Trust and Mistrust

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Following up on the excellent initiative of Dr. Judith Curry (see Judith’s post and my response ), I would like to see what I can do to rebuild the justifiably lost trust in climate science. I want to bring some clarity to terms which are used all the time but which don’t seem to have an agreed upon meaning. In the process, I want to detail my own beliefs about the climate and how it works.

Figure 1. Dr Judith Curry tries to warn the greenhouse warming scientists … from Cartoons By Josh.

I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of the vague statements that characterise many of the discussions about climate change. These range from the subtle to the ridiculous. An example would be “I believe in climate change”. Given that the climate has been changing since there has been climate, what does that mean?

We also hear that there is a “consensus” … but when you ask for the actual content of the consensus, what exactly are the shared beliefs, a great silence ensues.

Often we see people being called unpleasant terms like “deniers”, with the ugly overtones of “Holocaust deniers”. I’ve been called that myself many times … but what is it that I am being accused of denying?

In an attempt to cut through the mashed potatoes and get to the meat, let me explain in question and answer format what I believe, and provide some citations for my claims. (These are only indicative citations from among many I could provide on each topic.) I will also indicate how much scientific agreement I think there is on the questions. First, some introductory questions.

Preface Question 1. Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I bring this up to get rid of the canard that people who don’t believe the “consensus science” on global warming are evil people who don’t care about the planet. I am a passionate environmentalist, and I have been so since 1962 when I first read Silent Spring upon its publication. I believe that we have an obligation to respect the natural ecosystems that we live among. My reasons are simple. First, we have a responsibility to be good guests and good stewards here on this amazing planet. Second, I worked extensively in my life as a commercial fisherman, and I would like for my grandchildren to have the same opportunity. The only way to do this is to monitor and be careful with our effects on the earth and the biosphere.

Preface Question 2. What single word would you choose to describe your position on climate science?

Heretic. I am neither an anthopogenic global warming (AGW) supporter nor a skeptic, I believe the entire current climate paradigm is incorrect.

Question 1. Does the earth have a preferred temperature which is actively maintained by the climate system?

To me this is the question that we should answer first. I believe that the answer is yes. Despite millennia-long volcanic eruptions, despite being struck by monstrous asteroids, despite changes in the position of the continents, as near as we can tell the average temperature of the earth has only varied by about plus or minus three percent in the last half-billion years. Over the last ten thousand years, the temperature has only varied by plus or minus one percent. Over the last 150 years, the average temperature has only varied by plus or minus 0.3%.  For a system as complex and ever-changing as the climate, this is nothing short of astounding.

Before asking any other questions about the climate, we must ask why the climate has been so stable. Until we answer that question, trying to calculate the climate sensitivity is an exercise in futility.

I have explained in “The Thermostat Hypothesis” what I think is the mechanism responsible for this unexplained stability. My explanation may be wrong, but there must be some mechanism which has kept the global temperature within plus or minus 1% for ten thousand years.

I am, however, definitely in the minority with this opinion.

Question 2. Regarding human effects on climate, what is the null hypothesis?

If we are trying to see if humans have affected the climate, the null hypothesis has to be that any changes in the climate (e.g. changes in temperature, rainfall, snow extent, sea ice coverage, drought occurrence and severity) are due to natural variations.

Question 3. What observations tend to support or reject the null hypothesis?

As I show in “Congenital Climate Abnormalities”, not only are there no “fingerprints” of human effects in the records, but I find nothing that is in any way unusual or anomalous. Yes, the earth’s temperature is changing slightly … but that has been true since the earth has had a temperature.

There is no indication that the recent warming is any different from past warmings. There is more and more evidence that the Medieval Warm period was widespread, and  that it was warmer than the present.  The Greenland ice cores show that we are at the cold end of the Holocene (the current inter-glacial period). There have been no significant changes in rainfall, floods, sea level rise, Arctic temperatures, or other indicators.

In short, I find no climate metrics that show anything which is anomalous or outside of historical natural variations. In the absence of such evidence, we cannot reject the null hypothesis.

Question 4. Is the globe warming?

This is a trick question. It is a perfect example of a frequently asked question which is totally meaningless. It shows up all the time on public opinion polls, but it is devoid of meaning. To make it meaningful, it needs to have a time period attached to it. Here are some examples of my views on the question:

1 During the last century, the earth warmed slightly (less than 1°C).

2 The earth has generally cooled over the last 12,000 years. We are currently at the cold end of the Holocene (the period since the end of the last Ice Age. See the Greenland and Vostok ice records.

3 The earth has generally warmed since the depths of the Little Ice Age around 1650, at a rate somewhere around a half a degree Celsius per century. See Akasufo, the Central England Temperature (CET), and the Armagh records.

4 The largest warming in any instrumental record occurred around 1680 – 1730. See the CET and Armagh records.

5 The earth was either stable or cooled slightly from about 1945 to 1975.

6 The earth warmed slightly from about 1975 to 1998.

7 There has been no significant warming from 1995 to the present (Feb. 2010). See The Reference Frame Phil Jones.

I would say that there is widespread scientific agreement on the existence of these general trends. The amount of the warming, however, is far less certain. There is current controversy about both the accuracy of the adjustments to the temperature measurements and the strength of local effects (UHI, poor station siting, warmth from irrigation, etc.). See e.g. McKitrick, Spencer, Christy and Norris, Ladochy et al.., Watts, SurfaceStations, and Jones on these questions.

Question 5. Are humans responsible for global warming?

This is another trick question that often shows up on polls. The question suffers from two problems. First is the lack of a time period discussed above. The second is the question of the amount of responsibility. Generally, the period under discussion is the post-1900 warming. So let me rephrase the question as “Are humans responsible for some part of the late 20th century warming?”

To this question I would say “Yes”. Again, there is widespread scientific agreement on that simplistic question, but as usual, the devil is in the details discussed in Question 4.

Question 6. If the answer to Question 5 is “Yes”, how are humans affecting the climate?

I think that humans affect the climate in two main ways. The first is changes in land use/land cover, or what is called “LU/LC”. I believe that when you cut down a forest, you cut down the clouds. This mechanism has been implicated in e.g. the decline in the Kilimanjaro Glacier. When you introduce widespread irrigation, the additional water vapor both warms and moderates the climate. When you pave a parking lot, local temperatures rise. See e.g. Christie and Norris, Fall et al., Kilimanjaro.

The second main way humans affect climate is through soot, which I will broadly define as black and brown carbon. Black carbon comes mostly from burning of fossil fuels, while brown carbon comes mostly from the burning of biofuels. This affects the climate in two ways. In the air, the soot absorbs incoming solar radiation, and prevents it from striking the ground. This reduces the local temperature. In addition, when soot settles out on ice and snow, it accelerates the melting of the ice and snow. This increases the local temperature by reducing the surface albedo. See e.g. Jacobson.

There is little scientific agreement on this question. A number of scientists implicate greenhouse gases as the largest contributor. Other scientists say that LU/LC is the major mover. The IPCC places values on these and other so-called “forcings”, but it admits that our scientific understanding of many of forcings is “low”.

Question 7. How much of the post 1980 temperature change is due to human activities?

Here we get into very murky waters. Is the overall balance of the warming and cooling effects of soot a warming or a cooling? I don’t know, and there is little scientific agreement on the effect of soot. In addition, as shown above there is no indication that the post 1980 temperature rise is in any way unusual. It is not statistically different from earlier periods of warming. As a result, I believe that humans have had little effect on the climate, other than locally. There is little scientific agreement on this question.

Next, some more general and theoretical questions.

Question 8. Does the evidence from the climate models show that humans are responsible for changes in the climate?

This is another trick question. Climate models do not produce evidence. Evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world. Climate model results are nothing more than the beliefs and prejudices of the programmers made tangible. While the results of climate models can be interesting and informative, they are not evidence.

Question 9. Are the models capable of projecting climate changes for 100 years?

My answer to this is a resounding “no”. The claim is often made that it is easier to project long-term climate changes than short-term weather changes. I see no reason to believe that is true. The IPCC says:

“Projecting changes in climate due to changes in greenhouse gases 50 years from now is a very different and much more easily solved problem than forecasting weather patterns just weeks from now. To put it another way, long-term variations brought about by changes in the composition of the atmosphere are much more predictable than individual weather events.” [from page 105, 2007 IPCC WG1, FAQ 1.2]

To me, that seems very doubtful. The problem with that theory is that climate models have to deal with many more variables than weather models. They have to model all of the variables that weather models contain, plus:

• Land biology

• Sea biology

• Ocean currents

• Ground freezing and thawing

• Changes in sea ice extent and area

• Aerosol changes

• Changes in solar intensity

• Average volcanic effects

• Snow accumulation, area, melt, and sublimation

• Effect of melt water pooling on ice

• Freezing and thawing of lakes

• Changes in oceanic salinity

• Changes in ice cap and glacier thickness and extent

• Changes in atmospheric trace gases

• Variations in soil moisture

• Alterations in land use/land cover

• Interactions between all of the above

• Mechanisms which tend to maximise the sum of work and entropy according to the Constructal Law.

How can a more complex situation be modeled more easily and accurately than a simpler situation? That makes no sense at all.

Next, the problem with weather models has been clearly identified as the fact that weather is chaotic. This means that no matter how well the model starts out, within a short time it will go off the rails. But the same is true for climate, it is also chaotic. Thus, there is no reason to assume that we can predict it any better than we can predict the weather. See Mandelbrot on the chaotic nature of climate.

Finally, climate models have done very poorly in the short-term. There has been no statistically significant warming in the last fifteen years. This was not predicted by a single climate model. People keep saying that the models do well in the long-term … but no one has ever identified when the changeover occurs. Are they unreliable up to twenty-five years and reliable thereafter? Fifty years?

Question 10. Are current climate theories capable of explaining the observations?

Again I say no. For example, the prevailing theory is that forcing is linearly related to climate, such that a change of X in forcing results in a change of Y in temperature. The size of this temperature change resulting from a given forcing is called the “climate sensitivity”. In 1980, based on early simple computer climate models, the temperature resulting from a change in forcing of 3.7 watts per square meter (W/m2) was estimated to result in a temperature change of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius. See e.g. Green and Armstrong 2007.

Since 1980, there has been a huge increase in computing power. Since 1980, there has also been a huge increase in the size and complexity of computer models. Since 1980, thousands of man hours and billions of dollars have been thrown at this question. Despite these advances, the modern estimate of the climate sensitivity is almost unchanged from its 1980 value.

To me, this lack of any advance in accuracy indicates that we have an incorrect understanding of the forces governing the climate. Otherwise, our bigger, faster and better models would have narrowed the uncertainty of the climate sensitivity. But they have not.

Question 11. Is the science settled?

To this one I would answer no, no, a thousand times no. We are just a the beginning of the study of climate. New information and new theories and new forcings are put forward on a regular basis. See e.g. Lu. The data is poor, short, and full of holes. The signal is tiny and buried in a huge amount of noise. We don’t know if the earth has a thermostat. In short, the study of climate is an infant science which is still poorly understood.

Question 12. Is climate science a physical science?

Well, sort of. It is a very strange science, in that to my knowledge it is the only physical science whose object of study is not a thing, not a physical object or phenomenon, but an average. This is because climate is defined as the average of weather over a suitably long period of time (usually taken to be 30 years.) The implications of this are not widely appreciated. Inter alia, it means that statistics is one of the most important parts of climate science.

Unfortunately, a number of what I might call the “leading blights” of climate science, like Michael Mann with his HockeySchtick, have only the most rudimentary understanding of statistics. This initially got him into trouble in his foray into the area of paleoclimate statistics, trouble which he has only compounded by his later statistical errors.

Question 13. Is the current peer-review system inadequate, and if so, how can it be improved?

There are a number of problems with the current peer-review system, some of which are highlighted in the abuses of that system revealed in the CRU emails.

There are several easy changes we could make in peer review that would help things immensely:

1. Publish the names of the reviewers and their reviews along with the paper. The reviews are just as important as the paper, as they reveal the views of other scientists on the issues covered. This will stop the “stab in the back in the dark” kind of reviewing highlighted in the CRU emails.

2. Do not reveal the names of the authors to the reviewers. While some may be able to guess the names from various clues in the paper, the reviews should be “double-blind” (neither side knows the names of the others) until publication.

3. Do the reviewing online, in a password protected area. This will allow each reviewer to read, learn from, and discuss the reviews of others in real time. The process often takes way too long, and consists of monologues rather than a round-table discussion of the problems with the paper.

4. Include more reviewers. The CRU emails show that peer review is often just an “old-boys club”, with the reviewing done by two or three friends of the author. Each journal should allow a wide variety of scientists to comment on pending papers. This should include scientists from other disciplines. For example, climate science has suffered greatly from a lack of statisticians reviewing papers. As noted above, much of climate science is statistical analysis, yet on many papers either none or only the most cursory statistical review has been done. Also, engineers should be invited to review papers as well. Many theories would benefit from practical experience. Finally, “citizen scientists” such as myself should not be excluded from the process. The journals should solicit as wide a range of views on the subject as they can. This can only help the peer review process.

5. The journals must insist on the publication of data and computer codes. A verbal description of what mathematics has been done is totally inadequate. As we saw in the “HockeyStick”, what someone thinks or says they have done may not be what they actually did. Only an examination of the code can reveal that. Like my high science teacher used to say, “Show your work.”

Question 14. Regarding climate, what action (if any) should we take at this point?

I disagree with those who say that the “precautionary principle” means that we should act now. I detail my reasons for this assertion at “Climate Caution and Precaution”.  At that page I also list the type of actions that we should be taking, which are “no regrets” actions. These are actions which will have beneficial results whether or not the earth is warming.

So that is where I stand on the climate questions. I think that the earth actively maintains a preferred temperature. I think that man is having an effect on local climate in various places, but that globally man’s effect is swamped by the regulating action of clouds and thunderstorms. I think that the local effect is mainly through LU/LC changes and soot. I think that the climate regulating mechanism is much stronger than either of these forcings and is stronger than CO2 forcing. I think that at this point the actions we should take are “no regrets” actions.

Does that make me a “denier”? And if so, what am I denying?

Finally, I would like to invite Dr. Judith Curry in particular, and any other interested scientists, to publicly answer these same questions here on Watts Up With That. There has been far too much misunderstanding of everyone’s position on these important issues. A clear statement of what each of us thinks about the climate and the science will go a long way towards making the discussion both more focused and more pleasant, and perhaps it will tend to heal the well-earned distrust that many have of climate science.

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AlexB
March 31, 2010 5:35 pm

See on preface question 1 I differ in the terms I use. I would call you a conservationist. Environmentalist I reserve for those people who have a politically focused agenda of changing the way people live rather than a strict conservation focus.

March 31, 2010 5:44 pm

At first I thought Anthony wrote this, but then the past profession as commercial fisherman showed up.
Written by Willie Eschenbach, right?

March 31, 2010 5:46 pm

Very, very nice article.
Mark

Henry chance
March 31, 2010 5:53 pm

A man can bring a lamp into a room and lighten the room. He can not bring a can full of darkness into the room and darken the room.
I suspect it is possible to warm the planet a bit. I suspect that increased evaporation and clouds will cool it. I can’t pay taxes and cool the planet.
Models create nothing. Here is a site that tells us crude will be 40 dollars a barrel in 2010. It is twice that. They are wrong. Joe Romm says they are correct when they tell us how much crude will sell for in 2030 if we dabble in increadsed drilling.
Joe is not an honest person. He cherrypicks dishonest claims.
In 2005 the Energy Information Administration said crude would be 30 dollars in 2030.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/aeo_2006analysispapers/wop06.html
The EIA has only proven to me they have a verified history of being wrong.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/aeo_2009analysispapers/aongr.html
I do know that Warmist folks claim to know more and be superior to people that find glaring errors in their false predictions.
14. What action should be taken?
Tell the wackos that if they can’t get anything right, they sure can’t dictate action. I remain commited to conservation of resources. I still strongly dislike seeing people behave slovenly and that always included all the messy plastic water bottles and trash.
There are many folks on this board that get the bigger picture. The article above is a great summary of the bigger picture. Judith Curry doesn’t get it but could if she was open minded. I won’t put her on the list of people that can’t accept some wisdom. The ones that predict temps CO2 oil prices etc for 2030 0r 2090 have too large a block to wrap their minds around reality and the present.

Jack in Oregon
March 31, 2010 5:56 pm

I scrolled down here, to find out who wrote this, after the first few paragraphs as it didn’t have Anthony’s voice. I will now go back, and finish reading it. I will say, that I wish every post was signed by every writer.
Thanks for all the words shared, who ever wrote them.
Best Regards,
Jack

William Sears
March 31, 2010 5:59 pm

As regards question one: temperature is an intensive quantity of a system in equilibrium. You can not average the temperatures of different systems in any meaningful way. Thus the earth, which is never in equilibrium, does not have an average temperature. Energy balance as affected by cloud cover, solar insolation, albedo and so one are the parameters of importance. It has just been too easy to play games with temperature recording stations whose only use are for local weather forecasting.

wsbriggs
March 31, 2010 6:00 pm

If Hr. Eschenbach continues this line of discussion, what are the “Climate Scientists” going to do?
The total lack of animosity, the clean, clear exposition, the lack of coulds, maybes, mights, will provoke a terminal attack of stuttering, sputtering apoplexy in that populous.
Keep it up!

Anthony Mills
March 31, 2010 6:02 pm

Excellent exposition! But please do not give temperature changes as percentages–meaningless numbers-must give absolute values.In SI units give in kelvins(or equivalently degrees Celsius)

Les Johnson
March 31, 2010 6:02 pm

I too, am a conservationist. But the reference to Carson is off-putting.
She is responsible for as many deaths as Stalin or Mao. Maybe more.

Pamela Gray
March 31, 2010 6:02 pm

You forgot one.
Briefs or boxers?

PaulS
March 31, 2010 6:05 pm

Willis, I agree with every sentiment and use similar questions to promote discussion between those who believe and those who don’t. It’s suprising how little we truly know about the way our planet works.

March 31, 2010 6:06 pm

Interesting article, much to agree with.

Is climate science a physical science?
Well, sort of. It is a very strange science, in that to my knowledge it is the only physical science whose object of study is not a thing, not a physical object or phenomenon, but an average. This is because climate is defined as the average of weather over a suitably long period of time (usually taken to be 30 years.)

Some parts of climate science are statistics. But a large part is physics.
-Reflection and absorption of solar radiation
-Longwave absorption and emission by trace gases
-Humidity and latent heat
-Cloud formation and effect
-Rain
-Ocean currents
-Stratospheric effects on the troposphere
-Ice melting
Then there’s some chemistry especially stratospheric and ocean chemistry. Most of the climate scientists (who’ve been around a while) studied physics.
Most of what gets studied and written about is teasing out the physical processes in the atmosphere and oceans.

Henry chance
March 31, 2010 6:06 pm

I also double checked and It was written in the style of Willis but referred to Anthony. The cartoon is signature Josh. The sand castle is signature Algore

March 31, 2010 6:07 pm

Willis:
“First, we have a responsibility to be good guests and good stewards here on this amazing planet.”
We are not guests on this planet. We do not have a responsibility towards this amazing planet. We are not visiting this planet. You are just suffering from a mild form of Stockholm syndrome.
I quote from paper (in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine):
Maibach EW, Roser-Renouf C, Leiserowitz A
Communication and Marketing As Climate Change–Intervention Assets: A Public Health Perspective Am J Prev Med 2008;35(5):488–500
“Choosing message frames for climate change that are consistent with the values of target groups is one important way to make the recommended behaviors or policies easier to accept.” …
“Conservation messages, for example,
can use an economic frame (This is an excellent way to save money);
an energy independence frame (This is a means for our country to free itself from dependence on foreign oil);
a legacy frame (This is a way to protect our children’s future);
a stewardship frame (This is how I honor my moral obligation to protect the abiding wonders and mystery of life);
a religious frame (This is a way to serve God by protecting His creation);
or a nationalist frame (Innovative technology will keep our nation’s economy strong).
You’ve been ‘framed’ and ‘messaged’, that’s all

Tom Judd
March 31, 2010 6:09 pm

H.L. Mencken wrote that the practical business of politics was menacing the public with a series of hobgoblins so that they’d be clamorous to be led to safety. I think that this explanation is at least partly responsible (moreso than science) for a fear of AGW. It has also been said that ‘war is the health of the state.’ But what do you do in an era of nuclear weapons that make a major war unthinkable? May I suggest that the answer lies in catastrophic global warming. When, oh when, will they ever leave average people alone to live, thrive, and survive?

