in this hypothesis that would cause a suspension or reversal of overall heat accumulation.  Indeed, any suspension or reversal would suggest that the heating caused by GHG can be overwhelmed by other human or natural processes in the climate system.

A reversal of sufficient magnitude could conceivably reset the counter back to “zero” (i.e., the initial point from which a current set of measurements began).  If this were to take place, the process of heat accumulation would have to start again.  In either case, a suspension or reversal of heat accumulation (excepting major volcanic eruptions) would mean that we are dealing with a form of cyclical rather than monotonic heating.

Most scientists who oppose the conclusions of the IPCC have been outspoken in their advocacy of cyclical heating and cooling caused primarily by natural processes, and modified by long-term human climate forcings such as land use change and aerosols.  These natural forcings include ocean cycles (PDO, AMO), solar cycles (sunspots, total irradiance), and more speculative causes such as orbital oscillations, and cosmic rays.

Temperature is not Heat!

Despite a consensus among scientists on the use of ocean heat as a robust metric for AGW, near-surface air temperature (referred to as “surface temperature”) is generally employed to gauge global warming.  The media and popular culture have certainly equated the two.  But this equation is not simply the product of a naïve misunderstanding.  NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), directed by James Hansen, and the British Hadley Centre for Climate Change, have consistently promoted the use of surface temperature as a metric for global warming.  The highly publicized, monthly global surface temperature has become an icon of the AGW projections made by the IPCC.

However, use of surface air temperature as a metric has weak scientific support, except, perhaps, on a multi-decadal or century time-scale.  Surface temperature may not register the accumulation of heat in the climate system from year to year.  Heat sinks with high specific heat (like water and ice) can absorb (and radiate) vast amounts of heat.  Consequently the oceans and the cryosphere can significantly offset atmospheric temperature by heat transfer creating long time lags in surface temperature response time.  Moreover, heat is continually being transported in the atmosphere between the poles and the equator.  This reshuffling can create fluctuations in average global temperature caused, in part, by changes in cloud cover and water vapor, both of which can alter the earth’s radiative balance.

Hype generated by scientists and institutions over short-term changes in global temperature (up or down) has diverted us from the real issue:  heat accumulation.  Heat is not the same as temperature.  Two liters of boiling water contain twice as much heat as one liter of boiling water even though the water in both vessels is the same temperature.  The larger container has more thermal mass which means it takes longer to heat and cool.

Temperature measures the average kinetic energy of molecular motion at a specific point.  But it does not measure the total kinetic energy of all the molecules in a substance.  In the example above, there is twice as much heat in 2 liters of boiling water because there is twice as much kinetic energy.  On average, the molecules in both vessels are moving at the same speed, but the larger container has twice as many molecules.

Temperature may vary from point to point in a moving fluid such as the atmosphere or ocean, but its heat remains constant so long as energy is not added or removed from the system.  Consequently, heat-not temperature-is the only sound metric for monitoring the total energy of the climate system.  Since heat is a function of both mass and energy, it is normally measured in Joules per kilogram (or calories per gram):

Q = mc∆T

Where Q is heat (Joules)

m is mass (kg)

c is the specific heat constant of the substance (J/kg/°C)

∆T is the change in temperature (°C)

The Thermal Mass of the Oceans

Water is a more appropriate metric for heat accumulation than air because of its ability to store heat.  For this reason, it is also a more robust metric for assessing global warming and cooling.  Seawater has a much higher mass than air (1030 kg/m3 vs. 1.20 kg/m3at 20ºC), and a higher specific heat (4.18 kJ/kg/°C vs. 1.01 kJ/kg/°C for air at 23°C and 41% humidity).  One kilogram of water can retain 4.18x the heat of an equivalent mass of air.  This amounts to a thermal mass which is nearly 3558x that of air per unit volume.

For any given area on the ocean’s surface, the upper 2.6m of water has the same heat capacity as the entire atmosphere above it!  Considering the enormous depth and global surface area of the ocean (70.5%), it is apparent that its heat capacity is greater than the atmosphere by many orders of magnitude.  Consequently, as Hansen, et. al. have concluded, the ocean must be regarded as the main reservoir of atmospheric heat and the primary driver of climate fluctuations.

Heat accumulating in the climate system can be determined by profiling ocean temperature, and from precise measurements of sea surface height as they relate to thermal expansion and contraction of ocean water.  These measurements are now possible on a global scale with the ARGO buoy array and from satellite measurements of ocean surface heights.  ARGO consists of a world-wide network of over 3000 free-drifting platforms that measure temperature and salinity in the upper 2000m of ocean.  The robotic floats rise to the surface every 10 days and transmit data to a satellite which also determines their location.

Pielke’s Litmus Test

In 2007 Roger Pielke, Sr. suggested that ocean heat should be used not just to monitor the energy imbalance in the climate system, but as a “litmus test” for falsifying the IPCC’s AGW hypothesis (Pielke, “A Litmus Test…”,, April 4, 2007).  Dr. Pielke is a Senior Research Scientist in CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences), at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.  One of the world’s foremost atmospheric scientists, he has published nearly 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 50 chapters in books, and co-edited 9 books.

Pielke’s test compares the net anthropogenic radiative forcing projected by GISS computer models (Hansen, Willis, Schmidt et al.) with actual ocean heat as measured by the ARGO array.  To calculate the annual projected heat accumulation in the climate system or oceans, radiative forcing (Watts/m2) must be converted to Joules (Watt seconds) and multiplied by the total surface area of the oceans or earth:

[#1]  Qannum = (Ri Pyear Aearth) .80

or, [#2]  Qannum = (Ri Pyear Aocean) .85

Where Qannum is the annual heat accumulation in Joules

Ri is the mean global anthropogenic radiative imbalance in W/m2

P is the period of time in seconds/year (31,557,600)

Aocean is the total surface area of the oceans in m2 (3.61132 x 1014)

Aearth is the total surface area of the earth in m2 (5.10072 x 1014)

.80 & .85 are reductions for isolating upper ocean heat (see below)

Radiative Imbalance. The IPCC and GISS calculate the global mean net anthropogenic radiative forcing at ~1.6 W/m2(-1.0, +.8), (see, 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Summary for Policy Makers, figure SPM.2 and Hanson, Willis, Schmidt et al., page 1434, Table 1).  This is the effective total of all anthropogenic forcings on the climate system.  Projected heat accumulation is not calculated from this number, but from the mean global anthropogenic radiative imbalance (Ri).  According to Hanson, Willis, Schmidt et al., the imbalance represents that fraction of the total net anthropogenic forcing which the climate system has not yet responded to due to thermal lag (caused primarily by the oceans).  The assumption is that since the earth has warmed, a certain amount of energy is required to maintain the current global temperature.  Continuing absorption will cause global temperatures to rise further until a new balance is reached.