B. Smith
March 31, 2010 6:09 pm

This may be slightly off topic, but relevant nonetheless.
____________________________________________________________________
Lovelock: ‘We can’t save the planet’
Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who developed Gaia theory, has said it is too late to try and save the planet.
The man who achieved global fame for his theory that the whole earth is a single organism now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change.
Interviewed by Today presenter John Humphrys, videos of which you can see below, he said that while the earth’s future was utterly uncertain, mankind was not aware it had “pulled the trigger” on global warming as it built its civilizations.
What is more, he predicts, the earth’s climate will not conveniently comply with the models of modern climate scientists.
As the record winter cold testifies, he says, global temperatures move in “jerks and jumps”, and we cannot confidently predict what the future holds.
Prof Lovelock does not pull his punches on the politicians and scientists who are set to gain from the idea that we can predict climate change and save the planet ourselves. Scientists, he says, have moved from investigating nature as a vocation, to being caught in a career path where it makes sense to “fudge the data”. And while renewable energy technology may make good business sense, he says, it is not based on “good practical engineering”.
At the age of 90, Prof Lovelock is resigned to his own fate and the fate of the planet. Whether the planet saves itself or not, he argues, all we can do is to “enjoy life while you can”.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8594000/8594561.stm

wsbriggs
March 31, 2010 6:12 pm

Henry chance (17:53:42) :
I beg to differ Henry, oil could very well hit $40 a barrel in 2010. Will it stay there, probably not, but it certainly isn’t going to wing it all the way back up to $150.
The increase in drilling in the US in the Bakken Shale is bringing a lot of oil to the surface. The Iraq fields in the Kurdish areas are producing, and just short of having a substantially larger pipeline for distribution. The Brazilians have hit it big, Ghana is loaded with oil, as are the areas in SE Asia. More large companies are looking for unconventional oil in addition to unconventional gas, and they’re finding it.
Just like the nat gas price has an effective $4-4.50 cap, increased oil production will drop the price. None of the finds are themselves enough, but as a whole they show that much more oil will be found, and even before that, much more oil is going to be produced.
I won a $20 bet (made in 2005) that oil would hit $40 a barrel again – it did. I’m not looking to bet again, other than I work in O&G so that’s kind of a bet.

March 31, 2010 6:15 pm

Willis, I really wish writers on scientific matters would avoid the word ‘believe’. I understand that colloquially ‘believe’ usually means ‘think’, or ‘it is my view that’, or ‘it is my firm, well-considered understanding’, or some such locution, but science is really not a matter of belief in the same way that religious convictions, matters of ‘faith’, are. The latter are not in principle dependent on the kind of empirical verification/falsification that propositions in science require. When you say, “I believe the entire current climate paradigm is incorrect,” and that you are an “heretic,” it casts the entire argument in quasi-religious terms. However much the alarmists resort to such language, it is to be regretted.
Otherwise, an excellent piece; your facility for writing directly and succinctly on complex topics is much to be admired.
/Mr Lynn

March 31, 2010 6:17 pm

Does the evidence from the climate models show that humans are responsible for changes in the climate?
This is another trick question. Climate models do not produce evidence. Evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world. Climate model results are nothing more than the beliefs and prejudices of the programmers made tangible. While the results of climate models can be interesting and informative, they are not evidence.

Models have a lot of flaws – see Models On – and Off the Catwalk, but my criticism of the statement is more about what we could call “evidence”.
Most scientific theories have some equations and they need to be solved in one way or another. If the solution to the equations matches observation then this is evidence for the theory.
For example, to demonstrate that CO2 produces downward longwave radiation in accord with the few equations that govern the process (the radiative transfer equations) you have to calculate a (computer intensive) numerical solution of these equations.
The results do match the measurements, so surely this is “evidence” (see CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Six – Visualization )
It’s not really different from the theory of gravity. The model is the equations and the observations need to be matched to the solution to these equations under certain conditions. Correct match = evidence.
So not a trick question.

Mark S
March 31, 2010 6:22 pm

Excellent article! Thanks for publishing this.
I noticed a typo in question 10. “obervations” should be “observations”.

geo
March 31, 2010 6:27 pm

Let’s get Willis’ name up at the top there. . . I had to infer it from the link to the response to Curry.
Back to reading. . .

Lon Hocker
March 31, 2010 6:34 pm

Lovely!
I like your answer to question 1, and the data seems to support it.
http://www.2bc3.com/warming.html
The regulating mechanism is offset by the fact that the regulation is based on the CO2 level at the equator and heating is caused by CO2 at the higher latitudes. This makes the warming attributable to CO2 proportional to the rate of production of CO2, not the absolute amount in the atmosphere.

geo
March 31, 2010 6:44 pm

I’m neither entirely comfortable nor entirely uncomfortable with the null hypothesis as a basis for action.
I’m more comfortable with it as a basis for not remaking the world economy on a rapidly accelerated basis.
I’m not comfortable with it if it is used as a basis to not take a keen and heightened research effort. Not being able to exclude a reason for change is not the same thing as being able to prove it is the reason.
As to the precautionary principle, the opportunity cost has to be considered. If you spend trillions, you *will* kill people by lost opportunity cost. A great many of them. Count on it. The insurance cost better be pretty reasonable.
I’m more comfortable with the precautionary principle re energy security, except of course most of the people who cry out for it hate nat gas, hate drilling, and hate nuclear. And if you say “clean coal” to them you better scurry out of spittle range. They only really want “energy security” if they can flash it now and then for color, and then quickly send it back to hiding before you start poking holes in how it doesn’t fit so very well with an anti-carbon agenda.
But sure, I’m ready to spend a lot of money on conservation, also on nuclear, also on transitioning to more nat gas usage.
My latest favorite bon mot is “Sure, I trust science. . .but only in multi-decadal time frames”.

Wayne Delbeke
March 31, 2010 6:48 pm

“Silent Spring” affected a lot of people including David Suzuki. I wrote my second year engineering paper on Malathion use as a result of reading the book and went into the “Water and Pollution” discipline of Civil Engineering when it was first offered in British Columbia in the 1960’s; and I took classes from Suzuki.
But an Engineer graduates from “Applied Science”. Engineering work is often based on empirical science and tested hypotheses. And that is where I see problems with many of the Climate Scientists … they fail to apply science appropriately or adequately test their results against reality.
In ancient Babylon there was the Code of Hammurabi = if a building fell down and killed people, the designer would be put to death. Engineers have a responsibility to the public and they have learned to test their hypotheses and apply appropriate safety factors.
A great deal of what I read about climate “science” is not testable, has no factor of safety built in, and there is a lack of consequences to those who are suggesting we spend billions on unproven theories.
Good article Willis.
Wayne Delbeke from Canukistan.

David Alan Evans
March 31, 2010 6:50 pm

I have problems with the whole climate monitoring thing.
I been saying for some time that temperature alone means nothing and Max Hugoson brought the same thing up recently on another thread.
I will in the following example refer to what I call mass balance, the concentration of H2O in terms of kg H2O/kg air.
Starting at 28°C & 63%RH you get an enthalpy of 66.6J/g
After an increase to 29°C maintaining the same mass balance you get an RH of 59% & an enthalpy of 67.3J/g
To maintain roughly the same enthalpy, the mass balance has to reduce giving an RH of 58% Enthalpy 66.7J/g
Without a minimum of RH, temperature means nothing.
I guess I must be an heretic too.
DaveE.

TerryBixler
March 31, 2010 6:51 pm

All this interest on a subject, primarily because the governments of the world have decided to act on unfounded ‘science’. A new religion to be followed, led by people with the gift of sight of an ephemeral reality always favoring their inner belief in sin. Only to be slaved by penitence of other people.

DirkH
March 31, 2010 6:52 pm

“scienceofdoom (18:17:29) :
[…]
It’s not really different from the theory of gravity. The model is the equations and the observations need to be matched to the solution to these equations under certain conditions. Correct match = evidence.
So not a trick question”
It depends. Solving an equation is one thing, iterating millions of simulation steps with an imperfect simulation of physics is a different thing. Even in the absence of deterministic chaos any robotics scientist can tell you that his simulation of a robotics cinematic will be good only for so many steps and then the errors accumulate enough to lead to significant deviations from the real thing.

SidViscous
March 31, 2010 6:53 pm

Excellent piece as always Willis.
But why did yo have to mention “cut through the mashed potatoes and get to the meat” now I want pot roast and alls I have is beans and hot dogs…..
😉
And PS if you ever get tired of lounging in paradise and get over to the East Coast I’d like to buy you a beer, or other suitable adult libation.

Louis Hissink
March 31, 2010 6:54 pm

Willis
Zounds, being a heretic has a nice sound to it – and I urge people here to get Thomas Sowell’s latest book about Society and Intellectuals – Climate Science is essentially an intellectual contrivance, a science of an abstraction and it’s no wonder it has been so comprehensively embraced by those who sincerely believe in post normal science, pseudoscience I mean.
Seems I must be a heretic as well as I, along with Willis, reckon they have the physics basically wrong – it’s the plasma folks.

nc
March 31, 2010 6:59 pm

Great article, but, “I am a passionate environmentalist, and I have been so since 1962 when I first read Silent Spring”, Think of Silent Spring and Gore’s power-point. The above article can also be applied to Silent Spring.

March 31, 2010 7:06 pm

DirkH:
I agree there is a huge quantitative difference. But it’s still not a trick question. If climate models could match observations then I believe we could call it “evidence” of something.

AlexB
March 31, 2010 7:07 pm

RE: Willis Eschenbach (18:35:36)
Totally agree. I must say I was very impressed with the honesty and understanding you conveyed by the use of the word belief. The difference between belief and theory is that the two words are spelt differently. It is impossible for humans to know natural laws. Science is simply made up of various degrees of belief. There is a mysticism around science where people think that it is absolute when it is anything but.

Bill Illis
March 31, 2010 7:25 pm

How about the example today (or tomorrow) when Nature publishes a study about how Glacial Lake Agassiz drained (uphill) through the Mackenzie River Valley into the Arctic ocean and the fresh water from the event shut down the Gulf Stream.
They only had to check the elevation maps to know that Agassiz drained south to the Mississippi River through the Warren River/Traverse Gap to the Gulf of Mexico. It is only about 500 feet lower than any other possible outlet of the time.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100331141413.htm
There are dozens of these “Gulf Stream shuts down from Lake Agassiz fresh water” studies now and it is ridiculous that a fact known already 150 years ago is just ignored. “Nature” is publishing this stuff.

p.g.sharrow "PG"
March 31, 2010 7:33 pm

I have been a conservationist for nearly 60 years, ” waste not , want not”, an old time rural attitude. “Preservationists” and “Ecologists” hate people and want to waste the worlds resources through none use. Conservationists believe in moderation of use, preservationists and ecologists are absolutists, where the ends justifies the means.
AGW has been proved false, next question.

Urederra
March 31, 2010 7:34 pm

It is just me or Josh used hockey sticks as flag poles.
BTW, well balanced article. I missed the term empirical when you talk about computer models, but that is just me being picky.

Doug in Seattle
March 31, 2010 7:35 pm

Thanks Willis. I am in broad agreement with you, with one notable exception – Silent Spring. In that I agree with Lee above.

gbaikie
March 31, 2010 7:35 pm

“”Environmentalist” – short definition.
A counter-culture or a sub-culture, a person, well-meaning, and varied in degrees of dedication towards the theorized problems on Earth and the environment.
What most environmentalists have in common is a communal, casual concern through an individual to almost religious zeal, roughly based upon the 1960’s industrial and cultural backlash. Such persons can be as moderate as a person who occasionally donates to an environmentalist fund and generally agrees with such notions, to extremists such as Greenpeace and the Earth Liberation Front, which have a history of interference and even endagerment of it’s opponents. Many environmentalists are classified as being “liberal” or “democrat,” in the United States, with a few fringe groups on the contrary to that generalization. ”

“There is a small U.S. political party dedicated to generalized environmentalist organization, the “Green Party,” known as “Greens” and “Greenies,” headed by Ralph Nader.

Worldwide, they currently have to battle politics, science, and opinion based upon cabinets and legislation, and private-sector funding which battles both sides of any given issue. Their biggest enemies are industry and economics from mining, fishing, ranching, farming, and oil production, right-wing politics and the so-called “science community.” ”
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=definition+of+environmentalist
I would say that being a environmentalist is sort of like believing in climate change- it doesn’t have any meaning. Who doesn’t want a clean environment or when has climate not changed.
An environmentalist doesn’t care for the environment [though may do various rituals which “demonstrate they care for the environment”]. An environmentalist is someone who believes in environmentalism-
“political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities; through the adoption of forms of political, economic, and social organization that are thought to be necessary for, or at least conducive to, the benign treatment of the environment by humans..”
Or in other words humans need to controlled by govt because humans do harmful things to nature.
I contend that “environmentalism” has done nothing to improve the environment, and similarly that unions have done nothing to improve labor conditions.
Instead what has actually caused change is an improved standards of living- rather than some vague “change of awareness”.
Ie: China will have better “pollution controls” when it’s people have a better standard of living

p.g.sharrow "PG"
March 31, 2010 7:38 pm

Pamela Grey; Observation, perhaps you need to elevate your point of view. 😉

Gary
March 31, 2010 7:41 pm

SidViscous (18:53:47) :
But why did yo have to mention “cut through the mashed potatoes and get to the meat” now I want pot roast and alls I have is beans and hot dogs…..
So now we are talking human induced methane, eh?

FijiDave
March 31, 2010 7:47 pm

Excellent post, Willis.
I knew you were a good bloke when I saw that you had been a commercial fisherman, as I was, and can therefore understand your conservationism. Most of the fishermen I knew were the same, much to the consternation of those who see the industry as a bunch of pillagers of the planet.
Thanks

AlexB
March 31, 2010 8:00 pm

RE: scienceofdoom (18:17:29)
I think that Willis is referring to GSM which are very complicated and deal with the interaction of systems. A model is not just a model. In fact the simpler the model the more scientific it is. When models become complicated they become more and more prone to error. This is especially true for trying to simulate complex systems (the earths climate) from basic laws (the greenhouse effect) where there are a number of processes involved and the interactions among processes can have greater effects than the processes themselves. You can’t conclude that because you can calculate the downwards flux of various molecules that CO2 is a super greenhouse gas that if any extra is added to the climate system by man it will cause a huge warming feedback cycle that send us on a runaway path to destruction. You have skipped a heap of steps. You can’t reference a simplified model and use it to argue proof of a complex model. Science lends itself to simplicity because simple models have a high empirical content whereas complex models do not. Your model cannot depend on as many variables or more than the measurements you are trying to make. To put it simply I can’t prove that something follows a linear trend if I have only made two observations. That is the fundamental scientific principle that Roy Spencer and Richard Lindzen are trying to instil in climate science. As they demonstrate by that approach you can’t argue that CO2 is a super greenhouse gas.
Also please top referring to the theory of gravity to try and prove theories by proxy. There is no provision in science to do that.

GaryT
March 31, 2010 8:02 pm

Another What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis? moment:
#14 – “I believe that the earth actively maintains a preferred temperature.”
Would you please explain what that even means?

March 31, 2010 8:03 pm

There must be something wrong with this article, because I agree with everything Willis says.*
And: Urederra (19:34:58) :
“…I missed the term empirical when you talk about computer models…”
That’s because one is not the other.
[*I keed!]

March 31, 2010 8:03 pm

I think this video explains why most breakthroughs in a field of study come from people with lots of experience outside of that field.

stumpy
March 31, 2010 8:07 pm

“Also, engineers should be invited to review papers as well. Many theories would benefit from practical experience”
As an environmental engineer I would love the oppurtunity to comment on scientific papers, often scentists seem to be unable to see the big picture or are practically minded enough to see the elephant in the room, and they often hold onto sacred cows that need to be slaughtered!
I often review the work of scientists in the fields of hydrology and hydraulics (we employ a number of specialist scientists to support us) and am often amazed at their poor grasp of how things work in the real world or even how to analyse rainfall data correctly, and on other ocassions they reinvent the wheel! The scientific peer review process often fails to see these problems, because the reviewers are like minded. Hence, when I am involved I manage to spot those serious flaws that were missed and in some cases I put an end to their research proposals as their just wrong from the outlay!

Bob Highland
March 31, 2010 8:12 pm

First class article, Willis. This is as good a piece on the position of what one might call the “enlightened skeptic” as I’ve ever seen. I’m sure that the majority of people who visit this site fall into that category, and the green faction do themselves no credit by characterising us as planetary rapists in the pay of big oil: nothing could be further from the truth.
Reading through your earlier article, the Thermostat Hypothesis again, (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/) I think you’re right on the money, and I’m surprised that this theory hasn’t received more attention from those who are paid to do such research. The concept of the system as a heat engine, fuelled mainly by the sun’s interaction with the low latitudes and effectively thermostatically regulated by the dynamic feedbacks therein, makes so much more sense than an obsessive fixation with the concentration of a minor trace gas. Getting worked up about series of average temperature readings, which are actually averages of averages of averages, seems to me to be totally missing the point, because those of us who have travelled a bit know there’s absolutely nothing average about this planet and its climatic systems.
I was reminded of this as I removed a slab of ice from the bottom of my fridge last night – there may well actually be some heat in ice at -15C, but there ain’t much. Not as much as the heat in the sand on a Sydney beach at 41C.
It takes no great leap of the imagination to understand that most of the action that counts is in the tropics, plus a bit more out to say, 35 degrees N and S. In the mid-latitudes where insolation is weaker, temperatures are significantly determined on any given day by wind direction and speed – whether the air is coming from a warmer or cooler place – hence their greater daily variability. And the polar regions are to a large extent passive, their temperatures determined almost entirely by winds and currents bringing such “heat” as there is from elsewhere.
Given the massive power flows from the tropics combined with their consistent temperatures throughout the year (I notice from daily weather forecasts here that Darwin at 12 degrees S varies between 30C and 34C maximum all year round), it is clear that there is a self-regulating feedback mechanism at work, and the energy involved in the solar/hydrological cycle must totally swamp any piddling effect from CO2, if such a factor is operating at all in these humid conditions.
When I see those energy budget line drawings (Trenberth?) showing “average” solar radiation in and out, they make me laugh. They assume equilibrium, and I would dearly like to be shown the spot on earth where they even remotely apply. There is no such thing as equilibrium. That’s what weather is – the Earth’s remorseless search for equilibrium, which is impossible as long as the earth spins and there’s a single cloud in the sky. And there’s no such thing as average where weather is concerned – it’s a statistical whimsy, an abstraction that is convenient for basic arithmetic but pathetically inadequate for characterising the dynamics of the most complex system we know of.
Anyway, thanks again, Willis, for an excellent summary of your position.

pat
March 31, 2010 8:17 pm

willis –
this is the ‘scientific establishment’ – weep:
31 March: Institute of Physics: Response to report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit
In response to the new report, Dr Robert Kirby-Harris, chief executive at the Institute of Physics, said: “We welcome the clear statement in this report that there is independent verification, through the use of other methodologies and other sources of data, of the results and conclusions of the Climatic Research Unit. This solid body of evidence allows us to be confident in the scientific consensus on climate change…
http://www.iop.org/News/mar10/news_41077.html
lord rees in australia for talks and lectures:
31 March: ABC Radio Australia: President of Royal Society perplexed by climate sceptics
MARTIN REES: Well, I am perplexed by it because of course, although not an expert, I have talked to a great deal of the experts and there is a general consensus that climate change is something which could have very worrying consequences if the world goes on burning fossil fuels at the present rate….
I mean obviously there are some people who are not experts who are sceptical about this but the analogy I’d give is if you’ve got some medical problem, you look on the Internet, you find a whole variety of remedies and ideas but if you’ve got any sense, you go for treatment to someone who has got real credentials; you don’t take account of the bloggersphere and I would say that those who are not experts should respond to the bloggersphere and the debate about climate change in the same way.
They should look for the people who have credentials and among them you would find a consensus that there is something we need to worry about. It is an unprecedented effect on the climate that carbon dioxide is being produced by fossil fuels…
TONY EASTLEY: The head of the UN’s climate change panel has accused politicians and prominent climate sceptics of a new form of persecution against scientists who work on global warming. Have you felt that heat?
MARTIN REES: I don’t think so. I think we want robust debate on how we respond to this. I think if you look towards the second half of the century we are going to have a combination of problems, shortages of water, problems with food production, all aggravated by climate change and growing population and I think we want to look further ahead.
And certainly it is my experience also and I am a university teacher, that it is the young people who are more aware of this, people under 30 will still be alive 50 years from now. So it doesn’t surprise me that the so-called sceptics tend to be among the older people and that the younger people have much deeper environmental concerns. So they, in my view, are the hope for the future.
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s2860819.htm

pat
March 31, 2010 8:18 pm

31 March: Fox: Senators Demand Explanation of NASA’s Flawed Climate Data
Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have written a letter to NASA chief Charles Bolden demanding answers to questions surrounding newly uncovered irregularities in the space agency’s climate data…
Barrasso: “When the administration is trying to make an endangerment finding on carbon dioxide, I think it’s reckless to make such huge decisions affecting American jobs and the American economy based on data that may not be reliable, and seems to be contaminated.”
“I don’t think the facts bear out, at this point,” he said. “You wonder if it’s more about politics than it is about science.”
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/03/31/nasas-flawed-climate-data/
great questions, cbs! nonetheless Q2 is currently 41% against 27% for Q1 and 32% for Q3:
31 March: CBS: Take Our Poll: Do You Believe the First Findings of the Inquiry into “Climategate” Will End the Controversy?
Will the findings of the investigation in any way shape your views about the debate over global warming?
1. Confirms my trust in the scientists arguing that global warming is real
2. The jury is still out, pending further investigations into `Climategate.’
3. Has no impact on my views.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/31/tech/main6350638.shtml

Bulldust
March 31, 2010 8:19 pm

Thanks for the post Willis – you echo my general sentiments (the boring, rational & pragmatic ones) almost perfectly. Unfortunately the middle, rational ground is not exciting enough to capture the public attention, unlike catastrophic AGW “predictions” of doom.
Like you I am relatively faithful to the environment, and don’t get sucked in by false green projects. Heck I even have a bumper sticker to prove it, which reads:
“EARTH FIRST!
we’ll mine the other planets later…”
Sadly I don’t own a car to stick it on as I walk to work and live in an apartment … ironically my sceptical arse has a lower environmental footprint than most preaching greenies.
Anywho… keep up the good work!