Physically, the climate system responds to the entire 1.6 W/m2 forcing, not just a portion of it.  But while energy is being absorbed, it is also being lost by radiation.  The radiative imbalance is better described as the difference between the global mean net anthropogenic radiative forcing and its associated radiative loss.  The global radiative imbalance of .75 W/m2 (shown below) would mean that the earth system is radiating .85 W/m2 in response to 1.6 W/m2of total forcing (1.6 – .85 = .75).  For a more detailed discussion of radiative equilibrium see, Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: “Heat storage within the Earth system.”  Bulletin of the American  Meteorological Society, 84, 331-335.

Projected Ocean Heat. Since observed heat accumulation is derived from measurements in the upper 700m-750m of the ocean, an “apples to apples” comparison with model projections requires some adjustments.  Eq. #1, used by the GISS model, assumes that nearly all of the energy from anthropogenic radiative forcing is eventually absorbed by the oceans (80%-90% according to Willis, U.S. CLIVAR, 1, citing Levitus, et. al.).  Based on modeling by Hansen, Willis, Schmidt, et. al., (page 1432) upper ocean heat is thought to comprise 80% of the total as shown in the illustration.  So, the calculated heat must be multiplied by 0.8 to subtract deep ocean heat (below 750m) and heat storage by the atmosphere, land, and cryosphere (see discussion on deep ocean heat and melting ice below).

Another method for calculating heat accumulation is shown in Eq. #2.  This method assumes that only 71% (i.e., the fraction of the earth covered by oceans) of the energy from anthropogenic radiative forcing is absorbed by the oceans.  Hence, the net global anthropogenic radiative flux is scaled to ocean surface area.  To compare to upper ocean measurements, deep ocean heat must be subtracted by multiplying the results by ~0.85.  As shown in the illustration above, the deep ocean absorbs about 0.11 W/m2 of the total ocean flux of 0.71 W/m2 (estimates vary, see discussion on deep ocean heat, below).  Since this equation is not used by climate models, it is not included in the following tables.  But, it is displayed in the graph below as a possible lower limit of projected heat accumulation.

In his blog, “Update On A Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions” (, Feb. 9, 2009), Pielke projects heat accumulation based on an upper ocean mean net anthropogenic radiative imbalance of  0.6 W/m2as shown below (see Hanson, Willis, Schmidt et al., 1432).  This is only a slight variance from his 2007 blog and affords the best opportunity for the GISS models to agree with observed data.  A failure to meet this benchmark would be a robust demonstration of systemic problems.

Observed Ocean Heat. A comparison of these projections to observed data is shown below.  Despite expectations of warming, temperature measurements of the upper 700m of the ocean from the ARGO array show no increase from 2003 through 2008.  Willis calculates a net loss of -0.12 (±0.35) x 1022Joules per year (Pielke, Physics Today,55) from mid-2003 to the end of 2008 (Dr. Pielke received permission from Josh Willis to extend the ARGO data to the end of 2008).

According to a recent analysis of ARGO data by Craig Loehle, senior scientist at the Illinois-based National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, the loss is -0.35 (±0.2) x 1022Joules per year from mid-2003 to the end of 2007 (see Loehle, 2009: “Cooling of the global ocean since 2003.″ Energy & Environment, Vol. 20, No. 1&2, 101-104(4)).  Loehle used a more complex method than Willis to calculate this trend, enabling him to reduce the margin of error.

My calculations for observed global heat, shown below, are based on observed upper ocean heat.  Since upper ocean heat is calculated to be 80% of the global total (Eq. #1), observed global heat equals approximately 125% (1/0.8) of the observed upper ocean heat.



Projected Global Heat Accumulation

(Joules  x 1022)

Observed Global Heat Accumulation

(Joules  x 1022)

Projected Upper Ocean Heat Accumulation

(Joules  x 1022)

Observed Upper Ocean Heat Accumulation

(Joules  x 1022)



-0.83 Willis (5.5 yr)

-1.98 Loehle (4.5 yr)


-0.66 Willis (5.5 yr)-1.58 Loehle (4.5 yr)

Heat Deficit. The graph below shows the increasing deficit of upper ocean heat from 2003 through 2008 based on GISS projections by Hansen, Willis, Schmidt, et. al.  Actual heat accumulation is plotted from observed data (using ARGO) and shows the overall linear trend (after Willis and Loehle).  Seasonal fluctuations and error bars are not shown.

The projection displays a range representing the two ways of calculating heat accumulation discussed above.  The upper limit assumes that virtually all of the energy from anthropogenic radiative forcing is eventually absorbed by the oceans (Eq. #1).  The lower limit scales the total radiative imbalance to the surface area of the oceans (Eq. #2).  The upper limit represents the actual GISS model projection.

The 5.5 year accumulated heat deficit for GISS model projections (red line) ranges from 6.48 x 1022 Joules (using Willis) to 7.92 x 1022 Joules (Loehle, extrapolated to the end of 2008).  Pielke is more conservative in his calculations, given the substantial margin of error in Willis’ data (±0.35).  Accordingly, he assumes zero heat accumulation for the full 6 year period (2003-2008), yielding a deficit of 5.88 x 1022Joules (Pielke, “Update…”).  Loehle’s work, which was not yet known to Pielke in February of 2009, has a much smaller margin of error (±0.2).



Analyzed by Willis


Analyzed by Loehle (extrapolated to end of 2008)


(based on Willis)

-6.48 x 1022 Joules

-7.92 x 1022 Joules

-5.39 x 1022 Joules

(-5.88 for 6 full years )

These figures reveal a robust failure on the part of the GISS model to project warming.   The heat deficit shows that from 2003-2008 there was no positive radiative imbalance caused by anthropogenic forcing, despite increasing levels of CO2.  Indeed, the radiative imbalance was negative, meaning the earth was losing slightly more energy than it absorbed.  Solving for Riin Eq. #1, the average annual upper ocean radiative imbalance ranged from a statistically insignificant -.07 W/m2 (using Willis) to -.22 W/m2(using Loehle).

As Pielke points out (”Update…”), in order for the GISS model to verify by the end of 2012 (i.e., one decade of measurements), the annual radiative imbalance would have to increase to 1.50 W/m2 for the upper ocean which is 2.5x higher than the .6 W/m2projected by Hansen, Willis, Schmidt, et. al. (1432).  This corresponds to an annual average accumulation of 2.45 x 1022 Joules in the upper ocean, or a 4 year total of 9.8 x 1022 Joules.

Using Loehle’s deficit, the numbers are even more remarkable.  Assuming that heating resumes for the next 4.5 years (2009 to mid 2013), the annual average accumulation of heat would need to be 2.73 x 1022 Joules in the upper ocean, for a 4.5 year total of 12.29 x 1022 Joules.  The derived radiative imbalance for the upper ocean would increase to 1.7 W/m2, or nearly 3x higher than the projected imbalance.

Improbable Explanations for the Failure of Heat Accumulation

Hidden Heat. A few explanations have been proposed for the change in ocean heat.  One popular suggestion is that there is “hidden” or “unrealized” heat in the climate system.  This heat is being “masked” by the current cooling and will “return with a vengeance” once the cooling abates.

This explanation reveals a fundamental ignorance of thermodynamics and it is disappointing to see scientists suggest it.  Since the oceans are the primary reservoir of atmospheric heat, there is no need to account for lag time involved with heat transfer.  By using ocean heat as a metric, we can quantify nearly all of the energy that drives the climate system at any given moment.  So, if there is still heat “in the pipeline”, where is it?  The deficit of heat after nearly 6 years of cooling is now enormous.  Heat can be transferred, but it cannot hide.  Without a credible explanation of heat transfer, the idea of unrealized heat is nothing more than an evasion.

Deep Ocean Heat. Is it possible that “lost” heat has been transferred to the deep ocean-below the 700 meter limit of our measurements?  This appears unlikely.  According to Hansen, Willis, Schmidt et al., model simulations of ocean heat flow show that 85% of heat storage occurs above 750 m on average (with the range stretching from 78 to 91%) (1432).  Moreover, if there is “buried” heat, widespread diffusion and mixing with bottom waters may render it statistically irrelevant in terms of its impact on climate.

The absence of heat accumulation in deep water is corroborated by a recent study of ocean mass and altimetric sea level by Cazenave, et. al.  Deep water heat should produce thermal expansion, causing sea level to rise.  Instead, steric sea level (which measures thermal expansion plus salinity effects) peaked near the end of 2005, then began to decline nearly steadily.  It appears that ocean volume has actually contracted slightly.

Melting Ice. Another possibility is that meltwater from glaciers, sea ice, and ice caps is offsetting heat accumulation.  Perhaps the ocean temperature has plateaued as the ice undergoes a phase change from solid to liquid (heat of fusion).

This explanation sounds plausible at first, but it is not supported by observed data or best estimates.  In a 2001 paper published in Science, Levitus, et. al. calculates that the absorption of heat due to melting ice amounts to only 6.85% of the total increase in ocean heat during the 41 year period from about 1955 to 1996:

Observed increase in ocean heat (1955-1996) = 1.82 x 1023 J

Observed/estimated heat of fusion (1950’s-1990’s) = 1.247 x 1022 J

This work is quoted by Hansen, Willis, Schmidt, et. al. and further supported by their calculations (1432), which are even more conservative.  Given a planetary energy imbalance of approximately +0.75 W/m2, their simulations show that only 5.3% (0.04 W/m2) of the energy is used to warm the atmosphere, the land, and melt ice.  The balance of energy is absorbed by the ocean above 750 m (~0.6 W/m2), with a small amount of energy penetrating below 750 m (~0.11 W/m2).

The absorption of heat by melting ice is so small that even if it were to quadruple, the impact on ocean heat would be miniscule.

Cold Biasing. The ARGO array does not provide total geographic coverage.  Ocean areas beneath ice are not measured.  However, this would have a relatively small impact on total ocean heat since it comprises less than 7% of the ocean.  As mentioned above, quality controlled water temperature below 700m is not available, though the floats operate to a depth of 2000m.  Above 700m, the analysis performed by Willis includes a quality check of raw data which revealed a cold bias in some instruments.  This bias was removed (Willis, CLIVAR, 1).

Loehle warns that the complexities of instrumental drift could conceivably create such artifacts (Loehle, 101), but concludes that his analysis is consistent with satellite and surface data which show no warming for the same period (e.g., see Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, 2009: “Limits on CO2 climate forcing from recent temperature data of Earth.” Energy & Environment, Vol. 20, No. 1&2, 178-189 (13)). So it is unlikely that cold biasing could account for the observed changes in ocean heat.

In brief, we know of no mechanism by which vast amounts of “missing” heat can be hidden, transferred, or absorbed within the earth’s system.  The only reasonable conclusion-call it a null hypothesis-is that heat is no longer accumulating in the climate system and there is no longer a radiative imbalance caused by anthropogenic forcing.  This not only demonstrates that the IPCC models are failing to accurately predict global warming, but also presents a serious challenge to the integrity of the AGW hypothesis.

Analysis and Conclusion

Though other criteria, such as climate sensitivity (Spencer, Lindzen), can be used to test the AGW hypothesis, ocean heat has one main advantage:  Simplicity.  While work on climate sensitivity certainly needs to continue, it requires more complex observations and hypotheses making verification more difficult.  Ocean heat touches on the very core of the AGW hypothesis:  When all is said and done, if the climate system is not accumulating heat, the hypothesis is invalid.

Writing in 2005, Hansen, Willis, Schmidt et al. suggested that GISS model projections had been verified by a solid decade of increasing  ocean heat (1993 to 2003).  This was regarded as further confirmation the IPCC’s AGW hypothesis. Their expectation was that the earth’s climate system would continue accumulating heat more or less monotonically.  Now that heat accumulation has stopped (and perhaps even reversed), the tables have turned.  The same criteria used to support their hypothesis, is now being used to falsify it.

It is evident that the AGW hypothesis, as it now stands, is either false or fundamentally inadequate.  One may argue that projections for global warming are measured in decades rather than months or years, so not enough time has elapsed to falsify this hypothesis.  This would be true if it were not for the enormous deficit of heat we have observed.  In other words, no matter how much time has elapsed, if a projection misses its target by such a large magnitude (6x to 8x), we can safely assume that it is either false or seriously flawed.