Jaye
March 31, 2010 8:29 pm

Silent Spring? Ask a few million dead Africans about Silent Spring.

Les Johnson
March 31, 2010 8:31 pm

Willis: your
However, the fact that her early (and true) claims that DDT was being misapplied and overapplied by many farmers were used by unscrupulous politicians like William Ruckleshaus to make points by banning DDT based on inadequate and exaggerated claims is their fault, not hers.
I agree that DDT was overused, and misapplied. I also agree that Carson believed what she wrote. However, the science did not back what she believed. (perhaps like today’s climate scientists?) But she did have good intentions. Which of, course, are the raw material for the paving machine going to a particular destination.
Ruckleshaus, I agree, did it for political reasons. For this reason, yes, he is the greater villain in this play.
I divert attention from the main theme of your excellent essay, and for that I apologize.

Pieter F
March 31, 2010 8:36 pm

I disagree with a number of Eschenbach’s points.
The climate is not enduring “unexplained stability.” If one considered the Eemian Interglacial, the Late Holocene Interglacial is behaving much in the same way — rapid rise early, thousand-year periods of relative stability, and a general cooling trend until rapidly accelerating towards the next ice age.
He mentioned : “2 The earth has generally cooled over the last 12,000 years.” Actually, it has warmed over that period, rising out of the depths of the most severe ice age of the Pleistocene. The climate optimum occurred around 4,500 years ago and has generally cooled since then, with a number of notable warm periods in between such as the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period.
I agree with much of the rest of it, especially the part about taking actions that have “no regrets.” There is a good starting point for all citizens. We can make positive changes to society without the dire consequences a knee-jerk reaction would cause.

M. Jeff
March 31, 2010 8:43 pm

Re: GaryT (20:02:33) who asks, … #14 – “I believe that the earth actively maintains a preferred temperature.” Would you please explain what that even means?
Seems that what Willis means when he states the following is that the earth is naturally buffered against various factors that would be expected to cause dramatic temperature changes: “Despite millennia-long volcanic eruptions, despite being struck by monstrous asteroids, despite changes in the position of the continents, as near as we can tell the average temperature of the earth has only varied by about plus or minus three percent in the last half-billion years. Over the last ten thousand years, the temperature has only varied by plus or minus one percent. Over the last 150 years, the average temperature has only varied by plus or minus 0.3%. For a system as complex and ever-changing as the climate, this is nothing short of astounding.”

George R. Langworth
March 31, 2010 8:47 pm

Willis, once again, just enjoyed this post so much. Will pass it along.

John Whitman
March 31, 2010 8:51 pm

Willis,
I admire that you say who you are (non-anonymous) and you openly tell us about yourself, experiences and personal ideas. You set a good example in that regard to establish identity and background in human discourse.
At the same time, one must keep a strict separation between professional discussion when it is needed from personal life. That requires discipline that is hard to achieve.
Here at these sceintific blogs, we are trying to do something that tests that professional discipline of separation from the personal.
Written communication uses many tools. Humor breaks tension. Parody can highlight the absurd. Satire can be priceless in illuminating just like a picture can be a 1000 words. Metaphor and similies and analogies have uses in explaining ideas more clearly. But, professional discourse must have very tight discipline.
So, I think we need a clear marker in any comments/posts that gives the readers a simple notification when some statement is meant professionally or it is reverting to some personal or communication tool that may not be per se a professional statement.
In your Preface Questions 1 and 2, you attempt to address the premises that need to be identified prior to discussion. Stating premises up front is a honest way to start a discussion. Thank you, it should be done more often.
Comment on Preface Question 1 – Environmentalism: Man is just as much part of nature as any other living entity is and just as an inanimate object is. We are the products of earths nature and a natural extension of it. Implying a non-natural basis for mankind’s existence on earth implies we are somehow intruders external to earth and nature. We are the earth. Not visitors or custodians.
I have found that virtually all the people I personally know have an almost instinctual attraction to “make-where-I-live-a-healty-place”. They associate with like minded individuals. Sounds healthy to me. : )
Caution: the movements of militant environmentalism / ecological activism have many philosophical bear traps. Intentionally so. Caution.
John

Joe
March 31, 2010 8:56 pm

Willis,
Just another part of what makes climate math so frustrating …
What science has done is take individual snapshots of data and created motion of trying to put these together.
Math can measure the radius of a circle and the circumference of a circle.
But they have no clue when you put it in motion the significant change that takes place. The mindset is still measuring at that point in time and not the constant adaptation that motion can instill at different points on the radius of that circle in motion. A whole new set of factors takes place and can change with speed changes.

March 31, 2010 8:58 pm

Bob Highland;
It takes no great leap of the imagination to understand that most of the action that counts is in the tropics, plus a bit more out to say, 35 degrees N and S>>
Agree with everything you said… but that. The fact that there is some sort of thermostat mechanism seems obvious (which isn’t proof) but assuming there is, no model is going to be right until the thermostat mechanism is understood. Then the question becomes, what can affect the thermostat mechanism and by how much?
But I remain convinced that it is the arctic regions that are the key, not the tropics. Consider that:
l) the earth gains heat at in the tropics, loses it at the poles
2) the tropics have been the most stable temperature wise, the poles have shown the most variability.
3) earth radiance varies with T^4. See 2) above.
4) the area of the earth we know the least about historicaly, temperature record, satellite data…. is the poles.
5) the major climate cycle is glaciation… which extends from the poles and then retreats.

John Baltutis
March 31, 2010 9:01 pm

Re:
31 March: CBS: Take Our Poll: Do You Believe the First Findings of the Inquiry into “Climategate” Will End the Controversy?
Will the findings of the investigation in any way shape your views about the debate over global warming?
1. Confirms my trust in the scientists arguing that global warming is real
2. The jury is still out, pending further investigations into `Climategate.’
3. Has no impact on my views.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/31/tech/main6350638.shtml
Lousy set of questions. We all know warming (and cooling) is real. These would have been much better:
1. Confirms my trust in the scientists arguing that global warming is solely caused by mankind’s generation of CO2 and that that the warming is ‘unprecedented’.
2. The jury is still out, pending further investigations into ‘Climategate’.
3. Confirms my distrust in the scientists arguing that global warming is solely caused by mankind’s generation of CO2 and that that the warming is ‘unprecedented’.

March 31, 2010 9:04 pm

…and on models.
I can build a model of a canon ball and pretty accurately predict its behaviour in response to a variety of conditions. I can build a model of a combine that accurately mimics how it works and how it interacts with swathed grain as it goes across a field.
But there is no way in you know what that I can throw the canon ball into the combine and predict the results with a model.
The physics of CO2 in isolation are well known. The physics of changing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and modeling the results would make the canon ball in the combine problem look like tiddly winks.

Douglas Cohen
March 31, 2010 9:04 pm

In this article the author should also ask himself whether a global climate that is a few degrees Celsius warmer would be good or bad for humanity. Over the last several thousand years, historically speaking, the evidence is that a warmer climate is good for civilization, what with longer growing seasons, more arable land, etc. Note also that most of the problems with the latest IPCC report have been found in the sections describing how global warming would be bad, suggesting that it was very difficult to document and justify the “bad-for-us” point of view. Politicians like to frame policy questions so that the most doubtful ideas hide “underneath” the issues supposedly under discussion. The climate-change debate up to this point is a classic example of this. A little dispassionate thought shows that all the discussion on whether or not the earth is warming, and if so is it mostly natural or mostly man-made, is a (so far) successful distraction from the real question — exactly why should we be alarmed if the earth becomes a little warmer than it is now?

Mike Bryant
March 31, 2010 9:07 pm

Without reading any of the comments… This is a genuine call to understanding. Willis, thanks for this clear explanation of the questions that must be answered to move forward in our understanding of climate. I look forward to Judith’s responses, and also to the responses of all earth or climate scientists…
Thanks again,
Mike Bryant

Pink Pig
March 31, 2010 9:09 pm

(Sorry, I didn’t have the patience to read the other comments, so I don’t know whether this has been covered.)
I’m mainly curious about the first question. AFAIK, temperature scales are logarithmic, so rather than taking the ‘norm’ to be measured in Celsius, it should be taken in Kelvin. It’s a little hard to find a value for the global mean (why is it that most of the GIS website takes the global norm to be 0, and it is nearly impossible to find a value in a well-known temperature scale?), but IIRC it’s about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 14 degrees Celsius. That would make it about 287 degrees Kelvin.
So where does the figure of 0.3% come from? 0.3% of 287 degrees Kelvin is about 0.861 degrees Kelvin, which is the same value in Celsius and amounts to less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit. And why should the past be limited to 10000 years for climatic purposes? Hmm?

March 31, 2010 9:11 pm

Very nice article.
The only thing I’d nitpick about is that, while I agree with your suggestions on peer review, I don’t think they’ll do much to fix climate science.
I’ll suggest to you the idea that peer review is nothing more than a traditional activity that is neither sufficient nor necessary to produce good science.
Instead, the fundamental key to good science is reproducibility. If claims cannot be reproduced, even in principle, by third parties, then the original activity may have been carried out by scientists, but it is not science. That is the shape of much of science, not just climate science, today.
Making changes to peer review does nothing one way or the other to make a paper’s results reproducible.

GaryT
March 31, 2010 9:11 pm

I don’t want to be placed on the shiite list here, but I don’t think Anthony should allow Willis free reign with his posts. Willis is, quite frankly, just all over the place. And I will concede that though climate is naturally all over the place, he doesn’t confirm that in any believable way with his guest posts. And jeez, I had given a lot of credence to Bulldust and Smokey. But now? I don’t know. Pamela is still cool, though, she even got snipped!
Geologist are the best climatologist. The rest are all just pseudo.

Pink Pig
March 31, 2010 9:14 pm

BTW, I think the first question to be answered should be: do we have any reason to believe that we have the tools needed to change the climate in a predictable way? If so, I’m all for using them, independently of global warming issues. If not, then it would clearly be too dangerous to fiddle around.
And why should it matter whether global warming is anthropogenic or not? Does this mean that non-anthropogenic warming would be no danger?

March 31, 2010 9:14 pm

AlexB (19:07:34) :
RE: Willis Eschenbach (18:35:36)
Totally agree. I must say I was very impressed with the honesty and understanding you conveyed by the use of the word belief. The difference between belief and theory is that the two words are spelt differently. It is impossible for humans to know natural laws. Science is simply made up of various degrees of belief. . .

Or rather, all statements about the world are theories (in the general sense), so in science “various degrees of belief” are possible. My point is that in religious (and pseudo-scientific) discourse ‘belief’ is not at all like ‘theory’; the religious maintain that their belief is absolute, so there are no degrees: either you believe, or you don’t.
It is not wrong for Willis to use ‘believe’ like ‘theorize’, or ‘conclude’, because he is speaking as a scientist. Nonetheless, the term leads to the kind of questions the pollsters like, which Willis (correctly) dismisses as ‘trick questions’, e.g., “Do you believe in global warming?”
In my view it is better to avoid the absolutist connotation that ‘believe’ and ‘belief’ carry with them.
/Mr Lynn

EJ
March 31, 2010 9:18 pm

Willis,
A perfect paper, sums up my take, better than I could of, on this subject as well.
Thanks for all your efforts!
EJ

pft
March 31, 2010 9:21 pm

Overall, a good article. Couple of observations though.
1. Science is not statistics. Statistics is a tool only, and a science left with mostly tools but little understanding is like an infant. Understanding and explaining the physical processes behind the science is the key to good science. Without that understanding, GIGO (garbage in garbage out) is the computer models output. No matter you use super quantum computing power, you will never get a correct answer.
2. The null hypothesis is an example of bad science through statistics. All hypothesis should be considered and tested, with periodic reviews of which is the most likely. It is not just A or B, but A, B, C, etc. Climate is too complex. Occams razaor says simplify by removing what you don’t need, Einstein said don’t remove that which you need, and I say when in doubt, keep it around until you understand it a bit better. Maybe you need it.
3. Climate science involves many disciplines, not just atmospheric science. To predict the fiture, one must understand the present and the past, so geologists, astronomers, solar physicists, oceanographers, chemists, physicists, biologists, agricultural scientists, petrologists, etc all have inputs into the understanding of climate past and present. We only have 30 years of good data, and even that is subject to uncertainties, estimates, and scarcity.
4. If you believe the current paradigm is incorrect, or better yet, simply question it, you are a skeptic. Science is about skepticism, religion is about beliefs.
5. Science by peer review does not work. Peer review does not and can not prove a hypothesis in a paper is correct or not. There are many cases where incorrect or disproven hypothesis, even fraud, have passed peer review. Peer reviewers have a lot at stake in protecting the old paradigm, since that is how they built their reputations. Einsteins greatest theories were not subject to peer review. If peer review existed in 1905, what are the odds a patent officer from Switzerland gets his views published.
6. Funding. Most research funding is provided by government. Until biases are removed in approving research grants, which is part of the peer review process, we will continue to get one sided climate science.

pat
March 31, 2010 9:32 pm

april fools…
read all FACTBOX:
1 April: Reuters: FACTBOX – Britain’s new corporate carbon trading scheme
Mandatory scheme comes into effect April 1, 2010 and affects an estimated 5,000 businesses with annual energy bills over 500,000 pounds ($753,600) as of 2008.
http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-47367420100401
1 April: UK Tele: New carbon trading legislation confuses businesses
A compulsory carbon trading scheme for 5,000 UK businesses will launch today, amid widespread confusion about its complex rules and a bonanza of extra fees for environmental consultants.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/7542073/New-carbon-trading-legislation-confuses-businesses.html
1 April: Reuters: Costs, confusion greet new carbon trade scheme
http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE62U60C20100331
1 April: UK Times: Carbon inspectors will force companies to reduce emissions
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/article7083623.ece
1 April: HeraldSun Australia: Australia backs carbon markets
Parliamentary secretary for international development assistance Bob McMullan told the advisory group on climate-change financing in London, convened by United Nations general secretary Ban Ki-moon, that carbon markets could provide the right economic incentives to cut forest carbon emissions…
Those at the London talks included billionaire financier George Soros and US President Barack Obama’s economic adviser Larry Summers
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/australia-backs-carbon-markets/story-e6frf7ko-1225848301809
BBC: Carbon emission reduction scheme comes into effect
A survey by NPower said almost half of firms did not know what was required. ..
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband : “It’s no longer simply about doing the right thing for the environment, it’s now a sure-fire financial investment,” he said. ..
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8597902.stm

Sera
March 31, 2010 9:32 pm

A conservationist walks the walk: Cut down one tree, plant two. Take an animal, breed two. An environmentalist is just a mentalist.

GaryT
March 31, 2010 9:37 pm

Willis Eschenbach (21:14:34) :
GaryT (20:02:33)
Gary, please see my post “The Thermostat Hypothesis”, which explains this in detail.
But none of that explains the extreme cold that caused the ice ages. I am sorry to be a thorn but I am a firm believer that it is sun activity and more importantly, the distance from the sun that causes major climate changes here on earth. Secondarily is major volcanic activity and then of course, asteroid collisions.
Meteorology is our best guess for future weather/climate. Freedom, liberty, and the ability to put food in mouth and shelter overhead should take precedence above all other gibberish.

jorgekafkazar
March 31, 2010 9:54 pm

Pamela Gray (18:02:54) : “You forgot one. Briefs or boxers?”
Easy question. Down with Boxer!

rbateman
March 31, 2010 9:59 pm

Mr Lynn (21:14:54) :
Phil Jones left some tantalizing nuggets lying around in his CRU 94 & 99 sets.
Data which is unobtainable by any other means. Hints in data sets that UHI is no different than similar natural localized warming, and that there is an upper limit to it. An upper limit to UHI, if true, equates to Anthropogenic forcing being constrained and unable to feedback to the climate.
Null hypothesis. The natural forces that drive the climate are in charge. The best man can do is to stand aside or be run over by the Irresistable Force.

Cement a friend
March 31, 2010 10:03 pm

Willis, Good post, it puts your point of view well with the backing of various publications.
One question you seem to have avoided is :- “Does CO2 have an effect on Climate”
The post by Massen at Pielke Snr http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/guest-post-a-simple-tool-to-detect-co2-background-levels-by-francis-massen/ mentions a paper which gives a definite background basis to a large number of accurate CO2 measurements in the past made by chemical apparatus on ground and in the upper atmosphere. There can be no doubt that around 1940 the level of CO2 was similar to the present. The paper by Beck E-G 2007 http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/papers.htm indicates that there is a lag of CO2 from temperature about 5yrs. One of Beck’s references by W Kreutz 1941(in German) has data which shows on a daily and even monthly basis CO2 lagging, air temperature which in turn lags in coming radiation. On the longer term the proxy data from the Vostock icecores show CO2 lagging temperature both in the upward and downward direction. This suite of data should put the concept of AGW from fossil fuel burning to rest.
A question for I would put is :- “Do the so called climate scientists understand heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation and phase change), thermodynamics, fluid and particle dynamics, psychrometry, kinetics, control theory etc which are engineering subjects based on a large body of measurement and experimental data.?”
I would answer no to both questions.
There is no scientific proof for AGW and there is no supporting data. I contend from my knowledge that the very few people understand the technical theory which is involved in the influences on climate. Only in one paper on Global Circulation Models have I seen a reference to a dimensionless number (Reynolds Number)

MaxL
March 31, 2010 10:06 pm

Regarding computer models –
I have been involved in the use and development of computer models, both weather and otherwise, for more years than I now care to remember. The weather models have come a long way. I am presently involved with boundary layer modeling. However, I have not done any climate modeling.
When we discuss our modeling, one of the first questions to answer is: all models have assumptions and weaknesses. What are main assumptions and the significant weaknesses of your model? How do you believe these will affect the results? I do not hear climate modelers answering these questions. If you do get someone involved with climate modeling on this post, could they shed light on these basic questions.