Assuming the hypothesis is not false, its proponents must now address the failure to skillfully project heat accumulation.  Theories pass through stages of development as they are tested against observations.  It is possible that the AGW hypothesis is not false, but merely oversimplified.  Nevertheless, any refinements must include causal mechanisms which are testable and falsifiable.  Arm waiving and ad hoc explanations (such as large margins of error) are not sufficient.

One possibility for the breakdown may relate back to climate sensitivity.  It is assumed that most feedbacks are positive, amplifying the slight warming (.3º-1.2ºC) caused by CO2.  This may only be partially correct.  Perhaps these feedbacks undergo quasi-cyclical changes in tandem with natural fluctuations in climate.  The net result might be a more punctuated increase in heat accumulation with possible reversals, rather than a monotonic increase.  The outcome would be a much slower rate of warming than currently projected.  This would make it difficult to isolate and quantify anthropogenic forcing against the background noise of natural climate signals.

On the other hand, the current lapse in heat accumulation demonstrates a complete failure of the AGW hypothesis to account for natural climate variability, especially as it relates to ocean cycles (PDO, AMO, etc.).  If anthropogenic forcing from GHG can be overwhelmed by natural fluctuations (which themselves are not fully understood), or even by other types of anthropogenic forcing, then it is not unreasonable to conclude that the IPCC models have little or no skill in projecting global and regional climate change on a multi-decadal scale.  Dire warnings about “runaway warming” and climate “tipping points” cannot be taken seriously.  A complete rejection of the hypothesis, in its current form, would certainly be warranted if the ocean continues to cool (or fails to warm) for the next few years.

Whether the anthropogenic global warning hypothesis is invalid or merely incomplete, the time has come for serious debate and reanalysis.  Since Dr. Pielke first published his challenge in 2007, no critical attempts have been made to explain these failed projections.  His blogs have been greeted by the chirping of crickets.  In the mean time costly political agendas focused on carbon mitigation continue to move forward, oblivious to recent empirical evidence.  Open and honest debate has been marginalized by appeals to consensus.  But as history has often shown, consensus is the last refuge of poor science.


Cazenave, A., et al., 2008: “Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo,” Glob. Planet. Change, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2008.10.004.

Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, 2009: “Limits on CO2 climate forcing from recent temperature data of Earth.” Energy & Environment, Vol. 20, No. 1&2, 178-189 (13).

Hansen, J., L. Nazarenko, R. Ruedy, Mki. Sato, J. Willis, A. Del Genio, D. Koch, A. Lacis, K. Lo, S. Menon, T. Novakov, Ju. Perlwitz, G. Russell, G.A. Schmidt, and N. Tausnev, 2005: “Earth’s energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications.Science, 308, 1431-1435.

IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.  See

Levitus, S., J.I. Antonov, J. Wang, T.L. Delworth, K.W. Dixon, and A.J. Broccoli, 2001: “Anthropogenic warming of Earth’s climate system.” Science, 292, 267-268.

Loehle, Craig, 2009:  “Cooling of the global ocean since 2003.″ Energy & Environment, Vol. 20, No. 1&2, 101-104(4).

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: “A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system.” Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: “Heat storage within the Earth system.”  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 84, 331-335.

Pielke Sr., R.A., “A Litmus Test For Global Warming – A Much Overdue Requirement“,, April 4, 2007.

Pielke Sr., R.A., “Update On A Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions“,, Feb. 9, 2009.

Willis, J.K., D. Roemmich, and B. Cornuelle, 2004: “Interannual variability in upper ocean heat content, temperature, and thermosteric expansion on global scales.”  J. Geophys. Res., 109, C12036.

Willis, J. K., 2008: “Is it Me, or Did the Oceans Cool?”, U.S. CLIVAR, Sept, 2008, Vol. 6, No. 2.

* William DiPuccio was a weather forecaster for the U.S. Navy, and a Meteorological/Radiosonde Technician for the National Weather Service.  More recently, he served as head of the science department for St. Nicholas Orthodox School in Akron, Ohio (closed in 2006).  He continues to write science curriculum, publish articles, and conduct science camps.

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My own logic fails me on the following, and always has. Would someone grant me the time to explain?
From the beginning of this post: Karl Popper: Falsifiability. In order to verify a hypothesis there must be a test by which it can be proved false. A thousand observations may appear to verify a hypothesis, but one critical failure could result in its demise.
My logic says if an hypothesis is correct, then there would be no test by which it could be proved false. (The final sentence is clear and understood.)
What am I missing?


So, a couple questions…
1) Is this using the ARGO data after it was “corrected” for the “cold bias”? If so, then gravy.
2) Where is the “end of consensus” party? I’d like to pre-order my tickets.

Andrew S

Another card removed from the house of cards.
Excellent post.


@Roger Carr
Just because an observation appears to verify a hypothesis does not make the hypothesis “correct”. This is why NASA spent millions of dollars on the Gravity-B probe, to again test some of Einstein’s work, and iron out whether or not gravity waves exist.
I can come up with a hypothesis to explain why Frog’s are showing up deformed all over the world. I can observe multiple factors that tend to support my hypothesis. But if someday in the future it is shown that in reality, these frogs were performing body modifications on themselves and that wasn’t included in my hypothesis, well that means I was wrong and my hypothesis is falsified. (presuming that I expected that Kermit wasn’t looking for a few piercings)

Keith Minto

Correct me on this, but I think that Popper thought that ultimately all hypotheses would be proven false. It was just a matter of time,it may last 1000yrs until proven false but until that time came,the hypothesis would be correct.

Graeme Rodaughan

Roger as examples.
The second law of thermodynamics would be falsified by the development of a perpetual motion machine.
I.e. It can be “conceptually” falsified. Actually falsifying it – well to my knowledge it hasn’t been done yet? (And I would be astonished if it was).
To re-phrase your statement.
My logic says, if an hypothesis is correct, then there would be no test that could be demonstrated by which it could be proved false.
A correct and complete scientific hypothesis would be in principle falsifiable, i.e. it must rule out some phenomena from happening. But such phenomena would also never be observed to occur.
Another example.
Special Relativity holds that mass increases with velocity and tends to infinity as velocity approaches the speed of light. If you could demonstrate a massy object travelling just under the speed of light did not demonstrate the predicted increase in mass then you would falsify the theory of Special relativity.
Robust scientific theories keep surviving such tests.
Falsifiability comes in with “it must rule out some phenomena from happening.”
Which is why Climate Change is pseudo-science – it rules out nothing, it can get warmer, colder, wetter, dryer, etc….
Man made emissions of CO2 cause catastrophic global warming is actually well formed and falsifiable – it’s just the falsification events (i.e. lack of ocean heat, growing ice, cooling temps, no tropic hot spot) are ignored.
I hope that helps.