March 31, 2010 10:07 pm

@ Willis Eschenbach
Do you not mean warm end?
“”cold end of the Holocene (the current inter-glacial period)””
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subatlantic#The_sequence
boreal would be the cold end (front end) the Subatlantic is the (back end)
and can we say it is Cold? because of the warm Atlantic period?
if we say it is cold, is it because we have continuous ice at the poles/Greenland?
back at ya
Tim L

March 31, 2010 10:17 pm

Willis Eschenbach;
In the tropics, the clouds act as a throttle are able to regulate the amount of incoming solar energy. This, to me, is the main control mechanism. I show in my article how the tropical clouds can cause a widespread change in forcing of 60 W/m2 in the course of one hour.>>
Agreed, it is one of many mechanisms, but you just prompted the oddest thought. I’ve always wondered why glaciation doesn’t cause a tipping point, but in reverse, toward cooling. As the glaciers grow, they reflect an increasing amount of solar energy back to space. In addition, one would think ocean heat content would fall as well, since the Sun’s rays can’t penetrate the water anymore being blocked by the ice. Same goes for landmass that would normally heat up. So once glaciation starts, why wouldn’t it just keep on going? What stops the advance from going right to the equator?
Knowing diddly squat about clouds, I started wondering… would the decreased temperatures severely limit cloud formation, causing the earth to start heating up again? The oceans in particular would heat up at depths of as much as 300 meters due to increased penetration of shortwave. Once the oceans absorbed enough heat to start pushing the glaciers back, they would continue to do so for centuries after tropic cloud cover returned to normal?

March 31, 2010 10:20 pm

Thank you, Willis, this was very well thought out. I also enjoyed your reply to Dr. Judith Curry, well done!
Science requires honest debate amongst peers, and climate science has been hindered, not strengthened, by the lack of input from those who disagree with results, methodologies, models and predictions. By obfuscating, controlling the peer review process and other tricks, the climatologists have badly damaged their own cause (if, in fact, objective scientists can be said to embody a “cause”).
Let the chips fall where they may! If the globe is heating and human activities are responsible, let’s figure it out with precision before many trillions of dollars are spent. If not, let’s move along to other pressing concerns. At this moment, I am also a heretic who is keeping an open mind.
Well done, Anthony, thank you for providing this fine forum. This is far superior to venues such as “Nature,” “Science” and the like.

GaryT
March 31, 2010 10:27 pm

M. Jeff (20:43:47) :
I do know that there is no such thing as an average temperature of the planet earth.

Editor
March 31, 2010 10:31 pm

Question 1. Does the earth have a preferred temperature which is actively maintained by the climate system?
To me this is the question that we should answer first. I believe that the answer is yes.

Perhaps this has the case for longer than we might imagine. From
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/57810/title/Warmth_in_the_dark_age
Previously scientists have explained the presence of liquid water during that low-light time, known as the Archean, by suggesting that Earth’s atmosphere held large amounts of planet-warming greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. But new analyses show that greenhouse gases weren’t dramatically higher then compared with today, a team of earth scientists reports in the April 1 Nature. The researchers now propose that early Earth stayed above freezing because the planet was darker then and therefore absorbed more of the sun’s energy…

Second, the researchers suggest, light-scattering clouds covered much less of Earth’s surface long ago – another net gain for surface warmth. Because early Earth lacked plants and other complex life, the biologically produced particles and chemicals that water droplets coalesce around weren’t available.

March 31, 2010 10:31 pm

Willis between this and your thermostat homeostasis you have it pretty much covered.
Now how about adding a Lunar declinational atmospheric tidal mixing mechanism, so the constant cyclic nudges off of equilibrium, makes it center on an average value? While still wandering all over the place, like the real weather does.
http://research.aerology.com/aerology-analog-weather-forecasting-method/

jorgekafkazar
March 31, 2010 10:34 pm

Great post, Willis. My suspicion is that there are multiple negative feedbacks that act with differing power and differing lag times. Characterizing the Earth’s climate by a single numeric, “global” surface temperature is risible. Earth is a chaotic, transient, complex system in which energy is partitioned between three phases in two hemispheres and between a small atmospheric heatsink and a huge oceanic heatsink (1:1200). Certain climatologists have been attempting to tease a microscopic, putative, man-made warming signal solely out of the extremely noisy surface data. Climategate papers reveal the inevitable result of this sleeveless errand: descent into ethical, intellectual, and scientific bankruptcy.

geo
March 31, 2010 10:39 pm

Well, I agree that Anthony giving Willis a free hand says something about Anthony.
I’m pretty comfortable with what it says about Anthony.
Look, if you go back to the original Willis post re Judith Curry, you’ll find me crossing swords with Willis.
So the F’ what?
That’s one of the admirable traits of the skeptics –“party discipline” is a foreign concept. Too bad it isn’t with the AGWers.

jorgekafkazar
March 31, 2010 10:45 pm

rbateman (21:59:30) : “…An upper limit to UHI, if true, equates to Anthropogenic forcing being constrained and unable to feedback to the climate.”
Not quite. It might constrain local convective anthropogenic forcings but not global radiative forcing, in my opinion. UHI has essentially nothing to do with global warming, per se. UHI is little more than a source of serious local instrument error.

March 31, 2010 10:51 pm

I believe that when you cut down a forest, you cut down the clouds.
That’s just twaddle. Besides, worldwide there are more standing trees today, and more forested acres, than there were 100 years ago.

GaryT
March 31, 2010 10:55 pm

Willis:
I don’t think that I would be proud to be a “generalist”. I can tell by your writings that you are intelligent. But to argue for or against a non happening is absurd. It is time to stop the insanity of global warming.
This stuff can not keep happening. This stupidity has to be taken out of the equation. Climate change is not killing us. Climate change regulation is.

pat
March 31, 2010 11:08 pm

As a staunch conservationist, I agree. The nutcases that are involved now are mere leftists. Statists. In their hands all would die except for themselves. They are simply too important. Think of Congress excepting themselves from laws. That is what it is really about. The silly local Sierra Club chapters just think they are included in the Arc. Like Trotsky and Russia, the Commies in Iran, etc.

Bill in Vigo
March 31, 2010 11:10 pm

Very good paper Willis. While I seldom comet on posts it is always a pleasure to read one of yours simply because your method of explanation of your opinions and findings is done such that a common and basically educated person can understand them. I often wonder at some of the questions asked of you. Perhaps I am just to simplistic in my own temperament. It would be a great pleasure to have this type of discussion on the subject of climate rather than the vitriolic that ensues on many blogs.
Thank your for your very simple and elegant explanation of your beliefs and opinions concerning the climate debate.
Bill Derryberry
PS I am also a conservationist rather than an environmentalist.

Squidly
March 31, 2010 11:11 pm

President Obama announces today that he will “allow” oil drilling off the coast of Virginia. AFP Vice President for Policy Phil Kerpen issued the following statement:

“Obama is talking about lifting a nonexistent ban! Bush lifted the executive ban in July 2008, and Congress lifted the legislative ban in October 2008. There is no legal impediment to drilling now, except that the Obama administration refuses to offer leases. So the idea that this is a big concession in exchange for which Congress should jumpstart climate legislation is ridiculous. I’ll believe they are really allowing drilling when they actually offer leases. Also, the 50-mile restriction means he is actually ADDING a NEW moratorium on waters inside of 50 miles.

Bulldust
March 31, 2010 11:25 pm

Someone taking what I scribble seriously??? Now I am worried 🙂
I am just trying to make sense of all this climate science stuffs from a lay perspective. Like Willis, I have had somewhat of a diverse background so I tend to look at the big picture much more than the detail.
I am usually more interested in the economic impacts of policy than the science itself… but my gut feel has always been that the current AGW proposition is ridiculously anthropocentric, much like many previous doomsday scenrios that pundits have tried to flog to the human race.
I am also curious why people do what they do – i.e. what motivates ($) the various players in the climate caper.
* Yes, there was a subliminal messahe in there somewhere…

anna v
March 31, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Mr Lynn (Mar 31 18:15),
Willis, I really wish writers on scientific matters would avoid the word ‘believe’. I understand that colloquially ‘believe’ usually means ‘think’, or ‘it is my view that’, or ‘it is my firm, well-considered understanding’, or some such locution, but science is really not a matter of belief in the same way that religious convictions, matters of ‘faith’, are.
I agree, both about beliefs and about the good summary.
I think that instead of “I believe that” a scientist should say “my weighted opinion is that”. This shows an oneness to a change in axioms.
In fact that is what science should be:
a system of axioms with derivations and corollaries that are checked against measurement.
One does not believe in axioms, one accepts them as foundation stones and builds from there. If reality disagrees, change the axioms.

John Wright
March 31, 2010 11:36 pm

Mark Young (17:46:11) :
“Very, very nice article.”
“Very very important article.”
I have not had time to go through these comments nor to fully digest the article – and by the time I do, this comments section will have become unmanageable. Perhaps the occasion to set up a complementary site similar to what Anthony has done for Climategate?

John Wright
March 31, 2010 11:38 pm

How did those inverted commas get in my reply? – Very very important article. – No quotes.

Capn Jack.
March 31, 2010 11:38 pm

If I ever hear of you scooping merminks it be war Willis, they is so rare and endangered they is mythological.
Anyway have a happy easter. Another excellent piece.
Not bad but speaking as a former Rotarian, DDT and Malaria is not one of science or environmental science best moments.
And Ms Grey, Boxer or briefs or free Willy, this is a disussion on Climate science, there is no place for smut on WOOT.
The world is turning stop the presses.
Cheers all.

March 31, 2010 11:39 pm

I have two substantial reservations, Mr. Eschenbach:
1) “Stewardship” is not a viable philosophy; we are not servants of our planet, we are its original inhabitants, free to modify it according to our preferences.
Wild nature and wild ecosystems are often very unpleasant and dangerous to human beings. There’s nothing wrong in keeping the nature a bit tamed and civilized, at least around human habitation.
This is not to say that I approve of terrible overpopulated cities, pollution, and runaway industrialization. Certain moderation, guided by our system of cultural values, is necessary, but without any centralized political coercion, and without quasi-religious appeals to “stewardship.”
2) The stability of Earth’s temperature, averaged over long periods of time, seems to be quite meaningless from the human point of view. On human scale of generations, and even historical epochs, the climate can change drastically — and quite naturally.
Earliest known frescoes in the Middle East (dated before 6000 BC), found in the famous Chatal-Huyuk settlement in Central Anatolia, show lively naked people (some in loincloths made from leopard skins) hunting deer and wild cattle with dogs’ help.
Since these people are depicted teasing bulls and even jumping over bulls, it very well may be that they already started to domesticate cattle somewhat. They worshiped Mother Goddess and Bull (incidentally, “bull” in Turkish languages is “bog,” while “bog” in Slavic languages means “God”; Zeus and Jupiter were also bull-gods).
Biological studies in the same region prove that there were lush, humid, almost tropical forests at that time, populated with monkeys, leopards, and even hippopotamuses.
This was just 8000 years ago! The climate, from the human point of view, changed drastically. Now Central Turkey is very arid, almost desert-like land, with some widely dispersed oases of greenery and Sufi craziness. No animals larger than goats and sheep survive there.
What, then, the stability of Earth’s temperature, averaged over millions of years, means for us, humans? Practically nothing.
But climate can change, naturally and with some human help (mostly coming from the land usage), resulting in rises and falls of civilizations, expansions and extinctions of whole peoples, languages, and cultures.
We must be ready for surprising climate changes; nobody knows, when the next catastrophic volcano eruption or huge asteroid will re-design the face and the character of our planet.
Trying to conserve what must naturally change, and blaming ourselves for natural changes, is a wasteful exercise in futility. First and foremost, we must conserve civilization, liberty, and human comfort. Nature must be a pleasant background but not our primitive, ruthless Mother Goddess.
No “stewardship”: Man is the measure of all things.

March 31, 2010 11:46 pm

Ric Werme;
Second, the researchers suggest, light-scattering clouds covered much less of Earth’s surface long ago – another net gain for surface warmth>>
Bingo! Low end of thermostat, cloud formation drops and SW penetration of the oceans increases. This takes a looong time as SW penetrates deep into ocean and ocean current spreads the heat around. At some point they retain enough heat that they start pushing the glaciers back.
At some point the oceans give up enough heat to raise sea surface and atmospheric temperatures, and Willis’ cloud regulator kicks in limiting the amount of energy that can be driven into the oceans, They start cooling as a result, but they are still warm enough to continue pushing the glaciers back, which reduces the amount of energy being reflected back to space, heating the planet still more. The warmer it gets, the wider the range of Willis’s cloud cover, so limiting the rise in ocean heat content still more. But even though this causes oceans to start cooling, they are still warm enough to push back the glaciers. Since Willis’s clouds are limiting heat gain over the tropics, and ocean and atmospheric circulation moves excess heat to the poles, this causes the glaciers to retreat and the arctic zones to heat up out of proportion to the rest of the planet due to both decreased ice coverage allowing more solar to be absorbed. Since the temperature rise becomes so pronounced at the pokes with raidance rising in proportion to the T^4, the amount of energy increase being radiated from the poles would go up exponentially since there isn’t enoough heat to create the cloud cover clamp on the throttle like at the tropics, it is provided by the poles heating up and beaming huge increases in radiance to space and causing the planet to cool, defining the upper end of the thermostat.
I would expect that open water at the north arctic zone would probably be the sign that we are at max,
So there you have it. When Willis’s clouds get too cool to form, heating oceans goes up, driving glaciers back, When its too warm, Willis clouds clamp down on additional warming and the poles heat up causing additional cooling.
When the oceans are cold, they soak up CO2. When they are warm they release it. As the glaciers retreat, they leave behind the dead biomass they have been sitting on which promplty rots in diret sunlight, releasing still more CO2 and accounting for the Co2 cyle we see in the long term record.

John Wright
March 31, 2010 11:50 pm

@jorgekafkazar (22:34:47) :
“Great post, Willis. My suspicion is that there are multiple negative feedbacks that act with differing power and differing lag times. Characterizing the Earth’s climate by a single numeric, “global” surface temperature is risible. Earth is a chaotic, transient, complex system in which energy is partitioned between three phases in two hemispheres and between a small atmospheric heatsink and a huge oceanic heatsink (1:1200). Certain climatologists have been attempting to tease a microscopic, putative, man-made warming signal solely out of the extremely noisy surface data. Climategate papers reveal the inevitable result of this sleeveless errand: descent into ethical, intellectual, and scientific bankruptcy.”
Once again I agree with Jorge. This is getting boring!
I’m also suspicious of percentages. Willis, when you say temperature up 3%, then down 3%, where is your reference value for the decrease? Maybe I am just showing my ignorance of the statistical method.

Louis Hissink
March 31, 2010 11:51 pm

GaryT
“Geologist are the best climatologist. The rest are all just pseudo.”
I could grow to like this man 🙂

March 31, 2010 11:57 pm

AlexB:
On my comment about if model results match observation that should be “evidence”

You can’t conclude that because you can calculate the downwards flux of various molecules that CO2 is a super greenhouse gas that if any extra is added to the climate system by man it will cause a huge warming feedback cycle that send us on a runaway path to destruction. You have skipped a heap of steps. You can’t reference a simplified model and use it to argue proof of a complex model.

I didn’t do any of those.
People can read a whole lot of stuff into my statements – or they can read my statements.
I was arguing about the role of models as having the potential for evidence. And not being a trick question.

AlanG
April 1, 2010 12:01 am

Most people throughout history just resigned themselves to the capricious nature of fate. It says a lot about the arrogance of today that we can ‘stop climate change’ or ‘save the planet’. The Greeks had a word for this – hubris. Individually, every living creature is nothing in the long term scheme of things. In a hundred years we’ll be forgotten just like most people who have been and gone. We are not in charge here.
Having said that, good luck with expecting members of the science bureaucracies (NASA, NOAA etc.) to engage in real (sceptical) science. It’s not the nature of the beast. Freer scientists will stick with the theory they have in the face of all evidence until a replacement theory comes along so they can jump from one belief system to another.
Willis’ thermostat theory is one of the best candidates for that. The two great nonlinearities are sigma T^4 and the evaporation of water. Both interact and work as a thermostat.

April 1, 2010 12:03 am

MaxL:

What are main assumptions and the significant weaknesses of your model? How do you believe these will affect the results? I do not hear climate modelers answering these questions. If you do get someone involved with climate modeling on this post, could they shed light on these basic questions.

Well, there is a lot of discussion about model problems in climate science papers.
It’s not an easy subject to penetrate – where do you start looking? But that doesn’t mean climate modelers don’t talk about the problems, maybe Wattsup withthat should invite a few.. There’s a little on models now and again by some climate scientists at http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/ – but they are generally more interested in other issues.
I started a series – it’s only at Part Two, but there will be more to come: Models On – and Off – the Catwalk

John Whitman
April 1, 2010 12:05 am

””””Willis Eschenbach (21:49:07) : . . . . . That to me is environmentalism.””””
Willis,
I would agree we share some fundamental similarities on the rational principles of ‘environmentalism’. : )
All is not as it seems, though, with the movements that have ulterior economic/political/social/moral aims while merely using the save the earth theme as a vehicle to achieving those ulterior aims.
Those movements have a flip side that have anti-man scenarios. Bear traps!!!
John

Pieter F
April 1, 2010 12:09 am

Thank you Willis for commenting specifically to my points (at 21:33:41). However, please clarify something for me. Over the past 6,000 years, there is good evidence that the sea level has varied from 3 m higher than now and more than 1 m lower than now. It would take more than 1°C +/- variation to result in a 4 m range of sea level change. That sea level variation is driven by temperatures at the high latitudes. Is your 1° +/- a tropical temperature stasis? I might buy that, but not at the poles.
Also, the sea level record (by geology) does not support the notion of the warmest part of the Holocene at 8,000 ybp. If you reference the GRIP data, does the Vostock data confirm it? I like Rhode’s Fairbridge’s work on the Holocene climate variation as recorded in sea levels. By his work, the climate optimum 4,000 ybp included a sea level that was 6 m higher than 8,000 ybp. But we’re comparing sea levels with temperature proxies. Lots of room for inconsistencies there, but I find many reasons to question the notion that 8,000 ybp was the warmest of the Holocene. But is that relevant to the conversation? What is important is as you’ve pointed out: the slight recent warming is insignificant.

April 1, 2010 12:16 am

Willis Eschenbach
On the problems of GCMs and my comment..
Maybe you jumped ahead, or were ‘precising’ for brevity. I agree that all of those (points you made) are problems for climate models.

Climate models do not produce evidence. Evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world.

Perhaps this is the wrong place to get involved in a deep discussion about theories of proof, but.. why not..
With “observable and measurable data about the real world” you provide evidence for your “theory”. Your “observable and measurable data about the real world” has to be matched to something.
Whether we call that a model or a set of equations doesn’t really matter.
It seemed like a semantic “trick” to say models can’t provide proof. If models matched results I might think of it as “potential evidence”. And when they do it makes me pay attention. Watch out for a post on stratospheric cooling.
The issue of parameterization is perhaps closest to the heart of the problem – and raises a lot of questions. Then the question would be “did models match results because you just had lots of degrees of freedom to play with”.

Kate
April 1, 2010 12:18 am

The global warming monster is being revived and will be appearing in your carbon taxes soon.
This is from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office:
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=21983288
***************************************************************************
First meeting on funds for climate action
31 Mar 2010
The Prime Minister will join UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia today for the first High Level Advisory Group meeting on Climate Change Financing.
The group’s meeting follows the agreement reached at Copenhagen that $100 billion a year of public and private finance will be needed by 2020 to help developing countries.
The Prime Minister said: “The commitment in the Accord to the goal of $100bn in annual finance flows to developing countries by 2020 is one of its most important elements.”
Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, a member of the High Level Advisory Group, explains the group’s purpose. “The High Level Advisory Group is charged with studying new sources of finance to support the process of adaption and mitigation.”
The group includes Heads of State and Government, high-level officials from Ministries and Central Banks as well as experts on public finance, development and related issues. They will explore solutions on how to scale up long term financing for mitigation and adaptation for those most at risk.
Group members have been appointed for 10 months and are expected to produce a mid-term report in May and a final report containing recommendations before the next Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Mexico this December.
***************************************************************************
Notice the complete lack of scientists, climate scientists, environmentalists or anyone who might actually support any “global warming” science. This meeting, and all further meetings like it, will be entirely composed of politicians, bureaucrats, money movers and investment bankers. Their attitude is simple; The science is settled, so pay up.

AlanG
April 1, 2010 12:20 am

Tom Judd (18:09:25) : Fans of H.L. Mencken may (or not) like these quotes from him, given on his bad hair days:
The America people, taken one with another, constitute the most timorous, snivelling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the middle ages.
H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series (1922)
No one in this world – so far as I know – and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me – has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone lost public office thereby.
H.L. Mencken, in the Chicago Tribune, 19 September 1926

Murray Lane
April 1, 2010 1:10 am

Your review is very clear and understandable. My question is: Why is it that politicians and alarmists cannot understand the simplicity of your message and how do we change the message to ensure they do understand it? PML

April 1, 2010 1:14 am

[quote scienceofdoom (00:16:14) :
Willis Eschenbach]If models matched results I might think of it as “potential evidence”. And when they do it makes me pay attention.
[/quote]

.
Depends on what you mean by “matched results”. A model matching past results isn’t even a suggestion that it has any capability at all to match future results.
.
This problem is very well known in the field of artificial intelligence, where “overtraining” a model results in the ability to “predict” past results almost perfectly, while being totally useless at predicting unknown results.
.
I think other areas of math refer to the same “overtraining” phenomena as “curve fitting”. It’s extremely easy to do. In computer code, you need only a few well-intentioned if statements.

Peter Miller
April 1, 2010 1:37 am

As a private sector geologist and therefore natural sceptic, I agree almost 100% with what you say.
I would only like to add – as I think anyone in business will agree – you let a typical academic into line management or decision making processes – the inevitable result is almost always either waste and/or chaos.
Most of today’s problems with climate science are the result of unregulated, public sector, academics being encouraged by unscrupulous politicians seeking new and innovative forms of taxation to fund welfare dependence schemes and the bloated bureaucracies.

TinyCo2
April 1, 2010 1:38 am

Another nice article, thanks.
Unlike GaryT I think it’s good to be a ‘generalist’, because cross pollination of sciences and other subjects allows you to see a bigger picture.
For those like Willis who are interested in many things, there is a great BBC programme about the mathematics of chaos. It discusses Mandelbrot, the Butterfly Effect and many other issues that are relevant to modelling climate.

There’s another good programme here, it’s not quite as good but worth a watch.

brent
April 1, 2010 1:58 am

Re-Energize Iowa: An Opportunity to Lead the Nation in Stewardship of the Earth
and Creation Jim Hansen, 5 August 2007
A price on carbon emissions is needed to stretch oil and gas supplies as we develop technologies needed for the world ‘beyond petroleum’. The carbon price will drive efficiency and low-carbon or no-carbon energy sources. If instead we continue business-as-usual, addicted to more and more fossil fuel use, as oil begins to run out we will be unprepared,
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2007/Iowa_20070805.pdf
Richard Nehring (16:30:08) :
“Traversing the Mountaintop: World Fossil Fuel Production to 2050
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/23/loehle-on-hoffman-et-al-and-co2-trajectories/
Pricing carbon as CO2 operates as a Proxy (of sorts) for HC Depletion. If one wanted to use an environmental Ruse/Hoax as a Proxy for HC Depletion , there is no option but to demonize C as CO2, as there are good technical solutions for most real pollution problems (even if not all implemented as perhaps they should have been )
cheers
brent

April 1, 2010 2:09 am

Eschenbach, a fantastic article, and another one I would have liked to have written. I particularly like your comment on the null hypothesis (great minds think alike! …)
Formally, I think that should be expressed as the “probability that the signal under investigation is not the normal signal”. This is vastly better than the climategate forecaster’s usual “proof” of “it has warmed”.
The global temperature is a natural signal, it has various frequency components (1 century = 3 x10^-10Hz). Some are random noise, others are periodic and the obvioius one is at 3×10^-8Hz) — the mains hum of the climatic signal!
Now this is where I get stuck on the statistics, because it’s easy to understand the transformation from physical to frequency space (aka fourier transform), but now instead of one signal, you have a multitude of frequencies and phases, and the question should now be:
“what is the probability of having this assemble of frequencies and phases in the suspect (CO2) region of the signal, given that we have a very short and therefore statistically not very significant, normal range of frequencies and phases.” As an engineer I can see that the two regions are pretty identical, but I can also see that the signal is difficult to detect, and I know that that can be stated formally as a probability if someone could do the maths.
And to make matters worse, the stimulus (CO2) is a ramp, which has some of the least distinctive frequency-space signatures.
As far as I can see there is absolutely no reason why there cannot be a formal calculation of the probability that the current global temperature signal contains an abnormal component. I’m sure there are people out there who can perform such calculations – and one thinks of passive detection of submarines using changes in background noise, or perhaps stealth radar as obvious examples of teasing out the “signal from the noise” using Frequency-space-statistics (that’s what I would call it – no idea what it is really called – no idea even if it exists as a area of maths! – no it’s got to exist, somewhere there’s an egg head could do this in ten minutes!)

Nick Good
April 1, 2010 2:27 am

>has only varied by about plus or minus three percent in the last half-billion years. Over the last ten thousand years, the temperature has only varied by plus or minus one percent. <Woooah! 3% change in temperature is of the order of 30c….remember temperature starts at absolute zero, not the arbitrary freezing point of water upon which the celcius scale is based. If you are going to talk about a change in temperature you need to talk in Kelvin. Absolute zero starts at -273c.

April 1, 2010 2:46 am

Excellent post, Willis and I am grateful for your ability and desire to share clearly-expounded ideas that have a moral and ethical base.
I took the time to read your CV and it’s obvious from that that you are not a mere ‘generalist’, which is often an excuse for an inability to learn and to do any one thing well, but a proper ‘Renaissance bloke’ in the mould of Leonardo da Vinci, unlike many of the scientists I once worked with who were frighteningly incompetent in what much of the working population regard as ‘ordinary stuff’ such as repairing vehicles or building boats. Studies I have read about ‘generalists’ indicates that many are regarded as eccentrics by mass society but small communities recognise their talents and revere them.
I guess WUWT is a small community.

Another Ian
April 1, 2010 2:51 am

Les Johnson (20:31:24)
OT but I had occasion recently to realise that
“the road to good intentions can be paved by hell”

April 1, 2010 3:06 am

Willis, I’ve just had another look at the “signals” and I’ve remembered where I got stuck last time. CO2 doesn’t just suddenly start increasing at some date, and there isn’t a “before and after” to the global signal. What you end up with is a frequency graph and a decision as to whether this is “normal” … which requires a model of normality, which then has to rely on highly suspect tree-ring data.
So this isn’t going to give the clear-cut probability I was suggesting. However there are some useful areas of investigation:
1. A comparison of the frequency of the modern temperature signal with the tree-ring signal. In theory these should be the same, except for the addition of any CO2 signal. As the CO2 signal appears to be dominant at low frequencies, the higher frequency components of the two signals should have the same amplitude. (which is like listening to a tape of a supposed noisy neighbour … and listening to background noise to see whether the tape has been turned up to appear to exaggerate the noise!)
2. I strongly suspect the amplitude of low frequency (century) noise components of the tree-ring signal has been significantly reduced. Again, if one could show that this is true, that the methodology for compiling the proxy temperature signal significantly reduces low-frequency component, this would suggest the real temperature signal has much more variation on the century-to-century scale than would be suggested by the raw signal.
3. It should also be possible to derive an estimate of the signal/noise ratio of CO2/natural variation … although I remember why I didn’t go further … the CO2 signal component is hellish in terms of distinguishing signal from noise. Which really means there is no leeway for micky mouse university statistics and this analysis really needs to be done by someone totally familiar with all the statistical traps.

Jimbo
April 1, 2010 3:06 am

Question 11. Is the science settled?
“To this one I would answer no, no, a thousand times no. We are just a the beginning of the study of climate. New information and new theories and new forcings are put forward on a regular basis. See e.g. Lu. The data is poor, short, and full of holes. The signal is tiny and buried in a huge amount of noise. We don’t know if the earth has a thermostat. In short, the study of climate is an infant science which is still poorly understood.”
———-
As well as no computer model predicted the last 15 years of lack of warming puts AGW on thin ice indeed. By the way the IPCC reports are packed full of the word “uncertainties.”

Rob R
April 1, 2010 3:18 am

davidmhoffer
Regarding clouds and glacial periods. The balance of paleoclimate evidence is that the Earth’s atmosphere is both drier and dustier during glacial periods, as shown by the dust content of ice cores in ice dating back over 400,000 years. This might imply less cloud as you suggest. Whether this causes heating (more heat getting through to the surface) or more cooling (less of a cloud blanket) I wouldn’t be able to say.

kwik
April 1, 2010 3:22 am

Excellent post, Willis.

Louis Hissink
April 1, 2010 3:30 am

Willis,
Thanks for the kind words – seems were are of class 1947!
To expand a little on Willis’ note that I am a diamond geologist, (formerly De Beers) it’s from that area of geology, which is concerned with the behaviour of the Earth’s mantle and the genesis of diamond bearing volcanic rocks, that got me started on the Plasma Model theory enunciated by Alfven, Peratt, Lerner, Eastman, Thornhill, etc.
Field evidence of the volcanic vents that host diamond bearing kimberlite demonstrates that these structures were made by a vertically downward machining, or screw-like vortex mechanism. That is, the initial eruption of the kimberlite via a small fissure at the surface, then developed as a rapidly rotating, downward screwing process forming the almost smooth walls of the kimberlite pipes. (Basically the model proposed by Barbara Scott-Smith).
What we did not know was the “how” since observed volcanic activity was of zero help.
We did notice that periods of kimberlite eruption during geological time seem also to be associated with biosphere mass extinctions but because of the Lyellian factor, those events were separated by immense periods of time, and, as Dr. Megan Clark, then senior research scientists for Western Mining Corporation, told me, an idea not permitted in mainstream geology; the idea that there was a causal relationship between kimberlite eruptions and mass species extinctions.
The discovery of Kristian Birkeland’s work, initially via Eric Lerner’s “The Big Bang Never Happened” book, led to the realisation that kimberlite eruptions seemed to be electrical discharge events in which the self rotating mode of Birkeland currents provided the energetic source for the pipe machining process.
So far so good.
But what would cause that electrical machining process onto the Earth’s land surface? It isn’t observed happening now.
Which led to revisiting Velikovsky’s ideas, and while he got some things wrong, generally he was right in his interpretation of the historical data that there was another force operating in the cosmos in addition to gravity – electromagnetics, or the Plasma Model as we now know it.
And once you start to understand the physics of the Plasma Model, you then have to, by compulsion of fact, reject the AGW hypothesis.
This is not to deny humans affect the local weather, we do, as much as a Canadian Beaver affects the local creek systems with its dam building efforts; except when the beaver does it, it is ok, but when we do it, it is not ok.
Willis linked to my site, Geoplasma, and it is a continuing work. My long term goal is to reverse the effect Charles Lyell had on science, followed by a denconstruction of Harlow Shapley’s influence on astronomy and astrophysics. As I also work as a professional exploration geologist, the pure science described in Geoplasma, takes time and often I feel compelled to write comments about the inanities uttered by the Climate Worshippers, and which is thus a distraction from the vocational goal. (and yes I started studying geology in 1960 and haven’t stopped – for me it is a vocation, not a job).
AGW is wrong not because they did the wrong experiments, or framed an inappropriate (how I love that crap term) hypothesis, but because the proposers of the hypothesis don’t understand physics, and hence science.

rbateman
April 1, 2010 3:33 am

Epicycles come to mind: They were close in thier days, but were not totally precise. They had data problems which Copernicus exposed. The biggest problem was that as a model they mimiced the process to a certain extent and led to a false conclusion. They had 2000 yrs to perfect them, but they were still wrong.
This is the same problem with GCM’s. They are wrong and lead to the wrong conclusions. The climate, to the warming climate modeler, appears to be precessing, but that’s just a wild guess, as the nature of the process eludes them.
In the end, we will have to go back to the data (what’s left of it) and start from scratch.

Louis Hissink
April 1, 2010 3:35 am

Willis
Totally OT but your surname is a variant of Escher, the Dutchman Heironymus. (Chek spilling pls).
I am related, via my mother, to him.

Area Man
April 1, 2010 3:49 am

Great job cutting through the BS.
I look forward to seeing the answers from Curry, and perhaps others in the mainstream (would “mainstream” be better described as “government funded”?) Climate Science community.
I would especially like to hear their answer to the question “… what am I denying?”.

Louis Hissink
April 1, 2010 3:52 am

Willis,
Bosch actually, having a senior moment. (just spent 2 days working 3D computer modelling of some geophysical data, and, if it is possible, causing brain numbing).

Joe
April 1, 2010 4:17 am

Willis Eschenbach (01:48:33)
I agree with a great deal with what you have said.
Unless you incorporate everything into the mix, just firing off on one gas is like selling snake oil to the masses. Very incompentent to say one gas comes off of everthing that man has touched and is the cause of planetary disruption.
You missed a biggie in your list and that is “Atmospheric Pressure Increase”.
This does not show on the surface of the planet do to rotation. Being an enclosed biosphere pressure increase or decrease does “funky” things to the eco-system. Many cases of changing pressures in experiments can change whatever is being put into this experiment that is fragile in nature. Our atmosphere is also pulled along by the planet so, any increase in density can have a change in speed of atmosphere being pulled along.
Darwin’s hypothsis is wrong. Animals didn’t evolve.
This planet did and is still in a constant change.
The theories we are working with today will not work in the past nor will they work in the future due to this planet’s constant changes( I am talking millions of years).
Also for some unfathomable reason, scientists believe that sun and planets will rotate forever due to nuclear???? The MOON slows the planet????
Our core is 2 billion years younger than the planet(head scratchers)????
When studying rotation, there are only 2 forces. Input energy into the object and letting that infused energy to be used up. This gets into a whole different set of changes as well. Mass density changes due to speed of rotation.
So science itself that we believe right now iis not 100% correct.

Louis Hissink
April 1, 2010 4:18 am

Willis Eschenbach (01:35:18) :

scienceofdoom (00:16:14), thanks as always for your interesting observations.


With “observable and measurable data about the real world” you provide evidence for your “theory”. Your “observable and measurable data about the real world” has to be matched to something.
Whether we call that a model or a set of equations doesn’t really matter.

So the models are the “theory of climate” that the observations have to match? Given the un-predicted 15 year hiatus in warming that none of the models predicted, I’d call them a failure if that is your yardstick

A computer model is sensu-strictu an hypothesis. It is an elaboration from a prior, simply stated, idea.
It can never, ever, form the basis of a proof of the hypothesis under investigation, as that would be an unequivocal assertion of circular reasoning.
[Reformatted to what I think the author intended]

40 shades of green
April 1, 2010 4:26 am

Willis,
You shoud write a book.
Anthony,
you should collect the best articles that appear on your site into an an annual book and sell it at Christmas time. Everyone is always looking for a 15 to 30 dollar present for their uncle (or favourite warmista).
You have I don’t know how many uniqe visitors per month. Is it 100,000? If 10% bought a book at 20 bucks a go that’s 200K gross with a tidy profit if you self publish.
I would probably buy several for a number of warmistas.
40 Shades

Judith Curry
April 1, 2010 4:28 am

Hi Willis, thanks for continuing the dialogue, i hope to have time this weekend to comment.

rbateman
April 1, 2010 4:29 am

Rob R (03:18:24) :
Or better yet, how does an ice-age progress?
As the climate turns colder, there is less evaporation, and more ice isn’t melted.
Sea levels drop, and relative elevations above sea level therefore increase. Ice would advance to lower latitudes as well as in absolute elevation. Remember our current mode of representing elevation is relative to sea level. Large ice masses are resistant to melting and persist. Runoff would be minimized, and therefore parching of low-lying areas would dominate. Sublimation is my guess for the equilibrium point of ice-age advance. Higher relative elevations would make for a windier planet???
Cold, windy, dry & dusty would be the dominant feature of such a scenario.
Now, how de we get back out of that fix?
Someone some decades back put forth the weight of ice pressing down continents and reducing relative elevations leading to slow melting as they slowly sank. Made sense as they showed the “Greenland Ice Cap Bowl” feature.

April 1, 2010 4:55 am

Willis:
Let me tell you – this is not pick on your ideas, but the stewardship ethic you promulgate or hold is nothing but a foundation for eco-fundamentalism.
How, do you ask? Your semantic conflations – just as other commenters point out wisely, overlook a few crucial facts
-the entire planet is not yours to take care of
-there are those who cause what you would consider enormous damage to ‘your planet’ but not intentionally – your stewardship puts you at conflict with them
If tomorrow, the United States and the UK – two of the world’s most powerful countries decide that as perpetrators of anthropogenic global warming they feel responsible the damage to the planet they’ve caused and therefore as the technologically capable stewards they are, they have a bounden moral duty to take over all the coastal regions of the nations of the world – for their own good – would you be surprised?
Rachel Carson did not cause DDT to be banned but provided people with the rationalizations for doing so and not worry about the consequences. So will this stewardship idea. It is just a cover for ambition and hubris that you do not recognize.
Again, quoting from the same paper I quoted above:
“The Religious Right, who also generally do not perceive climate change as a significant threat, may be most receptive to messages framed in moral
terms, including the stewardship ethic found in Genesis and the moral duty of Christians to help the poor and needy (i.e., those millions likely to be most
affected by climate change).”
For those interested, the abstract is here:
Go to pubmed.com and search for : 18929975
The Center for Climate Change Communication, Virginia
http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/

Anders L.
April 1, 2010 5:01 am

I think there was one question missing in the article:
Question 15: Is it possible to change the composition of the atmosphere without causing any changes whatsoever in the climate system?
I guess Willis’ answer would be “yes, yes, a thousand times yes!”.
My answer, on the other hand, would be: “nope”.
And just to clarify – I do not believe that the climate threat is a threat to the very existence of life on Earth. But I do believe that there is one species that is very sensitive to climate change, especially in the short run: namely, H. sapiens.
We have very recently witnessed an episode where the entire financial system almost collapsed as a result of careless lending and borrowing in the USA. What would happen if manmade rapid climate change threatened the stability of some of the biggest nations on earth? Quite a number of those nations who are likely to be hardest hit by AGW already have nuclear weapons, and others are surely eager to follow.
I absolutely agree with Willis that the Earth’s climate changes constantly, and that we, just as all other living creatures, have to cope with those changes. But that is not a good reason to make everything even worse.

Louis Hissink
April 1, 2010 5:19 am

rbateman:
The flaw is in the assumtions – Ice ages? Who observed them as slow events”?
The Norse have a tradition of a sudden Fimbul Weather, ice period – from whence that idea?
Please folks, study what our ancestors recorded, orally and otherwise, before dismissing those accounts, in the post modernist fashion, as myths.

Don Penman
April 1, 2010 5:45 am

climate science is in conflict with the the rest of us because they see climate scientists as the guardians of the earth and we are trying to destroy the earth. I have no objection to scientists quitely doing their work but with climate scientists anything they do has to have media coverage, it is a moral crusade.The way that climate scientists have gone about their science has put me off what are trying to say .The idea that humans are altering the climate of the earth is proclaimed but up until the last century most of us lived at a subsistence level and some still do
I can look at how weather is changing where I live and not see any reason to worry about climate change but a climate scientist measures temperature anomalies for the whole world over a long period of time and if it goes up by a fraction of a degree they panic .Why the Earths climate changes in the way that it does is a good question but the answer does not have to be AGW and it does not have to mean climate disaster and then there is no need for my energy use to be taxed.