Great analysis!
I completely agree that global mean temperature is not the correct measurement to track, but rather total heat contents in the system, or at least ocean heat contents, which should account for the vast majority of total heat. I am still missing a thorough explanation on how does global mean temperature relates to total heat contents (if they relate at all when considering variations during small time intervals).
Therefore, I was highly disappointed when I saw that there is just a small section devoted to analyzing the evolution of the heat contents of the oceans in the IPCC 2007 technical report. In the graph included on that small section there is a decrease in ocean heat contents from 2003 to 2005.
By the way, the only mention of the ocean role for storing heat in the summary report is that “Observations since 1961 show that the average temperature of the global ocean has increased to depths of at least 3000m and that the ocean has been taking up over 80% of the heat being added to the climate system.”


@Roger Carr,
If a scientic theory is to have real value, it must be possible to use this theory to predict what will happen in a certain case. This always gives an opportunity to prove it false. According to Popper, the more ways a theory can be proven false, the greater the scientific value of the theory is. This is because the more specific a theory is, the more ways it can be proven wrong.
Let’s say that someone put forward a suggestion that a decrease in sunspots to zero will cause the temperature to fall by exactly 10 degress within 8 weeks.
If the temperature falls by exactly 10 degrees 8 weeks later, in the view of Popper it still doesn’t prove my theory. It could have been that big vulcano that did it. Or the Al Gore effect. But, as long as nobody has a better theory, I’ll be king of the hill in climatology with my new theory.
But, if the temperature has stayed the same 8 weeks later, my theory is crap and can safely be rejected.
This is why the following theory has little scientific value:
“The world will on average become warmer in the future due to C02. We don’t know exactly when and by how much and it could even get colder in the meantime. Or it could be a lot warmer very soon. Anything is possible. ”
How would you go about to falsify a theory like this?
According to Popper there is no test by which a theory can be proved true, only tests by which it can be proved false.


The way I see it – if you want to prove that a stone floats, you measure it in all different ways, calculate the amount of air in it and whatnot. The test to disprove your hypothesis is that you simply throw the stone into a bucket of water. If it floats, your hypothesis is proven. If it sinks, it is disproved, despite the fact that all your other measurements say that it should float. This is of course a gross simplification, but that’s the way I see it.
Best wishes,


“My logic says if an hypothesis is correct, then there would be no test by which it could be proved false.”
Your remark is true, but what Popper says is that in order for a theory to be verifiable, it has to be falsifiable, that is, it has to be possible to make a test that can potentially unprove the theory. Of course, all tests will fail to unprove the theory if the theory is indeed correct.
The problem with AGW is that it is not falsiable because their proponents explain every possible outcome of the climate as a direct consequence of AGW.

UK Sceptic

I’m with Roger Carr. I don’t get the falsifiability statement either. Sorry if I sound a bit dim.


AGW is one of the biggest scams that I have seen in my lifetime. The critical symptom of this scam is Gore’s claim that this is all settled science. It is not. As Freeman Dyson said this is a fraud. After almost a decade of no warming and now a little cooling, the AGW scam is getting a little tattered around the edges. But the politicians push on, because to them it is a question of power and control not science.

Excellent article, good work. Re: falsifiability, it’s not that there must be a test which does prove the hypothesis false, it’s that there must be a test which *could* prove it false.
If the hypothesis is “all cats have tails”, then there is a clear test – if anyone were ever to discover a cat without a tail, then the hypothesis is false. It doesn’t matter whether anyone ever has, or ever will, find such a cat. The hypothesis is testable.
If the hypothesis is “some humans are actually aliens that are identical in every way to normal humans”, then there is no test. The hypothesis predicts that all tests on the aliens will give results exactly like the results from humans, and it (the hypothesis) is therefore worthless.
If the hypothesis is modified to “some humans are actually aliens that are identical in *nearly* every way to normal humans”, then it becomes testable again – if we can discover one of the few ways in which the aliens differ, then we can identify them.


The ‘can’ in ‘can be proved false’ expresses a logical possibility not a metaphysical possibility. In other words, to count as falsifiable or scientific for Popper a hypothesis must be constructed in such a way that from it may be derived specific predictions which cannot be proved deductively, e.g. tautologies, but which would require empirical investigation to establish.
‘All mammals have a copy of gene X’ may be true, but it is falsifiable in the sense that it is not excluded by logic alone that a mammal somewhere will be found not to have a copy of X.


Roger Carr (00:07:31) :
“My logic says if an hypothesis is correct, then there would be no test by which it could be proved false.”
A very understandable question. The essential point is that there must in principle be a test capable of showing the hypothesis to be false. For instance, the hypothesis that “Earth’s moon is made of green cheese” was always falsifiable, and when it became possible to go there it was. Likewise, the hypothesis that “a moon of a currently unknown planet in a far-off galaxy is made of green cheese” is also falsifiable since it is theoretically possible to go there (even though practically impossible).
By contrast, the hypothesis that “The universe, with all memories, etc. was created fifteen seconds ago” is not falsifiable.


So, what is the role of evaporation from the ocean surface in all of this? It seems like an increase in atmospheric temperatures, should result in an increase in evaporation, as well as an increase in absolute humidity, which could at least partially account for the lack of sea level rise and would be a “hidden” or at least latent heat sink, due to the heat of vaporization. I realize that such effects may be small, but you should at least mention them in your analysis.

I thought this was an excellent paper and well worth the read, however, it would be good to hear from Bob Tisdale on Ocean Heat Content – see this post from his site:
It certainly seems there may be problems with measuring Ocean Heat Content and it looks from the data that the trend has been up quite strongly until 2003- then there are divergent trends depending on who you believe (see fig 5).
Interestingly (though not surprisingly) Gavin Schmidt regularly quotes Levitus et al as the one who has this right. Could this be another example of data manipulation given the risks to the AGW movement of the findings as reported above by DiPuccio?