NickB.
April 1, 2010 5:55 am

Nice write-up Senor Willis!

PaulH
April 1, 2010 6:03 am

As other commentators above have mentioned regarding Question 1, the term “environmentalist” doesn’t mean what it used to years ago. The term has morphed somewhat like the term “feminist” has. In the ’70s being a feminist meant that you were in favour of equality for women. But some time in the ’80s being a feminist meant being anti-man and residing on the far left of the political spectrum. Eventually you started hearing moderates say, “I’m all for women’s rights, but I’m not a feminist.”
So, in that vein, I will say that I care about the environment, but I’m not an environmentalist.
Paul

anna v
April 1, 2010 6:08 am

Re: Shub Niggurath (Apr 1 04:55),
Willis:
Let me tell you – this is not pick on your ideas, but the stewardship ethic you promulgate or hold is nothing but a foundation for eco-fundamentalism.

I can see your argument, but maybe you are confusing necessary and sufficient conditions?
eco-fundamentalism may have used stewardship concepts, but stewardship concepts are not sufficient to describe eco-fundamentalism.
The fact that communism has a foundation the equality of people, does not mean that asking for the equal treatment of people defines a communist?
Stewardship, that is responsibility for decisions and results of actions, is very important to sustain the basic unit of humanity, family. Extending this sense of responsibility to the fauna and flora one interacts with, extends the family. In this sense, to think in terms of stewardship of the earth is no danger in the sense you describe of
that as perpetrators of anthropogenic global warming they feel responsible the damage to the planet they’ve caused and therefore as the technologically capable stewards they are, they have a bounden moral duty to take over all the coastal regions of the nations of the world – for their own good – would you be surprised?
The fact that fascism developed out of a socialist vocabulary does not mean that fascism is socialism.
Surprisingly, I have found the Navajo world view so well described in Tony Hilerman’s detective novels, as one that would be advantageous adopted by everybody: beauty is everywhere and the individual has to come to balance with the total environment, to retain internal beauty/balance.
You may call it spiritual, or religious, so? Humans are spiritual entities who need an ethic compass, not just another type of termites overtaking the world .

April 1, 2010 6:19 am

Rob R (03:18:24) :
davidmhoffer
Regarding clouds and glacial periods. The balance of paleoclimate evidence is that the Earth’s atmosphere is both drier and dustier during glacial periods, as shown by the dust content of ice cores in ice dating back over 400,000 years. This might imply less cloud as you suggest. Whether this causes heating (more heat getting through to the surface) or more cooling (less of a cloud blanket) I wouldn’t be able to say>>
I think it is less a matter of “less or more” than it is a matter of “what kind”. Cloud cover I assume interacts with both longwave and shortwave, so the question does it produce net cooling or net warming gets complicated. But by blocking SW and LW, but only emitting LW, when cloud cover exists it must diminish the amount of SW interacting with earth surface and raise the amount of LW. This is key because LW only penetrates a millimeter or so of water and mostly just causes it to evaporate. Absence of cloud cover increases the amount of SW that interacts with earth surface, and SW will penetrate sea water to 300 meters. So, in terms of surface temps, cloud cover has one effect. In terms of ocean heat content, a very different effect. Oceans being really big and having strong currents that redistribute heat, it would take a very long time to warm them up, and once warmed up, a long time to cool off.
So cloud cover could very well have a “warming effect” when it comes to surface temperatures, and a “cooling effect” when it comes to oceans. In brief, perhaps a very small “net effect” but a very large distribution effect (land and ocean surface versus 300 meters of ocean depth).
I would think also that an increase in SW would have a major effect on plant biomass on both land and ocean, so assuming that is net positive, would tend to cause agressive growth, sucking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and explaining why CO2 levels lag temperature increases.

Richard S Courtney
April 1, 2010 6:38 am

scienceofdoom (19:06:34) :
You assert:
“I agree there is a huge quantitative difference. But it’s still not a trick question. If climate models could match observations then I believe we could call it “evidence” of something.”
And at (23:57:12) :
You iterate and say:
“I was arguing about the role of models as having the potential for evidence. And not being a trick question.”
I agree that agreement of the model outputs with observations is “evidence of something.”
It is evidence of the aerosol adjustment applied in each model to obtain the agreement.
I first reported this in relation to the Hadley Centre model over a decade ago.
(ref. Courtney RS, ‘An assessment of validation experiments conducted on computer models of global climate using the general circulation model of the UK’s Hadley Centre’, Energy & Environment, Volume 10, Number 5, pp. 491-502, September 1999).
That paper was published in 1999 (n.b. a decade ago) but I know of no publication that reports any flaw in it. A recent paper by Kiehl says the same but Kiehl’s paper reports that other GCMs have adopted the same ‘adjustment’ except that each of the models uses a different and unique input of assumed aerosol cooling to get it to match the global warming over twentieth century.
(ref. Kiehl, J.T. (2007) Twentieth century climate model response and climate sensitivity. Geophys. Res. Lttrs., 34, L22710, doi:10.1029/2007GL031383)
My 1999 paper reports that the Hadley Centre general circulation model (GCM) showed an unrealistic high warming trend over the twentieth century, and a cooling effect was added to overcome this drift. The cooling was assumed to be a result of anthropogenic aerosol.
So, cooling was input to the GCM to match the geographical distribution of the aerosol. And the total magnitude of the cooling was input to correct for the model drift: this was reasonable because the actual magnitude of the aerosol cooling effect is not known.
This was a reasonable model test. If the drift were a result of aerosol cooling then the geographical pattern of warming over the twentieth century indicated by the model would match observations.
However, the output of this model test provided a pattern of geographic variation in the warming that was very different from observations; e.g. the model predicted most cooling where most warming was observed.
This proved that the aerosol cooling was not the cause (or at least not the major cause) of the model drift.
The Hadley Centre overcame this unfortunate result by reporting the agreement of the global average temperature rise with observations. But THIS AGREEMENT WAS FIXED AS AN INPUT TO THE TEST! It was fixed by adjusting the degree of input cooling to make it fit!
However, this use of supposed ‘aerosol cooling’ to compensate for the model drift means that any input reduction to anthropogenic aerosol cooling must result in the model providing drift which is wrongly indicated as global warming.
In any other branch of science this ‘aerosol cooling’ fix would be considered to be incompetence at best and fraud at worst
So, observations of global climate provide evidence of what the global climate has done.
And observation of climate model outputs provides evidence of what the constructors of the models have done.
Richard

Capn Jack.
April 1, 2010 6:42 am

Judith Curry.
Swish.
and thank you.

Dave Springer
April 1, 2010 6:52 am

I’m not a denier. I believe in climate change. I believe the climate is changing for the better! I’d worry if it were getting colder. You can’t ask for anything better than warming in the higher northern latitudes, mostly effecting night time and winter lows. That’s like saying “Please God, we need more arable land and longer growing seasons to feed the hungry.” and POOF that’s what we get right where we need it right when we need it.
I don’t believe the warming is anthropogenic if we discount the providential response to human needs.
Or then there’s Jame’s Lovelock’s recent blathering about humanity being too stupid to save the earth. I actually give some credence to Dr. Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis which states that life on the earth is one big self-regulating organism. The problem is Lovelock appears too stupid to follow his hypothesis out to the logical end. If the earth is a single organism then like all other organisms it must somehow reproduce. The sun has a finite lifetime before it becomes a red giant and turns the earth into a cinder. So to escape extinction the earth must somehow reproduce elsewhere. How? Well one way would be through technology – locating a suitable world orbiting a younger star and transporting the seeds of life to it. This handily explains why the “earth” has telescopes and spacecraft these days. The earth is preparing to reproduce! Humanity, in that scenario, is the sex organ. Call me a dick for saying this and I’ll be forced to agree.

Ted Annonson
April 1, 2010 6:56 am

Climate change??? I can only say “Be Prepaired” for any thing.
To maintain civilization, food and energy are required. Energy to keep warm if it gets colder or to keep cool if it gets warmer.
Food — we need grains that will grow under many harsh conditions, warmer, colder, wetter or drier.

Tom W
April 1, 2010 7:14 am

“Over the last 150 years, the average temperature has only varied by plus or minus 0.3%.”
‘ONLY’ .3%’? Strange language if you believe that a 1% change would devastate the lives of millions or tens of millions of people. If you don’t believe that then address that issue…not the fact that it is ‘only’ .3 percent.

Stefan
April 1, 2010 7:29 am

How can a more complex situation be modeled more easily and accurately than a simpler situation? That makes no sense at all.

Well I wonder that that right there, is the pin in the grenade; pull that out and the whole AGW “limits of growth” thing explodes.
We all know that we see what we look for, which is to say, our point of view on reality will determine what things about reality we can perceive.
There is indeed a reality, but we can only ever approach it through a paradigm (or view), and that view determines what we can and can’t see. Our paradigm might be, “a 12 inch ruler is the best measuring device”, so we’ll know the dimensions of anything that can be easily measured with a ruler, and anything much smaller or much larger will be “hard to detect” or nonexistent.
So it is all a matter of trying to construct the best possible paradigm or view from which to obtain the most useful information about reality.
The “grenade pin” in the AGW paradigm is the assumption that we can model the complexities of growth and resources and expertly determine for practical purposes what those limits are, and where they’ll be encountered. This is the one point I’ll never agree with, and I don’t have to be an “expert in the field” to know they’re wrong — the whole paradigm that such a field even exists and that it is populated with experts is simply not a view I take.
Imagine deciding that bacteria doesn’t exist because I expertly measured everything to be measured with my ruler. Imagine deciding that global warming is real because I looked at some surface temperatures over 100 years from sparse stations, and can think of no other reason for warming. Imagine deciding that climate can be modelled because eventually all that weather noise must even out into a trend, and I can draw a graph-like “straight line” over about 30 years.
Yes, objects exist at the 12 inch scale, but that doesn’t mean all useful objects exist at the 12 inch scale. We still don’t know whether those 30 year “straight lines” on graphs are anything useful. A paradigm needs to be self-aware of what its purpose is supposed to be, otherwise what use is it for anything practical?
Yes I know there’s multiple lines of evidence, but that still leaves out everything that wasn’t measured. Yes I know it doesn’t have to be omniscient, but it has to include enough relevant stuff for its intended purpose. And the intended purpose here is that the experts and politicians want to decide what is “sustainable”. It has so far failed to provide anything useful for that purpose. The paradigm does not do what it says on the box.
The AGW paradigm also includes a belief that average people are too selfish and stupid to do the right thing, so the experts need to tell us. That paradigm has also failed. How do the experts propose to influence the stupid people? By calling them deniers? See how that’s working. (If a stupid person becomes a climatologist, does that automatically make them smart? If a teenager starts talking about global growth, does that automatically make them wise?) Even if they were right about AGW, they failed to make it useful. And that’s not our fault, that’s theirs. They failed in their mission to show the world the “expert view of the limits of growth”.
In my view, I look for complexity. I assume complexity. If something looks simple, I am wary — it could be more complex! So you want to understand climate? Assume it is complex! So you want to make recommendations for world development? Assume it is complex! So you want to influence the world’s stupid uninformed selfish people about the limits of growth?
Assume people are more complex and smarter and moving in hard to predict and innovative ways that solve problems with a globally distributed and diverse intelligence.
That’s my paradigm. Anyone care to join?

ShrNfr
April 1, 2010 7:39 am

When there is an end to Slime Ate Science, I will be more attentive to the results. Until then, I will have to apply my personal training that I got when I got my PhD to sift through the bs.

mkelly
April 1, 2010 7:59 am

Based on the science that tells us CO2 down radiates “extra” energy and heats the earth I am now beginning a line of household products.
The first is a blanket that will be made with fleece outer shell and have a top made of a space blanket material with a bladder of 100% CO2. Thus filled, will not only keep you warm on the coldest nights but will infact warm you above you natural body temperature. According to the IPCC the forcing involved with this alone is near 75 W/m2 so you will get toasty.
I know I can get it patented as this effect has been known for over a hundred years. Besides if CO2 can heat an entire planet it is sure to be able to warm a small human body.
ScienceofDoom you will buy some won’t you.
Maybe I’ll follow up with house insulation that over time will take you house to a tipping point and you will no longer require an external heating source.
I’ll make billions. Unlike GE, with all its PHD’s, can’t figure out how to make consumer products out of this proven science.

GaryB
April 1, 2010 8:16 am

Willis,
Bravo. Well-stated and and sensible essay. And that’s quite a CV. Lumper AND art class model. Ha!

April 1, 2010 8:21 am

Willis, can you explain what you mean by a 3% change in temperature, please? 3% of what and when?
Thank you.

Amen to That!
April 1, 2010 8:24 am

Excellent article….Excellent summary. I can’t find a single thing that I don’t agree with. I’ve sent this link to a lot of my friends as a great summary of the climate debate.
I too am a person that loves nature and thinks it should be protected. And I also believe AGW is baloney, from a carefully thought-out and informed scientific position, one that started back in graduate school (1989) when Mike Mann and I would debate these topics over lunch. I didn’t agree with him then and I don’t agree with him now after all these years of extra data and computer modelling.

April 1, 2010 8:30 am

Well, I’m no climate scientist but I left my answers here.
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/the-solution-is-the-problem/

April 1, 2010 8:39 am

[quote davidmhoffer (06:19:58) :]
In any other branch of science this ‘aerosol cooling’ fix would be considered to be incompetence at best and fraud at worst
[/quote]
Which pretty much sums up the state of climate science, at least in the public’s eye.
Unfortunately, it’s the scientists themselves that just don’t get it. Just look at the title to this post, “Trust and Mistrust”. Dr. Curry talks about the same thing, how to regain the public’s trust. Trust isn’t the problem.
Science has nothing to do with trust. It has to do with verifiability and reproducibility . Until the scientists make the data and computer code used to generate their claims available so that others can verify these claims by reproducing them, they aren’t doing science. They’re just producing a collection of unverifiable claims.
And there’s a word for that. It’s “pseudoscience”.

April 1, 2010 8:54 am

Willis Eschenbach (23:45:54): “That’s just twaddle”? Gosh, I love it when someone comes up with a well reasoned, well cited scientific argument against something I’ve said.
Oh, I see. You make some airy-fairy granola bar comment like, “I believe that when you cut down a forest, you cut down the clouds,” and that is supposed to be science, and furthermore I am supposed to supply scientific proof that you’re wrong.
No, Willis. If you want to join the gay scouts and put daisies in your coffee, that’s fine with me. But please don’t call it “science”. And don’t hide behind the pathetic argument that I have to prove your dingdong religious belief assertions wrong.
Risible, man. Positively risible. Stick to what you know. Don’t become a Lovelockian.
That goes for all you other guilt-ridden skeptics. You want to prove that you love the planet as much as any hippie, even though you don’t think the seas are going to boil from glooooobal waaaarming. Forget it. You will never make the grade. Stick to rationality. It’s what you do best. Don’t backslide.

ThinkingBeing
April 1, 2010 9:11 am

7 There has been no significant warming from 1995 to the present (Feb. 2010). See The Reference Frame, Phil Jones.

This is untrue. What Phil Jones said was that the warming since 1995 is not yet statistically significant, but only just so… because the period is too short to achieve statistical significance. This is very different from saying no warming.
P.S. Visit Dr. Spencer’s site to see how 6 of the past 7 months have exceeded the 1979-1999 record high temperatures virtually every day in those months. You’re “it hasn’t warmed” meme is going to be laid bare eventually. And that’s a skeptic’s interpretation of the satellite record, so you can’t blame UHI effects and homogenization and all of your other obfuscations.

Pops
April 1, 2010 9:22 am

Thanks, Willis, you’ve managed to cut through to the core issues and explain them very well.
I’ll politely disagree with a couple of commenters who dislike the use of the word “believe” because of its supposed religious connotations. Belief is all we have. The confidence level may be higher for some beliefs than others, but its still all belief.
It bothers me when religious belief is singled out as being irrational. I’m a religious person, and religious belief, in my experience, comes about in precisely the same manner as any other kind of belief. One evaluates the evidence, considers voices of authority, acts on the basis of theories and evaluates the results, and ends up with religious belief. It’s true that many people accept religious tenets with little or no evidence, but it’s also true that many people blindly accept the notion that climate catastrophe is imminent with – all together, now – little or no evidence.

April 1, 2010 9:28 am

Willis, you are a fisherman. I am a forester. That’s right, sports fans, I don’t kill fish, I kill trees!!!
But unlike you, I don’t feel the need to gouge my own eyes out about it. I don’t suffer from Oedipal guilt regarding Mother Nature.
Chances are, unless you live in a grass shack or a concrete bunker, your shelter is made of wood (i.e. former trees). Most people today live in tree-based housing. But dry your tears, it’s okay, because TREES GROW BACK.
That’s right, sports fans. Trees are a renewable resource. The bad mean logger cuts them down, but then the good kind forester plants cute little baby trees, and before you know it — green grows the forest again!
Some people assert that logging makes that glaciers melt. Some people believe that when you cut down a forest, you cut down the clouds. But that’s all a steaming pile of poppycock nonsense. Those are not scientific assertions. There is no scientific proof behind those claims.
So rest easy. And before you go to bed tonight, say a little prayer for the folks who put the roof over your head, and the walls, and the floor under your bed. And don’t worry about the clouds. They are doing fine.

Pops
April 1, 2010 9:37 am

@Mike D. – calm down, I think you’ve inferred the wrong thing from what Willis said. My inference is that he said, e.g., that if you clearcut (or burn) a million acres of contiguous land, there will be local climate changes. Seems reasonable enough.

Francisco
April 1, 2010 9:41 am

This recent article by Lubos Motl on climate sensitivity seems worth discussing as a post by itself.
Black body limits: climate sensitivity parameter can’t possibly be high, a proof:
http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/black-body-limits-climate-sensitivity.html

April 1, 2010 9:48 am

Judas priest!
Before all I had to worry about was unshaven hippie chicks stealing lumber from the lumberyard and building tree forts in my crop trees and perching up there and singing songs about butterflies and cookie dough in order to protest my responsible science-based professional forest stewardship.
But now I have to concern myself with Oedipal CAGW skeptics who claim I’m CUTTING DOWN THE CLOUDS!!!!!!!!!!!
Take it back, Willis. Take it back or I will hound you unmercifully and discount everything you ever said or ever will say.
Give science a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Bones
April 1, 2010 9:51 am

Les Johnson (18:02:32) :
I too, am a conservationist. But the reference to Carson is off-putting. She is responsible for as many deaths as Stalin or Mao. Maybe more.
Strident exaggeration. The warning Carson sounded resulted in a DDT ban via political legislation. Over and indiscriminate use of pesticides allows for resistant selection in the Anopheles mosquito – which if not a problem 30 years ago, is a serious problem today.
http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2670/evolution-proof-insecticides-could-halt-malaria?page=0%2C1
What is more likely is a dismissive attitude toward Africa and third world populations prevented thoughtful, alternative solutions to insect / malaria control.

Steve Keohane
April 1, 2010 10:12 am

Good piece Ellis. You already addressed Pieter F (20:36:09) :, but I find that trying to discern whether the warmest part of this interglacial was at one point or another is missing the big picture.
We spend 90% of the time glaciated, so end up with 10% of the time having a more inhabitable planet. We are looking at climate change here. The big change happened at the minimum temperature and the following 10-15K years when the temperature shot up 12-14°C. This brought our interglacial period, and it has been cooling since then. It seems to me that every 100K years something dumps a lot heat into the system, It goes up for 10-15K years, flattens for 10-12K years and then over the next 75K years it is lost.
All of this focus on GHGs is interesting because they seem to lend stability to the climate by setting a heat retention mechanism, but misses the big picture. Since the warmth we enjoy does not come from our planet, we need a blanket to insulate us. I suspect that blanket is about as insulating as it’s going to get, i.e. GHG effect is near maximum. IMO, Warmth is a virtue not a curse.
Without understanding the main inducement of warmth, all else seems like arguing over the number of angels on the head of a pin. CO2 isn’t a player unless warming at 200ppm and cooling at 300ppm makes sense, per Vostok ice cores.

Richard S Courtney
April 1, 2010 10:14 am

magicjava:
At (08:39:47) you say :
Please do not malign davidmhoffer by putting words in his mouth that he did not utter.
You write:
“[quote davidmhoffer (06:19:58) :]
In any other branch of science this ‘aerosol cooling’ fix would be considered to be incompetence at best and fraud at worst.
[/quote]”
He did not say that here, and I do not know if he would or would not say it.
But I know I said it at (06:38:45).
Richard

Indiana Bones
April 1, 2010 10:20 am

Shub Niggurath (04:55:21) :
“…the stewardship ethic found in Genesis and the moral duty of Christians to help the poor and needy (i.e., those millions likely to be most affected by climate change).”
Do not the poor and needy exist without climate change? Have they not for 30,000 years? The need for moral behavior does not rely on temperature.

jorgekafkazar
April 1, 2010 10:29 am

scienceofdoom (00:16:14) : “…With “observable and measurable data about the real world” you provide evidence for your “theory”. Your “observable and measurable data about the real world” has to be matched to something. Whether we call that a model or a set of equations doesn’t really matter….”
I much prefer to call that “something” a prediction because it must BE a prediction. You may have created your prediction with the assistance of anything you wish, a model, equation, graph, dartboard, haruspex, whatnot, but ultimately your theory is only as good as its ability to predict. Models are tools, not evidence. Presently they are not much better than dartboards.

April 1, 2010 10:39 am

Mike D
You just stole the words from my mouth.
anna v
“stewardship as eco-fundamentalism”
“I can see your argument, but maybe you are confusing necessary and sufficient conditions? ”
No confusion – I am saying everything straight up. Under the cover of what we might harbor as stewardship in our minds, will sneak in eco-fascists whom we would not be able to distinguish ourselves from.
That is exactly what happened with fascism and communism. Those who were for ‘the public good’ and ‘equality’ could not resist the march of the tyrants because they could never pinpoint who their true opponents were, could not separate their ideas out from their own.
I would suggest you go hunting for this new creature – the climate steward. Look for where this word originated – where did this new concept crawl out from. You might be surprised.

Bruce Cobb
April 1, 2010 10:41 am

Bravo, Willis. Nicely done. Who knows, maybe Judith will surprise us.
I really don’t see how any of them can be trusted, though. They haven’t been doing science, and have pulled every trick in the book, (cherry-picking, obfuscating, hiding things, withholding data, hockey-sticking, etc.) and some not in the book. Clearly, they have had an agenda, and it hasn’t been science.

Micky C
April 1, 2010 10:43 am

I like a lot of the post but there is something missing: questions about the fundamental mechanism of AGW, namely that more CO2 will cause a surface to heat up beyond its previous equilibrium temperature, with as a minimum the presence of the Earth’s atmospheric constituents and sunlight. Secondly that there will be an associated rise in water vapour.
Now call me just a plain old physicist but you may want to include a question asking where the characterisation of this basic process has been performed in a lab and modelled to match the lab results. The lab may be very large but it will still be a controlled environment. This would go someway to sure up the models, which are just expectations of what we think we know.
There is also something deeper to all this. Most people assume that you can extrapolate a lot of basic physics to get more complicated physics. What they don’t realise is that seemingly easy extrapolation today is based on detailed experimentation of yesterday so that each small step was painstakingly measured. CO2 forcing does not even begin to fall into this category yet because of the illusion of the simple ‘greenhouse effect’ people assume that we can pretty much predict what is going to happen without testing it rigorously and in a controlled environment. But in science you have to get data from experiment otherwise its at best, theory, at worst, comedy or tragedy (something I see you believe in as well). In my experience science is summed up as: There. Are. No. Short. Cuts. But then I’m an empiricist more than a theorist

Vincent
April 1, 2010 10:46 am

ThinkingBeing,
” What Phil Jones said was that the warming since 1995 is not yet statistically significant, but only just so… because the period is too short to achieve statistical significance. This is very different from saying no warming.”
It is true that it is very different from saying no warming, but it is not true that the lack of statistical significance is because the period is too short. It is because the error bars are so large that we cannot say whether the “trend” is due to chance or not. If the errors were smaller, the 15 year period would be fine.
If we wait a further period and temperatures rise sufficiently then we would be confident that the trend is not due to chance. However, if there is little or no warming, then no matter how long we wait, the trend will not become statisticallly significant.

John Galt
April 1, 2010 10:52 am

Climate models do not produce evidence. Evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world. Climate model results are nothing more than the beliefs and prejudices of the programmers made tangible. While the results of climate models can be interesting and informative, they are not evidence.

Climate models are computer programs and computer programs do what they are told to do by the programmer. The models show CO2 may cause CAGW because that is what they were written to do.

Richard S Courtney
April 1, 2010 10:54 am

Mike D. (09:48:01) :
With respect, I think your reaction is the result of a misunderstanding.
You say;
“But now I have to concern myself with Oedipal CAGW skeptics who claim I’m CUTTING DOWN THE CLOUDS!!!!!!!!!!!”
No, I do not think it is reasonable to interpret what Willis said as being what you assert or as implying what you assert.
I understand Willis to be making the reasonable point that changes to land use affect the local climate. They do. For example, it is common knowledge that it is warmer in cities than in surrounding countryside.
And the albedo and surface transpiration of a region are affected by the biota that cover a region, so replacing one crop (e.g. trees) with another (e.g. corn) has an effect on the local climate. The fact of this is not disputed and is well documented; see e.g.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/310/5754/1625
There is a valuable discussion that can be had about the magnitude of climate changes from changes to land use by altered crops. The link I have provided suggests that the magnitude of such changes on global climate may be comparable to the magnitude of changes to greenhouse gases on global climate.
This discussion of the magnitude is important.
For example, nobody disputes that it is warmer in cities than the surrounding countryside. This urban heat island (UHI) effect can be assessed for its local magnitude(s) and the areas of all cities can be determined as a proportion of global surface area: thus the global warming from UHI can be calculated. But this UHI global warming is too small to be detected although its local effect is simply observed. (Please note that this has nothing to do with corruption of global warming determinations induced by UHI affecting local temperature measurements that are used to determine global warming.)
So, the presence of urbanisation
(a) has a significant effect on local climate
but
(b) does not make a discernible effect on global climate.
Land use changes from altering crops also has a significant effect on local climate. But it is debateable as to whether these land use changes have a significant or discernible effect on global climate (some think it does, see the link I have provided).
Importantly, none of this says that maintaining any specific crop (e.g. trees or corn) harms local and/or global climate. Indeed, there is no possibility that such land use changes could cause a ‘runaway’ change to climate.
I hope this helps to remove some emotion from consideration of the issue.
Richard

JAE
April 1, 2010 11:12 am

Right on, Willis. Thanks!

J.Peden
April 1, 2010 12:17 pm

Bruce Cobb (10:41:34) :
Bravo, Willis. Nicely done. Who knows, maybe Judith will surprise us.
I really don’t see how any of them can be trusted, though. They haven’t been doing science, and have pulled every trick in the book, (cherry-picking, obfuscating, hiding things, withholding data, hockey-sticking, etc.) and some not in the book. Clearly, they have had an agenda, and it hasn’t been science.

Agreed. I’m still hoping for a strong, explicit affirmation of the Scientific Method from Dr. Curry, but don’t think it will occur. It doesn’t necessarily count for much, but so far I don’t think I’ve seen any Climate Scientist even mention it’s name.

anna v
April 1, 2010 12:18 pm

Re: Shub Niggurath (Apr 1 10:39),
No confusion – I am saying everything straight up. Under the cover of what we might harbor as stewardship in our minds, will sneak in eco-fascists whom we would not be able to distinguish ourselves from.
So, are you saying we must throw out the baby with the bathwater?
Again, you are logically confusing what are necessary and what are sufficient conditions to define a system. Since we will be working under some system, it behooves us to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Husbanding resources and taking care of the environment are necessary conditions for the survival of human communities, has been ever since humans appeared, and I do not see why these principles should be thrown out when we become a global community by the force of technology that has made the whole world our back yard.
If there are extremist nuts, or ideologues with a chip on their shoulder, we should isolate them, and keep our goals and system of values clear.

April 1, 2010 12:31 pm

Willis
I know you are only speaking for a sensible approach to the problem of the environment. But it would be nice if you could see what people have been saying in this thread, instead of becoming defensive about eye-gouging etc
You said initially that “we should care for this planet” or some words to that effect.
“I am a passionate environmentalist,…”
“First, we have a responsibility to be good guests and good stewards here on this amazing planet…”
Your own words imply ownership or at the least a custodian-ship. Of what? – ‘The environment’. Which includes pretty much everything and anything on earth.
Look at the Yale Project on Climate Change, for example:
http://environment.yale.edu/climate/
Read through their brainwashing publications and reports. The Yale Project on Climate Change is a project of the The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
what is the objective of this school?
“…marshal[ed] the expertise of diverse disciplines in the service of responsible stewardship of the environment.”
Here you are, talking about a few trees and fishes, when organizations such as these plan to control human minds and the climate of the globe. And yet, you both speak the same language. How did that happen?
Regards

DavidS
April 1, 2010 12:35 pm

Nice summary. In any next draft include material on the statistics of extreme weather events (huricanes, ice coverage, floods etc). I find there is a firmly held believe that we live in unusual and frighteningly changing times.
Again well done
DavidS

April 1, 2010 12:40 pm

To mods: I do not know whether my previous post got through. Please advise
Anna:
“If there are extremist nuts, or ideologues with a chip on their shoulder, we should isolate them, and keep our goals and system of values clear.”
That is what I am saying. How do you we should do that? By keeping our language clear and being aware of where the words and concepts we use
originate from.
Husbanding resources and “taking care” of the environment is precisely what causes global warming according to the proponents of anthropogenic warming. We are just buying into the cult if think about this non-issue in the same terms.

April 1, 2010 1:48 pm

Mince around all you want, but what you said is what you said.
The Kilimanjaro study is crap science. Logging is not changing the cloud cover nor melting the glaciers. That’s WWF gibberish. Why don’t you hold those pseudoscientist quacks to the same standards you hold other Alarmist pseudoscientists?
Trees actually sequester water. It’s called photosynthesis. H2O and CO2 combine to make cellulose. Amazing but true.
Let’s talk Big Picture. The Alarmists want to burn down forests today, because global warming is going to burn them down later so we might as well jump ahead. It’s the Precautionary Principle taken to the nth degree. There has been movement to institute Let It Burn on our national forests. Since Clinton was elected 100 million acres have burned.
Somebody mentioned above an Alarmist line about “clearcutting a million acres”. How about some facts: there is ZERO clearcutting happening on the Federal estate, but the annual burn acreage is approaching 10 million acres per year. The CO2 emissions are in the petagrams, but what’s more tragic are the particulate emissions in the smoke that are choking people to death across the West. Whole landscapes have been incinerated in megafires, devastating vegetation, soils, habitat, wildlife, watersheds, airsheds, scenery, recreation, heritage, public health and safety, and the economy on public and private lands.
Does that affect the local climates? If cutting a few trees does, then I guess burning up 10 million acres a year must some impact, too.
Maybe the responsible thing would be to decry wholesale Let It Burn for a host of reasons, instead of finger pointing at loggers for clearcutting the clouds out of the sky!!!!!!!!
I get it that you all want to think humanity is buggering up the climate, just not with CO2. Here’s a newsflash: humanity does not impact the climate in any significant way. Maybe a degree or two on the tarmac or right next to the barbecue, which confounds the threadbare global surface temperature grid, but the CLIMATE? No way.
You don’t want to pay exorbitant Cap and Tax rates that will further cripple our near death economy. Neither do I. But eliminating forestry is not the solution. Trade the Alarmists something else. Give them Europe. Leave my forests out of it.

jlc
April 1, 2010 1:59 pm

Willis,
I am not a “guest” on this planet.
I detest this lovelockian terminology.
This planet is an evolutionary accident. I live here. It is my home and my planet. I and my fellow citizens can do whatever the [snip] we want here.
I repeat – I AM NOT A GUEST!!!!!

Dave McK
April 1, 2010 3:24 pm

[snip – no valid email address, see policy page]

David L. Hagen
April 1, 2010 3:25 pm

Drudge now links to this news item c/o Andrew Bolt.
Climate change, happening before your eyes Comments 376 Comments | Permalink
Andrew Bolt Blog Thursday, April 01, 2010 at 08:40am

Dave McK
April 1, 2010 3:32 pm

[snip no valid email address given – see policy page]

Phil M
April 1, 2010 3:35 pm

[snip]
Calling other posters/readers ‘denialists’ is not acceptable.]

Dave McK
April 1, 2010 4:00 pm

[YEA, IT IS CHARLES. I WARNED YOU OVER A MONTH AGO AND NO ONE NOTICED THAT YOU IGNORED IT, INCLUDING ME. BLOG POLICY IS VALID EMAIL ADDRESSES ONLY. ALL COMMENTS IN VIOLATION ARE SUBJECT TO DELETION. I MIGHT HAVE RESTORED THE COMMENTS IF YOU HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY IGNORED THE WARNING, AND MADE GOOD, BUT BECAUSE YOU DID IGNORE IT ALL COMMENTS I FOUND HAVE BEEN DELETED. THEY CANNOT BE RECOVERED. YOUR PHILOSOPHICAL TAKE ON THE RULES IS NOT RELEVANT. I AM MAKING THIS PUBLIC SO PEOPLE WILL KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE AND WHY. ~ CTM]
just for the mod- (is that you, charles?)
Yes, I know I have never used a valid email address on any post here.
I could easily get one just for the purpose, yes.
I’ve been on the net for a while and the first rule I learned was never use real info. There’s really a sound basis for this to be standard operating procedure.
I could regale you with history of the internet, naming names of people I knew who did this or that, often appearing in the msm as something of general interest. Perhaps I could even persuade you that it makes sense.
Functionally, the difference to you or me or anybody else between my using a valid addie or a formfiller is this:
if you want to mail me, you can’t. That’s it.
I know you don’t want to mail me and if anybody ever did, they’d find a way to say so. Therefore…
I’m totally not obedient. That’s to say on principle, I refuse to accommodate a request or demand that has no function apart from ritual compliance.
I suppose that’s a foreign concept to a whole generation, now. Free men the world over lament.
It’s a measure of respect that I post at all. If it conflicts with your mission, obviously it has to stop. All I need to know is that it’s not my site.

kwik
April 1, 2010 4:03 pm

Willis, regarding the nice Sand-Castle on top of the post here, did you read this;
http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/why-climate-models-lie

BB
April 1, 2010 4:57 pm

“A model is not just a model. In fact the simpler the model the more scientific it is. When models become complicated they become more and more prone to error. ”
Not only that, but remember… a model is an attempt to match observations. The fact that a model matches an observation shouldn’t shock anyone! The question is whether the models can ALWAYS match the observed world. Does it match all observed records of behavior? Will it match observed behavior going forward?
The fact that the models predict ever-increasing temperature, not the slight downward trend or holding steady for a signifigant period of time, tells you that the models aren’t accurate. They may take into account SOME of the appropriate features, but are lacking the complexity needed to accurately model climate.
A person glancing at the clock at 4pm could be model the clock as a static position of 2 hands. That would be correct at that moment. That doesn’t mean that the model will be accurate in 5 minutes, or 2 hours prior. Until the model sweeps the hands at the proper rates, it’s a lousy model. Climate science right now has pretty lousy models because they just don’t know enough… but have the nerve to pretend that they have all the answers.

April 1, 2010 6:22 pm

Willis:
I think I meant to say
“Husbanding resources and “taking care” of the environment is precisely what we *should* be doing according to the proponents of anthropogenic warming. We are just buying into the cult if think about this non-issue in the same way”
The environmental ‘movement’ is dead – taken to a dark alley and capped – by the warmists. You want proof? Let us perform a litmus test – is it possible to talk about any green issue without invoking global warming or ‘climate change’?
I do not know the answer to your question of how to talk about it.
The entire green lexicon is taken over by the catastrophists. Why play along in their game?
Maybe we can make a beginning by not talking about ‘the environment’ as if it were one single thing. The warmists assume the right to tell us what we should do with our money just because they have appropriated the right to speak for all of ‘the environment’. Undercut this by a back-to-the-roots local, legal framework municipal approach to the environment.

Ron Pittenger
April 1, 2010 7:11 pm

Thanks, Willis. Great post. I always wondered what I was. Now, I finally know. I’m a heretic! Hurray! It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Ron Pittenger

April 1, 2010 7:14 pm

PQ#1. Environmentalist? Nope, conservationist.
PQ#2. Your position on climate science? Nihilist. aka “prove it”.
Q#1. Does the earth have a prefered temperature? It has 2 and oscillates between them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change.png (sry ’bout the wikip ref)
Q#2. AGW null hypothesis? Those models predict anything correctly, yet?
Q#3. Support or reject the null hypothesis? Redirect research funding to “global cooling”, count how many climate scientists jump off the AGW bandwagon.
Q#4. Is the globe warming? It was, 1979-2000. I think there’s a cooling trend coming, but I’m waiting for proof (20 yrs should suffice).
Q#5. Are humans responsible for global warming? Yes.
Q#6. If “Yes”, how? Humans installed AC units, asphalt, etc. near the thermometers. Humans adjusted out the cooling from 1945-1979.
Question 7. How much of the post 1980 temperature change is due to human activities? No clue, the measurements are so fudged up I can’t see a thing.

Phil M
April 1, 2010 7:18 pm

Censorship here at WUWT? Who would have thought.
Reply: Comments that are nothing but venom are discouraged and often trashed. ~ ctm

Dave McK
April 1, 2010 8:01 pm

“I’ve become much more honest and temperate since I stopped hiding my identity. Now I have to stand behind my actions and opinions.”
I’m sorry to hear you were ever less than honest or temperate. I’m glad you made a start. Whatever trick you use to get you there is good. I rely on principles, myself.
But, Willis, no matter how profound that confession is, it can’t change the fact that when you’re right about the weather, you’re right.
As a philosopher, however, you’re a poor comedian.
“If you don’t want to put your real name on your opinion, I don’t want to hear it.”
My name is Anybody.
Goodbye, Willis.

April 1, 2010 8:49 pm

Thanks, Tim. The Greenland and Vostok ice cores cited above, along with the records from Bermuda Station S, clearly show that it was warmer earlier in the Holocene, and has been generally cooling.
So this entire CAGW is a 100% scam and a lie by science then, that is the only possible conclusion one can make after finding the facts.
Why? why oh why? evil? degradation?

vigilantfish
April 1, 2010 8:51 pm

Dear Willis,
Thanks for all your contributions at WUWT, which I enjoy enormously. I wanted to ask a question that’s been bugging me since the Ravetz revelations, and due to your fisheries background, and your insightful analysis, I would value your opinions. I realized, in reading the Ravetz discourse, and your astringent responses, that I had been for much of my life guilty of advocating postnormal science in fisheries biology. My ‘beliefs’, conditioned perhaps by the environmental movement which came to the fore as I was growing up (and thanks, also to my early reading of Rachel Carsen – but in this case her ‘Edge of the Sea’ and “The Sea Around Us’ – have been that fisheries science should be working towards the conservation of marine fishes – in part for the sake of the environment. The post-normal part, I guess, would be that I would expect scientists to interpret stock declines as overfishing more readily than they have done in the past. (The dominant theme in the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans is that climate variations caused the Grand Banks groundfish stock collapses.) I have been dismayed at the frankly pragmatic, and phlegmatic, approach of the scientists, who probably laudably always argue against measures that will reduce fishermen’s access to the sea fisheries. For example, few that I have interviewed favour marine protected areas, because they remove a part of the sea territory from the fishing effort (and paradoxically increase the fishing effort on the boundaries). I have thought this to be wrong headed because of my own frankly environmentalist bias. However, my ultimate concern is that there still be fish left to fish.
In an area like fisheries science, I am not sure that it is possible for people to be doing the science entirely ‘objectively’: scientists either argue that the purpose of their work is to help fishermen to catch more fish (sometimes through conservation) or in a few cases, the preservation of the fish stocks. The precautionary principle is now being added to the idea of discovering the maximum sustainable yield, and I know from an earlier discussion with you that you do not favour the precautionary principle as governing fisheries management science.
I am curious just how you think fisheries scientists should approach fisheries science and management whether smuggling into this science a gently preservationist goal will undermine the science itself. There are many similarities with meteorology in the numbers of variables, the possibility of confusion between correlations and cause and effect, and the overall uncertainty. I’d just appreciate any views you’d care to express, if the mods allow and this is not too far off topic.