Paul Dennis

Put simply…..any hypothesis or theory must be able to make predictions about the behaviour of a system. These predictions can be tested against observations or experimental results. The key point is that no matter how many times the predictions match observation these results are not proofs of the hypothesis. They may increase our confidence in the hypothesis but do not prove it.
However, if a result is found that does not agree with the hypothesis then the hypothesis is disproven. Just one result is all it takes.
Thus we know from the observations of Eddington etc. that Newtonian gravity is not a complete description of gravity. To date Einstein’s theories and predictions there from are matched by all observations. However, were new discoveries made that did not conform with the predictions of relativity then we know that Einstein’s hypotheses with respect to gravity are incomplete.

Juraj V.

You can cheat ground thermometers, but you cant cheat ocean. If you combine HadCRUT3 till 1978 with MSU UAH since 1979, it gives almost exactly the same overall trend as HadSST2 dataset. Not to mention that 2008 is comparable with 1940s.


In principle, there must be a test capable of saying, If x happens, then y is not true.
It doesn’t mean that x will ever happen, just that in principle it could. A scientific hypothesis that states “there are no such things as aliens”, would be falsified if an alien turned up.
Some good news, meanwhile, that new book Air Con by Ian Wishart has just debuted at #1 on the NZ national bestsellers list, despite it being the peak of the Mother’s Day marketing period.
Apparently it’s going on sale in Australia next week.

Richard T

I think the sentence should actually read “…there must be a test by which it could be proved false, depending on the result of the test.”
For example, you can test the theory of gravity by dropping an apple from a tree. If it doesn’t fall then the theory of gravity must be flawed in some way. That’s not going to happen (almost certainly!), but you can certainly test it.
The problem with much of the AGW theory is that we are told that it is global climate change not just warming and pretty much any result is further proof of that change. Take for example the Antarctic issue. We were told that the cooling of the Antarctic matched AGW theory, until it turned out it might be warming, at which point we were told that matched too. Thus that part of the theory is not falsifiable as there is no temperature change which could prove it wrong.
So the point of this article is to select an issue where there has been a definitive, falsifiable, prediction based on the theory and evaluate that prediction. The prediction is “AGW will cause oceans to warm.” Thus if the oceans actually cool, then the statement must be false and the theory itself must flawed in some way.
The further point in this article is that if the AGW proponents try to get around these uncomfortable results by saying things like “error bars make it impossible to know”, or “maybe the heat is hidden lower down” etc. then what they are actually saying is “this part of the theory is not falsifiable. i.e. There is no possible set of temperature measurements which can prove AGW theory wrong. And if it’s not falsifiable then it is not science.
So they are between a rock and a hard place – accept the results and the theory must flawed, reject the results and it’s no longer science.


@ Roger Carr
I think the key sentence here would be “In order to verify a hypothesis there must be a test by which it can be proved false. ”
A good scientific hypothesis embracing falsifiability would be one that allows you to make falsifiable predictions, whereby you can tell whether you hypothesis seems to be correct to a certain degree of accuracy, or uncertainty.
In Einstein’s case, general relativity seemed to explain certain already observed peculiarities, such an aspect of Mercury’s orbit around the sun. But the theory wasn’t really given full credence until it had made a prediction (regarding the amount starlight was bent by the Sun’s gravitational field). In this case, his prediction matched the results of his test (made during a solar eclipse when people could look at star locations in the vicinity of the sun), and the theory was considered greatly supported by this, but the construction of this test allowed the possibility that results would match Newtonian predictions, or something else entirely, in which case it would clear there was a problem with the theory.
I haven’t had time to read through all of this article, but imagine the author might draw attention to the fact climate science rarely makes predictions that are falsifiable in reasonable time frame, given the immediate nature of major policy decisions based up it, or that when predictions are made, and data seems to disagree significantly with them, that it doesn’t seem to faze many academics within the field or policy makers who listen to them.
And I’d agree, in my opinion, there seems to be a distinct double-think regarding climate models and their predictions: when it comes to short-to-mid term predictions that don’t pan out, people who draw attention to it are told they’re expecting too much from the models, but when it comes to making major policy decisions based upon them, decision makers are told the models have everything dialed in to 90+% accuracy, 100 years into the future…


For many years Newton and his theory of gravity was ‘correct’ and no test was available to prove him wrong.
Along came Einstein and observations subsequently proved Newton wrong. But Einstein has not been proved right, just no one has proved him wrong yet. In fact (and I am a scientific dummy) does not quantum theory prove Einstein and his cosmological constant wrong in some areas?


The recent and continued cooling of the planet is testament enough that the AGW hypothesis has already failed, but the important point is that Global Warming has entered the mainstream political arena. To finally overturn the science – politics has to be be overturned as well, and the instrument for doing that is Cap&Trade legislation. The very real pain this world will feel in attempting to mitigate rises in CO2 will eventually cripple whole countries resulting in governments being toppled. No politician will escape the wrath of ordinary people who will have to endure higher taxes, unemployment and poverty just to appease environmentalists.
It is little wonder that people like Hansen and Lovelock are now growing ever more concerned about Cap&Trade, their green revolution is being directly threatened by a deeply flawed policy. Their growing sense of unease is being fueled by the knowledge that as ordinary people understand the dire consequences of Global Warming politics the masses will turn to an understanding of science that makes better sense of the current facts, i.e. why is the planet cooling?

Mike Nicholson

I’ve just checked in a dictionary on the meaning of “hypothesis” and it reads as follows. ” Hypothesis. A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.” And, with regard to it’s use in Philosophy, ” A proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of it’s truth”
It might be prudent for all in the media who seem to use the term of hypothesis to mean an absolute truth in reference to AGW, to reflect on what the term actually means.

Glen Blackburn

Your logic is correct “if an hypothesis is correct, then there would be no test by which it could be proved false.” all test of a hypothesis are an attempt to falsify that hypothesis. All attempt to falsify a correct hypothesis fail.