April 1, 2010 8:52 pm

totally of topic so snip it Charles if you want 🙂
thank you for your efforts here at WUWT!
I hope your B Day party went well and you will have another good year!
Tim L
Reply: LEIF! He’s not playing fair! ~ ctm

Paul Vaughan
April 1, 2010 10:27 pm

Re: Judith Curry (04:28:41)
Since humorous partisan rants explain nothing, I am opting to contribute as follows:
Vaughan, P.L. (2010). Volcanic Activity, the Sun, the Moon, & the Stratosphere.
http://www.sfu.ca/~plv/VolcanoStratosphereSLAM.htm
Best Regards,
Paul Vaughan, B.Sc., M.Sc.
Ecologist, Parks & Natural Forests Advocate, & Independent Climate Researcher

Sera
April 1, 2010 10:53 pm

For the record- I prefer to think of Willis as a conservationist. Not a preservationist or environmentalist. And my name is James Glendinning- sera is an acronym.

Phil M
April 2, 2010 12:00 am

Willis, you published in Energy & Developments. A low tier journal & hardly considered anything serious in the climate science world.
You say ” “this is a scientific blog, and your scientific opinions and claims are welcome”. I disagree, it is a commentary blog.
If you want to talk science, what are you doing on a commentary blog? Why not approach NAS, NASA, AMU, CRU, MET, NOAA, CSIRO, BOM, Royal Society & other major instituions with your findings? Heck, why not submit a paper to one of the top journals & see how you go? Or go an take up your theories on the many blogs that oppose your views & see how you go.
Are you a scientist? Do you live in the UK? What did you hope to achieve from submitting FOI to the CRU besides holding up science? Unless you are a climate scientists, you wouldnt have known what to do with the data you requested. All you are doing with your FOI attempts is spamming.
You guys complain of being censored when you ask the hard questions of climate scientists & then call it venomous when some one asks you the hard questions? That is simply moderators setting the agenda.

anna v
April 2, 2010 12:02 am

Re: Shub Niggurath (Apr 1 12:31),

Here you are, talking about a few trees and fishes, when organizations such as these plan to control human minds and the climate of the globe. And yet, you both speak the same language. How did that happen?

Have you noticed that we are also using the same alphabet? Should we start using Sanskrit?
I think you are panicking and ignoring that we are using language and vocabulary just to convey meanings. One should pay attention to the meaning.
btw from webster:
Main Entry: 2husband
Function: transitive verb
Date: 15th century
1 a : to manage prudently and economically b : to use sparingly : conserve

April 2, 2010 12:24 am

[quote: Richard S Courtney (10:14:08) :]
Please do not malign davidmhoffer by putting words in his mouth that he did not utter.
You write:
“[quote davidmhoffer (06:19:58) :]
He did not say that here, and I do not know if he would or would not say it.
But I know I said it at (06:38:45).
Richard
[/quote]

Well, I wasn’t maligning any one, I was agreeing with the statement.
.
But my apologies for the mixup in the attribution of the quote.

Mark.R
April 2, 2010 12:29 am

Financial Times Uncovers Widespread Carbon Trading Fraud
But what the FT has found is even worse than what we had imagined, worse in the sense that the abuses are so widespread. We hope you will read the stories in their entirety; this is Pulitzer Prize level work (and far more important than the options backdating story that won this year). It will be interesting to see how much, if any, of the FT’s reporting is picked up in the US.
Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on “carbon credit” projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.
The FT investigation found:
■ Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.
■ Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.
■ Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.
■ A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.
■ Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuthttp://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2007/04/financial-times-uncovers-widespread.htmls.

anna v
April 2, 2010 1:31 am

Re: Phil M (Apr 2 00:00),
If you want to talk science, what are you doing on a commentary blog?
I know why, I, a scientist, am following this scientific commentary blog. Blogs have replaced coffee shops and cafeterias where we used to draw on napkins our latest propositions and fought over definitions.
Why not approach NAS, NASA, AMU, CRU, MET, NOAA, CSIRO, BOM, Royal Society & other major institutions with your findings? Heck, why not submit a paper to one of the top journals & see how you go? Or go an take up your theories on the many blogs that oppose your views & see how you go.
“Won’t you come into my parlour
said the spider to the fly.”
Except we are not flies but wasps. We will buzz with ideas that sting the complacent “climate science club” of journals and incestuous “scientists” into retrospection and insist on the true scientific method that has been lost in the fray.
In addition, this particular blog is open to opposite views, something that is not true in the “many blogs that oppose our views”.
As far as I have seen these two and a half years I have been trying as a physicist to understand the AGW proposition, “climate science” is a mixture of bad use of physics, statistics and data. A conglomerate of scientists from various disciplines, who, in a majority, work away like ants on their own little problem and trust on the scientific integrity of the others. This allowed a few savvy manipulators to control “climate science” to their profit, either academically or politically.

Vincent
April 2, 2010 3:22 am

Willis, People like Phil M just can’t stand it when members of the amateur community run rings around their climate gods. You should be flattered by the rage you have provoked.

TomVonk
April 2, 2010 4:54 am

AnnaV
Husbanding resources and taking care of the environment are necessary conditions for the survival of human communities, has been ever since humans appeared, and I do not see why these principles should be thrown out when we become a global community by the force of technology that has made the whole world our back yard.
.
Nothing of the above is a “principle” because it is not even univocally defined .
Because of that it seems to me that those ill defined sentences can’t have any impact whatsoever on objective and important things like “survival” .
Strictly speaking there is only one necessary condition for survival : enough energy , oxygen and water . LOCALLY !
.
Taking care of environment ?
Any living being takes care of environment by extracting energy from it and by s….g in it . This comes hardwired with our DNA . That’s what we all do .
It’s trivial , sufficient and necessary .
Of course on top comes a foggy crowd of esthetic , religious and pseudo-philosophical musings (trees look better than concrete walls , s..t smells bad , illness may shorten life , pandas are cute, selfsacrifice is a virtue and richness is a sin etc etc)
This subjective infinite list of nice to haves is on top self contradictory because for every statement there is its opposite too .
Even if some statements would find an agreement of a majority and their negation a minority , they are not principles and even less necessary .
.
My position would be rather :
“Take care of yourself and the environment will take care of itself like it did for 4.5 billions years and will continue in the future . Be however aware that the environment is hostile and unconcerned by your well being whatever you do – you don’t care for it , you fight it . Be also aware that you will be never able to tell whether you’ll like or dislike any particular environment response over the long run . This dictates a reasonable maximum time scale at which a man should bother – a couple of dozen of years”

April 2, 2010 5:45 am

anna v
“Have you noticed that we are also using the same alphabet? Should we start using Sanskrit?…..panicking….”
I think you are trying to lose me in a deliberately dug hole of literalism.
When I said stewardship is the foundation of eco-fundamentalism, you understood what I said but yet tried to imply that I was equating them both. I was not. Just like equality -> communism and socialism -> fascism, the earlier concept can serve as a foundation but is certainly not sufficient to specify the end result. Which is what I said.
Where are we in disagreement? I am saying there is a problem with the foundation and you are saying the foundation and the system are different things.
You are probably feeling conflicted about certain concepts and therefore quoting from the dictionary etc. The concept of stewardship is a dangerous, seductive and ultimately empty one. I am talking not just about the word – I am concerned with our word usage for the ideas they carry. Its place in political philosophy is dubious – and at conflict with gains from long and hard fought battles re: – personal liberty, freedom of speech and property rights among others.
I am hardly an environmentalist but I am sure there are folks like Willis who are, and what could they do to prevent their movement being taken over by the warmists? Nothing – that is what. They should be panicking.
No one is anyone’s steward. If there are problems in the environment, the political radius which it encompasses should legislate over it.
It is sad that environmentalism and stewardship get defended so vigoursly. These are umbrella ideas and feel-good concoctions that serve certain purposes. The latter word especially is a think-tank product, especially in the sense it is widely used today.
Phil M:
I think you are being hostile to Willis. You may see him through your personal perspective or you might have picked your impression second-hand but if you put in an email address, you can pretty much say anything here at WUWT and AFAIK, Willis has always answered questions in his posts. Have fun.

beng
April 2, 2010 5:48 am

*******
31 03 2010
Willis Eschenbach (23:45:54) :
Mike D. (22:51:13)
I believe that when you cut down a forest, you cut down the clouds.
That’s just twaddle. Besides, worldwide there are more standing trees today, and more forested acres, than there were 100 years ago.
“That’s just twaddle”? Gosh, I love it when someone comes up with a well reasoned, well cited scientific argument against something I’ve said.
Read the link above to Kilimanjaro, where the cutting down of the forests is found to be the reason that the glacier is shrinking.
And yes, there are more standing trees now than there were 100 years ago. But I said that cutting down trees has a local effect on the climate, and that is true no matter how many trees there are on the planet.

*******
In the eastern US, when the great central Appalachian forests were cut down in the late 1920’s & early 1930’s, summer temps soared, culminating in all-time records of ~110F (43C) in 1936 in MD, WV, PA, and VA. Rainfall also decreased markedly. The forests have steadily regrown, and since then 100F+ days are almost unknown in rural, non-urban locations. Rainfall has also returned to higher, pre-1930 levels.

David L
April 2, 2010 6:56 am

Willis Eschenbach (11:05:21) :
…”Yes, I know the IPCC says a few degrees will kill us all or something of the sort. And I know that some scientists said in Nature Magazine that a 2° temperature rise would lead to the extinction of a third of the world’s species … as the authors opined, “We’re not talking about the occasional extinction—we’re talking about 1.25 million species. It’s a massive number.” YIKES. Be afraid, be very afraid …”
This brings up a point that I’ve been considering lately. Is a 2deg change in the average temperature a disaster? In my locality the average daily temperture swings from 26F to 74F in the winter and 69F to 104F in the summer. Record temps go from -7F to 104F throughout the year.
Globally the record temperature ranges from -129F in Antarctica (1983) to 136F in Libya (1922).
And yet there is life on every square inch of this planet. Even in hydrothermal vents miles below the ocean’s surface where tempertures can melt metal.
Is a 2deg rise in “average global temperature” really going to do anything at all??????? So what, summers around here will swing from 71F to 106F in the future? I can live with that. And global temps will range from -127F to 138F?
By the way, looking for a 2deg rise in data that fluctuates from -129F to 136F across the globe is precisely why it’s a statistical nightmare.
This is “Pathaological Science” and “fear mongoring” at their highest levels.

anna v
April 2, 2010 7:38 am

Re: TomVonk (Apr 2 04:54),
.
My position would be rather :
“Take care of yourself and the environment will take care of itself like it did for 4.5 billions years and will continue in the future .

As much of a principle as mine, no?
Be however aware that the environment is hostile and unconcerned by your well being whatever you do – you don’t care for it , you fight it .
Ah, a belief. An anthropomorphic one at that.
If the environment were truly hostile to biological beings, there would be no biological beings evolved or not.
I would rather believe that we are as natural in our environment as the lions and the fungi.
Be also aware that you will be never able to tell whether you’ll like or dislike any particular environment response over the long run . This dictates a reasonable maximum time scale at which a man should bother – a couple of dozen of years”
Well, living in an area where civilization and cultivation and landscaping has been going on for thousands of years, I would say that your time horizon, a generation, is too short. Humans tend to think about posterity, in contrast to animals, so they build harbors and change the course of rivers, and clean fields for the children and the grandchildren, and the great grandchildren.
There are olive trees that are over 2000 years old still cultivated and giving olives. Grandfathers still plant new olive groves for a new grandchild.
It is in the twentieth century where changes have accelerated and it seems that we are on a train going down an incline without brakes . Our histories and traditions have brakes, and we should use them.

Bruce Cobb
April 2, 2010 7:40 am

Mike D. (13:48:37) :
eliminating forestry is not the solution.
Methinks you doth protest too much. No one wants to “eliminate forestry”. No one has even implied that. You are ranting and raging against a straw man of your own making.
And yes, it most certainly is possible for widespread deforestation to affect climate locally, as in the case of Kilimanjaro. Cutting down the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica also affected climate in that area, reducing cloud-cover and decreasing soil moisture. The climatic differences between those areas and the surrounding still-forested ones were clear. This in turn affected both the local flora and fauna, resulting in extinction of a species of toad. This does not in any way put a value judgment on what happened. It is, however important that we know the consequences of our actions. It also helps shut the traps of the Alarmists, who latch onto anything they think will capture the publics’ imagination, such as a
disappearing glacier, or species extinction to try to bolster their bogus arguments.

April 2, 2010 8:23 am

Willis,
Thanks for the thought-provoking post – your questions here are excellent, the discussion enlightening, and I await answers from our colleagues in the man-made CO2 AGW camp as I am always anxious to learn more. In addition to looking forward to their answers, how about a list of questions from the man-made CO2 AGW camp including Phil M’s “hard” question(s)?

Phil Jourdan
April 2, 2010 9:09 am

Phil M (00:00:10) :
A shame we share the same first name. However, I fail to see the worth in you posting that you hate something, or degrading it because you do not understand it. Clearly you are entitled to your opinion, but I would think that if you wanted to contribute something substantive, at least it would not be a waste of your precious time (since you think Armegeddon is at hand ala global warming).
Thanks for wasting my time reading your non-responsiveness. I guess you have nothing better to do.

Tim Clark
April 2, 2010 12:40 pm

Phil M (19:18:13) :
Censorship here at WUWT? Who would have thought.
Reply: Comments that are nothing but venom are discouraged and often trashed. ~ ctm
Willis Eisenbach:
People who come in spoiling for a fight and trying to provoke one by insulting everyone in sight, on the other hand, are the reason that nightclubs have bouncers … the moderators do an excellent job and moderate with a light hand. I commend them for doing a time-consuming and thankless job.

Well done, ctm; AKA “The Venom Bouncer”.
In a thread a while back, Leif Svalgaard produced his 14 point summation of the state of climate science. I scored a 10.
Willis’s score – 14.

hunter
April 2, 2010 1:19 pm

Preface Question 1. Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?
Yes..
Preface Question 2. What single word would you choose to describe your position on climate science?
Intesnselyinterested
Question 1. Does the earth have a preferred temperature which is actively maintained by the climate system?
there is a prevalent range of temps, as seen in the historical record.
Question 2. Regarding human effects on climate, what is the null hypothesis?
The question is too vague. Humans are a part of the Earth environmental climate system. Of course we impact it. We have done so for millenia.
But to reframe the question to today’s AGW-driven context:
What is the null hypothesis is that CO2 is not causing a global climate catastrophe.
Question 3. What observations tend to support or reject the null hypothesis?
The lack of anything approaching a climate crisis. The lack of weather patterns, which make up climate, doing anything unusual. the failed rate of pro-AGW predictions.
Question 4. Is the globe warming?
Probably some. Nothing outside of the range of historical variability.
Question 5. Are humans responsible for global warming?
If the range of change is not harful or unusual, who really cares?
Question 6. If the answer to Question 5 is “Yes”, how are humans affecting the climate?
By way of land use changes, vegetation changes, changes in water flows, urbanization, and ghg’s
Question 7. How much of the post 1980 temperature change is due to human activities?
why should we actually care?
Question 8. Does the evidence from the climate models show that humans are responsible for changes in the climate?
We do not need climate models to show humans impact climate. See the above relevant answers.
the models that purport to show that COs is driving the climate to a catastrophe are failed- see above.
Question 9. Are the models capable of projecting climate changes for 100 years?
No.
Question 10. Are current climate theories capable of explaining the observations?
No.
Question 11. Is the science settled?
Only to the extent that it is not science.
Question 12. Is climate science a physical science?
Climate science, as represented by AGW, is to climate science what eugenics was to biology.
Question 13. Is the current peer-review system inadequate, and if so, how can it be improved?
The peer review system is very excellent, and as soon as climate scientists learn to use it properly and not corrptly, they and the public will benefit from its use.
Question 14. Regarding climate, what action (if any) should we take at this point?
do things that actually reduce real pollutants, mitigates the impacts of pollutants, improve land use, agricultural practices, and stop worrying about CO2. Work to mitigate the impact of climate changes on habitat and people.

Gail Combs
April 2, 2010 1:21 pm

Willis, Super article. You write very clearly.
Murray Lane (01:10:04) :
“Your review is very clear and understandable. My question is: Why is it that politicians and alarmists cannot understand the simplicity of your message and how do we change the message to ensure they do understand it? PML”
REPLY:
The politicians and alarmists do understand that CAGW is a con job after all THEY are the ones who put together the hoax in the first place. As a result we WILL get a worldwide Carbon TAX payable to a foreign totalitarian group and we WILL get the UN (actually the World Bank) as an over arching government. And I also expect to see the USA to collapse within my life time.
No I am not being sarcastic. Bill Clinton wrecked the economy beyond repair on November 2 ,1999 with the repeal of Glass-Stegall which tore down the wall between investment banks and S&Ls. Barney Frank (D-Mass) also has his fingerprints all over this mess with the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act (1977) which required lenders to make risky loans to low-income minorities to purchase housing. This act was expanded further during Bill Clinton’s presidency, creating a higher percentage and a larger pool of subprime mortgages. The whole thing crashed in 2008/9 so Obama DOUBLED the money supply opening the doors to run away inflation with no manufacturing to pay off the USA’s debts.
Stewart Dougherty, a specialist in inferential analysis, agrees. It is now “statistically impossible for the United States to pay its obligations”. http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/08.09/metastasis.html
Grace Commission report notes that 100% of personal income tax goes to pay interest on the national debt, the lion’s share of which goes to the banking cartel that we know as the Federal Reserve. http://www.bloggernews.net/17032
This is a sampling of the industries with over 50% foreign ownership, according to Source Watch http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Foreign_ownership_of_U.S._corporations
* Sound recording industries – 97%
* Commodity contracts dealing and brokerage – 79%
* Motion picture and sound recording industries – 75%
* Metal ore mining – 65%
* Wineries and distilleries – 64%
* Database, directory, Book and other publishers – 63%
* Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product – 62%
* Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment – 57%
* Rubber product – 53%
* Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing – 53%
* Plastics and rubber products manufacturing – 52%
* Other insurance related activities – 51%
* Boiler, tank, and shipping container – 50%
* Glass and glass product – 48%
Coal mining – 48%
A real eye opener isn’t it. But it gets worse. The Department of Homeland Security says 80% of our ports are operated by Foreigners and they are buying and running US bridges and toll roads. http://www.alabamaeagle.org/issues.asp?action=form&formID=2105&recordID=131006
Statistics (courtesy of Bridgewater) showed in 1990, before WTO was ratified by Clinton, Foreign ownership of U.S. assets amounted to 33% of U.S. GDP. By 2002 this had increased to over 70% of U.S. GDP. http://www.fame.org/HTM/greg%20Pickup%201%2010%2003%20report.htm
An analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries shows the world’s finances are in the hands of a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first report of global concentration of financial power ..http://www.insidescience.org/research/study_says_world_s_stocks_controlled_by_select_few
I am afraid CAGW is just one of many brain washing weapons in a whole arsenal, all designed to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a very few with the ultimate goal of reducing the middle class to poverty stricken serfs.
This site gives a whole bunch of quotes from the megalomaniacs who want to rid the earth of the middle class and most of the human population. http://climategate.tv/?tag=maurice-strong

Pragmatic
April 2, 2010 1:47 pm

Phil M 00:
Are you a scientist? Do you live in the UK? What did you hope to achieve from submitting FOI to the CRU besides holding up science? Unless you are a climate scientists,