James Allison

Many thanks to those who expained falsifiability. Much appreciated by this layman regular reader.
Y’all have us thinking like scientists yet. 🙂

UK Sceptic

To Chris Long (and everyone else who took the time) Thanks for the layperson explanation. I understand perfectly now.
Much appreciated. 😀


@Roger Carr
IIRC, it is simply a matter of what constitutes “science”.
Say I believe a theory that my neighbor is an alien, an alien who can appear in human form with 100 per cent fidelity, and that this alien will never admit to being an alien. This theory is not “scientific” because there is no way to ever disprove the theory.
Now say I have a theory that my neighbor is an alien, an alien who can appear in human form but who’s DNA will still contain traces of alien DNA. This theory is potentially “scientific”, if we can get the suspected alien to submit to a DNA test. If the “alien” passes the test and all their DNA is 100% human, then my theory has been disproved.
Now say that I have a theory that he’s an alien, and that my theory says that we expect to find alien DNA. He takes the test, and the test results are that he is 100% human. That really should be the end of my theory. But instead I say, “no, wait, it is obvious that he has found a way to “hide” his DNA and just because we didn’t find alien DNA this time, doesn’t mean that there isn’t some alien DNA in the “pipeline” somewhere…”
Well, that last one started out as “scientific”, but then slipped into something else.


Correct me if I’m wrong here…
It’s not that a theory has been falsified that proves it right (that would be weird), it’s how You’re supposed to falsify it that makes it a scientific theory.
I.e. Popper doesn’t say that stuff must be falsified to be true (again, weird…) he just says what distinguishes a scientific theory from a non-scientific theory.
We can prove that a diesel engine won’t run with coffee as fuel. Therefore that is a scientific theory.
We can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. Therefore the existence of God isn’t a scientific theory.
We can’t prove that all the things that AGW-proponents say will happen won’t happen. Therefore AGW is not science.
Simple as that. 🙂

Robert Bateman

Since Dr. Pielke first published his challenge in 2007, no critical attempts have been made to explain these failed projections.
Because the oceans stopped rising, and the rise that was measured pales when compared to the noise of tides. AGW fails the only test I have available: Walk down to the shore I have known for 50 yrs. There must be some famous photos out there 100 yrs old that nail the point: Enormous heat loss.

The last decade of the 20th century averaged 0.268°C above the 61-90 baseline.
So far this century is averaging at 0.428°C above the baseline.
It a very safe bet that the first decade of the 21st century will end up the warmest since records began.
The warming trend continues.
The last five years have been warmer than the five before, which in turn were warmer then the five before that, which themselves were warmer than the five before them.
When average temperatures go up, that’s called warming.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It’s physical properties and role as such have been accepted science for over a century; since about 1860.
CO2 levels have risen signifcantly since the onset of industrialisation; from around 280ppm to around 385ppm. There is no scientific dispute on this.
That increase is due to human activity. We know this from the entirely uncontroversial fact that burning fossil fuels creates CO2, and the equally obvious fact that we’ve been burning a lot of fossil fuels since the onset of industrialisation.
The isotopic signature of CO2 in the atmosphere also confirms this.
That an increase in C02 should generally lead to an increase in temperature is not some wild and extravagant speculation. It’s exactly what accepted scientific understanding tells us to expect.
It might be possible that there is some completely unknown and as yet to be discovered mechanism that is responsible for the warming trend. But that seems unlikely since we’d also have discover some hitherto completely unknown reason why the increase in CO2 isn’t causing it.
Because basic physics tells us IT SHOULD BE.
Reply: Cutting and pasting your previous comments from other boards will get tiresome. If you wish to engage in discussion then do so, but you’re not doing it this way. ~ charles the moderator


I’m part way through and must leave for work now. This is a very good read so far. I’ll finish it later. Well done so far, and I hope it is seen by more than just us.


Jeremy (00:19:58) :
“Is this using the ARGO data after it was “corrected” for the “cold bias”?”
I have the same question

Manuel (00:54:21) explains: “Your remark is true, but what Popper says is that in order for a theory to be verifiable, it has to be falsifiable, that is, it has to be possible to make a test that can potentially unprove the theory.”
Ah… Manuel… I believe you have defined the weak spot in my understanding with this response. Your words in the above: that is, it has to be possible to make a test that can potentially unprove the theory blows away the fog.
If only Mr Popper had used the word, potentially in the first place. My thanks, sir!
And to Chris Long (01:04:26) – Disputin (01:06:57) – Richard T (01:20:58) – kmye (01:26:46); you also understood the dislocation in my perception, and have my thanks, as do all who have answered my cry, for giving me your time.
Now I will refresh this page, and assure all others who have since answered that I will read your explanations with appreciation.


Sean if the temperatures are going up so fast how is it possible for a lagging indicator to stop warming? If you look at the GISS temperature records you see the land surface temperatures increasing much faster then the sea surface temperatures and at a much higher level now. A lag time would be expected and has been seen in the past so no great suprise there. What is suprising is that with the sea surface temperatures so far behind the land surface temperatures that they could have any probability of doing anything other then increasing as they catch up in the heating process.

Thomas Weber

@ Roger Carr, Glen
Of course, if a hypothesis is correct, all tests trying to prove it wrong will fail.
The thing is: there have to be tests, that – before you do the test – include potential outcomes that would prove the hypothesis wrong. If you can still spin any test outcome to somehow keep your belief in the hypothesis up, then you needn’t do the test.
The (sometimes frustrating) example for such a test in the climate change debate is observing the temperature. At least here in Europe one can get the impression that any observed temperature is in line with the AGW hypothesis.
To put it short and cynical the interpretation of the outcome always looks a bit like this: If it’s cold it’s ‘weather’, if it’s warm it’s ‘climate’

Lindsay H

This is an important post every politician should be sent it and asked to read it and compare it to the IPCC summary of its 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th reports.

Solar maximum, solar irradiance about 1 W/m2 more than now.
Solar minimum, solar irradiance about 1 W/m2 less than in 2002.
Solar forcing about 0,2-0,3 W/m2 less in 2009 than in 2002.
Climate models do not contradict short-term cooling of the oceans in any way.
The article is the best example of cherry picking I’ve seen for a long time! Not only it uses so short time period it has nothing to do with the term “climate”, it also makes up short-term predictions out of GISS long-term predictions. That is just nasty.


Trevor 1:36:05
Einstein’s theory is a mathematical model that attempts to describe how the universe behaves more accurately than Newton’s. Neither Einstein nor any other competent scientist believed (believes) that it completely describes reality.
There is a very simple mind experiment that will illustrate one of its shortcomings. According to the theory, if a spaceman gets in a rocket and travels at relativistic speeds through the universe time will slow down for him and he will not age at the same rate as the rest of the universe. Well and good, but the theory cannot differentiate between the spaceman rocketing about while the universe continues unaccelerated or the universe accelerating about while the spaceman sits unaccelerated.
Obviously the two are not equivalent, there is an “isness” to the universe that is not described in the mathematical equations of the theory. Whatever it is that everything is “relative” to is more complicated than the velocity of light. Newton was “right” in the sense of the local gravity field. Einstein was “right” in the sense of the relation to the observed velocity of light, but he had no illusions that he had arrived at the ultimate description of reality.
There is a deeper reality that is yet to be described. I doubt that the next step will be the ultimate.


I’m puzzled. Has seal level stopped rising or not? The information in this article contradicts e.g. the scary news articles after the recent Copenhagen meeting. Or directly from Rahmstorf here:

PaulHClark: You wrote, “…it would be good to hear from Bob Tisdale on Ocean Heat Content…”
I ended the post you linked with, “A decade from now, when researchers sort out the problems of measuring Ocean Heat Content, when they agree on the methodologies to be used to calculate it, it may serve as a worthwhile measure of climate change. At present it does not.” A clarification: that comment referred to long-term representations of Levitus et al, Ishii and Kimoto, and Domingues et al. All three papers came out within a year of one another:
What I found amusing was the choice of years for the trend comparison. The data runs from 1955, but they start the trends in 1969 to exaggerate them. With that spike in the late 1950s, the Domingues trend would be significantly lower with a 1955 start date.
And the changes to the Levitus data (2005 vs 2009) actually lowered the trend from their previous paper. It appears that the shift in trend was caused by the elimination of the significant dip in 1957 and the lowering of the rise in recent years.
The changes to Levitus data erase the hard-to-explain hump in the 1970s, leaving the basic curves of global OHC and Global SST anomalies in better “agreement”.
What’s missing, as with all other studies of this type, is the impact of cloud amount on OHC:
The above illustrations are from my post “Revised Ocean Heat Content” here:

Juraj V.

re steve – SST temperatures are without UHI bias and if HadCRUT/GISS gets combined with AMSU anomalies after 1979, you get almost exactly the same anomaly trend as for SST, quite shallow during the last 30 years. Last 30 years for ground datasets are contaminated badly by UHI/land use changes. Both SST and air temps started to drop at the same time so there is not much lag there.

Thanks for this really excellent article! William DiPuccio has an Isaac Asimov-ish way of clearly explaining the situation.
The conclusion is inescapable: the “CO2 causes runaway global warming” hypothesis has taken about 4 or 5 torpedoes; it’s going down. It will be interesting watching the response from everyone who’s hung their hat on this falsified hypothesis.
Will the government go ahead anyway with C&T, or with some other unnecessary BIG tax, BIG gov’t “solution” to the non-problem of global warming? My guess is yes, and damn the science.


I’ve read the same stuff on many AGW sites all of course with the same misunderstanding of what has actually been happening, the same serious misunderstanding of cause and effect and the same tragic misunderstanding of the CO2 balance and mans part in it. I also had the sense to read what was being said on non-blinkered sites such as this which in many ways sensibly debunk all of the accepted wisdom that I’d collected before. Do what I did Sean and actually read what is posted here. Being a contributor is far better than being a Troll, seriously.

Adam Soereg

The house of cards of AGW is getting closer and closer to collapse. For example, a few years ago this was one of the main arguments of the pro-AGW viewpoint: The Hockey Stick graph proves that the surface temperature change of the past century is unprecedented in the last 1000 years – so it must have been caused by anthropogenic forcings, primarily CO2.
Fortunately, the MBH98 Hockey Stick has been disproven, and many other important AGW arguments are also tending to disappear today.


Roger Carr (00:07:31) :
My own logic fails me on the following, and always has. Would someone grant me the time to explain?
From the beginning of this post: Karl Popper: Falsifiability. In order to verify a hypothesis there must be a test by which it can be proved false. A thousand observations may appear to verify a hypothesis, but one critical failure could result in its demise.
My logic says if an hypothesis is correct, then there would be no test by which it could be proved false. (The final sentence is clear and understood.)
What am I missing?

According to Popper’s version of knowledge, a theory isn’t a theory unless it contains falsifiable content. Therefore, all truth is contingent on the possibility it can be proved incorrect.
“All snowflakes are different, unless you can find two identical ones.”
A theory without falsifiable content is merely a statement of belief.
“God exists, but you can’t see him.”

Ron de Haan

I note that Anthony is running Google ads. I just saw one that takes one to a fantastic (as in of or relating to fantasy) AGW site. I think we should check those sites out from time to time, just to find out what they are saying.

Re Popper, it is important to note that his philosophy on science is not the final word on the matter. Basically Popper tried to establish a deductive way to test scientific theories – at leat in the disproof sense. David Stove, in “Anything Goes” has presented what I believe to be a comprehensive debunking of Popper’s program to set up a deductive philosophy of science.
In essense, the ‘fuzzy idea’ that a disconfirming experiment disproves a theory, whereas any amount of confirming experiments never proves it, has a certain amount of reasonableness about it. But the reason is not that we can prove theories false by experiment; we cannot, any more than we can prove them true. Logically, any experiment you can think of cannot disprove any given theory. An elephant suddenly appears in the room. Disproves Newtonian mechanics? No, because it might be that a clever magician created an illusion. And so on. No matter how strong the disproof, some conceivable constellation of factors other than the theory’s falsity might be responsible. It is worth noting in this regard that Newtonian mechanics has definitely not been disproved by experiment; it is just that the conjectures needed to save it compared with relativistic mechanics became increasingly unreasonable and unbelievable. But no logical disproof has ever been, or can ever be, offered.
My thoughts on the matter are that confirmations and disconfirmations are basically the same sort of thing, but typically, although not necessarily, disconfirmations constrict the realm of possible explanatory factors much more strongly, and so they are much more immediately believable, than confirmations. But there have been striking confirmations too. The quantum-mechanical prediction that an experiment in the future can determine whether a photon in the past acted as a wave or as a particle is so striking and so contrary to all expectation, that when this was tested and found to be true, it constituted a powerful confirmation of the theory. But it was not proof, any more than any disconfirmation can be proof. In the end, we have to choose our beliefs based on having good reasons for belief, not on having proof (in either the positive or negative direction).